Live-Fire Grilling with “Meat on the Side,” plus Gluten-Free French Cuisine, & More | Cooking Reviews, May 15, 2016

Denton, Greg & others. Around the Fire: Recipes for Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting from Ox Restaurant. Ten Speed: Crown. Mar. 2016. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607747529. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781607747536. COOKING

Live-fire cooking is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, both in restaurants and in cookbooks (e.g., Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky’s Mallmann on Fire, Russell Moore and Allison Hopelain’s This Is Camino). Here, Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, the chefs and owners of Ox Restaurant in Portland, OR, present visually appealing recipes such as grilled maitake mushrooms with smoked sea salt and green onions; ash-seared lamb loin with celery, cilantro, charred orange, and cumin-chile oil; and vanilla bean tres leches cake with marionberry ice cream. Aided by writer and recipe developer Stacy Admiando (The Cookiepedia), the authors have adapted these dishes for home cooks, and they advise grilling over wood or charcoal. The more challenging, multicomponent restaurant offerings will be beyond the ability of novices, but they’ll inspire foodies and epicures. VERDICT Providing plenty of eye candy for aspiring and experienced grillers, this title will appeal to advanced cooks.

Dinki, Nikki. Meat on the Side: Delicious Vegetable-Focused Recipes for Every Day. St. Martin’s. Jun. 2016. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781250067166. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466875197. COOKING

meatontheside.jpg51616During the ninth season of the TV series Food Network Star, chef Dinki introduced viewers to her “meat on the side” style of semivegetarian cooking. While that concept did not become a show (Dinki currently hosts Junk Food Flip on the Cooking Channel), here it’s expanded into cookbook form. Chapters for breakfasts, appetizers, salads, light and main meals, and more, include recipes such as zucchini quiche with potato crust, burned carrot sandwich with cannellini bean spread, and spaghetti squash stuffed with mozzarella and tiny chicken meatballs. Recipes with ten ingredients or less can be prepared in 20 or 30 minutes. Dinki also shares tips on how to add or remove meat from individual dishes in order to accommodate different diets. VERDICT For those who like flexible recipes that can be both meaty and meatless, this cookbook provides excellent choices.

Goldwyn, Meathead. Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling. Houghton Harcourt. May 2016. 400p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544018464. $35. COOKING

Goldwyn is the founder of ­AmazingRibs.com, a website dedicated to barbecue delicacies, techniques, and equipment. In this impressive debut, the author disproves widely believed cooking myths, critically examines countless tools, and explains cooking concepts in plain, often humorous language. He draws on the skills of many well-known experts—including J. Kenji López-Alt (The Food Lab), Harold McGee (On Food and Cooking), and Nathan Myhrvold (Modernist Cuisine)—to strengthen this volume, which contains more than 100 classic recipes, including East Carolina mop sauce, suckling pig, Texas beef brisket, and smoked oysters. VERDICT This highly recommended food-science focused guide to grilling and barbecue will satisfy amateurs and professionals alike.

Lang, Rebecca. The Southern Vegetable Book: A Root-To-Stalk Guide to the South’s Favorite Produce. Oxmoor House. Apr. 2016. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9780848746889. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780848747527. COOKING

Following a discussion of how to buy, store, and prepare perfectly ripe produce, Lang (Around the Southern Table) brings together four seasons’ worth of vegetable recipes written for beginning cooks. Lang shares between three and five preparations for each of 30 different vegetables (e.g., asparagus, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, ramps) and interjects occasional tips on topics such as gardening, freezing, canning, and composting. The recipes include estimates of yield (given in servings or cups) and preparation time (hands-on and total) and feature dishes such as sweet onion pudding, smashed fried okra, broccoli with pimento cheese sauce, and spinach and pecan-stuffed pork chops. VERDICT Many recent cookbooks feature creative vegetable preparations (e.g., Cara Mangini’s The Vegetable Butcher, Michael Anthony’s V Is for Vegetables)—this one has a distinct Southern twist.

Master of the Grill: Foolproof Recipes, Top-Rated Gadgets, Gear & Ingredients Plus Clever Test Kitchen Tips & Fascinating Food Science. America’s Test Kitchen. Apr. 2016. 454p. ed. by America’s Test Kitchen. photos. index. ISBN 9781940352541. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781940352565. COOKING

It’s been more than a decade since America’s Test Kitchen has released a comprehensive grilling cookbook. Their latest frames nearly 700 recipes, equipment recommendations, cooking techniques, and shopping tips as concepts to master to become an expert outdoor cook. These are arranged in ascending numerical order into three difficulty based sections (basics, the easy upgrades, serious projects), but they’re not strictly sequential. For instance, rib recipes appear near the beginning and the end of the book, and relevant rib preparation advice appears throughout. To navigate the recipes (e.g., chicken souvlaki, Chinese-style barbecued spareribs, grilled whole red snapper), which include clear instructions for both gas and charcoal grills, readers can consult helpful indexes at the beginning of each section. VERDICT This hefty book pulls together tons of useful information from America’s Test Kitchen, but it’s difficult to browse.

Peltre, Béatrice. My French Family Table: Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love, and Joie de Vivre. Roost. May 2016. 392p. photos. index. ISBN 9781611801361. $35. COOKING

Peltre (La Tartine Gourmande) presents a new collection of family-friendly recipes that just happen to be gluten free, including minestrone soup with cilantro pesto, round zucchini stuffed with millet and vegetables, and saffron-flavored carrot risotto with bay scallops and pistachios. Some of the listed ingredients (e.g., celeriac, flax seed, teff flour) and tools (e.g., mandoline, kitchen scale) may intimidate those just starting out, but Peltre supplies an abundance of stunning photographs to coax them toward the less familiar. Her more than ten years’ experience cooking gluten free particularly shines through in recipes for elegant breakfasts, breads, tarts, and desserts. Some dishes include meat and seafood but most are vegetarian. VERDICT Peltre’s latest shows how cooking for gluten-free eaters doesn’t have to be stressful. Highly recommended for foodies, flexitarians, and confident home cooks who are new to gluten-free cooking.

Seaver, Barton. Two If by Sea: Delicious Sustainable Seafood. Sterling. May 2016. 312p. photos. index. ISBN 9781454917878. $30. COOKING

twoifbysea.jpg51616Acclaimed chef Seaver’s follow-up to For Cod and Country and Where There’s Smoke is a treasury of simply prepared seafood. In course-based chapters (e.g., appetizers, seafood salads and sandwiches, sauces), Seaver shares internationally inspired dishes such as lobster rossejat (a colorful toasted pasta dish) and scallop satay, as well as classics such as broiled oysters Rockefeller and po’ boy sandwiches. There are some delightful surprises, including a chapter of technique-based recipes that work with many different fish species, as well as a steamed mussel recipe template that suggests multiple flavor variations. Throughout, Seaver favors allspice, pepper, mace, dried chiles, and fennel-flavored liquors as go-to seasonings. VERDICT From a quick weeknight meal of canned shrimp and pasta to a show-stopping stew for guests, the ideas here will fit any bill. Essential for seafood lovers.

Thompson, Jennifer Trainer. Fresh Fish: A Fearless Guide to Grilling, Shucking, Searing, Poaching, and Roasting Seafood. Storey. Mar. 2016. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9781612123370. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612123387. COOKING

After reminiscing about idyllic summers in coastal New England, Thompson (Hot Sauce!) shares 175 recipes intended to make cooking fish less intimidating. Some dishes are written for specific species (seared ginger sea scallops), but many lend themselves to substitutions (oil poached fish, fish cakes with tomato sauce). Cooks of all skill levels can easily concoct a meal by combining individual recipes for soups, mains, sides, cocktails, and desserts. Alternately, they can select one of several multicomponent recipes for stand-alone meals, such as bacon-wrapped whitefish with charred fingerling potatoes and frisee salad. ­VERDICT A capable, reasonably priced all-purpose seafood cookbook that focuses primarily on recipes.

Vinton, Sherri Brooks. Eat It Up! 150 Recipes To Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Buy. Da Capo. May 2016. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9780738218182. $18.99; ebk. ISBN 9780738218199. COOKING

According to the National Resources Defense Council, 40 percent of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten. To help home cooks combat food waste, food preservation expert Vinton (Put ’Em Up!) offers practical lifestyle advice and 150 recipes highlighting frequently discarded ingredients (e.g., parsley stems, beet greens, cauliflower leaves, chicken giblets). By sharing a variety of basics, snacks, and meals (e.g., celery leaf fattoush, potato peel soup, pickle juice fridge pickles), Vinton makes it easy to transform food trimmings and by-products into something delicious. VERDICT For readers unsure of what to do with leftover egg whites, stale bread, or chicken carcasses, this book is for you. Highly recommended for budget and environmentally conscious cooks.

Watson, Lee. Peace and Parsnips: Adventurous Vegan Cooking for Everyone: 200 Plant-Based Recipes Bursting with Vitality & Flavor, Inspired by Love & Travel. Experiment. May 2016. 336p. photos. index. ISBN 9781615193219. $25. COOKING

Watson, a retreat center chef and former carnivore, offers a wealth of creative vegan dishes, including raw cucumber mojito (nonalcoholic), adzuki bean and oat soup, charred fig and arugula salad with lemon tofu, and roasted chestnut and fennel casserole with oregano crumble. The diverse recipes, ingredients, and cooking techniques results in a worthy debut; however, Watson’s occasionally morbid tone (his arguments against meat emphasize toxicity and putrefaction) and unsubstantiated health claims may be distasteful to some. Though a few ingredients can be vague (panini-style bread) or hard to find (all-natural pink pickled ginger), Watson’s recipes should be manageable for cooks of many skill levels. VERDICT With a fresh perspective on vegan cooking, this unusual tome can increase the breadth of most collections.

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