3.WHISKEY COCKTAILS (Fair Winds Press, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-59233-639-5, $22.99 US spiral bound) is by Warren Bobrow, also author of Apothecary Cocktails and freelance beverage articles. His book is dedicated to rediscovered classics and contemporary craft drinks using what is the world's most popular brown spirit. He's got 75 preps here, ranging from sweet to smoky to white whiskey and even quinoa whiskey. The primer covers all the basics of bars, history, glasses, etc. He begins with Tennessee sipping whiskey, moves on to craft whiskey made from alternative grains, then white whiskey, rye, scotch, and some international (French, Japanese, Indian), recommending a mix of Japanese whisky with sake or French whisky with iced coffee. But even he gets confused – is it French whisky or French whiskey? He uses both forms, an obvious error due to spell-check apps. His last chapter is about cooking with whiskey, mainly male-oriented. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table equivalents. Still, one needs to check the consistency of the measurements.
Audience and level of use: cocktail lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: slow-cooked suckling pig with bourbon BBQ glaze; bourbon and maple syrup-glazed ham and swiss sandwiches; Fernet Branca, bourbon, and Carpano Antica glaze for pork shoulder.
The downside to this book: some of the metric quantities are way off in comparison to the avoirdupois (e.g.Fernet-bourbon-Carpano Antica glaze).
The upside to this book: good coverage
Quality/Price Rating: 84.
4.FOOD TRUCK ROAD TRIP; a cookbook (Page Street Publishing, 2014, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-62414-080-8, $21.99 US paper covers) is by Kim Pham and Phil Shen, creators of www.behindthefoodcarts.com, an award-winning food and travel blog. Terri Phillips is the focusing food writer. It is an engaging description of some of the myriad of food trucks roaming the US – and there are even more of them since the success of the movie "Chef". There's some log rolling to entice you. Here are more than 100 recipes collected from food trucks. It is a road trip in pursuit of the best food, like what the Sterns did for diners. It is part cookbook, part history, part photography as the stories of reach truck is wrapped around a recipe. It is all quickly-prepared food, of course, but not fast food in a pejorative sense. Soup and sandwiches, along with desserts, sides and snacks, prevail, in Latin American mode, Asiatic, and fusion modes. A good book for the armchair food traveller. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: those craving some international comfort foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: jalapeno corn cakes (NY), oxtail mac 'n' cheese (LA), fried chicken sandwich with fennel slaw (Oakland), roasted roots salad (Minneapolis), Japanese curry with chicken kara-age (San Francisco), coconut-cashew kaffir lime trout (Portland, OR).
The downside to this book: not enough recipes!!!
The upside to this book: great layout.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
5.GROW WHAT YOU EAT, EAT WHAT YOU GROW (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2014, 223 pages, ISBN 978-1-55152-548-8, $22.95 CAN soft covers) is by Randy Shore, food writer for the Vancouver Sun. He's also a former restaurant cook and is now also an avid gardener. He reaps what he sows...He and his wife grow much of their own food in Roberts Creek BC. He's self-taught in growing food, even though his father and grandfather grew up on farms. Here he tells us how to make our own fertilizers, how best to grow specific produce, advice on container gardens, and how to cook the food (both vegetarian and not). He's into preservation: so there are also details on canning, pickling, and curing. But the book is mostly recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in a mix of metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who wish to make a difference by growing their own foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Boxing Day soup; cheddar dill biscuits; duck fat rosemary potatoes; green eggs and ham; farm-style pear sauce; beer-battered fish; fragrant turkey brine; grilled autumn vegetables.
The downside to this book: his one acre of arable land is on BC's Sunshine Coast, which is far removed from the bluster of Ontario and the East Coast. Also, the light coloured typeface for the list of ingredients gets wearing after awhile.
The upside to this book: there is some personal stuff too. For him, the best comfort foods of winter are the chicken fricassee and lasagna with zucchini and ricotta.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
6.THE BIG BOOK OF SIDES (Ballantine Books, 2014, 471 pages, ISBN 978-0-345-54818-4, $30 US hard covers) is by Rick Rodgers who has written more than 40 cookbooks in his career. He's been a recipe tester, a co-author, and a consultant on cookbooks. Here he tackles the inevitable: sides. He's got more than 450 preps for veggies, grains, salads, breads, sauces, pickles, relishes, legumes, and others. It is principally an American cuisine book, with nods to Latin American and Asiatic ethnic influences, and of course, Deep South food plus the regionality of creole/cajun. There's enough here to keep everybody happy in fresh and innovative food. He's got uncomplicated sides for weeknight suppers, family faves, impressive sides for dinner parties, recipes for the majority of holidays, buffet recipes with "covered dishes" for transporting to picnics or potlucks, some historical recipes and classics, and a variety of vegetarian plates which are hearty enough to serve as main courses (these also come with gluten-free and vegan options).
And, as is common with most American cookbooks, preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements; there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: comfort food lovers; those seeking different variety of side dishes.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sweet potato and pear casserole with bacon; steamed boniato with orange mojo; cheese and grits souffle; double-baked potatoes with goat cheese and cremini mushrooms; shredded beets with scallions and walnuts; grilled marinated portobello mushrooms; saute of okra and tomatoes; buttermilk and sage spoon bread.
The downside to this book: I think I would have liked an index to mains that are recommended with the preps of certain sides designed to accompany – the mains are mentioned in the recipe but they are not indexed separately.
The upside to this book: it is refreshing not to see a book overloaded with a lot of photos (it has two main inserted sections).
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
7.BREAD REVOLUTION (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 250 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-651-5, $30 US hard covers) is by Peter Reinhart, once a co-founder of Brother Juniper's Bakery in Santa Rosa, and now a baking instructor in North Carolina. He's a multiple Beard Award winner and the author of eight bread books. This one is a globally-based book dealing with sprouted and whole and ancient grains, and heirloom flours. He's got 50 recipes and formulas for breads. He also uses nut and seed flours, alternative flours such as teff and grape skins, and deals with gluten-free approaches. He's created some master recipes that we can all follow, such as sprouted sandwich rye bread or gluten-free many-seed toasting bread. With sprouted flours, pre-ferments such as bigas and starters are not necessary. But for other grains, they are, and Reinhart give some precise guidance here. There arrangement is by primer tutorial, sprouted flour breads, sprouted pulp breads, whole grains, and the future of baking (really interesting). Preparations have their ingredients listed in metric and avoirdupois measurements by volume and weight (scaling).
Audience and level of use: bakers looking for something new and diverse.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sprouted wheat breakfast focaccia; sprouted wheat croissants; whole wheat currant pretzels; and the exotically-named mozzarella milk and pear bread with coffee-bean trap starter.
The downside to this book: some preps can be complicated and/or difficult – you must read through it all before deciding.
The upside to this book: that it exists.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
8.FLAVORS OF THE MIDDLE EAST (Ryland Peters & Small, 2014, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-537-6, $27.95 US hard covers) is by Ghilli Basan, a Cordon Bleu trained food writer of books dealing with the Middle East and with South-East Asia. This book is more a general introduction, almost-travel book with its photography by Steve Painter. The arrangement here is pretty traditional, beginning with basic recipes and a cultural history of the region, followed by mezze, salads, soups, meat, poultry, seafood, veggies, grains, sweets and drinks. It is a fabulous introduction with a good layout. Preparations have their ingredients listed in some metric but mainly avoirdupois measurements, and there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those cooks looking for an entry-level Middle East cookbook.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chicken tagine with fried halloumi and olives; chicken onions and sumac; lentils with rice and caramelized onions; carrot, almond and cardamom conserve; pickled purple turnips; brown beans with soft-boiled eggs; fish tagine with chermoula and cabbage.
The downside to this book: needs more recipes (only 65 here).
The upside to this book: gorgeous photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
9.CHLOE'S VEGAN ITALIAN KITCHEN (Atria Paperback, 2014, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1-4767-3607-5, $19.99 US paper covers) is by Chloe Coscarelli, who has taken many certified natural and plant-based nutrition academic programs. She's written two other vegan books as well. Here she gives us 150 pizzas, pastas, pestos, risottos, and "creamy" sauces. And there is also a guide to allergen-free Italian food (gluten, soy and nut) with suggested substitutes. The range is for a full meal, from antipasti through verdure, zuppa, insalata, pastas, secondo (meatless of course), and dolci. She's got a vegan Italian pantry for us, as well as a listing of her fave Italian restaurants in the US and Italy, which of course do vegan foods. As with most American cookbooks, preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegans
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: butternut ravioli; pumpkin risotto; avocado basil sauce; lasagna bolognese; shittake bacon; shortcut marinara; sweet potatoes and almond couscous salad; bowties in garlic cream tomato sauce.
The downside to this book: nothing really, everything seems to work.
The upside to this book: I'd kill for her toothsome smile.
Quality/Price Rating: 88
10.MADELEINES (Quirk Books, 2014, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-59474-740-3, $19.95 US hard covers) is by Barbara Feldman Morse, an award-wining baker and recipe developer. Here are 70 or so recipes for all tastes, from sweet breakfast bites and desserts to savoury apps and fruit-nut snacks. She's got a one-bowl method for making a quick batch, plus a variety of tricks. Gluten-free flours are briefly mentioned, and she notes – correctly – that the madeleine will be a bit grittier. But, hey, it is doable if you are GF. The madeleine is a French tea cake, but Morse has expanded its uses. Her book is arranged by morning madeleines, chocolate madeleines, fruit-nuts, savoury, and off-the-wall indulgences. The art of presentation is covered, leading to some recipes fro crème caramel and candied violets (among others). She's also got a section on "personalization" to make your own inventive madeleine. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: intermediate bakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Proust, of course, wrote about his madeleine prompting an involuntary memory of his aunt who gave him a dipped piece.
The downside to this book: a bit short, even for a single product cookbook.
The upside to this book: there's a resources list.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.