3.THE COMPLETE COCONUT COOKBOOK (Robert Rose, 2014, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0488-8, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Camilla V. Saulsbury, a freelance food writer and recipe developer (see her www.powerhungry.com blog). I've always been partial to single ingredient cookbooks that are also comprehensive; they tend to give you everything there is to know about a food, such as coconut. Even hard core health food people have embraced high energy coconut dishes. Her book as 200 gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free vegan recipes using coconut flour, oil, sugar, and other non-meat non-dairy vegan ingredients. It is also a typical Robert Rose book with that particular layout and design (large print, both forms of measurement, tips). She has about four dozen pages of notes emphasizing health and food partners for coconut, plus some bibliographic references at the end. She's got a bunch of coconut flour recipes (tortillas, flax bread, flatbread, focaccia, and pie crust), but most of the preps use coconut oil or coconut milk in place of dairy and fats. All courses are covered, from breakfast through desserts, with beverages, breads, and cakes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: vegans, healthy lifestyle adherents.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: coconut pancakes; Moroccan sweet potato, butter bean and coconut tagine; coconut-braised baby bok choy; raspberry crumble bars.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
4.WILL IT WAFFLE? (Workman Publishing, 2014, 210 pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-7646-6, $14.95 US paper covers) is by writer Dan Sumski, currently living in Montreal. It is an attempt to impose waffle structure on a variety of food items. He promotes waffled bacon and eggs (waffle the bacon, waffle the eggs for lacy whites, and a waffle for a platform). Some may say it is too much of a good thing, but if you like the look and appearance of waffles, then you use a waffle appliance for anything that needs to be cooked. And I am all for using these small gadgets since they have a built-in cost of infrequent use and kitchen space. Here are 53 recipes to make in a waffle iron. He likes the Belgian machine best, for its deeper ridges. There's a short section on waffle history and culture, plus equipment use and safety. This is followed by chapters on breakfasts and brunches, mains, snacks and sides, and desserts. There is also a section on pitfalls, such as too little or too much liquid, how to waffle ice cubes and mixed drinks, and other silly stuff. Over all it is worth a look, but I'm sure that if you have a panini machine, it would work just as well – but with different grill marks. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who own a waffle maker.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: spaghetti and waffled meatballs; waffled raviolis; waffled calamari salad; bibimbap; s'mores (of course).
Quality/Price Rating: 84.
5.THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO MAKING MEAD (Voyageur Press, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-0-7603-4564-1, $24.99 US paper covers) is by Steve Piatz, an award-winning beer and mead-maker. He's a Grand Master for the beer judge certification program, and an exam director the the BJCP exam program. It has been awhile since the last mead making book, but here you can find the latest up-to-date techniques. Mead seems to appeal to beer makers since many of the same processes are involved and bottling just involves beer bottles and crown caps. He offers us a brief description of what mead is all about in culture and history; this is followed by materials on mead's character and the varieties involved. He goes on to produce dozens of recipes for the basic meads (only honey), melomel (honey and fruit), metheglins (honey and spices), and braggots (honey and malt), the latter a definite connection to beer making. Chapters cover the basics of ingredients, yeasts, the process, finishing the mead, and bottling. He's got some advanced techniques (clarifying, blending, aging) and recipe development as well. There is a troubleshooting section covering faults (but not for beer malt) and controls, and a concluding glossary of terms. He introduces a log page which can be photocopied for each batch, and a source list. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home brewers, mead lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: he stresses the no-boil process and the staggered addition of yeast nutrients.
The downside to this book: more recipes, please
The upside to this book: excellent photography for the equipment and use.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
6.PROOF; the science of booze (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 264 pages, ISBN 978-0-547-89796-7, $26 US hard covers) is by Adam Rogers, a science and technology award-winning writer. It comes with some heavy duty log rolling from at last 8 other writers, including a student dropout I once taught in journalism school! He begins with yeast, sugar, fermentation, and CO2 bubbles, and then the distillation process. After that, it is merely a matter of aging, smelling and tasting, reaction of the body, the brain, and then the hangover. At each point he goes into exhaustive detail. It is a scientific history, recapping all the advances that come together in the modern bottle. There is nothing social here such as religion and its impact, nor any mention of the Arabic world's contribution – at least not in the index. He has a discussion about craft brewers and artisanal distillers such as St. George, but little on wine.
Audience and level of use: spirit lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: the major part of the book deals with distillation as it applies to whiskey.
The downside to this book: he doesn't look at the complete decomposition cycle where alcohol will turn to vinegar, and then vinegar to water.
The upside to this book: very well written.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7.THE ULTIMATE BEER LOVER'S HAPPY HOUR (Cumberland House, 2014, 307 pages, ISBN 978-1-4022-9632-1, $14.99 US paper covers) is by John Schlimm who also wrote The Ultimate Beer Lover's Cookbook. He's also a member of the brewing family Straub. Here he's got bar bites, beer cocktails, chasers, punches, etc. with nearly 1000 related pairing suggestions using the modern seasonal beer style. It is all for your own happy hour at home. He's got a short discourse on beer styles and a seasonal beer chart (winter is the time for doppelbock, dunkelweizen, stout and scotch ale). Then he presents different preps for nuts (including the hot spot nut bar with toasted pecans, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, sunflower seeds, peanuts, and cashews) and pretzels, chickpeas, kale chips, popcorn, etc.), corn fritters and dills, game day sauces/salsas/dips, tapas, pizzas, and burgers. All of it is easy to make. There is a resource guide and a glossary. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beer hounds.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above
The downside to this book: so many preps.
The upside to this book: a good idea for a home Happy Hour. Saves money.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
8.YUMMY SUPPER (Rodale, 2014, 278 pages, ISBN 978-1-60961-544-4, $24.99 US paper covers) is by Erin Scott, creator of the blog www.yummysupper.com. It comes with log rolling by Deborah Madison, Alice Waters, and three others. Scott gives us 100 fresh and luscious recipes, mostly drawn from her blog. But gluten is not everywhere. Many of the preps were gluten-free to begin with: that is, the classic preps had (and hers continue to have) no wheat/barley/rye. Her divisions are slurp, egg, veg, sea, butcher shop, grain + seed, nut, fruit, and kid faves. Just carefully read any labels to avoid gluten. So you really won't find any gluten replacements here by way of bread or flour. There are a few substitutes such as pasta, but no preps for loaves of breads or cakes using GF materials. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who must avoid gluten.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: apple galettes; figs with prosciutto; pears poached in Lillet; preserved lemons; brown sugar caramel corn; baked eggs on a bed of roasted cherry tomatoes; frittata packed with greens.
The downside to this book: the use of faint green ink lessens the appeal when searching for items – it is hard to read, too faint.
The upside to this book: good looking index.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
9.I LOVE RAMEN (Gibbs Smith, 2014, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-3807-0, $16.99 US hard covers) is by Toni Patrick, who doesn't seem to have a life arc. In the Introduction, she appears to be a student somewhere living with five other students, all doing ramen. Of course, I should have realized it: ramen is the student's new Kraft Dinner – it is more affordable. Anyway, you'll need to be young if you want to survive the salt, which is quite a change from the sugar of teen years. Nothing in moderation, apparently. The arrangement is by course, from soup to sweets. Typical are puns such as beef ramenoff, or implement-driven such as slow cooker beef and noodles. Chicken fajita ramen salad sounded interesting. But then it hit me: the preps are basically stews that could also be made with vermicelli or rice. Why bother with ramen? It's a peer thing.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: college undergraduates, penurious millennials.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above
The downside to this book: ramen can be added anything if you avoid the packet.
The upside to this book: moderately=priced food.
Quality/Price Rating: 80.
10.FRENCH COMFORT FOOD (Gibbs Smith, 2014, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-3698-4, $30 US hard covers) is by Hillary Davis, a longtime food journalist who has been living in France for the past 13 or so years. She's written a few books on French food, and here tackles what is largely classic bistro and home food. Despite the price, it is a posh looking book with many large photos, giving the book an appearance of being a travel title. Comfort food involves good digestion, which in many cases means fat/salt/sugar in some form. She's got a short discourse on the regional flavours of France, and the preps come from all of these regions. She opens with iconic cheese souffles, but served in a mug – thereby capturing an old dish but in a new presentation. Very clever. She ends with brie melted in its box with brown sugar for two. Again, very clever. You can use a cheaper US brie knockoff in a melt dish (melted cheese is extremely popular) with all the sugar you can handle. Topics include apps, brunch French style, soups, sandwiches, family-style recipes, supper with friends, and sweets. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois with some metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents printed.
Audience and level of use: comfort food lovers, travel lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Other iconic dishes include duck breasts with black cherry sauce, flank steak with port sauce, lobster thermidor, chicken marengo, and pan bagnat.
The downside to this book: too many non-food larger photos.
The upside to this book: nicely presented.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.