Cooking Reviews | December 2013

cookingwCompestine, Ying Chang. Cooking with an Asian Accent: Eastern Wisdom in a Western Kitchen. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2014. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781118130759. $34.99. COOKING

Compestine (Ying’s Best One-Dish Meals) has authored numerous books for children and adults. Her newest cookbook compares Asian and Western cooking styles and aims to blend the philosophy of the former with the efficiency of the latter. Like Hiroko Shimbo in Hiroko’s American Kitchen: Cooking with Japanese Flavors, the author uses accessible preparations and substitutes hard-to-find ingredients for more conventional ones. Heartwarming hot pot, peach-shrimp spring rolls, coconut-soy milkshake, and other recipes are mostly quick and healthy. Headnotes discuss medicinal benefits in the context of traditional Chinese medicine. VERDICT A health-focused collection of creative new recipes, with many meat and dairy-free choices.

redstarCurrence, John. Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey: Recipes from My Three Favorite Food Groups (and Then Some). Andrews McMeel. 2013. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781449428808. $40. COOKING

In this cookbook’s “foreplay” (foreword), introduction, and recipe headnotes, James Beard Award–winning chef Currence comes across as cheeky but undeniably serious about his craft. Through 130 recipes in technique-based chapters (e.g., “Boiling & Simmering,” “Pickling & Canning”), readers will get to know Currence’s philosophy, influences, and music recommendations. Recipes for mint julep redux, deep South “ramen” with fried poached eggs, hill country cioppino, and bourbon-pecan pie with tonka bean ice cream, showcase some of the most exciting trends in Southern food and drink. ­VERDICT Essential for regional collections.

redstard’Antioc, Jamie. God’s Cook Book: Tracing the Culinary Traditions of the Levant. Arcadian Lifestyle. 2013. 368p. illus. index. ISBN 9780982563724. $50. COOKING

Recipient of the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Fair’s World’s Best Cookbook Award, this lavishly illustrated cookbook explores the diets of three Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam). Motivated in part by his grandmother’s longevity, well-traveled author d’Antioc has researched ancient culinary habits and cooking methods in order to increase our understanding of the food we eat today. Each of the category-based chapters (e.g., “Simple and Side Dishes,” “Grain,” “Poultry”) blends historical information and references to religious texts with simple recipes given in metric and U.S. measurements. VERDICT An illuminating look at food’s spiritual roots. Essential for culinary history collections.

Krieger, Ellie. Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2014. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781118409497. $29.99. COOKING

Registered dietician and Food Network star Krieger (So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week) focuses on making healthy meals delicious and doable. While some of her cookbooks seem similar, each offers distinct strategies for healthy eating. Here she shares techniques for keeping weeknight dinner prep “in the 30-minute zone,” suggesting shortcuts that include prewashed ingredients and quick-cooking proteins. Busy home cooks will appreciate that recipes such as grilled tandoori chicken breasts, velvety artichoke soup, and two-minute mango coconut sorbet are easy to shop for and mostly budget-friendly. ­VERDICT Another solid collection of contemporary feel-good fare. Public libraries should expect demand.

Ono, Tadashi & Harris Salat. Japanese Soul Cooking: Ramen, Tonkatsu, Tempura, and More from the Streets and Kitchens of Tokyo and Beyond. Ten Speed: Crown. 2013. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607743521. $27.50. COOKING

Chef Ono and food writer Salat (The Japanese Grill: From Classic Yakitori to Steak, Seafood, and Vegetables) previously published two cookbooks on Japanese comfort foods. Their latest collaboration, a survey of mostly fried, curried, and noodle-based dishes (e.g., Osaka-style okonomiyaki, classic pork gyoza, yaki udon), requires a willingness to prepare multiple components and locate unfamiliar ingredients. The ramens are complicated but less so than those in David Chang and Peter Meehan’s Momofuku and Ivan Orkin’s Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo’s Most Unlikely Noodle Joint. VERDICT Readers who complete the required shopping and prep will discover that these recipes are very doable in home kitchens. Highly recommended.

blancPic, Anne-Sophie. Le Livre Blanc. Jacqui Small. 2013. 228p. photos. ISBN . $60. COOKING

Let’s face it—when most of us think about cooking, we don’t imagine filling a bowl of frothy green tea broth with artfully arranged boiled leeks, marinated anchovies, and wafer-thin coins of caviar-topped melba toast. Most readers will never cook from this title, but browsing its visually breathtaking contents, they will understand why Pic, the fourth female chef ever to win three Michelin stars, deserves her reputation. Some haute cuisine cookbooks have explicit instructions; this one does not. The recipes at the back of the book assume considerable knowledge and skill. VERDICT Highly recommended for professional collections and aspirational cooks interested in elegant plating and presentation.

Schloss, Andrew (text) & Alan Benson (photos). Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More. Chronicle. 2013. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9781452104690. $35. COOKING

Applying slow-cooking methods—braising, roasting, grilling, and more—to recipes such as one-pot mac and cheese, honey-glazed pig roast, and root vegetable borscht, cooking teacher Schloss (The Art of the Slow Cooker) demonstrates how low temperatures can yield delicious results. The handsomely photographed recipes in his latest cookbook take longer than one might expect (scotch butter short ribs cook for 72 hours), but the cooking time is largely inactive. Schloss devotes one chapter to slow cookers, and the other eight include slow cooker instructions for select dishes. VERDICT Readers who enjoy cooking with a skillet, Dutch oven, baking dish, or sous vide machine as much as with a Crock-Pot will love this versatile collection.

Stiavetti, Stephanie & Garrett McCord. Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese. Little, Brown. 2013. 224p. photos. ISBN 9780316213370. $30. COOKING

To elevate macaroni and cheese to an “art,” freelance food writers Stiavetti and McCord employ premium ingredients and precise techniques. In their introduction, they specify an exact ratio of pasta to cooking water, illuminate the differences between béchamel and Mornay sauce, provide an excellent cheese primer, and delve into culinary history. Their unusual recipes (e.g., Szechuan-style udon with piave and radicchio) list pasta measurements almost exclusively by weight, call for name-brand cheeses, and suggest wine pairings. ­VERDICT Like Francine Segan’s Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes from Italy, this title will challenge readers to expand their repertoire. It may, however, be too prescriptive for some home cooks.

Strahs, Kathy. The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook: More than 200 Perfect-Every-Time Recipes for Making Panini—and Lots of Other Things—on Your Panini Press or Other Countertop Grill. Harvard Common. 2013. 288p. photos. index. ISBN 9781558327924. pap. $19.95. COOKING

Strahs, who writes the popular blog Panini Happy (, is on a mission to discover every possible use for the panini press. After explaining how to select, operate, and clean countertop grilling appliances, she shares cooking tips gleaned from years of trial and error (e.g., fresh greens are less likely to wilt in the middle of a sandwich). Like Anthony Tripodi’s The Everything Panini Press Cookbook, Strahs’s debut includes far more than sandwiches. Her more unusual recipes include homemade ice cream cones, peanut butter sandwich cookies, and mini frittatas (“baked” on the grill in ramekins). VERDICT This comprehensive book rivals some of the best indoor grilling titles. Highly recommended.

Tanis, David. One Good Dish. Artisan: Workman. 2013. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781579654672. $25.95. COOKING

Departing from the seasonal menus that characterized his previous titles, chef and New York Times columnist Tanis (A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes) ­presents small dishes, snacks, condiments, and drinks meant to be consumed when desire strikes. He introduces each recipe with a brief reflection, and it’s his elegant prose that makes a few almost-too-simple offerings (e.g., real garlic toast, watered-down wine) sound sublime. Stunning photographs accompany full-flavored dishes such as Vietnamese vegetable baguette, save-your-life garlic soup, and ginger spice wafers. VERDICT Minimalistic recipes in nonprescriptive categories will please grazers and foodies who generally have high-quality ingredients (e.g., crusty bread, cold-pressed olive oil) on hand.