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Saturday, July 16, 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 –
11.JUICE GURU (Robert Rose, 2016, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0529-8, $19.95 CAN softbound) is by Steve and Julie Prussack. He's the founder of Juice Guru Academy, dedicated to juicing and health education courses. He's a broadcast radio host and publishing founder of VegWorld Magazine. His lawyer wife is also a head writer for VegWorld Magazine. It is a basic juicing book with a 21-day plan, 100 or so fruit and veggie juices, and some lifestyle changes. They got juices with power greens, for cleansing, roots, tonics and elixirs, juices for children, quick and easy, and smoothies. Juicing has been promoted as boosting vitality, increasing longevity, and staying slim. Since most of us don't get the RDA of fruits and veggies, a glass of juice a day keeps the naysayers at bay. And besides, fresh-pressed juice contains about twice the nutritional content of a green smoothie. All good stuff. They've got lots of tips and techniques for proper juicing and extraction of value, plus a concluding section on resources. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements. Quality/price rating: 87.
12.THE HUNGRY GIRL DIET COOKBOOK (St. Martin's Griffin, 2015, 363 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-08041-7, $17.99 USD paperbound) is by celebrity Lisa Lillien, author and TV personality of a series of Hungry Girl books going back ten years – over 2 million were sold. She's got (with a free companion app to create shopping lists and track one's food) and shows on the Food Network and Cooking Channel. Here (in this paperback reprint of a 2015 book) she follows up on her a diet of big portions, big results, and dropping 10 pounds in four weeks. There are 200 all-new easy recipes, including Hungry Girl classics such as oatmeal bowls, egg mugs, salads, and foil packs. And the usual tips, tricks, hints, strategies, how-tos, and food swaps or substitutions. The emphasis, as always, is on lean protein, fat-free and reduced dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and huge portions for volume. Ideal for mix-n-match meals and snacks. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
13.HUNGRY GIRL CLEAN & HUNGRY (St. Martin's Griffin, 2016, 363 pages, ISBN 978-0-312-67677-3, $19.99 USD paperbound) is by celebrity Lisa Lillien, author and TV personality and founder of the Hungry Girl "empire". Here, in this original book, she's covering  easy all-natural recipes for healthy eating in the real world. Each prep has little to no added sugar, is low in calories and starchy carbs, and is high in protein and fibre. Each prep has fewer than 375 calories per serving. Typical are BBQ meatloaf (196 calories), shrimp fried rice with pineapple (229 calories) and flourless chocolate cake (100 calories). 43 recipes have 5 or fewer ingredients, 56 recipes can be done in under 30 minutes, 91 are vegetarian preps, and there are 108 gluten-free recipes. Overall, there are more than 150 recipes scattered among breakfasts (oats, bowls, eggs, burritos, pancakes/waffles, smoothies), soups and stews, casseroles, pasta, cauliflower, stir fry and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
14.FLOYD CARDOZ: FLAVORWALLA (Artisan Books, 2016, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-57965-621-8, $29.95 USD hardbound) is by Floyd Cardoz, a Top Chef Masters-winning NYC chef (Tabla, North End Grill, Paowalla). It comes with some heavy-duty log rollers like Samuelsson, Colicchio, and Stone. He's got 100 or so recipes which are big on flavours, not spicy heat. For example, there is grilled asparagus with mustard seed and lemon, or salmon with fennel and coriander, or grilled lamb shanks with salsa verde, or roasted cauliflower with candied ginger and pine nuts and raisins. Chapters are about meal times: there are sections for weeknight meals, dinner for two, family style, breakfast, summer cooking, special dinners and parties, and food for the Big Game. There is a list of sources. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents on the last page. Quality/price rating: 88.

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