Everyday Desserts from Greenspan, Pelaez & Silverman’s Passion for Cuban Cooking, & Much More | Cooking Reviews

Bittman, Mark. How To Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way To Cook Great Food. HMH. Oct. 2014. 1056p. photos. index. ISBN 9780470936306. $35. COOKING

howtocookfast081814The latest addition to Bittman’s best-selling “How To Cook Everything” series focuses on homemade meals made with minimal work. Bittman has ditched the traditional practice of mise en place (preparing all ingredients in advance) in favor of a “real-time cooking” method that maximizes efficiency. In introductory sections, he advocates a less-is-more approach to stocking a kitchen and pantry, telling readers which shortcuts are useful (canned beans) and which should be skipped (pregrated Parmesan). Hundreds of recipes are smartly speedy—three-cheese lasagna substitutes egg roll wrappers for uncooked noodles, and unstuffed cabbage eliminates a traditionally time-consuming step. Prep and cooking instructions, denoted by contrasting colors, are easy to read, and sidebars offer variations, notes, and suggested side dishes. The recipes mostly stand alone; readers who’d like an efficient method for multicourse meals may enjoy Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes. VERDICT Bittman’s latest is fantastic for busy, novice, and noncooks. It’s also a practical tool for anyone who aspires but struggles to cook more often.

Brock, Sean. Heritage. Artisan. Oct. 2014. 336p. index. photos. ISBN 9781579654634. $40. COOKING

James Beard Award–winning chef Brock grew up in rural Virginia, but he is best known for his work in Charleston, SC, where he is the executive chef and partner of restaurants McCrady’s and Husk and a champion of heirloom ingredients. In the author’s first cookbook, he shares his background and cooking manifesto and offers a mix of traditional and contemporary recipes in chapters such as “The Garden” and “The Pasture.” The recipes (e.g., butter-bean chowchow; pork belly with herbed farro, pickled elderberries, chanterelles, and sumac; buttermilk pie with cornmeal crust) range from simple to sophisticated, and some call for unusual preparations. Pork rinds, for example, are cooked sous-vide and dehydrated before being deep fried. Within chapters, Brock profiles producers who supply his restaurants, explains various ingredient categories, and touches on topics from industrial agriculture to the origins of bourbon to 19th-century books on food and drink. ­VERDICT A celebration of Southern ingredients, this ambitious debut provides insight into a notable chef’s carefully crafted cuisine. Highly recommended for regional and professional collections.

redstarGreenspan, Dorie (text) & Alan Richardson (photos). Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere. HMH. Oct. 2014. 496p. index. ISBN 9780547724249. $40; ebk. ISBN 9780547708324. COOKING

bakingchezmoi081814Acclaimed author Greenspan (Around My French Table)—who lives part time in Paris and has collaborated with such famous chefs as Pierre Hermé, Daniel Boulud, and Julia Child—has learned that some recipes are best left to the pros. While several of Greenspan’s 11 cookbooks feature intricate, show-stopping desserts, her latest focuses on homey baked goods and pared-down versions of traditional French pastries. Home cooks won’t need beeswax and expensive copper molds to make Greenspan’s ­canelés nor will they be chided for using store-bought puff pastry to make palmiers or pithiviers. All types of desserts—crunchy, creamy, cakey, frozen, fruity, and fried—are included, as are simple accompaniments such as homemade crème fraiche, chocolate sauce, and candied fruit. VERDICT Combining everyday desserts with doable versions of extremely popular treats (think macarons, éclairs, and crackle-top cream puffs), Greenspan’s new collection is an instant classic.

Kulaga, Agatha & Erin Patinkin. Ovenly: Sweet and Salty Recipes from New York’s Most Creative Bakery. Harlequin Nonfiction. Sept. 2014. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9780373892952. $29.95. COOKING

A chance meeting at a food-focused book club inspired Kulaga and Patinkin to launch Ovenly, a Brooklyn bakery that’s been recognized as one of New York City’s best by Time Out and the Village Voice. In the coauthors’ first cookbook, they enliven a familiar friendship-turned-business partnership story with sweet-savory recipes that encourage readers to get creative with variations and substitutions. Their scones, cookies, quick breads, and cakes have eastern European influences and a liberal dose of assertive ingredients such as mustard, rosemary, caraway seeds, ancho chile powder, bacon, and beer. Bloody Mary scones and spicy bacon caramel corn make great grown-up treats for readers who dislike the overly sweet, while peanut butter cookies (gluten free) and cherry almond hot tarts with lemon glaze are more nostalgic. ­VERDICT Complemented by an attractive design and ­step-­by-step photographs of important techniques, this is a satisfying everyday baking collection—perfect for readers who like substantial baked goods with a salty streak.

Pazzaglia, Laura D.A. Hip Pressure Cooking: Over 240 Recipes To Help You Get the Most Out of Your Modern Pressure Cooker. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9781250026378. $26.99. COOKING

Quieter and safer than their predecessors, modern pressure cookers can be used to prepare foods in a fraction of their usual cooking times. After explaining the benefits of pressure cooking, Pazzaglia ­(hippressurecooking.com) shares recipes ranging from traditional (Italian braised veal shanks) to inventive (upside-down polenta and almond cake with caramelized lemon slices) and shows how some can be combined to make unusual one-pot meals (imagine beans, ribs, and brownies stacked and cooking simultaneously). Like Kathy Strah’s The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook and Michele Scicolone’s The Mediterranean Slow Cooker, Pazzaglia’s debut encourages readers to test the limits of their cookware and to consider the underlying science of cooking. ­VERDICT For novices and enthusiasts, this book provides ample advice on selecting, using, cleaning, and troubleshooting stovetop and electric pressure cookers. Many of the recipes are quick and tasty but not all are easy. Pazzaglia’s more advanced recipes frequently reference other pages and require an assortment of accessories (e.g., steamer baskets, heatproof baking dishes) sized to fit inside the pressure cooker.

redstarPelaez, Ana Sofia (text) & Ellen Silverman (photos). The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2014. 336p. index. ISBN 9781250036087. $35. COOKING

cubantable081814Food writer Pelaez’s (hungrysofia.com) and photographer Silverman’s passion for Cuban cooking leaps off the page, and their new cookbook—the fruit of travel and research in Cuba, Miami, and New York—is bursting with exotic and enticing words and tastes. Recipes gathered from home cooks, chefs, and restaurateurs aren’t always familiar, but they’re easy to imagine and savor. Flaky butter and lard pastries stuffed with guava paste; mango and papaya marmalades; croquettes studded with diced ham and pickles; beef braised with allspice, cloves, and spearmint—these and other dishes will inspire any reader who loves good food to take on new ingredients and techniques (some helpfully explained in a glossary and resource list). VERDICT Let’s hope Pelaez and Silverman undertake more collaborations. Their thorough and respectful treatment of their subject results in a compelling cookbook that conveys a strong sense of place.

Shockey, Kirsten & Christopher Shockey. Fermented Vegetables: Creative Recipes for Fermenting 80 Vegetables & Herbs in Krauts, Kimchis, Brined Pickles, Chutneys, Relishes & Pastes. Storey. Sept. 2014. 376p. index. photos. ISBN 9781612124254. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612124261. COOKING

Fermentation has become more mainstream, but let’s face it—with instructions that inevitably mention bacteria and mold, it’s hardly glamorous. This vibrant cookbook from instructors and self-professed “fermentistas” Kirsten and Christopher Shockey (fermentista.us), however, does much to increase its appeal. Comprising fermentation basics, master methods, equipment and resource guides, and an A-Z of vegetable recipes (e.g., curried okra pickles, radicchio-garlic kraut), it offers readers who’ve dabbled in canning and preserving everything they’ll need to confidently transform fresh vegetables into colorful ferments. These can then be used to prepare supplementary recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, “crocktails,” and desserts. VERDICT Beautiful photography and a contemporary design will have you craving this book’s krauts, kimchis, and condiments. Like Liana Krissoff’s Canning for a New Generation, it’s an informative and approachable guide that offers a fresh take on traditional preservation methods.

Tannenbaum, Cara & Andrea Tutunjian. In a Nutshell: Cooking and Baking with Nuts and Seeds. Norton. 2014. 352p. photos. index. ISBN 9780393065589. $29.95. COOKING

inanutshell081814Tannenbaum and Tutunjian met while working as chef instructors at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Combining their shared passion for cooking with nuts and seeds, they’ve produced a comprehensive cookbook that clarifies the differences among nuts, seeds, and legumes and includes recipes for both ubiquitous and uncommon basics, snacks, small plates, and meals (e.g., almond milk, honey-roasted mixed nuts, hazelnut sour cream Belgian waffles, braised short ribs with sweet potatoes, prunes, and chestnuts). The authors achieve a great balance of meaty and meatless recipes, and their many variations on spiced bar nuts, savory crackers, dips, and desserts are invaluable for entertaining. Raw and toasted nuts and seeds enhance the flavor, texture, and nutritional value of these recipes, which incorporate them as coatings, toppings, thickeners, alternatives to wheat flour, and more. VERDICT An original and broadly focused cookbook in which nuts and seeds are more than a novelty. Highly recommended and an excellent complement to Susan Herrmann Loomis’s Nuts in the Kitchen.

This article was published in Library Journal's August 1, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.