3.WINE. ALL THE TIME; the casual guide to confident drinking (Plume, 2017, 294 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57416-0 $20 USD paperbound) is by Marissa A. Ross, a writer and humourist and the main wine columnist for Bon Appetit. She's had a blog (Wine. All the Time) since 2012. Here, it's a sassy book, full of her wit, with personal anecdotes scattered among the chapters. It's this year's wine primer, designed to give you some attitude if you know little about wine. The ten chapters cover the basics of winemaking, natural/bio/organic wines, how to taste wines, looking for the basic wines, regions, wine labels, buying/ordering, entertaining, and where to drink wine. I grew up with a book like this, the first Bluff Your Way in Wine (mid-1960s) from the David Frost empire. It was pocket-sized, very tiny at 64 pages: there was not much wine knowledge in the world at that time. Now, I can only imagine the weight on the mind of a newbie attempting to find out about wine without some kind of system. Back then, we only had Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chianti, Rioja, and Mondavi – maybe also New York. Anyway, a lot of what you need will be in the index and the glossary. I am disappointed, though, that vegan is not covered, nor is there a mention of Demeter as the biodynamic certification body.
Audience and level of use: millennials
The downside to this book: I never liked making light of alcohol, such as her "day drinking and night drinking".
The upside to this book: it will reward all the newbies. She introduces the natural wines early on in the book, for the benefit of millennials.
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
4.TOSS YOUR OWN SALAD (St. Martin's Griffin, 2017, 248 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-09920-4 $19.99 USD softbound) is by Eddie McNamara, a recipe developer who runs "Toss Your Own Salad" on Tumblr. He's got over 100 preps for tasty salads that are all meatless. Coming from a guy who's a former police office, the recipes are bound to also appeal to other guys, especially the ones named "Green Inferno Salad" or "Nihilistic Frittata". It's a do-it-yourself book, full of attitude – and certainly useful. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 86.
5.FIERY FERMENTS (Storey Publishing, 2017, 264 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-728-6 $24.95 USD softbound) is by Kirsten K. Shockey and Christopher Shockey, who had previously written "Fermented Vegetables". This time they've added heat, with 70 international preps for hot sauces, mustards, pickles, chutneys, relishes, and kimchis. Chilies are here, of course, and also horseradish, ginger, and peppercorns to play with any of the 40 cultured vegetables and krauts. The hot preps basically cover brekkies, snacks, mains, and beverages. The book could have been improved if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: lovers of fermented foods.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: chocolate-cranberry mole, spicy onion-mango ferment, Caribbean salsa, habanero relish, kumquat chutney, Thai dragon mint-cilantro paste.
The downside to this book: I wanted more.
The upside to this book: excellent unique topic for a cookbook
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
6.THE NO MEAT ATHLETE COOKBOOK (The Experiment, 2017, 276 pages, ISBN 978-1-61519-266-3 $24.95 USD softbound) is by vegan Matt Frazier, author of "No Meat Athlete" and yoga teacher Stepfanie Romine, journalist and recipe developer for plant-based foods. The aim is to make athletes healthier and fitter by switching to whole plant foods. There's 125 vegan preps here, covering the full-range from breakfast to dinner, with salads, sides and small plates. There's a chapter on fuel and recovery, for before-during-after workouts. There's another chapter on upbeat sauces and salsas, dips, etc. to add flavour boosters. And some sweet desserts. It's a life changer for non-vegans, so there are some pages on meal planning for the rest of your life. Good ideas and good tips. Preparations have their ingredients listed mainly in avoirdupois measurements with some metric, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: athletes, those looking to change their lifestyle eating habits.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: jerk kidney beans; creamy herbed hemp dressing; Buddha bowl; green beans tahini; winter sunshine salad with grapefruit; "better than bone broth" mushrooms; garlicky rosemary potato soup; cilantro-coconut pesto.
The downside to this book: it's a busy book, but I'm sure many athletes could handle the style.
The upside to this book: lots of good advice
Quality/Price Rating: 88.
7.THE WILDCRAFTED COCKTAIL (Storey Publishing, 2017, 234 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-742-2 $18.95 USD hardbound) is by Ellen Zachos, who teaches foraged mixology workshops via Remy Cointreau USA. She's written six books, including "Backyard Foraging" – see also www.backyardforager.com Seasonal foraged food will extend your cocktail horizons. She's got 50 recipes for bitters, garnishes, syrups, infusions, and juices using plants that may be readily found in backyards or farmers' markets, roadside fields, and even in the deep dark forests. These are berries, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots, and seeds which can be added to 45 cocktails. So she's got a total of 95 preps here – and a good section on muddling. The book could have been improved – at least for the international market – if it also used metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: bartenders, at-home mixologists, the curious
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: sassafras twig syrup; while strawberry shrub; quick pickled daylily buds; quick pickled Japanese knotweed stems; prickly pear jelly; wild ginger syrup; chanterelle-infused rum.
The downside to this book: nothing really.
The upside to this book: good topic, and fulfilling.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.
8.THE HARVEST BAKER (Story Publishing, 2017, 304 pages, ISBN 978-1-61212-767-5 $19.95 USD softbound) is by Ken Haedrich, author of more than a dozen cookbooks and a winner of the Julia Child Cookbook Award. The main intent of the book is to provide 150 preps for incorporating fresh produce into both savoury and sweet baked goods. So he's got savoury quiches, tarts, pot pies, pizza, calzones, yeast breads, buns, muffins, and scones. In sweets, he delivers cakes, pies, cookies, and bars. It's arranged by breads, mains and desserts, with added chapters on sauces and glazes. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents (as there should be with scaled ingredients).
Audience and level of use: home bakers, those with lots of veggies to use.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: spaghetti squash and parmesan quiche; brown sugar rhubarb tart; sweet potato buttermilk biscuits; Swiss chard galette; roasted beet, spinach, and feta cheese flatbread; spiced green tomato pie; pane ripieno; delicata squash dinner rolls; green pea and parmesan tartlets.
The downside to this book: I wanted more herb recipes and fewer "sweets".
The upside to this book: good selection of savoury veggies.
Quality/Price Rating: 89.
9.PASTA SECRETS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-818-5 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Laura Santtini, an award-winning food writer for "Easy Tasty Italian" and "At Home with Umami". Her newest on pasta uses fresh pasta, so she's got the basics on how to make past and gnocchi, as well as tips and advice through one-quarter of the book. The rest is all about the sauces (not all are Italian), which she has conveniently isolated into four parts as quick and easy, funghi and veggies, fish and seafood, and meat and poultry. Preparations have their ingredients listed in both metric and avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of equivalents.
Audience and level of use: new cooks, family cooks
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: quick pad Thai; Singapore style; ricotta, green olive and basil; raw avocado carbonara; mushroom ragu; classic pesto genovese.
The downside to this book: do we actually need another pasta book, even if it is fresh pasta?
The upside to this book: good layout and photography.
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
10.COOK LIKE A MAN (Skyhorse Publishing, 2017, 261 pages, ISBN 978-1-63450-737-0 $24.99 USD hardbound) is by Fritz Brand, a writer-photographer who documents his cooking on www.realmencancook.co.za which is based in South Africa. Brand believes that any self-respecting man should be able to cook, so the book is part guide and part cookbook. It's just a matter of getting your hands dirty, so to speak. He seems to feel that every guy can grill, but that's outside. Once inside, the man-cook shrivels. OK, so he starts with kitchen basics about what works and what doesn't. Faking it is included. There are 78 simple recipes with an emphasis on three themes: impressing a woman, feeding the boys on game night, and using leftovers. I know lots of guys who don't want to eat leftovers, but here these tasty bits of food are appealing. Cooking 101 here includes how to make mayo, brown meat, deglaze, anchovy butter, dice an onion, poach eggs – just the basics. Yet everything is heavy on the protein, but at least the guy at home can cook. Paleo, anyone? Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there are tables of metric equivalents.
Audience and level of use: men, maybe men only
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: basic food includes bacon cheeseburgers, spaghetti carbonara, Guinness beef short rib, beer battered fish and chips, and buttermilk pancakes.
The downside to this book: the ingredients listing is in tiny print – why? There's lots of white space around.
The upside to this book: it can get certain guys started.
Quality/Price Rating: 85