Cooking Reviews, September 15, 2012

Bastianich, Lidia Matticchio & Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: 100 Foolproof Italian Dishes, from Basic Sauces to Irresistible Entrées. Knopf. Oct. 2012. c.240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307595669. $24.95. COOKING

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Bastianich (Lidia’s Italy in America) has written eight cookbooks, many of them coauthored with Manuali, her daughter. Organized by course, their latest contains both new and previously published recipes for favorites such as Eggplant Parmigiana, Beef Braised in Barolo, and Limoncello Tiramisu. Seeking to make these recipes affordable, accessible, and nutritious, the authors emphasize seasonal ingredients and simple preparations. VERDICT More compact than Bastianich’s other titles, this practical collection is perfect for families as well as readers who enjoyed Viana La Place and Evan Kleiman’s Cucina Rustica.

Bernamoff, Noah & Rae Bernamoff. The Mile End Cookbook: Redefining Jewish Comfort Food from Hash to Hamantaschen. Clarkson Potter: Crown Pub. Group. Sept. 2012. c.224p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780307954480. $27.50. COOKING

Jewish deli food—chopped liver, lox, knishes, onion rolls, rugelach, and more—gets the gourmet treatment in this debut from the owners of Montreal-style Brooklyn deli Mile End ( The book is in two parts: “Do-It-Yourself Delicatessen” (basic recipes for meats, fish, pickles, and condiments) and “To the Table” (recipes for finished dishes). Additionally, they offer holiday entertaining menus, profiles of other delis, and Montreal dining recommendations. The recipes are for serious cooks; Smoked Meat (a whole beef brisket) takes about two weeks to prepare, and Chicken Soup add-ins (Matzo Balls, Kreplach, and Egg Noodles) are all made from scratch. VERDICT Interesting writing and beautiful photography make this a worthwhile read.

Fisher, Teri Lyn & Jenny Park. Tiny Food Party!: Bite-Size Recipes for Miniature Meals. Quirk. Oct. 2012. 160p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781594745812. pap. $18.95. COOKING

In this eye-catching collection, photographer Fisher and food stylist and recipe writer Park (coauthors, offer party menus, equipment recommendations, and fanciful, easy recipes for miniature appetizers, entrées, desserts, and cocktails. Less upscale than Peter Callahan’s Bite by Bite and François Payard’s Bite Size, this is a great choice for home cooks who enjoy casual entertaining. VERDICT These adorable small-scale favorites—like Snacky Mac ’n’ Cheese Bites and Mini Homemade Pop Tarts—will thrill both kids and adults.

Gutman, Liz & Jen King. The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook: How To Make Truly Scrumptious Candy in Your Own Kitchen! Workman. Oct. 2012. c.320p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780761166450. pap. $17.95. COOKING

Gutman and King, co-owners of Liddabit Sweets (, here seek to show the fun in candy making. Their humorous tone permeates 60-plus recipes for nostalgic treats like Cherry Cordials, Buckeyes, Honeycomb Candy, and PB&J Cups. A “Candy 101” primer illustrates important concepts with sometimes bizarrely encouraging examples (“if you add ½ cup carpet tacks to a recipe and it fails horribly, you’ll want to know not to do that again”), and a helpful “Speeddate the Candies” section enables easy browsing of recipes by flavor, texture, diet (e.g., gluten-free), skill level, or occasion. VERDICT A wonderful start for anyone daunted by home confectionery.

Hamilton, Melissa & Christopher Hirsheimer. Canal House Cooks Every Day. Andrews McMeel. Oct. 2012. c.384p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449421472. $45. COOKING

Prefaced by an evocative poem and a foreword by “Julia Child” (as channeled by noted food writer Amanda Hesser), this cookbook from food photographer, writer, and editor Hirsheimer and chef Hamilton, cofounders of Canal House in the Delaware River Valley, presents a year’s worth of simple dishes organized by month. The recipes (often written in paragraph form) read like diary entries; each includes the date and weather, and most have a narrative introduction. Though many are reprints from the Canal House Cooking series, it’s nice (and in some ways more practical) to have them collected in a single volume. VERDICT Like Belinda Jeffery’s The Country Cookbook, this transporting title successfully captures a year in a beautiful setting.

Lanlard, Eric. Tart It Up!: Sweet & Savory Tarts & Pies. Mitchell Beazley: Octopus Pub. Group, dist. by Hachette. Oct. 2012. 176p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781845337193. $19.99. COOKING

Lanlard (Glamour Cakes; Home Bake), who owns London cake boutique Cake Boy, is an award-winning pâtissier who has made custom creations for Madonna and Elton John. His latest cookbook uses step-by-step photographs to illustrate techniques like making Brioche Pastry Dough and assembling an Apricot and Pistachio Pithivier Pie. The recipes range from traditional to exotic and are written with the assumption that readers will know things like how thinly pastry should be rolled and what temperature ingredients should be. ­VERDICT Like Eric Kayser’s Sweet and Savory Tarts and Maury Rubin’s Book of Tarts, this collection is best for advanced home bakers.

Reader, Ted. Beerlicious: The Art of Grillin’ & Chillin’. Fenn/McClelland & Stewart. 2012. 320p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780771073670. $27.99. COOKING

Canadian chef Reader (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Smoking Foods) creatively incorporates beer into more than 100 grilled dishes. For example, he brines BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork in Brooklyn Lager and injects Leffe Blonde ale into Plank-Smoked Camembert. He even uses beer in cakes, like Double Chocolate Stout German Chocolate Cake, that are cooked on the grill in a cedar planking box. These recipes call for many ingredients, but they’re not overly challenging. VERDICT Essential for BBQ enthusiasts who enjoy cooking with beer.

Sifton, Sam (text) & Sarah C. Rutherford (illus.). Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well. Random House. Oct. 2012. c.160p. illus. index. ISBN 9781400069910. $18. COOKING

New York Times national editor and former restaurant critic Sifton condenses considerable Thanksgiving know-how into this slim, practical guide to the basics (e.g., The Turkey, Side Dishes, Setting the Table, Drinks & Drinking, Cleanup & Leftovers). Filled with elegant prose, humorous stories, and helpful FAQs, this collection favors simple, well-prepared dishes over trendy showstoppers. There are no appetizers or salads; Sifton believes they detract from the traditional meal. VERDICT This book has everything readers will need to host a successful Thanksgiving dinner. Rick Rodgers’s Thanksgiving 101, which has detailed menus and timetables, is another good choice.

Tucci, Stanley with Joan Tucci and others. The Tucci Cookbook. Gallery Books: S&S. Oct. 2012. c.400p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781451661255. $35. COOKING

Acclaimed actor Stanley Tucci, the grandson of Calabrian immigrants, is no stranger to food; while researching his 1996 film Big Night, he trained for a year and a half with chef Gianni Scappin. He also co-owned Finch Tavern in New York and currently hosts the public television series Vine Talk. Here, with Scappin, his parents Joan and Stan Tucci, and writer Mimi Taft (coauthor, The Tribeca Cookbook), Tucci shares family memories and recipes for appetizers (Potato Croquettes), pasta (Linguine with Clam Sauce), main dishes (Roast Duck with Fresh Figs), and other courses. Most recipes include variations and suggested wine pairings. VERDICT A celebrity cookbook of uncommon quality that balances rustic and sophisticated fare.

Vines-Rushing, Allison & Slade Rushing. Southern Comfort: A New Take on the Recipes We Grew Up With. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. Oct. 2012. c.240p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781607742623. $35. COOKING

After achieving success as chefs of the Manhattan restaurant Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, husband-and-wife team Rushing and Vines-Rushing returned to Louisiana to open Longbranch (now closed, a victim of Hurricane Katrina) and MiLa. Their culinary style, heavily influenced by their Southern heritage, is showcased in dishes like Hush Puppies with Caviar, Champagne Catfish with French Tartar Sauce, and Muscadine Wine Jello. For readers hungry for something less upscale, there are traditional comforts like Sweet Potato Pancakes and Deep Fried Turkey. VERDICT A welcome addition to cookbooks on contemporary Southern cuisine.