Category Archives: Cookbook Reviews

Our cookbook reviews.

Lust for Leaf | Alex Brown & Evan George

Is it love or lust? I guess you’ll just have to find out.

Lust For Leaf | CLICK TO PURCHASE A COPY

TITLE: Lust For Leaf
AUTHOR: Alex Brown & Evan George
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Press (Lifelong)
CUISINE: Vegan/Vegetarian

• • • • •

FEATURED INGREDIENT: Kale or borecole (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group) is aImage by: Tuscanycious | CLICK FOR DETAILS vegetable with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms.

The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts. The cultivar group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
It’s a nice size. Not giant or overwhelming. I like the fact that it’s a hard cover book. Nice and durable. Great food images by Aaron Farley throughout the book. I love the TOC that’s laid out like a Food Pyramid. That’s different. It seems like it’s just as much about people enjoying food as the food itself. That’s a little bit of a switch. Obviously, most cookbooks tend to lean heavily on ingredients and technique rather than the enjoyment of the finished dish. This book just looks like FUN!

• • • • •

WHAT YOU’LL FIND INSIDE (aka Table of Contents)

Taco Zone
Wild Grub
Pizza Pool Party
Bro-Tein
BBQ Mosh Pit
Potlatches
Sweets

• • • • •

Having some accompaniment to your cooking or meal is an outstanding idea. Making that process all the easier, the Hot Knives guys tell you EXACTLY what you should be listening too. Here is Eggplant Crasserole (P. 48). I only wish I could give you a taste of the La Chouffe, Houblon that goes along with it!

• • • • •

THE BEST OF THE BOOK (Our Favorite Recipes)

Mushroom Ceviche Blackened Okra Gratin
Elote al Echo Parque Artichoke Hummus
Backpack Bahn Mi Icey Hot Sorbet
Pea Pod Pesto Stonefruit and Strawberries
Awesome Blossoms Weed Dip

The name of this dish alone is reason enough to mention it here, Junk Food Potato Salad (P. 64). The use of corn chips as an ingredient rates high with me. Here’s another. Corn Porn (P. 17). There’s a theme at work here. This time Fritos makes this recipe shine. And, while we’re on a corn themed run, how about, Popcorn – 5 Kinds! (P. 35-36). Everybody loves a great bowl of popcorn. Unless you have a medical exception. Then you still probably love it, but, you just can’t scratch the itch. These five varieties are all exploding with flavor and easy to make. Cue up your favorite flick!

• • • • •

SPECIAL FEATURES
This is typically a fun part of the post. And, this one is more fun than most. This is where the Lust for Leaf: Vegetarian Noshes, Bashes, and Everyday Great Eats--The Hot Knives Wayauthor’s REAL personality shows through. I love the fact that each recipe comes equipped with it’s very own soundtrack and beverage suggestions. A great way to expose yourself to new music and new brews. There is an extensive and wide ranging beer list towards the back of the book. Also there is a list of the songs included in the recipes. All of the vegan dishes are clearly marked with a V for easy ID.

• • • • •

CONCLUSIONS
This isn’t your typical vegan/veg cookbook. It’s fun! Not pretentious, stuffy or preachy like so many of these can be. The book itself is easy to use and contains enough interesting dishes to keep you occupied for some time to come. There are lots of easy to obtain ingredients. Again, something that so many cookbooks of this cuisine style ignore. Hey, we have to be able to get the stuff to make the food! Loaded with colorful images and some interesting asides.

Culinary Expertise 6.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

RESOURCES, LINKS AND PRESS

Hot Knives Website
Lust For Leaf – Da Capo Publisher Page
Video Photo Shoot – Lust For Leaf

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GIVEAWAY I’ve got one extra copy of Lust For Leaf to giveaway. CLICK HERE, send us an email and if you’re first, it’s your. Just that easy…

Cooking For Two | America’s Test Kitchen

Wouldn’t you love a great recipe that is made just for two? Of course you would.

Cooking for Two 2013 | CLICK TO PURCHASE

TITLE: Cooking for Two – 2013
AUTHOR: Many. America’s Test Kitchen
PUBLISHER: Cook’s Illustrated
CUISINE: American

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FEATURED INGREDIENT: THE CROCKPOTPhoto #431 - Crockpot | By Tammra McCauley
Trying to feature a single ingredient out of a recipe collection like this is next to impossible. Or, maybe, just downright impossible. So, in lieu of an ingredient, how about an appliance? There is an entire section of this book dedicated to slow cooker recipes for two. That will make for some super convenient and delicious dishes.

• • • • •

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Look, this is a book that is published by one of the premier cookbook publishing companies around. So, you expect it to look great and be more thoroughly tested than the common book off the shelf. And, it is. A nice gloss stock makes page turning a breeze. There are beautiful images throughout from Carl Tremblay, Keller + Keller and Daniel J. Van Ackre. It is exactly what you would expect from Cook’s Illustrated. Classy, useful and well laid out.

• • • • •

WHAT YOU’LL FIND INSIDE (aka Table of Contents)
The Smart Shoppers Guide
One-Dish Suppers
Pasta for Dinner
Vegetarian Suppers
Dinner Off The Grill
Light and Fresh
Express Lane
Slow-Cooker Favorites
Side Dishes
Baked Goods and Desserts

• • • • •

So maybe you’ve seen a Cook’s Illustrated magazine or cookbook. And, maybe you’ve even caught an episode or two of the television series. You may be thinking, “Wow all of that testing and analyzing and sampling, these people must really be serious and committed to their craft. Well, they are. But… have a look at some of their lighter moments.

• • • • •

THE BEST OF THE BOOK (Our Favorite Recipes)

Prime Rib for Two Maryland Crab Cakes
Weeknight Roast Chicken Chicken & Chorizo Paella
Spicy Pork Tacos (al Pastor) Sour Cream Biscuits
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes Fresh Pasta Without a Machine
Vegetable Pot Pie Risotto Primavera
Campanelle with Roasted Garlic, Shrimp and Feta Grilled Spicy Shrimp Masala with Zucchini and Couscous Salad
Turkey Taco Salad Braised Cod Peperonata
Shrimp Fried Rice White Bean and Tuna Salad
Slow-Cooker Black Bean Soup Crème Caramel

 

There are tons of great recipes here. Over the years, I have seen so many versions and adaptations of the traditional US Senate Navy Bean Soup (P.60). Oddly enough, I never tire of them. This particular recipe really nails it. Great care was taken to replicate the original dish. I am certainly not a baker. I’m the first to admit that. The Skillet Olive Bread (P.268) can make even my limited skills really shine. Easy and beyond tasty. I know that we’re leaving winter behind at this point. But, the Slow-Cooker Southwestern Pork (P.226) is a fantastic excuse to breakout the crock pot in the middle of July! Is an excuse really even needed? Just plug and play.

• • • • •

SPECIAL FEATURESCooking for Two 2013 [Hardcover]
The most special feature of Cooking For Two is the detail displayed in each of the recipes. Not that you would expect anything less from the authors of this cookbook. Short, illustrated lessons dot the sidebars along the way. And, an occasional product evaluation makes an appearance to guide you to the best ingredients for your creation. The Smart Shoppers Guide at the front of the book gives the reader a list of some of the basics you might consider for making the recipes.

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CONCLUSIONS
Here is the thing about this book. The basic structure is as comfortable as the popular Cook’s Illustrated magazine. If you like that style (like I do), then you will love this cookbook. Great recipes, more than thoroughly tested and explained in detailed step by step instructions. If you love the periodical, you’ll flip for the book. Cooking For Two makes cooking for two a snap and a pleasure.

Culinary Expertise 5.5
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

RESOURCES, LINKS AND PRESS
Cook’s Illustrated Website
America’s Test Kitchen YouTube Channel
Follow America’s Test Kitchen on Twitter

Cooking for Two | CLICK TO BUY IT!

UPDATE: Check out our review of the new Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen!

 

America’s Favorite Food | MyRecipes.com

Can new tech play nice with comfort food cooking?

BUY IT! | America's Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country's best magazines

TITLE: America’s Favorite Food
AUTHOR: Many. Edited by, Nichole Aksamit
PUBLISHER: Oxmoor  House
CUISINE: American/Comfort/Magazine

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America's Favorite Food | Digimark AppFEATURED INGREDIENT: IPHONE
Our “Featured Ingredient” for this cookbook isn’t really an ingredient at all. But, it is one of the most important components of this particular cookbook. The Smartphone. Without this “ingredient” you take away some of what makes this cookbook unique among it’s peers.

 

• • • • •

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
At first blush this is all a little hard to take in. I consider myself a “tech” person too. I get the concept. But, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. To be sure, this is a great collection of some delicious magazine reprint recipes. If you haven’t taken the time to subscribe to each, then this is really a treasure trove. You know the names, Cooking Light, Southern Living, Real Simple, Coastal Living, Health and more. It contains lots of easy to prepare dishes for everyone in your family. There are beautiful food images throughout. All in all, an eye pleasing, easy to flip through book.

• • • • •

WHAT YOU’LL FIND INSIDE (aka Table of Contents)
Starters
Soups & Sandwiches
Poultry
Meats
Seafood
Meatless Mains
Pasta & Pizza
Sides & Salads
Desserts
Breakfast & Brunch

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How about a small taste of what some of the video extras look and feel like. Hey, everyone needs to know how to cut up a whole chicken.

• • • • •

THE BEST OF THE BOOK (Our Favorite Recipes)

Spicy Black Bean Hummus Watermelon Margaritas
Hearty Potato Soup Turkey Reuben Sandwiches
Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
King Ranch Chicken Casserole Dry-Cured Rosemary Turkey
Cheddar Burgers w/Red Onion Jam Classic Beef Stew
Brandied Cranberry Short Rib Stew Salsa Verde Braised Pork
Halibut w/Coconut-Red Curry Sauce Fresh Salmon-Cilantro Burgers
Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Broccoli Beef Lo Mein Shrimp Pad Thai
Peach & Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza Broccoli Casserole
Italian Chard Dressing Grilled Potato Salad
Oatmeal Cream Pies Salted Carmel Brownies

 

It’s obvious from the list above that just about anyone you would care to feed could be satisfied. There are lots of very traditional dishes. Some with a new, more modern twist. Some have been left to their roots. That’s a good combination. There is no shortage of recipes from any of the individual chapters. Every major food group is well represented.

• • • • •

BUY IT! | America's Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country's best magazinesSPECIAL FEATURES
This book is actually one giant special feature. Special tips and hints are available for a large percentage of the recipes via the smartphone app. And, as a bonus, the app works well. No hang ups. That means even the least tech savvy cook in your household will be able to take advantage of all that this cookbook has to offer. Each recipe is coded with special icons that represent the dish. There are metric equivalents and nutritional information stashed in the back for reference use.

• • • • •

CONCLUSIONS
OK, there are a couple of things at play here. First, we should call this cookbook what it really is. It’s compilation of magazine recipes. And, a lot of them are great tried and true dishes. You’re going to find no nasty surprises once you start cooking. They have all been thoroughly tested and they work. A HUGE bonus. Second, This book is not a cooking tech breakthrough of any kind. I do love the use of the current technology. And, I appreciate the fact that smartphones and tablets have found their way into the kitchen. I use mine there. It’s just that it might be too loaded with extra off site “stuff”. I’m just left wondering how often those badges get scanned and used. You also end up with a little tech overload. So, here is the bottom line. Buy it if you are looking for an easy to use, comfort food cookbook for your whole family. And, you may just have a little unexpected fun in the kitchen whipping up your dinner of choice. That too is a nice bonus.

Culinary Expertise 4.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

RESOURCES, LINKS AND PRESS
My Recipes Website
America’s Favorite Food | Digimark Website
Oxmoor House Press Page

BUY IT! | America's Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country's best magazines

Canal House Cooks Every Day | Hamilton & Hirsheimer

 

Simple, elegant & refined. Just the way a cookbook should be.

Canal House Cooks Every Day | Hamilton & Hirsheimer

TITLE: Canal House Cooks Every Day
AUTHOR: Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hirsheimer
PUBLISHER: Andrews McMeel Publishing
CUISINE: American/Comfort/Seasonal

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Featured Ingredient: Duck ConfitDuck Confit | By AllanThinks
Duck confit (French: confit de canard French pronunciation: ​[kɔ̃.fi d(ə) ka.naʁ]) is a French dish made with the leg of the duck. While it is made across France, it is seen as a specialty of Gascony. The confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
Gorgeous! Substantial and sophisticated also fit well. That’s my first impression. This is a cookbook that is also a work of art. Simply amazing. From the soft textured cover to the recipe ribbon to the bright white premium stock, this cookbook says class from beginning to end. It is what a cookbook should be.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Spring
Summer
Autumn
Winter

• • • • •

Sometimes seeing is believing. Have a peek at what the Canal House is all about.

 

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Cold Avocado and Cucumber Soup Lobster Stew
Roast Chicken and Bread Salad Canal House Crab Louis
Open Faced Sandwiches Shrimp Risotto
Smoked Salmon Butter Roast Goose with Ten Legs
Shrimp Roast Pan Fried Chicken Thighs with Zucchini
Asparagus with Lemon-Butter Sauce Baked Ham with Golden Bread Crumbs
Roasted Spring Onions Strawberry Shortcake
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream Apple Tart
Braised Beef Brisket with Onions & Currants Olive Oil Poached Zucchini and Raw Tomatoes

 

OK, there’s a list above of some of our favorite recipes. But, in all fairness this list is very flawed. Just about EVERY recipe contained in this book could have made the list. I haven’t reviewed many cookbooks I can say that about. Anyway, there are of course some standouts. The Lamb Shoulder Chops with Rosemary Potatoes (p. 216) is super easy and super tasty. Here is a common scene from a lot of parties. Someone walks through the door carrying a tray of Deviled Eggs (p. 71). They are immediately mobbed by happy people saying, “Awesome, deviled eggs. I LOVE those”. The Canal House version is simple and classic. Finally, the Deconstructed Carbonara (p.201) is a creative and fun take on a traditional Italian dish. This recipe update works well.

• • • • •

Special Features
BUY IT | The Canal House Cooks Every DayI love the recipe index up front. For me indexes shelved away in the back of the book are a waste. Being front and center is almost like saying, “Hey, here’s all the good stuff you’re in for, have a look”. There is a very brief intro and then straight into Spring. A conversion table is located in the back of the book as is some author bio information. Obviously, Melissa and Christopher have some amazing culinary credentials. But, this book isn’t about them. It’s about the food. And I like that.

• • • • •

Conclusions
This cookbook stands out from a very crowded field. It’s apparent from the moment you pick it up that this book is different. The dishes are simple and refined. There is a range of recipe difficulty. But, for the most part the recipes are doable for most competent home chefs and cooks. The images are art. Christopher does any amazing job. They far surpass the normal cookbook photos. You could reprint any one of them, hang it in your kitchen and have an immediate upgrade in your kitchen décor. Here’s the bottom line on The Canal House Cooks Every Day, buy it. Buy it now for a holiday gift for yourself or someone you know. The recipient (even if it’s you) will be happy and grateful.

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Culinary Expertise 6.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Resources, Links and Press
Canal House Website
New York Times Article
The Kitchn – Recipe Review | Serious Ragu
Canal House on Twitter

BUY IT | The Canal House Cooks Every Day

30 Minutes Vegan’s Taste of Europe | Mark Reinfeld

 

Can meatless versions of European classics measure up?

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

TITLE: The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
AUTHOR: Mark Reinfeld
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Lifelong
CUISINE: Vegan

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Tempeh
Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product originallySliced tempeh - By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands (Tempe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in the Sinosphere. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
If you’re looking for a nice well rounded assortment of vegan dishes this cookbook will satisfy that. Like the covers says, it contains “Plant based makeovers of classics”. There is a center insert of color images by Fawne Frailey and Sebastian Romero Sea Light Studios. The paper stock is a nice, soft off white that is easy on the eyes and great to page through. This is a nice everyday vegan cookbook. It has dishes you could make for dinner seven nights a week.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Italy
France
Spain and Portugal
United Kingdom and Ireland
Greece
Germany
Europe Fusion

• • • • •

Roam around the world…

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pommes Frites French Onion Soup
Quiche Monet Empanadas
Irish Stew Yorkshire Pudding
Currant Scones Beer Soup
Potato Pierogi Swiss Chocolate Fondue

 

I love Greek food, so the Tzatzaki (p.162) and the Spanikopita Triangles (p.173) were both big hits with me. You can use that Tzatzaki sauce on just about everything from salad to corn flakes as far as I’m concerned. The Spaetzle Noodles (p.195) is another winner. I have a spaetzle maker (two actually) and I’m always looking for a reason to break it out. Also, the Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic (p.110) is a mouthwatering side dish. It has 15 to 20 cloves of garlic in it, so it has to be amazing!

• • • • •

Special Features
The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and BeyondMany of the recipes are annotated with special symbols to help you make cooking decisions. These symbols indicate cooking times and ease of preparation. It’s a nice touch. In the table of contents, the recipe names and page numbers are listed under the chapter names. I LOVE this type of formatting. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know that feature always rates high with me. Making cookbooks easy to use, there’s a novel idea! Also, as you would expect with any vegan/vegetarian cookbook, there is an extensive section on preparation basics contained in the appendix. As is a metric conversion chart. Hey, it’s taste of EUROPE here, so I guess it makes sense. There is also a great list of additional reading and some super helpful online resources. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of vegan cuisine there is a lot to keep you busy.

• • • • •

Conclusions
Mark Reinfeld does a nice job on his “plant based makeover”. These are recipes that you could use again and again. They are relatively easy to make, so it would be a fairly good cookbook for the vegan beginner. The once sparse space of vegan cookbooks is starting to fill up fast. The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe fills the vegan international cuisine void nicely. If you’ve been hunting for that meatless version of your favorite French dish, you can stop looking. The Seitan Bourguignon (p.84) is now at your fingertips.

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Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

How would you like to be a cookbook insider? Of course you would. Included with every cookbook that a publisher sends out for review are publicity notes. Click below to view the notes from The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. Have fun being on the inside for a change.

The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe – Publicity Notes

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Resources, Links and Press
Vegan Fusion Website
Video: Eating Live: An Introduction to Live Food Cuisine
Mark Reinfeld on vegan.com
Follow Mark Reinfeld on Twitter

Soup of the Day | Kate McMillan

 

“Soup is the song of the hearth…  and the home.” – Chef Louis P. De Gouy

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

TITLE: Soup of the Day
AUTHOR: Kate McMillan
PUBLISHER: Weldon Owen
CUISINE: Soup

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Stock or Broth?
The difference between broth and stock is one of both cultural and colloquial terminologytomatillo soup by little blue hen but certain definitions prevail. Stock is the thin liquid produced by simmering raw ingredients: solids are removed, leaving a thin, highly-flavored liquid. This gives classic stock as made from beef, veal, chicken, fish and vegetable stock. Broth differs in that it is a basic soup where the solid pieces of flavoring meat or fish, along with some vegetables, remain. It is often made more substantial by adding starches such as rice, barley or pulses. Traditionally, broth contains some form of meat or fish: nowadays it is acceptable to refer to a strictly vegetable soup as a broth [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
I’m a soup fanatic. So, you almost have to stop me from shaking as I turn the pages. 365 soup recipes! Really? Yes, really. It’s printed on a nice premium white gloss stock. It has great page feel. Vibrant color images by Erin Kunkel add to the allure of the recipes. It’s all soup, so you need to keep it entertaining. The way in which the cookbook is divided into days and months does that. They have found a perfect way to keep a single subject cookbook interesting from start to finish.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

• • • • •

Duck, duck, soup…

• • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Cioppino Stone Soup
Celery, Leek & Oyster Bisque Three-Bean Soup with Linguica
Artichoke Soup with Morel Butter Creamy Spinach-Leek Soup
Red Bean & Andouille Soup Cool Honeydew-Mint Soup
Brazilian Fish Stew Tom Yum with Shrimp
Pork Pho Garlicky Pork & Chili Soup
Minestrone with Pesto Soup Cream of Parsnip Soup
Wedding Soup Weeknight Hungarian Beef Stew

 

Paring this list down was unbelievably hard for me. There was a new favorite with the turn of every page. But, were there some soups that rose to the top? Of course,

I make a Tortellini and Spinach soup in the winter that both my wife and I both love. The Tortellini & Escarole (p.27), is a nice variation on that theme. The Crab & Avocado Soup (p.173) is a great warm weather soup. Light, fresh and delicious. I was never a huge fan of chilled soups. But, over the years I’ve “warmed” up to them. I love pumpkin soup. So, the Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (p.267), makes my mouth water. I especially loved the pumpkin roasting technique. For me, fall would not be the same without it. And finally, Ribollita (p.207), need I say more? I think not.

• • • • •

Special Features
Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the YearThere aren’t any special features to speak of. At least in the traditional cookbook sense. The special features of this book come down to its formatting. I love the fact that each month starts with a calendar. Inside each of the days of the month is the soup title and the page number. It is almost like twelve separate tables of contents. That format makes it very easy to browse the recipes. There are 365 soups in this book. That’s a lot. The user friendly formatting aids navigation. The fact that each month contains soups that are appropriate for the weather and the ingredients available was thoughtful way to arrange the content. No matter what time of year it is, you can find a soup to fit the season.

• • • • •

Conclusions
Again, I cannot overstate this, I LOVE SOUP. So, this book is a serious home run for me. Now, maybe you’re not as possessed by soup as I am. You will still love the variety and diversity of the recipes. All different styles and types are covered. For fun, you could just randomly open to a page and let the soup making begin. Oh, in case you were wondering, today’s special is, Minestrone with Pesto (p.214), yummm!

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Soup of the Day (Williams-Sonoma): 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year

Resources, Links and Press
Kate McMillan’s Website
Kate Talks About Soup – Interview
Kate McMillan – TV Interview
Recipe – Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Jam On | Laena McCarthy

 

“Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself” – Unknown

20120814-jamoncover(9)600pxJPG

TITLE: Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit
AUTHOR: Laena McCarthy
PUBLISHER: Viking Studio (Penguin)
CUISINE: Canning/Preserving

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Blood Orange or ClementineBy Eric Hill from Boston, MA, USA (Blood Orange) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The blood orange is a variety of orange (Citrus sinensis) with crimson, almost-blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an average orange; its skin is usually pitted, but can be smooth. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, a family of pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. The flesh develops its characteristic maroon color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The skin can also be more tough and harder to peel than other oranges. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
If you’re interested in making some homemade jam but know nothing about it, you’re in luck. This is a great beginner cookbook. The images are by Michael Harlan Turkell. There aren’t tons of them. But, the ones that are included are nice. Laena McCarthy is the Founder of Anarchy in a Jar. A great name! Easy step by step instructions that almost anyone could master. It will give you a good base of knowledge to really do your own thing. The topic seems hard. But, it is made easy by Laena.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Laena’s Story
The Basics
Get Your Jam on: The Step-By-Step Guide
Jam and Jelly
Preserves, Marmalade and Chutney
Sugar-Free Jam and Fruit Butter
Pickled Fruit, Syrups and Shrubs
Pairings
Laena’s Library
Sources
Laena’s Favorite Fruit Farms
Seasons of Fruit in the Northeast
Conversion Charts (more than one!)

• • • • •

I hope you like jammin’, too…

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Really Rosie Jam Wild Blueberry Jam
Clementine Marmalade Mango and Lime Chutney
Peachy Keen Preserves Apricot Butter
Sun-Gold Tomato Jam Moroccan Preserved Lemons
Homemade Ricotta Cheese Grilled Rainbow Trout

 

I’ll admit it jam isn’t really my thing. But, there were a lot of recipes that had me thinking “hhmmm, I could really like that”. One of those was the Spiced Beer Jelly (p.76). It has beer in the title. That’s a good jam starting point for me.

• • • • •

Jam On: The Craft of Canning FruitSpecial Features
There is a super useful paring chart (p.84). It’s Laena’s Jam & Cheese Party. Cheeses paired with preserved fruit, meat, crackers, toast, nuts and fresh vegetables. This chart will take most of the guesswork out what to serve with your delicious jam. That is an area in which I would certainly be at a loss. There are two conversion charts. I guess for this topic I’ll let it slide. It seems to work out just fine.

• • • • •

Conclusions
Jam On can take you from novice to knowledged pretty quickly. I like that the recipes can easily be modified to suit your taste and personality. This would actually be great to do with your son/daughter to get them interested in the process. It would also make for a pretty fun party activity for all of the jam lovers on your friends list. If you have any interest in this topic at all, Jam On should be the first building block in your jammy library.

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Jam On: The Craft of Canning Fruit

Resources, Links and Press
Anarchy in a Jar Website
Tasting Table Post – Anarchy in a Jar
Anarchy in a Jar Facebook Page
Listen To Laena on Let’s Eat In 

The Book of Burger | Rachael Ray

 

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” – Whimpy

The Book of Burger

TITLE: The Book of Burger
AUTHOR: Rachael Ray
PUBLISHER: Atria
CUISINE: Burgers

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Ketchup
Ketchup (also catsup, tomato sauce, or red sauce) is a sweet and tangy food sauce, typically made from tomatoes, vinegar, a sweetener, and assorted seasonings and spices. The sweetener is most commonly sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Seasonings vary by recipe, but commonly include onions, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and celery. Ketchup is often used as a condiment with various, usually hot, dishes including french fries (chips), hamburgers, sandwiches and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is sometimes used as a basis or ingredient for other sauces and dressings. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
This cookbook is packed with burger variations. And, I’ll have to say, some pretty creative ones. The delicious dishes are accompanied by equally mouthwatering images courtesy of photographer, Romulo Yanes. Rachael breaks out over 200 burger related recipes. There is a ton of variety here. As you would imagine given the volume. It is broken down into some nice manageable pieces. For a burger fan, it’s a really page turner.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Burgers
Sliders
Sandwiches & Dogs
Sloppies
Sides & Sauces
Burger Bash

• • • • •

I like mine with lettuce and tomatoes…

 

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Chili Mac ‘n’ Cheese Burgers Spanikopita Burgers
The Gyro Burger Salmon Burgers with Tartar Sauce
Bistro Sliders ala Rachael Chorizo Sliders
Mexican Pulled Pork Sliders Deluxe Turkey Club Sliders
Deluxe Turkey Club Sliders BBQ “Bun”-Mi Sliders
Michigan Dogs with Cheese Sauce Creole Andouille Dawgs
Sloppy Cubanos Caesar Tots
Hot Dog Fries Honey-Dijon Potato Salad
Cuban Patty Melts with Yellow Mustard Slaw Pork Schnitzel Sandwiches with Chunky Apple and Onion Chutney

 

I told you there was a lots here to consider. I had a hard time whittling things down for you. There were some hands down, sure fire winners. The Drunken Burger with Stilton (p.18) combines some of my favorite things into one semi-neat package. The Ultimate Salami Burgers (p.52) are a decadent burger delight (watch Rachael make it here). I’m from Chicago, so, obviously the Chicagoan-Italian Roast Beef Heroes (p.182) hits the mark. It’s not quite Mr. Beef. But, then again, what is. Finally, the Jerk Burgers (p.99) and the Buffalo Joes (p.232) round out my best of the book.

• • • • •

Special Features
The Book of BurgerThis cookbook has a lot that’s “special” about it. First off it’s a “smart book”. It employs Microsoft TAG technology to unlock great additional features like how-to videos. Just scan and watch. The Burger Bash section has a bunch of burger recipes contributed by some pretty well known chefs. Here’s a short list, Spike Mendelsohn, Morimoto, Michael Symon, Bobby Flay and Chris Santos. Not too shabby. The book is splashed with some interesting burger related essays. All on different topics. But, tied together with a common burger theme. Lastly, Rachael has sprinkled in some of her personal tips on the bottom right corner of select pages.

• • • • •

Conclusions
This book has SO many great recipes. I should have just made the index my “best of” section. Great creative combinations make these burger recipes really sing. They are relatively easy to make. They’re certainly fun and would make for ideal party food. If you’ve got a lot of other burger books sitting around collecting dust here’s an opportunity. You can recycle some of those old titles to new homes and let Rachael Ray help you freshen up your burger repertoire.

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise 5.5
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Resources, Links and Press
Official Rachael Ray Website
The Food Network – Rachael Ray Page
Follow Rachael Ray on Twitter
Chicago Tribune Rachael Ray Interview

Slow Fire | Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe

 

It’s hard to imagine another smell that says “summer” more than BBQ.

Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue

TITLE: Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue
AUTHOR: Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe
PUBLISHER: Chronicle Books
CUISINE: BBQ/Grilling

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: BrisketBeef Brisket Chart
Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. The beef brisket is one of the nine beef prime cuts. The brisket muscles include the superficial and deep pectorals. As cattle do not have collar bones, these muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing/moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so the resulting meat must be cooked correctly to tenderize the connective tissue. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
I’m a sucker of BBQ cookbooks, so, I’ll try my level best to be objective. It won’t be easy. Dr. BBQ (aka Ray Lampe), has near legendary status in the smoky sub-culture of BBQ. So, you’re learning from a true master of the grill. There are lots of beautiful color images by Leigh Beisch throughout the book. I just loved the books finished size. It made it very easy to keep it open while cooking. A big plus for me. Most recipes are contained to one page. Love the design artwork with the two-tone pages. There is a fair amount of reverse type. But, it is surprisingly easy to read.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Tools & Techniques
Spices and Sauces
Ribs Rule the World
Pork, Glorious Pork
Beautiful Beef
The Birds
Anything But
The Necessary Side Dishes

• • • • •

It’s hard to resist Rhett & Link. I know what you’re thinking…

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Superchicken Wing Rub Windy City Rib Tips
Competition-Style Pork Butt Homemade Pastrami
Smoky Skirt Steak Fajitas Smoked Flat-Cut Brisket with Coffee
Superchicken Smoked Wings Smoked Scotch Eggs
Planked Salmon with Soy-Honey Glaze Cheesy Mac and Cheese

 

Let’s just say that most of Ray’s recipes made my mouth water. Instantly! Were there one’s that rose above the crowd? But of course. The Roadside Barbecue Spareribs (p.56) seems like a recipe that most would be grill masters could easily tackle. I love Cuban food. So, the Cuban-style Leg of Pork (p.79), was an instant winner for me. It looks delicious. No lie. I’m making that soon. Keep an eye out here for the finished product. I know about the State Fair. And, I know about Disney. As you approach Frontierland, you can see a steady stream of people walking and eating. More like gnawing. They’re tackling giant, beautifully cooked turkey legs. It’s almost like they’re in some turkey induced trance. Anyway, if the State Fair Turkey Legs (p.129) come even close to those, then I say, “We have a WINNER!” Finally, the Bacon and Blue Cheese Coleslaw (p.161) would make a fine addition to any meal whether it was barbecued or not.

• • • • •

Special Features
Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue I like the fact that recipe names are included in the table of contents. It makes it easy to see what you’re getting yourself into. I guess you could flip to the index. But, the index is never that great to navigate for something like that. There is a lot of info on tools, equipment and cooker types. That’s expected since BBQ isn’t like cooking in your kitchen. It requires special stuff. A great excuse for me to accumulate extra gadgets! There is a Table of Equivalents (p.176). I think it’s a conversion chart in sheep’s clothing. I really should stop obsessing about that.

• • • • •

Conclusions
Slow Fire, is a fun book. As, most BBQ/grill books are. There are some pretty intense ones on the market today. This one takes a much more laid back approach. That’s to my liking. The recipes here could keep your grill happy all summer long. Or, all year long depending on where you live. The recipes are of medium difficulty. Nothing that couldn’t be tackled by any would-be BBQ enthusiast. Ray is super creative. I like that. It’s not just another BBQ book. And, that’s good because it’s a pretty busy space. There are some truly unique recipes here that deserve your attention. This cookbook claims to be for beginners. And, lots of its elements are aimed at the novice. But, there is really something here for outdoor chefs of all experience levels. If you’re a near expert BBQer you needn’t turn your nose up at the thought of a beginner book. There is certainly something here for you too. So, dig out your pigtail, tongs and tin foil and get grilling!

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise: 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue

Resources, Links and Press
Dr. BBQ’s Official Website
Follow Dr. BBQ on Twitter
Dr. BBQ’s favorite BBQ Joints
Slow Fire review: Top Ribs

Trout Caviar | Brett Laidlaw

 

Foraging for your own meal is serious business.

Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager

TITLE: Trout Caviar
AUTHOR: Brett Laidlaw
PUBLISHER: Minnesota Historical Society Press
CUISINE: American

• • • • •

Featured Ingredient: Brown Trout
The brown trout (Salmo trutta) is an originally European species of salmonid fish. ItBrown Trout includes both purely freshwater populations, referred to Salmo trutta morpha fario and S. trutta morpha lacustris, and anadromous forms known as the sea trout, S. trutta morpha trutta. The latter migrates to the oceans for much of its life and returns to freshwater only to spawn.[2] Sea trout in the UK and Ireland have many regional names, including sewin (Wales), finnock (Scotland), peal (West Country), mort (North West England) and white trout (Ireland).

The specific epithet trutta derives from the Latin trutta, meaning, literally, “trout”. [Wikipedia]

• • • • •

First Impressions
Trout Caviar is a much a personal food journal as it is a cookbook. It reminds me a little of Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini. But, with digging rather than shooting. It’s a tale of gathering and foraging. I must admit I wasn’t very familiar with the topic until I read through it. It’s a fantastic primer on the subject. I particularly love the way the stories are so intertwined with the dishes. They provide excellent context for the recipes. You’re not going to be wowed by the images. They are mostly black and white. There is a section of color photographs towards the middle of the book. The meat of this cookbook are the hearty and homey recipes. They are worth the price of admission.

• • • • •

What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Starters
Salads
Soups
Vegetable Mains
Pasta and Pizza
Meat
Poultry
Fish
Vegetable Side
Desserts and Drinks
Condiments

• • • • •

 

Steve Oxley, master fly fisherman. Enough said.

• • • • •

The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Watercress Bacon Salad Sorrel Shallot Potato Soup
Summer Lake Trout Chowder Wild Mushroom Lasagna
Bacon Onion Tart Steak Tartare Maison
Confit of Fresh Ham Home Smoked Trout
Duck Confit Tacos Knife and Fork BOT (Bacon, Onion & Tomato)

 

I love to make my own gravlax or lox. The Lake Trout Maple-Spiced Gravlax (p.28) sounds really interesting. I have never attempted to cure anything but salmon. That always turns out amazing. So, that makes this a must try. The Popcorn Salad (p.43) sounds so unusual that it is hard to resist. Also, the Walleye Tacos (p.165) are sure to be a winner. I love fish tacos of all stripes. The ones that I have eaten have been made mainly with grouper, red snapper or some other with fleshed saltwater fish. Walleye would be a great substitution.

• • • • •

Special FeaturesTrout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager
There are some great smoking tips here. Lots of notes on the do’s and don’ts of foraging for your own ingredients. Probably more don’ts. I’ve always thought you should probably take someone with a little experience with you on your first mushroom hunt. It seems to me the downside could be huge. There is a list of some helpful websites and books towards the back. Foraging doesn’t seem like a subject that tons of people will be well versed in. The resources are a nice addition.

• • • • •

Conclusions
This isn’t the type of cookbook that you’re going to turn to for your everyday meals. Unless, you’re a forager that is. But, it has a nice selection of unique recipes that would be great for a change of pace. I’m sure that Brett would be OK with you making these dishes even if you didn’t dig up your own fungi. Most of the recipes are reasonably easy to execute. The ingredients are a slightly tougher task. If you don’t have easy access to ramps or fiddleheads, you may want to find a reliable source before cracking the spine of this one. All in all, an enjoyable and delicious romp with nature.

• • • • •

Culinary Expertise 6
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager

Resources, Links and Press
The Trout Caviar Website
Trout Caviar Review via Heavy Table
Follow Brett Laidlaw on Twitter
Minnesota Historical Society