3.GATHERINGS; bringing people together with food (Whitecap, 2014, 318 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-226-0, $34.95 CAN paper covers) is by Jan Scott (former event planner) and Julie Van Rosendaal (cookbook author). Currently, both are heavily involved in family nutrition writing, appearing in the national media and in Toronto and Calgary respectively. Here the idea is the family table to sit around and eat. The range is from casual weeknights to special occasions and weekends, with the emphasis always being "gathering". There's material on party planning and catering your own event. The arrangement is by occasion:weekend brunch, showers, pie party, pantry party, birthday party, BBQ, pizza party, snow day, plus a dozen more. Many recipes can be interchangeable if you dig around. The 100 preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: families
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: simple French onion soup; no bake chocolate pots de crème; sticky cocktail meatballs; browned butter brownies; cracker-coated chicken strips.
The downside to this book: the typeface for the ingredients is very faint and can be hard to read.
The upside to this book: there is a menu and ideas for a book club gathering.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
4.WINTER GRILLING (Whitecap, 2013, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-249-9, $29.95 CAN hard covers) is by Tom Heinzle, an Austrian grill specialist. Here he expounds on winter BBQ, which features such as boar, hare, turkey and duck. There are also recipes for seasonal sides and desserts. It is a basic book, but you don't need to freeze while grilling outside. Just grill some other time. There are 46 preps plus six more desserts (grilled apples, figs). Winter equipment is explained. There is NO index (a major fault) but the preps are listed in a table of contents, and have titles such as "beer-can duck", "wintry spare ribs", "chicken with hay", and "lamb shoulder" which are self-explanatory. It is an interesting book, but also with too many photographs. Heinzle concludes with a glossary. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: BBQ fanatics
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: bacon-wrapped cheese cubes; lebkuchen with bacon and chili; smoked trout fillets with smoked mushrooms and habaneros; roe deer shoulder in bread; venison with root veggies.
The downside to this book: no index, too many photos
The upside to this book: good idea for a book
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
5.SHEET PAN SUPPERS (Workman Publishing, 2014, 296 pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-7842-3, $15.95 US paper covers) is by Molly Gilbert, cooking instructor and recipe tester for Saveur. Her idea is a spin-off of the one-pot. Here, it is the sheet pan and the oven. She's got 120 recipes for complete meals, snacks, brunch and dessert. Just choose one method: roasting, broiling or baking. They all intensity flavours. She's got a sheet pan primer
for foil, parchment paper, and oven knowledge. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking for quick and easy new treatments.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Thai green curry eggplant boats with tofu; pecan fried fish with tartar sauce; baked turkey meatballs and slow-roasted tomatoes; fresh tomato bruschetta; thinnest brownies; cannoli roulade; raspberry and white chocolate scones.
The downside to this book: some of the preps are standard issue roasts and bake, so nothing really new here.
The upside to this book: good idea for another cooking technique, and best when coupled with a slow cooker and/or blender for those cooks who appreciate "one" item to clean up.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
6.THE DASH DIET YOUNGER YOU (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014, 252 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-5454-6, $26 US hard covers) is by Marla Heller, RD and a clinical instructor in nutrition at University of Illinois, She has authored many DASH diet books; this is her latest. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has been recognized as the best diet overall by several reputable sources, but it might be stretching it a bit to say (as the publisher does on the front cover) "shed 20 years and pounds in just 10 weeks". I can see the pounds, I cannot see reversing the aging process. DASH is still a good diet although here it seems to have moved on from its "hypertension" roots. There's an emphasis on colour on the plate, eliminating sugars, eating more plant-based foods, doing a detox, and avoiding agribusiness and pharmacy. It is all good healthy food in this book, along with menus for several different time frames. She concludes with many charts, including a useful food serving tracker, a Body Mass Index chart, and details on calcium-rich, potassium-rich, and magnesium-rich foods. Eat as much of these as you can/
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are conversion tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking for a relatively safe diet.
Some interesting recipes: carnitas; quick steak and vegetable soup; stir-fried beef with spinach and noodles; peach and balsamic glazed pork chops; mango walnut salad; salade nicoise; spiced roasted chickpeas.
The downside to this book: it is hard to give out anti-aging advice.
The upside to this book: the food trackers and the advice.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7.THE PLAN COOKBOOK (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014, 214 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-5653-3, $26 US hard covers) is by Lyn-Genet Recitas who wrote the bestseller, The Plan. It is an anti-inflammatory nutritional protocol. Some material from the first book is necessarily repeated here, but I should think that you would not need both books. If you are indeed interested in The Plan, then this is the book, with all of its recipes. The Plan seems to have helped people lose weight fast and forever by discovering which food work for their unique body chemistry. Her preps are supposed to boost your energy and cut inflammation, as well as make you lose weigh. It is a lifestyle change. Preps cover all meals, from breakfast through salads, soups, sides, apps, sauces, dressings, mains, and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those searching for anti-inflammation diets and lifestyle changes.
Some interesting or unusual recipes: vegan cream of mushroom soup; duck breast tacos; whipped coconut cream; venison medallions in apple bourbon sauce; mini lamb meatballs; steak fajitas.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
8.HAND MADE BAKING (Chronicle Books, 2014, 207 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-1230-5, $29.95 US hard covers) is by Kamran Siddiqi, a food writer and recipe developer. Here he's got an eclectic collection of some 55 preps, ranging from classics (cream scones and brioche) to some innovatives (pistachio polvorones). He's got a lot of fun and ease in his style, great for young people, to provide enthusiasm and confidence. He begins with breakfast goodies, moves through pies and lunches, and then tackles cookies and the tea times, ending with cakes and breads/biscuits. As a true baker, his recipes are scaled with metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: beginners, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: blondies; New York bagels; Nutella shortbread sandwich cookies; Caribbean princess cake; baklava; butterfly cookies (i.e. palmieres); strawberry crumble; chocolate Swiss roll; apple harvest loaf cake.
The downside to this book: too wide-ranging a collection.
The upside to this book: good warmth and many variations
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
9.PUCKER (Whitecap, 2014, 214 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-227-7, $29.95 CAN paper covers) is by Gwendolyn Richards, food writer (Calgary Herald) and blogger. It's a book meant for those who love the sour taste of citric acid through lemons, limes, grapefruits, and some sub-varieties such as Meyer lemons and key limes. She covers the sour (pucker) side, leaving alone pomelos, citrons, kumquats, oranges, tangerines, mandarins, and sevilles. She's got a hefty section on drinks and apps, followed by soups, sides, mains, desserts, and breakfasts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. About 92 recipes all told, most of them illustrated with colour closeups.
Audience and level of use: beginner to intermediate.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: veal scaloppine limone; lemon drop martini; glazed lemon-raspberry drop scones; citric-braised pork shoulder tacos; tarte au citron; banh mi burgers with spicy limo mayo; earl grey cupcakes with lemon butter cream.
The downside to this book: I was disappointed that only one recipe used orange juice and only one used orange blossom water.
The upside to this book: great photographs.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
10.QUENCH (Roost Books, 2014, 204 pages, ISBN 978-=1-61180-128-6, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Ashley English, who has written several food books (A Year of Pies, Handmade Gatherings, Keeping Bees among others). Here she concentrates on thirst-quenching drinks, with 100 recipes for natural sodas, fruit nectars, tisanes, shrubs, kombucha, bitters, liqueurs, wines infused liquors, party punches, and more. As the subtitle indicates, these are "handcrafted beverages to satisfy every taste and occasion". Her book is about evenly divided between soft drinks and hard drinks. The soft drinks are either invigorating or comforting in style. The hard drinks can be festive, warming or spirited. That's how she's got them arranged, with detailed indexing at the back. Her gin toddy calls for ginger tea; my gin toddy just calls for hot water and bitters. There are enough variations throughout the book to satisfy all. Wine is pretty well limited to seasonal sangrias, mulled wines, and "vin maison". All the preps here can be labeled "social drinks" and should have instant appeal for parties or crowds. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking for something different; millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes: wineberry wine; dandelion and honeysuckle wine; vin de noix; basil vodka; pear bitters; vanilla milkshake; root beer; rose and cardamom soda; rhubarb bitters.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.