Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 22, 2010





...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Here are some recent "re-editions"...



WILD GARLIC, GOOSEBERRIES…AND ME; a chef's stories and recipes from the land (Collins, 2007, 2010, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-00-736406-0, $28.99 Canadian soft covers) is by Denis Cotter, Irish author of the Café Paradiso Cookbook and chef-operator of that place in Cork. It is a reprint of the 2007 hardback book. It's a vegetarian book, and the main premise is foraging for food in the wild. It has good application to the local veggie fare of the UK. He tells us what's available and when, and how to use it. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. He has quite extensive notes for most plants, and of course there is also some memoir material. Try chard, new potato, and chickpea soup with lemon and roast garlic, or sea spinach with oyster mushrooms and soba noodles, or even bok choy and rice vermicelli salad with egg, apple, and a peanut dressing. English cognates are used throughout, such as aubergine (for eggplant) and courgette (for zucchini). Quality/price rating: 84.



THE ILLUSTRATED STEP-BY-STEP COOK; more than 300 updated recipes from DK's classic Look & Cook series (DK, 2010, 544 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-6753-5, $35 US hard covers) is based on material from Anne Willan originally published in 1992 through 1995. This is virtually a brand new book since all the preps have been modernized. The whole range is covered: starters, salads, vegetarian, one-pots, comfort food, bread, pies, cakes, desserts, and midweek cooking. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, and there are tables of equivalents on the inside covers, a boon. All recipes have been photographed to illustrate techniques (each prep gets a two page spread), and there are symbols to indicate service, prep time, cooking time, and the like. A good book of basic foods, such as onion and Roquefort quiche, Asian noodle salad, tuna Nicoise salad, Nori-maki sushi, cod and mussel chowder, blackberry and apple pie. Quality/price rating: 85.




THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Updated and revised (Grand Central Publishing, 2010, 208 pages, ISBN 978-0-446-54592-1, $22.99 UD hard covers) is the 50th Anniversary Edition of an American classic. It was originally written by Peg Bracken in 1960. Here, it has been updated and tweaked, with new material by Jo Bracken, her daughter. The original had 200 recipes and many "hints" and "tips"; it sold some three million copies. Indeed, I had just read that this Anniversary Edition had already sold 24,000 copies by August. Classics shouldn't be reviewed: they get annotated gracefully. Bracken and her friends wanted to shave a few minutes off the cooking chores, and to some extent, they succeeded. The emphasis was on quick and tasty. There was no concern for preservatives or for dairy fats. As her daughter says, you can now use fresh food or yogurt as appropriate, relevant substitutes. And everything works well. It's all pretty basic, and Bracken continued with eight other books and many articles. So: the steak is made with an onion-soup mix, the stew with the peas and carrot plus a can of thinned down soup, and the stroganoff with a cream of chicken soup can. Some of the others are quite tasty, such as a basic lamb shank recipe with no additions or a meatloaf with swiss cheese. The book has some menus (a boon for any home cook) and some last-minute suppers. Quality/price rating: 85.



BETTER HOMES AND GARDENS NEW COOKBOOK. 15th edition. (Wiley, 2010, 608  loose leaf pages, ISBN 978-0-470-55686-3, $29.95 US ring binder) is from the magazine of the same name. In fact, with each book US residents can get a free subscription for one year (value: $6.13 US). Since the book is widely discounted at box stores and Amazon, with the subscription the book can be had at virtually next to nothing. The 14th edition was published in 2007. The important thing is that this is a classic that keeps getting better for the basic home cook. New to this edition of 1400 preps are 1000 recipes with 1000 photos (800 new) and 400 photos of techniques. New features include a chapter on "Cook Once, Eat Twice", creating two meals out of one, and an exploration of new flavours to perk up basic foods. There is also new stuff on breakfast, brunch, casseroles, sandwiches and pizzas, as well as convenience cooking. Recipes have been laid out in a more eye appealing fashion, and there is advice on how to customize basic recipes. Ingredients are listed in US weights and measures. Quality/price ratio: 85.



THE GREAT DOMAINES OF BURGUNDY; a guide to the finest wine producers of the Cote d'Or. 3rd ed. (Sterling, 2010, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-4027-7882-7, $35 US hard covers) is by Remington Norman and Charles Taylor. It was originally published in 1992, with a revised edition in 1996 at the same number of pages as now: 288. There are 140 or so Domaines (up from 130), the best of the properties in Burgundy, with an assessment of the vintages 1971 through 2009 (all the data here was collected May through November 2009). 39 entries are new, so 29 Cote D'Or Domaines from the earlier book have been dropped. Norman was a Master of Wine for 20 years, while Taylor was the youngest ever member of that august society. I gather that Taylor did much of the spade work here, with interviews of the owners and winemakers, plus an update on the 25 important communes. There's a page or two for each, with a table of vineyard holdings (with the average age of the vines) and some photographs. Viticulture, viniculture and wine style are discussed. There's a lot of primer, basic information to complete the book (about 40 pages), material on microclimates, grape varieties and clones, oaking, biodynamics, tasting, and a glossary. Frankly, I would have appreciated more Domaines being listed since the primer can be found elsewhere in Coates or in Hanson. Anybody who buys this book will probably know most of the primer anyway. The non-Burgundian specialist will find the Domaine data arcane. For the Burgundy wine lover, this is a terrific book. Quality/price rating: 91.




THE VEGETARIAN COLLECTION; creative meat-free dishes that nourish & inspire (Transcontinental Books, 2010, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-9813938-0-3, $22.95 Canadian paper covers) has been pulled together by Alison Kent and the Canadian Living Test Kitchen (with its team of seven chefs and stylists). The preps come mainly from the pages of the magazine, and have been grouped around an ingredient category such as pulses and beans, grains, tofu, seeds and nuts, eggs and cheese, and then forty pages devoted to "vegetables". Recipes are one to a page, and there are just over 200 of them. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Nutritional information is listed, as well as some helpful hints from page to page. Expect a savour-flavour with double mushroom hot and sour soup, crunchy almond noodle salad, wild rice with pepitas, or vegetarian ceviche. Another good book for the home cook. Quality/price rating: 89.




BARTENDING FOR DUMMIES. 4th edition. (John Wiley Publishing, 2010, 366 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-63312-0, $16.99 US paper covers) has been revised to include more hip and trendy drinks. Ray Foley, the publisher of "Bartender" magazine, is the author. Preliminary matter deals with home bar setups and the base drinks. The A - Z alphabetical format has been retained, for about 1000 recipes with illustrations of what stemware to use for each drink. There are lots of charts, websites for producers and suppliers and information, a recipe index, and a topical index. This is a value-driven book in a respected off-handed series. Quality/price rating: 89.



MATT KRAMER ON WINE; a matchless collection of columns, essays, and observations by America's most original and lucid wine writer (Sterling Epicure, 2010, 334 pages, ISBN 978-1-4027-7164-4, $19.95 US hard covers) is by the well-known author of the "Making Sense" wine series who is also a columnist for the Wine Spectator. This latest book is a collection of his shorter works, a sort of retrospective, all noted as to original publication source and date. Most are, of course, from the Wine Spectator, but there are also some from the New York Sun and from his books. They cover the gamut of wine knowledge, and his own interest in wines (how to taste, California, older wines, Burgundy, and Italy). He's also an easy reader, with a breezy but literate style. You can always learn something from him. Topics also include Gaja, wine and women, and Bordeaux. There is even a Devil's Dictionary on wine terms from 1995, although some of it can be termed "libelous". As a writer on food and wine, Kramer has been at the top of his game for over 34 years. And the best value of this collection is that, unlike just about all the other anthologies, there is an index! Use it to track down such elusive topics as why wine isn't art, cloning cabernet to meaninglessness, why there is no wine writing in the New Yorker, how Kramer got a $15,000 kill fee (for a Gaja article, included in this book), and much more. Fascinating. Quality/price rating: 91.




THE FRENCH COUNTRY TABLE; simple recipes for bistro classics (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2010; distr. T. Allen, 159 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-023-3, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Laura Washburn, who currently translates French cookbooks into English and tests recipes. It was originally published in hard covers in 2003 (as Bistro) and in 2005 (as French Desserts). Here are the classic recipes for French onion soup, tians from Provence, soupe au pistou, goat cheese tart, Belgian endive salad, pork in cider, cassoulet, and the like. For desserts, there are tarte tatin, soufflé, clafouti, tarte au citron, napoleons, oeufs a la neige, mousse, and parfaits. Everything is relatively easy to make if you apply yourself. Good sharp photography, as always from Ryland. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a metric table of equivalents. Quality/Price rating: 87.




THE FOOD SUBSTITUTIONS BIBLE; more than 6,500 substitutions for

ingredients, equipment & techniques. 2nd ed. (Robert Rose, 2010, 695 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0245-7, $27.95 Canadian paper covers) has been compiled by David Joachim who has authored, edited or collaborated on more than 30 cookbooks. It was originally published in 2005, with 1,500 fewer substitutions. The new edition also has five new ingredient guides and measuring tables, plus 50 new recipes. It's also physically larger, with about 70 more pages. This is a solid reference book emphasizing, through over 1500 complete entries, more than 6500 reasonably approximate substitutions – all of it cross-referenced and arranged alphabetically. The ingredients are listed with both avoirdupois and metric measurements. There are 175 recipes for larder type items (sauces, stocks, spice mixes, herb blends, syrups, flavoured butters, cheese, dips, spreads, relishes, and beverages). There are handy reference charts for metric equivalents, high altitude cooking, stages of cooked sugar, pan sizes. There are ingredient tables for edible flowers, types of salts and vinegars, oil substitutions, picking apples and pears, dried beans and lentils, olives, mushrooms, potatoes, chilies, flours, and rice. He has useful website listings and a bibliography. Quality/Price Rating: 89.




THE BARTENDER'S BEST FRIEND. Updated and revised. (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 392 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-44718-5, $19.95 US soft covers) is by Mardee Haidin Regan, an American wine and spirits consultant with a Julia Child Cookbook Award nomination. It's a basic book, originally published in 2002, with over 850 recipes (including new ones such as the whole slew of what are now "new martini"). There's about three to a page, with bold face for the ingredients, making it easier to use in a setting of a dim barlight. It is an all-in-one alphabetical listing of cocktails. There are tabs for easier retrieval, plus an index for retrieval by spirit or form of drink, and a waterproof, wipe-dry cover with a book ribbon for bookmarking. There's also a bibliography but with bad indentations. It is all kept up to date at No pictures, which is nice since it keeps the weight and the price of the book down. Quality/Priced rating: 88.




SEASONS; the best of Donna Hay Magazine (HarperCollins, 2010, 324 pages, ISBN 978-1-55468-906-4, $39.99 Canadian soft covers) is by Donna Hay, the foodie Martha Stewart of Australia, with a string of successful cookbooks (17), newspaper articles, and her own self-named magazine. These preps in this book, originally published last year by Murdoch Books in Australia, come from her magazine. And her Canadian fans will lap it up, because the magazine is not that widely available here. It is all arranged by season, with coverage of "savoury" and "sweet" for each. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of equivalents. It is pretty basic, marred slightly by many overly touristy or non-food pictures (some double-spreaded over the book. But the oversized book does give us four or so recipes per page. There's red mullet with cherry tomatoes and garlic crumbs, spinach and feta pies, blistered plums and vanilla mascarpone tart, mixed berry clafouti, cauliflower soup with porcini oil, roasted pumpkin and garlic soup, and three pepper pork stir-fry. Quality/Price rating: 84.



EVERYDAY EASY CAKES & CUPCAKES; cheesecakes, muffins, brownies, sponge cakes (DK 2010, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-6731-3 $20 US hard covers) is a collection of 85 dessert preps from the previously published DK books, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible (2008) and The Illustrated Quick Cook (2009). There's a lot of useful information here, specifically on these types of desserts. As well, the DK photography is pretty good too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are metric table of equivalents on both the inside covers. The large print is useful, as well as a variety of icons used to show how long to freeze a dish, its prep time, and what kind of equipment is needed. Quality/Price rating: 84.



EXPLORING WINE. Completely revised third edition (John Wiley & Sons, 2010, 792 pages, ISBN 978-0-471-77063-3, $65 US hard covers) is by Steven Kolpan, Brian Smith and Michael Weiss – all professors of wine at the Culinary Institute of America. It is meant as both a textbook for hospitality students, especially those at the CIA, and for the informed consumer who wishes to pursue his vinous knowledge. It has a fairly complicated past. The second edition was in 2004 at 1070 pages (now out of print). The first edition was in 1996 from Van Nostrand Reinhold. Meanwhile, in 2008, Wiley published "WINEWISE; your complete guide to understanding, selecting, and enjoying wine" (360 pages) by these same three authors. So the best way to describe the current book is to say that it is a book that has doubled in size from 2008, borrowing elements from the second edition and with new material by two new authors. It is a fairly complete basic guide within two covers at a decent price. There are over 600 colour photos and over 32 maps (in colour, and with sufficient detail). The authors aim to prepare the basic consumer to appreciate wines, to select and buy the best bottles in both stores and restaurants, and to pair wines with foods (and vice versa). They begin coverage with material on the major white and red varietals. They continue with profiles of the major wine regions in the world. Here, Canada is given the usual three pages. Ok, I can handle that. But (shamefully) there is still nothing on Prince Edward County. Additional material concerns lists of value wines. As for restaurant pricing policies, the authors say "the wine should never cost double its retail price on the wine list." With a straight face, I can say that for Ontario, the wine should ALWAYS cost quadruple its retail price. An $8 bottle from the consignment warehouse is regularly priced in the $30 to $40 range. I wished they had some more details on some

of the minor grapes. We do not really know which will be the next "star". Quality/Price Rating: for this price, try 90.



EVERYDAY EASY FREE-AHEAD MEALS; casseroles, hearty soups, pizzas, one-pots, oven bakes (DK 2010, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7566-6732-0 $20 US hard covers) is a collection of 85 preps from the previously published DK books, The Illustrated Kitchen Bible (2008) and The Illustrated Quick Cook (2009). There's a lot of useful information here, specifically on these types of vehicles listed in the sub-title. As well, the DK photography is pretty good too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are metric table of equivalents on both the inside covers. The large print is useful, as well as a variety of icons used to show how long to freeze a dish, its prep time, and what kind of equipment is needed. Try stuffed eggplants (imam bayildi) or fish and lee pie or salmon fish cakes. Quality/Price rating: 84.



No comments: