100 WEIGHT LOSS BOWLS (DK, 2017, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-6159-9, $19.95 USD paperbound) is by Heather Whinney, cookbook author for DK Books, specializing in healthy books such as this one. Here she writes about how to build a calorie-controlled diet plan. Her preps have recipes under 300, 400, and 500 calories. And of course are self-contained in a bowl. You only eat what's in the bowl, chosen from a long list of satisfying ingredients. The book is arranged by course: quick-start brekkies, weekend brunches, meals to go, speedy bowls, and comforting bowls. Each section is sub-arranged by the level of 300, 400 and 600 calories. She's got some good notes on planning and prepping. The recipes are a model: for example, mackerel and potato hash with lemon and harissa yogurt lists the prep time, the cook time, the nutritional data, the ingredients/techniques section, the build (start with..., add in...,finish with...), and of course a photo of the plated bowl. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: dieters, millennials, those looking for a contained bowl.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: buckwheat and honey porridge with kiwi, mango, and goji berries; date and cocoa smoothie with apricots and chia seeds; cabbage, carrot and apple slaw with wasabi dressing and trout.
The downside to this book: the typeface the for index is teeny tiny.
The upside to this book: a useful book for weight control.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
4.SUPER CLEAN SUPER FOODS (DK, 2017, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-5629-8, $22 USD hardbound) is by Fiona Hunter and Caroline Bretherton, both food writers and cookbook authors (Hunter is also a nutritionist, while Bretherton was also a caterer/cafe owner). This is just the latest book on superfoods (here, 90 of them) with preps for 250 easy ways to enjoy them. It is all arranged by type of food: grains, nuts and seeds, fish/meat/dairy/eggs, veggies, fruits, herbs & spices. There is a lot of nutritional information along the way, as well as a glossary. Each food gets a few pages: lentils, for example, has a discussion on why eat it, what's in it, where is it from, and how to eat it (salad, pilaf, dhal, and how to maximize the healthy benefits (use dried). Preparations have their ingredients listed mainly in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents (you have to dig for this in the nutrition know-how section).
Audience and level of use: beginners, millennials, those looking for answers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: coconut and mango chia pudding; gluten-free Brazil nut brownies; raw energy bars; grilled salmon with kale pesto
The downside to this book: more tips for each food could have been useful.
The upside to this book: the layout is superb and engrossing.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5.ONE PAN & DONE (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-101-90645-3, $17.99 USD paperbound)is by Molly Gilbert,cookbook author and blogger, and former recipe tester for Saveur. These are meals from the oven to the table, and the range of possibilities goes from frittatas, breads, baked pastas, seared meats, and various desserts. The 130 recipes show how the oven can do most of the work and using just one pan. So it embraces sheet pans, Dutch ovens, skillets, baking dish, muffin tin, Bundt pan, and loaf pan. There's enough here to keep us all busy, but quick and easy as we do it. It is all arranged by type of food or course, starting with brekkies, brunch, starters, snacks, sides, going on to mains of veggies, poultry, fish, meat, and ending with sweets. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: basic beginners, those pushed for time, millennials.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: easy jerk chicken with peppers and pineapples; cod with olives and cipollinis in tomato sauce; sea bass with fresh succotash; apricot-glazed drumsticks with quinoa; baked spring risotto; pigs in polenta cake; Asian turkey burgers with sugar snap peas.
The downside to this book: basic regular preps which have been around for sometime.
The upside to this book: good solid material to get you thinking about how to deal with food and that one pan, motivation and a new mindset.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
6.THE PHO COOKBOOK (Ten Speed Press, 2017, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-958-5, $22 USD hardbound) is by Andrea Nguyen, author of multiple cookbooks and magazine food writer specializing in Vietnam cuisine. Here are some easy preps for Vietnam's pho. She's got a few log rollers, including the acclaimed David Chang of NYC. I avoid pho in Vietnamese restaurants because I find them too salty; I keep checking by sampling my friends' orders. So this book has value to me in that I can control how much salt and spicing I can add. The book is also a short history of pho (=feu in French, as in "pot au feu") and how to make a basic version: with water and broth, with one of at least six different kinds of noodles, a variety of spices/seasonings/herbs, and garnishes such as Hoisin, chiles, bean sprouts. She's got some master recipes, and most else is a variation on these. The simple ones serve two and take 40 minutes from scratch. The fast ones serve 4 and take 1.5 hours with a pressure cooker. The old school ones serve 8 and take 5 hours with a stockpot and some Asian market foods. Usual platforms include beef, chicken or veggies. After you have mastered the "master" preps, it is time to move on to the adventurous pho (see below for dishes). She's also got some add-ons, stir-fried pho, pan-fried, and deep-fried pho as well. Suggested sides are covered too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginner, millennials, the curious.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beef pho broth and bones; chicken pho noodle salad; vegetarian pho sate fried rice; lamb pho; seafood pho.
The downside to this book: there's only one pork recipe, and that's for a rice paper salad roll as a side dish appetizer, not pho.
The upside to this book: she uses L Baleine sea salt, but tells you how to adjust for table salt, kosher salt, and other sea salts. But always taste first.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
7.BACK POCKET PASTA (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-553-45974-6 $28 USD hardbound) is by food writer Colu Henry, formerly of Bon Appetit. There are some heavy-duty log rollers as well. She believes in a well-stocked pantry and a few seasonal ingredients for weeknight meals. Staples will provide ideas for a quick pasta dish. Everything is relaxed and stress-free. This is cooking on the fly, with many dishes being sauced before the water boils. She gives us plenty of ideas for quick sauces, and there is a review of the different pasta shapes. Then it is off to a family history as she explores all the different pasta in her life, from the tenements through to latter-day travels. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: lovers of Italian food and memoirs, those seeking many quick dishes.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tonno and tomato with sweet onion; crab fra diavolo; tortellini en brodo; Sicilian escarole and sausage; radiatore with potatoes, kale and bacon; chestnut pasta with red cabbage and pancetta.
The downside to this book: the drink/wine section could have been better.
The upside to this book: a good way to present pasta dishes.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
8.COCONUT, GINGER, SHRIMP, RUM (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017, 136 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-1493-9, $17.99 USD hardbound) is by Brigid Washington, former editor of the CIA's "La Papillote" who was raised in Trinidad and Tobago. It's a celebration of Caribbean flavours for every season: a mix of East Indian, West African, French and Spanish influences. And each of her preps use at least one of the ingredients in the title (although rosemary and lemon brick chicken does not). It is all arranged by season, opening with spring and moving forward through winter (the latter is not really cold on their terms). Each season has some light fare (or apps), mains, some drinks, and some desserts. It is a good topic and lovingly presented with some memoirish material about the islands. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are conversion tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Caribbean food lovers, shrimp lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: from Spring – rhubarb ginger challah, cajun shrimp and Greek yogurt cornbread, Szechuan ginger stir fry, Creole bouillabaisse, a Bloody Mary with bacon, shrimp and jalapeno; and old school bananas Foster.
The downside to this book: I wish there was more.
The upside to this book: large print (even larger in the index)
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
9.COOKING WITH COCKTAILS (The Countryman Press, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-58157-397-8, $29.95 USD hardbound) is by Vancouverite Kristy Gardner, food writer to Edible Vancouver and blogger at SheEats.ca. Personally, I thought the book's title meant cooking with a cocktail in one's hand. But it is actually a series of recipes involving food plus wine, beer or spirits. The range is from apps and small plates through mains and desserts, with stops along the way for soups/salads/sides. She's got 100 preps plus a primer on kitchen needs. She follows Julia Child's dictum: "The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude". In some of the preps, the alcohol mostly burns off; in other preps, it doesn't (ice cream, guacamole). Some preps use alcohol sparingly. But it is a good selection overall, with an emphasis on a well-stocked larder/pantry (cheeses, nuts, gains, herbs, spices, preserved items, spirits, beer, wine. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who want to use alcohol in their cooking, millennials.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sherry ragu with rabbit and pappardelle noodles; parchment baked grappa halibut; smoked trout and brandy melt; cachaca grilled avocado; peach schnapps blueberry crisp; drunk grilled pear and brie salad; cheese and rum marinated pineapple sticks.
The downside to this book: there is a bit of coarse language here that is not attractive, but chacun a son gout...it's a bit like the Cursing Mommy of the New Yorker.
The upside to this book: she emphasizes that one should read the recipe, use Google if you are unsure, and season everything.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
10.THE PULSE REVOLUTION (DK, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-5919-0, $25 USD hardbound) is by Tami Hardeman, food stylist and recipe developer for print and broadcast sources. It's the latest entry in the beans sweepstakes: 150 vegetarian recipes with both vegan and meat variations, covering all manner of pulses (dry beans, lentils, dry peas, and chickpeas). Included too are pulse flours. Techniques of cooking are covered, as well as sprouting and cooking methods for different varieties. It's also arranged two ways: by course and meal. There are chapters on breakfast and brunch, snacks, soups, salads, stews, sides, spreaded pastes, sandwiches. Braises and curries are included, as well as baked dishes and casseroles. Desserts conclude the pattern. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: pulse lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: mung bean gado gado; hoppin' john soup; beluga lentil and olive tapenade; chickpea fries; black-eyed pea hummus; chickpea and peanut cookies; white bean crepes with apricot sauce.
The downside to this book: I would have liked more recipes, although the vegan and meat variations are extremely useful.
The upside to this book: great detailed layout and nutritional data for each recipe.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
11.CITRUS (Quadrille, 2017, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-900-2 $29.99 USD hardbound) is by Catherine Phipps, a UK food writer and broadcaster. She's got 170 preps covering a variety such as lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, yuzu, kumquats, and relatives. It is a basic arrangement by course: soups, small plates, salads, mains, sides, and desserts (the largest chapter). Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: citrus lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sauteed chicken livers with Marsala and orange; black-eyed peas with lime and chipotle; early summer veggies with lime and tarragon; orange-roasted root veggies with herb and lemon pesto; lemon ice cream with almond and fennel praline; orange and pistachio cake; citrus risotto.
The downside to this book: the book is tightly bound, hard to pin back the pages.
The upside to this book: a good basic collection of citric recipes,
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
12.BITES ON A BOARD (Gibbs Smith, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-4574-0, $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Anni Daulter, a food stylist and food author. She also founded a baby food company (Bohemian Baby). Here she starts with a type of serving board, loads it up with food, and arranges the recipes by type. There's a primer followed by the types: [pickled boards, charcuterie boards, lush boards, rustic boards, and culture boards. For example, her Mexican board has griddled lime zucchini, carne asada street tacos, stuffed Mexican chile peppers, horchata and classic salsa – all nicely displayed and laid out with a terrific photo. It's all finger food, and meant for a larger crowd (say, four each), but it can be a whole meal for one person. It's the ultimate grazing but brought before you as you are seated. Another example: surf and turf (sliced filet mignon, brown buttered scallops, blue cheese and chevre arugula salad, fried capers). Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are conversion tables.
Audience and level of use: those wishing new forms of presentation for dinners or appetizers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: try Island Days (grilled pineapple, huli huli salmon skewers, poke avocado salad with edible flowers) or the Wild Unknown (roasted asparagus spears with garlic sauce, kale cumin chips, peppered aged cheddar cheese, pan-fried wild mushrooms with walnuts and rustic toast).
The downside to this book: cheeses are parts of different boards, but there is no distinct solo cheeseboard.
The upside to this book: good photography and food styling.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.