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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


3.WINTER CABIN COOKING (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-660-0, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Lizzie Kamenetzky, a UK food stylist and food editor who is now freelance in the culinary field. It's a book of substantial food, particularly stuff that can be done by guys: gluhwein, fondue, strudels, dumplings all come to mind. Preps can be left to simmer or bake, and keep the cabin warm. I did not see anything specifically meant for a fireplace such as a wiener or marshmallow roast, but there are stews and soups that can be made in the dying embers, with a pot of course. The chapters are arranged by type, with dumplings and noodles, soups and stews, cheese, brunch and small plates, meats, desserts, and of course drinks such as hot toddies. Very Teutonic, to go with the Alps. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: skiers, chalet lovers, winter freaks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: parmesan and ricotta cheesecake; brisolee; Tiroler grostl; poached salmon with green mayonnaise; rosti; schnitzel with warm potato salad; cassoulet.
The downside to this book: a lot of superfluous outdoor winter photos made me feel cold; the space could have been used by more food shots.
The upside to this book: it is mostly about mountain food and cabins and skiing and the need for hearty food.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
4.FRESH MADE SIMPLE (Storey Publishing, 2015, 200 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-608-1, $18 US hard covers) is by Lauren K. Stein, food writer in the Boston area (Eat Boutique). She advocates using everyday but favourite foods in creative combinations, to make drinks, dressings, snacks, desserts, and light meals. Fave foods might include avocado, ricotta, eggs, pineapple, almonds, spinach, chocolate, coconut. She proposes that you mix and match 75 veggie-centric recipes to create dozes of delightful dishes. The illustrations, by Katie Eberts, are fabulous, and clearly show the visual approach to cooking needed, with drawings and arrows and the briefest of texts. Quantities are roughly specified so it doesn't matter with metric or avoirdupois measurements. Perfect for the millennials. There is even a section at the back on how to enlarge a meal by adding steak or chorizo or salmon, bacon, grilled chicken. Some good ideas.
Audience and level of use: millennials, young cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: herb butter; pineapple cilantro salsa; fried plantains with avocado feta mash; goat cheese and caramelized onion quesadilla.
The downside to this book: I could have used more ideas and drawings for a more complete book, but that which is here is value for the price.
The upside to this book: there are some afterthoughts on how to be more creative, with pages and pages of non-illustrated ideas.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5.THE HOMEMADE KITCHEN (Clarkson Potter, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-385-34615-3, $24.99 US paper covers) is by Alana Chernila, a cookbook author (The Homemade Pantry) and cheese maker. It has been log rolled by Mollie Karzen, Hugh Acheson, Katie Workman, and at least six others. She has 13 guiding principles taped to her fridge, and the book is arranged in chapters with those rules: feed yourself; put your hands in the earth; use your scraps; do your best and then let go; do the work; eat outside; invite people over; don't be afraid of food. Over the course of the book she has many stories and memoir type materials in each chapter. At the end, there is a short bibliography of helpful additional readings. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginners, students, millennials.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: preserved lemon hummus; tagliatelle with fresh tomatoes; cheesy fish crackers; calzone with buttery tomato sauce; dal with radish raita; honey wheat bread.
The downside to this book: there are more self portraits than are required.
The upside to this book: good arrangement of materials.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
6.PALEO PLANET (Harvard Common Press, 2015, 294 pages, ISBN 978-1-55832-835-2, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Becky Winkler, Boston bloggist for A Calculated Whisk. The subtitle pretty well says it all: primal foods from the global kitchen with more than 125 recipes. It is a whirlwind tour through high-protein and low-carbohydrate diets, arranged by meat, course, or meal: pantry, apps, soups, salads, poultry, beef-pork-lamb, seafood, veggies, breakfast, brunch and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is a table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: dieters, paleo people.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: huevos divorciados with sweet potato hash; pan-seared salmon with dukkah; citrus-braised lamb shanks with winter veggies; lega tibs; moussaka; coconut tamarind curry.
The downside to this book: most of the recipes are for dinners, but you can or should be able to scale up or down, and be inventive with sides.
The upside to this book: there are three indexes – egg-free, nut-free, and a regular recipe index.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7.MAKE YOUR OWN RULES COOKBOOK (Hay House, 2015, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-4019-4436-0, $24.99 US hard covers) is by Tara Stiles, the  engaging founder of Strala Yoga and book author. Here she gives us a collection of more than 100 preps for plant-powered juices, smoothies, salads, mains, and desserts, emphasizing a healthy and green kitchen for the busy lifestyle. She's got a half dozen log rollers on board. Her own food rules follow the precept: eat what makes you feel great. And feeling great leads to looking great. The trick is to find those foods that make you feel great. Start with having what you want, and then see how you feel. Move on to other foods by paying attention to your body. Do the green kitchen (get rid of toxic cleaning products, nonstick cookware, scents, plastic containers, and the like. It will all come together in the kitchen with knives, cutting board, skillet/pan, blender, and juicer. Pay attention to the icides: herbicides and pesticides. Buy only organic. It is a healthy lifestyle and you will live longer. For more details, try her book "Make Your Own Rules Diet" (Hay House). This book is the followup, with more recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: the health conscious
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: broccoli soup; vieques salad; mushroom tacos;  rainbow ceviche; big bowl of courage; not-mushy veggie burger; coconut parfait; easy miso soup.
The downside to this book: lack of metric measurements
The upside to this book: good selection of preps and common sense approaches.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
8.MENNONITE MEN CAN COOK, TOO (Good Books, 2015, 316 pages, ISBN 978-1-68099-053-9, $17.99 US hard covers) is by Willard Roth, a Mennonite church leader and a journalist who has cooked many dinners. His recipes come from his mother and grandmothers, plus food from a number of countries where he has been on mission work. He also has some recipes from a dozen male friends. Almost none of this is particularly "Mennonite" food – just some 170 recipes for guys by guys who cook. It's divided into starters, mains, sides, sweets, and seven menus utilizing the recipes (plus a few unique of their own). The menus celebrate Epiphany New Year Feast, Shrove Tuesday New Orleans Supper, Agape Bible Lands Breakfast, autumn Thanksgiving meal. The book has large print, a boon for the seniors. The recipes work, of course, and they are relatively easy to prepare. The stitching allows the book to fall open and stay flat, even in the middle. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: guys
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Brussels sprouts with cranberry balsamic; feather sponge cake; Parmesan stuffed mushrooms; apricot beef sweet sour soup; autumn pork stew; 5-bean sweet-sour relish; day cake; corn leek bake.
The downside to this book: many dishes could use a bit more spicing up, but then that's just me.
The upside to this book: good stories are told for each recipe.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
9.MADE IN INDIA (Flatiron Books, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-07101-9, $35 US hard covers) is by Londoner Meera Sodha; these are "recipes from an Indian family kitchen" (subtitle). Log rolling comes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Nigella Lawson; it is a UK based cookbook. It opens with the Indian primer and pantry, and then moves on to starters through the dishes of meats and veggies and sides, to chutneys and pickles, desserts and drinks. Leftovers has its own chapter. There are nine menu ideas, but with no page references to the recipe. There is also a separate chapter on wine with Indian food, and "how to eat with your hands", surely an invaluable section. The help section deals with "too much" of stuff, as in too much chili, too much salt, too much rose water, too much lemon juice, etc. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those wishing to learn about Indian food.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: lamb raan; love cake with cardamom and pomegranate shrikhand; golden garlic raita; coconut and tamarind chicken curry; chana dal with golden garlic tarka; eggplant and cherry tomato curry; chapati warps with spicy veggies.
The downside to this book: changing "aubergine" to "eggplant" helps Americanize the book, but its position in the index also needed to move from "A" to "E"!!
The upside to this book: section on how to eat with your hands and fingers.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
10.DIY VEGAN (St. Martin's Griffin, 2015, 240 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-05871-3, $25.00 US paper covers) is by Nicole Axworthy and Lisa Pitman, who are contributing photography and food editors for VewNews magazine which addresses the vegan community worldwide. Here are about 100 easy recipes, complete with both raw and gluten-free vegan options. These preps are used to stock pantry shelves, refrigerators, and freezers: vegan milks, ice creams, and butters from nuts and seeds; home-ground flours; sauces and spreads; snack foods; home-made cheeses. Preparations have their ingredients listed in US measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegans, those looking for healthy snacks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: coconut peanut butter; nutty crispy rice squares; ketchup; cereal bars snacks; cinnamon rolls; buffalo mozzarella; French onion dip mix.
The downside to this book: I wanted more.
The upside to this book: very useful book to kick the packaged-food habit.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
11.SWEET MIDDLE EAST (Chronicle Books, 2015, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-1439-2, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Lebanese-born Anissa Helou, now a UK food writer who has written many other cookbooks and food articles. These sweets are loaded with butter, nuts, honey and spices – sometimes together, sometimes separately: flaky pastries to syrup-soaked fritters. All of it is basically finger food. Along the way she also covers spiced teas/coffees and beverages, ice creams, jams and jellies. Thus, there are Turkish coffee, Turkish fritters, Turkish macaroons, Turkish pistachio cake, Turkish pistachio shortbread, Turkish saffron rice pudding, and Turkish sweet chicken pudding (boneless chicken breasts) found through chapters dealing with halva, breakfast sweets, pancakes, cookies, frozen desserts, and pastries. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those with a sweet tooth or interest in Middle East food.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above
The downside to this book: I could not find any references to "Turkish delight", which may be more Western than Turkish.
The upside to this book: Middle East transliterations are listed in each prep, as well as in the index.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
12.THE NEW SUGAR & SPICE; a recipe for bolder baking (Ten Speed Press, 2015, 234 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-746-8, $27.50 US hard covers) is by Samantha Seneviratne, a food writer and stylist associated with Good Housekeeping, Fine Cooking and Martha Stewart's Everyday Food. It comes with Deborah Madison's endorsement. The author is of Sri Lankan heritage, and the desserts are thus boldly spiced (think cloves, cardamom, ginger, chile, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppercorns). In fact, her book is arranged in chapter order by these spices, with a final section on savoury herbs such as caraway, bay leaf, anise, lavender, and saffron. Preparations have their ingredients listed in US avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: bakers, those looking for some spicy desserts.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: apple danish with caraway cream; black pepper, dark chocolate, and sour cherry bread; mango lime sorbet; summer berry focaccia;  honeyed cashew lace cookies; blackberry-peach hand pies.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
13.SCANDINAVIAN BAKING (Quadrille, 2014, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-665-0, $35 US hard covers) is by Trine Hahnemann who writes and lectures on Scandinavian food around the world. She's written five cookbooks in Danish and three other cookbooks in English. Lead endorser is Mimi Sheraton. Her book has over 100 carefully explained recipes dealing with authentic but contemporary Scandinavian dishes. It is arranged by both type of foods and seasons, beginning with cakes and pastries, followed by Midsummer, and then breads and savouries, followed by Christmas. She's got some notes on Scandinavian baking with sourdoughs and starters and bigas, and concludes with some jams. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: bakers, Scandinavian food lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: rye bread layer cake; yeasted marzipan cream buns; Napoleon's cake; rosehip roulade; "potato" cake; caraway seed bread; spelt cardamom rolls; choux pastries with rhubarb cream; winter spiced pastry.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


3.OODLES OF NOODLES (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-653-2, $21.95 US hard covers) is by Louise Pickford, food writer now living in France with over 15 cookbooks to her credit (many for Ryland Peters & Small). Here she runs through the basic types of wheat noodles, buckwheat, rice sticks, sweet potato, flat rice, cellophanes, vermicelli, rice paper, buckwheat, and more. There are 70 recipes here for mostly Asian noodles. After the basics, she delves into separate chapters called for in soups, salads, apps, stir-fries and curries. Each prep has a full colour photo. A very good, well-prepared book. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking to use a lot of Asiatic noodles.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: steamed rice noodle dumplings with scallops; vegetarian spring rolls; shio ramen with pork and eggs; num banh chok; seared salmon and green tea noodle salad.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
4.MEZZE (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-651-8, $21.95 US hard covers) is by Ghillie Basan, a cookery writer and journalist specializing in Middle East cuisine. She has written other Middle East books for Ryland Peters & Small. Here are some 93 recipes of dips, bites, salads and other small plates to share, or apps or even mains. The Persian word "maza" means to relish and savour, accompanied by tea, sherbet or yogurt, occasionally wine or beer. Spanish tapas are the Middle East Moorish-influenced dishes, but with alcohol. I usually love a whole meal of little plates. This book is arranged by cold mezze, hot mezze, and sweet mezze. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking for a small dish or two, or entertaining ideas.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: olives with harissa and preserved lemon; sweet melon with feta; spicy beef tartare and bulgur balls; hot hummus with pine nuts and chilli butter; spinach and feta pastries with pie nuts; roasted meat-stuffed onions with tamarind and butter; pears in saffron and cinnamon syrup.
The downside to this book: I wish that there were more recipes.
The upside to this book: the usual gorgeous RPS photos.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
5.CHICKEN WINGS ((Ryland Peters & Small, 2015, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-656-3, $21.95 US hard covers) is by Carol Hilker, a food writer in San Francisco who has written several cookbooks for Ryland Peters & Small. I am not convinced that we need another chicken wings book, but the publisher at least had an American author. Chicken wings are perfectly adaptable to a huge range of dips and sauces, marinades and glazes. So any BBQ book with a lot of these savoury methods is useful. According to the National Chicken Council (US), over 1.25 billion chicken wings were consumed during the 2015 Super Bowl. I'd imagine that chicken wings are very popular at ANY guy sports function, but I am not sure that they (the guys) demand variety during the session. My experience has been that  guys only differ over heat levels (some can, some cannot), so all you really need are two types with and without heat. Nevertheless, this book does detail some 72 recipes for fried, baked, and grilled wings, plus some sides and drinks (some non-alcoholic for the kids or those who don't like beer). Preparations have their ingredients listed mainly in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: party goers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sticky lime and maple wings; cola wings; mole wings; teriyaki wings; lemon-basil-pepper wings.
Quality/Price Rating: 84.
6.THE HEALTHY MATCHA COOKBOOK (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 143 pages, ISBN 978-1-63450-221-4, $16.99 US hard covers) is by Miryam Quinn-Doblas, RD, who owns the blog at Her subtitle says "green tea-inspired meals, snacks, drinks, and desserts", using matcha powder to give the immune system a power boost. The anti-oxidant powder is far stronger than the liquid tea, and the 60 preps take advantage of this. The book is a nice resource tool, with its primer and arrangement (breakfasts, snacks, lean meals that are free of red meats, desserts, and menu plans for two weeks. There is a good resources section. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those looking to increase their immune systems.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: apple walnut bundt cake; breakfast smoothie bowl; lemon coconut bites; fish curry; cauliflower and thyme soup; mahi mahi in tomato sauce.
The downside to this book: I'd like a few more recipes.
The upside to this book: The menus have page references to the recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
7.DINNER PIES (Harvard Common Press, 2015, 271 pages, ISBN 978-1-55832-851-8, $24.95 US hard covers) is by Ken Haedrich, who has written 12 other cookbooks, including the award-winning PIE which covers sweet pies. Here, he has savouries, ranging from shepherd's pies and pot pies to turnovers, quiches, hand pies and others, about 100 in all, mostly one-crust or two-crust. It is arranged by type of pie, and includes at the end a tortilla pie, cheeseburger pie, and shepherd's pie. He's also got cobblers, strudel, and wrapped entrees such as meatloaf wellington. And there is nothing with gluten-free flours. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: home cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: turkey crumb pot pie, roasted vegetable strudel, fresh tomato and ham cobbler, Natchitoches meat pies, Philly cheesesteak hand pies, and pepperoni pizza bites.
The downside to this book: his shepherd's pies are all beef, which are actually "cottage pies" (no index entry here); he never mentions lamb at all except for Moroccan lamb pie.
The upside to this book: many of the pies are simply stews with covers of pastry or potato. So you can easily convert, just watching out for the liquid component.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
8.LE FRENCH OVEN (Gibbs Smith, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-4053-0, $30 US hard covers) is by Hillary Davis, cookbook author of a variety of books about French food. Here she concentrates on the Dutch oven (enameled cast iron pot), of which the best are now apparently made in France, such as Le Creuset, Frontignac, and Emile Henry. She does cover seven brands, but some might be hard to find in North America. Le Creuset is just about everywhere; it originated in Picardy in 1925. It also has one of the best warranties. All the ovens are interchangeable, and she does cover choosing and caring for it. "The recipes in this cookbook are French inspired one I created for 5 quart to 6 quart (5 to 5.7 litre) French ovens. This is the mid-range size for feeding 4 – 6 people. There are larger and smaller ones, of course, and preps can be adjusted. She begins with appetizers in mini-cocottes, followed by soups, baking, stovetop prep, roasting, stewing, braising, and frying. Desserts are also in mini-cocottes, or in French ovens (your choice). Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: those with enameled Dutch ovens.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: summer garden crudites with Lyonnaise herb dip, French green lentil and toasted walnuts soup, lamb hachis parmentier, lemon-braised chicken with green olives, braised lamb shanks with gremolata.
The downside to this book: pictures are suited to this over-sized book, but are too non-food for tourists. How many pots can you can only pretty up for a book?
The upside to this book: a good single-equipment cookbook from a French expert.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
9.THE BACKYARD HOMESTEAD BOOK OF KITCHEN KNOW-HOW (Storey Publishing, 2015, 356 pages, ISBN 678-1-61212-204-5, $19.95 US soft covers) is by Andrea Chesman, a Vermont cookbook writer with a couple of dozen books dealing with local cooking life (Pickled Pantry, Root Cellar, Serving Up the Harvest). Here she tells us how to be self-reliant in the kitchen; these skills can inspire confidence. Cooking from scratch includes milling your own flour, making butter and yogurt, curing sausages, making braises and stews, freezing and drying veggies, and preserving fruits. The variety here includes: canning fresh purees, dehydrating quartered tomatoes, making salsa, fermenting green tomatoes, preserving eggs, cooking stewing hens, making broth, making pates, making ricotta, cooking with yogurt. A very good reference book with about 100 recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who have the time to cook from scratch.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above, mostly techniques.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
10.THE RECIPE WHEEL (Ebury Press, 2014, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-09195704-9 $41 CAN hard covers) is by Rosie Ramsden, cook, writer and food stylist for Delicious magazine. These are recipe ideas in visual form, very easy to follow. There are 10 wheels with 120 total preps. Her principles are based on balance (flavours, textures), colour, and leftovers (inventive). For example, a wheel entitled "Simple White Bread" leads to ideas of "no frills", "night in", "friends", "creative", "impress" and "leftover".  For the latter, you've got eggy bread and bread pudding. For impress, there is beetroot panzanella. Another recipe wheel is "Vegetable Soup": night in (mum soup), friends (celeriac and mustard soup), or creative (clam chowder). There are eight more. Preparations have their ingredients listed in a mix of metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no overall table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: jaded cooks or those who wish to learn more, maybe millennials too.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: see above
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
11.FERMENTING FOOD STEP-BY-STEP (DK, 2015, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-4143-0, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Adam Elabd, an educator in the field of fermentation, nutrition, and natural healing. Here are over 80 step-by-step recipes for fermenting kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, vinegar, chutney, sourdough, rejuvelac, and kefir. It is a visual guide, very well prepared. It also includes breads such as gorditas made from corn masa and injera made from teff flour. It is a great and useful reference book for those wishing to learn more. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. The photos with the arrows are particularly good for the millennials who can visualize.
Audience and level of use: entry level for those wishing to explore fermenting foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: purple amazake sourdough; pineapple cider vinegar; mandarin wine; coconut water kefir; masala kraut; mole ketchup.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
12.FLAVORFUL (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 374 pages, ISBN 978-1-118-52355-1, $35 US hard covers) is by Tish Boyle, co-editor of Dessert Professional magazine. She's written many other dessert books about cakes, diners, chocolate, and cookies. Here she has 150 preps that she guarantees are "flavourful", It is based on the pastry chefs' list of the most popular flavours in the US – vanilla, berry and cherry, apple, citrus, cheese, nuts, caramel, coffee, and chocolate. These are what most people eat most of in the way of desserts, so let's give it to them. So on average, that's about 15 preps per fancy. It is a great idea, and it forms a basis for a manual on baking and desserts. Each chapter covers a flavour, following a primer section. As with all good chefs, ingredients are scaled for exact ratios. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: intermediate
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: raspberry cheesecake cupcakes; French apple cake; cherry-vanilla frozen pops; espresso granita with mascarpone cream; lime-coconut mousse cake; pistachio Linzer hearts; two-tone milk chocolate mousse.
The downside to this book: vanilla is a nice flavour but it is also everywhere, like salt in savoury. Also, where would you place mocha?
The upside to this book: a nifty idea for arrangement, and this gets all the popular flavours anybody would need in one place.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.

Monday, December 28, 2015


3.HOMEBREWING (Alpha Books, 2015, 290 pages, ISBN 978-1-61564-8-290, $19.95 US soft covers) is a good basic entry level book for covering the homemade aspects of combining malt, hops, yeast and water. Daniel Ironside, the author, is a blogger at, specializing in small batches and limited spaces. The brewing process is explored, as well as adjuncts of fruit, sugar and spices. Basic equipment and sanitation are covered, as well as accuracy of notes. He's got 60 recipes for ales, stouts, porters, lagers, pilsners, IPAs, bocks, etc. As one of the Idiot's Guides, it lays bare all the essential details that you will need to produce a beer worth drinking.  This is a good read.
Audience and level of use: beginners
The downside to this book: there's now a lot of competition in homebrew books.
The upside to this book: there's a list of print resources and an even bigger list of blog resources. The web is very useful here since it allows constant Q and As.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
4.150 BEST SPIRALIZER RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2015, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0522-9, $19.95 US paper covers) is by Marilyn Haugen, who had previously written (under a pseudonym) 150 Best Breakfast Sandwich Maker Recipes. Spiralizers began life as another thing to do with potatoes: turn them into spirals. Now, there are machines that can create noodle-like spirals out of all those fleshy veggies such as roots (beets, carrots, radishes, jicama, celeriac, potatoes and sweet potatoes, etc.), squash and zucchini (about 40 of the preps here), plus apples and pears. Veggie noodles can replace the carbs and calories of wheat pasta. You don't need to make a whole meal out of them: they can be used for stir-fries, soups, salads, sides, garnishes, and apps. Separate chapters deal with gluten-free recipes, paleo recipes, vegetarian/vegan recipes, and raw food recipes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. The index, though, in order to be accommodated has very teeny tiny typeface, which is a shame. [You could also forgo all of this and just buy spaghetti squash].
Audience and level of use: very useful to anyone with a spiralizer, or even contemplating buying one.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: twisted Thai salad with peanut lime dressing; sweet potato pizza; parsnip spaghetti with pesto sauce; spiralized fruit tarts; shrimp and squash vermicelli soup.
The downside to this book: it would have been nice to have had an illustration or product name for a spiralizer. They do come in different shapes and price ranges.
The upside to this book: a good equipment cookbook, revamping old fave recipes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5.VEGETARIAN COMFORT FOODS (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 199 pages, ISBN 978-1-63220-332-8, $17.99 US hard covers) is by Jennifer Browne of Vancouver, who has a certificate in plant-based nutrition. In 2001 she was diagnosed with IBS but has been symptom-free since the fall of 2010 with her adoption of a plant-based diet. Previously, she had authored HAPPY HEALTHY GUT. Her 75 recipes in this current book are preceded by chapters on tools, pantries, and cleansing. Her sections include juicing, smoothies, sauces, breakfasts, nibbles, sides, salads, mains, and desserts. And she has 4 weeks worth of menus with recipes and page references. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Everything here is vegetarian and she has references to "vegan" and "gluten-free" in the recipe headers.
Audience and level of use: vegetarians, vegans, IBS sufferers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: blonde muesli; Denver "eggs"; guacamole; figgy fruit parfait; crispy chocolate peanut butter bars; poached pears; cabbage roll casserole.
The downside to this book: "breakfast quinoa with honey and bananas" is mislabeled. Also, the recipe index is by recipe name only, and not by ingredient.
The upside to this book: good scholarly introduction complete with endnotes for documentation.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
6.TRUE TO YOUR ROOTS (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015, 231 pages, ISBN 978-1-55152-598-4, $26.95 CAN paper covers) is by Carla Kelly, author of three previous books (her latest was VEGAN AL FRESCO). Her preps concern roots, tubers, and rhizomes in lighter vegan versions of traditional soups and stews. As well she has juices, salads and desserts. She also has a lot of info about some of the less popular items such as kohlrabi, yuca, celeriac, and sun chokes. Then she has some new ways with parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets and potatoes. Many have a "root to tip" approach, using edible greens and the peels in the preps. She's got indications of which recipes are gluten-free, contain nuts, and/or are raw. The 150 preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements mixed, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegetarians and vegans.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: Christmas cheesecake; ground beet tacos; kalecannon and avocado; spinach-parsley and parsnip soup; golden borscht; roasted reds and whites and greens.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
7.GLUTEN-FREE GIRL AMERICAN CLASSICS REINVENTED (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-21988-5, $29.99 US hard covers) is by Shauna James Ahern, who is a Beard Award winner (GLUTEN-FREE GIRL EVERY DAY) and also runs and Daniel Ahern, her professional chef husband. These are all the tried and true comfort foods of the homeland, adapted to the gluten-free lifestyle. Indeed, fried foods and desserts cover about a third of this book, with another third being devoted to sandwiches, breads and breakfasts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements mixed, but there is no table of metric equivalents. The breads and the flour mixes are all weighed out in grams.
Audience and level of use: those who cannot eat gluten.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting; fried green tomatoes; blackberry meringue pie; coconut cream cake; Texas sheet cake; shrimp and grits cakes.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
8.DECOLONIZE YOUR DIET (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015, 255 pages, ISBN 978-1-55152-592-1, $26.95 CAN paper covers) is by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel, both academics in the San Francisco Bay area. They promote the health benefits of indigenous Mexican-American cooking, and thus this book supports Mesoamerican sustainable cuisine. Everything here is plant-based (replacing prepared foods), covering a wide range of courses from apps through soups, mains, corn dishes, beans, salsas, and sweets. The work concludes with beverages and  breakfasts. Native ingredients and heritage crops are emphasized. The 120 preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegetarians.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: red pozole with medicinal mushrooms; amaranth corn tortillas; kabocha squash in pipian verde; chayote salad; scrambled egg and nopalito tacos; New Mexico green chile stew.
The downside to this book: the title was a little puzzling. At first I thought it had to do with clearing out the gut (colon). But then it hit me: it actually meant pre-Columbian food, as in "indigenous diet of over 500 years ago".
The upside to this book: there are 14 menu ideas for such as brunches, celebrations, parties, and meals of the day.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

Sunday, December 27, 2015


MY KITCHEN YEAR; 136 recipes that saved my life (Appetite by Random House, 2015, 329 pages, ISBN 978-0-14-752995-4, $39.95 US hard covers) is by Ruth Reichl, well-known cookbook and recipe writer (since 1972), restaurant reviewer, novelist, and food editor (Gourmet). In October 2009 Gourmet closed and Reichl was at loose ends. She turned to the kitchen for a year, and used cooking as therapy, developing some preps to help her motivation. The book is part recipes, part narrative-memoirs, and each recipe is anchored by a tweet she sent the day she cooked the recipe. The dishes were created and photographed in her Hudson Valley home kitchen. There is both a recipe index and a subject index, which is perfect if you want to read the narratives separately by theme. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: fans and those new to cooking.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: spicy Korean rice sticks with shrimp and vegetables; pollo alla diavola; eggplant and arugula sandwich; food cart curry chicken; grilled London broil with red onions; three-day short ribs; cider-braised pork shoulder;  Venetian pork spareribs.
The downside to this book: tight binding and/or small gutters
The upside to this book: a good commentary on how food can chase away the blues.
Quality/Price Rating: 91.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


1.BEER BITES (Chronicle Books, 2015, 168 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-3524-3, $24.95 US soft covers) is by Christian DeBenedetti and Andrea Slonecker. He's a food and drinks writer (The Great American Ale Trail) and brewery owner; she's a cookbook writer (Eggs on Top) and food editor. Together they have produced about 65 recipes for beer pairings, ranging from snacks to major dishes. Plus several desserts. Each recipe comes with at least five recommended beers from specified named breweries. They've got introductory material on how to taste beer and the principles of food matching. Each prep comes with extensive notes on how to match beers to the flavours. It is arranged by beer style, so neighbouring preps can be close to similar beers listed for other recipes. First up in "crisp & clean" as in lagers, "fruit & spice", "hoppy & herbal", "sour & complex", "malty, rich & sweet", and "deep, roasty & smoky" (stout territory). Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements; there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beer drinkers, those interested in matching beer to food.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: duck carnitas nachos; sweet corn griddle cakes; Irish oatcakes; smoked trout board with cabbages; chicken hearts!; hoisin-glazed pork belly lettuce wraps with daikon carrots; seafood ceviche with crunchy quinoa.
The downside to this book: I wanted more.
The upside to this book: quite a series of complex matches, first rate job!
Quality/Price Rating: 92.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Stocking stuffers should be at the very top of everybody's gift list: something affordable from under $10 up to $25, and that can also double as a host gift, being something small and lightweight. Most of the books here are paperbacks. And of course, they can stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are:
--PRISON RAMEN (Workman, 2015, 154 pages, $12.95 US soft covers)  is by Clifton Collins Jr. And Gustavo Alvarez. The former is a Hollywood actor; the latter has been through mentorship programs such as SEEK. These are recipes and stories from behind US prison bars, and include such as hot chili corn chip pie, ramen tamale, ramen burger, PB & J ramen, and about 60 others.
--PIEROGI LOVE (Gibbs Smith, 2015, 124 pages, $20 US) is by Casey Barber. It's a series of new takes on old world comfort food with 32 savoury and 28 sweet pierogies. Global influences here include saag paneer and saltimboca pierogies, as well as gnocchi dough.
--MAKE YOUR OWN CHEESE (Familius, 2015, 40 pages, $5.95 US paper covers) is by Caleb Warnock. These are self-sufficient recipes for cheddar, parmesan, Romano, cream cheese, mozzarella, cottage cheese and feta, using veggie rennet and household equipment.
--CIAO BISCOTTI (Chronicle Books, 2015, 144 pages, $18.95 US) is by Domenica Marchetti. It has 44 sweet and savoury preps, including my fave of fig and fennel. There's smoky gouda, cornmeal with rosemary and parmesan, and Gorgonzola and walnut.
--MUG MEALS (Taunton Press, 2015, 154 pages, $16.95 US paper covers) has 125 options here for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. All you need is a mug and a microwave, a handful of ingredients, and up to five minutes cooking. A pantry is essential, with ready made tortilla chips, Thai curry paste, granola, ketchup, cheese, salsa, chocolate chips, etc. Another too for the millennial and/or student.
--NUTS  (Sasquatch Books, 2015, 134 pages, $19.95 CAN hard covers) has 50 preps from crunchy to creamy, and savoury to sweet. The wide-ranging look at staples, snacks, soups, salads, sides, seafood and meats, plus desserts is enough to get you started.
--FRIED CHICKEN (Ten Speed Press, 2014, 123 pages, $19.99 CAN hard covers) is by Rebecca Lang, who divides the volume into skillet fried and deep fried. These 60 global preps, with everything crispy, include classic Southern buttermilk fried chicken, chicken Milanese with chimichurri, and Thai drumsticks.
--THE HOME BARISTA (The Experiment, 2015, 192 pages, $19.95 CAN soft covers) is by Simone Egger and Ruby Ashby Orr. They tell you how to bring out the best in every coffee bean. There's a primer with history and certain essentials needed for roasting your own (you can use a popcorn maker), a glossary, mastering the espresso, creating milk textures and designs, blending, and how to make seven different types of brew (from cafetiere to Turkish ibrik).
--CHOWDERLAND (Storey Publishing, 2015, 136 pages, $18.95 CAN hard covers) is by Brooke Dojny. These are 32 hearty chowder bisques, soups and stews with sides, breads, salads and desserts – total of 57 preps in all.
--CHOCOLATE (Workman, 2015, 112 pages, $17.95 CAN soft covers) is by Sandra Boynton, who claims to have "overresearched" the volume. It was out before; this is a revision with more of her illustrations, and was originally published in 1982 before the millennials were around. There are some 200 drawings plus history and descriptions and a few simple recipes (good for the impatient cook).
--SEVENTY FIVE HOMEMADE SALAD DRESSINGS (Gibbs Smith, 2015, $15 US flip cards) is by Jeff Keys. These flip cards are easy to manage and to wash.
--FAT WITCH BAKE SALE (Rodale, 2015, 184 pages, $26.99 CAN hard covers) is by Patricia Helding, who puts out 67 preps from the Manhattan bakery for you next charity/church/school bake sale or party.
--DIPS & SPREADS (Chronicle Books, 2015, 112 pages, $16.95 US hard covers) by Dawn Yanagihara who gives us 46 preps of legumes, veggies, olives, nuts, seeds, yogurt and cheese. Good gift for those who host parties.
--THE WORLD'S BEST BRUNCHES (Lonely Planet, 2015, 224 pages, $19.99 US soft covers) is written by named global food writers, from Africa to Vietnam. This collection of 100 classic dishes has a history for each item, the best place in the world to sample a bite, and a recipe for you to prepare at home. Alternative ingredients are also included.
--THE RELUCTANT HOSTESS (Random House Vintage Classics, 2015, 130 pages, $18.99 CAN hard covers) comes from 1954, and was written by Ethelind Fearon for those who dread parties and catering events. She designates most activities as GVC (good and cheap) and NN (not for novices), and includes party games and weird food (e.g., liver flan, curried cheese).
--CATTLEWOMEN'S RANCH COOKBOOK (Gibbs Smith, 2015, 176 pages, $13 US) is by Amber Johns and produced by the CattleWomen, a US organization. It is meant for cooking on a ranch. There are many historical photos of cattlewomen, from the late 1800s to early 1900s.
--GRILL EATS AND DRINKS (Chronicle Books, 2014,  64 pages, $14.95 US hardback) deals with drinks, nibbles, sides, desserts, and a few mains. These are recipes for good times, mostly previously published.
--Academia Barilla from Italy has launched a fun series of special die-cut cookbooks, and these make excellent stuffers or host gifts. Each is on a theme (e.g., ICE CREAM, TARTS, PANINIS) uniformly priced at $18.95 CAN, 128 pages with 50 easy recipes apiece, 7" x 9" in size. Everything in the books is Italian-influenced.
--But the mother lode of small stuffers must be Ryland Peters & Small. All of their small gift books are hard covers, usually line priced at $23.95 with 64 pages each and 35 recipes. Some of the latest include FRIES by Laura Washburn, using not only potatoes but parsnip, pumpkin, celeriac, and asparagus. THE CAST-IRON SKILLET COOKBOOK is classic home cooking with tarte tatin, Spanish tortilla, and bacon cornbread. A BOWLFUL OF BROTH is for the paleo dieter who wants to reduce a  dependency on processed foods. Classic clear soups are here, such as healing miso soup and chicken noodle soup. PAELLA by Louise Pickford has 28 recipes for different types (Valencia, Basque), plus some associated rice dishes from Spain such as creamy rice with lobster or rice and clam soup.  There is also SUSHI (128 pages, $18.95 CAN paper covers) by Emi Kazuko and two others, with lots of instructional photos amongst its 59 recipes.
Other little books, for beverages, include those on beer, wine and spirits:
--THE ESSENTIAL SCRATCH & SNIFF GUIDE TO BECOMING A WHISKEY KNOW-IT-ALL (Rux Martin, 2015, $29.99 CAN, boards) is by Richard Betts, who had earlier written a comparable set of boards for scratching and sniffing wines. Here he emphasizes that you know your booze before you choose, and it forms a good introduction to the differences between bourbons, irish, scotch, and more, along with an aroma wheel.
--WISE COCKTAILS (Rodale, 2015, 176 pages, $22.99 CAN hard covers) is by Jenny Ripps and Maria Littlefield, founders of Owl's Brew in NYC. These are fresh-brewed tips and tricks for mixing up tea-based alcoholic cocktails. It also includes a history of tea cocktails. In addition, there are preps for tea sodas, smoothies, and tea-infused snacks.
--THE BOOZY BLENDER (Clarkson Potter, 2015, 128 pages, $19.99 CAN paper covers) is by writers Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough. 60 classics are all done in a blender using fresh ingredients, utilizing every one of the four seasons. And there are lots of frozen fruit choices available on the open market. The difficulty is in finding the right consistency. There's bananas foster freeze and frozen lemon meringue pie. To implement many of these preps you will need a full bar.
--BOOZY SHAKES (Ryland Peters and Small, 2015, 64 pages, $19.95 CAN hard covers) gives us 27 recipes for milkshake derived hard drinks (Dark and Stormy Bourbon Ice Cream, Amaretto Sour Malts, and others. Victoria Glass offers us indulgences; you've got to thin to begin with.
--BOND COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015, 64 pages, $9.95 CAN hard cover) seems to be a veritable bargain with its 23 recipes for various cocktails based on the Bond books. There's the Silver Streak (with pictures of Silver Cloud Rolls Royce), the Negronic, the Sazerac, Scotch and soda (21 times in the books), Vodka Martini, et al.
--COOKIES AND COCKTAILS (Chronicle Books, 2015, 64 pages, $19.95 CAN hard covers) are recipes for entertaining. There's the Bangkok margarita, the Sazerac, appletini, the Wassail bowl, and food to accompany: pistachio and cranberry biscotti, candy cane cookies, meringue snow flakes.
--CIDER MADE SIMPLE (Chronicle Books, 2015, 175 pages, $22 CAN hard covers) is by beer writer Jeff Alworth. It is a basic intro to cider, and includes variants such as perry from pears and other fruit ciders. The processes are described as well as the types and regionality: look for English cider, corked cider, North American cider, Quebec, and ice ciders.
--101 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR HOME BREWING (DK, 2015, 72 pages, $5.95 CAN paper covers) is an illustrated guide which presents the basics of home beer making: different methods, ingredients, techniques, equipment.
--THE POCKET HOMEBREW HANDBOOK (Dog 'n' Bone, 2015, 192 pages, $19.95 CAN paperback) is by Dave Law and Beshlie Grimes, who own and run a London pub. There are 75 recipes here (stouts, porters, IPA, wheat beers), principally for new style North American beers with much hopping. Good illustrations and tables.
And for no alcohol, consider...
--COOKING WITH COFFEE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 161 pages, $16.99 US hard covers) is by Brandi Evans. These are sweet and savoury everyday dishes, created by incorporating most of your morning coffee excess into lunch, dinner and desserts. They keep you moving all day through espresso banana muffins, peanut butter mocha smoothie, slow cooked coffee short ribs, roasted mole chicken, or brownie coffee caramel sundaes.
Annual calendars are always monster hits and are often appreciated, both the wall and the desk type. The best of the desk are the "page-a-day" (PAD) calendars from Workman.  A YEAR OF GOOD BEER 2016 (Workman, 2015, $17.99 CAN) has a combined Saturday and Sunday page. Most of the beers appear as imports in Canada, but otherwise there are few Canadian brews included. Lights, wheat, lagers, ales, porters, stouts, seasonal beers, and lambrics – they're all here, 165 or so craft beers. Check out Brew Dog's The End of History at 55% ABV. Other material in this PAD includes beer festivals, beer facts, food and beer pairing, tasting notes, label lore, trivia, and vocabulary. There are also "must-try" US beer recommendations. If you buy any of the PAD calendars, then you can go online to the website and pick up other, free stuff,
For wall calendars, there is FRESHLY BREWED COFFEE MINI CALENDAR 2016 (Workman, 2015, $9.99 CAN) for all the coffee lovers; it comes with a dozen deftly hand-lettered images, one a month. Or perhaps the KITCHEN HAPPINESS CALENDAR 2016  (Workman, 2015, $16.99 CAN), created by graphic artist Jan Skacelik for a mid-century Scandinavian design. Each month's spread includes detailed text: cooking and entertaining tips, useful conversions, and classic cocktail recipes with illustrated sayings. You could also try HOMEGROWN GOODNESS SIMPLE PLEASURES CALENDAR 2016 (Workman, 2015, $18.99 CAN) which has homespun touches on foods such as big yellow lemons ("squeeze the day"), or a beehive, or a cherry pie. For February, there is a beet ("you make my heart skip a beet"). The calendar package also has 12 colour Mason jar recipe cards.
And for other non-book items, there have been many blank books this year. For the Wine Drinker, there is A VERY NICE GLASS OF WINE  (Chronicle Books, 2015, 173 pages, $16.95 US paper), a guided journal by wine blogger Helen McGinn. Two-thirds of the volume is a series of templated forms for writing notes. There is lots of material on how wine is made, how tasted, and how matched with foods. Another is Gina Homolka's THE SKINNY TASTE MEAL PLANNER (Potter Style, 2015, $21.99 CAN) which allows you to track your meals, week-by-week, with goals and calorie counters. It has 20 recipes, quotes, and tips, and features a journal to keep you organized (food, calories, exercises). It accompanies The Skinny Taste Cookbook, AND for the Millennials, it is also available as an ebook which can be updated digitally. Hey, how apt is that?
Even audio CDs are coming back – Ruth Reichl's MY KITCHEN YEAR (Random House Canada, 2015, $41 CAN) is read by Ruth herself, and it contains PDFs of the 136 recipes that saved her life after Gourmet magazine shut down (plus a recipe index and a shopping index). She's a good story teller, and you can hear it all in 6.5 hours over 6 CDs. A great gift for the driver in the family...
And so on to the wine annuals. The two international leaders are HUGH JOHNSON'S
POCKET WINE BOOK 2016 (Mitchell Beazley, 2015, 336 pages, $18.99 CAD hard
bound) and OZ CLARKE WINE A - Z 2016 (Pavilion, 2015, 368 pages,  $16.95 CAD paperback). Both are guides to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. Similarities: Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are listed, while Clarke says more than 7000 wines, but then recommends 4000 producers. News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are in both books. The major differences: Johnson has been at it longer – this is his 39th edition (Clarke is celebrating his 25th anniversary) -- and has more respect from erudite readers
for his exactitude and scholarship. His book is arranged by region; Clarke's book is in
dictionary, A – Z form (about 1600 main entries). It is really six of one, or half a dozen of another which one to use. This year, though, the Clarke book is a couple bucks cheaper. Apparently, Amazon.Com reports that many people buy both, for about $20 US total. Both books have notes on the 2014 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2015, along with a closer look at the 2013. It is fun to look at these and find out where they diverge. Johnson and Oz are moving more into food: there is a 13 page section on food and wine matching in the former, while Oz has 6 pages. Johnson also has a listing of his personal 200 fave wines. Both books could profit from online accessibility or a CD-ROM production. What I don't like about both books is that they come out too early. Johnson was available September 1, while Clarke was released on November 17. I guess this gets them off the hook about having to comment on the 2015 harvest and vintage in the Northern hemisphere!
In Canada, we have  THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO: 2016
(Whitecap, 2015, 280 pages, $19.95 CAN paper back) takes a run at the wines at the
LCBO. This eighth edition by Rod Phillips (wine writer for the Ottawa Citizen) has wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with price and CSPC number. Each value wine gets a rating (the basic is now 3.5 stars out of five; there have not been any 3 star wines since 2011), and there is an indication of food pairings. A good guidebook, but I'm afraid most people will just look through it for the 5 star selections and leave it at that. Turnover in Ontario occurs regularly as quotas are unmet or prices rise or the producer decides it is time for a change; there are over 100 new entries this year, which is about a third of the book. Coverage is limited to LCBO General Purchase wines and LCBO Vintages Essentials, the wines that are available (if only by special internal order) in every LCBO store. Phillips has also included the
LCBO perceived sweetness notations rather than the older Sugar Codes. HAD A GLASS 2016; top 100 wines under $20 (Appetite by Random House, 2015, 201 pages, $19.95 CAN paper covers) is by James Nevison, the co-author of Have a Glass; a modern guide to wine. He reports regularly at Had a Glass showcases top inexpensive wines available with national distribution. He tries to pick wines available to match any occasion, and along the way he provides tips on food and wine pairing and stemware. The first forty pages present all the basics. I am not sure why the basics are here since the book is really about the top 100 wines. Most readers/buyers will head straight for the listings which follow, one per page, for whites, roses, reds, aperitifs, dessert wines and sparklers. New this year is a section celebrating the best of 10 years since he first published his book.  Also new is material on the top 10 wines of the past 10 years. He also covers some "splurge"  wines and some cocktails, but has some guest wine reviewers from BC. For us in Ontario, this is just at the very time that the LCBO is concentrating on the $15 to $19.95 spread. There are indexes by countries and by wine/variety. Tasting notes are pretty bare bones, but each wine does have a label, description of the product, a price, and some food matches.


Dean Tudor, Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus
Treasurer, Wine Writers' Circle of Canada
Look it up and you'll remember it; screw it up and you'll never forget it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

New Methode Traditionnelle sparklers from Chateau des Charmes

It's the time of year to break out the bubbly and celebrate the year that was, the year that will be and give toasts to health and happiness of family and friends. Here are some sparklers from Chateau des Charmes,  Méthode Traditionnelle production (Champagne method of secondary fermentation in the bottle). These fizzes have a new festive package with a dash of bling.
First up:
Chateau des Charmes 2012 Rosé sparkling wine, Méthode Traditionnelle (50%/50% Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir dosage, recently disgorged, 1.5 years on the lees). $28.95. Vintages +78055 on February 6 2016 (St. Valentine's Day release), but also available NOW at the winery and its stores. It has always been one of my fave Rose sparklers. Rated: 91+
HARVEST DATE: September 15th  2012   ALCOHOL: 12.4%  CASES PRODUCED: 250 (12-bottle cases).
Then, Chateau des Charmes N/V Brut sparkling wine, Méthode Traditionnelle (50%/50% Chardonnay/Pinot Noir, recently disgorged, 3 years on the lees. $22.75. LCBO +224766
ALCOHOL: 12.5% CASES PRODUCED: 2877. Available also now at the winery and its stores. It is a very good toasty fizz at a ridiculously low price. Great for those endless New Year celebrations. Rated: 89+
The third in the trio is a Chateau des Charmes 2012 Blanc de Blancs Brut sparkling wine, Methode Traditonnelle (100% Chardonnay)  that will be featured at the next i4C in July, and will be in limited release at the winery and their two retail stores (Toronto & Ottawa) early in the New Year. Price, etc. TBD.
More details are at              


Family values Christmas gift cook books would have to include:
--YUMMY KAWAII BENTO (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 248 pages, $25 hard covers) is by Li Ming Lee, the creator of These are character bentos that she has created since 2011, and have been drawn from over 1000 that she has created. Best made for school lunches, they are a combo bento (box lunch) and charaben (food styled as art) . There are teddy bear shaped mini-pizzas, porky pastas, ninja rice balls. There are even preps that kids can work on themselves. A great way to deter pitching kid lunches into the school's compost bin . What fun! Lunch will never be the  same again.
--THE OFFICIAL JOHN WAYNE WAY TO GRILL (Media Lab Books, 2015, 254 pages, ISBN 978-1-942556015, $22.99 US soft covers) is a book in celebration of John Wayne the actor. It is an "official" book, with an introduction by son Ethan. Wayne loved steak and potatoes – it was his main meal ("charred medium"). Here there are 100 plus recipes, including family faves, all with the usual step-by-step instructions. And lots of John Wayne lore. "A guy's gotta grill what a guy's gotta grill".  Tennessee T-Bone steaks with whiskey butter;  lotsa pix and remembrances from the Wayne family but  NO INDEX.
--FRIENDS FOOD FAMILY (Quadrille, 2015, 192 pages, $33.50 CAN hard covers) is by Sasha Wilkins, who runs in the UK. It is for the modern hostess who doesn't want to do decorations or garnishes. So it is basically a cookbook for large gatherings and entertaining without the frills. Just good food and conversations with a UK sensibility.
--FOOD GIFT LOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 256 pages, $33 hard covers) is by NYC food blogger Maggie Battista. She's got more than 100 recipes for food to make, wrap and share. It is a good too for crafty cooks and do-it-yourselfers. These are small-batch hand-crafted foods, edible gifts for many e=occasions. The range is from infused salts and sugars through fresh ricotta, flavoured butters, jams, pickles, vinaigrette, cookies, savouries, and drinks. And of course, there is guidance on how to wrap it all up.
--BACK IN TIME FOR DINNER (Bantam Press, 2015, 300 pages, $42.95 CAN hard covers) is by Mary Gwyn. It's based on a BBC TV program concerning how the UK has changed its food habits in the way Brits eat their family meals. So it runs through fish fingers, curries (this is the UK, now), hamburgers, and a range of US imports. Well-researched to tie in with the program, which of course has a British orientation. So maybe a gift for the Brit in your life?
--DESSERTS (DK, 2015, $304 pages, $40 hard covers) is by Caroline Bretherton and Kristen Raines. Nothing says family more than desserts: here are 400 of them, all the classics and variations with step-by-step photography and presentation ideas of garnishes. You will find cherry clafoutis, key lime pie, vanilla pannacotta, sachertorte, creme brulee, etc. Techniques include how to drip, drizzle, melt, marble, pipe, crimp, skewer, shape and dust. The volume is arranged by temperature, beginning with hot, moving on to cold desserts, and then to frozen. Material about presentations are at the end.
--COOKFRESH YEAR-ROUND (Taunton Press, 2015, 320 pages, $24.95 CAN hard covers with slip case) comes from the editors of Fine Cooking magazine. It is a set of four miniature cookbooks according to the seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) with 50 recipes apiece for no-fuss meals on busy work-nights. Seasonality is stressed. It is a good set for beginning cooks as well as experienced hands.
--THE VERMONT COUNTRY STORE COOKBOOK (Grand Central Life & Style, 2015, 300 pages,  $35) is by Ellen Ecker Ogden and Andrea Diehl, with the Orton Family. Vrest and Mildred Orton put out a 36-item catalogue ("The Vermont Country Store") in time for Christmas 1945 – without a physical store, sort of like the Amazon.Com of its day. And now it is 70 years later, and this book serves a memoir/history/Vermont guide of that period. The early emphasis was on fine foods plus tools and utensils for cooking and serving more fine foods. There is lots of detail on running a store, plus the recipes on Vermont food, ending with "Vermont, a way of life".
--THE COOK'S BIBLE AND THE DESSERT BIBLE BOX SET (Little, Brown and Co., 2015, 880 pages, $44 CAN boxed) are two classic kitchen references from America's Test Kitchen. They are derived from Cook's Illustrated magazine, and together deliver hundreds of recipes for families based on the magazine and from the TV show as well. It is billed as American home cookery for the family, but of course there are international influences such as pizza and pasta, stir fries, and the like.
--THE NEWLYWED COOKBOOK (St. Martin's Pr., 2015, 222 pages, $34.50 CAN hard covers) is by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore. The 70 recipes apparently target some of the most popular small appliances in today's bridal registries. There are copious notes on organizing the kitchen and the pantry, shopping to beat the system, buying kitchen equipment, and spices and herbs. There is even a much needed section on how to cook together.
--DINNER SOLVED! (Workman, 2015, 384 pages, $22.95 CAN paper covers) is by food writer Katie Workman, author of  The Mom 100 Cookbook.  Having "solved" the problem of getting food on the table for a family on weeknights, she turns her attention to picky eaters: how to make everyone at the table happy without turning into a short-order cook. She has a "fork in the road" solution which makes it easy to turn one dish into two or more: mild and sweet vs. heat, meat eaters vs. vegetarians, mix and match pasta combos, sweet or savoury crostini for breakfasts, ingredient substitutions. The too pretty well promises no more cranky eaters or table strife, reducing stress.
--IDIOT'S GUIDES: Cooking Basics (Alpha, 2015, 266 pages, $24.95 CAN paperback) is by Thomas England, a food service educator who here teaches us all to master the fundamentals, with step-by-step photos and more than 80 classic recipes: breakfasts, soups, stews, sauces, salads, mains, sides. For your student kid and self-learners.
--THE COMPLETE AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN TV SHOW COOKBOOK, 2001 – 2016 (ATK, 2015; distr. Penguin Random House Canada, 2015, 1012 pages, $50 CAN hard covers) has every recipe from the PBS show along with product ratings from Cook's Illustrated magazine. Chris Kimball and his team hone each recipe until they get it right. The tome has more than 1100 American cookery recipes from 16 seasons. There is also THE BEST OF AMERICA'S TEST KITCHEN 2016: THE YEAR'S BEST RECIPES, EQUIPMENT REVIEWS AND TASTINGS (320 pages, $40 CAN hard covers); it is different in that it also includes material  from Cook's Illustrated, with quick tips from readers.
--FAST FOOD, GOOD FOOD (Little, Brown and Co., 2015, 295 pages, $36 CAN hard covers) is by Andrew Weil, MD, who is the most recognized leader in integrative medicine (TV,  book author, columnist, Even so he seems to need log rollers such as Waters and Keller. The book has more than 150 quick and easy ways to put healthy, delicious food on your table at home. It's arranged by course, with a good collection of healthy drinks. At the end, he has notes on the anti-inflammatory diet and pyramid. He's also got effective use of bold-face type and leading for the older folks, and this includes the layout for his index. It is, actually, a must purchase as a gift.
--THE FOOD ALLERGY COOKBOOK (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 235 pages, $21.99 paperback) is by Carmel Nelson and Amra Ibrisimovic. It is a revised edition of the 2011 work. Here are 101 preps for foods that are free of dairy, gluten, soy, corn, shellfish and nuts. Ingredients are readily available and the instructions are easy. And dishes are savoury and/or sweet depending on seasonings. There are holiday menus, tips for shopping, pantry advice, and how to read labels.
--THE BONE BROTH MIRACLE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 180 pages, ISBN 978-1-63450-702-8, $25.99 CAN paper covers) is by Ariane Resnick, a certified nutritionist who specializes in organic farm-to-table cuisine. She has cooked for celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow. Here are 51 preps for a daily dose of nutrients: calcium, amino acids, collagen, magnesium, potassium and other minerals. In other words, what we knew as Jewish penicillin, good old chicken broth. Suits a paleo diet – and has a good bibliography for further reading.
--THE UNDIET COOKBOOK (Appetite by Random House, 2015, 304 pages, $24.95 CAN soft covers) is by Meghan Telpner, a Toronto-based nutritionist. She gives us 130 plant-based recipes with options for any kind of diet. She's got health tips, meal planning for all courses, even edible beauty care recipes. Some major keys are smoothies and sprouts. Most valuable too are the tips for travel and entertaining in how to "undiet" for life.
--APPLE CIDER VINEGAR FOR HEALTH AND BEAUTY (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 242 pages, $22.99 CAN paper covers) is by Simone McGrath. ACV has many health benefits (weight loss, allergies, skin and health), and this guide tells how to use it to also treat common ailments, oral health, and to use it in cooking soups, salads, mains, drinks, and desserts. Organic ACV has been a standard in our house for over two decades.
--HOW CAN IT BE GLUTEN-FREE COOKBOOK, VOL 2 (America's Test Kitchen 2015, 328 pages, $32 CAN paper covers) delivers more of the ATK's honed recipes, furthering breakfast foods, grains, comfort food, breads, and a resource section.  Volume 1 was published in early


Friday, December 18, 2015


For the more literate person, there are the histories , "memoirs"  and humour of writers, chefs, and wine people. Some have called these memoirs "creative non-fiction", many with embellishments and gilding. And most – not all -- of them suffer from a lack of indexing, which makes it difficult to find what the writer said about another person or subject. But this also avoids the potential for lawsuits and disjointed noses. Nevertheless, they are rewarding to read. Who cares about poetic license? Here then are some that stood out from last year's run, and any of them would make great gifts for the reader. Here we go, in no particular order…
--AN IRISH CHRISTMAS FEAST (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 415 pages, $24 CAN) is a collection of 50 tales by one of Ireland's most popular writers – John B. Keane, a playwright, novelist, poet, songwriter, and short story person who died in 2002. Every tale here celebrates an Irish Christmas with Gaelic humour, principally from County Kerry characters such as Hiccups O'Reilly who disappears one Christmas Eve and isn't seen again for seven years.  Food and drink such as Christmas dinners and cider and beer are at the centre of many of the stories.
--EATING WORDS (W.W. Norton & Co., 2015, 471 pages, $45 CAN hard covers) has been edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Roger J. Porter. You know food studies have made it in the world when it gets "Nortonized", that is, made into a collection or anthology of  literate writings. This is a survey of literary distinctive writings about food, from the classical world to the present. The first section covers through to the beginnings of the 1900s, followed by sections on family hearth, the delight and dread of eating, kitchen practices of chefs, cultural tales, and food politics. Enough to accompany any academic course dealing with food culture and history.  A great gift for the student.
--BON APPETEMPT (Grand Central Publishing, 2015, 320 pages, $18 CAN paper covers) is by food blogger Amelia Morris, MFA. These are whimsical observations about family, food, and the extremes of modern living. It is billed as a coming-of-age story with recipes. The recipes are scattered, and unlike some of her experiences, they do work. Learn to profit from your mistakes by adjusting. A good gift for the millennial in your life.
--FOOD; a love story (Three Rivers Press, 2015, 340 pages, $20 paper covers) is by humourist Jim Gaffigan. As he says, it is an entertaining but ill-informed look at all foodie stuff – health food to junk food. He claims to be an "eatie" rather than a "foodie". To him, shellfish are bugs while bacon is candy. And that is becoming all too true, based on what I read in the papers.
--THE LANGUAGE OF FOOD (WW Norton, 2015, 246 pages, $32 CAN hard covers) is by  Dan Jurafsky. His subtitle is "a linguist reads the menu": his work is about what we say about food as analyzed by someone who specializes in food studies and etymology. His chapters cover toast, ketchup, turkey, sushi rolls, potato chips, salsa, sherbet, macaroni, and more. Good end notes and bibliography.
--THIS IS WHAT YOU JUST PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? (Three Rivers Press, 2015, 255 pages, $18 CAN paperback) is a listing by Patrick DiJusto of what is inside everyday products. It's based on his Wired Magazine column, "What's Inside". So he gives us the ingredients in Cool Whip, Spam, eggnog, Doritos, beef jerky, coffee, and more. He's got some product histories and back-stories, as well as label decoding. This tome is great fun: you may never eat again!
--VORACIOUS  (Little Brown and Co., 2015, 285 pages, $31 CAN hardcover) is by Cara Nicoletti, a butcher who is author of the literary recipe blog Yummy Books. Here she has 50 "great books"  related to food; she does essays on the books and the food scenes that give their characters depth. She then adds her own inspired preps at the end of each chapter. So: soft-cooked eggs from Emma, fava bean and chicken liver mousse from The Silence of the Lambs, white garlic soup from Pride and Prejudice, pea and bacon soup from Charlotte's Web. It is arranged by age, and includes childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. She's got some good comments on the food and what that all means to her.
--YEAR  OF THE COW (Flatiron Books, 2015, 302 pages, $29.99 CAN hard cover) is by award-winning TV producer Jared Stone. These are the interesting experiences of cooking for his family; how 420 pounds of beef built a better life for one American family. He learns the provenance of the cow, how to correctly pack a freezer, cooking nose to tail, leftovers, plus contributes one recipe per chapter.
--THE BEST OF JANE GRIGSON (Grub Street, 2015, 360 pages, $36.95 CAN hard covers)  was published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Grigson's death. It is arranged by regional cuisine, including the Americas, Mediterranean, Europe, India, Far East, with special chapters on England and France, her faves. These are some of her most-loved recipes, with anecdotes, quotations and poems.
--THE RELUCTANT SAVAGE (Thomas Dunne Books St. Martin's Press, 2015, 293 pages, $29.99 CAN hard covers) is by James McWilliams, a food writer (5 previous books) dealing with agriculture and animals. It's a polemic on our unthinking decision to eat animals, and raises the ethical and ecological problems of that decision. It's an expose, with extensive end notes and index.
--PICNIC IN PROVENCE (Little, Brown and Co., 2015, 336 pages, $29 CAN hard covers) is by Elizabeth Bard, a US journalist based in Provence. She had previously written "Lunch in Paris", and continues with this volume about Provence. This is a memoir about love and marriage and family, moving from Paris to Provence and setting up an artisanal ice cream shop. Local recipes are included.
--BECOMING SALMON (University of California Press, 2015, 214 pages, $34.95 US hard covers) is by Marianne Elisabeth Lien, and academic who teaches social anthropology in Oslo. It is a first account of salmon farms, and covers farmed Atlantic salmon which are bred to be hungry and mobile This is a story of industrial food production and human-animal relations. Geographically, she covers Tasmania, Canada, Chile, Peru, Alaska, but mostly Norway. Worth a read.
--THREE MANY COOKS (Ballantine Books, 2015, 316 pages, $31 CAN hard covers) is by Pam Anderson, Maggy Keet, and Sharon Damelio. This is one mom and two daughters, with shared stories if the highs and lows of food, faith and family. Mom Anderson is a cookbook author and once helmed Cook's Illustrated. Recipes are scattered throughout.
--STORIES FROM THE KITCHEN (Everyman's Pocket Classics Knopf, 2015,  410 pages, $21 CAN hard covers) has been edited by Diana Secker Tesdell. These are classic tales showcasing the culinary arts globally and universally in time, with food in the starring role. Check out Alice B. Toklas, Proust, Zola, Dinesen, Woolf, Chekov, Dickens, and many more. It comes with a yellow bookmark ribbon.
--NEW YORK IN A DOZEN DISHES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, 304 pages, $29 CAN hard covers) is by Robert Sietsema, restaurant critic for the Village Voice for two decades. Here he presents a dozen essays on dishes found in New York city, such as pizza, clam chowder, pastrami, even scrambled brains. The chapter on pambazo is enlightening: it reads like a history of Mexican sandwiches, mentions three places to try pambazo, plus six more for tapas, and then gives a recipe. His writing here is a good portrait of NYC food, with appropriate log rolling by A Bourdain and R Reichl.
--101 USES FOR A CELEBRITY CHEF (Century, 2015, unpaged, $21.99 CAN hard covers) is by Andy Watt. These are cartoons on  how to make a celebrity chef look much more useful. For example, there is the Jamie Oliver pinata, the chaise Nigellongue, the Yotam fridge, and the Ken Hom doll. Hey, for the insiders .... get with it!!
--THE POCKET BUTLER (Appetite by Random House, $122 pages, $14.95 CAN hard covers) is a follow-up to Charles MacPherson's THE BUTLER SPEAKS. It is a compact guide to the two  modern manners of business etiquette and everyday entertaining, crammed  (for the latter) with useful knowledge about table settings, holding knife and fork, popping corks, foolproof menu plans, table manners, and the like. Small enough to slip into your pocket for a quick review from time-to-time.
--COGNITIVE COOKING WITH CHEF WATSON (Sourcebooks, 2015, 231 pages, ISBN 978-1-4926-2571-1, $29.99 US hard covers – comes from IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education. These are recipes for innovation and culinary exploration, thinking outside the box. With IBM Watson and the power of cognitive computing, you no longer need to rely on experience/intuition to create new recipes. But it is amazing in this day of the Internet, where most people find recipes online rather than in print, that this book exists in print, and not as an ebook or pdf. Italian roast duck is terrific.
--SCONE WITH THE WIND (Virgin Books Ebury, 2015, 160 pages, $21.99 hard covers) is by Miss Victoria Sponge who encourages you to make and bake 72 novel recipes such as Banana Karenina, Flapjack and the Beanstalk, Nineteen-eighty Petit Fours, and then some great Middlemarshmallows. These are puns on novels, divided by genre (romance, comedy, thrillers, tragedy, historical, science fiction, plays and more). Cherry Pie Orchard is, well, a cherry pie. Head notes relate to the theme. An engaging gift book, affordable.


Dean's List 2015 Part 5 - Drinks Books - Good Food RevolutionGood Food Revolution | A sort of Canadian food and wine website

Part Five – Wine and Spirit and Drink Books of the year...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Event: A tasting of Nova Scotia wines, including 12 Tidal Bay whites from 2014

The Date and Time: Tuesday December 15 2015   5PM to 8PM
The Event: A tasting of Nova Scotia wines, including 12 Tidal Bay whites from 2014
vintage, and some Andrew Peller Wine Imports.
The Venue: WWCC Fieldhouse
The Target Audience: Members of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada
The Availability/Catalogue: all wines are available in Nova Scotia, and maybe some
of the Andrew Peller Imports too.
The Quote/Background: 12 of Nova Scotia's grape wineries make "Tidal Bay Nova
Scotia's Premier White Wine" . Via Tony Aspler, the WWCC was given a sample of
all 12 from the 2014 vintage. They mostly range from  10 -  11% ABV from a majority
of 4 approved local white grape varieties (L'Acadie, Seyval, Vidal, Geisenheim 318).
By a panel tasting, they must have grape aromatics.
The Wines: All the wines were labelled Tidal Bay 2014. Prices are Nova Scotia retail.
These are my scores only, and are not reflective of the WWCC: this was not a
**** BEST -- Four Stars (91+ in Quality/Price Rating terms):
--Benjamin Bridge 9.5% ABV   $21.95
***1/2 BETTER -- Three and a Half Stars (88 – 90 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Lightfoot & Wolfville  $22
-Annapolis Highland Vineyards
*** GOOD -- Three Stars (85 – 87 in Quality/Price Rating terms):
-Mercator Vineyard   $24.99
-Luckett Vineyard Gaspereau Valley   $22
-Blomidon Estate  $19.99
-Domaine Grand Pre $19.99
-Avondale Sky  $19.99
-Gaspereau Vineyards  $21.99
-Sainte Famille 
-Planters Ridge
Other wines tasted from Nova Scotia include  Avondale Sky Bliss 2014 8.2% ABV
(86),  Gaspereau Vineyards Muscat 2013  12% ABV (91), Jost 4 Skins Red NV  12%
MF/Lucie Kuhlman/Millot/Castel (86), Blomidon Marechal Foch 2010  12% (surprise!
91 surprise!), Luckettt Vineyards Black Cab NV  Cab Foch/Castel/Precose (88).
From Andrew Peller Wine Imports (all reds):
-Chateau de Courteillac Bordeaux 2014 LCBO +360552, $12.95 (86)
-Hahn Monterey Pinot Noir 2014 LCBO +226555, $18.95 (89)
-Vina Zaco Rioja Tempranillo 2014 Vintages +146209 $14.95 (87)
-Vina Pomal Reserva Rioja 2010 Vintages Dec 12 $21.95 (91)
The Food: bread and water
The Contact Person:
The Event's Marketing Effectiveness and Execution (numerical grade): 92.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Re: TOP GIFT BOOKS, part 2: Beverage and Reference Books

Awesome! thank you!

>…and how about gift books for the beverage drinker? Try –
>--DIVIDED SPIRITS (University of California Press, 2015,� 260 pages,� $29.95 US paper
>covers) is by Sarah Bowen, professor at North Carolina State. It is an engaging look at
>the politics of tequila and mezcal production in Mexico. Currently it is a market-based
>model, but Bowen calls for more democratic and inclusive systems that involve the
>participation of the small producers, the agave farmers, and many of the workers. Rural
>development should be supported. It's a scholarly book with end notes and a
>bibliography, but on a topic to think about over the holidays.
>--THE HOME DISTILLER'S GUIDE TO SPIRITS: reviving the art of home distilling (Firefly
>Books, 2015, 160 pages, $29.95 hard covers) is by Steve Coomes, an American food and
>drink writer. Here he gives a history of the process, advice on everything you need to
>know, and recipes to help enjoy the fruits of the labours. If you are looking to set up
>a home moonshine operation, this is a safe too to begin with. Vodka is the easiest, just
>plain alcohol (made with grains, grapes [as in grappa], fruit [schnapps], molasses, or
>tubers). Most others require some aging, although rum and gin can be quickly done.
>Whiskey and brandy take time for aging. Check out the rules and regulations for your
>--A FIELD GUIDE TO CANADIAN COCKTAILS (Appetite by Random House, 2015, 214 pages, $24.95
>CAN hard covers) has been collected by Victoria Walsh and Scott McCallum. There are over
>100 preps here inspired by Canadian ingredients and spirits. They've got syrup and
>infusion recipes, quick advice, technique and equipment guides, and some
>narrative-memoir material from their cross-country travels. Try the distinctly Canadian
>gin, Ungava Gin, with its native botanicals of nordic juniper, Labrador tea, crowberry,
>cloudberry, and wild rose hips. Creations are sourced, such as Fiddlehead Martini from
>New Brunswick.
>--DRINKING IN AMERICA (Twelve, Grand Central Publishing, 2015, 258 pages, $34 CAN hard
>covers) is by Susan Cheever, a writer daughter of John. It tells the North American
>secret history of drinking and inebriation, and how the consumption of alcohol has
>shaped the American character and events. There are end notes and a bibliography.
>--DRINKING THE DEVIL'S ACRE (Chronicle Books, 2015, 256 pages, $30 CAN hardcovers) is by
>Duggan McDonnell. The book is about San Francisco and its drinks. The Devil's Acre was a
>bar-filled block in Frisco's Barbary Coast� area; these are tales and preps from the
>area. 25 iconic recipes for such as Pisco Punch, Mai Tai, Gold Rush Sazerac, plus 45
>other contemporary spinoffs. Historical photographs and stories, beginning with the
>--GIN GLORIOUS GIN (Headline Books, 2015, 319 pages, $16.99 CAN paperback) is by Olivia
>Williams, a UK journalist. This is a cultural history of London seen through gin. There
>is the underbelly of the Georgian city (Gin Craze), the Empire (G & T, G & It), cocktail
>bars in the West End. Gin is a split personality: the drink of the fabulous and the
>poor. Read about it here.
>--THE BEER BIBLE (Workman, 2015, 644 pages, $24.95 CAN paper covers) is another beer
>too� by Jeff Alworth. This "essential beer lover's guide" covers more than 100
>different styles of beers (IPA, stout, lambic, barley wine, saison, pilsner, weiss, et
>al.). It is pretty through but of course there are probably millions of tiny craft beers
>not here. US craft beer is worth about $15 billion US. The work is divided in to four:
>ales, lagers, wheat, and tart and wild. There are links between beers, so that if you
>like one kind, you might want to try another of a different but related kind. Other
>material here includes art of tasting, glassware, bitterness units, mouthfeel, and a few
>food pairings.
>...perhaps some reference books? Such as:
>--1,000 FOOD TO EAT BEFORE YOU DIE (Workman, 2015, 990 pages, $32.95 CAN paperback) is
>by Mimi Sheraton – it is a great catalogue of all the foods you should eat, selected
>from the best cuisines around the world (French , Italian, Chines, Senegalese, Mexican,
>etc.). It is not just about type of food, but where to eat them. Over 550 colour photos
>and 70 recipes, plus 14 or more log rollers to compel us to read the tome. I'm still
>reading it, maybe 3 items a day, enough for a year. Mimi looks at tastes, dishes,
>ingredients, and restaurants. And there are multiple indexes for easier access. Maybe a
>CD-ROM or PDF for retrieval searches in the future?
>--THE FOOD LAB (Norton, 2015, 960 pages, $58 CAN hard covers) is by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt,
>who proposes "better home cooking through science". He's a director at
>, author of a column The Food Lab (which was a Beard nominee), and a
>columnist for Cooking Light. It comes with endorsements by Myhrvold, Steingarten,
>Lebovitz, and Michael Ruhlman. Kenji covers the mundane (how to make mac and cheese more
>gooey and velvety smooth) and pooh-poohs such techniques as succulence through brining.
>There are hundreds of recipes here and over 1,000 images of techniques (e.g.,
>Hollandaise Sauce in two minutes, creamy potato casserole).� Unlike the hard science of
>the McGee books, Kenji is more practical and concentrates on the how rather than on the
>why – and with many pix. Recipes are set up by courses (breakfast, soups & stews,
>etc.). The emphasis is definitely on American home cookery dishes. But Kenji has also
>written about ethnic food in his columns, so maybe these will be along in volume two.
>Hey, a good tome for the science nerd who wants to cook.
>--KITCHEN HACKS (America's Test Kitchen, 2015, 358 pages, $19.95 CAN paper covers) is a
>golden tool well-priced for our market. These are quick tips, time-savers, and
>shortcuts. They help you organize, repair mistakes, clean up, store food and impress
>your company. Both food ingredients and equipment are covered, as well as techniques.
>Typical are: removing coconut meat from the shell, steaming milk for a cappuccino,
>taking pictures of food. A nice collection from the folks at Cook's Illustrated.
>--FAST AND FEARLESS COOKING FOR THE GENIUS (For the Genius Press, 2015, $24.95 US paper
>REVIEW). She outlines a number of basic and easy principles and techniques for cooking,
>using ingredients and methods that are sometimes idiosyncratic but approachable and
>time-tested through her life. And she's got stories of successes and failures. It's for
>the millennial who doesn't cook. Ann's creed: don't be afraid, have a basic pantry with
>both normal and new-to-you ingredients, and approach the whole business in a spirit of
>play. Contains no recipes to frighten you.
>--WASTE FREE KITCHEN HANDBOOK (Chronicle Books, 2015, 200 pages, $23 CAN soft covers) is
>by Dana Gunders; it is a guide to eating well and saving money by wasting less food (she
>says that the average North American tosses away about $30 each month in uneaten food).
>There are suggestions, checklists, recipes, and a kitchen waste audit. Major keys: good
>shopping, proper storage, eating leftovers and holdovers.

Danielle Johnson ~ Senior Publicist
Raincoast Books
2440 Viking Way Richmond, BC V6V 1N2
604 448 7163