Search This Blog

Thursday, August 18, 2011

THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK... one of the hottest trends in cookbooks.
Actually, they've been around for many years, but never in such
proliferation. They are automatic sellers, since the book can be
flogged at the restaurant or TV show and since the chef ends up being a
celebrity somewhere, doing guest cooking or catering or even turning up
on the Food Network. Most of these books will certainly appeal to fans
of the chef and/or the restaurant and/or the media personality. Many of
the recipes in these books actually come off the menus of the
restaurants involved. Occasionally, there will be, in these books,
special notes or preps, or recipes for items no longer on the menu.
Stories or anecdotes will be related to the history of a dish. But
because most of these books are American, they use only US volume
measurements for the ingredients; sometimes there is a table of metric
equivalents, but more often there is not. I'll try to point this out.
The usual shtick is "favourite recipes made easy for everyday cooks".
There is also PR copy on "demystifying ethnic ingredients". PR bumpf
also includes much use of the magic phrase "mouth-watering recipes" as
if that is what it takes to sell such a book. I keep hearing from
readers, users, and other food writers that some restaurant recipes
(not necessarily from these books) don't seem to work, but how could
that be? They all claim to be kitchen tested for the home, and many
books identify the food researcher by name. Most books are loaded with
tips, techniques, and advice, as well as gregarious stories about life
in the restaurant world. Photos abound, usually of the chef bounding
about. The celebrity books, with well-known chefs or entertainers, seem
to have too much self-involvement and ego. And, of course, there are a
lot of food shots, verging on gastroporn. The endorsements are from
other celebrities in a magnificent case of logrolling. If resources are
cited, they are usually American mail order firms, with websites. Some
companies, though, will ship around the world, so don't ignore them
altogether. Here's a rundown on the latest crop of such books –
12. GRILLING WITH SALMING (HarperCollins, 2011, 136 pages, ISBN 978-1-
44340-487-7, $24.99 CAN paper covers) is by Borje Salming, the first
European to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (1996), for his
work with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has returned to Sweden, and a few
years ago he was persuaded to write a grill and BBQ book for a Swedish
publisher. This is the 2011 reprint of that 2010 book. At first, I
thought it was "Grilling with Salmon", which is one of my fave foods.
There are, though, two salmon recipes here: kebab skewers and a whole
side. It's is useful book and it should trade in very well with its
celebrity name. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of
equivalents. There are quite a few pix of Salming (he is, after all,
the celebrity of record here) and some memoir-ish material. Otherwise,
it seems to be a pretty standard grill book (see other reviews on this
page): grilled corn, bacon-wrapped chicken drumsticks, balsamic-
marinated lamb chops with roasted garlic, chorizo-stuffed chicken
breast, plus veggies and skewers and marinades. There are four grilled
desserts: pineapple, fruit salad, peaches, apples. Quality/price
rating: 84.
13. WELL DRESSED; salad dressings (Gibbs Smith, 2011, 96 pages, ISBN
978-1-4236-1766-2, $16.99 US hard covers) is by Jeff Keys, owner of
Vintage Restaurant in Sun Valley, Idaho. He has also authored a
cookbook featuring his restaurant. Here's a variety of quality salad
dressings, some of them complex. He's arranged them all (about 70) by
type: vinaigrettes, claw/creamy dressings, and mix-in dressings. There
is even an "international" chapter which are all vinaigrettes such as
Asian golden dragon beet vinaigrette, Spanish sherry vinaigrette,
chili-lime vinaigrette, and wasabi vinaigrette. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of
metric equivalents. For the cooking completist and salad lover.
Quality/price rating: 88.
14. MIETTE; recipes from San Francisco's most charming pastry shop
(Chronicle Books, 2011, 223 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-7504-2 $27.50 US
hard covers) is by Meg Ray, chef and owner of Miette. The clever
package includes scalloped book pages, which take some getting used to
when flipping. Miette only does spectacular cakes, tarts, pastries,
candies and creams. There are 100 recipes plus variations here,
accompanied by 50 dramatic photos. There's a sources list (mainly US
west coast) and a tools list. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
equivalents. Try coconut mousse cake, bittersweet ganache cake, lemon
tea cake, princess cake, and other flights of fancy. A nice book for
inspiration, but of course it should be useful for Miette's fans in the
Bay Area. Quality/price rating: 84.

15. SOUTHERN BISCUITS (Gibbs Smith, 2011, 216 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-
2176-8, $21.99 US hard covers) is by cookbook author and cooking TV
host (over 300 shows) Nathalie Dupree. She lives in Charleston, South
Carolina, and specializes in southern cooking. Her co-author is fellow
cookbook writer and cooking TV producer, Cynthia Graubart. This single
ingredient cookbook is a boon to biscuit lovers everywhere. There are
"easy" biscuits, traditional biscuits such as beaten biscuits,
embellished biscuits, and some dessert biscuits. The flesh out the
book, there are some others: cheese straws, blue cornmeal biscuits,
sausage pinwheels, pancakes and waffles. But no gluten-free preps.
Leftovers are dealt with by breaded tomatoes, biscuit panzanella
salads, sausage stuffing, casseroles, etc. There are also 16 preps for
sauces, gravies, jams and jellies. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric
equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.

16. HEALTHY STARTS HERE! 140 recipes that will make you fell great
(Whitecap, 2011, 348 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-039-6, $29.95 soft covers)
is by Mairlyn Smith, who has been a cooking TV host and celebrity (such
as Harrowsmith Country Life TV). She's authored two other cookbooks.
The book should sell well in the Canadian comedy community since Smith
is an alumna of Second City. She has log rolling from other comedians
(Eastwood, James, McGrath, Mochrie). Indeed, she does write with a
comedic style. Anyway, this lifestyle guide focuses on busy families
with classic and contemporary takes on healthy food such as grilled
garlic shrimp. It is arranged by ingredient, from apples, through
beans, berries, greens, nuts, chocolate, and yogurt. There's also
advice on throwing parties and how to give up junk foods. The four
menus (with recipes) are one per season, taking advantage of the local
foods available. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of
equivalents. The bibliography gives us an opportunity to read about the
healthy benefits of foods. Try quinoa tabbouleh, January salad, Asian
chicken and watercress soup, chicken-coconut soup, or broccoli with
peanut sauce. Quality/price rating: 88.

No comments: