Cooking Reviews, July 2012

Enjoy the best of summer with this month’s cooking titles, featuring burgers (Rachel Ray’s The Book of Burger), garden-fresh fare (Judy Barrett’s Recipes From and For the Garden and Jill Lightner’s Edible Seattle), and classic sides (Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides).

Barrett, Judy (text) & Victor Z. Martin (illus.). Recipes From and For the Garden: How To Use and Enjoy Your Bountiful Harvest. Texas A&M Univ. 2012. c.128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781603445788. pap. $19.95. COOKING

In addition to recipes for homegrown beans, blackberries, cucumbers, ginger, jujubes, lemons, spinach, and more, avid writer and gardener Barrett (What Can I Do with My Herbs?: How to Grow, Use, and Enjoy These Versatile Plants) uniquely offers recipes for concoctions that will increase a garden’s bounty, like Basic Insecticidal Soap, Garlic Spray, Alfalfa Meal Tea for Roses, and Transplant Solution. Additionally, she includes homemade remedies, tonics, and cleaning, and beauty products. VERDICT For readers who already garden, they’ll find this no-nonsense recipe book practical and informative. Novices should supplement this with a kitchen gardening title (e.g., Jennifer R. Bartley’s The Kitchen Gardener’s Handbook or David Hirsch’s Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden: Creative Gardening for the Adventurous Cook).

Edible Seattle: The Cookbook. Sterling Epicure. 2012. c.184p. ed. by Jill Lightner. photogs. index. ISBN 9781402785559. $19.95. COOKING

The latest in the Edible series (Edible Brooklyn), this cookbook introduces readers to food producers and purveyors in the Puget Sound region. To showcase unique and iconic ingredients, Lightner (editor, Edible Seattle magazine) has compiled such diverse recipes as Rhubarb Bruschetta, Sunchoke and Chanterelle Hash, Pork Banh Mi, and Razor Clam Linguine. Sidebars (Edible Tips) supplement the recipes with facts, techniques, and substitutions, and profiles and interviews appear throughout. VERDICT Evocative writing and photography distinguish this book from similar titles. For more Seattle recipes, try James O. Fraioli’s Seattle Chef’s Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Emerald City and Braiden Rex-Johnson & Tom Douglas’s Pike Place Market Cookbook: Recipes, Anecdotes, and Personalities from Seattle’s Renowned Public Market.

Parents Magazine Quick & Easy Kid-Friendly Meals: 125 Dishes the Whole Family Will Love. Wiley. 2012. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781118173602. pap. $19.99. COOKING

Visual appeal contributes to the kid-friendliness of these easy, economical, and healthy(ish) recipes from the editors of Parents magazine, and small children and will likely enjoy the adorable Sandwich Bouquets, A-B-C Pasta Salad, Pear-Bear Muffins, and Pink Lemonade Cookies. The book includes practical tips for developing healthy eating habits (e.g., go for whole grains, find the right fat, watch the sodium), nutrition facts, and Quick Fixes, i.e., fast, minimal dishes with interesting presentation ideas. VERDICT Parents with limited time to appease fussy eaters will find great ideas among these recipes for breakfast, lunch, supper, snacks, drinks, and treats.

Passard, Alain. The Art of Cooking with Vegetables. Frances Lincoln, dist. by PGW. 2012. c.112p. illus. index. ISBN 9780711233355. $29.99. COOKING

This is the English-language version of Passard’s 2010 Collages & Recettes. Chef and owner of the three-Michelin-starred Parisian restaurant L’Arpege, Passard illustrates these 48 sophisticated vegetable recipes‚ organized by month‚ with his own paper collages. The visual effect is whimsical, recalling children’s books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The quality of vegetables will matter here; Stand Up Asparagus, Globe Artichokes with Bay Leaves and Lime, and Yellow Beetroot Baked in a Dome of Coarse Salt all have five ingredients or fewer, and their simple preparations require attention to detail. VERDICT Readers who regard cooking as art will love this title.

Purvis, Kathleen. Pecans. Univ. of North Carolina. Sept. 2012. c.104p. ISBN 9780807835791. $18. COOKING

Purvis (food editor, Charlotte Observer) has an infectious love of pecans. In a concise introduction that details her obsession, she makes an easy transition from charming (often hilarious) anecdotes to lesser-known food history and science. Her recipes offer more than the usual cookies and pies; there are sweet and savory party foods (e.g., Sweet Heat Sriracha Pecans, Tallahassee Cheese Ring), stuffed and crusted mains, Thanksgiving-worthy sides, and‚ of course‚ desserts (e.g., Chocolate Praline Cheesecake). VERDICT A book for readers who can’t get enough of pecans. For more recipes, try Keith Courrege and Marcelle Bienvenu’s Pecans from Soup to Nuts or June Jackson’s In Praise of Pecans: Recipes & Recollections .

Ray, Rachel. The Book of Burger. Atria: S. & S. 2012. c.336p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781451659696. pap. $24.99. COOKING

With nine No. 1 New York Times ‚ best sellers, the queen of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) needs no introduction. This latest book collects over 200 of Food Network icon Ray’s favorite burgers, sliders, sandwiches, dogs, and sloppies, incorporating such ingredients as veal, pork, lamb, mushrooms, and swordfish. Recipes include Turkey Tikka Burgers with Indian Corn, Mac ‘n’ Cheese-Burger Sliders, Spicy Spanish Meatball Subs, and Jalape √± o Popper Dogs. Additionally, there are contributions from famous chefs (e.g., Masaharu Morimoto, Michael Symon, and Spike Mendelsohn) and mobile device‚ friendly links to digital content. VERDICT If it can fit on a bun, it’s probably here, but note that veggie options are a minority. Expect demand for this fun collection.

Schneider, Deborah. The Mexican Slow Cooker: Recipes for Mole, Enchiladas, Carnitas, Chile Verde Pork, and More Favorites. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. Aug. 2012. c.144p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781607743163. pap. $19.99. COOKING

Here, California-based chef Schneider (Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos) instructs readers to divide their time between stove and appliance to develop flavors. Some of her recipes‚ like Pozole Rojo, where chiles must be skillet-toasted, peeled, and pureed‚ can require hours of prep, while others are more efficient, like a brilliant Torta de Tamal that eliminates the work of individually wrapping and steaming tamales. Schneider’s introductory notes to each recipe helpfully offer plenty of history and foreign vocabulary. VERDICT Home cooks who rely on a slow cooker to free up their attention (not necessarily eliminate prep time) will enjoy these Mexican favorites, which emphasize fresh, authentic ingredients.

starred review starSingla, Anupy. Vegan Indian Cooking: 140 Simple and Healthy Vegan Recipes. Surrey: Agate. Jul. 2012. c.248p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781572847026. pap. $19.95. COOKING

It’s no surprise that former TV reporter Singla’s debut, The Indian Slow Cooker, has dominated Amazon’s list of bestselling Indian cookbooks. Her practical approach‚ evident in this collection of mains (Cashew-Stuffed Baby Eggplant), condiments (Strawberry Chutney), snacks (Chickpea Poppers), and sides (Baked Samosas)‚ emphasizes mindful eating over a prescribed lifestyle. Her recipes (in U.S. and metric measurements) will appeal to many home cooks, especially those trying to reduce their reliance on processed convenience foods. VERDICT Singla debunks misconceptions that Indian food is spicy, complicated, and unhealthy. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Madhur Jaffrey, Monica Bhide, and Suvir Saran.

Sosa, Angelo with Suzanne Lenzer. Flavor Exposed: 100 Global Recipes from Sweet to Salty, Earthy to Spicy. Kyle: Kyle Cathie, dist. by National Bk. Network. 2012. c.208p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781906868666. $29.95. COOKING

Top Chef fans will remember Sosa as the Season 7 runner-up with superstar mentors (Jean-Georges Vongerichten writes the foreword and Alain Ducasse contributes a blurb) and a sophisticated Asian cuisine. With food writer and stylist Lenzer, Sosa groups his debut into nine flavor profiles: Sweet, Smoky, Salty, Umami, etc. His recipes (e.g., Cured Watermelon Crudo, Crispy Spring Roll, Fiery Korean Satays) aren’t just for marveling over; most home cooks can make them. Though the tirelessly optimistic and sentimental writing approaches maudlin, it provides insight on Sosa’s background and philosophy. VERDICT Sosa’s talent is obvious. Even without its reality TV celebrity, this beautiful book would be worth acquiring.

starred review starThompson, Fred. Fred Thompson’s Southern Sides: 250 Dishes That Really Make the Plate. Univ. of North Carolina. Sept. 2012. c.336p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780807835708. $35. COOKING

Accomplished food writer Thompson (managing editor, Edible Piedmont; Grillin’ with Gas: 150 Mouthwatering Recipes for Great Grilled Food), who also writes the Weekend Gourmet column for the Raleigh News & Observer , here begins with spicy Sweet Potato Guacamole, a familiar yet deliciously unconventional dish that hints at what’s to come. Recipes like Cheese Straws, Ambrosia, Jicama Ginger Slaw, and Fred’s Favorite Oyster Dressing balance old with new, sweet with savory, and plain with upscale. More importantly, they reflect a rich history and the influences of a talented food community that includes Sara Foster, James Villas, Frank Stitt, and others. VERDICT A bible of classic and contemporary Southern sides. Highly recommended.

Other Cookbooks

Antine, Stacey. Appetite for Life: The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Getting Your Kid to Be a Great Eater-Including Over 100 Kid-Approved Recipes. HarperOne: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. c.272p. illus. index. ISBN 9780062103703. $26.99. COOKING

Why wouldn’t kids like to eat pure food from nature? asks dietician and nutrition educator Antine. Her guiding principle is connect your kids to their food. The book focuses on healthy meals and including children in the process of preparing food by starting a garden and recruiting them as kitchen helpers. Playing a label-reading game like Supermarket Spy Kids can engage children to learn the difference between natural and artificial ingredients. Among the many recipes are Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes, Sweet Potato Pancakes, and Eggplant Parmesan Towers. Informative charts compare homemade with store-bought ingredients and feature Week at a Glance meal recommendations. A pantry list will help readers know what to have on hand. VERDICT Antine’s thoughtful approach gives a whole-foods perspective on cooking for the family. This book keeps things simple for the time challenged and offers alternatives to fast food. ‚ Barb Kundanis, Longmont P.L., CO