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Friday, July 1, 2016

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK... one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are automatic best sellers, since the book can be flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books, special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu. Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But because most of these books are American, they use only US volume measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out. The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks". There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes (not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work at home, but how could that be? The books all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a lot of food photo shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other celebrities in magnificent cases of logrolling. If resources are cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
14.REMIXOLOGY; classic cocktails, reconsidered and reinvented (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 210 pages, ISBN 978-1-63450-659-5, $17.99 US hard covers) is by Michael Turback, owner of Turback's of Ithaca. He's written more than a dozen books on travel, wine and food, and now consults. This is another basic book on cocktails for the newly-inducted imbiber. It's the story of how classics came to be developed and how variations came to be shaped. The basic TEN cocktails are the arrangement (Alexander to Whiskey Sour); the variations are within each. So he has a Manhattan Nouveau, Jamaican Coffee, The Green Mary [tomatillos, kale, jalapeno], and the like. He's got over 250 distinctive preps for the home bar. A good layout and formula, well-worth reading and using. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 86.
15.101 HANGOVER RECIPES (Dog 'n' Bone, 2016, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-909313-90-3, $19.95 US hard covers) has been compiled by Dan Vaux-Nobes, who runs a supper club in Bristol UK. It is a nifty little collection with the stable of RP&S writers such as Fiona Smith, Louise Pickford, and Ross Dobson, with 34 others listed. The variety means that if something doesn't work (or work well), then NEXT time, move on to another technique in the book. There are breakfast ideas, brunches, comfort food, superfood salads, juice smoothies, hair of the dog, and more. My fave is the huevos rancheros: beats away the blues every time...Preparations have their ingredients listed in (mainly) avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
16.THE BIG BOOK OF KOMBUCHA (Story Publishing, 2016, 383 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-433-9, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Hannah Crum and Alex LaLory, creators of Kombucha Kamp which supplies quality brewing materials, information, and support for kombucha makers. They also own Kombucha Brewers International in LA. Kombucha is a fermented tea, a probiotic tea that promotes a healthy gut, improved digestion, improves eyesight, boosts metabolism. Its time has come, in conjunction with quinoa, chia seeds, kale, and microgreens. This is an all-in-one reference tome with many technique photos and more than 200 flavour combos. The authors also give us troubleshooting data for successful homebrewing. Scores and scorers of recipes can be found here in this book dedicated to the homebrewer. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
17.AFTERNOON TEA AT HOME (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-702-7, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Will Torrent, an award-winning consultant pastry chef to Waitrose UK and who has worked with just about all the important chefs (Blumenthal, Oliver) and TV shows. It is a very comprehensive book, detailing the UK tea party. Arranged by season, it covers "tea" nicely in 70 or so recipes (strawberry and champagne tarts, golden ginger custard creams, fig and ricotta crispbreads, fruited scones, Bakewell tarts, et al.). The sandwiches have their own special index, and include chicken, shrimp, beef, salmon. It's a very useful book stressing the food and not the beverage. Sweets and savouries (sandwiches, cured meats) are just about equally covered. At the end there are menus for "Father's Day tea", Birthday party, Anniversary, Bridal, Fireside, Baby, Garden party, among others – all with useful page references. The Resources list covers the US and the UK. Preparations have their ingredients listed in (mainly) metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
18.IDIOT'S GUIDES PRESSURE COOKING (Alpha Books, 2015, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-888-7, $21.95 US softbound) is by Tom Hirschfield, a professional chef and recipe developer who  is also an award-winning blogger. It is a basic book, well-illustrated and laid out, full of ideas for pressure cooking for the workday weeknight meal. There's a primer and safety concerns, easy recipes (beginning with breakfast), some mains and sides, soups-stews-chilis, salads and desserts. It is all quick and easy with a pressure cooker. Typical preps include tacos, Korean beef stew, white bean and shiitake soup, New England fish chowder, southern collard greens and rustic split-pea soup. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Nutritional data on calories, carbs, sugar, fibre, protein, fat, cholesterol and sodium is included. Quality/price rating: 85.


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