If I’ve learned anything from the recent obsession with Downton Abbey and Mad Men , it’s that we’re hungry to revisit the past. But classic cookbooks may not translate well to modern kitchens. Nostalgic collections of updated classics, like Julie Richardson’s Vintage Cakes and Adrienne Kane’s United States of Pie, pervade this month.
Barricelli, John. The Seasonal Baker: Easy Recipes from My Home Kitchen To Make Year-Round. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. Aug. 2012. c.288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307951878. $35. COOKING
Don’t let conventional categories‚ e.g., Muffins, Quick Breads, Buns and Other Breakfast Treats, Cookies and Bars, Frozen Fruit Desserts‚ make you think this is a generic baking book. Innovations in flavor and presentation abound in these 135 sweet and savory recipes from Connecticut-based bakery owner Barricelli, who has worked for Martha Stewart and Le Bernardin and other kitchens of note. He offers Cherry-Almond Crisp instead of apple, and his Blueberry Cheesecakes are cleverly baked in individual jars. Note that Barricelli’s definition of seasonal caters more to supermarket shoppers than locavores (the shopping guide includes international imports). VERDICT A solid follow-up to The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook , suitable for easy everyday baking.
Bloom, Leora Y. (text) & Clare Barboza (photogs.). Washington Food Artisans: Farm Stories and Chef Recipes. Sasquatch. 2012. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781570616600. $35. COOKING
Like Ashley Gartland’s Dishing Up Oregon , freelance writer Bloom’s farm-to-table cookbook features chef recipes organized by course, engaging profiles of Northwest food artisans, and breathtaking color photographs. Dishes like Washington Cherry Gazpacho and Roasted Duck Breast with Lavender, Coriander, and Fennel are inspired, but many contain elusive regional ingredients. This attractive gift book is filled with details on Washington producers and restaurants. VERDICT These 52 recipes for soups, salads, appetizers, mains, and desserts will appeal most to readers familiar with or located in Washington.
Fox, Mindy. Salads: Beyond the Bowl; Extraordinary Recipes for Everyday Eating. Kyle: Kyle Cathie, dist. by National Bk. Network. May 2012. c.176p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781906868673. pap. $19.95. COOKING
Fox, whose A Bird in the Oven and Then Some was a 2010 New York Times Best Cookbook, presents a versatile collection of crave-worthy salads (e.g., Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Arugula, Potato and Snap Pea Salad with Garlic and Parsley-Lemon Pesto) to delight omnivores, vegetarians, and entrée salad devotees. Every popular component (e.g., vegetables, dairy, grains, proteins) is well represented, and there are useful technique and composition tips. VERDICT A noteworthy title, essential for fans of Andrew Swallow’s Mixt Salads and Patricia Wells’s Salad as a Meal.
Grit Magazine Eds. Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient. Andrews McMeel. 2012. 272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449409746. pap. $24.99. COOKING
This cookbook from the editors of country lifestyle magazine Grit seeks to revive authentic food traditions and combat our fear of animal fats. If you’ve never cooked with lard, you’ll appreciate the helpful guides to sourcing and rendering this pig product, which becomes the secret ingredient behind mouthwatering Sky-High Biscuits, Homemade Flour Tortillas, and Strawberry Soda Pop Cake. VERDICT More than half of these straightforward recipes are for baked goods and sweets, making this an excellent choice for lard-loving or lard-curious bakers.
Hayden, Edward. Food To Love. O’Brien, dist. by Dufour. Jun. 2012. 192p. photogs. ISBN 9781847172464. $38.95. COOKING
Irish chef and TV presenter Hayden is part of a growing contingent of talented twentysomethings from across the pond. Writing with home cooks in mind, he offers a variety of simple dishes‚ Light Bites, Super Soups, Not Just Your Daily Bread, Mouthwatering Meat Dishes, Something Fishy‚ for easy entertaining. American cooks shouldn’t let the metric measurements, lack of index, or potentially unfamiliar terms (e.g., bun pan, sultanas, mixed spice) discourage them from trying this cookbook. VERDICT This unintimidating approach to home cooking exudes the distinctive youthful exuberance found in Donal Skehan’s Good Mood Food and Sophie Wright’s Home at 7, Dinner at 8 .
Joyce, Jennifer. Meals in Heels: Do-Ahead Dishes for the Dinner Party Diva. Murdoch, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Jul. 2012. 192p. illus. index. ISBN 9781741965520. $19.95. COOKING
We all won’t look as fabulous in the kitchen as the illustrated dinner party divas in this colorful entertaining guide; however, with plenty of tips, menus, and make-ahead techniques and serving suggestions, we can at least be more organized. London food writer and stylist Joyce offers recipes for canapés, starters, mains, sides, sweets, and more, all designed to help readers maximize time spent with guests. Start the evening with Prawn and Water Chestnut Wontons and finish with Profiteroles with Salted Caramel Sauce. VERDICT While this book won’t replace entertaining classics, it’s a stylish accessory for fashionistas who know their way around a kitchen.
Kane, Adrienne. United States of Pie: Regional Favorites from East to West and North to South. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jun. 2012. c.240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062064073. pap. $24.99. COOKING
Working with historic sources like cookbooks from Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library, Kane (Cooking and Screaming: Finding My Own Recipe for Recovery ) compiled this collection of pies from the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West (e.g., Concord Grape, Southern Peach, Browned Butter Butterscotch Meringue, and Avocado). There are no photographs, so Kane relies on descriptive language to communicate the finer points of pie technique. VERDICT Compared to such classic primers as Ken Haedrich’s Pie and Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Pie and Pastry Bible , this book is shorter and more focused on history. Recommended for frequent pie bakers interested in new flavors and regional specialties.
Perry, Neil. Balance & Harmony: The Secrets of Asian Cooking. Murdoch, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Jul. 2012. 400p. illus. index. ISBN 9781741966015. $65. COOKING
Australian chef and restaurant owner Perry calls balance and harmony the cornerstones of good Asian cooking. These concepts are reflected in the book’s bold, contrasting flavors, textures, techniques, and elegant photographs. Perry’s Basic Techniques and Recipes can help adventurous novices master Asian flavor profiles, while Advanced Recipes and Banquet Menus offers inspiration for serious entertainers and Chinese food enthusiasts. Note that measurements are metric, and there are a few hard-to-finds (e.g., mud crab, palm sugar, lily buds). VERDICT An exquisitely produced cookbook‚ cum‚ art object that would pair well with Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s titles.
Richardson, Julie. Vintage Cakes: Timeless Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Snack, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today’s Sweet Tooth. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. Aug. 2012. c.176p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781607741022. $24. COOKING
To write this book, Richardson ( Rustic Fruit Desserts ) consulted classic cookbooks, submissions from family and friends, and vintage recipes dating back to the 1920s. The resulting collection is a pleasure to bake from, and you’ll repeatedly turn to its show-stopping, reliable recipes for both special and everyday occasions. Richardson includes familiar (e.g., Wacky, Texas Sheet, Red Velvet, Caramel, and Watergate cakes) and lesser-known classics and a few originals, all updated to suit modern palates. VERDICT Essential for baking collections, this cookbook will thrill nostalgic readers, especially those who loved Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne’s Sky High and Nancie McDermott’s Southern Cakes.
Alt, Carol with Leda Scheintaub. Easy Sexy Raw: 130 Raw Food Recipes, Tools, and Tips To Make You Feel Gorgeous and Satisfied. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. May 2012. c.256p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307888693. pap. $18.99. COOKING
Intending her latest cookbook to be the sort of primer she wished for when she first began a raw-food diet 15 years ago, supermodel Alt here covers more basics and provides more recipes, tips, and resources than in her previous two books ( Eating in the Raw ; The Raw 50 ). Most of these easy-to-make recipes use common ingredients, and Alt offers helpful information on purchasing, health properties, and more. She is one of the few omnivorous raw-food authors and uses raw dairy, eggs, seafood, and red meat. Readers may want to confirm Alt’s various health claims with research of their own. VERDICT This title shares common ground with other basic raw cookbooks. Judita Wignall’s Going Raw is still a standout for demystifying raw kitchen techniques. Fans of Alt’s previous books will want this, and those interested in eating raw but not vegan will be intrigued.‚ Jude Baldwin, Shasta Coll. Lib., Redding, CA
Reinhart, Peter & Denene Wallace. The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking: 80 Low-Carb Recipes that Offer Solutions for Celiac Disease, Diabetes, and Weight Loss. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. Aug. 2012. c.224p. photogs. ISBN 9781607741169. $30. COOKING
James Beard Award winner Reinhart (The Bread Baker’s Apprentice ) collaborates with Wallace, who developed a flour blend after being diagnosed with diabetes and gluten intolerance, to create baking solutions for those who are avoiding gluten, carbohydrates, and sugar: no easy task. Trying to move beyond rice flours, the authors have hit upon a new world of nut flours. Incredibly, this fixes the gritty texture that plagues so many gluten-free baked goods. The breads, scones, and cookies presented here taste silky smooth and delicious. This is not a book for beginners, as processing nuts into flour takes a certain level of commitment. VERDICT Finally, a gluten-free baking book that does not settle for close enough. All of the recipes are also low carb and sugar free, making this title nothing short of amazing.‚ Emily Thompson, SUNY Oswego