Beranbaum, Rose Levy. The Baking Bible. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2014. 576p. photos. index. ISBN 9781118338612. $40. COOKING
Readers expect perfection from Beranbaum (Rose’s Heavenly Cakes; The Cake Bible), whose award-winning cookbooks are known for their foolproof recipes and rigorous testing and development. Her tenth cookbook—a timeless collection of all-new cakes, pastries, cookies, candies, and breads—blends American and European traditions and thoroughly explains the hows and whys of baking through commandmentlike “golden rules” and meticulous instructions. Novice bakers can start out with easy choices (blueberry buckle) and work their way up to more complex recipes (prune preserves and caramel cream cake roll) that can have as many as five homemade components. Like Flo Braker’s Baking for All Occasions, the book contains some unique desserts (pomegranate winter chiffon meringue pie) that won’t be found elsewhere. The ingredient glossary, equipment list, resources, and appendixes are excellent. VERDICT Beranbaum successfully bridges the gap between popular home baking collections and professional texts, and her recipes will endure long after novelty baking trends have tired.
Bittman, Mark. The VB6 Cookbook: More Than 350 Recipes for Healthy Vegan Meals All Day and Delicious Flexitarian Dinners at Night. Clarkson Potter: Crown. 2014. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9780385344821. $29.95. COOKING
Faced with high cholesterol, prediabetes, and a potential lifetime of medication, food writer Bittman committed to the vegan-during-the-day diet outlined in his best-selling book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health…for Good. This companion cookbook to the VB6 diet (which can be used without its predecessor) effortlessly sidesteps common problems found in similar titles. Rather than overload readers with prescriptive rules, unfamiliar ingredients, and complicated preparations, Bittman gives them a memorable charge (eat more plants, less meat and processed foods) and tools to help them follow it, including informative charts on pantry staples, easy-to-prepare recipes for meals and snacks, a 28-day menu, and make-ahead “building blocks” (e.g., fruit compote, big-batch cooked vegetables). VERDICT Essential for public libraries, Bittman’s latest will coax readers toward a healthier lifestyle and empower them to cook more frequently. Recipes such as chickpea tabbouleh, mushroom-nut burgers over greens, and raspberry sorbet on a stick are built on familiar ingredients and techniques and can be made on extremely short notice.
David, Laurie & Kirstin Uhrenholdt. The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes To Get Your Family Craving Food That’s Simple, Tasty, and Incredibly Good for You. Rodale. 2014. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781623362508. $27.99. COOKING
Author and film producer David (Fed Up; An Inconvenient Truth) follows her first cookbook, The Family Dinner, with a new collection of recipes meant to help families improve their health. Drawing on arguments from Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Mark Hyman, and other experts, she makes a strong case for the value of home-cooked meals and the importance of introducing children to healthy eating behaviors. Practical tips—including how to read food labels, visualize the sometimes shocking amount of added sugar in store-bought products, and confront picky eaters—are useful and not overzealous. Colorful and kid-friendly recipes from coauthor Uhrenholdt (e.g., seeds of power granola, weekday roast chicken with lemon and garlic) skew healthy, but not so much so that they’ll exclude readers uninterested in making their own nut milks, teas, or hot cereal blends. VERDICT Written primarily for busy families with children, David’s attractive guide to reclaiming the family dinner will also appeal to young couples and professionals trying to shop smarter and eat less-processed meals at home.
Erickson, Renee with Jess Thomson. A Boat, a Whale, & a Walrus: Menus and Stories. Sasquatch. Sept. 2014. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781570619267. $40. COOKING
Erickson owns Seattle restaurants Boat Street Cafe, the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Whale Wins, and Barnacle. For gourmets who appreciate the details of a beautiful restaurant cookbook, her debut (coauthored with food writer Thomson) offers plenty to savor—moody photographs of outdoor outings, elegantly laid tables, and proud food producers; eloquent reflections on earthy wines and vegetal escargots; and seasonal menus (e.g., Wintry Brunch, Fourth of July Crab Feast) seemingly ordered for maximum emotional impact. Though delicious to imagine, each of Erickson’s 12 menus is challenging, expensive, and time-consuming to prepare. There are plenty of individual recipes, however, that offer an accessible entry point for admirers and intrigued novices. VERDICT If a trip to Seattle isn’t possible, this book provides the next best way to enjoy Erickson’s beautiful seafood.
Farr, Ryan with Jessica Battilana (text) & Ed Anderson (photos). Sausage Making: The Definitive Guide with Recipes. Chronicle. 2014. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9781452101781. $35. COOKING
Farr (Whole Beast Butchery), chef and owner of 4505 Meats in San Francisco, and Battilana (senior editor, TastingTable.com) use precise instructions and step-by-step photographs to teach readers how to make sausages, condiments, buns, and classical French preparations, such as chicken and egg galantine, a whole deboned chicken stuffed with sausage, fava beans, and a hard-cooked egg. To prepare recipes like chorizo, Cajun boudin, and blood bologna, readers will need a meat grinder, food processor, and sausage stuffer. An instant-read thermometer, scale, vacuum sealer, and terrine mold are also helpful. Unlike Susan Mahnke Peery’s Home Sausage Making, this guide does not contain additional recipes for cooking with sausage. VERDICT Recommended for seasoned home cooks who’d like to advance their technique and expand their repertoire.
George, Tonia & others. The Ginger & White Cookbook. Mitchell Beazley: Octopus. 2014. 160p. photos. index. ISBN 9781845339012. $24.99. COOKING
Culinary professionals Nicholas and Emma Scott and food stylist George (Things on Toast) opened Ginger & White, a London cafe, in 2009. Rustic, unassuming fare from this coffee shop and lunch destination fills the pages of this cookbook, begging to be made for casual breakfasts, lunches, and brunches. Despite a few Briticisms, the book will work well in American kitchens, and readers who enjoyed such cookbooks as Rose Carrarini’s Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Lilly Higgins’ Dream Deli will feel right at home. Spiced plum and almond French toast, garlic and fennel slow-roasted pork buns, gluten-free lemon and raspberry loaves, and other recipes are comforting and doable indulgences. VERDICT A cozy collection of beautiful (and tastefully photographed) cafe food.
Jorgensen, Per-Anders. Eating with the Chefs: Family Meals From the World’s Most Creative Restaurants. Phaidon. 2014. 306p. photos. index. ISBN 9780714865812. $59.95. COOKING
Swedish photographer Jorgensen is coeditor in chief of Fool (fool.se), which won Best Food Magazine at the 2013 Gourmand Cookbook Awards. In this study of the family meal (one which is prepared and consumed by restaurant staff, not diners), he captures chefs from 18 of the world’s best restaurants, including French Laundry, Maison Pic, Noma, and Mugaritz. He renders each staff meal in matte portraits, still lifes, and montages, among which are sandwiched profiles and recipes. The recipe pages—which are more than an inch narrower than the photo pages—are cumbersome, with ingredients printed near the bottom margin in a miniscule font. VERDICT With some of the finest photographs of any cookbook on this subject, this title will find a home in professional and restaurant collections. Home cooks who’d like to prepare what chefs eat may prefer Michael Romano and Karen Stabiner’s The Family Table or Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy’s Come In, We’re Closed.
Rosenstrach, Jenny. Dinner: The Playbook; A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal. Ballantine. Aug. 2014. 240p. notes. index. ISBN 9780345549808. pap. $20. COOKING
Rosenstrach (Time for Dinner) regularly dissects the family dinner on her popular blog Dinner: A Love Story, covering topics such as how to shop, choose recipes, and manage stress. When her family fell into a lackluster dinner rut in 2007, the author resolved to cook 30 brand-new dinners in 30 days. Here, she offers busy families a framework for undertaking a similar challenge, giving them an arsenal of meal plans, recipes, and planning tools (e.g., rules, steps, and report cards to capture recipes and feedback). Among Rosenstrach’s recipes are superfast weeknight offerings (chicken sausages with kale slaw) and fancier “keep the spark alive” dinners (grilled Thai steak salad) meant to remind readers why they love to cook. VERDICT Families and novice cooks who accept Rosenstrach’s challenge will definitely find a few “keepers” here to add to their repertoire.
Shumski, Daniel. Will It Waffle? 53 Unexpected and Irresistible Recipes To Make in a Waffle Iron. Workman. Sept. 2014. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9780761176466. pap. $14.95. COOKING
Journalist and waffleizer.com creator Shumski, who owns no fewer than six waffle irons, challenges readers to test the limits of a typically single-use appliance by using it to fry eggs, grill sandwiches, and “waffle” foods such as ravioli, falafel, and apple pie. In his debut cookbook, clear instructions make it easy to adapt recipes for Belgian, standard, or novelty waffle irons (with or without temperature controls), and an appendix offers tips on how to develop and name new creations. Whether curious, rebellious, or short on cooking equipment, readers who try recipes such as waffled chicken fingers and red velvet waffle ice cream sandwiches will delight in discovering whether or not they will waffle as promised. VERDICT Shumski’s unconventional cooking method isn’t gourmet, but it’s a lot of fun and very useful for readers with limited space for new appliances.