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Tuesday, March 22, 2016


...all reflect a boom in the cookbook publishing business. A paperback reprint will lower the cost to the purchaser, and also give a publisher a chance to correct egregious errors or add a postscript. Some will reissue a book in paper covers with a new layout or photos. Others will rearrange existing material to present it as more informative text while keeping the focus tight. Some magazines will reissue popular or classic recipes in an "easy" format. Here are some recent "re-editions"...
26.VEGETABLES, HERBS & FRUIT; an illustrated encyclopedia (Firefly, 2013, 2015, 640 pages, ISBN 978-1-77085-200-6, $29.95 CAN soft covers) is by Matthew Biggs, Jekka McVicar, and Bob Flowerdew. Separately, they had written books dealing with vegetables (Biggs, 1997), herbs (McVicar, 1994) and fruit (Flowerdew, 1995), and they had last been revised in 2002. Here they have been collated into three distinct sections, with glossary, bibliography, seed sources, yearly calendar, and practical gardening matters. Each botanical plant has been identified, illustrated, given a variety of names under which it is known ("species"), some cultivation notes, some culinary uses, some medicinal uses, and some warnings and other uses. So for example, parsley has three zone 5 species, it propagates by seed, pests are notes, gardening and harvesting are noted, two preps (fine herbes and fish bouquet garni) are given, diuretic use and poultices are mentioned, and other uses include killing head lice. The warning is to not use parsley for medicine during a pregnancy. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Caution: the book weighs 2 kilos. Quality/price rating: 88.
27.THE SCHOOL OF SOPHISTICATED DRINKING (Greystone Books, 2013, 2015, 244 pages, ISBN 978-1-77164-119-7, $22.95 CAN soft covers) is by Beate Hinderman and Kerstin Ehmer. It's "an intoxicating history of seven spirits" according to the subtitle, although one of the seven is Champagne which is actually a wine. The book was originally published in Germany in 2013 and translated for the North American market. It is a general overview but lively account of how (in separate chapters) brandy, vodka, whisky, rum, gin, tequila and Champagne have fared through history, looking at them from angles dealing with social, political, and scientific themes. Both authors are part of the team behind the Victoria Bar in Berlin; they began a lecture series there known as the School of Sophisticated Drinking. Cocktails are mentioned throughout, and their recipes are collected at the back, with page references. While it has some end notes and a bibliography, it has no index, a major failing. I think it should have had an alphabetical index to the cocktail recipes, at the very least. Quality/price rating: 86.
28.THE WINE BIBLE. 2d ed. Revised and updated. (Workman Publishing, 2001, 2015, 996 pages, ISBN 978-0-7611-8083-8, $24.95 US paper covers) is by Karen MacNeil, once Culinary Institute of America director of wine in Napa. She's now a consultant and a free-lancer for food and wine magazines. The book was originally published in 2001; of course, much has happened in the wine world since then (and 90 pages have been added). Every chapter has been researched and consulted with experts. The problem with the misspelling "ice wine" has been fixed. With a lot of data and facts being crammed into this book (all of it readable and legible; no squinting at the typeface), there are bound to be some misprints. Each wine region chapter concludes with a few pages on "wines to know"; these are thumbnail sketches of wineries with short, generic tasting descriptions for a half-dozen of so US nationally distributed wines from each region, accompanied by its wine label. The notes reflect the generalities of the producer, not the vintage being sold. So there is really no detail on the quality of any particular vintages. There is no range of prices, so you do not know what it is selling for. And there is a separate "Index of Producers Found in Wines to Know", so you can clearly access these wines quickly. There is an extensive table of contents (five pages) plus 72 pages of indexes, wines laws, glossaries, and bibliography. All the usual wine data are covered, with black and white photos, "what to look for" sidebars, technical discussions, and interesting notes scattered about in screened boxes. Her opinions are, for the most part, spot on. The Canadian section has been doubled since the 2001 edition. What I do like about this book is its price and its value to both the casual and the professional user. QPR: 92.
29.THE PLAN COOKBOOK (Grand Central Life & Style, 2014, 2015, 214 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-5651-9, $17.99 US soft covers) is by Lyn-Genet Recitas who wrote the bestseller, The Plan. This is the 2015 paperback reprint, reissued as is. It is an anti-inflammatory nutrition protocol. Some material from the first book is necessarily repeated here, but I should think that you would not need both books. If you are indeed interested in The Plan, then this is the book, with all of its recipes. The Plan seems to have helped people lose weight fast and forever by discovering which food work for their unique body chemistry. Her preps are supposed to boost your energy and cut inflammation, as well as make you lose weigh. It is a lifestyle change. Preps cover all meals, from breakfast through salads, soups, sides, apps, sauces, dressings, mains, and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Some interesting recipes include vegan cream of mushroom soup, duck breast tacos, whipped coconut cream, venison medallions in apple bourbon sauce, mini lamb meatballs, and steak fajitas. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
30.W.C. WHITFIELD'S MIXED DRINKS AND COCKTAILS (Skyhorse Publishing, 2015, 132+ pages, ISBN 978-1-63450-222-1, $16.99 US hard covers) is an historical book. It is a reprint of Whitfield's two cocktail books, with over 600 recipes: Just Cocktails (1939) and Here's How: Mixed Drinks (1941). Both were originally published as hand-lettered and sans-serif type with nifty and funny line drawing illustrations, and this has been continued here. It is an illustrated, old-school bartender's guide, with quotes scattered throughout. Hey, if we are drinking old-school cocktails, then we certainly need an old-school guide!! Try Pink Whisker, Magnolia Blossom, White Cargo, Bachelor's Bait, Five Fifteen Beauty Spot. And the cocktail names could also serve as names of boy bands.
Quality/price rating: 89.
31.SUPER FOOD EVERY DAY (Ten Speed Press, 2015, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-60774-940-0, $14.99 US soft covers) is by Sue Quinn, a UK food writer, book author, and journalist. It was originally published in France as "Super Food: La Bible"  and then in Australia as "Cooking with Superfoods". This is the North American edition. There are 65 recipes here using kale, blueberries, chia seeds – about 52 in all (greens, tubes, squashes, nuts, seeds, fruit, beans, oily fish). It is all arranged by course, from breakfast through apps, sides, mains, and desserts. The primer includes drawings, and the photos are sharp for the plated dishes. There's a creamy comfort soup (mainly cauliflower and beans), containing Vitamins C and K, folate, molybdenum, and fibre. Or a detox bowl with squash and dried cranberries, loaded with six different goodies. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
32.THE BEST AND LIGHTEST (Clarkson Potter, 2015, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-8041-8534-9, $25 US soft covers) is from the editors of Food Network Magazine. It is a selection of 150 recipes for all three daily meals. It's a basic cookbook, emphasizing lightness in food, arranged by categories from soups and stews through sweets. To lighten a dish, the magazine substitutes ingredients. For stuffed baked potatoes, they mixed pureed cauliflower into the filling. Ham and mushroom risotto has a barley substitution, although here they lose the gluten-free crowd. Fried fish is now baked fish. And so on – with 500 calories being the cap, per person. Icons show which dishes are GF, vegan or just vegetarian. Nutritional data is also supplied. There are two recipe indexes: the one at the front is a pictorial index so that you can see what the dish looks like (it is arranged in page order); the one at the back is an alphabetical index by ingredient. It's basic food such as sardine salad sandwiches, scallops with cabbage, chicken salad with gazpacho dressing, turkey and avocado sandwich, and shrimp tacos. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents. Quality/price rating: 86.
33.THE WORLD ATLAS OF COFFEE (Firefly, 2014, 2015, 256 pages, ISBN 978-1-77085-470-3, $35 CAN hard covers) is by James Hoffmann, barista champion and operator for a coffee roasting company in London UK. It is a reissue-reprint of a popular book from 2014. There are details on some 29 coffee growing countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, along wit harvesting, processing, roasting and brewing methods. The best way to make coffee at home is also covered. Detailed maps locate key growing areas and chart trends worldwide. Lots of great colour illustrations and photos. Updates include the Potato Defect, organic and fair traded coffees, and modern business information. Quality/price rating: 88.
34.THE DORITO EFFECT; the surprising new truth about food and flavor (Simon & Schuster, 2015, 2016, 261 pages, ISBN 978-1-4767-2423-2, $22 US soft covers) is by Mark Schatzker,  an award-winning food journalist and author of "Steak". He's on CBC and writes often for the Globe and Mail. This book was originally published in 2015; this is the 2016 paperback reprint. His premise is that the flavour of food is changing: all food seems to be bigger and cheaper but blander. Also, technology now produces in the lab those flavours that have been lost due to agribusiness. The lab materials are added to the bland chicken as "seasonings". Our natural sense of eating well through evolution has been transformed into eating unnatural flavours that create addictions to foods the create obesity. The easy answer to reverse this is to produce better tasting natural food, getting rid of chemically-induced habit-forming unnatural flavours. At the end of the narrative he proposes his principles on how to live long and eat flavourfully: eat real flavour; flavour starts in the womb; eat organic from a small farm; eat herbs/spices/chocolate/wine; avoid synthetic flavours; avoid restaurants that use synthetics. There is a bibliography, end notes, and index. Quality/price rating: 88.
35.THE NEW TRAILSIDE COOKBOOK; 100 delicious recipes for the camp chef (Firefly Books, 2013, 2015, 191 pages, ISBN 978-1-77085-189-4, $19.95 CAN soft covers) is by Kevin Callan and Margaret Howard. He has written several books on camping, while she has written books on outdoor grilling and preserving. The book is a reprint-reissue of a popular 2013 title. The 100 preps here are easy, nutritious, and full of energy. They range from "gorp" (which we ourselves make at home with bitter chocolate, raisins and almonds, but here -- in this book – references "good old raisins and peanuts") to gourmet (which needs a bit more time). Chapters cover all courses, plus dehydrating food, shopping/packing, camp stoves, cold weather camping, weekend gourmet and living off the land. There's also a planner for all the work to be done at home and at camp. There is even a seven day menu plan. Tips and advice in the form of sidebars provide references to handling bears (!!), cooking at high altitudes, smoking, storage, ax handling, and one litre boxed wines. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both
metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents. Some interesting preps include grilled banana oatmeal pancakes, herb and garlic pasta, peanut butter banana muffins, pesto avocado dip, polenta appetizer pie, tuna quesadilla, baked veggie loaf. Quality/Price Rating: 87.
36.MY KITCHEN IN ROME (Grand Central Life & Style, 2016, 384 pages, ISBN 978-1-4555-8515-8, $28 US hard covers) is by Rachel Roddy, a former actress from London but living in Rome since 2005. She fell in love with the Testaccio quarter that centres around a slaughterhouse and a food market. This is her account of a year of cooking in Rome (shopping, cooking, eating, writing). In 2008 she began a blog documenting her daily food activities in the "cucina romana", and this became the foundation for her book (first published in 2015 by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK). There is some rich text on how it all began for her, followed by 5 sections: antipasti, soup & pasta, meat & fish, vegetables, and dolci. Try the beef rolls in tomato sauce, or the oxtail with tomatoes and celery, sweet and sour onions, octopus and potato salad, or the ricotta and lemon bundt pie. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements (with added metric in the baking area where she scales), but there is no table of metric equivalents. A useful urban Italian cuisine cookbook with some scenic non-food photos. Quality/price rating: 88.


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