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Wednesday, July 14, 2010


PIG; king of the southern table (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 424 pages,
ISBN 978-0-470-19401-0, $34.95 US hard covers) is by that irrepressible
Southern gentleman, James Villas, a long time food editor, author of
over 15 cookbooks (most dealing with the US south), and winner of two
Beard awards. Even with this list of credits, he seems to need
logrolling help from Jean Anderson and others doing Southern writing.
There are over 300 preps here, from every region and state of the US
south. Here's a chance to live high off the hog. But today's pigs are
not your father's pigs: they are smaller and leaner, and many of them
are organically and humanely raised. His main reference point is his
home state of North Carolina, but he has an engaging section on pig
basics, the primer from head to tail (but minus the squeal) plus a
glossary, a bow to country hams such as Smithfield loaded with salt,
BBQ (of course), and bulk pork sausage. Strewn throughout are bits and
pieces of remembrances, sort-of like a memoir. Through it all he covers
pork hocks, pigtails, trotters, bellies, fatback, boudin sausage,
bacon, salt pork – all the really good stuff. There are some colour
photos, but they all have a lot of biscuits, potatoes and gravies
around the finished pork dish. Contents proceed from appetizers through
soups and chowders, gumbos, stews, casseroles, chops, steaks, pies,
hashes, roasts, ham, sausage, bacon, BBQ and ribs, and variety meats.
Breads, veggies and rice complete the accompaniments. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no
metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: the meat specialist, the pork lover.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Gentleman Jack's BBQ
country-styled ribs; eggs and pig's brains; crusted pigs' ears; Cajun
pig tails with field peas; Georgia-style BBQ pork chops; shredded BBQ
The downside to this book: you can only eat so much.
The upside to this book: a good reference book, loaded with accessible
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
4. THE BARBECUE COLLECTION; Canadian Living (Transcontinental Books,
2010, 552 pages, ISBN 978-0-9809924-9-6, $$29.95 Canadian, soft covers)
is by Andrew Chase, food editor of Homemakers and food contributing
editor to Canadian Living. His book comes from the Canadian Living Test
Kitchen, and promises "the best barbecue recipes from our kitchen to
your backyard". Of course the basics are covered, along with
brochettes, kabobs, burgers, sausages, patties, steaks, chops, ribs,
roasts, poultry, fish, seafood, and grilled pizza. There is also room
in this book for vegetables and cheese, salads and sides, sauces,
marinades and rubs. Something for everyone, beginning with a discussion
on gas or charcoal and all tools needed. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no metric table of equivalents. Many of the recipes come from
Andrew Chase himself, plus Canadian Living and Homemakers.
Audience and level of use: homemakers, those who want a complete BBQ
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: garlic & anchovy stuffed
pork tenderloins; Thai grilled chicken; Hoisin chicken burnished; BBQ
rabbit; Portuguese grilled sardines with potatoes and peppers; Texas
BBQ brisket; Mexican pork shoulder.
The downside to this book: the binding looks sturdy enough, but this is
a fat and heavy book, more suited to hard covers (where a cracked book
will still be intact). It needs to be kitchen tested for beyond one
season of use.
The upside to this book: the layout is pretty good, with plenty of
white space and leading. The ingredients are listed in bold, and the
font is very readable and big. There is nutritional data for each prep.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

2010, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-37105-3, $29.95 US hard covers) is by
Cathy Thomas, food columnist at the Orange County Register. In 1984,
Melissa's World Variety Produce Inc was formed; it was named after the
founders' daughter. It is a leading distributor of fruits and veggies
in the US, primarily to restaurants and other trade places. This is
Thomas' second book for Melissa. She gives us overviews of the 57 most
commonly available fruits and veggies (with variations by variety),
about 225 recipes with variations and quick-prep ideas, plus the usual
basics of shopping and storage, with serving suggestions and
nutritional info. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those concerned about food sustainability,
organic food eaters.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts:  pork chops with curry-
apricot sauce; nuthouse chicken with roasted bananas; broccoli, beef,
and brown rice combo; leek and tarragon soup with melted brie cheese;
couscous with plumcots and mint.
The downside to this book: I'm uncomfortable with logos and trademarks
on my food; the beginning of the book is a bit of an infomercial, but
then it goes away.
The upside to this book: photographs show intense colour.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
6. ROSE REISMAN'S FAMILY FAVOURITES (Whitecap, 2010, 392 pages, ISBN
978-1-77050-006-8, $29.95 Canadian soft covers) is by the indefatigable
Rose Reisman, author of some 17 other cookbooks. But despite her creds
through a catering company, home delivery, involvement with Pickle
Barrel, and Breakfast for Learning, the publisher feels that she still
needs logrolling. There are 4 on the back cover, including Mark McEwan,
Michael Smith, and Bonnie Stern, and 8 more at the front, including TV
hosts and a Senator (not a hockey player)! I really don't see a need
for any of these, but then I'm only a reviewer, not a marketer. Reisman
proposes healthy meals for those who matter most. Here are 270 quick
and nutritious recipes for the family. There's a crash course in
nutrition and why it is so important, what are the best foods for
families , and how make meals a family affair – there are about 40
pages here. There is even some material on how to pack a lunch for the
kids (and yourself).The preps that follow cover all courses and all
types of food: breakfast, appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches,
vegetable side dishes, meats and seafood, desserts, slow cooker, and
thirty pages of children's faves. Each recipe comes with some kind of
advice and tip in a sidebar (actually a midline bar?) plus the usual
per serving nutritional data. Most preps have only a few steps, and
there is plenty of white room )and large printing) to allow for visual
relief and addition of your own comments. The book is probably also
being pitched to the US market since there are only avoirdupois
measurements used in the recipes. There is, of course, a table of
metric equivalents at the back. There are coloured tabs which are
useful in locating sections of the book, but the index is also thorough
and useful.
Audience and level of use: families, those who also use Stern and
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chocolate and cashew cream
cheese pie; pizza quesadillas; pesto chicken; beef, bok choy and oyster
mushroom stir-fry; turkey and sautéed corn chili with white cheddar
cheese; hummus soup with feta and black olives.
The downside to this book: I have to assume that the binding will hold,
since it is a paperback and the paper is heavy. Just be careful, don't
bend back the book.
The upside to this book: this book supports Breakfast for Learning,
which helps local communities start and sustain programs that provide
breakfast, lunch and snacks to students.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

7. THE BIG SUMMER COOKBOOK; 300 fresh, flavorful recipes for those lazy
hazy days (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 337 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-11427-8,
$24.95 US soft covers) is by Jeff Cox, author of 17 books about organic
food, wine, and gardening. He was a managing editor of Organic Farming
– you can find more details at This is a staples
book of basic summer food preps (he even has a section on homemade
summer staples: sauces, condiments, dressings, marinades, and the
like). He has a lot of ideas on menu creation for lunches, brunches,
visits to the beach, picnics, and other outdoors activities. His food
emphases are on fresh veggies, herbs, and fruits since summer is THE
season. He encourages us to eat more of these during this season, in
addition to perhaps using meats as a garnish. Preps are marked with
icons to help identify quick-cooking recipes, ones that can be made
ahead, and ones that require no cooking at all. Informative sidebars
are liberally distributed. As well, he has some anecdotal tales to
amuse us. All courses are covered from apps to desserts, with material
on drinks, 19 menus (with page references), picks at farmers' markets,
and a listing of recipes by both icon and by summer ingredient.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking for a summery cookbook.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: peachberry almond galette;
pssta primavera salad; summer stone fruit tart; lobster salad; cold
summer squash soup; caponata; melon-lime salad.
The downside to this book: the orange and green colours of the typeface
grate after awhile, and the recipes may be hard to read in some cases,
depending on your eyesight.
The upside to this book: from time to time there are wine suggestions.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
8. THE COMPLETE ROOT CELLAR BOOK; building plans, uses, and 100 recipes
(Robert Rose, 2010, 264 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0243-3, $27.95 Canadian,
paper covers) is by Steve Maxwell, a home improvement author with his
own root cellar, and Jennifer MacKenzie, a professional home economist,
author and editor. Together they present 30 easy-to-follow illustrated
plans for all kinds of storage, plus 100 recipes to use the "roots".
The variety of storage includes cold rooms, storage containers,
basement cellars, stand-alone cellars, outdoor structures, cellars for
condos and townhouses, and cellars for a warmer climate. They have a
huge list of fruits and veggies, and for each there are notes on
optimal storage conditions for both outdoor and indoor storage, storage
life in a cellar, plus what to do when the food starts to deteriorate.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, and there is no table of equivalents. The
book concludes with a resources list and a bibliography.
Audience and level of use: the adventuresome, those who want to create
their own cold rooms.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beets that have gone soft
during storage are still good to eat after they are boiled. Try
sauerkraut, vegetable pot pie, sage butter parsnip soufflé, or roasted
onion and potato soup. Even a rumtopf.
The downside to this book: I think the book needs a little more hand
holding in the pest control section.
The upside to this book: there are many applications here for wine
cellars too.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
9. THE GLORIOUSLY GLUTEN-FREE COOKBOOK; spicing up life with Italian,
Asian, and Mexican recipes (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 238 pages, ISBN
978-0-470-44088-9, $19.95 US soft covers) is by Vanessa Maltin, Food &
Lifestyle Editor for Delight Gluten Free Magazine. Three chefs helped
to contribute recipes: Keith Brunell (Italian), Katie Chan (Asian), and
Edgar Steele (Mexican). Maltin completes the package with a primer on
celiac disease, living on a gluten-free diet, and some gluten-free
desserts. She also has a list of celiac disease resources and three
indexes (one for dairy-free recipes, one for vegetarian recipes, and a
general index). Pantries are suggested for each cuisine. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is
no metric table of equivalents. Basic sauces are covered, as well as
risottos, pasta, pizza, rice and noodles, sushi, and the like.
Audience and level of use: those who need a gluten-free diet.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: moo shu beef; rd snapper
with fresh salsa and quinoa; empanadas; grilled salmon and green curry
risotto; eggplant rollatini; calzones.
The downside to this book: the purple and green typeface colours can be
The upside to this book: useful to have some ethnic tasty food.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
10. FOOD STYLING; the art of preparing food for the camera (John Wiley
& Sons, 2010, 398 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-08019-1, $75 US hard covers) is
by Delores Custer, a freelance food stylist since 1978. She styles in
all media and has taught courses around the world. She has major food
clients such as Budweiser, General Mills, Kraft Foods and ConAgra. More
about her can be found at The book has been highly
anticipated. There's nothing much I can say about the basic contents
beyond what the publisher tells us on the flap: the food stylist
considers, plans, and perfects every detail of the presentation of
food, whether in stages or plated as a final. Custer brings 30 years of
experience styling for advertising, magazines, books, television, and
film. Plus she has taught all of this at New York University, CIA,
Institute of Culinary Education, and others. In essence, then, this is
a definitive reference book, with detailed information on essential
tools and useful equipment, step-by-step guidance on achieving the
perfect shot, an a collection of ideas for tricks and techniques to
bring out the best of the plated food. Everything is laid out in text-
book fashion, which promotes bites of data on a couple of pages or so.
The detail goes through a history, basic primer, ethics (to enhance, to
stretch or to cheat?), editorial vs. advertising, types of media, who
you work with – all in the first 30 pages. Half of the book is about
facing the challenges of food by ingredient: fruit, veggies, herbs,
edible flowers, dairy products, breakfast foods, sandwiches, soups,
meats, grilled food, etc. She had also done a project 10 years ago
about the last fifty years of food styling, complete with archival
photos. Here, she updates it to cover 1950-2010, adding ten years and
complete with timelines. At the back, there is a glossary, a list of
resources (magazines, directories, and books: it is up-to-date as
Gourmet is not here, but Canadian and Brit mags are). Internet
resources are exhaustively detailed, as are organizations and sources
of supply.
Audience and level of use: professional photographers and food
presenters, libraries, and the curious public.
Some interesting or unusual facts: mortician's wax is a clear sticky
substance and it holds foods in place or gives height. Use petroleum
jelly (Vaseline) as a clear glue to add crumbs to or fill in gaps in
cakes and piecrusts.
The downside to this book: it is heavy, with all the photos on that
paper – 2 kilos weight (4.5 pounds)
The upside to this book: the photos, of course, are stunning.
Quality/Price Rating: as a text, it is very comprehensive, so 94.

11. THE BEER TRIALS; the essential guide to the world's most popular
beers (Fearless Critic Media, 2010; distr. T. Allen, 312 pages, ISBN
978-1-6081600-9-9, $14.95 US paper covers) has been pulled together by
Seamus Campbell and Robin Goldstein. Campbell writes the popular The
Daily Wort blog from Portland, OR, while Goldstein is also the co-
author of the companion book, The Wine Trials 2010. In set up, the book
is similar to Wine Trials – 250 beers are rated in brown-bag blind
tastings. Each beer has a full-page review. Primer info includes a
guide to the major beer styles, beer flavours, and beer regions of the
world. All of the participants and judges have been named. There are
indexes to both beer styles and the beers themselves.
Audience and level of use: beer lovers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Drying malts over open fires, which
for a long time was the only option in many regions, imparted a smoky 
signature that simply reflected the cooking fuel used. These beers died
out when indirect-heat kilning technology was developed.
The downside to this book: Canada only gets a couple of entries under
"Belgian Ale" and "Pale Lagers". We know that there is more here, but
the book is only concerned with what's popular in the US. The
microbrews, then, are mainly American.
The upside to this book: good detail and written descriptions.
Quality/Price Rating: 85,

12. MR. BOSTON SUMMER COCKTAILS (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 106 pages,
ISBN 978-0-470-18489=9, $15.95 US hard bound) comes from those
associated with the Mr. Boston series of cocktail recipe books. Here,
the editors are Anthony Giglio and Jim Meehan, both of whom worked on
the master series of Mr. Boston preps. And just in time for summer,
with 100 cocktails. Most use fresh fruit and cooler type thinning.
There are the usual primer data on cocktail preparation plus the
sidebars of trade secrets (proper muddling, finding inexpensive
substitutes). Contributors are named. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric
table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: patio and pool hounds who love cocktails.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: blackbeard punch; melon
stand; rosarita; rude sage cosmo; arch angel; blood orange; and other
named concoctions.
The downside to this book: could use more cocktails.
The upside to this book: good looking pictures.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.

13. FOR THE LOVE OF SALAD (Whitecap, 2010, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-
007-5, $19.95 Canadian soft covers) is by Jeanelle Mitchell, author of
For the Love of Soup (2002). And just in time for summer…Here she has
99 preps for all manner of salads: leafy, veggies, grains, pasta,
beans, and types of meats. There is the usual primer data on dressings
and ingredient selections, plus tips on salad techniques. Some of the
salads are for main courses, but they can be converted to a salad
course. She's illustrated the pages with her artwork. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents. Proceeds of this book (as
well as from the previous Soup book) go to support her nephew who was
in an auto accident.
Audience and level of use: summer salad lovers and others
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fresh mushroom salad with
gremolata vinaigrette; grilled shrimp tabbouleh salad; cabbage slaw
with apples; smoked trout salad with endive; grilled tuna nicoise;
nicoise pasta salad; tex-mex grilled chicken salad with salsa dressing.
The downside to this book: I would have liked more salad preps in the
The upside to this book: good layout.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
14. BAROLO (University of Nebraska Press, 2010, 227 pages, ISBN 978-0-
8032-2674-6, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Matthew Gavin Frank, a food
writer who has worked for over 15 years in the hospitality industry. He
has also been teaching writing at Grand Valley State University. His
book is published in the "At Table" series from UNP. More and more
academic presses are publishing food and wine books – academia seems
top have discovered ripe research potentials here. This is not a
scholarly work about Barolo (as in the wine), but rather it is a
memoir-travelogue done in much the same manner as the commercial
publishers do in covering Tuscany, Provence, Sonoma, Napa, and the
like. Blame it all on Peter Mayles? I'm most happy to see it here
because Frank is a good writer, perhaps a bit too vivid from time to
time, but then that's what creative non-fiction is all about. There are
only two long chapters here; most are 4 to 7 pages of vignettes. Seven
had been previously published. Through it all we find that Frank is
living in a tent, absorbing as much as possible about Piedmontese food
and wine. He ends up picking grapes (as an illegal worker, apparently)
for a vintner. He shares many stories about the provincial farms and
merchants, all agricultural (farmers markets, restaurants, butchers,
bakers). Illustrated with eight black and white photos.
Audience and level of use: armchair tourists, memoir-lovers, readers of
Italian food and culture.
The downside to this book: needs an index to retrieve names and
locations, food stuffs, etc.
The upside to this book: it is loaded with Barolo wine and Alba white
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

15. SUCCESSFUL RESTAURANT DESIGN. Third edition (Wily and Sons, 2010,
304 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-25075-4 hard covers) is one of the more
enduring books in the hospitality service industry. It was first
published in 1989, and it presents an integrated approach to restaurant
design, incorporating front- and back-of-the-house operations. The
authors are Regina S. Baraban (founding editor of Hospitality Design
magazine and teacher at various places including University of New
Hampshire) and the Joseph F. Durocher (a faculty member at UNH and her
husband who died in 2009). This latest edition has been revised and
update with new coverage of the latest technology (usually new
computers programs). Case methods were completed within the past five
years. Case studies have been used for architectural and decorative
solutions. All in-depth interviews here are brand new. The mix of
people included architects, designers, restaurateurs, and kitchen
specialists. "Sustainability" is a hot issue in the hospitality
industry right now, and it has been addressed for both front- and back-
of-the-house. At the end of the book, the authors forecast what they
think the future and changes of restaurants will be over the next
decade. There are plenty of floor plans, mostly black and white photos
(with a colour section) and some charts. Quality/Price rating: 87.
Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.
Creator of Canada's award-winning wine satire site at

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