Around the Dinner Table: 10 Tasty Cookbooks

America’s Test Kitchen Eds. All Time Best Holiday Entertaining. America’s Test Kitchen. Sept. 2017. 192p. photos. index. ISBN 9781940352992. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781945256004. COOKING
Blending classic and contemporary holiday foods, this slim volume from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) puts 75 starters, centerpieces, sides, and sweets at readers’ fingertips. Like Sam Sifton’s Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well, this book focuses on essential dishes and provides guidance on how to prep ahead in the weeks and days leading up to a big celebration. There’s some recipe repetition—for instance, the biscochitos also appear in ATK’s The Perfect Cookie. Reliable recipes, best suited for diners without dietary restrictions, such as Champagne punch, herbed roast turkey, oven-poached side of salmon, quick green bean “casserole,” and spiced pumpkin cheesecake can be easily mixed and matched. ­VERDICT Use this charming, focused title to set a showstopping table for special occasions.

Azzam, Itab & Dina Mousawi. Our Syria: Recipes from Home. Running Pr. Oct. 2017. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9780762490523. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780762490530. COOKING
Hoping to preserve Syrian culture in a time of conflict, friends and first-time authors Azzam and Mousawi bring together recipes they learned from Syrian women in the Middle East and Europe. Comprising chapters on mezze, main courses, sweets, drinks, and more, this treasury of vibrant, flavorful home cooking introduces readers to fascinating stories and perspectives. The tales behind recipes such as pumpkin kibbeh, lentil and chard soup, rice with lamb and peas, and aniseed cookies are by turns informative, lighthearted, and tragic. VERDICT A satisfying and highly recommended collection of Syrian cuisine, with recipes ranging from easy to exacting.

Gorham, John & Liz Crain. Hello! My Name Is Tasty: Global Diner Favorites from Portland’s Tasty Restaurants. Sasquatch. Aug. 2017. 288p. notes. index. ISBN 9781632171023. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781632171030. COOKING
Chef Gorham and coauthor Crain (Toro Bravo) reunite for another cookbook, this one devoted to Gorham’s Tasty n Sons and Tasty n Alder restaurants in Portland, OR. Featuring eclectic brunch, bistro, and diner foods (e.g., bim bop bacon and eggs, fried cauliflower with harissa cream, bone marrow toast, molten butterscotch cake), the book showcases bold tastes from around the globe. It’s a winner for home cooks who feel like pancakes and eggs one day, charcuterie and cocktails the next. VERDICT Similar to John Currence’s Big Bad Breakfast, Gorham’s latest is an assertive and unconventional take on rich comfort foods.

redstarGuarnaschelli, Alex. The Home Cook: Recipes To Know by Heart. Clarkson Potter: Crown. Sept. 2017. 368p. photos. index. ISBN 9780307956583. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780307956590. COOKING
Celebrity chef Guarnaschelli (Old-School Comfort Food), a recurring judge on Food Network’s Chopped, shares her go-to favorites for everyday cooking, from a one-pot veal osso buco to an effortless apple tart. Here, 300 recipes—mostly Italian and American comfort foods, along with a handful of French and Asian dishes—cover wide-ranging categories, including snacks, sauces, fruit condiments, and cocktails. Simple indulgences such as warm bar nuts, black pepper steak and caesar salad, and dark chocolate muffins will tempt many readers, especially during colder months. VERDICT A standout collection of elegant, timeless foods. Even the simplest recipes taste superb.

Heiskell, Elizabeth. What Can I Bring? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up. Oxmoor House. Oct. 2017. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9780848754389. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780848755591. COOKING
Heiskell, a contributing food editor at the Today show and author of the monthly feature “What Can I Bring” in Southern Living magazine, offers this tie-in cookbook that collects 100 easy recipes (e.g., garlic cheese grits souffle, shrimp salad, hangover sliders, candy bar brownies) for common occasions, including potlucks, road trips, tailgates, weekend getaways, and dinners with friends. Akin to Ashley English’s A Year of Picnics, Heiskell’s work offers useful tips on presenting, serving, and transporting foods and beverages, along with lifestyle envy-inducing ­photographs of festive gatherings. Most of these dishes travel well and can be made in advance using conventional ingredients. VERDICT Turn to this title for low-effort, high-impact recipes to impress guests.

Jamison, Cheryl. Texas Slow Cooker: 125 Recipes for the Lone Star State’s Very Best Dishes, All Slow-Cooked to Perfection. Harvard Common. Sept. 2017. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9781558328945. $22.99; ebk. ISBN 9781558329065. COOKING
Adding to the ranks of single-subject slow cooker titles, award-winning author Jamison (Smoke & Spice) presents slow-cooked versions of classic dishes, including chile relleno casserole, Dr. Pepper braised brisket, jalapeno cornbread with sorghum butter, and peach cobbler. These recipes have clearly displayed yields and cooking times, and they’re written for slow cookers with a five- to six-quart capacity. While light on photographs and appliance tips, this work contains all the information readers will need to confidently execute 125 crowd-pleasing foods. VERDICT Though less comprehensive than slow-cooker cookbooks by Phyllis Good and Michele Scicolone, Jamison’s clever adaptations make this title worthy of consideration.

Lahey, Jim with Maya Joseph. The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook. Norton. Nov. 2017. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9780393247282. $35; ebk. ISBN 9780393247299. COOKING
Lahey (My Bread), founder of New York City’s Sullivan Street Bakery, is credited with popularizing a no-knead, Dutch-oven cooking method that can be used to achieve bakery-worthy loaves at home. His third cookbook, written with wife and coauthor Joseph, builds on this technique, applying it to sourdough breads naturally leavened with biga, a type of prefermentation. Home cooks who aren’t ready to take on the multiday process of making the biga can start with speedier breads, savory dishes, and sweets, including egg sandwiches, apple bread pudding, kale and cauliflower salad, and flourless triple-chocolate cookies. Throughout, Lahey provides excellent instruction in an easy-to-visualize way. VERDICT A masterclass in baking with the bonus of delicious Italian-inspired foods. Highly recommended.

redstarManning, Ivy. Easy Soups from Scratch with Quick Breads To Match: 70 Recipes To Pair and Share. Chronicle. Sept. 2017. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9781452155029. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781452156729. COOKING
Cooking instructor Manning (Crackers & Dips) reveals her best soup-making secrets in this informative guide to homemade soups and complementary breads. Comprising 70 recipes (45 soups, 25 breads), it details how various “cheats” can be used to give soups and stews long-simmered flavor in little time. Recipes such as mushroom and quinoa soup, four-way Cincinnati chili, thin and crispy breadsticks, and blue corn and maple skillet bread include satisfying choices for all diets as well as useful tips on soup troubleshooting and storage. VERDICT ­Essential for soup lovers, Manning’s homage to this popular pairing contains enticing recipes and indispensable techniques.

 

Rao, Sri. Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780544971257. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780544971295. COOKING
For 16 years, the TBS show Dinner and a Movie paired feature films with thematically appropriate recipes. Here, screenwriter and home cook Rao offers a spicier take on this concept, matching Indian American dishes with gems of modern Bollywood. Readers can use this cookbook to enhance their viewing of blockbusters such as Bajirao Mastani, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, 3 Idiots, and more. Each film recommendation includes a multicourse menu consisting of doable recipes such as mango lassi, chicken korma, baked samosas, and spinach-papaya salad. VERDICT Fledgling film buffs and ardent enthusiasts will find much to savor in this cookbook, which takes a contemporary approach to Indian cooking that recalls Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice. Highly recommended.

Solfrini, Valentina. Naturally Vegetarian: Recipes and Stories from My Italian Family Farm. Avery. Nov. 2017. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781101983591. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781101983607. COOKING
Solfrini, creator of the award-winning blog HortusCuisine.com, whips up appealing vegetarian food on her family’s farm in Gradara, Italy. Her debut cookbook melds seasonal Italian recipes (e.g., classic bruschetta, risotto with radicchio and walnuts, coconut caramel panna cotta with chocolate) with artful photographs and rapturous accounts of rural life. Recipes often call for pantry items to be made in advance (e.g., vegetable stock, crumb topping, bechamel sauce, tomato passata), but savvy cooks will be able to devise shortcuts. VERDICT Solfrini’s luxurious plant-based recipes will interest readers who favor quality ingredients and cooking from scratch.

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