3. SMALL SWEET TREATS (Gibbs Smith, 2011, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-
0694-9, $19.99 US soft covers) is by Marguerite Marceau Henderson, food
writer and cookbook author (Small Plates, Small Parties). Apparently,
she is specializing in "small" foods! The overriding factor here is the
nature of small: cookies, frozen desserts, breakfast goodies, pies,
tarts, the cobbler family, cakes, and other baked goods, etc. You'll
need a lot of temptation resistance here, for one bite will lead to
another. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: family bakers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chocolate zucchini cake;
apricot fool; lemon cream stop fruit-filled crepes; sesame anise bites;
strawberry panna cotta with strawberry-basil balsamic compote.
The downside to this book: I could use more preps.
The upside to this book: but there are some nifty treats here.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
4. THE FINEST WINES OF CALIFORNIA; a regional guide to the best
producers and their wines (University of California Pr., 2011,
320 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-26658-2, $34.95 US soft covers) is by Stephen
Brook, who has written for Hugh Johnson and has also authored "Wines of
California" as a Mitchell Beazley Wine Guide in 2006. The book, co-
published with Quarto Group in the UK, is one of an illustrated series
created by The World of Fine Wine magazine. These are guides to the
classic regions and their producers, vineyards and vintages. As Hugh
Johnson, one of the editorial team, would say "These are the wines most
worth talking about". Thus far, the company Fine Wine Editions has
looked at Champagne, Tuscany, Rioja, and Bordeaux. The format is pretty
straight-forward at this point, with Hugh Johnson giving many of the
series' forewords their lustre. There's material in about 50 pages or
so on history, culture and geography, along with winemaking, grapes,
and viticulture. Then comes the biggest section: producers and their
wines, sub-arranged by region. The 250 pages here cover Napa, Sonoma
and the important regions to the south. Then there is a final 25 pages
on wine appreciation, vintages, top-ten tables, glossary, bibliography,
and how (and where) to buy California wines. The photography is mainly
centered on the producers. Overall, this is an excellent guide to the
Audience and level of use: the serious wine lover who also loves to
read, reference libraries and wine schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: for whatever reason, Screaming Eagle
and The Bryant Family are not included. I'd have thought that "these
are the wines most worth talking about". They're good albeit
overpriced, but that gets people talking about them!! By the same
token, Gallo IS included, and "these are the wines most worth talking
The downside to this book: California is too diffused to cover in just
The upside to this book: there's a ribbon bookmark.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
5. TART LOVE; sassy, savory, and sweet (Gibbs Smith, 2011, 144 pages,
ISBN 978-1-4236-1894-1, $24.99 US hard covers) is by Holly Herrick,
former restaurant critic for the Charleston SC newspaper. She now
writes cookbooks (this is her second). Tarts are open-faced (no double
crust) thin pies. She covers savoury tartlets, tarts, pot pies (with
the single crust on top), quiches, sweet custards, cream pies, and
fruit tarts. She begins with a primer on pastry making: but she doesn't
like lard in her dough, nor does she have any gluten-free alternative.
Main course and dessert preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: pie makers, home cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: winesap apple and walnut
tart; eggplant and cream cheese tapenade tartlets; salade nicoise tart;
panna cotta tart with roasted fresh figs; creamy blue crab and salmon
quiche; raspberry crème brulee tartlets; drunken pumpkin-bourbon tart.
The downside to this book: no gluten-free pie crust preps.
The upside to this book: good large print size
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
6 AUTHENTIC NORWEGIAN COOKING (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011, 192 pages,
ISBN 978-1-61608-217-8, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Astrid Karlsen
Scott, who has written many books about Norwegian food and customs.
Here she presents an all-purpose book of more than 300 traditional
Norwegian recipes. The foods come from every region, and are useful for
every occasion. There's a small culinary history with background for
most dishes. As well, there are full colour photos and line drawings.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there are also tables of metric
equivalents. The book also includes a sources list, material on
parties, napkin folding, spice charts, glossary and pantry of common
Norwegian foods. Of course, three are lutefisk, farikal, and rakorret
Audience and level of use: Scandinavian food lovers, home cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: open face sandwich tidbits;
gravlaks; baked trout; New Year's Eve game; stuffed cabbage leaves;
yogurt mousse; Daim cake; crisp waffles with cream; Birthday kringle.
Smoked eel; mackerel fillets.
The downside to this book: she makes it look easier than it is.
The upside to this book: there are two indexes, one in English and one
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7. FRUGAVORE; how to grow organic, buy local, waste nothing, and eat
well (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011; distr. T. Allen, 336 pages, ISBN 978-
1-61608-408-0, $16.95 US soft covers) is by Arabella Forge, an
Australian nutritionist. She offers us her advice on how to live and
eat well using local food. She shows us how to access quality produce
from local farmers, use older cooking techniques, create compost for
our own garden, stock our pantry well, shop for economic cuts of meat,
and use co-ops. She has about b100 recipes. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of metric equivalents. Specific chapters deal with minimizing waste at
home, grassroots movements, making your own food, team efforts, working
a vegetable garden, and then chapters on food such as meat, fish, whole
grains, and more. WARNING: Most of the indexed recipes are off by two
pages, that is, an oatmeal pastry is referred to on page 252, but it
should really be page 250. You'll need to add a note to the index
yourself in order to remember this detail.
Audience and level of use: concerned home cooks, frugal eaters.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: "Fermented milk products
such as yogurt and kefir are traditional staples in all milk-drinking
creates healthy lactic-acid bacteria and makes other
nutrients in milk easier for the human body to use."
The downside to this book: most of us don't have all the time required
to do this work. I'm retired from a day job but I still cannot keep up
with the demands of frugavores.
The upside to this book: there are nice preps for homemade condiments,
but she does use too much sugar in the ketchup.
Quality/Price Rating: 80.
8. QUICK-FIX VEGAN; healthy, homestyle meals in 30 minutes or less
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2011, 212 pages, ISBN 978-1-4494-0785-8,
$16.99 US paper covers) is by Robin Robertson, author of Quick-Fix
Vegetarian. She's a major food writer with about two dozen vegetarian
and vegan books to her credit, as well as articles in a number of
periodicals and newspapers. So here are 150 or so recipes, covering the
gamut from apps to desserts. The overriding rule is that they must be
prepared in 30 minutes or less. But there are make ahead meals that can
be baked at the last minute, again less than 30 minutes. The preps call
for an organized pantry and a good setup (mise en place). There are
many simple ethnic foods here, especially from those places with a
dairy-free culture. Both ends of the Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian, and
even Cajun foods are here. As with her other quick-fix book, Robertson
gives some basic primer material on how to cook smarter and organize
yourself. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there are three pages of tables of metric
Audience and level of use: vegans, vegetarians
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: spicy smoked Portobello
tacos; creamy balsamic dressing with tahini; farfalle with sesame
cabbage; Moroccan pumpkin hummus; apple pie parfaits; Korean hot pot;
Tuscan kale lasagna; zucchini frittata; tzatziki sauce.
The downside to this book: gluten-free only comes up with reference to
pasta dishes, using purchased versions.
The upside to this book: good idea, save a lot of time.
9. THE VENISON COOKBOOK; venison dishes from fast to fancy (Skyhorse
Publishing, 2011, 128 pages, ISBN 978-1-61608-456-1, $19.95 US hard
covers) is by Kate Fiduccia, who has hunted and cooked venison, plus
prepared many game cookbooks. Just about any kind of "venison" (a
generic term which also includes moose, elk and caribou as well as
deer) is a great low-fat alternative to beef. Unless you shoot it
yourself, what you get in Canada comes from a game farm, which is "next
best". Here are 150 preps, ranging from easy to hard, simple to
gourmet, fast to complex. Many are adapted from beef preps. There are
photos, anecdotes and advice. Arrangement is by course, with apps,
mains, breakfast dishes, pies and casseroles, soups and stews,
marinades and rubs, and some accompaniments. There's material on game
care tips and butchering. Nutritional information has its own separate
pages. And there are US mail order sources; the only source from Canada
in BC is for wholesale distributors only. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: extremely useful for hunters and game
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: venison and vegetable
kabobs; venison stew with barley; chicken-fried venison; Sicilian
venison burgers; venison tamale pie; Salisbury moose steak.
The downside to this book: I wish the nutritional data had been with
the recipe, saving the extra step of looking it up.
The upside to this book: good material on gaming.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
10. THE CHEESEMONGER'S KITCHEN; celebrating cheese in 90 recipes
(Chronicle Books, 2011; distr. Raincoast, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-
7766-4, $35 US hard covers) is by Chester Hastings, a cheesemonger at
Joan's on Third in Los Angeles. He's also a writer and chef. It's
actually more of a cookbook, with 90 preps. It's not a reference book
on cheese, but a cookbook that uses cheeses through the spectrum of
apps to desserts, including of course the cheese board. There are some
wine pairing notes of a general sort for cow, sheep and goat milk, and
then recommendations for each recipe. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but
there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: cheese lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Flamiche (Belgian tart with
bacon, beer and munster); burrata with asparagus, pine nuts, and golden
raisins; taleggio fried in cornmeal and grappa batter; robiola verde;
zucchini and goat gouda fritters; handmade garganelli with gorgonzola
The downside to this book: it might have been interesting to have beer
recommendations as accompaniment as well as wine pairings.
The upside to this book: good idea, recipes really knit well together.
Quality/Price Rating: 89
11. VEGETARIAN ENTREES THAT WON'T LEAVE YOU HUNGRY (The Experiment,
2011; distr. T. Allen, 244 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-033-1, $17.95 US
soft covers) is by Lukas Volger, a chef who is now a cookbook author
(he wrote Veggie Burgers Every Which Way). Here are 70 mains that
promise to be "nourishing, flavorful main courses that fill the center
of the plate". It comes with log rolling from Martha Rose Shulman and
Deborah Madison. Volger's mission is to get the cook away from using
burgers, pastas, and stir-frees as a constant stream of main dishes at
home. So there is good variation here, from hearty salads and soups
through dumplings, curries, oven-baked dishes, savoury cakes, eggs, and
pizzas and tarts. There is also a primer on vegetarian pantries,
emphasizing the need for staples of sauces and condiments (toasted
bread crumbs, roasted veggies such as tomatoes and Bells and garlic,
caramelized onions, pestos, tapenades, bean dips, peanut sauce, and
more). And a short resources list. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no
table of metric equivalents. Try saag paneer, cashew and cauliflower
curry, spiced lentil soup, delicate squash soup, pumpkin risotto, pad
Thai (with variations), or vegetarian banh mi. Quality/price rating: