Cooking Reviews, March 15, 2012

Allen, Ted. In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. May 2012. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307951861. $35. COOKING

Many will recognize Allen (The Food You Want To Eat) from his appearances on TV’s Chopped, Top Chef, Iron Chef America, and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Here, he targets home cooks who enjoy spending time in the kitchen and feeding their friends. Among these 100-plus recipes for starters, sides, mains, desserts, and breakfast and brunch dishes, you’ll find Bruschetta with Strawberry and Tomato Salad, Crisp-Tender Roast Duck with Cherry-Rosemary Sauce, and Grapefruit and Campari Sorbet. VERDICT With its balanced selection of elegant hors d’oeuvres and indulgent comfort foods, this cookbook will please foodies who like to entertain in style.

Drummond, Ree. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier. Morrow Cookbooks: HarperCollins. Mar. 2012. c.304p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780061997181. $29.99. COOKING

Author, photographer, and Food Network host Drummond is one of food blogging’s biggest success stories. Her blog has grown into a staggeringly popular lifestyle website ( that gets more than 20 million page views per month. Her second cookbook features the same layout and cast of characters as its New York Times best-selling companion. While it covers the same courses (starters, breakfast, lunch, supper, and dessert), it includes additional chapters for soups, pasta and pizza sides, and canning. VERDICT Readers who loved the first Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook will love this second helping of hearty, crowd-pleasing recipes with step-by-step photos. Expect demand.

Food Network Magazine. Food Network Magazine 1,000 Easy Recipes: Super Fun Food for Every Day. Hyperion. Mar. 2012. c.416p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781401310745. pap. $24.99. COOKING

To fit 1000 recipes in this trim collection, editors from the bestselling Food Network Magazine dispensed with headnotes, cooking times, and yields in favor of one-paragraph recipes that combine measurements and instructions (editor-in-chief Maile Carpenter likens them to tweets). Most are self-contained, but some, like the 30-plus variations on potato skins, refer to a base recipe earlier in the chapter. The minimalist format puts bright photos front and center, and this makes it easy for families to quickly choose what they’d like to eat. VERDICT A practical collection of American favorites that’s great for busy families without major dietary restrictions.

starred review starHermé, Pierre & others (text) & Laurent Fau (photog.). Pierre Herme Pastries. Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Mar. 2012. 288p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781584799450. $50. COOKING

Past meets present in this massive, coffee table-worthy tome that pairs traditional desserts with master p √¢ tissier Hermé’s whimsical reinterpretations, including his signature rose-flavored Croissant Ispahan and 2000 Feuilles. The recipes are organized into 50 pairs, each prefaced by an informative historical introduction. Generally, the classic recipes are more manageable than their counterparts (classic crème br √ªlée uses the conventional ingredients; Hermé’s version calls for foie gras and white vinegar). Since most of these recipes require professional ingredients and equipment, curious beginners may want to start with the more home cook friendly Desserts by Pierre Hermé . VERDICT An inspiring reference for professionals, advanced home cooks, and French pastry devotees.

Hirsheimer, Christopher & Melissa Hamilton. Canal House Cooking Volume No. 7: La Dolce Vita. Canal House, dist. by Andrews McMeel. 2012. 128p. illus. photogs. ISBN 9780982739440. pap. $19.95. COOKING

Food photographer, writer, and editor Hirsheimer and chef Hamilton have worked for Saveur , Metropolitan Home , Cook’s Illustrated , and Martha Stewart Living . In this seventh volume of Canal House Cooking , their New Jersey design studio’s tri-annual publication, 67 rustic Italian recipes (e.g. Ricotta Gnocchi, Osso Bucco, and Gelato di Gianduia) are accompanied by evocative remembrances of Italian travels and artful photographs that recall Recipes from an Italian Summer and Jacob Kenedy’s Bocca . The book lacks an index, but readers can find one at VERDICT Art, text, and recipes meet in this lovingly detailed cookbook, which will attract cooks who appreciate narrative and good design.

Husbands, Andy & others. Wicked Good Barbecue: Fearless Recipes from Two Damn Yankees Who Won the Biggest, Baddest BBQ Competition in the World. Fair Winds: Quayside. Mar. 2012. 224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781592334995. pap. $21.99. COOKING

This cookbook makes it clear that barbecue competitors Husbands (chef & owner, Tremont 647; The Fearless Chef ) and Chris Hart achieve success through an undying commitment to their obsession. Their Seven-Layer Dip is a highbrow concoction of shredded short ribs, crab rémoulade, beef tartare, salmon spread, and more, and their other recipes (except perhaps the cocktails and desserts) are equally challenging. With help from food writer Andrea Pyenson, their prose exudes energy and confidence, and that makes this an entertaining read. VERDICT Mere mortals may not have the patience for recipes like Six Day Bacon of the Gods or 25-Step Championship Chicken, but fervent BBQ diehards with their eyes on a championship will believe their prayers have been answered.

Medrich, Alice. Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts: Quicker Smarter Recipes. Artisan: Workman. May 2012. c.288p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781579653989. pap. $25.95. COOKING

Inspired by a Parisian dessert of canned chestnut puree and packaged crème fra√Æche, veteran cookbook author Medrich here collects effortless, sophisticated desserts. Some recipes (e.g., Salted Caramel Banana Bread Puddings) are new, while others (e.g., Queen of Sheba Torte 5.0) are revisions of recipes included in previous titles. There’s repetition ‚ for instance, the lickety-split cakes are predominantly chocolate and nut tortes. This title adopts the same visual style and practical mindset as its predecessor, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies , which won the 2011 IACP award for Best Baking Book.VERDICT An unintimidating, nearly fail-proof introduction to Medrich’s titles that’s perfect for short-staffed dinner parties and midweek dessert cravings.

starred review starNatkin, Michael. Herbivoracious: A Flavor Revolution with 150 Vibrant and Original Vegetarian Recipes. Harvard Common, dist. by Houghton Harcourt. May 2012. c.368p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781558327450. $24.95. COOKING

After introductory notes on ingredients and equipment, Seattle blogger Natkin ( offers 150 vegetarian recipes for appetizers, soups, salads, mains, desserts, and more, noting vegan and gluten-free options. Natkin’s recipes abound with international influences, and he’s carefully adapted them for home cooks (for instance, Tea-Smoked Lychees are made in a conventional pot). Using seaweed, miso, curry paste, chiles, fresh herbs, spices, and vinegars, Natkin makes vegetables exciting again. Flavor-packed sides like Non- Traditional Arroz Verde and Red Curry Fried Rice are especially good. VERDICT With plenty of healthy choices and few truly hard-to-find ingredients, this memorable debut will thrill vegetarians and omnivores with worldly tastes.

Slater, Nigel. Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. Apr. 2012. c.600p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781607743323. $40. COOKING

In this lush sequel to Tender , an acclaimed collection of seasonal vegetable recipes, British author and broadcaster Slater focuses on sweet and savory applications for fruits grown in his London garden. Organized alphabetically, the fruit-focused chapters offer historical and varietal information, gardening tips, and suggested flavor pairings, followed by simple recipes like Baked Peaches with Maple Syrup and Vanilla, Slow-Cooked Quinces with Cassis, and Roast Leg of Pork with Spiced Rhubarb. VERDICT A comprehensive fruit book that’s sure to please the farm-to-table minded. The challenge here lies not in employing fancy equipment or techniques, but in tracking down ingredients like elderflowers, gooseberries, and guinea fowl.

Wright, Sophie. Home at 7, Dinner at 8. Kyle: Kyle Cathie, dist. by National Bk. Network. Mar. 2012. 176p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781906868482. pap. $19.95. COOKING

Once the UK’s youngest head chef, Wright ( Easy Peasy ) is an accomplished professional whose r é sum é includes numerous TV appearances and culinary competition medals. In her second cookbook, she is a pantry alchemist who transforms canned beans, fruits, and other staples into dishes readers will love to eat. Within its chapters are a richly spiced chicken, apricot, and chickpea tagine, a colorful salad of pan-roasted beets, and a party-worthy peach and pistachio trifle laced with Madeira. Includes a helpful index of cooking times. VERDICT Wright’s simple, sophisticated cuisine proves she understands the challenges facing today’s home cooks. Highly recommended.

Additional cookbooks

Kiwi Magazine Eds. Allergy-Friendly Food for Families: 120 Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Egg-Free, and Soy-Free Recipes Everyone Will Love. Andrews McMeel. Apr. 2012. c.248p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449409760. pap. $24.99. COOKING

The editors of Kiwi Magazine present vibrant color photographs and easy recipes in a beautiful book that will bring joy to allergy-mindful families everywhere. Rather than the avoidance and dread that many allergy sufferers feel toward food, the straightforward recipes and attractive presentation will inspire delight and anticipation. The book is informative as well as appealing, with an introduction that covers celiac disease and food allergies, web links, nutrition information for each recipe, and cooking with kids sections to make food fun for the whole family. One of the most helpful features is the inclusion of two indexes. In addition to the regular index by keywords and ingredients, the editors include a second index by allergen, which is subdivided by breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and parties.VERDICT The editors aim to educate while making allergy-free cooking enjoyable for families, and they have succeeded superbly. Highly recommended for public libraries that aspire to provide quality, special-needs cookbooks.‚ Nyama Y. Marsh, Frank L. Weyenberg Lib. of Mequon-Thiensville, WI

Medearis, Angela Shelf (text) & Penny De Los Santos (photogs.). The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook: 150 Healthy, Delicious Recipes for Diabetics and Those Who Dine with Them. Andrews McMeel. Apr. 2012. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449402396. pap. $24.99. COOKING

When many of her family members and friends developed diabetes, author and cooking show host Medearis ( The New African-American Kitchen ) set to work. Her latest collection features recipes that are low in sugar, sodium, and carbs without sacrificing flavor. Dishes for every meal of the day are inspired from cuisines around the globe: with recipes ranging from Apple-Stuffed Waffle Sandwiches to Curried Chicken to Black-Eyed Pea Cakes, cooks are bound to be inspired in turn. Less familiar foods such as kohlrabi and sunchokes seem less intimidating with Medearis’s enthusiastic encouragement. Because juvenile diabetes is on the rise, recipes aimed at kids have also been included. While the dishes are easy to make, cooking times range from a few minutes to several hours for well- marinated or slow-cooked meals. Recipes include cooking tips, ingredient benefits, ideas for leftovers, general nutrition information, and exchange list values. VERDICT Although the main dishes are meat-centric, the book has enough variety to have wide appeal for anyone trying to cook a diabetic-friendly meal. ‚ Jude Baldwin, Shasta Coll., Redding, CA

Zucker, Judi & Shari Zucker. The Ultimate Allergy-Free Snack Cookbook: Over 100 Kid-Friendly Recipes for the Allergic Child. Square One. Mar. 2012. c.144p. illus. index. ISBN 9780757003462. pap. $15.95. COOKING

The Zucker twins ( The Double Energy Diet ) have advocated healthful eating for decades, and their latest book focuses on snacks that are not only nutritious but also free of the eight most common allergens (eggs, cow’s milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish). They begin with helpful information about allergies, allergens, and ingredient labeling, as well as encouragement for improving one’s diet. Ranging from savory to sweet, recipes use common ingredients and basic techniques. Treats such as fruit smoothies, Killer Kale Crisps, Chickpea Crackers, and Sunny Granola Crunch offer tasty ways to get kids to eat fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains instead of processed snacks. VERDICT Made up of easy recipes that are all vegetarian and free of refined sugar, gluten, and major allergens, this book is a nice complement to cookbooks such as Leslie Hammond and Lynne Marie Rominger’sAllergy Proof Recipes for Kids and recent allergen baking books by Kelly Rudnicki and Cybele Pascal. It should appeal to people of all ages who are interested in healthy snacking. ‚ Jude Baldwin, Shasta Coll., Redding, CA