Search This Blog

Monday, January 14, 2008


...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback
reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher
a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will
reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will
rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text
while keeping the focus tight. Here are some recent "re-editions"...

* BILLY'S BEST BOTTLES; wines for 2008 (McArthur & Co., 2007, 200
pages, ISBN 978-1-55278-683-3, $21.96 spiral bound) is now in its 18th
edition. I got it too late for inclusion in my annual gift article,
wherein I discussed other wine annuals. The wines in Billy's listings
are all available at the LCBO's General List and some as Vintages
Essentials, in Ontario; most will also be found in other provinces and
American states. He leads off with his plea for wine drinking by mood,
and this mood determines the strength level of the wine. His "Wine By
Mood Spectrum Chart" (also at is for food
and mood matches, based on fresh wines, medium (body) wines, and rich
wines, subdivided by white and red. This is the "Six Pack" approach to
wine drinking. Each wine has advice on how to serve plus plenty of food
matches and ideas (but the recommendations for pizza are for tomato-
sauce and cheese pizzas only). There is a wine calendar for upcoming
events in Ontario, but mainly for the GTA region. Wines are indexed by
category and by country. But this index can be ripped out in the book
store for a listing of the 200 or so wines. This is the major drawback
of any spiral bound book. Also, there are not many details about grape
varieties for the Euro wines. But it exhibits a no-nonsense commonsense
approach to wine, and there is an updated list of touring wineries in
Ontario. Quality/Price rating: 87.

* WEEK IN WEEK OUT; 52 seasonal stories (Quadrille, 2007, 255 pages,
ISBN 978-1-84400-502-4, $45US hard covers) is by Simon Hopkinson,
former chef at Bibendum (1987-1995). He is now a full time UK food
writer. The material in this volume was previously published in The
Independent Saturday magazine between December 1994 and April 2002. If
necessary, Hopkinson reworked the recipe. Jason Lowe was the original
photographer, and he is back with some presumably new settings. There
are 52 productions here, beginning with Winter and moving through
Autumn. It is an eclectic mix, relying on seasonal availability. All
recipes, of course, are for home use. Each week Hopkinson focused on a
particular ingredient or foodie topic at the time. The recipes take
their lead from the time of year, and usually there are three or so
each week. Try roast quails with butter and lemon; tomatoes stuffed
with crab and basil; cold veal with sliced egg and anchovy sauce; hot
strawberry and almond pie. Quality/Price rating: 88.

408 pages, ISBN 978-0-15-101261-9, $22US hard covers) is by Michael
Broadbent, MW, probably the most experienced fine-wine taster in the
world, with 55 years and more in the wine trade. He also writes a
monthly column for Decanter (and has done so for the past 30 years).
This "pocket" book, in a decent 4.83 x 6.75 size, in two colours (black
and red inks), updates his previous 2002 book, MICHAEL BROADBENT'S
VINTAGE WINE; fifty years of tasting three centuries of wine at $80, so
it is a bargain book. He's shortened the format, leaving out much
material from the original 560 large size pages. The original big book
began life in 1980, with a revision in 1991 and 2002. This, then, is a
third revision, and certainly more affordable. Dropped are his profiles
of personalities and many of his anecdotes. Also dropped are Madeira
entries, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, various appendices
and indexes. Added are updated notes over the past five years, and a
re-assessment of all vintages.
The sources for his wine notes are from collectors' cellars, wine
auctions, legendary tastings, wine society events, and his own personal
cellar. He is not consumer-driven like Robert Parker. Most tasting
notes have been rewritten and made smaller. France gets 300 pages,
Germany 45 pages, California has 20 pages, and Vintage Ports get 25
pages. Bordeaux has the biggest chunk of space, naturally, for it has
long lasting, mostly expensive, and widely available wine (plus of
course the Brits are just across the Channel from Bordeaux and have an
intimate history of involvement in the wine trade, as with Madeira and
Port). Bordeaux is the wine which turns up in cellars and auctions
everywhere. Most of the whites here are Sauternes. Red Burgundy is
mostly DRC. Icewines? Well, none from Canada, but there are a handful
from Germany (eiswein). There is also a chart specifying ullage levels
and wine terms. Quality/Price rating: 95.

* THE GOOD HOUSEKEEPING COOKBOOK; 1,039 recipes from America's favorite
test kitchen. Rev. ed. (Hearst Books, 2007; distr. Canadian Manda
Group, 608 pages, ISBN 978-1-58816-561-9, $24.95US hard covers) has
been edited by Susan Westmoreland, the Food Director of "Good
Housekeeping". It has been often revised over the years; indeed, I grew
up with previous editions. It's a basic book, nothing too fancy,
arranged by product or course. Thus, there are chapters on appetizers,
soups, stews, quick and easy weeknight meals, quickbreads, desserts, as
well as products such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, veggies
and fruit. The boards inside the covers have tables of equivalents,
substitutions, pan volumes, and food equivalents. There are test
kitchen tips strewn throughout. The pages are clay coated which allows
for colour photography, an added bonus. Plus the pages clean up better
should you spill any foods or oils on them. More recipes are at The book jacket says: "By the time our
recipes appear on these pages, they are guaranteed to work in any
kitchen, including yours. We promise." Quality/Price rating: 90.

* SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND; with eight around the table (Quadrille,
2006, 2007, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-84400-507-9, $29.95US soft covers) is
by Ruth Watson, an award-winning UK food writer and food editor (Daily
Mail). She has twice won the Glenfiddich Award. This book was
originally published in 2006 in hard covers, and the paperback reprint
is a straight reissue, right down to the Jamie Oliver logrolling. The
basic intent is to provide stress-free weekend entertaining, when you
can be focused entirely on the guests and the meals. All of the recipes
can be prepared in advance, or made to a quick cook stage a la minute.
No cook starters are emphasized, as well as one-pot dishes or roasts.
The key, of course, is planning. British emphasis. Quality/Price
rating: 85.

* THE 100-MILE DIET; a year of local eating (Vintage Canada, 2007, 266
pages, ISBN 978-0-679-31483-7, $19.95 paper covers) is by Alisa Smith
and J.B. MacKinnon, a couple living in Vancouver. They are both authors
and magazine writers. This current book is the 2007 paperback reprint
of the hard back book. They make a year-long attempt to eat only food
grown and produced with a 100-mile radius of their apartment in
Vancouver. They did it when they discovered that the food ingredients
that we eat have traveled 1500 miles on average. It's a little easier
to do this on the west coast where the climate is milder and the
growing season is longer. But there is no denying that imported foods
such as coffee and chocolate would have to go, as well as non-BC wines.
For Ontario, we'll have to eat a lot of root veggies and hydroponics.
But no matter...The book is well-written and enjoyable on its own
terms: it makes you think. Quality/Price rating: 91.

* NEW GOOD FOOD; essential ingredients for cooking and eating well.
(Ten Speed Press, 2007, 284 pages, ISBN 978-1-58008-750-6, $19.95US
paper covers) is by Margaret M. Wittenberg, global VP of Whole Foods
Market, where she has worked since 1981. Logrollers include Mollie
Katzen and Heidi Swanson, but, really, only Marion Nestle counts here.
The book was originally published in 1995; here, it has been
extensively revised and expanded. For years it had been a bible for
buying, storing and preparing whole foods. There are seven new
chapters, including one on whole grains. Grass-fed beef and antibiotic
use in meat production is covered, as well as organic labeling and new
nutritional findings. She also covers fruits and vegetables, breads,
pasta and noodles, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, oils, poultry and
eggs, dairy products, seafood, and seasonings. Just about everything
mentioned can be found at the larger health and natural food stores
(think: Whole Foods), so that makes the book exceedingly useful. Other
useful items include seasonal produce charts and preparation advice. No
recipes, but there are cooking guidelines for each product. It is nice
to see that the bibliography has very few articles from before 1995.
Quality/Price rating: 92.

* ONE-DISH VEGETARIAN MEALS; 150 easy, wholesome, and delicious soups,
stews, casseroles, stir-fries, pastas, rice dishes, chilies, and more
(Harvard Common Press, 2007; distr. National Book Network, 200 pages,
ISBN 978-1-55832-369-8, $29US hard covers) is by Robin Robertson,
cookbook author (she's written about 14 of them), chef, and vegetarian-
cooking instructor. The book collects the best recipes from three
earlier works ("Rice & Spice". "Pasta for All Seasons", and "The
Vegetarian Chili Cookbook"). I assume that one-third of the recipes
come from each book. But all courses and forms are covered anyway,
including lunches, dinners, workdays and weekends. There are also
dairy-free options. Quality/Price rating: 88.

* HISTORY IN A GLASS; sixty years of wine writing from Gourmet (Modern
Library, 2006, 2007, 376 pages, ISBN 978-0-8129-7194-1, $16.95US paper
covers) has been edited by Ruth Reichl, the current editor of Gourmet
magazine. It is a companion piece to Endless Feasts, which was a
collection of food essays from sixty years of Gourmet. The current book
was originally published in 2006 in hard cover; this is the paperback
reprint. The seventeen writers here include Gerald Asher and Frank
Schoonmaker, who were long time regular columnists. Hugh Johnson, James
Beard, Andre L. Simon, and Frederick S. Wildman Jr. are other notables.
There's a lot of American history here, beginning with Repeal and the
War. Madeira, pinot noir, Ray Bradbury's dandelion wine, Oregon,
Washington, Chile, Spain, Chianti, sherry and others complete the
picture. Well worth a read. Quality/Price rating: 90.

* THE BEST LIFE DIET (Simon & Schuster, 2007, 283 pages, ISBN 978-1-
4166-8492-6, $17.50US soft covers) is by Bob Greene, an exercise
physiologist and certified personal trainer specializing in fitness,
metabolism, and weight loss. He has written 10 other similar life-
altering books. This is a paperback reprint of the 2006 hard cover, a
monster of a bestseller. It details a diet plan, lifestyle advice, and
healthful recipes. This is the guy who helped Oprah Winfrey shed a lot
of weight. Here are any menus along with recipes for several weeks'
worth of eating. But don't forget the exercise. He has metric
conversion charts as well. Check out his website
for more material. Quality/Price rating: 89.

* PASTA PASSION (Quadrille, 2007; distr. Ten Speed, 304 pages, ISBN
978-1-84400-449-2, $18.95US paper covers) is by Ursula Ferrigno, a
chef, consultant, and food writer who specializes in Italian cuisine.
It was originally published in 2003, and has now been revised and re-
laid out. The hook here is that pasta is a) a staple, b)a five minute
meal, and c)a source of energy complex carbohydrates. She data on pasta
shapes (and which sauces are best matches for which shapes) and fresh
pasta. 150 recipes range from the basic (spaghetti with red peppers and
tomatoes) to the upscale (vincigrassi aperto: open lasagna with cep
mushrooms and prosciutto). Topics include light and healthy recipes,
make aheads, and everyday, as well as easy and impressive recipes.
There are even some dessert recipes (e.g., Neapolitan ricotta tart)
which use pasta. Quality/Price rating: 88.

* SPICE; recipes to delight the senses (Periplus, 2005, 2007, 273
pages, ISBN 978-0-7946-0489-9, $39.95US hard covers) is by Christine
Mansfield, an Australian chef now working in Covent Garden's East@West.
She is also a cookbook writer, and this is her fourth such book. It was
originally published in 1999 and revised and updated in 2005. This is
it's first North American appearance. Aromatics are used from Sri
Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Tunisia, China, Thailand and China. It now
comes with an introduction by Charlie Trotter. There is an extensive
glossary of the major spices in the world, followed by material on dry
spice blends (garam masala, curry, berbere, five spice powder (although
the Chinese version has six spices, two [anise and fennel] with the
same flavour profile), wet spice pastes, condiments, oils, and sauces.
The arrangement is apps to desserts. There is a 10 page discussion on
matching wines to spices, and this is quite good and useful. She has an
international list of spice suppliers and a bibliography;
unfortunately, the book listings appear not to have been updated since
the 1999 edition. Try pepper sourdough bread; chili cumin dal; eggplant
masala; chicken livers with pickled lamb's tongue, mustard spaghetti
and garlic sauce. Quality/Price rating: 89.

* THE GLOBAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WINE (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2000, 2001,
912 pages plus CD-ROM, ISBN 978-1-891267-38-3, $75US) has been edited
by Peter Forrestal. Here are 36 wine experts who cover various regions;
they are all named. Tony Aspler deals with Canada. The book was
originally published in Australia and was reprinted by the WAG. I have
no idea why I was sent a review copy, for the book is neither new nor
up-to-date. Yet the book proclaims "Another feature of this massive
book is that it is up to date...This book has run to a tight schedule
without compromising its integrity." There are two paragraphs detailing
how they cracked the whip in order to keep the book current - but only
as of 2000. Hey, there have been tremendous changes since 2000! Good
pictures and maps, but shame about the text. To compound the matter,
the book was apparently mailed to me at the end of October 2007, but
sat in the San Francisco post office until the end of 2007. Ah, well.
The one real redeeming value is the CD-ROM which allows for single word
searches and contextualizing. Quality/Price ratio: unrated.

* COCKTAILS; style recipes (Simon and Schuster, 2005, 2008, 96 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4165-7101-8, $15.95US paper covers) is by food and drink
writer-editor-author Norman Kolpas. It is a paperback reissue of his
2005 book. There are over 50 easy-to-make drinks, both contemporary and
classic, plus tips and ideas for party planning. It has been organized
by type of drink and type of occasion, featuring stunning photography.
The book concludes with a glossary and an index. Quality/Price rating:

* THE INSULIN-RESISTANCE DIET. 2d ed. Rev. and exp. (McGraw-Hill, 2008,
240 pages, ISBN 978-0-07-149984-2, $16.95US soft covers) is by Cheryle
Hart, M.D., and Mary Kay Grossman, R.D. This book originally came out
in 2001, and since then it has sold 150,000 copies. The eating plan
here is fully described: how to lose weight by linking carbs and
proteins to control blood sugar. Or, as the authors state: "How to turn
off your body's fat-making machine". The latest info is, of course,
incorporated into the text. The authors claim that 95% of their
patients successfully lose weight using their plan's Link-and-Balance
Eating Method, self-tests, and food lists. 45 recipes are included, as
well as shopping and restaurant strategies. Quality/Price rating: 91.

* THE RIVER COTTAGE MEAT BOOK (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004, 2007; distr.
McArthur, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0-340-82638-6, $29.95 soft covers) is by
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a UK writer and Channel Four broadcaster.
He lives at "River Cottage" in Dorset, and fights for real food and
meat in England. This is his third cookbook in the River Cottage
series. It was published in 2004, and here gets a paperback reprint at
a reduced price. The original edition sold 165,000 copies, so lots of
people are eating lots of meat. This is a tightly researched, from a
British perspective, book on meats such as beef, lamb, pork, poultry,
and game. There is a side excursion into offal. 40% of the book is
about meat; the rest is about recipes scattered amongst cooking
techniques with their own chapters (roasting, slow cooking, fast
cooking, barbecuing, preserving and processing, and using leftovers in
soups and stocks. There is a bibliography and a British resources list
of suppliers. He includes a small section on a dozen mood categories,
with page references. So for "Sheer Comfort", we can have cold roast
beef open sandwich, rice pudding pork, daube, beef in stout, Irish
stew, red flannel has, spaghetti bolognese, and others. All the dishes
we associate with the UK are here, such as steak and kidney pie, jugged
hare, roast belly of pork, roast grouse, oxtail stew, pork pie, and
roast beef (the full monty, he says). Of course, his shepherd's pie is
made with lamb. Many more details are at Quality/Price
rating: 89.

No comments: