Monthly Archives: January 2012

Cookbook Preview: Pure Steak


A mild winter presents delicious opportunities.


BUY IT! - Pure Steak

It’s the dead of winter. At least it should be. But, this year winter has been an elusive concept in a large part of the country. Not that it’s a bad thing. Unless you’re and avid skier, snowboarder or earn your living behind a snowplow.

Right about now, we usually start thinking of the summertime to come or recall ones just past. February is about the time a good case of Cabin Fever starts to set in.  But, not this year. The mostly tolerable weather has helped keep that to a minimum. That presents an opportunity.

That’s right, outdoor cooking without freezing your fanny off. This year you no longer have to fantasize about that nice juicy steak sizzling away on the grill. You can actually do something about it and not suffer the potentially painful effects of frostbite or a frozen beer.

If you’re looking for a little summer cooking warm up we’ve got a suggestion for you. Pure Steak, by Steffen Eichhorn, Stefan Marquard and Stephan Otto. This book will help spark some great new ideas for preparing that perfect piece of meat. It’s like a tryout for the summer, food wise.

The book contains thirty-nine fantastic and unique recipes for cooking a delicious steak.

Cooking is only part of the meat game. You also have to select the right cut. Pure Steak, has you covered. It contains useful tips on how to buy a great steak along with a handy dandy illustrated guide to the different cuts.

This book is out February 28, 2012. You can reserve your copy now and get some great ideas to impress the guests at next summer’s barbeque.

If you happen to live in a place where a real winter is actually in full swing, fear not. This book has recipes for inside steak cooking too.

BUY IT! - Pure Steak Authors: Steffen Eichhorn, Stefan Marquard, Stephan Otto
Hardcover: 136 pages
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN-10: 0764339273


BUY IT! - Pure Steak

The Written Recipe is Hard to Replace

Most of us have a box full of history waiting in our kitchen.

The Written Recipe is Hard to Replace

The handwritten recipe card. It holds more than just a set of instructions for preparing a dish. It holds a certain amount of history too. I have a pretty big collection of my Mom’s recipe cards. Some are in her original, impossible to read handwriting. Some have been penned by others and added to her collection.

When you take out one of these cards, there’s a good chance you will see more than just the recipe. If you look real hard you can see the past. It’s particularly true if the card came from someone special.

Shrimp Toast

It’s unfortunate, but, in more and more kitchens, the recipe card has been relegated to a box placed on a seldom used book shelf. These pieces of family and culinary history have been replaced by cooking apps, ebooks and recipes printed off the internet. Use them once, get them dirty, throw them away. It may be an efficient way to cook, but, passing down your iPad to your kids after your gone just isn’t the same.

Rodger Mullen of the Fayetteville Observer has written a great piece highlighting what those cards mean to some of the folks in his area. It makes you want to rummage through your own collection of oil stained treasures and revive a few old family favorites.

Yes, we have links. The usual dozen. If you’re looking for a Paula Deen update buried in there, you will be greatly disappointed. But, we do have some great culinary stories. Click away…

Healthy cooking for 2: new cookbook is ideal for small households ‘Ching’s Everday Easy Chinese’ by Ching-He Huang Cooks are rediscovering the joy of slow cookers
Recipe cards keep family cooking alive Best iPhone cooking apps Top five food apps for your inner kitchen geek
Cookbook Review – Super Natural Every Day. “BLUESTEM THE COOKBOOK” REVIEWED Vegetarian cookbooks: pick of the crop
Culinary Giant: The father of modern American cooking James Beard Sunday Night Supper: Home Alone, with Cookbooks for Company Wintry thoughts on comfort food and cookbooks

If you have a story you would be interested in sharing with our readers, send it on.

Four Seasons, Four Stories


There is no better time than now to start making some great food memories.


Childhood memories. If you were ever a child, and, I’m assuming you were, then you have them. A smell, a taste or a sound, immediately drags you back to a different time in your life. There’s nothing you can do about it.

Many of these memories revolve around food. Funny how that happens. The people, places and circumstances vary, but, most of us have fond food remembrances from when were young.

There isn’t enough room in this post to start a recitation of the food memories from my youth. Suffice it to say there are lots. From a bowl of Chuckle-like fruit gels that sat on my Grandmothers coffee table, to my Mom barely simmering a big pot of chicken soup for hours on the stove. Those memories and more are easier than you would think to conjure up.

Children’s book author Litsa Bolontzakis has food memories too. The difference between her memories and mine are that she has memorialized them in a great series of books aimed at the younger set. Four books in all, one book for each season.

Winter: A Season for Chestnut, tells the story of Litsa’s love for this underappreciated nut with a Greek background. It’s a tale of her childhood and the foods that helped to make it special. It is part story and part cookbook. A great combination for kids.

I have to confess my chestnut knowledge is a little on the thin side. My only chestnut experience is probably similar to many peoples. Being in New York City, smelling the aroma of roasted chestnuts emanating from vendor’s cart, but, being too busy with the bustle of my day to stop and have a taste. Next time for sure!Chestnuts

If you would like to start making some chestnut memories of your own, it’s pretty easy to do. Here’s the way Litsa does it:

Roasted Chestnuts

1 lb. chestnuts

Preheat oven to 425. Cut a large X with a sharp knife all the way through the skin of the nut. Place the chestnuts in a shallow baking pan. Place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Shake the pan several times during roasting so the chestnuts will cook evenly.

As soon as the nuts are cooked, remove from the oven. Peel the roasted chestnuts once they are cool enough to handle. Once they cool completely they will become difficult to peel.

You can also roast your chestnuts on an outdoor grill. Or, over an open fire (think Christmas and Nat King Cole) using one of those fancy chestnut roasting pans with the long handle.

Litsa says the roasted nuts are great dipped in chocolate. I don’t doubt that.

The Bottom Line: Reading someone else’s childhood memories stirs up a few of your own. That in itself is fun. Litsa’s series is a great way to get kids interested in food and cooking. The illustrations by Daniela Zekina are beautiful and add a warm, nostalgic, dreamy feel to the book.

Now, feel free to go out and make a few food memories for someone in your life.

BUY IT - Winter: A Season for ChestnutAuthor: Litsa Bolontzakis
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Hummingbird Publications
ISBN-10: 097315991X

Recipe adapted, Roasted Chestnuts, Litsa Bolontzakis, Winter: A Season for Chestnuts, Hummingbird Publications, 2010

Cookbook Preview: Fish

This fish story has a delicious ending.

Cookbook Preview

BUY THIS BOOK - Fish: Recipes from the Sea (Silver Spoon Book)

Walking in to a seafood market or strolling up to the seafood counter at your local supermarket isn’t what it used to be. The outing can be more than a little daunting. The days of an easy decision, like which piece of salmon or cod to choose, are long gone. Can you say whole Branzini?

The choices that face the consumer have grown to the point where making a halfway decent decision nearly requires a doctorate in fishology. The options will, pardon the pun, make your head swim.

It’s one thing to listen wide eyed to your trusted fishmonger as he opines on the sustainability of the Patagonian toothfish. But, just try and remember what to do with your catch once you’ve brought it home.

Luckily, help is on the way. Fish: Recipes from the Sea, is a fantastic collection of Italian seafood recipes that will help you make a little sense out of all things from the watery deep.

The book, due out February 27th, contains not only 200 great recipes, but, a wealth of information on cooking techniques and special preparations. There’s also a handy dandy illustrated seafood selection guide. The books publisher, Phaidon, has a reputation for putting out some great, high quality cookbooks. This one will be no exception.

If you’re looking to incorporate some healthy seafood into your daily diet, but, are just a little intimidated, this book is sure to help ease the seafood anxiety.

BUY THIS BOOK - Fish: Recipes from the Sea (Silver Spoon Book)
Author: Editors of Phaidon Press and Carol-Jane Jackson
Hardcover: 312 pages
Publisher: Phaidon Press (February 27, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0714863874

BUY THIS BOOK - Fish: Recipes from the Sea (Silver Spoon Book)

Rediscovering Your Cookbook Treasurers

Are the super specialized cookbooks of today really better?


Imaage By Bill Ward's BrickpileThere is absolutely no doubt that as a genre, the cookbook measures up in popularity with any other subject area in print today. Just one look around the cookbook section of your favorite bookseller will confirm that.

If you look closely at those racks you will quickly come to one conclusion. Every possible topic, from meat free to meat-full and everything in between has been given its due. Frankly, it can be more than a bit overwhelming. It wasn’t always this way.

Back before the tidal wave of cooking and cookbook popularity, the selections seemed to be a lot more general and a lot less specialized. Sure, there were cookbooks written on a particular theme, but, it seems like today those old themes have been segmented even further.

Example. “Back in the day”, if you were interested in a book on poultry, you could pick up a cookbook dedicated to art of cooking a proper bird. Easy reading. Now, your head will be swimming as you try and wade through the choices. Just try picking from the following: How to Deep Fry Anything with Wings, Gizzards, Livers and Hearts: The Offal Truth, Poultry Roasting, Broasting and Toasting and the soon to be runaway bestseller, White Meat for Dummy’s. You get the picture.

One of today’s links harkens back to a simpler time. A time when selecting a cookbook meant buying something that could actually help you prepare a delicious multi course meal for your family. And, do it in one volume. The Kansas City Star has a great piece on vintage cookbooks.

As for the rest of this week’s links, there’s lots of good stuff all for your clicking pleasure. Start now…

The Best Book I've Read Recently? La Dolce Vita -- A Cookbook! BUSHNELL ON BOOKS: True stories and recipes from islands and kitchens Toronto’s Good Egg turns to chefs and food writers for cookbook picks
More cookbooks doff their jackets New cookbooks reveal the best of Italian comfort foods Two fine cookbooks, no matter your gender
The California Cook: Cookbooks that bring comfort Dishin' Divas: Cookbook club celebrates food and fellowship Sauteing with the stars
Cookbook Review: Essential Pepin by Jacques Pepin 'View' Co-host releases gluten-free cookbook Manna between the covers: Rare, signed or well-used cookbooks are both kitchen tools and treasures

If you have news or see news that our readers might find interesting, send it along. We could use a good tip.


Cookbook Preview: The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook


Heirloom or cookware? You decide.

Cookbook Preview: The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

BUY IT- The Lodge Cast Iron CookbookIn a lot of families it’s passed down from generation to generation like a precious piece of household history. It’s usually stored in a place that’s easy to get to, but also out of the way. It’s not something that most home cooks use everyday, but, they could. Especially if they had a reason.

Of course I’m talking about the cast iron skillet. Not much of a surprise considering the title to this post and the large cookbook cover image to the left.

I count three of these versatile vessels among my cooking arsenal. Two skillets and one Dutch oven, all of them made by Lodge. Interestingly enough, I purchased none of them for myself. Two were gifts. The other one had been “pre-seasoned” for years by my mother in law. All three have their special uses in my kitchen and all three get their time in the cooking spotlight.

Cast Iron Dutch Oven

I don’t know about you, but, sometimes I go out of my way to look for excuses to use my cast iron. Now, thanks to the manufacturers of this timeless cookware, the search for uses has been dramatically altered. All you have to do is flip to any one of the 288 pages for inspiration. The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook: A Treasury of Timeless, Delicious Recipes (February 7, 2012) makes it that simple.

This great new guide to getting the most from your grandmothers favorite stovetop pan contains over 200 recipes. It covers the entire cooking spectrum from breakfast through baking and everything in between.

Yearning to do a little outdoor cooking? Hey, your pan can do that too. The book contains some interesting ideas for using cast iron on the grill. Now you’re getting the picture. You can do WAY more with that hunk of metal than fry up some chicken or sizzle a slab of bacon.

An uncountable number of possibilities await. The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook is not only a good recipe resource, but it gets you thinking “outside the pan”. So to speak.

Author: The Lodge Company
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Oxmoor House (February 7, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0848734343

BUY IT- The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook

Can A Cookbook Warning Save People From Themselves?

Should your cookbook come with a health warning?


It’s tough to judge. We all do things that we know are bad for us, but, sometimes we do them anyway. Does someone telling us that something is bad, stop us from engaging in bad behavior?

The cookbook. In it’s most basic form is a set of instructions meant to guide you in the preparation of a particular dish. Most people who can follow a recipe know that if it calls for two cups of butter, it probably isn’t health food. Or, at least any health food I’ve heard of.

If your cookbook carried a health warning on the cover, would that make you any less inclined to grill that bacon double brie burger? Personally, I doubt it. At certain times it seems deliciousness trumps the possibility of a quadruple bypass.

That is the subject a piece posted on the website explores. The article cites The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook in particular. In my view, the question being asked is, “Would cookbook warnings save people from themselves?”.  Or maybe the more important question is, should cookbooks have a warning to begin with?

Much has been written about the obesity problem in America. And, I certainly don’t want to diminish of the importance of maintaining a health weight and lifestyle. The long and short term health benefits have been well documented. But, does a cookbook entitled, 365 Ways To Deep Fry EVERYTHING really need a pronouncement that eating fried food every day may be hazardous to your health? You tell me.

There’s more buried in this weeks links than just a potential debate on personal responsibility. You can find some great, off the beaten path cookbook reviews in there. So, get clicking…


Lighten up in the kitchen Introduce children to the joys of cooking Vegan cooking? There’s a Canadian app for that thanks to Sarah Kramer
New cookbooks good way to start new year Every Cheese Has a Story Cookbooks enter the digital age thanks to websites like EatYourBooks, Epicurious and TasteBook
Cooking Revolutionary Chinese Food Should Cook’s Illustrated Be Ashamed Of Grilled Meats? Best Blogs That Turned Cookbooks
Video: Six-Year-Old Boy Reviews the New Angry Birds Cookbook Can a Canadian cookbook award create Giller-like buzz? The Sparkpeople Cookbook | A Review {Broccoli and Spaghetti Squash with Lemon Pepper Recipe}


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Cookbook Preview: The Lunch Box


Cookbook Preview

BUY IT - The Lunch Box: Packed with Fun, Healthy Meals that Keep them Smiling

It’s really what’s inside the box that matters most. Am I right?

I guess times have changed a little. Probably more than a little.

When I was in elementary school I had a bag (or boxed) lunch every day. The contents of that bag were not a mystery. It was more like a poorly kept government secret. The odds were pretty great that inside that bag or box would be either:

A) PB & J (on white)
B) Baloney (on white)
C) American cheese (on white)

I don’t really fault my Mom. Most kids lunches had the same basic contents. You could also count on a half filled Baggie of potato chips and possibly a couple of cookies. A napkin was a fifty fifty proposition. If you were living in a health conscience family, substitute the cookie for an apple. (FYI – most kids traded that apple for some cookies).

That’s all history. Kate McMillian and Sarah Putman Clegg’s soon to be released book (January 31, 2012), The Lunch Box: Packed with Fun, Healthy Meals that Keep them Smiling proves that point. “Healthy meals that keep them smiling”.  WOW, that was a foreign concept back in my household. And, from the looks of my friends lunches, theirs too.

Kate and Sarah are really reaching for the lunch box grand prize with their collection of noontime meals. Philly Cheesesteak Rolls, the Italian Meat Lovers Sandwich, Creamy Waldorf Salad (I didn’t even know what a Waldorf Salad was when I was in fourth grade) and lastly, Mini Ham and Cheese Quiches. That reads like a menu board from some popular downtown lunch spot rather than the contents your child’s vintage Beatles lunch box or brown bag.

This book is a fun, delicious and healthy way to keep your kids motor running smoothly. I’m sure that todays lunch table wouldn’t bat an eye if you whipped out a Steak and Salsa Verde Burrito. But, back in my grade school days, something like that would have caused wide eyes and questions that you might not be fully prepared to answer.


BUY IT - The Lunch Box: Packed with Fun, Healthy Meals that Keep them Smiling Author: Kate McMillian and Sarah Putman Clegg
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Weldon Owen (January 31, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1616281227

BUY IT - The Lunch Box: Packed with Fun, Healthy Meals that Keep them Smiling

Our Most Popular Posts: December 2011

December is behind us. And with it, the holiday shopping frenzy. Black Friday gave way to Cyber Monday and before you knew it, all that was left from the buying bonanza was a giant pile of gift wrap and the unanswered question of which presents are worth keeping and which will be tagged for return.

Our popular posts for the past month were an obvious attempt to find that perfect cookbook for the special chef on your list.

Looks like a lot of your were considering smoking your holiday bird. The piece we did on Myron Mixon’s book way back in August, came up big in December. Hope that smoked turkey turned out great!

Here’s the rundown for last month. And, as always, thanks so much for using the site!

I’m In Love… With Two Cookbooks!How To Make Red Beans and RiceBest Cookbooks, Vintage Cookbooks and GiftsBoiled Water: There’s An App For ThatLarousse Gastronomique, I Scored One!
The Best Cookbook Lists Just Keep on ComingCookbook Daily: Smokin’ with Myron MixonIdeas In Food: Food+Science=DeliciousThe 2011 Cookbook Clock is TickingLeftovers Take Center Stage

2012 is here and so are a whole new crop of cookbooks. We’ll be continuing to bring you reviews, news, giveaways and a lot more in the coming year. Keep your eyes peeled for some fun, new features.

Cookbooks Make The Jump To App


The future of cookbooks may be closer than anyone would imagine.


I’m not going give you any earth shattering news that you probably don’t already know. But, here it is anyway. The cookbook app is not only coming, it’s here. See, I told you that was somewhat old news.

What may be new however is the acceptance of the cooking app as a legitimate format to impart culinary wisdom, instruction and advise. On March 6, at Folies Bergere in Paris, one of four cooking apps will be named the best of the best at the prestigious The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. That part is BIG news.

The fact that digital cooking applications are so prevalent in todays kitchens says a ton about how we consume information. It’s too early to tell if the smartphone or tablet will eventually replace the physical book, but, suffice it to say that it’s firmly in the realm of possibility.

Among this week links we have some digital news and some traditional cookbook reviews and happenings. Big Think has an interesting piece on the creation of an iTunes like format for recipes. That could have some far reaching implications on a digital cookbook industry that still has it’s training wheels on. Stay tuned to see how that turns out.

Here’s this weeks links, personally selected for your surfing pleasure.


Jamie Oliver's Cookbook Bashed For Being Unhealthy Cookbook features low-fat fare Digital Cooking: An iTunes for Recipes
Cooking Apps Gain Acceptance At French Cookbook Awards The Olson Recipe Maker App Sustainable fish with a pro’s touch
New & Noteworthy: Batali pens a cooking column Suzi’s Cookbook Review: Williams-Sonoma Eat Well Latin America leads Gourmand World Cookbook Awards
Life sweet for blogger with upcoming publication of cookbook on Italian desserts Order of Canada recipient ‘ignites the foodie in all of us’ Cooking apps gain credibility as new category at  world cookbook awards

If you have a story or a link that you think would be interesting to our site visitors, please, by all means forward it along.