...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
18.PROOF; the science of booze (Mariner Books Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014, 2015, 273 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-53854-2, $15.95 US soft 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! The soft cover reprint is the same as the hard version, but with a new afterword, commentating on the book and introducing some new updates. 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 (although he does address the issue in the afterword). He doesn't look at the complete decomposition cycle where alcohol will turn to vinegar, and then vinegar to water. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
19.COMPLETE CHILDREN'S COOKBOOK (DK Books, 2015, 304 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3546-0, $24.99 US hard covers) has been assembled by DK using material from eight other cookbooks they published between 2004 and 2013 (Children's Cookbook, Cookbook for Girls, The Children's Baking Book, and others). It is thorough and covers topics such as breakfast, soups, salads, light bites, mains, desserts, cakes, muffins, cookies, breads, and parties. The latter includes preps for pizza, min-burgers, cheese and pesto straws, potato and carrot chips, veggie platter, dips, ice cream, and lemonade ice pops. The text is relatively large with copious illustrations – for 150 recipes. Lots of techniques are illustrated, as well as a guide to kitchen equipment. With assistance from another family member, these are all nicely doable and sit well on the palate. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements ( with metric weights), but there is no table of metric equivalents. The downside to this book: it is a very heavy book, so obviously younger children need to be discouraged from moving it around, paying attention only to the recipe at hand. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
20.FLAVORS OF SUMMER; simply delicious food to enjoy on warm days (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-634-1, $24.95 US hard covers) is a publisher's book of some 150 recipes for fresh foods: picnic, bbq cookout, al fresco, patio cocktails, and others. Most of the recipes come from Valerie Aikman-Smith, Tori Finch, and the team of Acland Geddes and Pedro da Silva. It is arranged by editor Kate Eddison to reflect context: snacks and sharing plates, summer salads, sunshine lunches, BBQ, outdoor dining, desserts and drinks. Hilary Bird provided the excellent index. Typical preps include kebabs, Buffalo wins, wild blueberry coolers, beef and black bean sliders, quinoa salad, rhubarb and ginger, French strawberry tart, Vietnamese summer rolls, and a chilled pear yogurt. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no overall table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 84.
21.HERBS AND SPICES; the cook's reference (DK Books, 2002, 2015. 336 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3598-0, $30 US hard covers) is by Jill Norman, a longtime UK food and drink writer, and an expert on herb and spice usage. She has written many books on this topic, and some of them have won major writing awards in the UK. Here, she gives us a reference book that has been updated to 2015. There are three major sections: herbs, spices, and a collection of recipes. About 120 herbs and spices are arranged by aroma and taste, with notes on how to buy, store and cook. The subsections for herbs, for example, go from mild, through sweet, tart, licorice, minty, oniony, bitter and pungent. Thus, parsley -- since it is mild -- comes up first, and cilantro is in the pungent section. There are photographs of each plant, and the details cover at least one page, sometimes two, for the more prominent condiments. She details preparation methods (drying, grinding, crushing), herb and spice mixtures, sauces, and marinades -- all illustrated with colour photos. The index is by common and botanical names, and ingredients and techniques from the recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mostly avoirdupois measurements with some weight metrics, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 90.
22.THE COOK'S BIBLE; the best of American home cooking (Little, Brown and Co., 1996 [2015, 443 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-73570-4, $20 US paper covers) is by Christopher Kimball, the publisher and editor of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country. He also hosts the TV show America's Test Kitchen. It was originally published in 1996, and this is a straight paperback reprint. It is a collection of articles, mainly in the "best way to make" mode, such as BBQ, stir frying, rice, roasting veggies, and salsas. There are 400 preps here plus 250 step-by-step illustrations. Not much has changed in how recipes are made, but there have been improvements since 1996 in techniques. One example is that mediocre manual knife sharpeners have improved so much that they have overtaken the electric models, especially if price is a consideration. Japanese knives? Not here. You can actually get the America's Test Kitchen cookbook covering more than the same ground (950 recipes) for little more than this paperback price, and the ATK book is current through 2014. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 83.
23.BIERGARTEN COOKBOOK; traditional Bavarian recipes (DK Books, 2014, 2015, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3401-2, $20 US hard covers) is by Julia Skowronek, a German cookbook writer with chef's papers. It was previously published in German in 2014 by Dorling Kindersley in Munich, and this is the 2015 North American English edition. It's regional cookery at its finest, with 70 home style recipes for "Brotzeit": the food meant to accompany biergarten delights. As with all DK books, it is very heavily illustrated. Typical preps include apfelkucherl (apple fritters), krautschnecken (sauerkraut filled crepes), and leberkasburger (pork and egg sandwich). All recipes are indexed by both German and English names. She's got a short history of biergartens (the first was in 1812) plus some material on biergarten food for vegetarians, beer notes, tips on a biergarten party at home, and taking along children. The top 10 biergarten dishes are obatzda cheese spread, sausage salad, potato salad, soft pretzels, roast chicken, roast pork, hamburger patties, pork sausages, Tyrolean hash, and cheese spaetzle. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
24.THE DESSERT BIBLE; the best of American home cooking (Little, Brown and Co., 2000 , 399 pages, ISBN 978-0-316-33919-3, $20 US paper covers) is by Christopher Kimball, the publisher and editor of Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country. He also hosts the TV show America's Test Kitchen. It was originally published in 2000, and this is a straight paperback reprint. It is a collection of articles, mainly in the "best way to make" mode, such as drop and shaped cookies, rolled cookies, brownies, custards, frozen desserts, pies, tars, and more. There are 300 preps here plus 100 step-by-step illustrations. Not much has changed in how recipes are made, but there have been improvements since 2000 in techniques and equipment. You can actually get the America's Test Kitchen cookbook covering more than the same ground (950 recipes) for little more than this paperback price, and the ATK book is current through 2014. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 83.
25.YAN-KIT'S CLASSIC CHINESE COOKBOOK. Rev. ed. (DK Books, 1984, 1998, 2007, 2015, 256
pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3007-6, $25 US hard covers) was written by the late Yan-Kit So in 1984, and then revised in 1998 and 2006 – although it is difficult to surmise under what pretext she could also assume a 2006 copyright since she died in 2001. Her estate, maybe, but not she herself. Here are 150 preps, from different regions, set up as a course book with step-by-step instructions. It says that it is a visual guide to ingredients, equipment, and techniques. All courses are covered in the basic recipes, followed by regional menus with page references, regions in which local food character is explored. For what it is worth, the transliterated names have not been updated since the earlier edition. Hence, Beijing is still Peking (as in Peking duck). There is a
concluding glossary, and a menu for "mixed" food regions. The Peking menu has mandarin
pancakes, Peking duck (with Cantonese duck as a variation), deep-fried cabbage greens, fish in a wine sauce, pickled cabbage, and Chinese celery cabbage, plus rice, soup and dessert. The ingredients have both metric and US measurements, but only for weights. Volume is still expressed as US measurements, and there is no table of equivalents. This can be confusing for a cook using metric. Quality/Price Rating: 84.
26.A BONE TO PICK (Pam Krauss Books; distr. Random House Canada, 256 pages, ISBN 978-0-8041-8654-4, $26 US hard covers) is by Mark Bittman, the New York Times writer on food and recipes. This is a collection of articles published in the New York Times opinion columns between February 2011 and June 2014. The book has not all of them, just the more relevant to the themes of the subtitle: "the good and bad news about food, with wisdom, insights, and advice on diets, food safety, GMOs, farming and more." And the book's equal value is that it has an INDEX!!!!! Indexes are so often lacking in memoirs and collections of essays, so this is a great bonus – it means the material can be more easily retrieved and collated (and this works wonders if you are trying to pin down a named source). As Bittman says, "In this book is some of the best work I've ever done".
No recipes, but none were expected. Quality/price rating: 90.
27.THE GLUTEN-FREE COOKBOOK (DK, 2012, 2015, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3450-0, $18.95 US soft covers) is by Heather Whinney, Jane Lawrie, and Fiona Hunter (who is also a nutritionist), all experienced food writers and stylists. It's another book in the gluten-free sweepstakes, part of the vegan-vegetarian category of books now being published throughout North America. This is the paperback reprint of the 2012 hard cover book. Here are 230 "easy" preps, step-by-step illustrations, plus advice for the gluten-free diet. Hunter provides a nutritional analysis of every recipe and special "nutrient boost" features for menu planning. Essentially, gluten-free means no wheat, barley or rye. But there are plenty of choices for other kinds of flours, which work rather well. Only breads suffer, and if you are as picky as I am, then you might avoid gluten-free breads and move on to other foods. The taste of the bread is different and there is no chew factor. There's about 40 pages on flours and making pastry, cakes, pastas and breads. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements for weight (not for volume), but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Some interesting recipes include lavosh with eggplant dip, tuna and vegetable pasta salad, fattoush with corn tortillas, crispy fish, smoked salmon and cream cheese picnic pies. The book has good indexing plus highlighted heads. Quality/Price Rating: 85.
28.THE ILLUSTRATED QUICK COOK (DK, 2009, 2015, 544 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3008-3, $24.95 US) has been edited by Heather Whinney, a British food writer and editor. The basics here: 700 plus recipes, many to be ready in 30 minutes or less, 1,000 photos of finished dishes, quick techniques, step-by-step master recipes. Categories involve everyday family meals and express entertaining. Of course you will need three things that not everyone has: a larder-pantry, a mise-en-place, and some food prepared in advance. She has planners, tables, and an illustrated table of contents. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements, but there are also metric tables of equivalents and conversion charts, right up front. Extra features include: menu
planners, recipe chooser galleries, Cheat tips, Cook's Notes, recipe variations, and practical information to introduce every time-saving device. Signs are used to indicate prep times and cooking times. Some interesting or unusual recipes include quesadilla with feta cheese, green olives and peppers; asparagus and herb tart; spiced pork and
chicken pie; shepherd's pie (which correctly calls for lamb); coq au vin; pork with fennel and mustard. The book does weigh a lot, over 5 pounds, and can be inconvenient.
It has also been the source of many quick and easy spin-off books from DK. Quality/Price Rating: 88.
29.THE NEGRONI; drinking to la dolce vita with recipes & lore (Ten Speed Press, 2013, 2015, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-779-6, $18.99 US hard covers) is by Gary Regan, who has written other bar books and "The Cocktailian" column for the San Francisco Chronicle. This current book was published in a slightly different form in the UK in 2013, in time for the first celebration of International Negroni week. Two years later it arrives on American soil, just in time to celebrate the third International Negroni Week. There is new photography and some new text and recipes since 2013. It is a good narrative about the Negroni, with all the history and trivia, plus the the recipe for the classic. You can use any gin (I use Tanqueray Rangpur), any vermouth (I use Dubonnet Rouge), but you must use only Campari. My wife invented the Nero cocktail (I did due diligence): take away the gin, use only Campari and vermouth. From the word Negroni, drop the "g", the "i", and the second "n". Clever. There are bastards in this book, such as the French Negroni which uses vodka and Amer Picon, or the East India Negroni which uses rum and sherry but at least retains the Campari. An interesting book, worth reading if Negroni is your fave cocktail. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at http://fauxvoixvincuisine.blogspot.com