Gingerbread Classics, Simple Fare, Art of Pie, Pho, Barbecue | Cooking Reviews, December 2016

redstarBeddall, Catherine. The Magic of Gingerbread: 16 Beautiful Projects To Make and Eat. Peter Pauper. Sept. 2016. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9781441319807. $22.99. COOKING

gingerbreadmagic-jpg11816Canadian baker Beddall’s debut collects 16 whimsical gingerbread projects, including a classic candy house, a cookie-filled toy box, a futuristic rocket, and a lifelike edible chess set. These projects are simpler and easier to construct than the stunners in Kristine Samuell’s A Year of Gingerbread Houses, but they’re no less arresting. Following clear instructions for working with doughs, icings, templates, and other essential materials and tools, home bakers will learn the fundamental skills they’ll need to both replicate Beddall’s designs and create their own masterpieces. Readers can use this book for most major holidays and special occasions—not just Christmas. Notably, this volume covers decorating with rolled fondant, a topic often overlooked in ­similar titles. VERDICT Essential for aspiring ­gingerbread architects.

Brown, Ellen. The New Pressure Cooker Cookbook: 150 Delicious, Fast, and Nutritious Dishes. Sterling. Oct. 2016. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781454921752. $24.95. COOKING

Brown (The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook), the founding food editor of USA Today, demystifies the pressure cooker in this attractive cookbook, which contains 150 recipes suitable for both stovetop and electric models. Those new to the benefits of pressure cooking may be surprised by the speedy cooking times for turkey chili, risotto alla Milanese, and other dishes. Readers will also appreciate charts and sidebars for making items such as baby food in a pressure cooker, along with ­general cooking times for fruits and vegetables. Brown’s most important piece of advice: read your pressure cooker’s instruction manual from cover to cover. VERDICT Filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous color photographs, Brown’s latest is a refreshing departure from no-frills pressure cooker cookbooks.

Carreno, Carolynn. Bowls of Plenty: Recipes for Healthy and Delicious Whole-Grain Meals. Grand Central. Jan. 2017. 240p. photos. index. ISBN 9781455536580. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781455536573. COOKING

Professional home cook Carreno, the award-winning coauthor of Nancy Silverton’s Mozza at Home and Sara Foster’s Fresh Every Day, steps into the limelight with a new collection of one-bowl meals. In 100-plus healthy recipes such as slow-cooked brown rice and quinoa ­porridge, Umbrian farro and mozzarella salad with celery leaf pesto, and goat’s milk rice pudding with raisins, Carreno coaxes flavor from a wide range of popular and lesser-known whole grains, pairing them with appealing, flavorful toppings. Throughout, she peppers the book with stories of California and New York food culture and her work with notable chefs. VERDICT Grain bowl obsessives and health-conscious omnivores will love this, as well as Allison Day’s Whole Bowls and Sara Forte’s The Sprouted Kitchen Bowl and Spoon.

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook: 500 Vibrant, Kitchen-Tested Recipes for Living and Eating Well Every Day. America’s Test Kitchen. Dec. 2016. 440p. ed. by America’s Test Kitchen. photos. index. ISBN 9781940352640. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781940352657. COOKING

America’s Test Kitchen has published many books on “light” cooking but are relative newcomers to diet cookbooks. Showcasing the Mediterranean diet, which has been shown to contribute to good health and reduce risk of heart disease, this book shares more than 500 recipes aligned to the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. These recipes make it easy for readers to put together a meal that limits saturated fats, salt, and calories. Appetizing dishes include stuffed grape leaves, grilled sea bass with citrus and black olive salad, chicken in Turkish walnut sauce, and roasted pears with dried apricots and pistachios. Vegetables and grains are well-represented, boasting fatter chapters than meats and seafood. VERDICT Home cooks of all skill levels can use this book to explore a new lifestyle and to sample a wide range of Mediterranean cuisine.

redstarFarley, Jennifer. The Gourmet Kitchen: Recipes from the Creator of Savory Simple. Gallery: S. & S. Oct. 2016. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781501102578. $23.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501102585. COOKING

gourmetkitchen-jpg113016Farley—the writer, photographer, and stylist behind the blog Savory Simple (—shares simple yet inventive versions of everyday foods in this approachable debut. Organized by course, the 100-plus recipes offer a pleasing mix of classic comforts, such as soups and scones, and modern favorites, such as rice bowls and avocado toast. Satisfying dishes such as apple, sweet potato, and bacon turnovers; pistachio-crusted pork tenderloin with cherry rhubarb compote; and goat cheese mousse with roasted blueberries make smart use of store-bought shortcuts and require little advance planning. Farley candidly recounts stories of career missteps and kitchen mishaps of which readers may be able to relate. VERDICT Like Stephanie Le’s Easy Gourmet and Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, this is a blogger cookbook you’ll want to use right away.

Fauchald, Nick & Kaitlyn Goalen. The Short Stack Cookbook: Ingredients That Speak Volumes. Abrams. Oct. 2016. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781419722417. $40; ebk. ISBN 9781613121986. COOKING

This is the first regular-size title from Short Stack Editions (, a publisher of artful small-format cookbooks. In 18 ingredient-focused chapters, founders Fauchald and Goalen present all-new recipes such as braised duck legs with apples three ways, blistered peppers with lemon-paprika aioli, spaghetti squash latkes, and poppy seed pavlovas with lemon curd. The book features a host of well-known contributors, including Martha Holmberg (Modern Sauces) and Virginia Willis (Basic to Brilliant, Y’all), along with 12 menus (e.g., Trying To Eat Healthy Without Being Antisocial) and an ingredient glossary with tips on sourcing, storage, yield, and flavor pairings. VERDICT Eclectic home cook–friendly food meets design in this bold, highly stylized cookbook. Recommended for creative cooks seeking something a bit out of the ordinary.

redstarMcDermott, Kate. Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life. Countryman. Oct. 2016. 352p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781581573275. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781581575750. COOKING

Expert pie baker McDermott counsels readers to “work dough and life lightly,” and this easygoing outlook pervades her eight chapters of sweet and savory pies, which include such delights as poached pear sour cream caramel pie with a crumb topping, concord grape pie, banana rum caramel coconut pie, and traditional English pork pies. There are more than a dozen pie doughs, including vegan, gluten-free, and fryer-friendly options. McDermott describes essential techniques (e.g., how to make and roll a traditional pie dough, how to weave a lattice top) in sensuous detail, using the encouraging tone of a close friend or relative. VERDICT Few pie cookbooks are as heartwarming and funny as McDermott’s instructive debut.

Monaghan, Gail. It’s All in the Timing: Plan, Cook, and Serve Great Meals with Confidence. Agate. Nov. 2016. 320p. photos. index. ISBN 9781572841994. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9781572847866. COOKING

Monaghan (Lost Desserts) is a food writer and cooking instructor who regularly appears on ABC’s The Chew. After finishing culinary school, she realized culinary sequencing—the art of getting multiple dishes to the table simultaneously—challenges not only trained chefs but also home cooks. Here, she provides detailed timetables for more than 20 multicourse menus ranging from a fast French meal for six to a Thanksgiving feast for 12–14. Packed with helpful storage and reheating tips, as well as extra recipes for time-saving “assets” such as stocks, sauces, and freezer-friendly cookies, this cookbook gathers a wealth of practical information. VERDICT Anyone new to hosting a dinner party can benefit from Monaghan’s tutelage. Highly recommended.

Moss, Elliott. Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meat, Sides, and More. Voyageur: Quarto. Oct. 2016. 208p. photos. index. ISBN 9780760349700. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780760351284. COOKING

Moss is the James Beard Award–nominated head chef and co-owner of Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, NC. This debut offering features clever methods for producing mouthwatering smoked and barbecued meats on a small and large (whole hog) scale. For DIY-inclined readers, there are instructions on how to construct tabletop and portable smokers, cinder block pits, and burn barrels, which are necessary for recipes such as pulled turkey (brined in a seasoned mixture of sweet tea and hot sauce). However, there are plenty of dishes that can be made in conventional kitchens. Sauces, entrees, sides, and desserts (e.g., white barbecue sauce, fried chicken sandwich, embered creamed corn, apple cheddar pie) are made almost exclusively from scratch, and they’re accompanied by gorgeous matte photographs. VERDICT Motivated barbecue enthusiasts can learn a lot from this cookbook.

redstarNguyen, Andrea. The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles. Ten Speed: Crown. Feb. 2017. 168p. photos. index. ISBN 9781607749585. $22; ebk. ISBN 9781607749592. COOKING

phocookbook-jpg113016In The Banh Mi Handbook, acclaimed author Nguyen deftly showed readers how to perfect all components of their favorite Vietnamese sandwiches at home. Here, she aims to do the same for pho, a noodle soup whose popularity has skyrocketed. After summarizing the history of pho, she provides a detailed ingredient guide, a set of foundational master recipes, and a creative assortment of variations and accompaniments (e.g., pho fried rice, ginger dipping sauce, pickled bean sprouts, Vietnamese coffee). Keeping the needs of busy home cooks in mind, she includes several styles of pho, ranging from a quick vegetarian pho that can be made in 40 minutes to a clever pressure cooker chicken pho to traditional and more laborious Saigon-style beef pho. VERDICT Once again, Nguyen delivers a standout collection flavorful with flexible and thoughtfully written recipes.

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