Cooking Reviews | February 15, 2014

redstarThe Culinary Institute of America & Kristina Petersen Migoya. Pies and Tarts: The Definitive Guide to Classic and Contemporary Favorites from the World’s Premier Culinary College. Houghton Harcourt. Mar. 2014. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9780470873595. $29.99. COOKING

piesandtarts030414Introducing these sweet and savory recipes (e.g., maple cream pie, beef and cheese empanadas), culinary instructor Migoya defines pie-making tools, ingredients, and techniques and clearly explains their importance. She also covers seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables, best apples for baking, and protein percentages of supermarket flours. Readers will find the traditional crust and filling recipes they expect, plus surprising and versatile variations. Step-by-step photographs accompany the more challenging techniques, and all recipes include weight and volume measurements. VERDICT Technically sound and refreshingly contemporary, this comprehensive collection can help motivated bakers produce superior pastries and dream up new creations.

Gand, Gale with Christie Matheson (text) & Ben Fink (photos). Gale Gand’s Lunch! Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9780544226500. $27.99. COOKING

Celebrity chef Gand (Chocolate and Vanilla) has written several excellent dessert books, and in newer titles she’s explored topics such as easy entertaining and home cooking. Written with Matheson, her collaborator on Gale Gand’s Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend’s Best Meal, Gand’s latest cookbook covers all the components of a homemade gourmet lunch: snacks (parmesan-black pepper popcorn, hummus), entrées (lobster roll, panko-crusted chicken), desserts, and accompaniments. Most recipes suggest pairings for packed lunches, meals at home, and parties. VERDICT Like Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry Cravings, this collection can help foodie families resist the urge to go for takeout.

Hall, Carla with Genevieve Ko. Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World. Atria. Apr. 2014. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781451662221. $29.99. COOKING

Hall (Cooking with Love) is a popular former Top Chef contestant who owns an artisan cookie company and cohosts the ABC talk show The Chew. Coauthored with Ko (Home Cooking with Jean-Georges), her latest cookbook tempts adventurous eaters with 130 recipes for international comfort foods. Hall gives Mexican tomato-corn chowder, Southeast Asian cilantro fish stew, and other dishes her own twist, incorporating her preparations and tips. Recipe headnotes touch on Halls’ career, personal life, and ingredient preferences. VERDICT Hall’s unintimidating take on world cuisine isn’t always authentic but can help novice cooks explore new spices.

James, Ghillie. Amazing Grains: From Classic to Contemporary, Wholesome Recipes for Every Day. Kyle: Kyle Cathie. Feb. 2014. 256p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781909487048. $29.95. COOKING

amazingrains030414Originally published in Great Britain, English food writer James’s new offering treats a fashionable subject with balance and restraint. Rather than seize on the notion of grains as a miraculous superfood, she explores their history and significance and teaches readers to prepare them well. James (The Foolproof Freezer Cookbook) does cover health benefits and nutritional composition, but she devotes most of these pages to enticing international recipes. Middle Eastern pumpkin soup with kasha, Italian-style stuffed eggplant, jambalaya, and other dishes—organized by course—will please readers trying to adopt a more plant-based diet. VERDICT A gorgeous grains cookbook that’s more informative than preachy. Highly recommended.

Lowe, Paul. Sweet Paul Eat & Make: Charming Recipes & Kitchen Crafts You Will Love. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2014. 272p. photos. index. ISBN 9780544133334. $30. COOKING

Raised in Oslo, Norway, Lowe is a food and craft stylist whose blog Sweet Paul evolved into a popular online magazine and print quarterly ( His debut cookbook features recipes and crafts organized by time of day (morning, brunch, noon, and night). Dishes such as breakfast churros with cinnamon sugar and chicken with olives and capers look luxurious but are relatively inexpensive and easy to make. Similarly, simple crafts that include fork bookends and vintage-photo napkins offer maximum fun for minimal cost. VERDICT As its title suggests, this beautifully designed and approachable cookbook is a call to action, not just something pleasant for the eye.

Russell, Laura B. Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables; Kale, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and More. Ten Speed. Apr. 2014. 176p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781607745716. $23; ebk. ISBN 9781607745723. COOKING

brassicas030414Russell (The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen), a former cookbook editor for Food & Wine, here explains the nutritional benefits of brassicas, a type of plant in the mustard family that includes kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, and shares 80 easy recipes grouped by main ingredient. A chapter offers tips on shopping, cooking, and taming strong flavors and odors, and a special diets table identifies recipes containing common allergens. ­VERDICT This attractive cookbook offers health- and wellness-focused readers delicious new recipes (e.g., smoky kale salad with toasted almonds and egg). Readers looking for a more comprehensive work with less of an emphasis on health might try Diane Morgan’s essential Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes.

Tarrab, Elie. Chocolate, Chocolate, & More Chocolate! Imagine. Feb. 2014. 144p. photos. index. ISBN 9781623540203. $18.95. COOKING

Chocolatier Tarrab introduces several types of chocolate treats, including bars, truffles, popsicles, cookies, and cakes. Split nearly equally between confections and desserts, his recipes pair chocolate with popular additions such as fruit, nuts, alcohol, and tea. Tarrab wisely employs conventional equipment where possible—for instance, chocolate pencils are molded in plastic straws, then sharpened—but readers will still need some specialty items. Step-by-step photographs accompany explanations of essential techniques. ­VERDICT Although Tarrab’s cookbook includes some fun projects, it is less precise than Peter P. Greweling’s Chocolates and Confections at Home with the Culinary Institute of America and Andrew Garrison Shott’s Making Artisan Chocolates: Flavor-Infused Chocolates, Truffles, and ­Confections.

Vaserfirer, Lucy. Marinades: The Quick-Fix Way To Turn Everyday Food into Exceptional Fare, with 400 Recipes. Harvard Common. Apr. 2014. 320p. index. ISBN 9781558328273. pap. $17.95. COOKING

Marinades, like slow cookers, can be used to flavor and tenderize meats with minimal effort. Cooking teacher and food blogger Vaserfirer (Flavored Butters) shares 200 of them, pairing each with serving suggestions and complementary recipes. Beet-horseradish marinade, for instance, can be used to make baked salmon fillets or marinated eggs, while ginger syrup is paired with grilled macerated fruit. Vaserfirer dispels a few myths about vacuum sealing, recommends marinating times and temperatures, and explains how to work safely with marinades as glazes, bastes, or sauces. VERDICT Frequent grillers and protein eaters can rely upon this single-subject sauce cookbook to enliven routine meals.

Whalen, Dan. Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook; Taking Your Favorite Foods and Stuffing Them To Make New, Different and Delicious Meals. Page Street. 2014. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9781624140112. pap. $19.99. COOKING

stuffed030414Food blogger Whalen (thefoodinmybeard.­com) taught himself to cook in college and now works as a burrito shop chef and freelance writer. His over-the-top mashups of favorite comfort foods—cheesesteak pot stickers, mac and cheese chile rellenos, cherry pie–stuffed chocolate cakes, and more—may seem bizarre, but they’re carefully considered. Using Whalen’s precise instructions and measurements (metric and U.S.), readers can easily re-create these unusual stuffed creations. Recipes can be browsed by spiciness and a “pig-out” scale. VERDICT Expect plenty of meat, cheese, carbs, and fat in this unapologetically gluttonous cookbook that will appeal to young adults and readers looking for unique party fare.

Yen, Diana & The Jewels of New York. A Simple Feast: A Year of Stories & Recipes To Savor & Share. Roost. May 2014. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781611800326. $29.95. COOKING

Ordered by season and by occasion (e.g., apple picking upstate, snow day, date night), this collection of menus from Yen’s creative studio the Jewels of New York ( evokes a year in recipes and stories. Sections that usually grace a cookbook’s front matter—pantry checklists, apple varieties and uses, a guide to herbs and spices, grilling guidelines—are here reimagined as artful infographics, some more successful than others. Readers who frequent farmers’ markets and enjoy planning intimate, tasteful gatherings will find plenty of dishes to impress, from dry-aged steak with chive butter to heirloom tomato and burrata salad. VERDICT This elegant cookbook will appeal to fans of ­Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa ­Hamilton’s Canal House Cooks Every Day.

This article was published in Library Journal's February 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Lisa, I like your style of cookbook review. Should I ever actually get a cookbook published, I will definitely send you a copy for review!