Dinner Pies, Easy Vegan, Southern Soups, & More | Cooking Reviews, December 1, 2015

Baird, Heather. Sea Salt Sweet: The Art of Using Salts for the Ultimate Dessert Experience. Running Pr. 2015. 232p. photos. index. ISBN 9780762453962. $18; ebk. ISBN 9780762458110. COOKING

Can’t get enough of salted caramel ice creams and coffee drinks? Try these 40-plus desserts featuring gourmet sea salts such as fleur de sel, sel gris, and Hawaiian black lava salt. To help readers understand available varieties, baking blogger Baird (Sprinklebakes) provides a guide to salt textures (coarse, fine grain, flake), a glossary, and a list of online suppliers. The author organizes her recipes by amount of salt; bakers who prefer just a pinch can try treats such as butterscotch budino tiramisu and caramel buttermilk tart with cornmeal crust, while serious salt lovers may turn to the more aggressively seasoned smoke and stout chocolate torte and candied Kalamata olives. VERDICT Bakers who like desserts with a savory twist will enjoy this cookbook, along with Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin’s Ovenly.

Goldstein, Darra. Fire + Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking. Ten Speed: Crown. 2015. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607746102. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781607746119. COOKING

The founding editor of James Beard Award–winning journal Gastronomica, Goldstein (The Georgian Feast) presents Scandinavian dishes inspired by her extensive travels in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Recipes—many featuring fish, shellfish, root vegetables, and rye flour—range from the austerely elegant (chilled blueberry soup, cured duck breast) to the exotic (shrimp salad with asparagus-dill terrine, crisp-fried salmon skin). Goldstein provides online sources for the book’s few hard-to-find ingredients, such as elderflower concentrate, salted herring, fish roe, and wild mushrooms. VERDICT Accessible recipes paired with excellent travel writing and photography make this an ideal entry point for readers interested in Nordic cuisine but not quite ready for high-end, “new Nordic” restaurant cookbooks.

redstarHaedrich, Ken. Dinner Pies: From Shepherd’s Pies and Pot Pies to Turnovers, Quiches, Hand Pies, and More. Harvard Common. 2015. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781558328518. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781558328525. COOKING

dinnerpies112415Premier pie expert Haedrich (Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie) devotes his latest title to savory pastries, a topic covered more often in books published in the UK (e.g., Angela Boggiano’s Pie and Laura Mason’s Good Old-Fashioned Pies and Stews) than in the United States. His infectious “lust for crust” permeates all aspects of this cookbook, which includes excellent tips on pie pan selection, 13 dough variations, and dozens of distinctive recipes (e.g., vegetable pot pie with a pumpkin-sage biscuit crust, Swiss chard and quinoa quiche with a sesame-studded crust, and Philly cheesesteak hand pies). Haedrich’s techniques and preferences have evolved since his previous titles; his basic pie doughs have new ratios of butter to shortening, as well as surprise additions of cornstarch and white vinegar. VERDICT Essential for novice and proficient pie bakers, this pleasing companion to ­Haedrich’s definitive Pie is an instant classic.

Hercules, Olia. Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine & Eastern Europe. Weldon Owen International. 2015. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781616289614. $35. COOKING

Ukraine-born food writer Hercules captures treasured family recipes in this richly detailed collection of underappreciated eastern European foods. Moving far beyond familiar dishes such as cold beet soup (kholodnyk) and stuffed cabbage leaves (holubtsi), she includes colorful and herbaceous salads, spicy pickles and conserves, and a wide assortment of baked, boiled, and fried breads, pastries, dumplings, noodles, and desserts. Hercules takes a relaxed tone when delivering directions, occasionally urging readers to skip steps when they “can’t be bothered.” Overall, her debut lends itself to leisurely, restorative home cooking. VERDICT Hercules’s unexpected Ukranian, Azerbaijani, Russian, and Armenian comfort foods can help home cooks transition to colder months.

Hester, Kathy. The Easy Vegan Cookbook: Make Healthy Home Cooking Practically Effortless. Page Street. 2015. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9781624141478. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9781624141638. COOKING

In a new cookbook centered on vegetables, grains, and meat and dairy substitutes, author Hester (OATrageous Oatmeals) offers smart strategies for saving time and money at mealtime. Her make-ahead homemade staples—including bouillon, oat milk, cooked beans (handily frozen in can-sized portions), and nut-based “cheese”—are easy to prepare, cheaper than store bought, and effective in many recipes. Hester mostly appeals to a beans-and-rice crowd, sticking to hearty soups, casseroles, pastas, and sauteed mixtures served in bowls. She does feature intriguing junk food analogs, such as sloppy ‘shrooms, spicy cauliflower po’ boys, and all-natural carrot dogs (a whole marinated cooked carrot in a bun), along with drinks and desserts. All recipes are accompanied by a nutrition analysis and clearly labeled as gluten free, soy free, and/or oil free. ­VERDICT A competent vegan cookbook with a healthy, from-scratch slant. Recommend this to fans of Nava Atlas and Robin Robertson’s Quick and Easy Vegan titles.

Krieger, Ellie. You Have It Made: Delicious, Healthy, Do-Ahead Meals. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2016. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9780544579309. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780544579323. COOKING

Krieger (Weeknight Wonders) expands a familiar selection of healthy make-ahead dishes (e.g., apple-cinnamon baked oatmeal, chicken enchilada pie, beef and bean burrito) with innovative recipes that test the boundaries of what can be frozen and reheated. For broccoli cheddar “quiche in a bag,” for instance, a raw egg mixture is frozen until needed, then thawed and poured into a crust to bake. Similarly, stout-marinated pork chops are frozen in a beer and spice mixture, so they can simultaneously marinate and defrost before they’re cooked. Unlike comparable titles, this cookbook places storage instructions alongside individual recipes, not just in an introductory section. It also provides notably unconventional breakfast options, such as peach-cherry breakfast cobbler and harvest breakfast cookies. VERDICT Expect demand for another well-done volume from Krieger.

redstarMcDermott, Nancie (text) & Leigh Beisch (photos). Southern Soups & Stews: More Than 75 Recipes from Burgoo and Gumbo to Etouffée and Fricassee. Chronicle. 2015. 176p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781452124858. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781452132303. COOKING

southernsoups112615With McDermott’s capable guide to hearty soups from the American South, readers can savor eight varieties of gumbo, learn the disputed origins of Brunswick stew, and cook their way through dozens of seafood, shellfish, chicken, and bean-based classics. These traditional recipes (e.g., Hall family ham-bone soup, Sherry Castle’s Watauga County chicken stew with fluffy dumplings, shrimp and grits with tomatoes and bacon) call for all manner of smoked and rendered pork products, which smart vegetarian cooks can sometimes but not always sidestep. ­McDermott (Southern Cakes) follows these with basics such as rice, grits, cornbread, and biscuits, as well as an ingredient glossary. Her informative recipe headnotes, peppered with delicious historical and cultural tidbits, will help readers distinguish different regional cuisines and culinary identities. VERDICT Skillfully curated and presented by McDermott, these Southern soup recipes deserve attention.

Mangini, Cara. The Vegetable Butcher: How To Select, Pre, Slice, Dice, and Masterfully Cook Vegetables from Artichokes to Zucchini. Workman. Mar. 2016. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9780761180524. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780761184263. COOKING

For cooks flummoxed by fava beans or perplexed by purslane, Mangini (once a “vegetable butcher” at Eataly, an Italian marketplace in New York City) demonstrates the essentials of cutting and preparing more than 50 kinds of vegetables and herbs. Each is covered in its own chapter that offers general information (e.g., storage, selection, varieties, and complementary ingredients), butchery essentials, cooking methods, and recipes. There are hundreds of step-by-step photographs to help readers grasp important techniques, from the matchstick cuts used to prep a jicama and grapefruit salad to a careful cleaning and blanching method needed for nettle pesto and ricotta crostini. Additionally, early chapters provide a solid introduction to knife and cutting board care. VERDICT Blending practical aspects found in such manuals as Jacque Pepin’s New Complete Techniques with the varied recipes familiar to titles such as Michael Anthony’s V Is for Vegetables, Mangini’s debut will augment most vegetable cooking collections.

Rossini, Seton. Sweet Envy: Deceptively Easy Desserts, Designed To Steal the Show. Countryman. 2015. 180p. photos. index. ISBN 9781581572780. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781581576238. COOKING

Blogger Rossini (pixel-whisk.com) showcases low-effort, high-impact decorating techniques in this whimsical collection of cookies, cakes, pies, and confections. Recipes including ombre polka dot cake, honeybee cheesecake bites, and paint swatch petit fours may appear impressive and complicated, but they’re easy and foolproof. Black-and-white monogram cookies, for example, call for only one shade of food coloring and don’t require precise piping or specialty equipment. In addition to recipes, Rossini includes inexpensive craft projects, such as DIY cake stands, sugar cookie gift tags, and chalkboard chargers. Readers can give these as stylish gifts or use them to entertain with flair. VERDICT Even novices can feel confident baking and serving ­Rossini’s showstopping sweets.

redstarSaltsman, Amelia. The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. Sterling Epicure. 2015. 320p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781454914365. $29.95. COOKING

Saltsman (The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook) organizes her latest collection of seasonal, produce-driven recipes according to the Jewish calendar. Though she defines and suggests menus for holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Tu b’Shvat, and Purim, this isn’t strictly a holiday cookbook. Vibrant recipes with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and eastern European influences—including lamb, butternut squash, and quince tagine; Bulgarian cheese puffs; and blood orange and olive oil polenta upside-down cake—are appropriate for a wide range of everyday and special occasions. They’re all identified as meat, dairy, or Pareve/vegan, making it easy to plan meals for guests observing Jewish dietary laws or other special diets. VERDICT Filled with stunning photographs and thoughtful historical research, this contemporary Jewish cookbook will tempt many home cooks.

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