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Monday, April 8, 2013

Some More Interesting Wine and Food Books

VIEW FROM THE VINEYARD; a practical guide to sustainable
winegrape growing (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2011, 219 pages,
ISBN 978-1-935879-90-9, $34.95 US hard covers) is a handbook for
the professional winemaker and viticulturist. It's by Clifford
P. Ohmart, an entomologist specializing in sustainable
agriculture. He's co-author of Code of Sustainable Winegrowing
Practices Self-Assessment Winebook (2002), speaks at many
seminars, and writes a bimonthly column for Wines & Vines
magazine on sustainable winegrowing. He opens with a brief
history of sustainability and biodynamics, and positions in
American agriculture; he closes with the role of certification.
In between are the basics at the primer level of achievability:
pest management; organic and biodynamic principles for creating
plans, thinking and planning holistically, defining winery and
vineyard resources, and ecosystems (habitats). There are plenty
of references and a bibliography for further reading as well as
some websites for more documentation and photos.
Audience and level of use: winemakers, winemaking schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: Few growers keep good records
of vineyard management practices because there are few software
programs available to handle this data.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
4. DUTCH OVEN COOKING (Gibbs-Smith, 2011; distr. Raincoast, 128
ISBN 978-1-4236-1459-3, $15.99 US spiral bound) is by Terry
Lewis, a
two-time winner of the World Championship Cook-offs held by the
International Dutch Oven Society. He has been cooking and
competing in
such events for over 20 years. His Dutch Oven is meant to be on
a bed
of coals; thus, for every recipe, he lists how many hot coals
will be
needed. This may limit its usage in many places. For example,
omelet requires 31 hot coals, including 9 under the oven and 16
on the
top. In general, each coal will raise the temperature about 20
Fahrenheit. This is a basic book, with adaptations for lasagna,
corn bread, baked beans, chicken and rice, and others.
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but
there is
a table of metric equivalents. The basic arrangement is by entry
beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Within each range there
categories for breads, sides, mains and desserts. It all appears
to be
finger-lickin' good and authentic.
Audience and level of use: Dutch oven users
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: almost 60 recipes,
chicken and cheese chimichangas, maple BBQ ribs with buttered
rice, and peach-raspberry pie.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.

5. MELISSA'S 50 BEST PLANTS ON THE PLANET; the most nutrient-
dense fruits and vegetables in 150 delicious recipes (Chronicle
Books, 2013, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-0283-2, $29.95 US paper
covers) is by
Cathy Thomas, food columnist at the Orange County Register. In
Melissa's World Variety Produce Inc was formed; it was named
after the founders' daughter. It is a leading distributor of
fruits and veggies in the US, primarily to restaurants and other
trade places. This is Thomas' third book for Melissa. I reviewed
a previous one from Wiley (Everyday Cooking with Organic
Produce, 2010). Here, she gives us overviews of the 50 most
nutritionally available fruits and veggies (with variations by
about 150 recipes with variations and quick-prep ideas, plus the
basics of shopping and storage, with serving suggestions and
nutritional info. Covered are arugula, asparagus, beet and beet
green, blackberry, bok choy through to gai lan, red currants,
tangerine, watercress, and watermelon. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no metric table of
Audience and level of use: those concerned about food
organic food eaters, and those with nutritional issues.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: apple and raisin-
stuffed pork tenderloin with guava sauce; breakfasts toasts with
kale and eggs; skinny cheesecake parfaits; nectarine, mango and
black bean salsa; pistou.
The downside to this book: I'm uncomfortable with logos and
on my food. The index is extremely tiny and uncomfortable.
The upside to this book: photographs show intense colour.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
6. THE ELEMENTS OF DESSERT (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 536 pages,
ISBN 978-0-470-89198-8, $65 US hard covers) is by Francisco
Migoya, a teacher at the Culinary Institute of America,
specializing in Café Operations for baking and dessert classes.
Previously, he was executive pastry chef for Thomas Keller
(French Laundry, Bouchon). This is a professional book concerned
with the scope of dessert, through flavours, ingredients, and
techniques. It's arranged by plated desserts, dessert buffets,
passed-around desserts, cakes, and petits fours, with opening
chapters on the basic elements, followed by a bibliography and a
resources list. Each prep yields many servings, and recipes will
need to be modified for the home cook. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in avoirdupois and metric measurements, along
with scaled percentages, but there is no table of equivalents.
The gateau maillard, for example, yields 4 cakes and is
comprised of: body (caramelized white chocolate mousse),
inclusions of toasted rye bread cream and brown butter genoise,
a base of shortbread toffee, a coating of vegetable ash velvet
spray, and a garnish of toasted sourdough sliver (appropriate
page references are given for the recipes of these components).
Audience and level of use: students, advanced pastry chefs.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: fennel meringue,
frozen/distilled granny smith apple juice gelee/apple
molasses/crystallized anise hyssop leaf; fig, passion fruit and
toffee filling; apricot foam; acacia honey and goat cheese
macarons; meyer lemon pate de fruit; black olive chocolate bars;
cilantro, tangerine, and litchi filling.
The downside to this book: very heavy book, awkward to flip
The upside to this book: gorgeous photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
7. COOKING TO THE IMAGE; a plating handbook (John Wiley & Sons,
2013, 156 pages, ISBN 978-1-118-07597-5, $43.75 US soft covers)
is by Elaine Sikorski, with 20 years experience in professional
kitchens and 10 years teaching culinary art. Her book is loaded
with advice and experiences, plus over 100 photos and
illustrations (all black and white except for a few coloured
insert pages). She has about 13 themes: the line of vision for
each student chef and what it could be, the plate as part of the
menu, setting a frame, moving from platter to plate, styles
(nouvelle, American, global), and more. As a student textbook,
it has summaries, questions for discussion or homework, and
citations and reference material in every chapter. No recipes,
but lots of menu ideas. Well worth a look…Quality/Price Rating:

recipes from amaranth to Quinoa to wild rice. (Robert Rose,
2008, 2013, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0438-3, $24.95 CAN soft
covers) is by Judith Finlayson, along time food writer who has
written many cookbooks for Robert Rose. This current book is
based on her 2008 The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook, which had
150 recipes over 288 pages. She's dropped rye, barley and all
forms of wheat, and picked up a few other recipes for such as
Job's tears. For her, she had to compensate for her gluten
sensitivity which many of us get later in life. Her previous
book had many preps for rice, millet, quinoa and buckwheat.
She's augmented these, and retained many favourites. The whole
grains here are actually quick cooking, and many have medicinal
properties such as Job's tears. So does chia, but she doesn't
have any recipes for it. Teff is included. She begins with a
culinary profile for each grain, with nutritional and storage
information, as well as how to buy and how to cook. There are 11
of them here: amaranth, buckwheat, corn, Job's tears, millet,
oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, and wild rice. Arrangement is
by course, with breads and breakfasts first, followed by apps,
soups, salads, meats, veggies, sides, and desserts.  There is
also a listing of diabetes food values. Preparations have their
ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: celiac sufferers, gluten sensitive
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cranberry-orange
pecan muffins; coconut spike pork with quinoa and peanuts; soba
noodles with broccoli sauce (but be sure to get the 100%
buckwheat: read the ingredient listing carefully); chewy oatmeal
coconut cookies with cranberries and pecans; kasha and beet
salad; salmon stew with corn and quinoa.
The downside to this book: a few more recipes and some mention
of teff, which is actually easier to find than job's tears and
The upside to this book: there's nutritional info for each prep
plus some variations.
Quality/Price Rating: 90. 

9. REAL MEN DRINK PORT…and ladies do too! (Quiller, 2011, 176
pages, ISBN 978-1-84689-112-0, $24.95 US hard covers) is the
latest port book by Ben Howkins, a working port expert and port
writer, famed for his "Rich, Rare and Red" book published by the
International Wine & Food Society. He's back, with a more
colloquial book, illustrated by the renowned UK cartoonist-
drawer, Oliver Preston. It just got distributed in North America
this year. The book is a sitdown-and-read collection of various
historical facts and contemporary accounts of port. It is more
along the lines of "confessions of a port merchant" since it
follows along his illustrious career in the port industry. He
covers William Pitt the Younger, Lord Nelson, Duke of
Wellington, plus other nobles who have stories to tell about
their love of port. His characters include the major players in
the industry such as Taylor, Symington, Graham. There is the
evolution of the styles (ruby, tawny, vintage, late bottled
vintage) and the dinner traditions. There is the difference
between British lover of ports and Portuguese lover of ports.
All tied up with a bibliography and even an index to pull up
related references! Quality/Price Rating: 88.

10. BEYOND HUMMUS AND FALAFEL; social and political aspects of
Palestinian food in Israel (University of California Press,
2012, 207 pages, ISBN 978-0-520-26232-4, $26.95 US soft covers)
is by Liora Gvion, a sociology professor in Tel Aviv and teacher
at Hebrew University. It was originally published in Hebrew in
2011, and this is the English translation, number 40 in the
California Studies in Food and Culture series. It was quite
controversial when it first came out in Israel; there were
complaints about a Jewish woman writing on the topic of
Palestinian food. This book does need to brought forward in
light of the fact the hottest cookbook last year was "Jerusalem:
a cookbook" which embraced Jewish, Arabic and Christian
influences in the cooking of that city. Indeed, Toronto once
supported a restaurant called "Jerusalem" which favoured that
style of Middle East cooking. But this book is more sociology –
there are no recipes. It is the story of how Palestinians in
Israel use food to negotiate life and a shared cultural identity
within a tense political context. She's looked at the shopping,
cooking and dining practices of Palestinians in Israel. The
bottom line could be: why can't they break bread – whether pita
or matzo – together? As with scholarly works, there are copious
end notes, a glossary of culinary terms, an extended
bibliography of works cited, and an in-depth index. Fascinating
reading. Quality/Price Rating: 89.

11. AMARONE; the making of an Italian wine phenomenon (Wine
Appreciation Guild, 2011, 2012, 146 pages, ISBN 978-1-935879-82-
4, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Kate Singleton, author of
several books on Italian wines. It was originally published in
Italy in 2011, and this is its USA release. It's mostly about
Sandro Boscaini, founder and president of Masi Winery (they own
the copyright to the English text). But she also covers the
Veneto and the wine industry of the region, principally
Valpolicella. The Appasimento method (drying grapes) used in the
creation of Amarone has been around since the Roman days, but
Boscaini, through Masi, has been a contemporary leader in
fashioning the style of wine we have now. There are over 200
Amarone labels on the market, but only about a dozen
historically significant houses who are active in maintaining
the style. There were basically two types: Recioto (sweet) and
Amarone (bitter, astringent). By the early 1980s, Masi had led
the charge to change the wine to somewhere in the middle, to
lose its astringency but retain its fruitness. The action of
using partially dried grapes leads to more body and a higher
alcohol content. Many Amarones are 16 per cent alcohol by
volume; some have a hot finish. The book deals with the Masi
estates, the wineries, the production, the people involved, the
various labels (successes and some not-so-successes), and the
Boscaini family. There's even a recipe section of a half-dozen
dishes (pasta, lamb and almonds, risotto, beef and mushrooms,
duck breast) to go with Amarone in a meal. There are also some
appendices on technical matters. Regrettably and unfortunately,
there is no index. Quality/Price Rating: 88.
12. PASTA; classic and contemporary pasta, risotto, crespelle,
and polenta recipes (John Wiley & Sons, 2013, 266 pages, ISBN
978-0-470-58779-9, $29.99 US hard covers) is from the Culinary
Institute of America, more specifically two assistant professors
at the CIA – Gianni Scappin and Alberto Vanoli. It is one of a
series of CIA books that can be useful to both hospitality
students and homemakers. All Italian regions and styles are
covered; the book is arranged by season (summer through spring).
The usual primer material has been relegated to the back, into a
chapter called "Basics". This covers boxed pasta, fresh pasta,
basic pasta preps, gnocchi, crespelles, pesto, tomato sauces,
cheese, cod, olive oils, chestnuts and broths. There are about
150 recipes plus photos distributed amongst the seasons.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: homemakers, hospitality students,
restaurant owners.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cocoa pappardelle
with boar sauce; red wine fettuccine with wild game; garganelli
with leeks and morels; ricotta and spinach dumplings (gnudi);
semolina with radicchio; ravioli with gorgonzola cheese, raisins
and lemon zest; chickpea crespelle with bitter greens.
The downside to this book: the index has tiny print.
The upside to this book: photos are restricted to final plating,
including a gorgeous rice salad that is beyond final plating.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

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