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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some interesting new cookbooks --


MAKE THE BREAD, BUY THE BUTTER (Free Press, 2011; distr. Simon and
Schuster, 296 pages, ISBN 978-1-4516-0587-7, $27.99 US hard covers) is
by Jennifer Reese, a former book critic for Entertainment Weekly and
now teaches cooking classes. She deals with the issues of food
processing, natural foods, and agricultural processing – all important
topics. She makes the case that you don't have to make everything from
scratch, but you do need to be careful about what you buy. You should
be able to make your own pancakes, chocolate cake, guacamole, eggs
benedict, hummus, cured meats, braised beef, and bagels. It is always
cheaper, you spend less money, to make your own. You could also, with a
bit more time, make your own pasta, chocolates, graham crackers,
applesauce, mayonnaise, tortillas, and roasted chicken. But it pays (at
least in time) to buy baguettes, sashimi, burritos, English muffins,
and other items. Read the book to find out why. Certainly, you'll need
to make your own croissants! Preparations have their ingredients listed
in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric
equivalents. Each of the 120 recipes gets a slight cost-benefit
analysis.
Audience and level of use: home cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: everyday bread; rye bread;
yogurt; croissants; duck egg ravioli; orange-apricot preserve.
The downside to this book: with just a little more effort and
appreciation from the home front, home cooks could be making more
recipes than Reese proposes.
The upside to this book: nice idea.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
 
 
 
4. HOW TO MAKE BREAD; step-by-step recipes for yeasted breads,
sourdoughs, soda breads and pastries (Ryland, Peters & Paul, 2011, 176
pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-140-7, $27.95 US hard covers) is by Emmanuel
Hadjiandreou, who learned his craft in a German bakery and then went to
work for Gordon Ramsay. He's an award-winner, currently teaching bread-
making in the UK. It's a typical technique book, outlining more than 60
varieties of artisanal bread. Wheat-free and gluten-free preps are also
included in their own chapter. Recipes scaled, for weight: preparations
have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. The photos
are stunning – all breads look so natural and rustic, chewable.
Audience and level of use: breadmakers looking for new breads.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: wholegrain fruit soda bread;
multi-grain seeded bread; ciabatta; pecan raisin bread; tsoureki;
Armenian flatbreads; polenta sourdough.
The downside to this book: not only is the typeface for the index
small, but the print is on grey-brown paper stock, making it
exceedingly difficult to read.
The upside to this book: there's a gluten-free bread prep with two
variations and a gluten-free corn bread.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 
5. SEE MIX DRINK; a refreshingly simple guide to crafting the world's
most popular cocktails (Little, Brown and Company, 2011, 232 pages,
ISBN 978-0-316-17671-2, $14.99 US hard covers) is by Brian D. Murphy, a
designer and banker. It's an introductory look, with large
illustrations and drawings. For example, the Negroni has a layered
glass with vermouth, Campari and gin colours and signs. There is a
calorie counter (189) to go along with proportions. There's a short
history on the name, plus a photo of the finished drink. It is really
quite simple, and works well, especially if you cannot read (or have
had too much to drink). At two pages for every drink, there's only
enough room for the basic 100 classics.
Audience and level of use: those who only want to learn the basics.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: the index has a sort by name
and by calories per drink. The lowest is Black Velvet at 96, the
highest is Long Island Iced Tea at 446 calories.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 

6. 365 WAYS TO COOK (Firefly, 2011, 255 pages, ISBN 978-1-55407-916-2,
$19.95 CAD soft covers) is by Eleanor Maxfield, who also was the
general editor for "1000 Recipes for Simple Family Food". Here she
turns her attention to dinners, with delicious foods that can be
customized. As the books says, choose a basic ingredient and follow
symbols throughout to find a recipe that works for you. Some of the
symbols indicate budget, stuff that kids like, entertaining friends at
dinner, weight loss, inspiration, leftovers for lunch the next day,
time saving, spicing up, and others – about 10 in all. The seven
chapters cover poultry, meat, fish, vegetables, pizza and noodles, rice
and grains, and desserts. There is an illustrated table of contents to
make it easy to select a dish. Preparations have their ingredients
listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no
table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use:  home cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: there is a basic lemongrass
shrimp skewers, followed by a spiced up noodles with shrimp and bok
choy, followed by a time saving shrimp and zucchini linguine, a budget
shrimp and pea risotto, a kids special of shrimp and mango kebabs, a
left over soup with shrimp, shrimp and coconut rice for entertaining,
and more.
The downside to this book: I wish there were more preps because…
The upside to this book: …this is a pretty good idea for a book.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 
7. HOME CANNING AND PRESERVING; putting up small batch jams, jellies,
pickles, chutneys, relishes and more (SkyHorse Publishing, 2011, 202
pages, ISBN 978-1-61608-355-7, $19.95 US spiral bound book) is by Janet
Cooper, who has taught home canning. It's a basic book for making
preserves all year round. The emphasis is on "small batch", which is a
bit more labour intensive but produces more variety. There are over 100
preps here. She also has a number of herb and spice blends, plus honeys
and tea blends. Certainly, there is something here for everybody.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home canners
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fig jam, six-fruit chutney,
green tomato relish, fruited mincemeat.
The downside to this book: spiral-bound, which while useful is also
subject to vandalism in libraries and book stores.
The upside to this book: the spiral-binding makes the book lie flat.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
 
 
 
8. CULINARY CAREERS FOR DUMMIES (John Wiley & Sons, 2011, 368 pages,
ISBN 978-1-118-07774-0, $22.99 US paper covers) is by the team of 
Michele Thomas (International Culinary Institute), Annette Tomaei (food
and wine consultant), and Tracey Vasil Biscontini (head of Northeast
Editing Inc.). It's another in the career sub-series of the Dummy
guides. Its cast is American, but there is a fair bit of similarity
between the two countries so far as the hospitality trade goes, with
some variances in legislation and regulation. Preliminary pages work on
the differences between culinary schools and on-the-job training; the
better schools offer apprenticeships, as most do in Canada. There are
sections on working environments: hotels, restaurants, resorts, spas,
catering firms. There is also the specialized approach (poissonnier,
pastry chefs, personal chefs, recipe developers, scientists,
sommeliers) and non-cooking careers such as PR work and marketing.
Audience and level of use: career changers, new students in the
hospitality trade.
The downside to this book: needs more attention to Canada.
The upside to this book: top ten reasons to work in the culinary
industry, and top ten tips on gaining employment.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
 
 
 
9. COOKIES at Home with the Culinary Institute of America (John Wiley &
Sons, 2011, 218 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-41227-5, $34.99 US hard covers)
is by Todd Knaster, who developed all the recipes in this book for the
CIA. It's one of the new series for the CIA: some "at home" books for
the home chef which are not as detailed or as large in quantities as
for professional kitchens. So there is primer data on basic baking
equipment, ingredients, methods, d├ęcor and packaging. This is followed
by specific chapters on drop cookies, bars, rolled and sliced cookies,
molded and shaped cookies, piped, twice-baked, and savoury cookies.
There's a glossary and a resources list, and a template for a
gingerbread house. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Good pictures for techniques.
Audience and level of use: home bakers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: black and white cookies;
milk chocolate – peanut butter s'mores bars; hamantaschen; French
macaroons; Italian taralles; butterscotch cookies.
The downside to this book: no gluten-free preps.
The upside to this book: good looking photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
 

10. THE FARMER'S COOKBOOK; a back to basics guide to making cheese,
curing meat, preserving produce, baking bread, fermenting, and more
(SkyHorse Publishing, 2011, 445 pages, ISBN 978-1-61608-9, $24.95 US
hard covers) is by Marie W. Lawrence, a third generation Vermonter with
strong New England roots. Her book is about farmhouse cooking, showing
how the urban settler can do his own food instead of buying it
processed. There have been several similar books of late, and I can
only applaud them all. If you cannot grow it, try a local farmer's
market to get fresh food. This current book is organized by month to
correspond with a farmer's calendar in New England, and it covers the
gamut of food choices and availability. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table
of metric equivalents. There are two pages of "weights and measures"
but these are all insularly American – we need some metric help for
sales of the book outside of the USA. A substitutions chart here is
very useful.
Audience and level of use: home cooks who need help beyond store
processing.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: roast duck with autumn berry
sauce; veggie tempura; sopapillas with strawberry apple dipping sauce;
Scandinavian mushroom turnovers; Vermont cheddar onion bread.
The downside to this book: while the food is hearty and substantial, it
would have been useful to have some spicy food now and again. Herbs and
black pepper are widely used, but not international spices.
The upside to this book: there's a recipe index by month in addition to
a general recipe index.
Quality/Price Rating: 88
 

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