Monthly Archives: December 2011

Can Cookbooks Really Be Hazardous To Your Health?


Just because a cookbook has recipes and images that leave you drooling, doesn’t mean it’s good for your general well being. At least that’s the message that a group of physicians are putting out.

Once again, the dieticians from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine have put together a list of the years worst cookbooks. Worst is a relative term. And, worst in this case means the dishes in the book are probably super delicious, but loaded with ingredients that the health conscience world has deemed toxic. Did someone say bacon and butter?

Anyway, I’m a pretty big believer that moderation along with a dash of common sense will temper any short term bad behavior. Back in 2010, the “committee” put out their list of the worst cookbooks of the previous decade. You can check out that honor roll here.

A healthier diet is an admirable pursuit. And, it is resolution time. A lot of people will be looking for some guidance on keeping that weight loss/cholesterol lowering/healthy lifestyle promise.That doesn’t have to mean a steady diet of boneless skinless chicken breasts. But, there is always room for a little healthful improvement in all of our diets.

Links, links, links. Yes, we have them for you. Let’s get down to what you may have missed from around the web this past week. Start clicking…

What's cooking next year?Simply Fresh: Casual Dining at HomeGrain Trust: Experts Recommend Their Eco-Favorites


Digital Recipe Library Still Defies ConstructionGoing Vegan: 5 favorite cookbooks of 2011Analysis: Tiny desserts, bacon backlash shape 2011
From the bookstore: 'Mourad New Moroccan'Meaty Cookbooks Part 2 -- Cooking TechniquesStars might be gone, but recipes live on
Cooklet Aims To Disrupt The Stodgy Cooking Scene With Gingerbread CarpTop Ten Best Vegan Recipe SitesHere Are the 'Unhealthiest' Cookbooks of 2011

If you see something you think may be interesting to our readers, feel free to forward it along.

Leftovers Take Center Stage


Let’s breathe some new life into our second and third day traditions.


I’m sure you know the feeling. The big day (or days) are over. There’s a pile of gift wrap that has been lovingly stuffed into green plastic garbage bags ready for the curb. And, oh, the fridge is crammed full of delicious leftover holiday food.

Of course you’re going to be making turkey or ham sandwiches. A hearty leftover soup is waiting somewhere in your very near future. And, there will undoubtedly be a late night carcass picking session or two.

Odds are some of you may have gotten a shiny new, unstained cookbook for a gift. Excellent. I’m thinking that copy of Eleven Madison Park doesn’t have a great recipe using day old poultry. Looks like you may have to wait to use that new book until you have some room in the fridge for some fresh ingredients. Until then we have some ideas.

We all have our holiday leftover traditions. But, what if you’re looking to put a new spin on some day old eats? I think we can lend a hand. Here are a few books that can help you dazzle your family and impress your hungry houseguests.

If you have a great resource for leftover dishes, by all means share. We would love to retire that old turkey tetrazzini recipe.

Small Box, A Big Deal In The Kitchen


Think for a minute about this kitchen scenario.

You pull a printed, old school, ink on paper cookbook from your collection. You turn to what looks like a super delicious recipe for authentic New Orleans gumbo. The recipe seems straightforward enough, but, after reading through it you still have some serious technique questions.

You notice at the bottom right corner of the page a black and white patterned square. You take out your smartphone, point and click. Bingo, your phone plays a video of the chef/author making the gumbo step by step. All of your questions (and prayers) have been answered. Some futuristic kitchen dream? Hardly. That technology exists today and some savvy cookbook authors are already using it.

QR CodeWe’re talking about QR codes. For those of you unfamiliar with the little black and white boxes that resembles a mish mash of blots and dots here’s the scoop. This code can be translated by an app on your smartphone. The code tells the phone to load up a web page or a video that is associated with that particular code design. Big deal. Well, it is.

This technology allows traditional cookbook publishers to take advantage of some great digital resources while still being true to the printed form that authors love so much. Now there is no need to be a digital “sell out” to bring your readers some fantastic benefits that are not usually available in a bound book.

With the world of cookbook publishing morphing at a dizzying pace, the QR code is just another example of how the digital world is changing the manner in which cookbook content is consumed. If you’re thinking about publishing a cookbook you had better do your homework if you want to stand out from a crowded field.

There are lots of great reviews in this weeks links. As usual, we have a full helping of cookbook news from around the web. Enjoy!

If you want to check out how QR codes work, just use a QR reader application on your smartphone to read the code on this page. The destination could help you with those last minute holiday gifts.

The year’s cookbooks are passionate, homestyle volumesNew cookbook shows a portrait of PépinCookbooks Ranked By the Stick (of Butter)
Epicurious Offers 75 Random House Cookbooks OnlineNEW COOKBOOK TELLS YOU HOW TO EAT LIKE A…SUPREME COURT JUSTICE5 of our Favorite Restaurant Cookbooks of 2011
Visual feasts to drool overRose Pedal JamArsenal Pulp gets cooking with debut app
Author updates cookbook 
featuring Moroccan dishesAn Interview with Paula WolfertMomofuku and 'Plenty' Top 2011 Cookbook ChartsNathalie's Sally Lunn Bread
Cookbook focuses on delicious venisonBonnie Stern: A year of cookbook classicsBiteMe Too launches a clever cookbook with QR codes

I’m In Love… With Two Cookbooks!


Every so often decisions are made almost effortlessly.

BUY IT - Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine CountryBUY IT - The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria

Here’s the thing. I didn’t set out to write a “Best of” today. In fact, I had already resigned myself to the reality that the last thing the resource stretched internet bandwidth needed was another regurgitation of the same twenty cookbooks reorganized to suit my purposes and justify my tastes.

That was last week. The beginning of last week to be more specific. On Wednesday, all of that changed.

Spring Onions, Photo: Steven Krause

Wednesday was the day that the book arrived on my doorstep. Not a book, THE book. Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country. I had no idea just how stunning a cookbook could be. This culinary piece of work has so much going for it that you really have to sit down with a copy to have a full appreciation of its depth of subject matter.

It’s impossible to summarize all it has to offer in this space. Here are a few thoughts that spring immediately to mind. Images, stunning. Recipes, delicious. Concept, well executed. You could read it cover to cover, not cook a dish and still be thoroughly satisfied. That’s an achievement.

Finding anything that isn’t perfect with this book would be a challenge. The thing that puts Plats du Jour completely over the top for me is the following:

Laura Chenel Cabecou. Photo: Steven Krause

Cheese. I love cheese. It’s not obsession, but, if I didn’t watch myself it could be. And, it is well represented here. Useful cheese information is sprinkled liberally throughout this cookbook. Pairings, notes and detailed descriptions are all intertwined with mouthwatering seasonal recipes. Restaurateur Sondra Bernstein, has gone above and beyond to deliver a cookbook that will make you say WOW every time you open it.

Still doubting? Take a look at this amazing plate of winter squash.

Winter Squash. Photo: Steven Krause

I think you’re beginning to understand…

The second of my newfound loves has been a challenge since it hit my desk this summer. It has been peering at me from around the stack of other books wondering when I would get to it. I wasn’t sure what I could write that would do it justice. It is elBulli after all. I think I have solved that dilemma.

This books simple, understated elegance proves that a cookbook should be more than a compilation of instructions. It should have a soul. Of course I’m speaking of, The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adrià.

The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adrià. Image courtesy, Phaidon PublishingThe Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adrià. Image courtesy, Phaidon Publishing

What is it like to eat a staff meal at the legendary elBulli? The Family Meal gives you a rare glimpse into what fuels the famed restaurant’s hard working staff. As much photo essay as cookbook, Adrià  shows you in a smart, step by step fashion how you can eat like someone on the inside.

The irony of this book is how strikingly simple the meals are to prepare. A far cry from the cuisine the restaurant served to its guests. The book takes you on a trip through a year of staff meals. The attention to detail is not a surprise given the author. But, what is incredible is how uncomplicated each of these recipes are when they are laid out in this fashion.

Caesar Salad. Image courtesy Phaidon Publishing

The fifteen images that make up the Caesar Salad recipe leave no doubt as to how this dish should be executed. Follow along, make an amazing Caesar, impress your guests.

Once you open the minimally designed cover be prepared to be lost in the “story”. Just as if you were reading a novel you couldn’t put down. It’s like having a window into a world that most of us living outside of the kitchen doors never have an opportunity to see. The Chef provides us with the hole in the fence for us to watch through. And, it’s hard not to stare.

I’m not exactly sure what 2012 has in store for the cookbook industry. My guess is there will be tons of new releases both in print and digitally. Some will be great, others will miss the mark. I’m already waiting to see if my feelings for these two amazing books is really love or just a passing infatuation. I believe it’s the former.

BUY IT - Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country BUY IT - The Family Meal: Home cooking with Ferran Adrià


Green Onions, Laura Chenel Cabecou and Winter Squash, images courtesy: Steven Krause
The Family Table, images courtesy of Phaidon Publishing

For those of you who feel cheated by not having a true best of list to disagree with, here’s what appears to be the general consensus among people “in the know”.

In alphabetical order:

All About RoastingThe Family MealThe Food52 CookbookThe Food of SpainFrom the Ground UpHeartland: The CookbookHome MadeThe Homesick Texan CookbookJeni’s Spendid Ice Creams at HomeMission Street FoodMomofuku Milk BarThe Mozza CookbookPlentySuper Natural Everyday

Feel free to discuss.

Best Cookbooks, Vintage Cookbooks and Gifts


I hope you’re winding down your holiday shopping at this point. Or, maybe if you’re like me, not. It’s the thrill of out hustling hundreds of other last minute shoppers for that special gift that makes this time of year oh so special. And, based on the time I have left, this year is shaping up to be more special than most.

If you want you can opt to finish up your list from the comfort of your cushy desk chair (coward). But, don’t blame me if you end up feeling that there’s something lacking from this years shopping adventure.

We’ve got some great last minute gift ideas for you.  Some cookbook reviews and some best of 2011 lists are linked below for your reading pleasure.

Best cook books of the year: 'Tis the season for foodies Cookbook Reviews by Rachel: Love SoupTop 10 Best Holiday CookbooksKitchen Call: Vintage cookbooks make great gifts
Bring Stephanie Izard, Marc Vetri, Mario Batali and more into the kitchen with new cookbooksThe best cookbooks for holiday gifts Top cookbooks of 2011Two Great Cooks, Two Great CookbooksOur Readers' Top Five Cookbooks of 2011Cookbooks to please a sweet tooth

PERFECT GIFTS FOR FOODIES2011 Best Blogs Turned Cookbooks

FYI – Next week I’m going to reveal to the world my favorites from last year. Don’t get all excited. It’s not another best of… countdown or slideshow gallery. You can get those anywhere.

The 2011 Cookbook Clock is Ticking

If you’re looking to pick up a shiny new cookbook release for that special knife wielding someone on your list, time is short. Real short.

Here’s a look of what’s new in print and in digital format between now and the 25th. There are some great new releases sure to make any budding chef jump for joy.

American Flavo - Kindle EditionThe Food52 Cookbook - Kindle EditonMade in Italy - Kindle EditonSkinny Chicks Eat Real Food: Kick Your Fake Food Habit, Kickstart Your Weight LossRosemary Shrager's Absolutely Foolproof Classic Home CookingTrish's French Kitchen: Delicous Recipes to Suit Every OccassionThe Big Beautiful Brown Rice Cookbook: 108 Quick & Easy Brown Rice RecipesInverawe Seasons CookbookAngry Birds: Bad Piggies' Egg RecipesGirl Hunter - Kindle EditonScottish SeafoodSweets on a Stick: More Than 150 Kid-Friendly Recipes for Cakes, Candies, Cookies, and Pies on the Go

If you’re looking for some of the best selling cookbooks of the past month. We’ve got those here.

The Best Cookbook Lists Just Keep on Coming


I know it’s that time of year. But, I’m already suffering from a case of Best Burnout. Best cookbook posts are everywhere. I’m not suggesting that these aren’t well written and thoughtful pieces. It’s just that there’s a swarm of them.

I was hoping to write a post highlighting some of my own choices for the best cookbooks of 2011. But, I’m not sure I really want to be just tossed on top of the already heaping pile of posts. I almost feel obligated. After all, the name of this site is  I’ll think about it and get back to you.

In the meantime, there were a bunch of best lists posted in the past week or so. You can check out some of the selections right here. Of course, there are some regular, old fashioned cookbook reviews mixed in there too.

An Official Interview About The Unofficial Mad Men CookbookThe Must-Have Cookbooks of 2011A cookbook for everyone on your gift list
Cookbook Of The Week: Desserts by Michel Roux + A Chocolate-Almond Rochers RecipeWhen cookbooks and farmers markets collideThe best baking cookbooks for holiday giving, for anyone who's been naughty or nice
my favorite cookbooks of 2011 – and a giveaway!Booksellers’ picks of the year: cookbooksCookbooks to get you bakingFavorite Cookbooks of 2011Cookbooks for those who know their own tastesChristmas cookies: This season brings a fresh batch of scrumptious cookie cookbooksThere's a cookbook for every special person in your lifeHoliday haul

Now that should give you a pretty good idea of what to buy for the cookbook enthusiast on your list this holiday season.

Want to Throw A Dazzling Dinner? Help is Here


The difference between dull and dazzling can be a pretty fine line.

Table Ready For A Party

I’ve published my own book. It’s hard. There’s a BIG difference between something being “not easy” and something being “hard”. Self publishing is the latter.

The book I published wasn’t a cookbook. It wasn’t a tell all novel or a how to manual. It was 168 pages of restaurant and dining information for Sarasota Florida. It sounds relatively simple. I’m here to tell you it’s not.

Every month I get cookbooks from self publishers delivered to my door to take a look at. Every time I open the shipping envelope I have an appreciation for the hard work, sweat and worry that goes into the process of creating a book on your own.

I’m not here to try and convince you that cookbook authors and writers who have a deal with a publishing house have it easy. They don’t. Anytime you attempt to produce something original the process comes with it’s own unique set of problems. But, I am here to tell you that those challenges are far more difficult to overcome when you’re out there tackling them alone or with a partner and without a clue (as was my case).

I’ll admit it. I have a soft spot for those willing to go it alone to see their vision become a reality. When Billa Reiss Rubenstein contacted me this fall to have a peek at a book she had published with two friends, Luci Paul and Michele Salomon, how could I say no?

I like to entertain. And, their book, Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More looked like a natural party throwing asset. It’s crammed full of menus, recipes and tips each designed around one holiday a month. It’s creative too.

Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Decor and More. Complete Dinner Plans for Parties with WOW!

Some of the “holidays” highlighted here would never be associate with food, April Fool’s Day? I have never been even invited to an April Fool’s Day brunch. Maybe I have the wrong group of friends.

I was a little disappointed to see that July’s menu didn’t revolve around Pandemonium Day (July 14th), but, maybe it will get it’s moment in the spotlight in my proposed sequel, Dazzling Dinners: The Forgotten Celebrations. Or, maybe not.

This book is at it’s best when you’re searching for a new idea. Something fun and out of the ordinary (think Columbus Day). It’s always great to get friends and family together to enjoy some great food and fun. So, why not make a celebration out of it? In my view, that’s the beauty of this book.

Since we’re right at the start of our holiday season, we thought we would share a recipe from the December section. Plus, this recipe uses one of my favorite, old school kitchen toys…

Potato Masher

The much beloved potato masher!

Here’s How To Do It

Box of Gold (Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes)

1 large, sweet potato, diced 1 inch
3 lbs., Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, diced 1 inch
3 Tbsp., butter, melted
¼ cup, heavy cream
½ cup, sour cream
½ cup, Gruyere cheese, grated
1 Tbsp., orange zest
1 tsp., salt
¼ tsp., white pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 8X12 casserole dish. Line the bottom of the dish with parchment paper.

Place both the sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. When contents comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium. Cover and simmer 15-17 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. When cooked, drain and return pot to heat. Cook for an additional minute or so to remove any excess moisture.

Put the cooked potatoes through a ricer or mash (see utensil above). Add butter, cream, sour cream, Gruyere. orange zest, salt and pepper. Mix well to achieve a consistent color. Spread the potatoes into the casserole dish. Cover with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and rest covered for 5 minutes.

Using a sharp knife, divide into eight rectangular pieces. Remove each piece and serve.

Serves 8

Recipe, Box of Gold; Courtesy Dazzling Dinners, Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michelle Salomon, Three Fare Ladies 2011.

Sweet and Yukon Gold Potatoes

Just look at that photo. Cantaloupe and pineapple maybe? It’s amazing how similar some foods look when there is no context to them. It’s a bowl of Yukon Gold and sweet potatoes. I swear.

The Bottom Line.
It’s a unfair to compare Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Décor and More to a cookbook that has been released by a major publishing company. The advantage of having a crew of editors, professional photographers and recipe testers is unimaginably huge.

What do you look for when you buy a cookbook? There are so many answers and yours is right for you. If you’re looking for a coffee table cookbook, this isn’t it. If you’re more interested in a book that will help you plan a party and maybe get your creative juices flowing then this is a great choice. I guarantee after you throw a Grandparent’s Day party your friends will look at your entertaining prowess in a whole new light.

Authors: Luci Paul, Billa Reiss Rubenstein, Michele Salomon
Paperback: 254 pages
Publisher: Dazzling Dinners
ISBN-10: 0615478697


Dazzling Dinners: Recipes, Decor and More. Complete Dinner Plans for Parties with WOW!

Our Most Popular Posts: November 2011

It’s hard to believe that November is already behind us. It seems like just yesterday we were staring fall in the face. Our website had a fantastic month. Thanks for visiting!

In case you were too busy picking the last few fall apples or chasing after your Thanksgiving bird to visit the site, we thought we would rundown the top ten posts from last month.

Click on any or all to read what you might have missed.

Cookbook Daily: Eleven Madison ParkCookbook Daily: Momofuku Milk BarHow To Deep Fry A Turkey (And Anything Else)Do Little Old Ladies Really Make The Best Food?How To Make Red Beans and Rice
Cookbook Preview: The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran AdriaChing Delivers Great ChineseCookbook Daily: The Food52 CookbookTexas Tamale TimeWhat’s For Dinner? An App Can Help

December brings a flurry of holiday cookbook buying. Check back for some great gift giving ideas. Oh, and make sure and tell your friends.

The Best of 2011? There’s no Shortage of Opinions

Cookbook Reviews

Maybe you’ve been busy cleaning up the kitchen from the four day eat-a-thon we commonly refer to as Thanksgiving. Or, maybe you’ve just been at the mall 24/7 trying to find the perfect immersion blender for that special someone.

No matter the reason, you may have missed out on some great online cookbook reviews. The good news is that we didn’t. As part of our self defined mission, we’re committed not only to bringing you our cookbook opinions, but, others too.

It’s the time of year when everybody is coming out with their Best of 2011 cookbook list. There are lots of those “best of” list in this weeks links.

We wouldn’t want to be left out. We’ll be bringing you ours real soon.

For The Week Ending December 3, 2011

Cookbook Review: Feeding the DragonCookbook helps fans eat and drink like 'Mad Men' characters APP OF THE DAY: A cooking solution for veggies this festive season with Vegetarian Christmas MealGift Ideas | Great CookbooksThe Tipsy Vegan: Cookbook Review with RecipesGreat cookbooks for the holidays: Serious EatsWelcome To My Kitchen: Gooseberry Patch cookbooks make great giftsFestive desserts: Utah cookbook authors share favorite holiday treatsFeatured Cookbook: Dec 2011
The Year’s Notable Cookbooks5 Must-have cookbooks for the modern chef8 new cookbooks for your wish list‘Mad Men’ fans write ultimate show-themed cookbookHoliday gift guide: Cookbooks for the culinarily adventurous and moreTastiest Catch – Alaskan Fisherwoman’s New Salmon Cookbook Will Get You Hooked
Hawksmoor at HomeThe 11 Best Cookbooks of 2011New Betty Crocker cookbook couldn’t be more trendy
Best Cookbooks of 201110 of Our Favorite Cookbooks in 2011favorite cookbooks 2011: gift guide & $100 amazon giveaway

If you have recently run across a cookbook review or news that you think our readers should know about, by all means let us know. We’ll take care of the rest.