Is April too early to be thinking about outdoor cooking and frozen desserts? Writing from what feels like the heart of the polar vortex, I say no! Readers anticipating the arrival of summer need look no further than this month’s column, which includes notable grilling titles, a practical guide to frozen yogurt, and a quirky ice cream sandwich collection.
Better Homes and Gardens Eds. Fresh Grilling: 200 Delicious Good-for-You Seasonal Recipes. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780544242197. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9780544245440. COOKING
This collection from the editors of Better Homes and Gardens showcases varied techniques and offers readers a chance to grill novelties such as pizzas, fruits, and desserts (e.g., cast-iron brownies, skillet peach pie). Many courses—including beverages, appetizers, and sides—are covered, making it easy to plan a complete meal without consulting other titles. A “Grilling Basics” chapter is less text-heavy than most and contains a visually appealing guide to grilled vegetables and fruits. Icons identify low-calorie and “weekday friendly” choices and all recipes include nutrition facts. VERDICT Extremely accessible yet fancier than other similar offerings, this grilling book emphasizes fresh produce as much as meat.
Case, Natasha & others. Coolhaus Ice Cream Book: Custom-Built Sandwiches with Crazy-Good Combos of Cookies, Ice Creams, Gelatos, & Sorbets. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9780544120044. $25. COOKING
Before Coolhaus (eatcoolhaus.com) was a successful business, co-owners Case and Freya Estreller sold their architecture-inspired ice cream sandwiches from a broken-down postal truck purchased on Craigslist. Their debut cookbook, penned with freelance writer Kathleen Squires, provides a humorous introduction to their company’s history and offers readers a chance to re-create signature sandwiches such as Bananas Norman Foster and Peter Cook-ies and Cream (named for architects profiled in the book). Recipes range from traditional to experimental and include a few vegan and gluten-free choices. The savory flavors—Peking duck and pistachio black truffle, for example—will challenge even adventurous palates. VERDICT This bold ice cream book both shocks and delights. Highly recommended for readers interested in unusual flavors.
Corman, Neal with Chris Peterson. Virgil’s Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook: The Best Barbecue from Around the Country, Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9781250041098. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466837249. COOKING
This cookbook’s title promises an exploration of regional barbecue styles but its primary focus is on how barbecue is prepared at Virgil’s, a restaurant located near New York’s Times Square. Writing with cookbook developer and author Peterson, corporate executive chef Corman shares a restaurant and barbecue history, technical tips, and indulgent dishes such as trash ribs, beer-batter onion rings, and perfect smoked pork loin. Many recipes include suggested beer pairings and make frequent references to the restaurant and its customers’ preferences. VERDICT Although it’s a nice souvenir for Virgil’s fans, this cookbook adds little new to the barbecue genre. Buy for demand only.
Davies, Sarah & Kristy Taylor. The Naked Kitchen Veggie Burger Book: Delicious Plant-Based Burgers, Fries, Sides, and More. Lyons. May 2014. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9780762793297. pap. $19.95. COOKING
Many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks include one or two meatless burgers. In comparison, this collection by mother-daughter team Davies and Taylor (coowners, thenakedkitchen.com) offers dozens of variations made from pleasing combinations of beans, grains, vegetables, and spices. The authors explain basic techniques, provide a pantry list, and then delve into recipes for patties, buns, condiments, sides, beverages, and “beyond burgers” mains (e.g., roasted garlic hummus dogs, classic Italian lasagna). Some recipes include a few hard-to-find health foods, such as nutritional yeast and coconut aminos. Conveniently, many dishes can be made ahead and frozen. VERDICT Perfect for readers looking to save on store-bought vegetarian patties or expand their meatless grilling repertoire.
The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook: More than 100 Years of Sizzling Food Writing and Recipes. Sterling Epicure. Apr. 2014. 400p. ed. by Peter Kaminsky. photos. index. ISBN 9781402793240. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781402793301. COOKING
According to editor Kaminsky (Bacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes), The New York Times has been writing about grilling and barbecue since 1852 and has published thousands of recipes. Here he has selected 200 of those dishes and arranged them with articles and stories from prominent chefs and food writers, such as Mark Bittman, Steven Raichlen, Pierre Franey, and others. This cookbook’s strength is its scope; Jacques Pepin’s 1992 recipe for grilled Tabasco chicken sits happily alongside Julia Moskin’s jerk chicken (2008) and Craig Claiborne’s poulet grille au gingembre (grilled chicken with ginger) from 1980. VERDICT A fascinating look at how various innovators, personalities, and cultural trends have shaped the evolution of grilling and barbecue.
Guillen, Dina. Plank Grilling: 75 Recipes for Infusing Food with Flavor Using Wood Planks. Sasquatch. 2014. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9781570619007. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781570619014. COOKING
Untreated wood planks can be used to infuse grilled foods with fresh and interesting flavors. Writer and marketing consultant Guillen’s second cookbook on this technique borrows from her 2009 The Plank Grilling Cookbook, but it includes enough new recipes (e.g., stuffed meatball sliders, peach and prosciutto pizza with arugula) to satisfy most readers. Guillen favors proteins, making this title most appropriate for meat eaters. There are few vegetarian options and no desserts. VERDICT An attractive and approachable introduction to plank grilling. Readers looking to further their technique may also enjoy Karen Adler and Judith Fertig’s 25 Essentials: Techniques for Planking.
Lamothe, Teeny. Teeny’s Tour of Pie: Mastering the Art of Pie in 67 Recipes. Workman. Apr. 2014. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780761173366. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780761181378. COOKING
Lamothe is the founder of Teeny Pies, a wholesale pie-baking business based in Washington, DC. Before becoming a business owner, Lamothe undertook a year-long “tour of pie,” apprenticing herself to female bakers across the country. Here the author shares knowledge gleaned from the journey, such as how to choose pie tins, master a perfect crust, and adapt full-size recipes into five-inch “teeny” pies. Lamothe includes instructions for several crusts, including whole-wheat and gluten-free, and 60-plus creations ranging from traditional (lemon meringue) to contemporary (bourbon bacon pecan) desserts. VERDICT Pie cookbooks are plentiful, but Lamothe’s cheery prose, sound advice, and uncommon recipes make hers worth acquiring.
Morales, Martin. Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen; Authentic Recipes for Lomo Saltado, Anticuchos, Tiraditos, Alfajores, and Pisco Cocktails. Ten Speed: Crown. May 2014. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607746416. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781607746423. COOKING
First published in the UK, chef Morales’s debut features arrestingly beautiful, tempting Peruvian cuisine, much of it from his acclaimed London restaurant Ceviche. The front matter flirts with history and autobiography, but most of the volume is devoted to ceviches, street foods, mains, sides, desserts, and drinks. Though preparations for dishes like Alianza Lima (mixed seafood and fish ceviche) and Costillas con Sauco (pork ribs with elderberry sauce) aren’t overly complicated, they require some finesse with a knife and a willingness to preprepare components. VERDICT Some readers won’t enjoy having to source its ultra-specific ingredients, but this work is worthy of most South American and restaurant cooking collections.
Schlesinger, Chris & John Willoughby. The Big-Flavor Grill: No-Marinade, No-Hassle Recipes. Ten Speed: Crown. 2014. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607745273. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781607745280. COOKING
Unlike many experts, chef Schlesinger and Cook’s Illustrated executive editor Willoughby believe great grilling doesn’t require intricate preparations or expensive equipment. Here the authors teach readers to grill basic ingredients (e.g., chicken thighs, shrimp, eggplant) and combine them with bold accompaniments for maximum flavor. Each chapter includes base recipes with variations; e.g., super-basic grilled skirt steak can be served with steak sauce-chile butter, honey-mustard ranch dressing, bacon-mushroom relish, barbecued bread salad, or smoky red onions and grilled avocados. VERDICT Highly recommended for easy, everyday grilling. The authors’ approach is so simple that readers will have plenty of time to enjoy drinks from their beverage chapter.
Weston, Nicole. How To Make Frozen Yogurt: 56 Delicious Flavors You Can Make at Home. Storey. Apr. 2014. 112p. illus. ISBN 9781612123776. pap. $9.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612123783. COOKING
To make creamy and delicious homemade frozen yogurt food writer and pastry chef Weston (creator of the popular website bakingbites.com) recommends a method that involves folding cooked meringue into full-fat, Greek-style yogurt. Readers exploring this collection of 56 flavors (e.g., vanilla bean, chai spice, creamsicle, candy cane) can use store- bought yogurt, or make and strain their own. Weston’s instructions are clear and her recipes are easy to prepare. VERDICT Practical and inexpensive, this compact cookbook will make a great gift for new ice cream machine owners and frozen dessert lovers. Its minimalist approach will appeal to fans of Mark Bittman’s no-nonsense style of cooking.