FEEDING A FAMILY (Roost Books, 2017, 279 pages, ISBN 978-1-61180-309-9 $29.95 USD hardbound) is by Sara Waldman, food writer and recipe developer (Fine Cooking, Food 52, et al). It's a real-life plan for making dinner work for a family. She covers busy schedules, long work days, and picky eaters. There are 40 complete meals here in a series of menus from Winter through to Fall (after the opening pantry sequences). The main benefit of a family dinner is, of course, the chance to sit down together, hopefully minus the social media bit (texting etc. is not covered in the book). Nevertheless, "nutrition together" is stressed. The menus are uncomplicated and simple enough, but never boring. Certainly pizza night is a hit, as are slurpee noodle bowls.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: families
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: baked apple cider donuts; broccoli slaw; autumn meatball subs; cheesy butternut squash; creamy tomato and spinach soup with grilled cheese croutons; diner-style smashed beef burgers.
The downside to this book: too many family pix and not enough food pix.
The upside to this book: the 40 complete meals
Quality/Price Rating: 88
4.BREAD TOAST CRUMBS (Clarkson Potter, 2017, 257 pages, ISBN 978-0-553-45983-8 $30 USD hardbound) is by Alexandra Stafford, a blogger (Alexandra's Kitchen) and contributor to Food52.com. Log rolling is by Dorie Greenspan and David Lebovitz. Her book is a collection of preps for no-knead loaves and meals to savour and use the breads. Her mother's peasant bread recipe is for a non-knead dough that can be combined in five minutes, rises in an hour, and after a second but short rise, bakes in a buttered pan or bowl. She's got variations for the bread, from sweet and savoury through to rolls and forms. Then she covers leftovers, such as panzanella, bread soups, and no-bake cookies. Everything is used, even the crumbs. Arrangement is as described in the title: master recipe, bread, toast, and then crumbs. There are 39 recipes for breads (plus some variations), toast has 30 (salads, soups, sandwiches), and crumbs has 40 (salads, soups, meatless, pasta, sweets). There is also a valuable gluten-free peasant bread recipe on page 56. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: families, bakers, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beet-cured salmon with herbed cream cheese and radishes; frangipane toasts with broiled pears; pull apart buttermilk rolls; bulgur bread; peasant pizza; baked pasta with mushrooms, fontina, and crumbs; grilled olive oil toasts with mussels.
The downside to this book: the book is physically heavy and can be awkward.
The upside to this book: there is a FAQ and trouble-shooting chapter.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
5.HOME AND AWAY (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2017, 184 pages, ISBN 978-1-55151-673-7, $24.95 CAD paperbound) is by Randy and Darcy Shore. Randy writes about food for the Vancouver Sun. He met Darcy when she worked at restaurants. Here they have traveled around the world in cafes, bistros and diners and have brought us those recipes. They have 140 recipes for casual eating of entrees, appetizers, soups, salads, and so forth. For example, they do a homemade white miso ramen but in under one hour. They've also got some interviews with Mario Batali, Michael Smith, and Vikram Vij, plus others.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no overall table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: diner-style Salisbury steak with garlic mash; duck poutine; caldo de gallina from Peru; confetti corn; spaetzle;
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes.
The upside to this book: good selection of world cuisine for the home kitchen.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
6.A YEAR OF PICNICS (Roost Books, 2017, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-61180-215-3, $24.95 USD hardbound) is by Ashley English, principally a cookbook author but also an activist committed to agricultural and food issues in the US. These are your higher end picnics, divided by season, mainly Spring and Summer – but also Fall and Winter are covered with eight themed picnics if you live somewhere warm year round. She's in North Carolina, so it is doable there. There's a table to farm picnic, a sacred tree picnic, and afternoon tea picnic, a movie night picnic, and a rooftop picnic among others. The "winter picnic" can be held by the Polar Bear club, but not by me. Each picnic comes with a set of non-food ideas (site selection, activities, nature appreciation and exploration). The index is arranged by major subject so they are all collated together: activities, apples, beef, beverages, cakes, cardamom, cheese, chocolate, etc. through to sites, veggies and walnuts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: millennials, families, outdoor types.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: zucchini gratin; spring onion and chicken liver pate; Swedish cremes with rhubarb compote; cheesy kale chips; ratatouille; mojito slaw; gazpacho.
The downside to this book: is it politically possible or correct to have pickled eggs at a bird-watching picnic?
The upside to this book: there are listings of special equipment for some of the themes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88
7.FLAVOUR (Chatto & Windus, 2016, 368 pages, ISBN 978-0-7011-8932-7 $42.95 CAD hardbound) is by Ruby Tandoh, one time on the Great British Bake Off at age 20 but now a food writer (Guardian) and cookbook author (Crumb, 2014). Her philosophy here is flavour: "I've paired banana and thyme in a soft teatime cake, while coffee deepens a sticky rib glaze and cinnamon adds fragrant sweetness to a comforting couscous dinner." So here are 170 sweet and savoury preps for every day and budget, organized by ingredient. It all begins with veggies and herbs (eggplant, zuke, pepper, tomato, greens, etc.) moving on to fruit (apples, pears, rhubarb, tropical fruit) and then to cheese and eggs and dairy, meat and fish, and ending with dry goods (legumes, nuts, seeds). Preparations have their ingredients listed mainly in metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: jaded eaters, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: soft spiced apple cake; deep-fried anchovy-stuffed sage leaves; pearl barley, mushroom and taleggio risotto; red lentil cottage pie with cheesy mash crust; pink lemonade crush with mint.
The downside to this book: physically it is very heavy with narrow gutters.
The upside to this book: the British orientation is quite useful for us in Canada.
Quality/Price Rating: 87
8.THE YOGA KITCHEN (Quadrille Books, 2016, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-899-9 $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Kimberley Parsons, a naturopath and chef who believes in aligning one's physical and mental energy to boost overall happiness. She believes in nutritious and balanced dishes in the home. She's got over 100 preps that are all gluten-free and refined-sugar-free vegetarian dishes. It is arranged by the seven chakra (ground, flow, vitalize, nurture, strengthen, calm and pure). Then each chakra chapter is further divided into three: breakfast and snacks, lunch and supper, then drinks and desserts. It begins with activated nuts and goes to minted passion fruit lollies. It's a good looking system. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: yoga fans, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: maca and lacuma popcorn; pick-me-up licorice toffee; middle east mezze (falafel, hummus, tzatziki, tabouli); spring greens and mung bean salad; high-jacked sweet potato with avocado, pomegranate and coconut.
The downside to this book: the book is difficult to lie flat
The upside to this book: a perfect book for the yoga practitioner.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
9.BOWLS! (Chronicle Books, 2017, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-5619-4 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Molly Watson, a San Francisco food writer (magazines and cookbooks). Her theme here is the bowl: over 40 preps are described for healthful one-dish meals. It is all arranged by category. First up are the basics: grains, legumes, proteins (eggs, tofu, seafood, meats), veggies, sauces, toppings. The bowl is some of each, so you've got to have six different items to make up a combo. After that, it's mix and match. Lots of variations too. Part two is "easy combinations", which is just a few of the items – there are 31 of these from different countries (bibimbap, grand aioli, nicoise, taco) and courses (breakfast, lunch, dinner, seasonal). Then there are 26 "full bowls", again international (Inca bowl, Spanish shrimp, Minnesota hotdish bowl, rice-free Korean grill, Budapest bowl). Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: families, millennials
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Bowls are flexible. If a bowl sounds good except for one element, then substitute like with like (grain for grain, meat with meat).
The downside to this book: I wanted more preps for bowls in a larger book (of course I'd pay more money, no problem)
The upside to this book: easy as pie
Quality/Price Rating: 89
10.MY MODERN INDIAN KITCHEN (Ryland Peters and Small, 2017, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-814-7 $21.95 USD hardbound) is by Nitisha Patel, a professional chef now doing recipe development for Faccenda Foods and Tesco in the UK. These are her family recipes from India, for over 60 preps of home-cooked Indian food. She has some cultural notes in her primer on spices and then moves on to street food, curries, vegetarian dishes, sides, rice, chutney, raita, and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mostly avoirdupois measurements (except for the desserts which are scaled, for the most part), but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Indian food lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: amritsari fish pakoras; keralan seafood curry; malabari mussels; tandoori spatchcock poussin; veg manchurian; goan sausage and king prawn pilaf.
The downside to this book: a little thin on the number of recipes
The upside to this book: colourful, good memoir material in each recipe.
Quality/Price Rating: 86