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Friday, December 23, 2016


3.SCANDINAVIAN COMFORT FOOD (Quadrille, 2016, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-859-3, $35 USD hardbound) is by Trine Hahnemann, who has written 14 cookbooks, mostly in Danish. She embraces the art of "hygge" (Danish for coziness) for comforting foods. This book is just one of many Scandinavian cookbooks published this year. She's got 130 preps dealing with home life, such as family meals, veggie love, soups for every season, condiments, breads, and sweets. Along the way she has notes on long summer nights, cooking in her kitchen, and Christmas (lunch and dinner). Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: families for the most part, light entertaining with friends.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: barbecued langoustines with lemon mayo and chilli cream; asparagus soup; buckwheat-zucchini-tomatoes and lovage salad; kale and pancetta tart; chicory with red onion and grapefruit; baked rhubarb and strawberries with ice cream and toasted flakes.
The downside to this book: there is a lot in here that needs exploring.
The upside to this book: good theme, family and quality food.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
4.THE UNEXPECTED CAJUN KITCHEN (Skyhorse Publishing, 162 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-1044-3, $19.99 USD hardbound) is by Leigh Ann Chatagnier, a food blogger who currently lives in Texas and is now married to a Cajun. These are 70 classic bayou recipes using fresh Louisiana ingredients that could or should be available in the larger urban marketplaces – or by mail. It is all arranged by course, beginning with brunch, lunch, everyday dishes, date night, small bites, sweet tooth,and happy hour. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: family style, easy to learn.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: bourbon butterscotch bread pudding; Cajun breakfast fried rice; couche couche; crawfish butternut squash mac 'n' cheese; jambalaya pot pies for two; pecan praline cinnamon rolls; chicken and andouille sausage gumbo with fried okra dippers.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes
The upside to this book: conversion charts.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
5.ADVENTURES IN CHICKEN (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 288 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-55820-5, $30 USD hardbound) is by Eva Kosmas Flores, who manages to combine food writing with food photography. She's a free-lance Portland-based writer with a blog These 150 preps are derived largely from that blog, and perfectly illustrate the diversity of poultry from the Mediterranean to SouthEast Asia. There are ideas for drumsticks (the forgotten part of the chicken) and for mixing up meats. A primer includes material on deconstructing the chicken, using up leftovers, using bits and pieces, and creating a variety of stocks. It's arranged by form, first with apps and then followed by style: whole and roasted, grilled and fried, soups and braises. After that there are pastries, noodles, casseroles, and various sandwiches.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use:
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: some interesting ideas for chicken necks (nectarine and orzo, maybe a nec and neck salad! Sorry, I had to use that), slow-cooked gizzards, popcorn chicken hearts, fried chicken feet, glass noodles with chicken and leek, roast chicken with apricot-habanero glaze, chicken sumac with beets and feta, chicken souvlaki.
The downside to this book: it is a good package but a bit pricey.
The upside to this book: everything is tasty,
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
6.BUT MY FAMILY WOULD NEVER EAT VEGAN! (The Experiment, 2016, 322 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-343-4, $24.95 USD paperbound) is by Kristy Turner, a recipe developer and food stylist with a vegan blog. She has also written "But I Could Never Go Vegan!" Here she promotes 125 recipes to wine everyone over. It's a mixture of the veggie aspect and the faux, meant for picky eaters who would learn to enjoy vegan food at the table. She has a huge section on the vegan pantry and substitutions, followed by breakfast (no eggs) and family dinners (no meats), kid-friendly meals, sports games munchies, homestyle and entertaining meals, and made over classics. There are icons for gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, advanced planning required, and lunch leftover/options. As well, there are variations and other suggestions. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: vegans, vegetarians
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: vanilla french toast with strawberry sauce; date nut bread; dill yogurt sauce; cheesy quinoa and zucchini; grilled veggie kebabs; bean and cheese quesadilla; lasagna soup; blue cheese dip.
The downside to this book: nothing much really, well-priced.
The upside to this book: good collection of classics reinterpreted.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
7.UPSCALE DOWNHOME (St. Martin's Griffen Thomas Dunne Books, 2016, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-07884-1, $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Rachel Hollis, and event planner who now tests casserole recipes – among other things – for free-lance food pieces and her blog Here she concentrates on family recipes "all gussied up" for parties and entertaining. These are twists on American classics, including buffets and BBQ events. It's arranged by theme: snacks, dips, casseroles, slow cooker, potluck, leftovers, sweet, sips, and parties. Lots of ideas here. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: families
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts:
The downside to this book: it is pretty basic but serviceable for the novice cook.
The upside to this book: lots of photos showing the mise en place.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
8.ONE PAN, TWO PLATES: vegetarian suppers (Chronicle Books, 2016, 208 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-4583-9, $24.95 USD paperbound) is by Carla Snyder, a caterer and cooking school operator in Ohio. Chronicle Books had previously published her "The Big Book of Appetizers". These are 70 weeknight vegetarian meals for two people, using one pan. It's all arranged by course: soups and stews, eggs and cheese, garden-fresh, grains and beans, pasta, and pizzas/tartines. She dedicates the book to all those who like to cook, like to eat but hate to wash dishes and tidy up. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: couples, although meals can be expanded.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: bibimbap; vadouvan-spiced cabbage; latkes with rutabagas and rapini; polenta dishes; bow ties with Brussels sprouts; migas.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes.
The upside to this book: there is a separate index "find it fast" with sections on gluten-free, dairy-free, summer meals, autumn meals, winter meals, spring meals, and dinners in under 30 minutes.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
9.SMASHED MASHED BOILED AND BAKED AND FRIED TOO (Workman Publishing, 2016, 250 pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-8547-5, $16.95 USD paperbound) is by Raghavan Iyer, a Beard and IACP Award winner. He's written a number of Indian food books, such as "660 Curries". Here it is all about potatoes: tidbits, finger foods, soups, salads, mains, small plates, and sweets. There are 75 preps in all, put together and laid out in that world-famous Workman style. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Variations come under the category of "Tater Tips".
Audience and level of use: potato lovers, exploratory cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: stuffed crispy flautas; sweet potato-peanut stew; Irish lamb stew; twice-baked potatoes with bacon; vegan mozzarella potato stacks; water chestnut potato potstickers; papas a la huancaina.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes.
The upside to this book: there is a separate index to special diets (GF, vegan, lacto-veggie).
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
10.STIR, SIZZLE, BAKE (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0-553-45966-1, $25 USD hardbound) is by Charlotte Druckman, a food writer associated with Food52 and co-author of "Cooking Without Borders". Here she promotes the idea of the only pan you will ever need: the cast-iron skillet. She comes with log rolling from Christina Tosi and Dorie Greenspan and a few more. This is a very elegant book, but it does have to compete with manmy other skillet books out there. She's got good notes on caring for the skillet and the pantry needed for skillets. Her arrangement is by category: no-bake, easy-bake, on-the-rise bake, make-the-most-of bake, and condiments (giardiniera, pan-fried sage pesto, charred green pea hummus, and chocostachio spread). Excellent photography, of course.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: newish cooks, small kitchen cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: tomato pie; sesame brown-butter cornbread; crumpets; pineapple-pine nut buttermilk cake; rosemary-olive oil brownies with sea salt.
The downside to this book: I think the market has now been completely saturated this year for cast-iron or one-pan skillets.
The upside to this book: pretty definitive.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


THE CORNERSHOP COOKBOOK (Square Peg, 2015, 240 pages, ISBN 978-0-22410104-2, $38.99 CAD hardbound) is by Sophie Missing and Caroline Craig, both food writers, principally with Guardian Cook. Its hook is using your local shop and their recipes to create meals. There are about 100 preps here, based on easy ingredients found in the local shops that can make you avoid supermarkets. It is arranged by category, from the "quiet night in" through takeaway alternatives, catch-up dinners, unplanned dinner parties, comfort foods, and leftovers. Plus, of course, the sweets. Preparations have their ingredients listed in metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those cooks looking to do something new but easy and simple.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: croque-person a cheval, tuna melt, vegetable rice bowl, spicy Asian-style turkey and greens soup, sardine pasta with lemon breadcrumbs.
The downside to this book: there is a distinctly UK orientation which works well in Canada, but may bot go over well in US.
The upside to this book: it uses metric measurements, which is more precise.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
4.BRITISH COLUMBIA FROM SCRATCH (Whitecap, 2016, 312 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-234-5, $40 CAD hardbound) is by Denise Marchessault, who had a cooking school in Victoria. She now writes and photographs in Vancouver. The gorgeous photographs in the book are attributed to Caroline West. These are a total of 111 recipes for every season, a celebration of BC food – as the publisher says, "through a cook's palate and a photographer's lens". It's arranged by season beginning with spring, and then further subdivided by savoury and sweet. This is a strong regional cookbook, but certainly most of the ingredients should be found nation-wide: apples, local cheeses, salmon, duck, seafood. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements.
Audience and level of use: nationalists, BC residents and lovers, home cooks.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: poached salmon in a tomato wine broth; cranberry-fig pulled pork; potato rosti; apple cranberry bread pudding; chunky seafood stew; crispy oysters.
The downside to this book: a few wine notes might have been useful.
The upside to this book: it is a bit of a memoir too, with detailed description of the local scene.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
5.VEGETABLES (Quadrille, 2016, 288 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-752-7, $35 USD hardbound) is by Antonio Carluccio, a leading authority on Italian food. He's written two dozen book on Italian food, including one on veggies. He felt it was time for a re-visit. Here he has 120 recipes for veggies, mostly done up in Italian-style. He covers leaves, shoots, pods, seeds, roots through squashes, pulses, grains, herbs, spices, nuts and mushrooms. It's arranged by greens, followed by roots, vegetable fruits, pulses and grains, herbs and nuts. ending with mushrooms and truffles. There is a lot of impressive material about Italian veggies and the manner of cooking them, as well as illustrative watercolours. Deets are given for each veggie, with botanical info. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements with mostly metric, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Italian veggie lovers, all vegetarians.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: farinata; pomodori farciti; avocado pera e gamberetti; frittata de peperoni e mandorle; risotto con zucca; piatto di vegetali con salsa olandese.
The downside to this book: It weighs a lot and can be awkward to use – most times I photocopy recipes that I cook from.
The upside to this book: everything sounds so good and makes me hungry, with the Italian names highlighted by bold caps.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
6.SALT (St. Martin's Griffen, 2016, 214 pages, ISBN 978-1-2650-08871-0, $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Leslie Bilderback, a pastry chef who has worked around California restaurants. She's written four other well-received cookbooks (e.g. Mug Meals). Here she provides a discourse on salt: history, lore, culture, medical aspects. There's about 100 recipes, with details on how to make infused salts, how to hold a salt tasting, how to cook with salt blocks, and a market guide to artisanal salts. First up is the primer material, followed by salt infusing, curing, and apps to sweets, with a heavy emphasis on the section "sauces, condiments and dressings". There is also a listing of specialized salt purveyors. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are multiple tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: salt lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: rabbited stewed with IPA; Mexican chocolate; fruity ice cream; harissa sauce; herbed cheese lined with fig leaves; pickled rhubarb.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes.
The upside to this book: good discussion on types of salt.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
7.CRAFT PIZZA (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-761-4, $19.95 USD hardcovers) is by Maxine Clark, prolific UK food writer and cooking coach/teacher.
Here, in her latest RPS book, she covers mainly "classic" pizza, Sicilian, sourdough, calzone and focaccia made at home. She's also got pizzette and small bites. It is pretty thorough, with a primer on equipment and flours. About 80 plus recipes in all.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: pizza lovers, Italian food freaks looking for new ideas.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: focaccia with crispy kale with whipped ricotta, roasted garlic and chipotle; parmesan soda bread; rolled pesto and olive and garlic bread; rustic country pie; potato and mozzarella calzone.
The downside to this book: gluten-free is not covered
The upside to this book: good layout.
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
8.FOR THE LOVE OF LICORICE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-1293-5, $19.99 USD hardbound) is by Elizabeth Johansson, a Swedish pastry chef who competed at the Culinary Olympics. She's also known as the Queen of Licorice. This is an English translation of the Swedish book, and it covers 60 preps for candies, desserts, and full meals. While there are three recipes using fennel and none with anise, the book focuses on licorice roots, granules, and pastilles. There's a primer and some cultural history about licorice; she also describes a licorice factory in Calabria. The book is arranged by dish: candy, ice cream, pastries, desserts, "food", and drinks. She covers a licorice tasting, licorice festivals, use in beverages (make your own liqueurs), and the like. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric conversions.
Audience and level of use: licorice lovers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: licorice gratineed lobster with fennel salad;  fish soup with ground licorice root and fennel topping; Belgian licorice waffles; white chocolate cake with lime marinated berries; salty licorice caramels.
The downside to this book: I would have liked more recipes, and perhaps something about anise.
The upside to this book: a good single ingredient cookbook, whose time has come.
Quality/Price Rating:
9.MY ABUELO'S MEXICAN FEAST (Hardie Grant Books, 2015, 128 pages, ISBN978-1-7427-0678-8, $29.99 USD hardbound) is by Daniella Germain, who was taught Mexican home food styling by her grandparents. Her first book (My Abuela's Table) paid homage to the culinary skills of her grandmother. This time, it is her grandfather's turn, and more of an entertaining style. It's got a lot of memoir material and family photos. The preps are sorted as regalos del mar (seafood), comida callejera (street food), tortas (sandwiches), nieves (sorbets), colosinas y dulces (candies and sweets), panaderia (sweet breads), and comida del rancho (ranch food). A passionate cookbook. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois with some metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use:  Mexican food lovers; memoir lovers
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: ensalad de nopales; arroz a la mexicana; chicharron; barbacoa; caldo xochitl; pavo en mole negro; cabrito en cerveza; arroz con chorizo.
The downside to this book: I wanted more!
The upside to this book: excellent watercolours by the author, a graphic designer.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
10.FOOD 52 A NEW WAY TO DINNER (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 280 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57800-7, $35 USD hardbound) is by Amanda Hesser and Merill Stubbs, both co-founders of Food52 and former writers/test kitchen/editors, etc. at the New York Times. Hesser won a Beard Award for The Essential New York Times Cookbook. This current work is described as "a playbook of recipes and strategies for the week ahead". It is an organizing manual of some 16 chapters, divided into the seasons and further divided into two parts – one by Stubbs (with two weeks of organizing), and one by Hesser (with two weeks of organizing). There are game plans, pantries, and shopping lists. Perfect for the millennial, to reduce everything to a plan. And even to have home delivery of the food! As with most American cookbooks, preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: Millennials, frazzled homemakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: as we head into winter, I should be doing Amanda's winter: oxtails, rice porridge, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, coconut, hot {chili] honey. Or maybe Merrill's (pork tacos, fish, rice, beans, soup, cabbage, chiles,ginger, grapefruit, lime ice cream).
The downside to this book: you can become too reliant on the recipes that work into their scheme.
The upside to this book: organizing is always a good idea.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

* THE RESTAURANT/CELEBRITY COOKBOOK... 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 –
7.THE ITALIAN BAKER (Quadrille, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-761-9, $29.95 USD hardbound) is by Melissa Forti, who has a tea room on the Italian Riviera close to Tuscany (Sarzana, Liguria –  Melissa Tea Room and Cakes). This is a collection of 100 tarts, cakes, loaves, coffee style cakes, and sweets, using olive oil, almonds, mascarpone and other Italian ingredients. Some North American classics have an Italian makeover, such as the ubiquitous brownie or carrot cake. Recipes are listed by their Italian name, but of course are also indexed by an English language name. Try torta de grano saraceno (buckwheat cake) or torta al limone lamponi e rosmarino (lemon, raspberry and rosemary cake). There are some stories about her tea room: it is a very elegant place. Recipes are scaled. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
8.NATURALLY, DELICIOUS (Avery: Pam Krauss Books, 2016, 239 pages, ISBN 978-1-101-90530-2, $30 USD hardbound) is by Danny Seo, founder/editor of "Naturally, Danny Seo" magazine. He designed a line of lifestyle products and appears regularly on TV, now with his own show. Here, in his first cookbook, he takes a grab-bag of 100 preps that make you both healthy and happy from his magazine and arranges them by course: breakfast, lunch and dinner, with juices and snacks in separate sections. But of course nothing is guaranteed. The dishes do have nutritional value, but happiness is a relative thing. He's got matcha chicken noodle soup, halva bars with sorghum, and saffron cauliflower rice paella. Glazed eggplant and black sesame fried rice with optional fired eggs can easily become a house fave of mine. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
9.BIG BAD BREAKFAST (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 258 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-736-9, $30 USD hardbound) is by John Currence, founder of City Grocery Restaurant Group. They have a number restaurants, most serving breakfasts, including (of course) his iconic restaurant  Big Bad Breakfast. He's won multiple awards such as a Beard (Best Chef: South) and one from the Southern Foodways Alliance. The preps here come from his resto, include all the traditional southern elements plus local ones from Oxford, Mississippi: hillbilly eggs hussarde, shakshouka, spicy boudin and poached eggs, pain perdu, hoecakes, and monkey bread – just over 100 in all. Each recipe comes with a story and a photo. Preparations
have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
10.HATTIE'S RESTAURANT COOKBOOK (Countryman Press, 2016, 271 pages, ISBN 978-1-58157-346-6, $29.95 USD hardbound) is by Jasper Alexander, chef and co-owner of Hattie's in Saratoga Springs NY. These are classic Southern US and Louisiana recipes. It's a bit of a memoir too as he recounts the history of the restaurant and the land of the Deep South. After the introductions, it is arranged by course, beginning with starters and moving through soups and stews, fish, meats, sides, breakfasts, cocktails, and surprisingly few desserts (pies such as Key Lime, Pecan, Sweet Potato). It is typical food, done homestyle (as it will be prepared at your home), with such popular items as brisket chili, crawfish etoufee, chicken and dumplings, pecan-crusted trout, crab cakes, deviled eggs, ribs, meat loaf, and more. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
11.POOLE'S (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 296 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-687-4, $35 USD hardbound) is by Ashley Christensen, chef and owner of seven restaurants in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. She has a Beard for Best Chef: Southeast in 2014. Even for a diner book there are nine logrollers here. Poole's is known for its comfort food, and that is here in abundance. There are also a dozen or so go-to techniques for the best cornbread, foolproof vinaigrettes, and roasted tomatoes for dish enhancements. The modern diner has well-prepared food such as black pepper parmesan popcorn or fried eggplant with burnt honey aioli. For veggies, she's got oyster mushrooms and asparagus with sherry and cream or cornmeal-fried okra with Tabasco mayo. There are cocktails, bowls, counter snacks, plus meat and fish as well as desserts. It is a full table, especially the benne seed toffee ice cream and the challah bread puddings with whiskey apples and crème fraiche. It is an over-sized book, so it weighs a lot. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
12.THE HOMEMADE CHEF (New American Library, 2016, 324 pages, ISBN 978-1-101-99041-4, $30 USD hardbound) is by James Tahhan, two-time Emmy award winner and chef/cohost of Telemundo's morning show Un Nuevo Dia. He is the owner of Sabores by Chef James in Miami. He grew up in Venezuela but through his restaurant he cooks Latin American fusion food, both from within the Latino range of foods and with blending to non-Latino food. So you have fish a la veracruzana and flank steak with coffee crust and salsa criolla. There's green gazpacho and there's grilled corn with chipotle may and cotija cheese. There's lasagna enchilada and there's lentil soup with chorizo. It's a good mix with a considerable amount of memoir-like material. The range is from apps to sweets with drinks. The best dishes are the Latin fusion and the Mediterranean fusion. What's there not to like here? Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
13.COCKTAILS (DK Books, 2016, 2016, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-5338-9, $22 USD hardbound) is by Klaus St. Rainer, one of the most successful bartenders in Germany. He has opened many bars and has been awarded many bartending honours. He adjudicates internationally and runs training sessions globally. He owns a cocktail shaker manufacturer and sells his own bitters and tonic water. Details are at It is a basic book at an affordable price, and deals with the art of mixing perfect drinks. There's a primer, and then a three-fold listing of recipes, from the simple through the classics and then the spectacular. The appendix is valuable with its material on alcohol, indexes for celebrations, and supply sources. There are more than 70 recipes here, and the author promises that they all have attitude. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both avoirdupois and metric measurements. Quality/price rating: 88.
14.SMALL VICTORIES (Chronicle Books, 2016, 304 pages, ISBN 978-1-4521-430905, $35 USD hardbound) is by Julia Turshen, a writer and recipe developer, and a coauthor with Mario Barali, Gwyneth Paltrow, and others in a long series of cookbooks. It comes with log-rolling by Reichl, Coppola, Sheraton, Batali, and Ina Garten. Those should be enough to sell the book. She's also hosted two years of Radio Cherry Bombe. Here she gives us 95 recipes plus a huge number of variations, and much advice with hundreds of ideas for home-cooking. It's a general cookbook ranging over breakfast, soup, salad, veggies, grains and legumes, meat, poultry, seafood/fish, and desserts. There is, of course, a pantry for items to keep on hand: various sauces, vinaigrettes, pickles, preserves. She's got some menu suggestions too, such as a low-key breakfast for a group on Sunday, your best friend's birthday, or a Jewish holiday. Variations can include seven things to do with a can of chick peas, what to do with leftover chicken or ground meats, seven things to do with mussels or pasta dough. Great photography throughout by the team of Gentl + Hyers. Preparations have their ingredients listed in mostly avoirdupois with some metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
15.THE HOMEBREWERS ALMANAC (Countryman Press, 2016, 205 pages, ISBN 978-1-58157-349-7, $22.95 USD flexibound) is by Marika Josephson, Aaron Kleidon, and Ryan Tockstein, all co-founders of Scratch Brewing company, a brewpub using seasonal ingredients and farm-to-table food and beer. It's a practical guide for incorporating fresh and foraged fruits/veggies/herbs into your beer – with no hops. Repeat: no hops. The chapters are arranged by season, and profile ingredients offering tips on how to grow, to harvest, and to preserve specific plants to be used in beer. There are preps, then , for such as "cedar IPA", "basil ale", "horseradish stout", and "sweet potato vienna". It is a book not-for-the-faint-of-heart. And there are even recipe conversions for extract brewers. There are two apple beer recipes that are interesting, especially since they seem relatively close to ciders, but of course, they contain malts. At the other extreme, there are now quite a few commercial apple ciders that have been hopped. So the apples are really getting exposed to change – at both ends of the spectrum. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 88.
16.CHOCOLATE (DK Books, 2016, 224 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-5406-5, $22 USD hardbound) is by Dom Ramsay, award-winning chocolatier with the longest running blog about chocolate and his own company, Damson Chocolate. It's a basic book about chocolate, one of the very few published this year (has it run the course?). So there is the basic primer about chocolate history, culture, politics, trade, and so forth. Chapters deal with choosing chocolate, tasting chocolate, making your own chocolate (bar, ganache, truffles, et al),  and the act of enjoyment in s social setting, which includes 50 pages recipes covering stout cake, Swiss brioche, piano key cookies, duck ragu with chocolate, fondues, ice cream, and more. There is also a glossary. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
17.CHOWGIRLS KILLER PARTY FOOD (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2016, 148 pages, ISBN  978-1-55152-645-4, $22.95 CAD paperbound) is by Heidi Andermack and Amy Lynn Brown, co-founders (in 2004) of Minneapolis' Chowgirls Killer Catering. These are 85 bites (apps and small plates) and cocktails for every season and every occasion, inspired by seasonal ingredients (also local, organic, and sustainable) and a flair for entertaining. Try the whiskey-ginger cocktail meatballs or the saffron-lemon shrimp bruschetta. Dips and spreads are also here, as well as a range of paleo and vegan dishes, diary-free and gluten-free. Arranged by season, but no separate index to the cocktails. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
18.SOUP CLEANSE COOKBOOK (Rodale, 2016, 212 pages, ISBN 978-1-62336-731-2, $24.99 USD paperbound) is by Nicole Centeno, founder of the online business Splendid Spoon (wellness and nutrition). She's cooked in restaurants and has managed a catering business. Here she promotes "soup cleanses" as a modern quick way for diets. It combines smoothies, juices, and nutrient-dense veggies into an enduring puree (for the most part). It is simple and tasty. There is also a lot of material her on how to incorporate more veggies into your diet. There are 75 plant-based and gluten-free recipes plus several weekly plans for a better body. Try beet balsamic bisque, plant based tagine, green chili or fall ratatouille. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
19.CLEAN SOUPS (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 152 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57825-0, $22 USD paperbound) is by Rebecca Katz (founder of Healing Kitchens and author of other such healthy cookbooks) with health writer Mat Edelson, who co-authored Katz's books. Together they present a range of 60 simple, nourishing recipes. Unlike the Soup Cleanse Book, most of the soups here use meat stock – so they are not really any good for vegetarians or vegans. Still, you could use veggie stock (they have a Magic Mineral Broth) or just water. And unlike juicing, nothing is lost in the stockpot. The authors are firmly convinced that everyone can enjoy making and consuming soup, whether for a cleanse or for weekly consumption. They've got a weekend jump-start cleanse that covers three pages of detail, plus a comprehensive guide to soup making of any kind. Typical are springtime asparagus and leek soup, avocado citrus soup, kinpira gobo, and hot-and-sour shiitake mushroom soup. There are also recipes for garnishes and drizzles, as well as polenta croutons. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87.
20.SPOON (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78488-055-2, $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Annie Morris and Jonny Shimmin, founders of Spoon Cereals in London UK, a breakfast establishment. The book details simple and nourishing breakfast bowls that can be enjoyed any time of day. There is a collection of preps for granola, muesli, porridge, bircher (overnight oats), savoury bowls, and smoothies – along with some breakfast accompaniments. There's avocado with savoury granola crunch, blackberry and apple bircher, banana yogurt bowl, and herbed cottage cheese with poached eggs and pickled beetroot. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Quality/price rating: 87
21.SOFRAMIZ (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 260 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-918-9, $35 USD hardbound) is by chef-co-owner Ana Sortun and pastry-chef-co-owner Maura Kilpatrick. Separately they had worked for or opened some restaurants in New England before coming together with Sofra Bakery and Cafe in 2008 in Cambridge MA. Their book is entitled "soframiz" which means "our table" or "our hospitality", a spin on Sofra. It is a Middle Eastern cookbook with the classics and contemporary refinements plus spins on the traditional regional cuisine. Logrolling includes Alice Waters and Yotam Ottolenghi. The emphasis is on foods and baked goods from Turkey, Lebanon and Greece. It is arranged by breakfast, meze, flatbreads, savoury pies, cookies and pastries, beverages, and a pantry for stocking. The latter are essential ingredients in order to cook in the Middle Eastern food style. You may want to try carrot kibbeh with golden raisins and pine nuts, apricot halawa with white chocolate ganache and pistachios, syrup-soaked semolina cake (revani), or stuffed simit. Everything looks pretty good too. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 89.
22.BAKE WITH ANNA OLSON (Appetite by Random House, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0-14-753021-9, $35 CAD hardbound) is by Ann Olson, well-known host of Canadian TV food shows, including the eponymous "Bake with Ann Olson". She's also authored seven books on baking and cooking. Here she has 125 fave simple preps from her TV show, complete with food styling photos. It is arranged by type: cookies, pies, cakes, other pastries, other desserts, breads, and sauces. It is a beautifully presented book, with eye catching items such as langues du chat, tart lemon roulade, salted caramel pear tarts, the inevitable croquembouche and gateau St. Honore profiteroles, and chocolate mousse cups. There is also a baking primer, a series of foundation recipes (pastry doughs, cakes, frostings, fillings) and a listing of 19 gluten-free recipes. All preparations have their ingredients listed fully in both metric and avoirdupois measurements with no need for conversion tables. Quality/price rating: 89.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


MEALS FOR ME (Quadrille, 2015, 192 pages, ISBN 978-1-84949-734-3, $29.95 USD hardbound) is by Sam Stern, who has written seven other books. His lifelong mission is to show that anyone can make good food from scratch. This current book, now available in North America fir the first time since its publication last year in the UK, suggests that by cooking a main menu item, you can be halfway to preparing a second dish for the next day. Basic supermarket packages are for two or more, and what Stern proposes is that you can make two meals from one for less time and less money and f]less food waste.  OK, so it is basic stuff: one core ingredient, two meals. There is the technique, the primer (kitchen essentials, pantry items, equipment), and the arrangement. Chapters deals with meats, from chicken through duck, beef, pork, lamb, fish, veggies, and sweets. It is a male approach (left brain analysis) that calls for proper organization.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: men, students, those who cook for one or two.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: beer and orange chicken can be used for Asian chicken salad in its second coming; chicken teriyaki can be chicken-cheese nachos later;  chicken saag curry becomes chicken tikka kabobs; beef and tatties can be cottage pie.
The downside to this book: I wanted more variations for the second dish.
The upside to this book: a good hook to have a book on cooking.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

* FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! : The Baker In Me (Whitecap)

THE BAKER IN ME (Whitecap, 2016, 478 pages, ISBN 978-1-77050-242-0, $45 CAD hardbound) is by Daphna Rabinovitch, a pastry chef, TC personality, and director of Canadian Living Test Kitchen. She's also the co-author of two cookbooks. Baking is tough to improvise, especially when ratios are involved. Scaling is useful, such as with ingredients in breadmaking or weighing butter. She encourages you to do more and more weighing (scaling). The book is arranged by product: cookies, bars, chocolate items, muffins, biscuits, breads, cakes, and pies plus fruit desserts. She's also got stories behind each recipe, and tales of how long it took to perfect a recipe. She confesses that she's a home baker at heart. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents provided.
Audience and level of use: those who aspire to become home bakers.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: alfajores; shortbread; apple cake with pecan glaze; plum cornmeal cakes with rosemary; Passover chocolate chip cookies; chocolate pots de crème; blueberry pie with sour cream pastry; multi-seed bread; pumpkin pie.
The downside to this book: with all the colour photos and heavier paper, it  comes in at a whopping 5.3 pounds in weight!
The upside to this book: homebaking at its finest.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.


Monday, December 12, 2016

* DRINK BOOK OF THE MONTH! : The Canon Cocktail Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

1.THE CANON COCKTAIL BOOK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 338 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-63103-8, $28 USD hardbound) is by Canadian-born Jamie Boudreau, who opened the multiple-award-winning Canon in Seattle in 2011 and now has a 100-drink basic menu, and James O. Fraioli, who is an award-winning (including Beard) cocktail and cookbook author. Indeed, the bar is only 450 square feet, with seven tables for 32 people – they need the unseen space for bottle storage. Three menus support the bar: a bi-monthly seasonal menu, a 100 page long cocktail menu, and a 165 page long spirit menu of 3500 bottles. These are recipes from the bar. He's got a special section on Canada, honouring the west coast and even Toronto. These are his takes on the classics and the contemporaries. Extremely useful and a great souvenir. Preparations have their ingredients listed only in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 80.


Sunday, December 11, 2016


3.SWEET POTATO LOVE (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 163 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-0966-9, $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Jackie Garvin, who blogs about Southern food (Syrup and Biscuits). She earlier wrote a book titled "Biscuits"; this one continues the Southern march with sweet potatoes. There are 60 recipes, arranged by season of Fall through Summer, about 15 per quarter. She shares some memoir-like material about her life with sweet potatoes, emphasizing their versatility. Sweet potatoes are perfect for that "salted sweet" tone so popular these days – their natural sweetness complements any savoury cooking technique. There are the usual cooking instructions with straight forward tips on preheating, yields, and treatments. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginner cooks, fans of sweet potatoes.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: mainly southern, with sweet potato cornbread, pulled pork tacos with sweet potato slaw, maple sweet potato granola, sweet potato apple butter, cornish hens with sweet potato cornbread dressing, and sweet potato lentil pepper chili.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes (check her blog).
The upside to this book: a nifty collection.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
4.MASHED (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 184 pages, ISBN 978-1-4236-4447-7, $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Holly Herrick, a multi-awarded food journalist with eight published cookbooks. Here she tackles the basic technique of simple mashing. While the subtitle says "beyond the potato", there are still 42 pages on the potato itself, followed by 55 pages of chapters on veggie mashes, summer crops, autumn/winter and spring, with material about everything else (eggs, fish, meat, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts and berries) in 55 pages. Her basic mashing tools are the food mill, the food processor, the mixer, and the blender, as well as the rustic hand version. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: beginner cooks, those needing soft foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sweet potato macadamia nut ice cream; roasted tomato pizza panzanella; sweet potato Indian pudding; ricotta, lemon and basil potato cakes; butternut-baby kale shells and cheese bake.
The downside to this book: I think it needed fewer potato recipes and more ground up meat dishes for variety. There are at least four sweet potato recipes but only two are indexed under sweet potato.
The upside to this book: I can see a need for this book as we all get older and want soft food.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
5.PURELY PUMPKIN (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 271 pages, ISBN 978-1-5107-0965-2, $24.99 USD $35.99 CAD hardbound) is by Allison Day, Taste Canada Food Award-winning blogger ( who crafted a cookbook, "Whole Bowls". She's got more than 100 seasonal pumpkin recipes here, enough to last you all year long. There is more to pumpkin than just flesh: try frozen puree, seeds, and seed oil. She's got them all arranged by course, beginning with beverages, moving on to breakfast/brunch, soups, snacks, salads, sides, mains, and desserts. Remember, pumpkin is (botanically) a fruit. There is a description of some 26 pumpkin varieties, not all photographed. But still the book has overall good photography (she takes own pictures). Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: pumpkin lovers,
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: salted caramel pumpkin spice latte; morning glory pumpkin muffins; pumpkin Caesar salad with sage sourdough croutons; firecracker stir-fried pumpkin with bok choy and cashews; gingerbread pumpkin cheesecake with pecan oat crust.
The downside to this book: no descriptive photographs for most of the varieties.
The upside to this book: nice large print
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
6.BEER MAKES EVERYTHING BETTER (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 158 pages, ISBN 989-1-5107-0881-5, $19.99 USD hardbound) is by John Lemmon, who gives us 101 recipes for using beer to make your fave happy hour grub. So here's how to recreate the happy hour experience at home, saving yourself tons of money. Of course, you 'll need to self-prep, but maybe if you had a few friends helping out...He's got material on making beer at home, plus making food (mostly sandwiches, chilis, pizzas, wings, burgers, fries). Some of the dishes call for the addition of beer, such as "beer batter". Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: those who would enjoy a quiet and cheap happy hour.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: pale ale pub fries, boozy Brussels sprouts, shroom burger, beer battered fish, beer baked wings, nacho beer cheese dip.
The downside to this book: a bit short.
The upside to this book: extremely useful for limited people.
Quality/Price Rating: 87.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for December 10, 2016.

WORLD WINE WATCH TOP 20/20 WINES: 20 under $20 and 20 over $20 for December 10, 2016.
By DEAN TUDOR, Gothic Epicures Writing My Internet compendium "Wines, Beers and Spirits of the Net", a guide to thousands of news items and RSS feeds, plus references to wines, beers and spirits, has been at since 1994.
So many people have asked me for wine recommendations, with numbers only. The readers' most common response is that while they like what I say, they only relate to the score. The score is a combination of MVC (Modal Varietal Character, where e.g. a Southern Rhone tastes like a Southern Rhone and not like a Northern Rhone) and Quality/Price Ratio. Let's take it for granted that, e.g., a Riesling tastes like a Riesling, and the wine has some value in the marketplace either above or below its selling price. This way too I can also cover more wines.
This restructured wine newsletter for the Ontario market (with wines available through the LCBO and Vintages on a bi-weekly basis)  can always be found at or at
R-Primus The Blend Colchagua Valley 2014, $19.95, +712463, 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92.
R-Joseph Drouhin Macon-Bussieres Les Clos 2014 $20.95 +470179 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 92.
R-Castelli del Grevepesa Clemente VII Chianti Classico Riserva 2011 $21.95 +643205  14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  92.
20 under $20
R-Maquis Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon Rapel Valley 2013, $18.95, +311720, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90.
W-Amaral Sauvignon Blanc Leyda Valley 2015, $14.95, +367292, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Vina Tarapaca Gran Reserva Pinot Noir Leyda Valley 2015, $17.95, +404210, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  91.
W-14 Hands Chardonnay Washington State 2014, $18.95 +468546, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89.
W-Wakefield Estate Chardonnay Clare Valley/Padthaway 2015 $15.95, +711556, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R-Wakefield Cabernet Sauvignon Clare Valley 2014 $18.95 +14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91
R-Domaine Jean Bousquet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Tupungato Mendoza 2013 $19.95 +678813, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90.
R-Quinta das Setencostas Alenquer 2012 Portugal $13.95 +50930, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
R-Chateau Hyot Cotes de Castillon 2012 $17.95 +63537, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling VQA Niagara 2015 $16.95 +802234, 9.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
W-Pierre-Luc Bouchaud Muscadet Sevre & Maine Sur Lie 2015 $14.95 +82461 12% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Ardal Crianza Ribera del Duero 2010 $19.95 +167601 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
R-Castellanu Filicheto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012 $18.95 +184937 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Ruppertsberger Linsenbusch Gewurztraminer Spatlese Germany 2015 $17.95 +320473 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Louis Latour Domaine de Valmoissine Pinot Noir IGP Var +714451 $19.95, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
W-Pierre Sparr Reserve Gewurztraminer Alsace 2012  $18.95 +747030 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90.
R-Donnafugata Sedara Sicilia 2014 $16.95 +900274, 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
W-Louis Latour Grand Ardeche Chardonnay IGP 2014 $19.95 +947549 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Zenato San Benedetto Lugana 2015 $17.95 +707158 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 88.
20 over $20
W-Creekside Reserve Sauvignon Blanc VQA Creek Shores 2013, 26.95, +53371, 12.5% ABV,  MVC/QPR:  91.
R-Emiliana Coyam Colchagua Valley 2012 $29.95, +63891 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Paul Hobbs Crossbarn Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2013 $69,95 +118695, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89
W-Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Russian River Valley Sonoma County 2014 $64.95, +119073 14.2% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R-Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir VQA Niagara Peninsula 2011 $25.25 +130989, 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90
R-Chateau des Charmes Old Vines Cabernet/Merlot VQA NOTL 2012 $21.95 +222372 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  90
R-J. Lohr October Night Chardonnay Arroyo Seco Monterey County 2014 $34.95 +225375, 14.9% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90.
R-Henry of Pelham Estate Cabernet/Merlot VQA Short Hills Bench 2012 $24.95 +395855, 14% ABV, MVC/QPR: 90,
W-Tawse Limestone Ridge North Riesling VQA Twenty Mile Bench 2014 $23.95 +431593, 9.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2012 $42.95 +468520, 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
W-Stratus White VQA NOTL 2013 $38.20 +660704, 13.8% ABV, MVC/QPR: 91.
W-La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2014 $29.95 +962886, MVC/QPR: 90.
W-Clarence Dillon Clarendelle Blanc 2014 Bordeaux $23.95 +28845 13% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Sartori Corte Bra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2009 $49.95 +225540 15.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  91.
R-Domus Vitae Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $69.95 +330746 14.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.
R-Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni IGT Toscana 2013 $47.95 MAGNUM +474759 13% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89.
R-Chateau Devise D'Ardilley Haut-Medoc 2012 $29.95 +642512  MVC/QPR: 89
R-Travaglini Gattinara 2010 $29.95 +713354 13.5% ABV, MVC/QPR:  89.
W-Louis Moreau La Vigne Blanche Chablis 2015 $21.95 +474932 12.5% ABV, MVC/QPR: 89.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Top Food and Wine Gift Book "Stocking Stuffers" for 2016 Holiday Period

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 all stuff an adult stocking.
Typical for food are those from the colour-photo-friendly Ryland Peters and Small, based in UK but also in USA. They offer (in no particular order) small gift books such as MACARONS (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Annie Rigg, with 30 recipes for an afternoon tea. Salted caramel  is impressive., as is passion fruit. CICCHETTI (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Liz Franklin details Italian appetizers from Venice, such as speck and smoked ricotta or tramezzini or fig & blue cheese pizzette (more than 40 recipes in all). SALT (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Valerie Aikman-Smith deets all the major kinds from French fleur de sel to smoked and Himalayan in 40 recipes. OILS (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) is by Ursula Ferrigno, and it covers  16 fruit, nut and seed oils in more than 30 recipes. Some preps here are interchangeable.  PEPPER (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) is another single ingredient title by the same author of Salt (above).  45 recipes feature pepper as both a seasoning and main ingredient. Includes Malabar, Lampong, Tellicherry, Szechuan and Sansho. POWER GRAINS (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) covers superfoods such as quinoa and amaranth, and has variety in its 29 recipes. MODERN DIM SUM (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Liu Hoh features 30 recipes of easy-to-prepare but authentic "yun cha" lunches. These are trolley dishes of dumplings, rolls, and wraps. MILKSHAKE BAR (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) by Hannah Miles has 33 recipes for the classics with syrups, fruits and mixes. Miles has also done SOUP AND A SANDWICH (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) with 25 preps such as spicy Asian broths and Mediterranean soups, paired with a comparable sandwich or wrap or toastie to serve along them. TEA WITH JANE AUSTEN (64 pages, $24.95 CAD hardbound) is by Pen Vogler, inspired by the novels. 20 preps detail cakes, bakes and pastries from the Regency period. There is also come good commentary here, and it is a perfect small gift for a Janeite.
Another publisher (Gibbs Smith in Utah) has a range of "101 Things to Do with..." in all variety of  32 subjects. This year, they've got 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BEER (128 pages, spiral bound, $13.99 CAD) , from appetizers to sweets. There are notes on flavour profiles of pilsner to stout, general cooking advice on how to handle beer, and preps such as BBQ sauces, beer soups and stews, and breads. 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON (128 pages, spiral bound, $13.99 CAD) is good for breakfasts, soups, salads, sandwiches, and six desserts. Gibbs Smith also has HOW D'YA LIKE THEM APPLES (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) with 50 preps, both sweet and savoury, from apps to salads to desserts. There's a good apple slaw here. PUMPKIN IT UP (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) also has 50 preps for such as roasted pumpkin seeds (always useful), pumpkin spice latte, and pumpkin dutch baby. Another is EAT MORE TORTILLAS (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) which also has 50 preps for nachos, pinwheels, and chicken veggie quesadilla stacks. Ideal for students, especially since the range of baked-fried-rolled-wrapped-stuffed-cheesy tortillas is for both savoury and sweet. FIRE PIT COOKING (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) is a nice small work to take with you on trips to outdoor grills or BBQ. There is material on building a fire pit plus 80 recipes. Topics include wrapped in foil, on a stick, tarts on fire, clay pots, iron pies, sandwiches, and more. BIG DIPS (128 pages, $23.99 CAD) does cheese, salsa, pesto, hummus, and sour cream in 68 recipes (plus variations). Each has its own chapter. Platforms include homemade pita chips, tortilla chips, ciabatta toast, and basic crostini.
Chronicle Books also has a range. There's SALMON (144 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) with 45 recipes and 40 pages of primer. It covers raw, cured, stove top, oven bakes, grilled and leftovers such as frittatas. MON CHER ECLAIR (112 pages, $23.95 CAD paperbound) has all things for cream puffs, profiteroles and gougeres. 40 classic recipes are here with scaled (weighed) ingredients. SOUTHERN APPETIZERS (144 pages, $27.95 CAD hardbound) is interesting for its mostly upscale nature: this is mostly New Orleans or creole, not backwoods. 60 preps, with material on buffets and party planning. Expect muffaletta bites, marinated shrimp salad, smoked pecans, hot dips. THE EVERYDAY MEAT GUIDE (184 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is a butcher's advice tool on how to shop, cook well, eat better, save money. It's a manual. BEST DRESSED (Chronicle Books, 2016, 112 pages, $26.95 CAD hardbound) is a collection of some 50 recipes for salads, plus many variations. It is a mix of vinaigrettes and other dressings plus the occasional salad (e.g. Escalole salad with tangerines, almonds, and citrus-honey-rosemary vinaigrette). All salads can easily be perked up with brightness, boldness, and richness. They've even got a selection of toppings and many bases of serve-ons.
--TABLE MANNERS (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2016,  148 pages, $28 CAD hardbound) is by Chef Jeremiah Tower. It is a guide for how to survive every situation and to navigate the practical world of fine dining (what to wear, how to serve, what to eat, etc.). A great food title for every millennial to read. Give it to your kids too...
--DR. BURNORIUM'S HOTTEST EVER SAUCES (Dog 'n' Bone Books, 2016,  96 pages, $19.95 CAD hardbound) covers 40 of the world's hottest sauces, at the high end of 1 million Scoville units. The title comes in the shape of a hot-sauce bottle, ideal for stuffing a stocking. It is a good read with reviews, stories, and chili deets.
--VIILI PERPETUAL, NO-COOK HOMEMADE YOGURT (Familius Books, 2016, 66 pages, $11.50 CAD paperbound) is by the prolific Caleb Warnock who specializes in small survival books such as this one. Viili originated in Finland as 100% natural yogurt, and he tells us how to start it, how to use with pasteurized milk or raw milk or powdered milk, how to keep the yogurt sweet, and more. Twenty recipes for cheeses, smoothies, frozen treats, dressings, entrees and desserts.
--15-MINUTE MINDFUL MEALS (Familius Books, 2016, 99 pages, $13.95 CAD paperbound) is also by Caleb Warnock, with Lori Henderson. This is healthy home cooking, 250 recipes using natural produce. Arranged by meal period, to create healthy meals, with desserts and snacks. Great for college students or millennials. These good ideas really work.
--CAST-IRON COOKING (Storey Publishing, 2016, 96 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Rachael Narins. Her 40 preps cover the "Full English Breakfast", pan pizza, and spanokopita.
--POWER BOWLS (DK, 2016, 72 pages, $11.99 CAD hardbound) is short and sweet – all you need in one healthy superfood bowl. For breakfast, quinoa and berry porridge or ancient grains porridge with pear (and 4 others). For lunch, perhaps buckwheat and baba ganoush or 6 others. Dinner: spiced millet and veggie bowl or 7 others. Good idea for tips on prepping in advance.
--ULTIMATE ONE-POT DISHES (Ebury Press, 2016, 160 pages, $21.99 CAD paperbound) is by Alan Rosenthal. These are simple and delicious stews and one-pot meals, with an international bent of paella, Brazilian black bean stew, Catalan fish stew, and tagines.
--TOAST (Prion Books, 2016, 120 pages, $19.95 CAD hardbound) is a very funny work by the UK writer Nick Parker. He's got histories, stories and recipes for his "superfood" . His faves are mushrooms on toast (SOS in the military), scrambled eggs on toast, and cheese or beans on toast. There's about a laugh a page.
--FRIES! (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016, 144 pages, $23.95 CAD hardbound) is by Blake Lingle, who runs a fry restaurant. It is his ode to the world's fave food. It is a history with some procedures given.
--100 BEST VEGAN RECIPES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 192 pages, $23.00 CADS hardbound)  is by Robin Robertson. These 100 recipes are drawn from the author's "1000 Vegan Recipes" cookbook (but 10 are actually new here). These are the classic, basic, and essential preps for any vegan anywhere. It's a great cookbook to get you started.
--DELICIOUS DUMP CAKES (St. Martin's Griffen, 2016, 118 pages, $22.99 CAD paperbound) is by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore. 50 simple desserts can be made in 15 minutes or less, for families with children or who want to keep the cooking "simple". They use canned fruit, cake-mixes, and nuts and chocolate: just layer the ingredients, bake at 350 and allow to cool.
--ONE-POT PASTA (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 72 pages, $16.99 CAD hardbound) is by Sabrina Fauda-Role. You can do this from pot to plate in under 30 minutes. Here are 30 preps: all the ingredients go into one pot at the same time (pasta, water, and sauce mixture). Cook for 15 minutes or so, no draining needed. Techniques are given, and it is all expandable to a range of ingredients to feed an army. Typical are carbonara, Thai salmon. Included are vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes.
--BEST SALTY SWEET SNACKS (Countryman Press, 2016, 127 pages, $19.95 CAD, paperbound) is by Monica Sweeney who describes the  snacks as "gooey, chewy, crunchy treats for every craving". They are nutty, chocolatey and savoury. Good flavour combos are given for caramel-nut-apple dippers, or bacon-caramel corn, or pineapple mini pizzas.
--THE TABASCO COOKBOOK    (Clarkson Potter, 2016, 144 pages, $21.99 CAD) was first issued in 1993 by the McIlhenny owners of Tabasco sauces. The 80 recipes (some revised) cover the classic recipes for game day, the Sunday brunch, the grill, Southern food – even dessert.
--SUPERFOOD BREAKFASTS (DK, 2016, 64 pages, $11.99 CAD) has quick and simple high-nutrient recipes to kickstart the day: grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, nutri-powders. The 25 preps include smoothies and pancakes. Very useful for quick meals for just one person.
--COOKIE CLASSICS MADE EASY (Storey Publishing, 2016, 96 pages, $15 CAD paperbound) is a collection of one-bowl recipes, such as pumpkin spice, Italian wedding cakes, ginger molasses, shortbreads, chocolate raspberry, key lime – 43 in all.
--ENERGY BITES (DK, 2016, 61 pages, $9.99 CAD) has high protein recipes for increased vitality and wellness. There are items here for re-fueling after a work out or an immunity boost. There are only 15 recipes but they are all low Glycemic Index, use no refined sugar, and only healthy fats. The procedures cover techniques for baking, no-baking, and savoury foods.
Other little books, for beverages, include those on beer, wine and spirits:
--THE BEER GEEK HANDBOOK (Storey Publishing, 2016, 192 pages, $21.95 CAD paperbound) is by Patrick Dawson who wants you to live a life ruled by beer. It's an illustrated FAQ to the world of beer, with tastings and pairing, using tulip glasses, taking "beercations" to Belgium, Germany, Colorado, New England (but the British Isles are not listed). There are descriptions of cult breweries, dictionaries, glossary, and a pronunciation guide. He's got quizzes, top ten lists, and a hip and savvy writing style. Millennials anyone?
--THE WINE JOURNAL (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 264 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Jennifer McCartney, a poet-drinks writer. It is a pocket-sized guide for jotting down thoughts about your wine. There is space for wine deets of name, price, tasted where and when, vintage, region, shared with, served with, and more. She's also got some helpful data on tasting basics and glossaries.
--POCKET BOOK OF CRAFT BEER (Dog 'n' Bone, 2016, 208 pages, $21.95 CAD paperbound) is by Mark Dredge. He covers 300 different beers arranged by style, from Pilsner to Stout to Extreme Beers. His scope is International, so Canada is included. Features all the deets plus an image of the beer bottle.
--PARISIAN  COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 128 pages, $21.95 hardbound) is by Laura Gladwin. Here are 65 elegant drinks from Paris (spirits, Champagne cocktails,  disgestifs) along with some amuse bouche. Good illustrations, and fancy foods.
--SHAKE.STIR.SIP (Chronicle Books, 2016, 128 pages,  $  CAD hardbound) is by Kara Newman. Here are 50 effortless cocktails, each made in equal parts (e.g. Negroni, Martini) so there is no real exact measuring needed. These are all the most popular cocktails, easy to make with a minimum of bar glasses and garnishes and other add-ons.
--THE POCKET BOOK OF COCKTAILS  (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 176 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound)  is packed with 150 easy cocktails devised by leading bartenders plus a beginner's guide to cocktail making equipment and glassware.
--CUBAN COCKTAILS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016,  128 pages, $19.95 CAD hardbound) has been compiled by Katherine Bebo. There are about 60 recipes for mojitos, daiquiris, and other rum drinks, both classic and contemporary, from Havana.  The thought of Cuba is very popular right now: get there before the Americans do...
--COCKTAILS FOR DRINKERS (Countryman Press, 2016, 144 pages, $19.50 CAD) is by Jennifer McCartney who stresses the basic side of drinks with red wine, spritzers, Bellinis, etc. The subtitle says "not even remotely artisanal". These drinks have three ingredients or less that get to the point of wit and verve. The emphasis is on drinking.
--GIN; shake, muddle, stir (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 144 pages, $  CAD hardbound) is by Dan Jones who believes in top brand selection for gins. He's got material on stocking the home bar, DIY infusions and syrups, and a range of garnishes. These are 40 of the best gin drink cocktails, including his fave, the Dirty Martini with its caperberry brine.
--SPRITZ (Ten Speed Press, 2016, 166 pages, $24.99 CAD) is by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau. Spritzes are Italy's iconic apertivos, and of course the authors provide a wide-range of drinks that come from a variety of US bartenders. They tell how to build  a spritz bar. There are also food recipes to accompany the drinks: sardines, tuna, olives, almonds – much like Spanish tacos. Try the Negroni Sbagliato (prosecco replaces gin) or Venetia Spritz (bitters-prosecco-soda).
--THE BOOK OF DANGEROUS COCKTAILS (Castle Point Books/St. Martins Press, 2016, 156 pages, $20.99 CAD hardbound) is on the Mary Jane wagon. It's by Dylan March and Jennifer Boudinot, who present us with adventurous recipes for serious drinkers.  Many are excessively alcoholic or not diluted enough, but others are made with marijuana-infused gin and other such infusions, to create "Smokin' Sidecar" or "Wake 'n' Bake". A laid back book, although I would have thought alcohol alone would do the trick. For your new weedwacker friend...
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 2017 (Workman, 2016, $19.99 CAN) has a combined Saturday and Sunday page. Price is up $2 over last year. 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,  at
For wall calendars, there is  HOMEGROWN GOODNESS SIMPLE PLEASURES CALENDAR 2017 (Workman, 2016, $19.99 CAN) which has homespun touches on foods. Each month features full-colour graphics, many combined with a hand-lettered saying. A juicy summer tomato ("Start fresh!"), a bundle of Indian corn, a festive holiday ornament ("Tis the season to be jolly"). Packaged with 12 colour recipe cards. On the wall too is OLD FARMERS ALMANAC BEST-LOVED RECIPES 2017 (Yankee Publishing, 2016, $11.99 CAD), this time including puffed apple pancake, pasta, cheese, and teas.
And for other non-book items, there have been many blank books this year. For the home chef, there is OUR RECIPE JOURNAL  (Ryland Peters & Small, 2016, 224 pages, $26.95 CAD hardbound), a guided blank journal designed so that you can record all of your fave recipes to create a unique legacy to pass down. There are sections of lined pages and prompts to remind you to add cooking times and difficulty ratings. There are also ribbon markers and a slipcase. There is a CRAFT BEER TASTING KIT (Dog 'n' Bone, 2016, $29.95 CAD kit) with a 64-page paperback, 20 beer mats, a flavour wheel, 200 tasting notes and a bottle opener. But no beers – buy those yourself. Sales of craft beers in North America total over $25 billion annually; you are going to need some help in sorting through all these! Other useful items: KITCHEN STICKY NOTES (Chronicle Books, 2016, $19.95 CAD) is a collection of  shopping reminders and to-do lists to keep you organized – 150 sticky flags, 50 lists, and 50 sticky notes, each coming with a colour drawing of a fruit or veggie. BEHIND THE BAR (Chronicle Books, 2016, $24.95 CAD) are two tea towels of classic designs for your bar. 100% cotton with silk screened designs (50 x 71 cm). COCKTAIL COASTERS (Chronicle Books, 2016, $22.50 CAD) is a set of 15 re-usable cocktail coasters with recipes. There are three each of five designs (e.g. Dirty Martini) and a storage box.
And so on to the wine annuals. The  international leader is HUGH JOHNSON'S POCKET WINE BOOK 2017 (Mitchell Beazley, 2016, 336 pages, $18.99 CAD hardbound) a guide to wines from all around the world, not just to the "best" wines. Johnson claims more than 6000 wines and growers are listed.  News, vintage charts and data, glossaries, best value wines, and what to drink now are here. This is his 40th edition and he marks this anniversary . His book is arranged by region; there are notes on the 2015 vintage and a few details about the potential of 2016, along with a closer look at the 2014. He's got notes on what wines are ready to drink in 2017.  There is a section on food and wine matching and also a listing of his personal 200 fave wines.
In Canada, we have  THE 500 BEST-VALUE WINES IN THE LCBO: 2017 (Whitecap, 2016, 230 pages, $19.95 CAN paperbound) takes a run at the wines for sale in Ontario at the government-run LCBO. This ninth edition by Rod Phillips, wine scribe for the Ottawa Citizen, has wines arranged by wine colour and then by region/country with price and CSPC number. He tasted 1500 wines. Each of the 500 value wines 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. 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, and he has included some space at each wine for the reader to make personal notes.
If you have the money (this outsized winebook is definitely not a stocking stuffer) and know someone who likes Australian wines, you'll get great pleasure out of HALLIDAY WINE COMPANION 2017 (Hardie Grant Books, 2016, 776 pages, $56.99 CAD paperbound) by James Halliday, who has been at wine writing for over 45 years. This is the definitive guide to Australian wines. He gives us data about the wineries and their vineyards, deets on addresses, social media, opening hours, names and other numbers, followed by detailed tasting notes, vintage-specific ratings, advice on optimal drinking period, ABV, and prices. There are supposed to have been some 9,000 wines tasted for this edition, and he has full tasting notes for 3963 (couldn't he push it up to 4K?), ratings and prices for 3645 other wines, 1302 winery profiles (68 are new wineries), "best of" lists and five-star wineries listed. There are vintage charts and maps plus multiple indexes. But I am sure if he got together with his Kiwi counterpart, they could come up with some antipodean pocket guide at 256 pages to cover both countries and sell it in North America and the UK, sure to be a winner...

Top Gift Books for Family Cooking/Healthy Food for 2016

--AMERICA'S BEST PIES 2016-2017 (SkyHorse Publishing, 2016, 380 pages, $36.99 CAD hardbound) comes from the American Pie Council which runs the APC National Pie Championship and the Great American Pie Festival. These are 200 recipes that are champion winners from various categories. Most are from 2010 through 2015, although there have been competitions since 1995. The award winners are clearly indicated and there is a colour photo of each pie. Suggested preps to try include lime coconut chess pie, apple rhubarb, and lemon blueberry. Many have cream cheese in their recipes for that extra velvety mouthfeel and calories.
--FIX-IT AND FORGET IT SLOW COOKER CHAMPION RECIPES (Good Books, 2016, 600 pages, $38.99 CAD loose leaf bound) is by Phyllis Good who has sold about 14 million books over the years, all on FIFI – she's been on a mission for all families to use their slow cookers for more than just stews and soups – families can use it for just about everything that needs a heat source. This loose leaf work has 450 recipes for all courses and all manner of food. The preps were contributed from all over North America, and every recipe is a "champion" winner somewhere. She's got multiple indexes, including a quick and easy index. If you have a slow cooker, this tome is for you. If you don't have a slow cooker, maybe this would be a good time to buy one, especially for her revealing FIFI BAKING WITH YOUR SLOW COOKER (Good Books, 2016, 328 pages, $30.99 CAD paperbound) – 150 recipes dealing with breads, pizza, cakes, tarts, crisps, bars, pies, and cupcakes. Everything is baked in the slow cooker; there's no need to heat up a summer house with a stove.
--BEST OF BRIDGE: THE FAMILY SLOW COOKER (Robert Rose, 2016, 342 pages, $29.95 CAD spiralbound) continues the 1975 origins, but this time with Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan, and Julie Van Rosendaal carrying the torch. These are 225 all new recipes for stews and gooey food, arranged by course of apps through desserts, breakfasts and beverages. Tried and true and Canadian,  but no venison or beaver stews: use the beef recipe as an all-purpose meat stew.
--175 BEST AIR FRYER RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2016, 288 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is by the prolific Camilla V. Saulsbury. It is one of a "dedicated cooking implement" series, here: the air fryer. While it produces crispy and tasty results, it uses very little oil. So you get the crisp flavour without the calories. Air fryers can also roast and bake. Thes preps are guaranteed to perform in an air fryer. With superheated hot air, you can re-create beer-battered fried fish, buttermilk fried chicken, cake doughnuts, coconut shrimp, and others.
--175 BEST INSTANT POT RECIPES (Robert Rose, 224 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by the equally prolific Marilyn Haugen who has done a book on spiralizers and on sandwich makers. Here she tackles the 7-in-1 programmable electric pressure cooker, also known as an "instant pot". It is a cooker with multiple functions such as pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, yogurt maker, and warmer.  So it does a lot of things, and can be applied to all the slow cooker recipes, including lamb shanks, meatballs, cherry and coconut granola, and root veggie ratatouille. Not all at once, mind you.
--FOOD SWAP (Storey Publishing, 2016, 258 pages, $28.95 CAD paperbound with 4 sheets of cardstock labels) is  by Emily Paster, cofounder of the Chicago Food Swap. She's a big believer in shared food. It is a community thing, for bartering, sharing and giving. There are 80 easy enough recipes here to get you started, as well as plenty of details for how to create a food swap. Try salted caramel sauce, lemon curd, green tomato salsa, Indian chutney – anything that can be preserved for later eating – and then trade them around for fund raising or to widen your pantry.
--THE BEST HOMEMADE VEGAN CHEESE & ICE CREAM RECIPES (Robert Rose, 2016, 144 pages, $19.95 CAD paperbound) is by Marie Laforet who gives us an ethical, healthy and tasty kitchen for the family. This one is for the dairy freeks who want a better but tasty lifestyle without dairy fat. Laforet advocates natural and organic ingredients for her 25 vegan sorbets, ice pops, frozen desserts. And the same for the artisanal cheese knockoffs.
--REAL FOOD, REAL GOOD (Penguin, 2016, 270 pages, $26 CAD paperbound) is by Michael Smith, top Canadian TV food host and cookbook writer from PEI. He says you could eat well with over 100 simple recipes plus variations. It's traditionally arranged by breakfast, soups, salads, mains, veggies, breads, and desserts. There is a large section on basics and pantries, emphasizing food lists for comestibles that you should have on hand (maybe a food swap?). He encourages you to make convenience takeout food at home, to save money, with recipes for such as fruit roll-ups, granola, ketchup, hummus, sushi, and chicken wings among others.
--WEIGHTWATCHERS FAMILY MEALS (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 416 pages, $41.99 CAD hardbound) has 250 recipes for family and friends; 140 of them are gluten-free. They've got tags for quick/vegetarian/and GF recipes. Typical comfort foods include spicy sweet potato oven fries, miso-glazed salmon, and chocolate gingerbread. As well, there are some menus and weekly plans. Other helps: pantry lists, freezer lists, how to host a party, and some recipes for drinks.
--THE YOUNG CHEF (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 192 pages, $32.50 CAD paperbound) is by Mark Ainsworth of the CIA. It's for  kids 10 – 14, with 100 kid-tested recipes and techniques for those who love to cook, including DIY hummus and Chinese takeout chicken. Procedures and variations are illustrated, and the language is kid-friendly (not condescending). Parents can stand by, but it is all family food anyway.
--IT'S ALL EASY (Grand Central Life & Style, 2016, 270 pages, $42 CAD hardbound) is by Gwyneth Paltrow. These are weekly recipes for the busy home cook, another entry in the quick and easy sweepstakes of cookbook writing, all geared to families. There are plenty of star turns here, and pictures. 130 recipes, most using little or no sugar-dairy-gluten. The range is breakfast to supper, and seems to be fairly broad and complete.
--KATHYRN AT HOME (Gibbs Smith, 2016, 224 pages, $43 CAD hardbound) is by Kathryn M. Ireland; it is a guide to simple entertaining as she does it at a French country farmhouse/guesthouse.  It is now 12 bedrooms after 25 years. She's got a similar one in LA. The tome is a collection of recipes, table top decor, wines, colours, and background music, all arranged by course (breakfast followed by market, lunch, al fresco dining, etc.). There are lots of pix and memoir  material dealing with simple entertaining, great for families on the weekend or special occasions.
--THE DELICIOUSLY KETO COOKBOOK (Alpha Books, 2016, 223 pages, $30.95 CAD paperbound) is by Molly Pearl, who has written many paleo cookbooks, and Kelly Roehl, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, who is a specialist in ketogenic diet therapy. Here are 150 keto-friendly preps for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The ketogenic diet is similar to the paleo diet, and uses fat for energy instead of sugar. On the switchover there may be side effects: these are carefully explained. It seems to be a good cookbook for those who are paleo yet want to lose weight on a regular basis.
--EATING CLEAN (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, 392 pages, $36  CAD paperbound) is by Amie Valpone. It is a 21-day plan to detox, fight inflammation, and re-set your body. The author says that it is particularly good against Lyme disease, hypothyroidism, and colitis. She has an excellent section on what to do when cravings strike.
--THE BONE BROTH SECRET (Hay House, 2016, 384 pages, $24.99 CAD paperbound) is by Louise Hay and Heather Dane. It has been described as a culinary adventure in health, beauty, and longevity. 100 preps cover broths, elixirs, mains, breads, desserts, cocktails, beauty remedies, along with a dose of memoirs and stories.
--COOK YOURSELF YOUNG (Quadrille, 2016, 160 pages, $32.50 CAD paperbound) is by naturopath Elizabeth Peyton-Jones. She gives 100 preps for slowing down the aging process and rejuvenating your thinking processes. It is a meatless book, with colour codes for vegan, raw, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It is an alkaline approach to counteract acidity in your body. Good advice for better sleep and weight loss.
--THE 2-STEP LOW-FODMAP EATING PLAN (The Experiment, 2016, 280 pages, $29.95 CAD paperbound) is by Sue Shepherd. She tells you how to cut out foods that cause distress, by building a custom diet that relieves symptoms of IBS, lactose intolerance, and gluten sensitivity. She's got 80 preps that avoid FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharide Disaccharide  Monosaccharide and Polyols) which is a group of poorly absorbed food to be avoided. On page 11 she lists them under five main classes.
--HEALTHY GUT COOKBOOK (DK Books, 2016, 224 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound) is by Gavin Pritchard and Maya Gangadharan who give us 150 recipes to improve digestive health, with advice for leaky gut syndrome. All preps have icons for such as paleo, low-FODMAP, dairy-free, and nut-free. Their book is structured for progressive gut healing with weekly menu planners, food prep advice, and how to maintain a diet without caving to cravings. They have five stages to get to the change of life.
--THE PALEO JOURNEY (Skyhorse Publishing, 2016, 210 pages, $27.99 CAD hardbound)  is by Simone McGrath. She's got recipes for weight loss and allergies, to lead to superior health the natural way. She begins with what foods to avoid and why, moving on to how to do paleo while outside the home (friends, restaurants, work). About half the tome is on advice such as exploring all the options available and the paleo lifestyle. It comes with the LC subject heading: "Prehistoric cooking – nutrition".
--THE COMPLETE 10-DAY DETOX DIET PLAN & COOKBOOK (Robert Rose, 2016, 352 pages, $24.95 CAD paperbound) is by naturopath Karen Barnes. She's got tons of advice and 150 recipes to turn your life around after a hard season of food and drink. This cleansing and detox diet is easy to follow with its realistic practicality. It's an aid to optimizing weight, improving digestion, skin, joints, energy levels, hormones, immune systems and overall vitality. She's even got data on toxic materials such as pesticides and heavy metals. The preps go from juices to smoothies to breads and dips, to legume and vegetable dishes.
--THE PALEO DIABETES DIET SOLUTION (Robert Rose, 2016, 288 pages, $27.95 CAD paperbound) is by Jill Hillhouse and Lisa Cantkier, both nutritionists. They propose to manage your blood sugar with 125 recipes plus a 30-day meal plan. The paleo diet is fresh, unprocessed meat, fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts which are all nutrient-dense, lo-carb, fibre-rich with vitamins and minerals. The preps here emphasis that density and provide a paleo lifestyle to help manage diabetes. Obviously, not a cure, just sensible (and tasty!) management.