Notes From the 2014 Cookbook Review

Fall, 2014, Cookbook Short Reviews by Helen, Lynne and Jess

America's Test Kitchen New Family Cookbook.
If you love America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated Magazine, this is the bible of recipes, all exhaustively tested and retested, all with simple-to-follow instructions. Tons of new recipes alongside old favorites.

Apples of Uncommon Character by Rowan Jacobsen
This local author’s book tells the story of the past, and possibly future, Golden Age of Apples. Among the beautiful pictures and intriguing apple profiles, don’t miss the recipe section with simple ways to explore these apples’ flavors.

The Art of Eating Well / Hemsley by Jasmine & Melissa Hemsley
Fresh and innovative flavors that just happen to be gluten free. Health food with a lot of style. These sisters are big in Britain where they have the popular blog:

Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Just like the Cake Bible, leafing through this cookbook is like staring into the display case a wonderful bakery. And maybe drooling a little. Unlike a bakery, no one is going to prod you to move along. I can taste the homemade pastries just typing this. And: there are crumpets.

Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan
Dorie Greenspan shares the simple recipes of home baking in France. Perfect paired with another new title: My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz.   

Bitter by Jennifer McLagan
Some people have a sweet tooth, now I know I have a bitter tooth. I’d never intentionally explored “bitter” as a taste profile in my cooking before - then I tried McLagan’s Campari Granita and never looked back. Love it.

The Cuban Table by Ana Sofia Peleaz
Inspired by her memory of weekend food served at her Cuban grandparent’s home in Miami, Ana Sofia Peleaz started a quest to capture the cooking of Cuba and Cuban communities the U.S. in this book. I was worried that special ingredients would be a problem, but the recipes are forgiving of substitutes and plantains are available at Shaw’s.

Dominique Ansel the Secret Recipes
If you like the mind of a chef who sprinkles miniature meringue cookies on just about everything, this book is for you. The photos are fun. The chef-author’s take on cooking, as told by short essays, is intriguing. Many (not all) of the recipes require patience, but the instructions are clear, including “this is advanced!” warnings.  

Drink the Harvest by Nan Chase
If you’re looking for new, creative ways to use the harvest . . . this book covers juices, syrups, wines and more. Good for reading while planning next year’s gardens.

Eat, The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater.
Your new weeknight standard. One of Britains's most celebrated food writers has assembled this wonderfully curated collection of quick & easy recipes. Truly fast food that is truly delicious. This is the ideal representation of simple food done perfectly. Try the zucchini with bacon gremolata!

Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich
Ever checked out the unfamiliar flours in the ‘gluten free’ section and wondered what they taste like? Alice Medrich did. Recipes in this handsome book highlight the flavors of unusual flours - all of which are available for a not-shocking price in the Hunger Mountain Coop gluten-free bulk section.The results taste great. Teff will forever have a place in my German Chocolate Cake.

Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson
The most visually arresting cookbook I've seen in a long time. Cheerful, bright. Many recipes are perfect to make with your children.

Heritage by Sean Brock
Beautiful pictures, recipes for modern takes on traditional southern cooking (especially lowcountry cuisine). This chef is really, really into preserving tradition, he’s also an advocate for saving heirloom ingredients -- like Sea Island Red Peas and Ossabaw Hog. The one downside is that these recipes call for lots of special ingredients, but if you’re someone who reads cookbooks as much as cooks from them, it’s perfect.

How to Cook Everything Fast by Mark Bittman
A book for very beginner cooks, How to Cook Everything Fast continues the How to Cook Everything style of basic recipes plus variations, but with the added goal of showing how to prepare food efficiently.  

Kitchn Cookbook  
A great cookbook for the beginning cook filled with technique, tips and kitchen planning ideas. Like the website, it mixes recipes with interior design, equipment suggestions, kitchen maintenance, and other helpful guides to getting the most from your kitchen.

Make It Ahead by Ina Garten.
Another lovely book from the Barefoot Contessa, this time with a focus on dishes that can be prepped, put together and cooked ahead of time. Highlights include guidance for a "make-ahead" Thanksgiving dinner.

Meals in Minutes by Jamie Oliver.
Britain's "Naked Chef" is back, this time with a supremely efficient approach to getting a complete meal on the table in 30 minutes, from main course, side dish and dessert. Gorgeous, healthful food that's completely doable in a half hour.

Mr. Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables by Matt Wilkinson
For anyone with a vision of spending winters cozily reading about gardens and about cooking from those gardens. For avid gardeners this is a great gift, good pairing with Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison.

My Perfect Pantry by Geoffrey Zakarian.
Simple, elegant recipes from chef/restaurateur/television personality Geoffrey Zakarian. All recipes are inspired by pantry ingredients that most of us have on hand at all times.

Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from NY's most Creative Bakery by Erin Patinkin. Beautiful recipes for both sweet and savory treats, from Brooklyn's celebrated hipster bakery. Special attention devoted to vegan and gluten-free recipes. I highly recommend the jelly donut muffins!

Pie by Ken Haedrich.
I now make perfect crust thanks to this book! 300 recipes for every pie you can imagine, with over 20 crust variations as well. I use it more than ever during the holiday months. (Also, Ken Haedrich, totally underappreciated - try his Maple Syrup Cookbook, too)

Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
It's Ottolenghi. Enough said.  Avoid the weird ingredients you can't find in Vermont and go for the homey comfort food.

Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton
You’ll either really click with this book or not. Designed to look like a chef’s notebook, it gives pared down, straightforward recipes for the dishes at Prune restaurant (NYC). Skim through it - I personally love Prune’s menu and don’t like a lot of explanation in my recipes so it’s an excellent match to my sensibilities.

Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers. Fresh, healthy recipes to get you out of your salad rut, with an emphasis on eating salads as meals. Wonderfully creative takes on pasta salads, slaws and protein-based salads.

Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero
If you think you know salad, think again. So much more than a cold bowl of greens.

Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant  
Eschewing food guilt, the author urges "everything in moderation" and gives great recipes to match.

Sweet and Vicious by Libbie Summers
Finally!  A  baking book that is as much savory as sweet and you don't have to be a pastry chef to use it. Plus, quick stories with attitude sprinkled throughout - including from the author’s time as a chef on private yachts (they involve Speedos).

Thug Kitchen
Like an awesome Portland food truck in a book - complete with foul-mouthed employees and the anxious waiting for your food to be ready. You may need to acclimate to the F-bombs (or not), the flavors in the recipes are vibrant and well worth cooking.

Gift Giving Top Picks

For beginning cooks - How to Cook Everything Fast or The Kitchn Cookbook

For foodies - Apples of Uncommon Character. For card carrying members of Slow Food / foodies who love to learn about about food traditions - Heritage.

For gardeners - Vegetable Literacy, Mr. Wilkinson’s Favourite Vegetables, Drink the Harvest

For bakers - Baking Bible, Ovenly or Flavor Flours (you really do not need to be gluten-free to love the recipes in Flavor Flours. . . I know people say that a lot, this time we really mean it).

For anyone interested in international food - The Cuban Table, My Paris Kitchen

For busy people . . . such as yourself - Eat, Make It Ahead or Raising the Salad Bar

For people who are in it for the pictures (hey, cookbooks can be coffee table books too . . . ) - Dominique Ansel the Secret Recipes, Forest Feast, Heritage,

For anyone who doesn’t own it yet - America’s Test Kitchen New Family Cookbook

These are just some of the great cookbooks that came out in 2014 - check out more on our cookbook shelves. All cookbooks 20% off the day after Thanksgiving.