Cookbook Reviews | December 2012

As New Year’s Day approaches, check out some excellent 2012 titles you may have missed such as The Essential James Beard Cookbook and Fabrizia Lanza’s Coming Home to Sicily. Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray’s 2013 The New Jewish Table offers something new to look forward to.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Beard, James. The Essential James Beard Cookbook: 400 Recipes That Shaped the Tradition of American Cooking. St. Martin’s. 2012. 416p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780312642181. $35. cooking

Readers may not know that Beard, one of the most influential figures in American cooking, did not publish his first book until he was 38 years old. Rick Rodgers’s “Notes from the Editor” reacquaints readers with Beard’s legacy, and the book guides them through 400 recipes from Beard’s 40-year cookbook career (e.g., Cream of Mushroom Soup, Steak au Poivre, Apple Pie). Though the recipes have been adjusted for modern kitchens, Beard’s voice has been successfully preserved. Editorial notes in brackets offer useful information and interesting historical tidbits. VERDICT Home cooking has evolved considerably since Beard’s cookbooks were first published, so it’s wonderful to see his recipes reprinted in this functional collection.

Library Journal Reviews starred review Lanza, Fabrizia with Kate Winslow. Coming Home to Sicily: Seasonal Harvests and Cooking from Case Vecchie. Sterling Epicure. 2012. 336p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781402787836. $30. cooking

Sicilian native and former art historian Lanza ( Olive: A Global History ) transports readers to the lush fields and orchards of Regaleali, her family’s 19th-century estate, where she continues her mother’s legacy, the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School at Case Vecchie. With food writer and former Gourmet food editor Winslow, Lanza shares seasonal recipes—like Brioche Ripena (Stuffed Brioche) and Insalata de Finocchietto Selvatico (Wild Fennel Salad)—that successfully pay homage to Sicilian food traditions. VERDICT Emphasizing authenticity (and calling for ingredients like fresh yeast and a tuna sperm sac), this cookbook isn’t very practical; however, like Giorgio Locatelli’s Made in Sicily , it’s gorgeously photographed and a pleasure to read.

Mountain, Johnnie. Pig: A Passion for Pork. Duncan Baird. 2012. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781848990395. $24.95. cooking

British chef Mountain, who alleges his greatest childhood memory is of a bacon sandwich, owns Westminster restaurant The English Pig and has appeared on the BBC2 television series Great British Menu . His debut cookbook, organized by type of dish (e.g., “Home Favorites,” “Spicy & Aromatic,” “Slow-Cooked”), highlights a variety of ways to prepare pork, like smoking, grilling, and braising. Some dishes, like Ham & Apple Quesadillas, are quick and easy, while others, like Slow-Roasted Pork Belly, are for special occasions.VERDICT A good starting point for readers squeamish about true nose-to-tail eating. Pork lovers who enjoyed Carol Wilson & Christopher Trotter’s The Whole Hog can add these satisfying recipes to their repertoires.

The following titles are reviewed in the December 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.

Made with Love: The Meals on Wheels Family Cookbook. BenBella. 2012. 296p. ed. by Enid Borden. photogs. index. ISBN 9781936661985. $29.95. cooking

Carroll, Christine & Jody Eddy. Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants. Running Pr. 2012. 320p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780762442621. $35. cooking

Fertig, Judith. I Love Cinnamon Rolls! Andrews McMeel. 2012. 112p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781449420697. $19.99. cooking

Gonzales, Dante. Ride or Fry: The Dante Fried Chicken Experience. Sterling Epicure. 2012. 208p. illus. index. ISBN 9781402794292. pap. $19.95. cooking

Gray, Todd & Ellen Kassoff Gray. The New Jewish Table: Modern Seasonal Recipes for Traditional Dishes. St. Martin’s. Mar. 2013. c.336p. illus. index. ISBN 9781250004451. $35. cooking

Pray, Alison & Tara Smith. Standard Baking Co. Pastries. Down East. 2012. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781608931842. $29.95. cooking

Ray, Rachael. My Year in Meals. Atria: S.& S. 2012. 384p. illus. index. ISBN 9781451659726. $29.99. cooking