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Thursday, June 30, 2011

July 1: Many Food and Drink Books this month...

2. JEKKA'S HERB COOKBOOK (Firefly, 2011, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-55407-
814-1, $29.95 CAD) is by Jekka McVicar, who sells herbs through her a
award winning Jekka's Herb Farm in the UK. It has been published in the
UK by Ebury Press. Here are 250 recipes using her top 50 garden herbs
(out of 650 different varieties that she has grown for over 20 years.
Although she has published several books on herbs, this is her first
cookbook. The value of herbs, of course, is that they enhance flavours.
And, of course, there are some medicinal properties as well for many of
them. The range covers the popular parsley to the exotic curry leaf.
The 50 chapters are arranged alphabetically by common name, and discuss
how the herb is grown, its varieties (with botanical features and Latin
names) and benefits, growing and harvesting. as well as an average of
five preps each. Non-culinary uses are mentioned, and there are
suggestions for using the excess harvest. The preps cover all courses
and global cuisines. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
equivalents. There's more at
Audience and level of use: cooks and gardeners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Good King Henry croquettes;
lemon balm salsa; beef stew with myrtle and cinnamon; rosemary lamb
hotchpotch; asparagus and chervil soup; stevia carrot cake; sea bass
with fennel and olives; purslane and flageolet salad; braised red
cabbage with winter savory.
The downside to this book: some of the colours have a lighter typeface
which makes it difficult to read sometimes.
The upside to this book: there are botanical and medicinal glossaries
at the back.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
FARM TOGETHER NOW; a portrait of people, places, and ideas for a new
food movement (Chronicle Books, 2010, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-6711-
5, $27.50 US hard covers) is by Amy Franceschini and Daniel Tucker.
There's log rolling from five prominent writers in the shrinking global
food supply area. And a foreword by Mark Bittman (copyright 2011, while
the rest of the book is copyright 2010). Bittman concentrates on why
farms matter. There are 20 projects in the book from across the USA.
They chose to seek out and interview farmers and groups who are
changing the way that the US food system works: philosophies, public
policy, history, soil and distribution channels. All interviews reflect
various approaches and opposing philosophies: food justice, sustainable
agriculture, locavore movement, and the like. There's the Knopik Family
Farm in Nebraska (1000 grazing acres, 400 crop acres; 200 cows)
believers in environmental activism, as does Greeno Acres in Wisconsin
(producing raw milk from 160 acres). There's Tryon Life Community Farm
(15 adults and 3 children on seven acres), the Angelics Organics
Learning Center in Illinois (12 staff, 220 acres), and the Acequiahood
of the San Luis People's Ditch (16 water users, 2100 acres of crops).
There's a glossary of terms (e.g., bioregion, GMOs, co-ops, CSA) and an
index. And some wonderful colour photos of the profilees.
Audience and level of use: the concerned or committed global food
Some interesting or unusual facts: "food justice" focuses on the belief
that global hunger is not the result of a lack of food but the lack of
political will to ensure fair distribution.
The downside to this book: lack of a discussion about "organic" and
"fair trade".
The upside to this book: this is important reading matter.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.
400 BEST SANDWICH RECIPES; from classics & burgers to wraps &
condiments (Robert Rose, 2011, 360 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0265-6,
$24.95 US paper covers) is by Alison Lewis, a recipe developer and food
writer in Alabama. She specializes in healthy, food-friendly recipes
that are easy to prepare.
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SANDWICHES; recipes, history and trivia for
everything between sliced bread (Quirk Books, 2010, 300 pages, ISBN
978-1-59474-438-9, $18.95 US paper covers) is by Susan Russo, a food
writer (NPR) and blogger.
Both books are being reviewed here because I got them at the same time.
In Lewis' book, the preps are arranged by format – breakfast and brunch
sandwiches, lunch box, classics, grilled cheese, burgers, wraps,
international, light and healthy, condiments, and dessert sandwiches.
Russo's book is arranged by title, in true "encyclopedia" fashion. It
begins and ends with indexes to ingredients and to sandwiches. It also
has more photographs than the Lewis book, despite there being only half
as many preps (about 200). Many preps are duplicated, after a fashion,
with variations. Russo has a curried chicken salad sandwich on bread (a
wide choice), while Lewis has a curried chicken wrap. Russo differs by
using carrots and cashews, with some yogurt, while Lewis has chutney,
pecans, and cranberries. Most of the rest is in common, and you can
certainly wrap Russo up and make Lewis a sandwich. So it is really six
of one and half a dozen of another. Other preps have these same
similarities. Both authors are American, but Rose is a Canadian
publisher, so there is both avoirdupois and metric in the listing of
ingredients, while Russo has a table of metric equivalents. Both books
have interesting photos, but you can have too many shots of sandwiches,
and they all get routine after awhile. There's a bit more culinary
history and trivia in Russo, but there is no denying the quantity in
Lewis's book. If you are looking for materials to place in or around
some slices of carbohydrates, then remember that almost any sandwich
can be a wrap and vice versa. I like the arrangement of the Lewis book
better, for ideas of a certain pattern are grouped together there, such
as school lunches.
Audience and level of use: anyone who needs a sandwich.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Lewis – grilled apricot blue
cheese, quinoa tabbouleh, veggie enchiladas, stuffed pizza burgers.
Russo – frittata sandwich, various panini, walleye sandwich, doughnut
The downside to this book: not as many recipes in the Russo book.
The upside to this book: Lewis book has more variations and
Quality/Price Rating: Lewis – 89; Russo – 83.
SALAD AS A MEAL; healthy main-dish salads for every season (William
Morrow, 2011, 360 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-123883-3, $34.99 US hard covers)
is by Patricia Wells, multiple food award winner (many Beards). This is
her twelfth book; she was also restaurant critic for the IHT for a
quarter-century. Most of her books show a strong French-influence, and
this one is no exception, with veggies from her Provencal garden. Here
are 150 recipes, almost 40 apiece for each season. Arrangement, though,
is by major ingredient, so there are salads which use grains, eggs,
cheese, fish, shellfish, meats, and poultry. She has separate chapters
on "classic salads", appetizers, breads, dressings, and sauces. All the
salads are light and healthy, and the photos are nicely framed by her
gardens and outdoor settings. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
equivalents. Good layout with sufficient white space and dark type. And
of course there are nine recipes with her signature potato food.
Audience and level of use: beginner to intermediate levels.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: penne salad with tuna and
spicy mustard; Caesar salad with polenta croutons; frisee aux lardons;
salade nicoise with grilled tuna; halibut cheeks with polenta and
parmesan crust; mussel tartines with chorizo; smoked duck breast with
mushrooms and cracklings.
The downside to this book: she has a pantry and equipment section, but
it is full of items for purchase through her commercial website.
The upside to this book: there is an alternate list of Internet food
sources that covers the USA.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
EVERYDAY FLEXITARIAN; recipes for vegetarians & meat lovers alike
(Whitecap, 2011, 276 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-021-1, $29.95 Canadian
soft covers) is by Nettie Cronish (multiple vegetarian cookbook author
and chair of the Women's Culinary Network) and Pat Crocker (food writer
and vegan cookbook author). "Flexitarian" is the latest jump word for
food lovers who eat a little meat with their meals ("pescetarian" is
supposed to be the term for vegetarians who eat fish). The idea of
cutting back on meat makes sense, particularly since so much of it has
been medically-enhanced one way or another. It's also a valid approach
to eating organic meat: one has a meat budget, and if one is to eat
less meat, then one should eat better – and more expensive – organic
meat. Or vice versa. So what we have here is a tasty vegetarian book
that has been tailored for meat. The cook can either integrate or
segregate; it is a good beginning. Traditionally arranged from apps to
desserts and beverages, the book also has separate sections on
pantries, kids and Canadian Organic Food Standards. Unless one has
strong feelings against meat, the flexitarian approach will work.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Usually, Cronish gives the vegetarian recipe, and Crocker adds the meat
Audience and level of use: intermediate cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: shrimp (or tempeh) curry
with lime and nut butter; chicken mole; broccoli rabe crepes (with and
without Italian sausages; lentil mushroom moussaka (with or without
baked salmon); vegetable shepherd's pie (with or without lamb kabobs);
roasted cashew curry with cauliflower and peas (with and without
The downside to this book: it is a very heavy book (weight wise) and
seems to make cooking life a bit more complicated that it could be.
The upside to this book: a good idea to adapt vegetarian dishes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

SUPER NATURAL EVERY DAY; well-loved recipes from my natural foods
kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2011, 250 pages, ISBN 9788-1-58008-277-8, $23
US paper covers) is by Heidi Swanson, creator of,
food writer and multiple cookbook author. This latest book advances her
Super Natural Cooking book (2007). "Natural Cooking" occurs five ways:
eat from a colourful plate; use all kinds of whole grains; use organic
natural sweeteners; consume healthy oils (mostly organic); and eat
phytonutrient-packed ingredients and foods. She has 100 recipes here,
plus details for beginning a pantry. These are everyday recipes, very
good for work nights during the week. You can see
for more recipes and other techniques. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of equivalents. It does do an excellent job of
concentrating on grains, oils and sweets – which many people forget
Audience and level of use: those concerned about their food.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: farro soup; rye soda bread;
white beans and cabbage; pan-fired mung beans with tempeh; harissa
ravioli; stuffed medjool dates; membrillo cake.
The downside to this book: there is no mention of stevia
The upside to this book: thick, sturdy pages.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
EVERYDAY TO ENTERTAINING (Robert Rose, 2011, 384 pages, ISBN 978-0-
7788-0271-6, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Meredith Deeds (US cookbook
author and food writer) and Carla Snyder (baker, caterer, cooking
school teacher and cookbook author). The premise is to present some 200
recipes that can transform from "casual" to "elegant". All the preps
here come in pairs: there is a basic everyday version (say, macaroni
and cheese) and an entertaining version (say, quattro fromaggio baked
penne with wild mushroom and pancetta). Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of equivalents. It has been typically arranged from
apps to desserts, with a section on the pantry. And it is very
colourfully arranged, with contents pages indicating what the casual
(highlighted in green tabs) becomes when it is elegant (blue tab
highlights). There's also an alphabetical index at the back should you
lose your way. All courses and types of plates are covered.
Audience and level of use: beginners who aspire
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beef kabobs with ras al
hanout can also be Middle Eastern beef kabobs with garlic hummus sauce;
mustard and garlic-roasted pork loin can be glazed pork loin stuffed
with apricots and figs; corn spoonbread can be cheese-chile-cilantro
corn spoonbread; sugar snap peas and sesame can be sugar snap peas with
carrots-edamame-mint; chocolate mousse can become chocolate mousse-
filled profiteroles.
The downside to this book: elegant presentations could have been
emphasized more – they can add something to "casual" food, even mac and
cheese or burgers.
The upside to this book: strewn along the way on the recipe pages are
tips and technique advice.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
THE COMPLETE HOMEBREW BEER BOOK; 200 easy recipes from ales & lagers to
extreme beers & international favorites (Robert Rose, 2011, 456 pages,
ISBN 978-0-7788-0268-6, $24.95 US paper covers) is by George Hummel, an
award-winning homebrewer and homebrew shop owner in Philadelphia. He
has brewed beer with Michael Jackson, the Nodding Head Brewery, and
Dogfish Head. Solid credentials…This is a fairly comprehensive book,
ranging from can kits to malt extract to actual grain. The level of
difficulty or time involved is directly proportional to the amount of
processing that has already occurred in the ingredients. I started with
a kit, and it was easy as falling off a log. Within a few years, I was
working with grains – and found it hard work. But it paid off. Indeed,
homebrewed beer is just as good (if not better) than any craft beer. I
wish the same was true of homewinemaking. I have not made beer for
awhile since it went straight to my gut. But don't let that discourage
you. Hummel talks here about the hops, the malts, the different styles
throughout the world, and how to duplicate them all at home. You can
have fun for the next decade doing all of these. There is even a
section on meads and one on ciders (including cider with brettanomyces
for that Norman complexity, and perry), plus recipes for root beer,
birch beer, and other sodas. There's a glossary at the end.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table equivalents. Throughout
there are brewer tips and trivia items, which make great reading.
Audience and level of use: for homebrewers and a good reference book as
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: The Pilgrims stopped at
Plymouth Rock so that they could homebrew.
The downside to this book: I did not see anything in the index about
The upside to this book: good collection of recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

DUTCH OVEN COOKING (Gibbs-Smith, 2011; distr. Raincoast, 128 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4236-1459-3, $15.99 US spiral bound) is by Terry Lewis, a
two-time winner of the World Championship Cook-offs held by the
International Dutch Oven Society. He has been cooking and competing in
such events for over 20 years. His Dutch Oven is meant to be on a bed
of coals; thus, for every recipe, he lists how many hot coals will be
needed. This may limit its usage in many places. For example, the
omelet requires 31 hot coals, including 9 under the oven and 16 on the
top. In general, each coal will raise the temperature about 20 degrees
Fahrenheit. This is a basic book, with adaptations for lasagna, pizza,
corn bread, baked beans, chicken and rice, and others. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is
a table of metric equivalents. The basic arrangement is by entry level:
beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Within each range there are
categories for breads, sides, mains and desserts. It all appears to be
finger-lickin' good and authentic.
Audience and level of use: Dutch oven users
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: almost 60 recipes, including
chicken and cheese chimichangas, maple BBQ ribs with buttered almond
rice, and peach-raspberry pie.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
BREAD MAKING; a home course (Storey Publishing, 2011, 296 pages, ISBN
978-1-60342-791-3, $16.95 US soft covers) is by Lauren Chatman, an IACP
award winner who has written 10 books. Her book deals with core bread-
making techniques for the novice. There's the first section primer on
flour types, ingredients, techniques and equipment, knives, mixers and
processors. The second section has the recipes, from basics to
artisanal. There's even some material on lower-gluten bread, but not on
gluten-free breads. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and  avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of
equivalents. Recipe ingredients are scaled, of course. Bread machines,
instant yeast and kneading techniques are amply covered, and each
chapter has a trouble-shooting section. Good bold black typefaces and
white space in the layout.
Audience and level of use: just about every skill level is used here.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: ciabatta; grilled whole
wheat naan; overnight English muffins; rustic flax seed rolls; spelt
The downside to this book: only US websites and resources are quoted at
the back.
The upside to this book: it is chock full of technique tips and advice.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
300 BEST TACO RECIPES; from tantalizing tacos to authentic tortillas,
sauces, cocktails & salsas (Robert Rose, 2011, 384 pages, ISBN 978-0-
7788-0267-9, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Kelley Cleary Coffeen, a New
Mexico-based food writer whose specialty is Mexican-style foods and
beverages. The publisher promotes this book as a taco a day for all
family members. Everything culinary about the American Southwest can be
displayed between folds of fried (or baked) tortillas. Her book opens
with a review of taco history, the basic sauces and toppings, and the
use of flour tortillas. She encourages home cooks to make their own
tortillas. Certainly, if you are going to eat a lot of them, it would
be worth your while. Most tacos are made with poultry, and she has 80
pages worth of preps here. Beef is next with sixty pages, followed by
pork and lamb (40), fish and seafood (35), and vegetarian (55). There
are even some Asian, Italian, German and French variations on the taco
theme. Food can be prepared in minutes, and if you make them yourselves
(with control over them), then you can control levels of fat and salt.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: taco lovers, Mexican food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tri-tip tacos with fresh
roasted green chiles; grilled ranch chicken tacos; roasted garlic,
chicken and mushroom tacos; roasted chicken, cheddar and bacon tacos;
spicy crab tacos; coconut shrimp tacos with orange salsa; sundae tacos
with Mexican chocolate sauce; pecan crunch tacos.
The downside to this book: I am not sure why there are cocktail recipes
The upside to this book: good database collection of tacos at a
reasonable price, with metric measurements.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

CHICKEN AND EGG; a memoir of suburban homesteading with 125 recipes
(Chronicle Books, 2011; distr. Raincoast, 256 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-
7045-0, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Janice Cole, a former chef and
restaurant owner who is now a food writer and blogger. Five years ago,
she started raising chickens in her suburban backyard. This book is
about her exploits (and those of the chickens). She started with three
chicks in St. Paul's, Minnesota. She takes us through the first year of
her challenges, beginning with early spring. The preps are also
arranged in this fashion, with memoir material strewn about.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: for chicken and egg lovers, and food
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: smoked wings with cilantro
dip; sage frittata with charred tomatoes and curly parmesan; morning
eggs on mushroom-bacon hash; Burmese fried rice with eggs; cranberry-
pear bread pudding with bourbon sauce; tossed greens with strawberries,
avocado and eggs.
The downside to this book: I kept wanting it to go on, but to read
more, you'll have to go to
The upside to this book: good quality writing.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.


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