Recent press surrounding Michael Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation and Michael Moss’s Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us suggests that home cooking can solve, or at least mitigate, a variety of social, cultural, and economic problems. If you need additional motivation to start cooking, explore these visually appealing and family-friendly titles, which include Joanne Chang’s follow-up to Flour (Flour, Too), a standout grilling collection from Bon Appétit (The Grilling Book), and an adorable party-planning guide (Trophy Cupcakes and Parties!).
Barlow, Melissa & others. Noodlemania! 500 Playful Pasta Recipes. Quirk. 2013. 112p. illus. index. ISBN 9781594746178. pap. $15.95. COOKING
Barlow (Easy Cut-up Cakes for Kids), with help from photographer Zac Williams (Little Monsters Cookbook) and illustrator Alison Oliver, invites kids to tackle recipes such as sea horse salad, where dyed pasta “sea horses” are garnished with spinach “seaweed,” and gnome home pasta, where a tomato-topped boiled egg masquerades as a toadstool. These clever recipes rely on pantry staples and are easy enough for most children to make with a little help and supervision. Quirky illustrations appear throughout. VERDICT For young cooks interested in playful pasta projects. Children looking for more sophisticated recipes and techniques might enjoy Abigail Johnson Dodge’s The Kid’s Cookbook: A Great Book for Kids Who Love To Cook or Betty Crocker Kids Cook!
Buffardi, Michelle. Great Balls of Cheese: More Than 50 Irresistible Cheese Ball Creations for Any Occasion. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2013. 128p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781118497203. $17.99. COOKING
Like Kathy Casey’s D’Lish Deviled Eggs: A Collection of Recipes from Creative to Classic and Julie Richardson’s Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today’s Sweet Tooth , more and more cookbooks are updating old-fashioned recipes. In keeping with this trend, experienced publishing professional Buffardi transforms the tired cheese ball into a versatile make-ahead appetizer. Her 50-plus savory and sweet variations—mostly uncooked mixtures of cream cheese, other cheeses, and seasonings—include a cilantro-coated spicy corn ball, an elegant port wine cheese ball, and bite-sized lemon-ginger cheesecake truffles. Buffardi excels at inventive presentations, and crafty readers will adore her charming wise (and cheesy) owl and sweet almond hedgehog. VERDICT Fun party food for the entertainer with a sense of humor.
Chang, Joanne. Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Café’s Most Loved Sweets & Savories. Chronicle. 2013. 304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781452106144. $35. COOKING
James Beard Award–nominated chef Chang, a Harvard-educated former management consultant, owns four Flour Bakery + Café locations in Boston. This companion to her first cookbook, Flour , captures a bustling day in the life of her businesses and, like the best restaurant cookbooks, enables readers to re-create their favorites successfully at home. Flavorful savory dishes dominate, followed by more of Chang’s signature classic French and nostalgic American desserts. VERDICT Diligently precise, Chang is a talented recipe writer. Her dishes appear even more exciting on the plate than they do on the page. For readers who loved Tom Douglas’s The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle , Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson’sTartine , or Frank Mentesana and others’ Once Upon a Tart…: Soups, Salads, Muffins, and More , this title is essential.
Coxwell, Jane. Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes. Morrow. 2013. 310p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780062125408. $35. COOKING
South African chef Coxwell has made a career of cooking aboard private yachts for clients such as Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg. Her fresh, everyday recipes (e.g., warm quinoa breakfast porridge, Middle Eastern watermelon salad, Cape Malay lamb curry) emphasize uncomplicated preparations and incorporate trendy ingredients, such as agave nectar, coconut water, flaxseeds, hazelnut oil, and Maldon salt. Coxwell, who has circumnavigated the globe, also shares photographs and stories from her travels. VERDICT Fans of uncomplicated gourmet health foods will enjoy this beautifully photographed collection.
Ella’s Kitchen. The Cookbook: The Red One. Hamlyn. 2013. 192p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780600626756. $19.99. COOKING
In this debut from Ella’s Kitchen, an organic baby food company recently acquired by the Hain Celestial Group, founder Paul Lindley encourages parents to engage their children with food. Easy, budget-friendly recipes like squashy salmon cakes and magical Moroccan-style chicken are mostly meant for parents to prepare but identify opportunities for “little helpers” to participate. The book includes coloring pages, stickers, and fun activities (e.g., gardening, crafting with flour dough). VERDICT Parents can use this cookbook to help babies and toddlers explore food with all their senses. Note that many recipes call for sunflower oil (easily substituted) and cheese.
The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit. Andrews McMeel. 2013. 192p. ed. by Adam Rapoport. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449427528. $45. COOKING
Bon Appétit editor in chief Rapoport delivers a functional and stylish collection that includes contributions from some of today’s best grill masters and chefs (e.g., Steven Raichlen, Bobby Flay, Jean-Georges Vongerichten). After condensing essential techniques into an accessible “Grill Prep” chapter, the author shares more than 380 recipes that previously appeared in the magazine. The recipes, smartly laid out on the page, are grouped into logical categories (e.g., chicken, vegetables, drinks) that are easy to browse. Sidebars introduce additional techniques and wisdom as needed. VERDICT A stunning contemporary collection for the modern griller.
Mathis, Taylor. The Southern Tailgating Cookbook: A Game-Day Guide for Lovers of Food, Football, & the South. Univ. of North Carolina. Aug. 2013. 248p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781469610627. $30. COOKING
The fervent sports fandom so perfectly captured in Warren St. John’s Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania is further illustrated in this cookbook, which Mathis researched by traveling through 12 states over two and a half football seasons. Photographer and blogger Mathis explains how to prep, execute, and clean up after a tailgate party and shares stories, photographs, and regional recipes that highlight various Southern traditions. Fans who may be reluctant to cook their rival team’s recipes will appreciate the tips on “Eating Your Competition” (serving a mascot-inspired menu). VERDICT Recommended for regional collections.
Morford, Katie Sullivan. Best Lunch Box Ever: Ideas and Recipes for School Lunches Kids Will Love. Chronicle. Jul. 2013. 156p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781452108292. $24.95. COOKING
With these 75 recipes, food writer and registered dietician Morford (www.momskitchenhandbook.com) seeks to “upgrade” traditional packed lunches by making them more nutritious and less tedious to prepare. Turkey and hummus cuties (minipita sandwiches) and teriyaki fried rice, fortified with healthy ingredient additions, are easy and appealing. Parmesan kale chips and chickpea panini, however, seem like better candidates for grown-up lunch boxes. Morford recommends relying on reusable lunch box supplies and organic, seasonal produce and offers practical advice on parenting, food safety, and planning ahead. VERDICT Ideal for parents and professionals, this cookbook features winning lunch ideas for eco- and health-conscious households.
Shea, Jennifer. Trophy Cupcakes & Parties! Deliciously Fun Party Ideas and Recipes from Seattle’s Prize-Winning Cupcake Bakery. Sasquatch. Sept. 2013. 240p. index. photogs. ISBN 9781570618642. $24.95.COOKING
Trophy Cupcakes & Party (www.trophycupcakes.com) founder Shea shares how she designs inspired theme parties for children and adults (hint: worksheets and helpers are involved). Ambitious readers can dive straight into planning elaborate fêtes like Destination: Paris—complete with crème bruleé cupcakes, hand-dyed streamers, signature cocktails, and a French buffet—and novices can start with tips and tricks in Party Planning 101. Be sure to read the cupcake assembly instructions in each party-planning section; the batter recipes at the back of the book omit the accompanying frostings and decorations. VERDICT No detail is spared in this epic entertaining guide that can help readers learn to pipe perfect frosting ruffles and assemble a homemade piñata. Highly recommended.
Women for Women International. Share: The Cookbook That Celebrates Our Common Humanity. Kyle: Kyle Cathie, dist. by National Bk. Network. (Women for Women Intl.). 2013. 320p. ed. by Alison Oakervee. photogs. index. ISBN 9781906868871. $40. COOKING
Benefiting the Women for Women International organization, this breathtaking charity cookbook calls attention to humanitarian efforts in war and conflict-ravaged countries. One hundred recipes, contributed by celebrities (e.g., Kate Spade, Alice Walker, René Redzepi) and women from countries in which the organization operates, appear alongside scenic photographs and sobering accounts of hardship. Khatte bharwan karele (stuffed bitter gourds), Burmese tomato fish curry, and other recipes are colorful and appetizing, but a few contain errors. VERDICT This harmonious blend of food and philanthropy is recommended for home cooks who would like to explore global flavors.