We’re told that Americans are cooking less at home, but, surprisingly, cookbook sales are growing. Publishers who assumed smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs would eliminate the need for printed books were wrong. Recipe quality is one of the best reasons to own a printed cookbook, where they’ve gone through many testing stages. And with a book, you can add notes, comments or make changes in the margins. Here are five new books that should bring pleasure to novices and seasoned cooks alike.
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
By Joshua McFadden and co-author Martha Holmberg, Artisan
One of the best veggie books I’ve come across in years. McFadden grew unusual veggies while a farm manager in Maine. He was even bolder as a cook, transforming the farm stand to a weekend restaurant, attracting swarms of people. “Put a chef in the garden and amazing things can happen,” the farm’s owners write in the preface. McFadden continued to hone his skills in famous restaurants here and abroad. Today, he’s the chef and owner of Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon.
McFadden wants us to enjoy seasonal veggies when their flavor is most intense, but his simple recipes transform even ordinary supermarket produce. His Celery Puntarelle-Style made with thin slices of celery, anchovies and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese got me hooked on a veggie I had previously used only in tuna salad.
Whether he grills, roasts, braises, stews or uses veggies uncooked, his ingenuity will astound you. More veggies are sure to show up on your table after sampling these delicious, surprisingly easy recipes.
Art of the Pie
By Kate McDermott, Countryman Press
“Be Happy Make Pie” is printed in block letters on the back of McDermott’s delicious new book. Pie making, like life, is never perfect, and the author suggests that pie makers should chill out. Just like the baking ingredients, chilling is important when creating flaky pastry. She advocates “venting” in life, constructively, when things seem to be boiling over, and the same goes for pie making. You don’t want fruit erupting from the top crust like a volcano, so cut a few vents – especially where the crust is thinner.
Most important, McDermott notes that pie-worthy fruit, meaning flavorful, makes or breaks the finished product. Adding more seasonings or sweeteners will do nothing for inferior fruit. Andrew Scrivani’s superb photographs help explain methods and tempt us to get started.
King Solomon’s Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World
By Joan Nathan, Knopf
This is much more than a book of recipes. Nathan’s twelfth cookbook continues to amaze, enchant and tempt us with stories, anecdotes and mouth-watering goodies for Jewish food that may surprise many readers. A 16-page introduction provides a history of Jewish food, from King Solomon’s reign, with his ravenous appetite for food and wives, to present-day foods. Then we’re treated to 170 recipes from all over the world, each with its own story.
Jews, often banished from one country to another, adapted their cooking and dietary laws using foods and spices previously unknown to them. Nathan describes connections of Jewish food found in India, Europe, United States and other countries.
History, superb writing, tempting recipes and photos by Gabriela Herman. Why the “Solomon” title? The king’s wives and girlfriends shared recipes and foods, as Nathan does in this wonderful book.
The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School
By Alison Cayne, Artisan
Promoted as a basic book for novices, Cayne also offers helpful tips for seasoned cooks, like how different veggie cuts react to heat. Step-by-step photos by Con Poulos walk you through basic skills including knife techniques and how to make a perfect omelet. The book’s nine chapters are basic lessons on a theme: how to cook grains/beans, soups, eggs, sauces, meats and more. I was hooked on the fritters chapter, which noted the importance of organization or mise en place – everything in its place – concept, having equipment, foods, seasonings and everything needed for your recipe ready before you start! The chapter’s teaching (Basic) recipe, Quinoa Broccoli Patties, offers cooking notes that work well with other foods, and you’ll end up feeling confident making different types of pancakes, tempura (battered) foods, pakora (fritters coated in chickpea flour), arancini (Italian rice balls) and apple beignets.
Cayne reminds us that recipes are only guides – so you can change them, improvise with change of seasons, etc. – and forget about perfection. If your soufflé collapses, “pass it off as intentional and call it a fallen soufflé!”
By Jamie Schler, Gibbs Smith
This book offers juicy, zesty recipes using oranges in soups, salads, mains, breads, desserts and more. Schler grew up surrounded by Florida citrus groves and now operates a hotel in France. He immerses us in oranges, explaining varieties, extracts, flavorings and how to make them. Citrus is the name of the game, juiced in avocado salad dressing, zested in meatballs, added to muffins, even Chocolate Orange Marmalade Brownies. Photos by Swedish photographer Ilva Beretta are fabulous. You can almost smell the oranges!
Ruth Taber is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Email email@example.com.
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