Cookbook Reviews, November 15, 2011

This month’s column is packed with noteworthy dessert books, and I’ll confess that the sweeter titles are what keep me in the kitchen. Tracey Zabar’s One Sweet Cookie , Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s Vegan Pie in the Sky , Karen Tack and Alan Richardson’s Cupcakes, Cookies, & Pie, Oh, My! , and Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar should not be missed.


Bell, Annie (text) & Richard Jung (photogs.). Soup, Glorious Soup. Kyle: Kyle Cathie, dist. by National Bk. Network. Nov. 2011. 176p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781906868291. pap. $19.95. COOKING
In her latest cookbook, Bell ( Gorgeous Desserts ; Gorgeous Vegetables ) nostalgically groups soup recipes into chapters named for small-town vendors (e.g., The Greengrocer, The Dairy, The Fishmonger, The Butcher, The Baker), making for slightly irregular browsing. While one expects soups like Pot au Feu and Chicken Noodle to be homey and comforting, here they are also vibrant and sophisticated. Most recipes, however, are quite rich, calling for ingredients like Greek yogurt, coconut milk, wine, cheese, sausage, and bacon. Recommended for readers in search of an indulgent departure from their workhorse soup repertoire.

Gartland, Ashley (text) & John Valls (photogs.). Dishing Up Oregon: 145 Recipes That Celebrate Farm-to-Table Flavors. Storey. Nov. 2011. c.288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781603425667. pap. $19.95. COOKING
Food writer Gartland’s excellent addition to Storey’s Dishing Up series has elements you’d expect from a state-focused, farm-to-table cookbook: restaurant recipes; local ingredients; profiles of farms, dairies, and wineries; and beautiful, full-page photographs. With 145 mouthwatering recipes like Honey-Paprika Potatoes, Hazelnut-Crusted Salmon with Brown Butter and Basalmic Vinegar, and Apple-Huckleberry Crisp, hungry foodies will have a hard time deciding what to cook first. The chapters are organized by primary ingredient, and there is a helpful index of recipes by category near the end. A great purchase for readers who love or plan to travel to the Northwest.

Gordon, Kathryn & Anne E. McBride (text) & Steve Legato (photogs.). Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections To Make at Home. Running Pr. 2011. 270p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780762442584. $18. COOKING
Baking instructor Gordon and McBride ( Chocolate Epiphany ) present a lengthier and more versatile macaron cookbook than other recently published titles on these popular French treats (see Making Macarons, LJ 7/11). They include four meringue methods with pictorial instructions, sweet and savory recipes that list metric and U.S. standard measurements, and an exhaustive troubleshooting guide with helpful photos of failed attempts. Intermediate to advanced bakers looking for lively flavor combinations will love the variety here (e.g., Popcorn Pastry Cream, Anise Ice Milk, Foie Gras with Black Currant Gastrique, and Maple-Bacon-Bourbon). Serious macaron enthusiasts should invest in Pierre Hermé’s Macarons.

Lo, Anita with Charlotte Druckman (text) & Lucy Schaeffer (photogs.). Cooking Without Borders. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. 2011. 240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781584798927. $35. COOKING
Lo owns Michelin-starred New York City restaurant Annisa and has appeared on several Food Network shows. Her debut is a work of understated elegance that successfully preserves the integrity of intricate dishes while adapting them for home kitchens. Within its matte pages, you’ll find an assortment of appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and cocktails, most of which are grounded in classic French technique with multicultural influences. Lo’s version of vichyssoise, for instance, includes lobster stock, shiso , and wasabi with the traditional leeks and potatoes. Lo’s expert narrative will appeal to anyone interested in her career and cuisine; the recipes, however, are best for advanced cooks.

Moskowitz, Isa Chandra & Terry Hope Romero. Vegan Pie in the Sky: 75 Out-of-This-World Recipes for Pies, Tarts, Cobblers, and More. Da Capo Lifelong. Nov. 2011. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780738212746. pap. $17. COOKING
Long before popular vegan chefs Moskowitz and Romero ( Veganomicon ; Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World) started writing indispensable vegan cookbooks, they were sharing recipes through their website, Post Punk Kitchen (www.theppk.com). Like their other publications, this comprehensive guide to pies contains smart, sassy recipes that embrace rather than work around the vegan diet. Some recipes aren’t exactly pie, but few readers will mind seeing Chocolate Galaxy Banana or Blueberry Bliss cheesecakes alongside such tempting offerings as Blackberry Bramble Pie, Salted Maple Pecan Pie, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Tartlets. Expect demand for this book, which vegans will reach for as often as other bakers consult Ken Haedrich’s Pie . [New York tour.]

Paddleford, Clementine. The Great American Cookbook: 500 Recipes; Favorite Foods from Every State. Rizzoli, dist. by Random. 2011. 816p. ed. by Kelly Alexander. illus. index. ISBN 9780847836901. $45. COOKING
This massive homage to midcentury American cooking is a revised edition of prolific food writer Paddleford’s 1960s best seller, How America Eats . The author traveled more than 800,000 miles collecting these recipes, which are organized by region and subdivided by state. Some recipes‚ like Swiss Cheese‚ Stuffed Meatloaf Supreme and Pheasant Casserole‚ are charmingly dated, but most are uncannily familiar. Paddleford was clearly ahead of her time, and her reporting is a pleasure to read. This title’s historic and ethnographic significance will appeal to researchers, and anyone who loves good food writing will enjoy the stories accompanying some of America’s best-known dishes.

Said, Oliver & Michael Cappon. Kitchen on Fire!: Mastering the Art of Cooking in 12 Weeks (or Less). Da Capo Lifelong. Nov. 2011. c.400p. illus. index. ISBN 9780738214535. $35. COOKING
Said and Cappon, owners of Kitchen on Fire! cooking school in Berkeley, CA, have adapted their 12-week culinary boot camp into a book meant to free home cooks from rote recipe following by imparting the essentials of cooking technique and science. Individual chapters are packed with pictorial instructions, easy-to-read text, and exercises or recipes that readers can use to test their skills. This is a streamlined crash course for novices. Those with more skill might try the more comprehensive Jacques Pépin’s Complete Techniques . Readers interested in everyday recipes with a side of science should look for Alton Brown or America’s Test Kitchen titles. [Local tour.]

Shaffer, Kate (text) & Stacey Cramp (photogs.). Desserted: Recipes and Tales from an Island Chocolatier. Down East. 2011. 128p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780892729913. $29.95. COOKING
California native Shaffer and her husband own Black Dinah Chocolatiers on Maine’s Isle au Haut. In this anecdote-packed collection of truffles, cakes, cookies, and other treats, she paints a vivid picture of island life. But with only five to six recipes per chapter, this book is more of a niche filler than a stand-alone guide to chocolate. That said, Shaffer’s confections can be made with conventional tools, and her unintimidating explanation of tempering and coating techniques is a great start for novices, who might move on to Andrew Garrison Shotts’s Making Artisan Chocolates and Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet .

Tack, Karen & Alan Richardson. Cupcakes, Cookies, & Pie, Oh, My! Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2012. c.240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780547662428. pap. $17.95. COOKING
Get ready for another whimsical decorating book from Tack and Richardson ( Hello, Cupcake! ; What’s New, Cupcake? ), best-selling authors and culinary MacGyvers who transform store-bought candies, frosting, and baking mixes into stunning cupcake creations. Here, they’ve expanded their repertoire to include other types of desserts (e.g., a lemon cheesecake that masquerades as nachos). With just one trip to the grocery store, aspiring decorators of all ages can easily re-create treats from this fun book. [Eight-city tour; see Prepub Alert, 8/29/11.]

Zabar, Tracey (text) & Ellen Silverman (photogs.). One Sweet Cookie: Celebrated Chefs Share Favorite Recipes. Rizzoli, dist. by Random. 2011. 192p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780847836666. $30. COOKING
When cookie-obsessed baker Zabar couldn’t convince friends to participate in a cookie swap, she orchestrated a virtual exchange, the result of which is this outstanding collection of recipes from more than 50 well-known New York City chefs. With contributions from Dorie Greenspan, Michael Laiskonis, Maury Rubin, Laurent Tourondel, and others, this delightful book is perfect for readers who can’t decide among other recently published titles. Note that some familiar recipes may be altered here‚ for example, one for Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies differs significantly from the version that ran in the New York Times .

ADDITIONAL COOKBOOKS

Kafka, Barbara. The Intolerant Gourmet: Glorious Food Without Gluten and Lactose. Artisan: Workman. Nov. 2011. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781579653941. $29.95. COOKING
James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner Kafka ( Vegetable Love ) has gluten and lactose allergies that reemerged later in life. Unwilling to give up her gourmet lifestyle after years spent enjoying a variety of food, she set about learning to cook without wheat or dairy. This cookbook‚ with a whole chapter dedicated to pasta and risotto, not to mention recipes for white bread, pancakes, and doughnuts‚ does not give the impression that it is only for those with dietary restrictions. VERDICT This title covers a lot of territory, but it is perhaps best for home cooks willing to take chances. While Kafka explains certain techniques and offers an introduction to basic gluten- and dairy-free pantry staples, many recipes assume a certain degree of ability and knowledge. ‚ Laura Krier, California Digital Lib., Oakland

Moore, Michael. Blood Sugar: Inspiring Recipes for Anyone Facing the Challenge of Diabetes and Maintaining Good Health. New Holland Australia, dist. by Midpoint Trade. Nov. 2011. 240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781742571546. $35. COOKING
Moore, diagnosed with diabetes at age 35, has worked in some of London’s best restaurants and was consulting director of food at the Sydney Opera House. This cookbook for controlling blood sugar contains 65 elegant but easy recipes and an abundance of gorgeous full-color photographs. Illustrating that cooking to balance blood sugar doesn’t have to be bland, Moore includes mouthwatering recipes for light meals, soups, main dishes, desserts, and snacks. He also shares tips for balancing food types. Measurements are given in both ounces and grams to make the recipes accessible to any cook, anywhere. VERDICT This cookbook will be enjoyed alike by those living with diabetes and by foodies. ‚ Lisa Felix, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris P.L., IN

Tosi, Christina. Momofuku Milk Bar. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. 2011. c.256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307720498. $35. COOKING
Tosi organizes this unusual cookbook around ten mother recipes for the creamy, crunchy, yummy components of the pies, cakes, cookies, composed desserts, and even breads that have made her Momofuku Milk Bar a New York City institution. In a charmingly casual tone, she offers an insider tour of the bakery, divulging the secrets necessary for home cooks to capture some of the Momofuku magic while making clear the amount of dedication required to create desserts of this caliber. Her recipes combine playful, nostalgic flavors (Fruity Pebbles, peanut butter and jelly, malted milk) with pastry chef acumen. When the recipes call for more esoteric ingredients (passion fruit puree, gelatin sheets, feuilletine ), Tosi suggests sources and provides substitutions where possible. This beautifully illustrated book includes such tempting confections as Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookies and Kimchi Croissants with Blue Cheese. VERDICT A challenging but approachable book, highly recommended for ambitious home cooks. ‚ Jane laPlante, Minot State Univ. Lib., ND

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