3.THE DUMPLING SISTERS COOKBOOK (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015, 272 pages, ISBN 978-0-297-60906-3, $34.99 CAN hard covers) is by Amy and Julie Zhang aka The Dumpling Sisters. They have been active on YouTube for two years now, with 41,000 subscirbers. Their philosophy is that Chinese cooking an be a breeze, and this family cookbook can prove it. There are oabout 100 preps here, ranging from noodles to banquet to baked goods, emphasizing too the mouthfeel of the foods (there are explanations). Exotic foods can be added from purchased packages, such as wood ear mushrooms, golden needle veggies, salted preserved fish, dried bean curd, and others. It all begins with yum cha (Cantonese drinking tea), with pork and prawn open dumplings, silky congee, pork pot-stickers, pan-fried turnip cake – all the major and well-known dim sum. There's a lot on basics, pantry, ingredient names, and suppliers in the UK. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: five spiced pork belly with spring onions; zingy orange pork schnitzel; beef kebab sticks with satay sauce; broccoli oyster sauce noodles with fried onions.
The downside to this book: most of the recipes are easy.
The upside to this book: great pix.
Quality/Price Rating: 86
4.FEED YOUR ATHLETE (DK Publishing, 2015, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3537-8, $22.95 US paper covers) is by Michael Kirtsos and Joseph Ewing, both Registered Dietitians. Kirtsos also teaches sports nutrition, while Ewing also writes cookbooks for DK. Here is a cookbook to fuel high performance, with 150 easy natural recipes for those on-the-go. At a minimum, the book is extremely useful for all school athletes and would-be marathon runners. The collection includes pre-competition dishes to build a body's resources, snacks and replacements to maintain energy during events, recovery meals, and how to stock a pantry. There are sports drinks, soups, snacks, salads and entrees, plus desserts for each category. Each has nutrition tables. At the end, there are meal plans and body fat calculations. Two indexes: alphabetical and by nutrient content (high carb, high fiber, high protein, low fat, low fiber). Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those in training, those who want high performance foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chickpea salad, banana orange sunrise smoothie, snack mix cereal bars, low-fat banana bread, frozen cherry cheesecake pops, pineapple basil mojito.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
5.EVERYDAY VEGETARIAN (St. Martin's Griffin, 2015, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-06616-9, $24.99 US paper covers) is by Jane Hughes, editor of Vegan Life magazine, cookery school teacher, and food writer. It has been endorsed by the American Vegetarian Association. Its subtitle says it all: 365 days of healthy seasonal recipes. There's a recipe for every day, but the book is divided by season, beginning with spring, and further arranged by course (soups and apps, mains and sides, desserts and drinks). Unfortunately, there are no menus, so you'll need to pull together a complete meal yourself. Vegan dishes are indicated by a V. It is a good database, filled with classic dishes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegetarians or those looking for veggie alternatives.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: blackberry and feta salad; spiced winter pickles; poached pears with chocolate sauce; summer ratatouille.
The downside to this book: no menus.
The upside to this book: nifty collection.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
6.GRILL IT, BRAISE IT, BROIL IT, and 9 other easy techniques for making healthy meals (Clarkson Potter, 2015, 297 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-88809-9, $19.99 US soft covers) is from the American Heart Association. Previous cookbooks from the AHA have stresses slow cookers, fresh foods, low-salt, and safe cardio preps. This one, with 175 recipes, stresses healthy cooking techniques. Besides the three in the title, these are: slow cooking, microwaving, blending, stir-frying, stewing, steaming, poaching, roasting and baking. Recipes can then be customized, so there are more than 175 here. The arrangement is by technique, with a primer at the beginning for shopping and lifestyles, and a resources checklist at the back for a pantry, cooking equipment, safety basics, and food groups. A good all-purpose book with service notes, nutrition counts per serving, and clear instructions. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents, which is a drawback in a book like this, especially since the nutrition data is in metric.
Audience and level of use: those looking for a healthy eating style.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Peruvian quinoa salad, pork loin stuffed with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, Madeira flank steak, peanut butter and banana "ice cream", shrimp and grits with greens.
The downside to this book: no metric tables.
The upside to this book: good idea to cover food by technique.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7.THE BARBECUE LOVER'S BIG BOOK OF BBQ SAUCES (Harvard Common Press, 2015, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-55832-845-7, $18.95 US paper covers) is by Cheryl and Bill Jamison, who have written many other BBQ books (at least 7), including Texas Home Cooking. They cover 225 sauces, rubs, marinades, mops, bastes, pastes, and salsas for smoke-cooking and grilling. There are, of course, detailed instructions on using a recipe for smoking or grilling. It's arranged by type of meat, from beef and bison through poultry, fish, lamb and venison, veggies, and fruit. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: BBQ fans of the Jamisons.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: bacon jam, Northern Alabama white lightning, magic black hot sauce, red chile honey butter, chile-lemon baste, roasted onion ranch dressing, umami bomb.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
8.BREW BETTER BEER (Ten Speed Press, 2015, 234 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-631-7, $23 US hard covers) is by Emma Christensen, a homebrewer and former beer reviewer, and now the recipe editor for www.thekitchn.com. It's a basic book, covering from grain to glass; she does a nice job. And the book should appeal to women brewers as well, simply because there are so few other beer books authored by women. At the moment I cannot think of any. The subtitle here is "learn (and break) the rules for making IPAs, sours, Pilsners, stouts and more". Her primer opens with getting to know your ingredients (malts, water, hops, yeast) and your equipment (brewing, fermenting, bottling), followed by brewing your first and easy batch. Then it is on to types: pale ales, Indian pale ales (IPA), brown ales, porters and stouts, British ales, Belgian ales, Scottish and Irish red ales, wheat beers, rye ales, saisons and gluten-free beers, and ending with lagers (Pilsner, Octoberfest, and San Francisco Steam Beer. As in the better baking recipes, preps here are scaled – in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, with equivalents converted on the end pages. There are lots of choices in this book, with subtle additions or subtractions of ingredients to extend the database of recipes.
Audience and level of use: beginner brewers and others.
Some interesting or unusual facts:
The downside to this book: some beers have special ingredients that you may not want much of. For example, the Campari IPA is good as a bottle or two for that herbal complexity with beer, but a whole batch of five gallons? Only for the steely. Best to just add a shot of Campari to an IPA.
The upside to this book: wide selection of recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
9.COCONUT KITCHEN (Familius, 2015, 184 pages, ISBN 978-1-939629-72-2, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Meredith Baird, co-author of other cookbooks (Raw Chocolate, Everyday Raw Detox, Plant Food). Here she is concerned with just coconut, a superfood for health (digestion aid, immune boost, candida prevention, cholesterol balance, detox, inflammation reduction, eczema and psoriasis treatment) and cosmetic skin care, as well as food (milk substitute, non-diary kefir, sweetener, cooking oil, vegan desserts, gluten-free flour). She's got the primer about preps and what coconuts can do for you. This is followed by the recipes, divided by course: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegans, those wanting a detox, those with a surplus of coconuts.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: coconut butter with apple, blueberries and cinnamon; coconut toast; peaches and cream parfait; coconut chia pudding; coconut matcha smoothie; coconut with spinach, golden raisins and pine nuts.
The downside to this book: ingredient listings are in bronze colour and do not stand out too well on the printed page.
The upside to this book: good photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
10.OKTOBERFEST COOKBOOK (DK, 2015, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-3939-0, $20 US hard covers) is by Julia Skowronek, living in Munich and has worked the Hofbrau tent for the past two decades. These are typical dishes served at the Oktoberfest, along with material on dress and beer tent culture, history, Munich beer, other attractions in Munich, etiquette, and a phrase guide to beer-tent Bavarian. Arrangement of the preps is by course: snacks, soups, entrees, veggies, sides, and sweets. There is exceedingly good charm in this book. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: German beer and food lovers; those interested in Oktoberfest.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: brotzeit platter with cheese, cold cuts and radishes; pork schnitzel cordon bleu; beef roulades; beer battered fish; Bavarian cabbage.
The downside to this book: everything is "heavy", but then that's their nature.
The upside to this book: lots of Oktoberfest pictures.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
11.MY BUSY KITCHEN (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-444-79920, $38.99 CAN hard covers) is by Alex Hollywood. It reflects her food background influences of Norway, Scotland, France and Spain. These are uncomplicated family recipes with foreign tinges and fringes from her past (the book's subtitle is "a lifetime of family recipes"). She delves into pantries (with country flavour themes) and larders, freezers, and basic sauces and stocks. She's arrange her book by course: breakfast, salads, lunches, veggies, mid-week meals, suppers, and entertaining. Plus the open-ended desserts, applicable anytime including tea. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners, those looking to refresh their memories
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: raspberry chocolate bombes; roast pineapple with homemade custard; tartiflette; marinated olives with manchego cheese; mont d'or en croute; chicken, fennel and ouzo gratin; smoky fish pie.
The downside to this book: the hook did not grab me, but they are good family dishes.
The upside to this book: lots of interesting quirks and ideas to jazz up simple dishes.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
12.CITRUS (Ten Speed Press, 2015, 177 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-767-3, $19.99 US hard covers) is by Valerie Aikman-Smith, an LA writer and food stylist.
13.SWEET AND TART (Chronicle Books, 2015, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-3479-6, $19.95 US hard covers) is by Carla Snyder, baker and Beard-nominated cookbook author based in Ohio.
Both books came out about the same time, same length, 75 preps in the Aikman book and 70 in the Snyder. They are also both up against last year's PUCKER from Whitecap Books, which only covered the more sour citrus families (no pomelos or oranges). Aikman is arranged by type (lemon, lime, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, and the rest (citron, yuzu, kumquats). Snyder is by food (cookies, bars, pastries, tars, pies, cakes, frozen desserts, muffins, etc.) with a small chapter on savouries. Aikman's preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents. Snyder is avoirdupois with no tables of equivalents. Aikman has 16 lime recipes, while Snyder does just 2. But many can be interchangeable if you wish to explore. I do not think you need both books; just one will do.
Audience and level of use: intermediate.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Aikman – gravadlax with lemons and green peppercorns; ricotta with Persian lime oil; Meyer lemon and thyme hearth bread; lime and coconut lassi; Szechuan shrimp and ruby grapefruit salad.
Snyder – 4 Meyer lemon preps (candied, blackberry ices, drop cookies, ice cream); 4 ricotta (crepes, flat bread, cookies, tyropita); orangey fig and almond biscotti; grapefruit custard pie.
Quality/Price Rating: 87 apiece.