Balla, Nicolaus & Cortney Burns (text) & Chad Robertson (photos). Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes. Chronicle. 2014. 256p. index. ISBN 9781452126463. $40. COOKING
By mastering such techniques as dehydrating, curing, picking, sprouting, and fermenting, Balla and Burns, co-chefs of San Francisco’s Bar Tartine restaurant, have elevated pantry stocking to an art. Their first cookbook, split between methods of food preparation and meticulous recipes, demonstrates the many ways humble ingredients can be transformed. Oranges, for instance, can be processed into jams and syrups, dried and blended with tea, or dehydrated and ground to a powder. Many of these techniques are doable for home cooks, though it’s hard to imagine amateurs making their own bottarga (which involves drying cured sacs of fish roe for five to seven weeks). Creative dishes (e.g., smoked potatoes with ramp mayonnaise; grilled tripe with paprika and fennel; steamed parsnip cake with cider, kefir, honey, and bee pollen) feature strong Asian and Hungarian influences and refer readers frequently to instructions for making their own vinegars, cultured butters, and spice blends. VERDICT Aspiring culinarians and serious enthusiasts will devour this eye-opening book, which provides an insider’s look at an artisanal larder.
Jones, Anna. A Modern Way To Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing). Ten Speed: Crown. Apr. 2015. 368p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607748038. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781607748045. COOKING
Jones, a London-based stylist and food writer, believes meals should be light, satisfying, and good for the planet. Additionally, and rather like Sara Forte in The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon, the author maintains there is a home for salted caramel brownies (enriched with coconut oil and rye flour) alongside restrained bowls of greens and whole grains. Consequently, the offerings in her first cookbook (e.g., lemony lentil and crispy kale soup, beet curry with spiced cottage cheese) strike a solid balance of healthy and just a little sinful. Perfectionists will balk at the occasional measurement given in handfuls or large pinches, but laid-back home cooks will appreciate the ease and flexibility of Jones’s recipes. VERDICT Attuned to the latest dietary trends, this excellent vegetarian cookbook blends the cozy, clever charm of Sophie Dahl’s Very Fond of Food with the varied textures and flavors from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty and the quick, bonus meal ideas (e.g., one soup: 1,000 variations, ten ways with avocado on toast) of Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything” series.
McCauley, Tiffany. Clean Eating Freezer Meals. Pelican. 2014. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781455619085. pap. $25.95. COOKING
Food blogger McCauley (thegraciouspantry.com) defines clean eating as a diet that eschews processed foods and chemicals and reflects the habits of prior generations (“our great-grandparents”). Hoping to help readers maintain a healthy weight, save money, and improve their eating habits, the author shares tips on grocery shopping and food storage, and offers relatively low-calorie recipes for breakfasts, casseroles, slow-cooker meals, desserts, and more. McCauley’s recipes (e.g., orange spice waffles, Thai-style coconut shrimp soup, grain-free lemon dessert muffins) rely on conventional ingredients and include plenty of make-ahead and freezer-friendly choices. With ingredient quantities and nutrition information printed in a large font, they’re also very easy to read. VERDICT A no-frills collection of healthful recipes for novices. However, Terry Walters’s Clean Food offers more value and visual appeal and is a better start for readers interested in this topic.
Martinez, Angie & others. Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed. Kyle Books. 2015. 192p. photos. index. ISBN 9781909487185. pap. $22.95. COOKING
Lighter versions of classic Latin foods—for instance, flan made from soy and almond milks and corn dumplings that are poached rather than deep fried—fill this collaboration from radio personality Martinez and Top Chef alumnus Angelo Sosa (Flavor Exposed). The authors, aided by registered dietician Shirley Fan (The Flying Brownie), show readers how to use healthy substitutions—brown rice for white, for example—to boost the nutritional value of meals without sacrificing taste. Expect plenty of whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, and fresh produce in these recipes, along with trendy ingredients such as coconut water and agave nectar. VERDICT Like Ingrid Hoffmann’s Latin d’Lite, this cookbook blends traditional and contemporary recipes and advocates small lifestyle changes instead of drastic diets. Martinez and Sosa’s recipes are invigorating and simple, with some surprise gourmet twists.
Rule, Cheryl Sternman (text) & Ellen Silverman (photos). Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How To Make, Bake, Sip and Chill the World’s Creamiest, Healthiest Food. Rux Martin: Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2015. 352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544252325. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780544251717. COOKING
As author and food blogger Rule (Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables) notes in this cookbook’s introduction, yogurt has revolutionized the grocery store dairy aisle. Turning a critical eye to the history and economics of this extremely popular food, she explores global eating habits, the practices of large copacking facilities, and the growth of notable companies such as Dannon and Chobani. In addition to this informative content, and perhaps best of all, Rule delivers outstanding recipes for more than just breakfast. Readers seeking alternatives to packaged fruit and yogurt cups are offered delicious and customizable mix-ins, including strawberry-rhubarb compote and rosy apple-grape sauce. The author then incorporates yogurt into sauces, drinks, soups, and many other sweet and savory dishes (e.g., roasted cauliflower with tahini yogurt and pomegranate, the creamiest pasta marinara ever, cherry galettes with yogurt-ricotta cream). VERDICT This excellent cookbook belongs in most collections, along with Arto de Hartounian’s The Yogurt Cookbook.
The Smart Palate: Delicious Recipes for a Healthy Lifestyle. McGill-Queen’s Univ. 2014. 320p. ed. by Tina Landsman Abbey & others. photos. index. ISBN 9780773544390. pap. $39.95. COOKING
Benefitting the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre at McGill University, this cookbook was created by more than 50 volunteers. It brings together 180 recipes, including grilled avocado seafood salad, cauliflower apple mash, braised lamb shanks with figs and orzo, and reduced-fat mini mango cheesecakes. Each dish includes nutritional analysis and icons identifying whether it is quick, nut free, gluten free, plant based, or freezable. Additionally, “smart facts” sidebars from Dr. Joe Schwarz—whose introduction acknowledges divergent opinions among health experts—provide information on the nutritional value of specific ingredients. VERDICT For readers who shun fad dieting, this cookbook offers balanced perspectives on wholesome eating, varied recipes, and gorgeous photographs.
Vetri, Marc with David Joachim. Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto. Ten Speed: Crown. Mar. 2015. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607746072. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9781607746089. COOKING
Vetri (Rustic Italian Food) is a James Beard Award–winning chef whose eponymous Philadelphia restaurant is acclaimed for exceptional Italian cuisine. In his latest cookbook, he urges readers to forego the convenience of premade pasta and instead make it at home, a process he insists need not be complicated. In fact, Vetri includes just one recipe for fresh pasta dough, with nine variations that tweak quantities of flours, egg, oil, and water. With the help of stand mixers, pasta extruders, ravioli stamps, and other tools, these doughs assume shapes that, when combined with sauces, become elegant dishes such as mint pappardelle with morels and lardo cappelletti with fava crema and pecorino. Eight gnocchis and seven risottos, equally gourmet, follow the pastas. VERDICT This lavish pasta cookbook has lots of science-based information and an overview of 15 types of wheat flours. Perfect for dedicated pasta lovers looking to hone their skills.
Walters, Terry. Eat Clean Live Well. Sterling Epicure. 2014. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781402779275. $30. COOKING
Walters (Clean Start) here supplements her latest clean-eating cookbook with plenty of lifestyle tips that range from involving children in cooking activities to joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) program to exchanging homemade food gifts. These suggestions precede each of four seasonal sections, which include such vegetable-centric recipes as hot-and-spicy marinated cucumbers, kale and roasted sunchoke pesto over butterbeans, and vegetable curry pot pie. Though Walters periodically repeats herself (CSAs and seed planting are the subject of several sidebars), her message is consistent. Recipe lists and an ingredient- and course-based index make for easy browsing. VERDICT Walters’s latest has plenty of approachable recipes for anyone committed to eating more fresh produce and less packaged convenience foods. Her recipes appear free of gluten and animal products, making this title suitable for vegans and readers with food allergies.
Watson, Molly (text) & Joseph de Leo (photos). Greens + Grains: Recipes for Deliciously Healthful Meals. Chronicle. 2014. 124p. index. ISBN 9781452131597. pap. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781452133027. COOKING
Why would you choose kale over collards or barley over buckwheat? Here, food writer Watson highlights the unique characteristics of more than a dozen types of greens and grains. After sharing easy techniques that can help readers process a glut of either, she combines the two in soups, small plates, salads, and main dishes. Despite the occasional crumble of bacon, these easy and feel-good recipes (e.g., beet greens and barley borscht, chard quinoa terrine, wild rice salad with kale, pecans, and blueberries) are vegetarian-friendly. They also include refreshing preparations beyond boiling; quinoa, for example, is used as a breading agent, crunchy condiment, and cracker component. VERDICT This practical and colorful collection offers a wide variety for fans of leafy, grainy dishes, and like Liana Krissoff’s Whole Grains for a New Generation, it’s very accessible. For a more diet-focused take, try Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming’s Grain Power.
Wimbush-Bourque, Aimee. Brown Eggs and Jam Jars: Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites. Pintail. Feb. 2015. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9780143193395. pap. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780143193418. COOKING
On her third of an acre outside of Montreal, urban homesteader Wimbush-Bourque (simplebites.net) grows vegetables, keeps chickens, taps maple trees, and preserves seasonal produce. She provides doable instructions for these and other practical skills in her debut cookbook, which features family-friendly recipes grouped around seasonal activities (e.g., picnics, holiday gatherings, Sunday dinners). Her recipes—including maple walnut granola, gingered beef and cheesy bean burritos, Nova Scotia seafood chowder, and apple cinnamon layer cake with apple butter cream cheese frosting—are traditional, hearty, and crowd pleasing, only rarely including such divisive ingredients as kale and chia seeds. The book’s organization doesn’t facilitate quick, everyday meal planning; you’ll need to have time to prepare if you like mixing and matching recipes from different chapters. VERDICT Recommended for readers itching to improve their back-to-the-land skills and involve their children in food-related activities.