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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Recent Noteworthy Cookbooks...

MODERN BUFFETS; blueprint for success (John Wiley, 2012 [sic], 208
pages, ISBN 978-0-470-48466-1, $82.95 CAN hard covers) is by Edward G.
Leonard, a much-awarded chef who is currently VP of Le Cordon Bleu
North America. He is also one of 66 worldwide Certified Master Chefs.
In this book, he presents the case for matching flavours and foods with
ease of service and visual appeal. Along the way, he delves into
history, logistics, and setup. The menu planning includes blueprint
drawing for layout. The 92 recipes cover breakfasts (spring rolls,
Florentines, waffles), lunches (lobster claws, sandwiches, salads),
dinners (baked fishes, pan-seared salmon, tomato tatin, skate wing),
finger foods, shooters, a variety of tapas, and desserts. Service is
for 6 to 8, and can be multiplied. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no
table of equivalents. A good book for the professional who can write
off the cost of the book.
Audience and level of use: restaurants or caterers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tomato tatin, pan-roasted
veal loin, fried veal cheeks, savory bread pudding, sous vide salmon,
morel potato cake, potato and lentil salad with roasted duck breast.
The downside to this book: a brutal price ($82.95; $66.36 at Amazon.ca)
for such a slim book.
The upside to this book: some flair.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
 
 
 
 
 
4. THE FIRST REAL KITCHEN COOKBOOK; recipes and tips for new cooks
(Chronicle Books, 2011, 192 pages, ISBN 978-0-8118-7810-4, $22.95 US
soft covers) is by Megan an Jill Carle, who are not chefs. Megan is a
vegetarian, while Jill is an omnivore. It's a basic book, sure to
appeal to young readers and cooks, with a lot of concentration on
pasta, rice and grains. There's a section on vegetables, another on
pasta, a third on seafood, followed by chicken beef, pork, and
desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners, college students.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: oven-baked fish and chips,
green chile-cheese meatloaf, white bean soup, Dublin coddle.
The downside to this book: there are lots of other junior books out
there, and this is just the latest.
The upside to this book: good tips.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
 
 
 
 
 

5. THE GLORIOUS PASTA OF ITALY (Chronicle Books, 2011, 280 pages, ISBN
978-0-8118-7259-1, $30 US hard covers) is by Dominica Marchetti, a food
writer and cooking school instructor who specializes in Italian
cookery. She has written two other Italian books for Chronicle, so I
guess it is pasta's turn. There's log rolling from such as Michael
Chiarello and Giuliano Hazan, but I'm still not sure the world needs
another pasta book. They've been around for decades, especially at the
lower price range of Sunset or Betty Crocker. And here, there are very
few photos of pasta dishes and some of fresh shapes.. Most would have a
red or green sauce, and to see page after page would be disheartening.
Nevertheless I love the empty dish frontispiece…There's the usual
primer material and the collection of classic and contemporary preps.
These are her fave dishes, but still thirty dollars is a lot of money
for a pasta book. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of
equivalents. The arrangement is by course, so there is a chapter on
pasta in soup, baked pasta, stuffed pasta, and "showstoppers" (a bit
more complicated, and my favourite chapter).
Audience and level of use: pasta lovers, those new to Italian cooking.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: duck egg fettuccine with
pickled ramps, poached chicken thighs, and pesto; anellini alla
pecorara; miller's wife pasta; spinach codetta with sausage and peas;
baked zucchini and mushroom agnolotti with pesto b├ęchamel. And a "Big
Night" timballo.
The downside to this book: pricey for a pasta book
The upside to this book: some unusual preps.
Quality/Price Rating: 81.
 
 
 
6. CHAR-BROIL CANADA GRILLS! (Creative Homeowner, 2011; distr. T.
Allen, 303 pages, ISBN 978-1-58011-525-4, $26.95 CAN paper covers) is a
collection of some 222 recipes for grill work. Of course, they want you
to use a Char-Broil (Char-Broil is America's largest grill brand; it
was founded in 1948). I'm not sure what the point is in having it be
"Canada Grills" since the publisher and the product are US
corporations. In fact, there is virtually the same book is the US
called "America Grills!" with the same introduction, recipes, photos,
etc. The only variance between the two is the chapter on resources:
there are more Canadian web resources in the Canada book than are in
the America book. Nevertheless, this is a solid introduction to grill
work, with a primer, apps, beef, pork, poultry, lamb, seafood, sides,
marinades and rubs. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners or Char-Broil purchasers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: yogurt-mint chicken; grilled
oysters; sliders; cowboy-style beef ribs; lamb kabobs; grilled tuna;
stuffed squid with sausage.
The downside to this book: with all the photos and magazine weight
paper, the book is very heavy.
The upside to this book: price is ok, $21 at Amazon.ca
Quality/Price Rating: 84.
 
 
 
7. JOHN SCHREINER'S BC COASTAL WINE TOUR GUIDE; the wineries of the
Fraser Valley, Vancouver, Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands
(Whitecap, 2011, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-042, 224 pages, $19.95 CAN
paper covers) has been derived from a series of BC wine books by
Schreiner. It is a companion to his Okanagan Wine Tour Guide, and thus
set up the same way. Here is a listing of some 65 wineries, along with
maps on the inside front cover. In common with his Okanagan book,
Schreiner gives us the directory-type data of address, phone number,
when opened, web site, best times to visit, and the like. There are
some small black and white photos of the winery and/or the owners, plus
accompanying detail on winery life. He lists the wines and wine styles
of each place, and then gives his "picks".
Audience and level of use: winery visitors to BC, armchair travelers.
Some interesting facts: "The coastal wineries, being younger than
Okanagan wineries, have yet to promote themselves aggressively beyond
their local markets"
The downside to this book: a bit more restrictive than the Okanagan
book.
The upside to this book: good details on an emerging Canadian wine
region.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 

8. QUICK AND EASY MEXICAN COOKING (Chronicle Books, 2011, 168 pages,
ISBN 978-0-8118-7232-4, $22.95 US soft covers) is by Cecilia Hae-Jin
Lee, a food writer who has also written "Quick and Easy Korean
Cooking". That book should have more appeal than this current one, for
there is a veritable flood of Mexican food books on the market today,
many priced well-under this effort. Nevertheless, there are some 80 or
so preps here that are straightforward for breakfast, lunch, snacks,
grilling, dinner and desserts. There's a section on salsas, another on
salads, a third on soups, and then the mains. There are a few mail
order sources and a bibliography for books on the foods and culture of
Mexico. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Mexican food lovers or those looking for
"quick and easy"
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: churros, breaded steak,
baked tortilla chips, fried squash, lime and chicken soup, Baja-style
fish tacos, chicken taquitos.
The downside to this book: there's a lot of competition out there.
The upside to this book: there's a listing of nine menus, all with page
references, embracing fancy dinners, BBQ, street food, vegetarian, and
kids food.
Quality/Price Rating: 82.
 
 
 
9. THE BOOK OF FUNGI; a life-size guide to six hundred species from
around the world (University of Chicago Press, 2011, 656 pages, ISBN
978-0-226-72117-0, $55 US hard covers) is by Peter Roberts (former
mycologist at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) and Shelley Evans (former
conservation officer for the British Mycological Society). Both have
published widely and both have been extensively involved with
mycological field trips. It is a heavily illustrated book, with about
2000 colour pix. Each of the 600 or so species is colourfully
reproduced at its actual size, along with an explanation of its
distribution, habitat, association, abundance, growth form, spore
colour, and edibility. There are location maps for global distribution.
Occasionally, the strange habits of some of these fungi will be noted.
Covered, of course, are chanterelles, mushrooms, morels, puffballs,
toadstools, and truffles.
Audience and level of use: libraries, mycology students.
Some interesting or unusual facts: a 1.5 pound white truffle sold for
$150,000 at a charity auction in 2009.
The downside to this book: with all the pix, this is a very physically
heavy book.
The upside to this book: great illustrations.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 

10. START YOUR OWN FOOD TRUCK BUSINESS (Entrepreneur Press, 2011, 176
pages, ISBN 978-1-59918-414-1, $19.95 US paper covers) is a perfect
food business niche book. Here you will find just about all you'll need
to know to begin an operation in the US for a cart, a trailer, a kiosk,
gourmet truck, mobile catering, and a "bustaurant" (diner on wheels).
The book is one of a "Start Up" series from the publisher: there are
over 60 of them, including such hospitality related themes as bar and
club, bed and breakfast, gift baskets, and restaurants. The book opens
with a history of the mobile food business before moving on to the
types of customers being catered to. There are business plans to
consider. There's the menu and suppliers to deal with, as well as
parking, licenses, work environment, cleaning and personal health, and
staffing. At the end, there are notes on how to franchise and how to
sell your business. The appendix details food truck resources such as
business associations, credit bureaus, small business software, recipe
websites, and the like.
Audience and level of use: anybody wanting to start a mobile food
business, or just the curious.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: there's a good number of
checklists that are really useful.
The downside to this book: US-based material.
The upside to this book: there is an informative glossary.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
 
 
 
11. A GREEN GUIDE TO TRADITIONAL COUNTRY FOODS; discover traditional
ways to cure and smoke, pickle and preserve, make cheese, bake and more
(Cico Books, 2011; distr. T. Allen, 192 pages, $24.95 US hard covers)
has been assembled by Henrietta Green (no relation to the title); it is
one of the "Green Guides" (housekeeping, backyard farm, organic pot
crops, fruits) put out by Cico. This is a book about making things from
scratch, so be prepared to work. You must love cooking, as I am sure we
all do. The six chapters each cover a different theme: there's dairy
(making cheese, yogurt, butter, buttermilk, cream cheese); bakery
(making granary bread, sourdough starter, focaccia, piecrust); candy
(making chocolate truffles, fudge, marshmallows); pantry (making
vinegars, chutneys, jams, syrups); butcher (making sausages, terrine,
bresaola, potted ham); and smoking (making salmon, bacon). Along the
way there are techniques to learn, such as brining, cold smoking, hot
smoking, and sourdoughs. At the end, there are some useful addresses,
mainly American, but there are at least nine from Canada and a few more
from the UK and France. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those cooks who feel inspired enough to
begin cooking from scratch.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beef in buttermilk; beet,
goat cheese, and pine nut salad with Melba toast; wild mushroom and
garlic pizza; beet chutney; onion marmalade; chorizo sausages.
The downside to this book: there was no room for alternatives such as
low-fat or low-sugar or gluten-free preps.
The upside to this book: a good inspirational resource tool for cooks
who want to move up.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
 

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