Search This Blog

Friday, May 18, 2012

Other Interesting Cookbooks and Drinkbooks

HOT & CHEESY (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 404 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-
61535-5, $22.99 US paper covers) is by Clifford A. Wright, an award-
winning author of twelve other cookbooks. He's a multiple Beard winner.
Here he has collected 250 international and global preps covering a
full range of fritters, pastries, casseroles, pastas, sandwiches,
pizzas, breads – just about all foods one can top, stuff or sprinkle
with cheese. In most cases, he tries to match the most appropriate
cheese with the requirement, such as Bell pepper or poblano chili
strips in cheese (use either a four-cheese blend from the book or fresh
cheeses). There's the usual primer on how to choose and store cheeses,
and how to cook with them. Obviously, the cheese must be melt able or
grated first, and the flavours appropriate. Arrangement is by course or
product, beginning with soups and sauces and progressing through
crepes, pies, tarts, Italian and Mexican dishes, eggs, rice, veggies,
meat and seafood, concluding with sweets. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home cooks, cheese lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cheese and potato cigars;
calzones; brioche pork and cheese sandwich; perciatelli with three
cheeses; stuffed veal chops; baked lamb with cheese; haddock and
cheddar casserole; crab au gratin; cheese kolache.
The downside to this book: it would have been nice to have some non-
gluten alternatives.
The upside to this book: there is no logrolling on the cover, which is
good…Wright can sell himself.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

4. THE PHILOSOPHY OF FOOD (University of California Press, 2012, 312
pages, ISBN 978-0-520-26934-7, $27.95 US soft covers) has been edited
by David M. Kaplan, a philosophy professor at the University of North
Texas. It is a diverse collection of essays ruminating on themes about
thinking responsibly about what and how we consume food. The papers
reflect the editor's introduction in which he proposes how "food" fits
into s viable study pattern: metaphysics of food, epistemology,
aesthetics, ethics, technology, and politics. The first two chapters
(of 16) examine the social role of eating. The next three talk about
aesthetics, the taste of food, and food as art. The following three
comment on ethics, morality and politics of food. After this come three
chapters on vegetarianism and ethics of animals used in food
production. There are also sections on aquaculture, agriculture and
food technologies. There are plenty of end notes and bibliographies,
the list of contributors and their stations, and – ta da – an index to
the whole collection. This feature rarely happens. Along the way the
book covers (spread over a few essays) slow food, sustainability, food
safety, table manners, trade, veganism, supermarkets, and other topics
(check the index). What can I say? "Something to chew on"? "Food for
thought"? Quality/Price Rating: 91.
5. TALES FROM AN OENOPHILE; fables, adventures & misconceptions
(Friesen Press, 2011, 156 pages, ISBN 978-1-77067-313-7 $16.95 soft
covers, also available as an ebook for $7.99, both versions at is by Richard Best,
also known as The Frugal Oenophile specializing in modestly-priced
wines. He's a good colleague of mine in the Wine Writers' Circle of
Canada (I'm also mentioned in the Acknowledgments) – those are my
conflicts of interest here. Borrowing a leaf from George Bernard Shaw,
Best has produced a didactic work about wine by using a novel approach:
the novel. There is not really much of a plot, but that's the book's
only weakness. It might have helped to move the story along is there
was more tension, such as a wine cellar collapsing on the principals,
or a vicious winemaker's dog attacking somebody, or a corked wine
killing off half the townfolks. Possibly even a fight at the cash
register over the last bottles of a precious wine. But then, that's
just me. I doubt that they'll make a movie or Broadway musical out of
it, but it might make a good "reality" television show. Essentially, it
is the story of a knowledgeable wine writer and his neighbours (a young
couple) exploring the world of wine through dialogue. Best covers the
basic wine styles, visiting wineries, training a nose and palate for
tasting wines, doing a wine show, talking to a winemaker, exploring a
seasoned wine cellar, and preparing for a party by matching wines with
the foods. Each chapter ends with some wine notes or technical data.
There's an appendix with such items as how to prepare wine aroma
samples on your own and how to build a wine knowledge library with
reference books and newsletters (but nothing from the Internet). Well-
worth a look and read.
Audience and level of use: beginning wine lovers
Some interesting or unusual facts: Basically comprehensive shopping
lists, wine encyclopedias attempt to include every wine imaginable,
along with some coverage of region and wineries.
The downside to this book: more tension is needed for this "show me"
The upside to this book: a nice novel approach by a best writer.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
6. NOTES FROM A MAINE KITCHEN; seasonally inspired recipes (Down East
Books, 201; distr. by Nimbus, 196 pages, ISBN 978-0-89272-917-3, $27.95
US hard covers) is by Kathy Gunst who has been nominated for several
IACP and Beard Awards. She's written 14 cookbooks and has contributed
to a variety of the top food magazines in the US. Here, she has essays
for each month of the year, exploring and explaining the Maine food
landscape for that time period. Each is followed by several preps
incorporating seasonal ingredients or themes, about a half-dozen or so
for each month. She covers farmers' markets, sugar shacks, lobster
trapping, ramp hunting, parsnip harvests, and more. In January, it is
smelts, August is for lobsters, September is preserving, and October is
mushroom hunting. There is a nifty section on 18 menus, with pag
references to the recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed
in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
Audience and level of use: Maine or New England food lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: maple cheesecake with maple-
ginger crust; ramp puree and ramp butter; sauteed sea scallops with
ramp puree; grilled harpooned swordfish with olive-lemon scallion
topping; herb and feta corn fritters; roasted wild-mushroom soup.
The downside to this book: the Resources section is all New England,
but then this is a regional cookbook.
The upside to this book: the Menus.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

7. WAFFLES (Weldon Owen, 2011; distr. Simon & Schuster, 96 pages, ISBN
978-1-61628-205-3, $19.5 US hard covers) is by Tara Duggan, a Beard
Award winning food journalist and cookbook author. Here she covers over
40 sweet and savoury preps. Her emphasis is on versatility of the
waffle, which is a good thing since you must invest in some kind of
single purpose machine (which she covers, including an egg waffler).
It's an open and shut book with the usual batters and spreads, arranged
by course (breakfasts, brunches, lunch, diner, desserts). It'll make a
good gift book. No gluten-free recipes. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners, home cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fresh corn, goat cheese, and
roasted pepper waffles; sourdough waffle BLTs; chicken and waffles with
pan gravy; three-cheese waffle sticks; potato waffles with applesauce.
The downside to this book: no gluten-free recipes
The upside to this book: really sharp photography.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
8. 200 SALADS (Gibbs Smith, 2012; distr. Raincoast, 208 pages, ISBN
978-1-4536-2468-4, $12.99 US spiral bound) is by Melissa Barlow and
Stephanie Ashcraft. It's a basic book with no illustrations but with a
detailed index and useful spiral binding. There are both sweet (fruit,
desserts) and savoury (leaves, pasta, BBQ, main courses) with a chapter
on dressings. There are service notes, such as serving 6 or more.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is a table of metric equivalents on the inside back cover.
Audience and level of use: beginner.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: marinated beef salad; fruit
and nut chicken salad; sunshine salad; cashew bow-tie pasta; summer
zucchini salad.
The downside to this book: nothing, really – there are enough ideas
here for a couple of years of no repeats.
The upside to this book: spiral-binding makes it a snap to search
around or look at recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

9. IN PURSUIT OF GARLIC; an intimate look at the divinely odorous bulb
(Greystone Books, 2012, 202 pages, ISBN 978-1-55365-601-2, $19.95 CAN
paper covers) is by Liz Primeau, a well-established gardening writer
and the founding editor of Canadian Gardening magazine. It is a good
handbook, well-framed with judiciously chosen facts and anecdotes and a
smattering of recipes (there's also a separate recipe index). Log
rolling comes from Mark Cullen and John Bishop. She explores garlic
through history, art, medicine, science, and food. There is even some
contemporary material on the current status of Chinese-imported garlic.
There's a chapter on garlic festivals, and one on a garlic primer (at
the back). Sources are also indicated. And while there is a list of
recommended reading, she also cites (but does not source) Les Blank's
documentary film "Garlic is As Good as Ten Mothers" which currently
only exists as an out-of-print VHS tape – I wish she told me where to
find it, for I have not seen it since its release around 1980.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: garlic lovers
Some interesting or unusual facts: Roman soldiers were issued several
cloves of garlic daily and told to chew on them for resistance to
The downside to this book: I would have liked more material, a longer
The upside to this book:  separate recipe index.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

10. FARMSTAND FAVORITES: GARLIC; over 75 farm fresh recipes
(Hatherleigh Press, 2012; distr. Random House of Canada, 99 pages, ISBN
978-1-57826-405-6, $9.50 US soft covers) comes from a series created to
buying local and fresh. So far the series has dealt with apples,
pumpkin, and berries (among other titles). It is a basic collection of
preps, covering all courses including breakfast. Some of the recipes
come from garlic festivals or organic suppliers: these are all sourced.
It's an ideal accompaniment to Primeau's book (above) since it only has
three pages dealing with garlic primer material. There's enough to get
you started, even a recipe for pickled garlic – to handle any surplus
that you might have. Unfortunately, there is no index, the book must be
thumbed through. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners
Some interesting or unusual recipes: pesto minestrone; lemon bulgur and
chickpea pilaf; turkey apple gyros; Moroccan lentil salad; artichoke
The downside to this book: no index.
The upside to this book: pickled garlic and roasted garlic recipes to
handle any surplus you might have.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.

No comments: