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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Restraurant/Celebrity Cookbooks one of the hottest trends in cookbooks. Actually, they've been
around for many years, but never in such proliferation. They are
automatic best 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 at home, but how could that be? The books 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 photo
shots, verging on gastroporn. There are endorsements from other
celebrities in magnificent cases 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 –

13. PERFECT PATISSERIE; mastering macarons, madeleines and more
(Firefly Books, 2013, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-77085-211-2, $24.95 CAN
hard covers) is by Tim Kinnaird, owner of Macarons & More. It was
launched after Kinnaird reached the finals of the BBC's MasterChef show
in 2010. His recipes are in two cookbooks derived from that show. He
also sells online at This book is for the home
baker, with details on how to make the various parts and how to
assemble them. It's fully and richly illustrated, with tips and advice
for a range of foods dealing with choux paste, tarts, gateaux,
entremets, petits fours, fillings and frostings, plus decorating.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no overall table of equivalents.
There is also a glossary and a resource list. Try apple crumble and
custard caramel éclairs, maple syrup-bacon-blueberry macarons, green
tea and white chocolate and lemon delice, or arlette cookies. Have fun!
Quality/price rating: 86.

14. PAYARD DESSERTS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013, 360 pages, ISBN
978-1-118-43589-2, $40 US hard covers) is by Francois Payard, owner of
Payard Patisserie & Bistro and other places in NYC. In 1995 he won a
Beard Award as Pastry Chef of the Year, and since then he was been
accoladed by his profession. He is one of 85 "best pastry chefs in the
world" via his membership in Relais Desserts International. Even so, he
needs a boatload of eight log rollers, including Thomas Keller, Dorie
Greenspan, Eric Ripert and Daniel Boulud. His focusing food writer is
Tish Boyle, an experienced dessert food writer, recipe developer, and
cookbook author. She does the instructions, ingredients and equipment,
but the preps are his. Chapters have section s that incorporate frozen
desserts, fruit desserts, pastries, meringues, custards, mousses,
tarts, soufflés, crepes, cold dessert soups, and even the cheese course
(warm ricotta tart, gorgonzola ice cream, chevre cheese, and more).
Each dessert also includes a beverage pairing suggestion from Olivier
Flosse, sommelier of A Voce restaurants in NYC: wine, beer, liqueur,
cocktail. Some specific brands are mentioned, but many are not.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. If you
do these procedures a lot, the recipes are not really complicated: you
just need to run through them a few times. For a four-hour baked apple
napoleon with caramel chantilly and caramel sauce, you'll need some
time, five recipes (including one for spiced tuiles) plus some assembly
instructions that are easier than IKEA. Quality/price rating: 88.
15. MODERN NATIVE FEASTS; healthy, innovative, sustainable cuisine
(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013, 189 pages, ISBN 978-1-55152-507-5, $21.95
paper covers) is by Andrew George Jr. who had earlier written A FEAST
FOR ALL SEASONS; traditional native peoples' cuisine (Arsenal Pulp
Press, 2010). He was recently head chef at the Four Host First Nations
pavilion at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was also involved with the
World Culinary Olympics as part of the first all-Native team in the
competition's history. He instructed at the Kla-how-eya cooking school,
and also develops Native menus for restaurants and hotels
internationally. There are over 100 preps here for a variety of
appetizers, salads, soups, and mains that match traditional native
ingredients with modern flavours and techniques. In time for the 2013
holidays are the recipes for buffalo and cranberry stew, venison
tourtiere, and wild berry crumble. Other foods from native areas of
Canada, such as salmon, wild duck, oysters, caribou and elk are also
here. The emphasis is on "feast" foods and ceremonies, for a gathering
small or large; it could even be a family dinner. There are cultural
food notes. Try moose cannelloni, cranberry sweet and sour goose
breast, spicy elk wraps, or even three-game meatballs. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements with some
metric weights, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.

16. GREAT HOMEMADE SOUPS; a cook's collection (Jacqui Small, 2013, 232
pages, ISBN 978-1-909342-23-1, $40 US hard covers) is a collection of
some 100 soup recipes, mostly from award-winning Chef Paul Gayler of
The Lanesborough (London). He's been on British TV and has over 20
cookery books under his name. It's a "master class" book, with
templated recipes to replicate or expand on. He's also got some guests
chefs: Daniel Boulud, Pierre Koffman, Susan Spicer, and five more.
There's the basic primer about soups and stocks and equipment. This is
followed by clear soups and consommés, smooth and creamy, hearty and
wholesome, some British favourites, wild and exotic soups, and chilled
soups (only a few are fruit-based). Globally, there is pho from
Vietnam, ajiaco from Colombia, miso noodle soup from Japan, and a
chickpea and fennel soup from Sardinia. One of my faves is the yam-
peanut-ginger soup from Ethiopia. Great photographs, but a tiny font
for the index makes it difficult to locate a recipe. Preparations have
their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements,
but there is no table of equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.

17. DELICIOUS SOUPS; fresh and hearty soups for every occasion (Ryland,
Peters & Small, 2013, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-463-7, $24.95 US hard
covers) is by Belinda Williams, founder of the Yorkshire Party Company
(events and catering) and the Yorkshire Provender. She's been busy
designing soups for the latter. There are about 60 preps here, arranged
by style of soup. It is much the same as Gayler's book above, but with
fewer recipes. Her chickpea soup is a Moroccan harira; there is no pho
or miso. But there is a nifty sunchoke soup with sorrel and sage, and a
field mushroom soup or a creamy coconut and lamb soup. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois
measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price
rating: 86.

18. THE MODEL BAKERY COOKBOOK (Chronicle Books, 2013, 208 pages, ISBN
978-1-4521-1383-8, $35 US hard covers) is by Karen Mitchell and her
daughter Sarah, along with Rick Rodgers as the focusing food writer.
Karen founded Napa Valley's Model Bakery in 1984, and Sarah expanded it
to a market in 2008. Here are 75 preps featuring their most requested
foods: breads, desserts, fresh pastries – mostly along the lines of
pain au levain, sticky buns, peach streusel pie and ginger molasses
cookies. Model Bakery has been described as the quintessential hometown
bakery. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mainly metric and
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no overall table of metric
equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.

19. THE FOUR & TWENTY BLACKBIRDS PIE BOOK; uncommon recipes from the
celebrated Brooklyn pie ship (Grand Central Life & Style, 2013, 224
pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-2051-0, $30 US hard covers) is by Emily and
Melissa Elsen, whose mother once owned the Calico Kitchen in South
Dakota. Her daughters later established Four & Twenty Blackbirds pie
and coffee shop in Brooklyn in 2010, and since then they seem to have
been featured all over the NYC media. There are 60 preps here, arranged
by season starting with spring, and with many photographs (some
illustrating techniques). With its lack of fresh fruit, winter brings
more nuts and citric pies, such as malted chocolate pecan pie,
grapefruit custard pie, lemon chess pie, buttermilk chess pie, or green
chili chocolate pie. Preparations have their ingredients listed in
avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/price rating: 88.

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