Goodness. Is that time of year again? No I’m not talking Christmas (though that’s around the corner – eek!). I’m talking my annual roundup of cookbooks! It’s been a crazy year full of fabulous cookbooks, and being the hoarder that I am (I think my partner AJ is ready to stage an intervention) I’m up to my ears in cookbooks. I already did a summer roundup that ended up spanning TWO blogs posts and the books that were released since then have been stacking up! The fall/winter releases of 2013 were pretty great so again, I’ve had to arbitrarily break them into two different posts. Here’s part one of my list of fave cookbooks AND as an added bonus,
I’m doing a cookbook giveaway of THREE cookbooks on this list. Stick around to the end of the post (which, I apologize, is VERY long) to find out which ones you can win and how to enter! (Sorry this giveaway is closed!)
I kind of love Joe Yonan. I think my love of him solidified as we waiting in line at the Feast Portland event and he turned to me and said “If I have to wait in this line for one more minute, I’m totally going to throw a tantrum like the diva I am…” So when I got ahold of his book Eat your Vegetables I wasn’t surprised that about how much I loved it. Vegetarian recipes designed for one person but appealing to all folks (vegan, vegetarian and omnivore alike) is the theme and dishes like Kimchi Deviled Eggs or Bean and Poblano Soup with Cinnamon Croutons are just as punchy bold as you expect them to be from a diva like Joe. Little side notes interludes about mock meat (or not mocking the mock meat as it is) and the evolution of vegetarian restaurants gives the book a little more meat than just a bare bones vegetarian recipe cookbook.
I spotted the cookbook Balaboosta by Einat Admony while waiting for a friend at a bookstore in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Its intricate and decorative cover intrigued me but my dabbling in Mediterranean food at home is fairly limited. Thankfully the accessible recipes in the book make it seem like I can TOTALLY make Mediterranean food at home. And I have. Oh have I made this food at home! Soon I found myself whipping up a harissa at home (where have you been all my life?) and making a Spicy Chicken Tagine. The pages are already splattered with ingredients and that’s how I love my books, worn and well loved. A keeper for sure.
Picture Cook by Katie Shelly is one of those novelty cookbooks that you probably can pick up at Urban Outfitters for your millennial nephew (how did I get so old?) who just graduated from college. You don’t REALLY expect the book to have any substance, but you can pat yourself on the back, thinking you not only gave him something cool and hip but, you know, might teach him a thing or two. But if you look closely at the book, you’d be wrong to dismiss it as strictly kids stuff. Completely illustrated, the recipes are basic, but interesting and full of flavor and, most importantly, easy to understand. A North African Stew recipe, explained through drawings? Thoughts on Tacos, done with pictograms? Pizza dough toppings that expand beyond pepperoni? Sure there are a few questionable inclusions (I’ll avoid the ambrosia salad thank you very much) but on the whole color me impressed with this one.
I pretty much fell in love with Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem last year and with the US domestic release of his first book Ottolenghi (originally published in 2007 in the UK), I was ready to fall in love again. Sadly it didn’t happen. Not that Ottolenghi isn’t a good book, but it’s clearly a first attempt at writing a cookbook and it shows. Jerusalem was his third book and by then, he had nailed it, with its approachable yet exotic recipes and lush narrative photography. Ottolenghi, on the other hand, seemed slightly less warm in comparison, as if made in a restaurant kitchen, full of fluorescent lighting and stainless steel counters. That’s not to say that it’s a Ottolenghi is a bad book at all. If I had gotten it in 2007, before Plenty or Jerusalem had come out, I would have immediately gravitated toward some of the recipes (Fennel, Cherry tomato, and crumble gratin or Seared Duck Breast with Blood Orange and Star Anise sound particularly winning as do pretty much anything in the bakery and pastry section at the end of the book). In fact, I would probably be singing the unapologetic praises of the book all over the place. As it is, I’m thrilled I have it on my shelf, to completely my trilogy of Ottolenghi books but, like the Return of the Jedi, I probably won’t be reaching for it as much as the other two (but it’s still a Star Wars movie, ewoks be damned).
Speaking of duck dishes, I was thrilled to get Hank Shaw’s Duck, Duck, Goose book when it came out. As much as I love duck, it’s something I always order at the fancy shmancy restaurant, because I. Don’t. Know. How. To. Cook. It. At. Home. Well now I don’t have to worry. Hank’s book not only demystifies duck (and goose) but has some damn good looking recipes in it too. Tea Smoked Duck, Confit of Duck with Pasta and Lemon, Duck Bulgogi! Holy crap, I could go on and on. On top of that, he rates every single recipe with a difficulty level, with one star being dishes you can make at home on a weeknight after work to 4 and 5 stars which are more “weekend project” dishes. Now all I gotta do is take Hank up on his offer to go hunting and I’m totally set to go off grid (no I just. I like Twitter too much).
I’m relatively ignorant to the celebrity chef phenomenon (unless it’s Sherry Yard who I happen to go all fanboy on whenever I run into her because I love her, but that’s a pastry chef thing and most of you probably don’t know who she is anyway). So when I got The Scarpetta Cookbook I hadn’t a clue who the author Scott Conant was. Turns out he’s been on TV and such. Also turns out that he made a pretty solid cookbook. In fact, the recipes, which sounds like something you’d order at a fancy restaurant (which, apparently Scarpetta is) are actually pretty easy to make at home. Lobster Salad with Burrata and Peaches is totally something I could make for a fancy summer lunch (well, if I wanted to splurge on my lunch and get two lobsters) but the fact that the recipe seems fairly easy, makes this cookbook a keeper.
Alice Medrich released her cookbook Bittersweet 10 years and a lot has shifted in the chocolate landscape since then. What was hard to find back then is commonly found in grocery stores across the land now. Which is why she went back to her original book and revised it, simplifying the recipes and the explanations in the recipes and generally updating what was a classic book into a new classic. If you never had a chance to pick up her original book Bittersweet, now is the time to pick up her updated version, Seriously Bitter Sweet. The book deserves to be on every person’s cookbook shelf that loves chocolate. And you know, that should be everyone reading this blog.
I’m not paleo, nor am I gluten free or even dairy free (though, I probably should be as I am slightly lactose intolerant). But for those who do have issues with certain ingredients like grains and gluten, I know it can sometimes be difficult to satisfy that sweet tooth. Thankfully Kelly V. Brozyna of The Spunky Coconut released The Paleo Chocolate Lovers’ Cookbook. Sure it sounds like a really small niche market book, but flipping through the book, I have to admit, the recipes sounds not only doable but actually tasty. Like, I’d want to eat them tasty, not oh I’ll eat those because I can’t eat anything else tasty. Chocolate Pie with Raw Graham Cracker Crust, No-Bake Chewy Paleoloes and White Chocolate Chai Cookies are all pretty easy to make and, more importantly sound like something I would want to eat. I just can’t imagine cavemen eating this good.
I was skeptical of The Macaroon Bible by Dan Cohen when it landed in my mailbox because why do we need a WHOLE book on macaroons? Not macarons, the cute trendy French sandwich cookies, but macaroons, the coconut cookie that I always associate with Passover. Well, it turns out that macaroons aren’t just chocolate flavored. They come in all sort of variations like Red Velvet, Bourbon and Egg nog. Egg nog folks! Talk about eye opening.
I’m not one to actually mail off treats to friends but the way I’ve been baking, I think I might have to. Of course, The Flying Brownie cookbook by Shirley Fan is designed with that specific mission in mind. Sturdy (but delicious) treats meant to survived the US Postal Service. It’s kind of just in time for the holidays actually. Now I just need a pen pal across the country that I can send these treats to. Any volunteers?
I seriously CAN NOT praise the book Melt, the Art of Macaroni and Cheese enough. Stephanie Stiavetti and Garrett McCord came up with a not only a book full of various recipes for everyone’s favorite comfort food, but an actual reference book on artisan cheeses. Sure the recipes sometimes call for hard-to-find cheese, but it’s worth tracking them down if you can, or just using some of the alternative cheese that they list for the recipes. Getting inspiration from cultures around the world (Pastitsio with Kefalotyri and Lamb, Sweet Potato Kugel, Szechuan-Style Udon with Piave and Radicchio) as well as classic comfort (Fettuccine Alfredo with Parmesan and Pecorino, Chili Mac with Redwood Hill Smoked Goat Cheddar, Tomato Soap with Star Pasta and Vella Dry Jack Crisps) Melt stretches the definition of mac and cheese in the most delightful way.
There’s a running joke here that even though I’m a lightweight and rarely drink, I love a good cocktail. I think it’s the IDEA of a cocktail that I love, the sophistication of holding a glass mixed with various liquors. The comfort of a double old fashion in my hand or the sparkly bottles of booze all lined up in my bar. Perhaps in a different life I would be a happy drunk but until then, I live vicariously through cocktail books like Winter Cocktails by Maria Del Mar Sacasa. With recipes for classics like Bloody Mary and Manhattan to beverages like The English Rose (Rose infused gin and Earl Grey Tea) and The Nutella Melt (Nutella, milk and Frangelico) it’s probably a good thing I don’t drink much. With this book around, I’d be a total lush all the time.
Lately I’ve been slightly obsessed with deep frying things. You might have noticed that, with my recipes for Easy Homemade Potato Chips or my Mussels and Fries post in November. Which probably explains why I’m slightly obsessed with the book Southern Fried by James Villas. A whole book on southern fried food? This is going to reek havoc on my waistline. With recipes like Low Country Turkey Hash Cakes, Mississippi Honey-Battered Fried Chicken and Blue-Cheese Stuffed Pork Cutlets all I can say is I’m totally running out and getting a couple of gallons of peanut oil. Right. Now.
It’s true that everyone is obsessed with Portland’s Pok Pok wings. In fact, I totally wanted the Pok Pok cookbook by Andy Ricker strictly for his wings recipe. But to overlook the rest of the fun and festive cookbook would be criminal. Sure those wings are killer (I’ve already made a double batch of them) but his other recipes, like Kai Kaphrao Khai Doa (stir-fried chicken with hot basil) or Sii Khrong Muu Yaang (Thai-style pork ribs) look just as good as they sound. But yeah, those wings. They really are as good as everyone says they are.
There are some cookbooks that I pull down from the shelf and use as reference. There are some cookbooks that I pull down from the shelf and use for the recipes. And there are some cookbooks that I do both of those but more importantly, I just curl up in bed with and read like a good novel. Notes from the Larder by Nigel Slater is the later type of book. A diary of recipes this book is take the idea of “cooking with the seasons” to the logical conclusion of telling you what he made with the ingredients he had on hand each day of the year. Beyond charming in that ever so British way of his, this is the sort of book that I just adore. And yes, the recipes are just spot on.
Bountiful should probably be retitled Beautiful. The much anticipated cookbook by Diane Cu and Todd Porter, the food photographer power couple behind White on Rice Couple site, this book is packed full of photos and recipes that celebrate their garden in Southern California. Often the recipes are simple, designed to be both accessible and easy to make, as well as highlighting the produce’s inherent flavor. Reading the book, like reading their blog, makes me feel like I’m a part of their lives. Now if only I lived closer, so they could invite me over for a meal or two (and let me raid their citrus trees) then I would be super happy. But I guess I’ll just have to make do with this book and their citrus recipes (like Tangerine Crème Brulee or Kumquat Marmalade).
I was lucky to have met Chef Daniel Boulud at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine event last year for a microsecond. He was lovely and charming and very distracted because, well, everyone wanted to meet him. So when I found out he was putting out a book, I was looking forward to see what he did. In the vein of the French Laundry or Eleven Madison Park cookbook world, Daniel is daunting. Large and pristine, this is the sort of book you look at in awe and wonder, living vicariously through the photos and recipes, because you can’t actually travel to New York and eat at Daniel. More than just a cookbook (because, lets face it, you probably won’t be making any of these dishes unless you’re feeling really ambitious), more than just a coffee table book (though it would look lovely sitting in your living room or on your display shelf), Daniel is story of a Daniel Boulud as a man and as a chef.
[SORRY This giveaway is closed!]
Now for the giveaway! I’ll be giving away one copy of Pok Pok by Andy Ricker, Bountiful by Todd Porter and Diane Cu and Southern Fried by James Villas to one lucky reader! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite wintertime comfort food is. If you wanna leave a link to a recipe that you love that’s even more awesome (I’m always looking for things to make in the cold wintertime). If you want to follow me on Pinterest to get another entry, you can do that too, just follow me and leave a comment telling me you followed me there (or if you already follow me there, just let me know that as well. That counts!). The fine print – PLEASE READ
By leaving a comment below to enter, you are agreeing to the Official Rules.
▪ NO PURCHASE NECESSARY
▪ VOID WHERE PROHIBITED
▪ You must be over the age of 18.
▪ This contest is only open to U.S. Citizens. Sorry non-US people!
▪ The contest starts as of today, and will run until Saturday December 14, 2013, 9am PST.
▪ The combined retail value of the book is $99.99.
▪ The winner will be chosen by a randomly selected comment. All comments will be numbered and I will use Random.org to pick a random number.
▪ The number of eligible comments below determines the odds of winning.
▪ If there’s a problem with contacting the winner, I reserve the right to award everything to someone else randomly chosen. So in other words, make sure you type in your correct email address if you want the membership and respond within a week to me when I contact you or I’ll give everything to someone else.
▪ These book will be coming directly from the publisher, which means, I can’t guarantee that I’ll get it to you in a timely fashion. If you haven’t gotten the book from the publisher in a few weeks, please email me again and I’ll check with the publisher. Sometimes things take a bit of time.
Special thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Stewart Tabori & Chang, and Ten Speed Press for providing these books as giveaways. Special thanks to Artisan Books, Grand Central Life & Style, Harvard Common Press, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Little Brown and Company, Quirk Books, Stewart Tabori & Chang, Ten Speed Press, Ulysses Press, and Victory Belt Publishing for providing review copies of these books. Even though I was provided review copies of these books for this post, I wasn’t monetarily compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.
Be sure to stop by next Saturday for another fabulous giveaway here at Eat the Love!