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Wednesday, April 7, 2010


3. THE MODERN CAFÉ (John Wiley, 2010, 550 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-37134-3, $65 US hard covers) is by Francisco J. Migoya of the Culinary Institute of America. He's a former executive pastry chef at The French Laundry, and Bouchon Bistro/Bakery; he currently runs the CIA's own café (since 2005). As the publisher states, this book is a guide for both novices and experienced chefs. It's a textbook for anyone thinking of opening a café or upgrading a current one. Today's café culture offers quick meals to those on the run: breakfast baked goods, artisan breads, desserts, cakes, savoury items such as sandwiches and quiches, quick meals, chocolates and candies, beverages, packaged items, and frozen desserts. In many respects, it is the modern version of the diner – without the hot plate special. The text covers management principles, pricing formulas, displays and packaging, as well as recipes. The book is divided into themes: the bakery, the pastry shop, the savory kitchen, beverages, and the retail shelf. He also has a glossary and a bibliography, as well as a list of US supply sources.

Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents. And all ingredients are scaled. Quantities are on the high side, such as 40 pieces of craquelin or three chocolate cakes, so the home cook needs to adjust.

Audience and level of use: professional schools, cafes, serious hone cooks.

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: the bakery is a low-cost/high-profit centre. Migoya covers the seven key ingredients and provides master recipes for brioche, croissants, Danish, pound cake, muffins, scones, biscuits and breads.

The downside to this book: very heavy book at just over five pounds.

The upside to this book: it fulfills a definite need, good layout and photography (especially for techniques).

Quality/Price Rating: 88.




4. THE 200 SUPERFOODS THAT WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE (McGraw-Hill, 2010, 363 pages, ISBN 978-0-07-162575-3, $19.95US soft covers) is by Deborah A. Klein, M.S., RD, a top dietician/nutritionist in Los Angeles for the past 15 years. This is at least the third or fourth such book in a year; I am not sure I can stand many more of them. To tell you the truth, I don't think I even KNOW 200 foods, let alone 200 superfoods. There is a brief description of each food, followed by "benefits", nutritional information, techniques in cooking, and a recipe. There are no red meats, just turkey, chicken, and various fishes. The arrangement is by food type: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy plus soy, proteins, fats, sweeteners, and herbs. Material at the back includes staples for the pantry, a couple of dozen menu ideas (with calorie counts), snack ideas, and a grocery shopping list. The last section lists 20 different "actions that will save your life." For the guys, she introduces anti-inflammatory fats and proteins to reduce the risk of heart disease. For the gals, she talks about how to combine phytochemicals and nutrients to look younger longer.

Audience and level of use: for the health conscious.

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: none of the foods here is esoteric, and the recipes are not unusual (e.g., millet bowl, chicken in red wine, nectarine muffins, baked halibut, watercress fusilli, ratatouille, acorn squash bisque)

The downside to this book: has to compete with similar books on this topic of superfoods.

The upside to this book: she stresses the combination of foods to balance macronutrients for maximum health and energy.

Quality/Price Rating: 86.




5. ARTISAN BREADS AT HOME WITH THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA (John Wiley, 2010, 434 pages, ISBN 978-0-47018260-4, $34.95US hard covers) is by Eric W. Kastel, associate professor of baking at the CIA. This book continues the "At Home" series from the CIA, a series of cookbooks reflecting the current curriculum at the CIA but with more user friendly recipes meant for home cooks. As Kastel said, you don't need a brick oven nor keep a sourdough starter on hand. The emphasis is on loaves, rolls and flatbreads. As is typical in a CIA production, there is great detail on techniques and flours, followed by the twelve steps of bread baking, with detailed descriptions. After the basic breads, Kastel encourages the home cook to move onto more advanced baking. Typical beginner productions are Kaiser rolls, rye bread, and whole wheat bread. Flatbreads embrace pita and tortillas as well as breadsticks. Advanced breads involve starters like a sponge, biga, poolish, and sourdoughs. Ingredients are listed with ounces, grams, volume, and bakers percentages. Yields are generally two loaves or nine (and more) rolls. This basic book should also serve as a refresher to the more serious home baker. The appendix has some dips and sauces recipes, some illustrated material on braiding and knotting, and a listing of other books and resources (ingredients and equipment).

Audience and level of use: home bakers (both new and experienced).

Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: multigrain English muffins, lavash, durum and rosemary-lemon rolls, lima bean spread, almond and currant sourdough, ciabatta, fig and hazelnut bread, cheese breads, hot cross buns, cream cheese-apple-walnut coffee cake)

The downside to this book: because of the photographs, the paper is thick and the book is consequently heavier than normal.

The upside to this book: scaling, which he uses, is always better than volume.

Quality/Price Rating: 89.



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