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Friday, July 2, 2010

Food and Drink Books for July 2010

2010; distr. McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 296 pages, ISBN 978-1-58-040312-2,
$19.95 US paper covers) is by Amy Ritolo, author of other cookbooks
such as "Arabian Delights" and "Nile Style". Here she takes a run at
Mediterranean food in general. Actually, the Med Diet is perfectly
attuned to the needs of diabetics, so for the most [part, one need go
no further. In general, Ritolo has eliminated fats and sugars while
augmenting quality proteins, whole grains, and legumes. The recipes
here are quick and easy, with a Mediterranean pantry. Main foods
embrace red tomatoes, eggplant, fresh herbs, EVOO, whole grains and
legumes, and tahini, along with fish. Med cuisine is a way of life. She
has meal planners, seasonal menus (with eight or so for each season
along with page references to the prep), and extensive notes for the
pantry. Arrangement is by course, with the obvious small plates upfront
first. Cook's notes provide cultural contexts and helpful hints, and
cross-reference the prep to other preps in the book (along with the
relevant page references). There are metric nutritional data.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no metric table of equivalents. Preps are listed by both
English title and the indigenous language (e.g., "fagioli
al'uccelletto" is stewed cannellini beans with tomatoes and sage).
There's a chapter on making your own flavour enhancers (herbes de
Provence, harissa, tahini, gremolata). The indexes are by principal
ingredient and by origin or country.
Audience and level of use: diabetics or those looking for SLO Med diet
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: khubz matloua (Algerian
skillet bread); pissaladiere; pizza alla Siciliana; melanzane marinate;
eggplant croquettes.
The downside to this book: no metric equivalent tables.
The upside to this book: easy to use, good layout.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
4. HAY FEVER; how chasing a dream on a Vermont farm changed my life
(John Wiley, 2010, 290 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-39833-3, $24.95 US hard
covers) is by Angela Miller, a literary agent and the owner of Consider
Bardwell Farm in Vermont. She is a multiple award winner from the
American Cheese Society. This is her story, as a memoir, of getting
away from it all in the city and moving to the rustic countryside – and
being a farmer. Ralph Gardner Jr. is the focusing writer. "Angela
Miller and her husband set their sites on a charming nineteenth-century
farm in Vermont" – and apparently took the publisher's spell-check with
them: "sites" ? They started with a herd of goats and began producing
artisanal cheeses, now found at The French Laundry and Daniel and Per
Se. It's a good book, detailing the efforts of a cheese maker.  As with
most memoirs of this sort, there is a fair bit of humour (which makes
it more readable). Additionally, there are answers to the question: how
do you run a New York-based business AND run a cheese making operation?
Secret – she's not the only person on the farm (there are at least nine
named others). It's a big operation, taking time and money. At the back
of the book, there are eight recipes. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric
table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: memoir lovers, cheese fanciers.
Some interesting or unusual facts: "Just to get certified in 2004 cost
us hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and construction.
We've spent hundreds of thousands more since then."
The downside to this book: it is also a page turner in that there is a
larger typeface and lots of leading. This makes the book seem longer
than it is. I'd also like to see some more pictures beyond the two on
the cover.
The upside to this book: there is an index, which makes it very useful
to dig out data and facts such as on the cheese making process.
Quality/Price Rating: 83.

5. FOOD PRESENTATION SECRETS (Firefly Books, 2010, 176 pages, ISBN 978-
1-55407-491-4, $29.95 CAD hard covers) is by two Brits, Cara Hobday
(food journalist and cookbook author) and Jo Denbury (freelance
writer). There are over 75 sweet and savoury edible garnishing ideas
here, with recipes. Techniques, tools, ingredients and designs are all
explained in a comprehensive fashion, illustrated with step-by-step
photos on prepping and assembling the garnish. Each is graded by level
of difficulty. There are useful tips and checklists along the way, and
there are sidebars to indicate the best ways to use garnishes. Both
authors contribute a series of generic recipes and a kitchen schedule
planner. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there are also tables of weight and
measure equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home cooks who want to learn garnishing.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: potato matchsticks; caramel
dipped fruit; fruit fans; rolled green towers; vegetable bundles; tuile
shapes; cucumber lotus.
The downside to this book: I would have liked a slightly large type
The upside to this book: there's a section on edible flowers, shoots
and leaves.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

6. PROFESSIONAL GARDE MANGER; a comprehensive guide to cold food
preparation (John Wiley & Sons, 2011 [sic], 780 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-
17996-3, $100US hard covers) is by Lou Sackett and Jaclyn Pestka, with
consulting author Wayne Gisslen. They are all teachers, and this is, of
course, a text book for professional chefs. Garde Manger is the art and
technique of preparing a full range of cold dishes for buffet, banquet,
and catering events. This includes hors d'oeuvre, appetizers, terrines
and pates, and charcuterie. The 375 recipes (plus 400 variations)
included in this book take into account the global cuisine of today.
Such material includes microgreens, international sandwiches, brining
ratios, fermented sausages, artisanal US cheeses, tapas tasting menus,
savoury sorbets, and the raw bar. The book is meant for both students
and practitioners. The opening sections deal with history of banquets,
the needed skills, careers, safe food handling techniques, the
flavours, colours and textures of food for the table. Cost controls and
price establishment are also important here. Recipe sections include
cold sauces, soups, salads (flavour balances), sandwiches, curing and
preserving meats and fish, cheeses (including presentations). There are
also chapters with chaud-froid, aspics, gelees, marinades, condiments,
and garnishes. Decorating and plating are also included, especially
platter layouts and design. The book is well-stitched, so it will put
up with much wear and tear. Preparations have their ingredients listed
in both metric and US avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of equivalents. There is also a bibliography and a glossary. Good
layout and detailed procedures, plus plenty of colours and use of
photos and drawings for techniques.
Audience and level of use: students and professionals, the home cook
who does a lot of cold dishes.
Some interesting or unusual facts: plating is important for cold food
since there are only visual stimuli. Purchasers of this book can get
access to a website for more recipes and FAQs.
The downside to this book: a heavy book, weight wise.
The upside to this book: most recipes are doable at home because they
are for small portions.
Quality/Price Rating: 88
7. SIMPLY SPECTACULAR CAKES; beautiful designs for irresistible cakes
and cookies (Clarkson Potter, 2010, 144 pages, ISBN 978-0-307-46455-2,
$30 US hard covers) is by UK pastry chef Peggy Porschen, author of
"Pretty Party Cakes". Here she moves up a notch, from "pretty" to
"spectacular". For these she has a series of templates at the back for
monograms and positioning dowels and layouts. There's a techniques
section, tools listing, colours used, a glossary, a list of suppliers
(which amazingly enough includes someone in Richmond Hill, ON), and a
quantity guide. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of equivalents.
If you are stuck for anything, visit
Audience and level of use: for the adventuresome home cook or anyone
who wants to project whimsy.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: the book was originally
published in 2009 in the UK as "Cake Chic", as a trove of recipes for
upscale designer-crafted cakes. Porschen also throws in some cookies
and mini cakes (petit fours?). Try making ballerina pumps cookies, or
little black dress cookies, cameo cakes, cupcakes in bloom, or even
couture hatboxes.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

8. THE SOMMELIER PREP COURSE; an introduction to the wines, beers, and
spirits of the world (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 468 pages, ISBN 978-0-
470-28318-9, $35 US soft covers) is by Michael Gibson, an MS sommelier
teaching at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale, AZ.
This book is meant for the restaurant-sommelier/bartender or sommelier-
student, but anybody can use it. In addition to lots of wine material
(which, admittedly, can be found in many other books), there are loads
of details on beers and spirits. What also makes the book useful are
the review questions and quizzes. There is a pronouncing glossary of
1200 key terms, maps, and sections on how a sommelier is supposed to
work in a bistro (opening wines, presenting them, labels, knowledge,
etc.). The emphasis in the book is on prepping for any sommelier test,
whether at a college hospitality program or the awesome MS Court. It
can serve as a good reference work, and at this price, it is certainly
affordable. Not a colourful book: photos are all black and white,
tables and graphs fill the pages, and there are exercises everywhere.
But nit keeps the price down.
Audience and level of use: wine and sommelier students, current
sommeliers seeking refresher upgrading, hospitality schools and their
Some interesting facts: For each type of beverage, Gibson covers the essential
history, manufacturing information, varieties available, and tasting and pairing
information. He also includes sections on service, storage, and wine list preparation for
an understanding of many aspects of beverage service.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
9.  THE WINE, BEER & SPIRITS HANDBOOK; a guide to styles and service
(John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 513 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-13884-7, $30US on
Amazon.Com, hard covers) is by Joseph DeVilla and The International
Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes, which boasts over 6,000
students. The book is quite similar to the sommelier book above, except
there is more emphasis on wines, chapters have review questions and key
terms, and there are both colour photos and a hard case binding. Yet
the price is about the same as the sommelier book. The number of pages
here is misleading since the typeface is large and there is leading and
some blank pages ahead of some chapters. This book has a "nicer" feel
than Gibson's (above) but I usually prefer data. I'd imagine that it
would be used at the ICS, for sure, since it is issued from them.
There's a glossary and a bibliography at the end.
Audience and level of use: students, especially at the ICS
Some interesting facts: The book explains the responsibilities of the
sommelier from both the service and the managerial perspectives.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

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