THREE INGREDIENT BAKING (Michael Joseph, 2018, 208 pages, ISBN 978-0-718-18479-7 $27.99 CAN paperbound) is by Sarah Rainey, who spent a considerable amount of effort trying to save us time in the baking kitchen. These are quick and easy baking recipes using only three common ingredients. She's got a hundred simple recipes for cakes, biscuits, breads, desserts, savoury bakes, and frozen treats.
Preparations have their ingredients listed in metric measurements, but there is no table of equivalents for the American cousin.
Audience and level of use: home cooks; those looking to save time.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: naan bread; bacon breakfast cups; chewy granola cookies; very berry sorbet; cinnamon crispies; chocolate pizza; baklava; magic scones; lemon posset.
The downside to this book: some use of pre-made products such as phylo sheets, but in many instances this is forgiveable.
The upside to this book: handy hints given
Quality/Price Rating: 87.
4.FINDING MEZCAL (Ten Speed Press, 2018, 272 pages, ISBN 978-0-399-57900-4 $30 USD hardbound) is by Ron Cooper, founder of Del Maguey Single Vineyard Mezcal and a Beard Award winner. With him is the travel-wine-food writer Chantal Martineau, who previously had written "How the Gringos Stole Tequila". The subtitle pretty well says it all: "a journey into the liquid soul of Mexico with 40 cocktails: you don't find mezcal, mezcal finds you." It's a memoir about his love affair with the spirit, and his commitment to the cultural traditions of Oaxaca, mezcal's spiritual home. Each chapter covers a new mezcal, its producer, its place of origin, and the distillation process from the maguey plant. The 40 recipes come from chefs and bars around the world. The sharp photography also makes it a great gift for the spirit traveller. Cocktails have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents.
Quality/Price Rating: 89
5.SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018, 314 pages, ISBN 978-0-544-93254-8 $30 USD hardbound) is by Virginia Willis, a southern US food authority and cookbook author. "Lighten Up, Y'all" won a Beard Award. It comes with some advanced log rolling, including the ubiquitous Nathalie Dupree. As Dupree says, the book "sings with the stories of the diverse South". Southern comfort at its best, which now includes the Chinese Americans living on the Delta, the Italians of New Orleans, and "Seoul of the South" in Atlanta. There's a discussion on the African culinary influence, the Greek and Hispanic influences in Alabama, and aquaculture as it affects catfish, crawfish, oysters, and shrimp. The chapters are arranged by product, with veggies, grains, seafood, meats, poultry, soups and stews – all followed by biscuits and breads and desserts. Preparations have their ingredients listed in avoirdupois measurements, but there is no table of metric equivalents (although there is plenty of room to add it).
Audience and level of use: lovers of southern food and cooking
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: peanut stew; black pepper Cornish game ens with Alabama white sauce; apple and onion gravy; spicy Asian Cajun BBQ shrimp with baguette; baked farro and mushrooms; almond jelly with blueberry ginger compote; Cuban-style pork chops with mojo sauce.
The downside to this book: I am still looking for my chess pie recipe.
The upside to this book: good selection
Quality/Price Rating: 87
6.EATING MY WAY THROUGH ITALY (St. Martin's Griffin, 2018, 290 pages, $34.99 CAD paperbound) is by Elizabeth Minchilli, who has written many books about Italian culture, including "Eating Rome". Here she takes on the rest of the peninsula and islands. These are the back roads and Italian farmers. Scattered throughout are regional recipes that incorporate scampi and vongole from Venetian suburbs, balsamico from Emilia-Romagna, risotto and cassoeula from Milan, farinata in Florence, truffles in rural Umbria, olive oil, pizza, anchovies, capers in Pantelleria, and the Sardinian rusticity. Lots of photos, lots of restaurants described, tourist attractions, and the like. This book is jam-packed.
7.THE WICKANINNISH COOKBOOK (Appetite by Random House, 2018, 290 pages, $45 CAD hardbound) is another sumptuous travel-cookbook from an Inn/Hotel/Lodge, this time in Tofino, British Columbia. It's an award-winning Relais & Chateaux property, known for its rustic elegance on nature's edge (between the forest and the Pacific). The highlight, of course, is the Wick's sophisicated The Pointe Restaurant, open since 1996. These preps come from a variety of chefs over the years, and range from breakfasts, soups, breads, salads, grills, seafood and meats, desserts and more casual fare. There are also some cocktails plus a large selection of pantry items. Everything was created by opening Chef Rod Butters and then at least seven other chefs. There's a history of the Inn and gorgeous photography, mostly by Makito Inomara. As is common with all Appetite by Random House cookbooks (these are Canadian published), there are dual metric and avoirdupois measurements for the ingredients. Good price for a gift cookbook.
8.MARGARITAVILLE; the cookbook (St. Martin's Press. 2018, 338 pages, $42.50 CAD hardbound) is compiled by Carlo Serbaglia and Julia Turshen. It's a paean to Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" [Buffet did a foreword here] and incorporates relaxed recipes for a taste of paradise – a good state of well-being with many illustrative photos of the seascape and beaches and food and drink. It's arranged by course, from breakfast through apps, soups, salads, sandwiches, mains, sides, desserts, and, of course, drinks. The authors have 20 party and menu suggestions plus 10 practical party tips. There is, in addition to a general index, an index to recipes organized by fun: food for the boat, food for tailgating, food for the grill, food to make on the beach, food for large crowds – all with page references so you don't have to look anything up.
9.COCKTAILS ACROSS AMERICA (The Countryman Press, 2018, 236 pages, $33.95 CAD hardbound) is by Diane Lapis and Anne Peck-Davis, the former being a local history researcher and the latter being a collector of vintage bar artifacts. It's a postcard view of US cocktail culture from the end of Prohibition to the end of the 1950s. All the postcards come from Peck-Davis' collection. It is arranged by region, from US East Coast through the South, the Midwest, the Southwest, the West Coast, and even some from Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico and Cuba. But not Canada, except for the Mart Pickford cocktail. Good looking postcards can be found here (it also comes with four detachable retro postcards from this time period, good to mail out to friends) to match the local cocktails (Margarita, Brown Derby Cocktail, Santa Fe Cooler, Palm Beach Special, Red Snapper, Salty Dog, Pink Squirrel, and others...
10.THE CONNOISSEUR'S GUIDE TO WORLDWIDE SPIRITS (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 210 pages, $46.99 CAD hardbound) is by Richard Carleton Hacker, a prolific writer and editor in spirits, wines, cigars, gourmet cuisine, and luxury lifestyle. The range is wide, which makes it a perfect gift: aperitifs, vodka, gin, single malt scotch, blended scotch, Irish, bourbon, Tennessee, rye, brandy, cognac, rum, tequila, mezcal, port, armagnac, liqueurs, grappa, absinthe, pisco, other spirits, and cocktails. Each gets a thumbnail sketch, photos, production notes, and tasting notes. A nicely wrapped package.
11.COCKTAIL ITALIANO (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018, 237 pages, $29.99 CAD hardbound) is by Annette Joseph. It's a guide to aperitivo, drinks, nibbles, and some stories and photos about the Italian Riviera. Here we are talking about Liguria, from the French border through to Lerici, neatly divided into the Riviera di Ponente (itself sub-divided into Riviera delle Palme and Riviera dei Fiori) from east of Menton to Genoa, and the Riviera di Levante from east of Genoa to Lerici. This is all Beach Club territory, and she goes on to describe lifestyles with stories, recipes for food bites/snacks, and cocktails. More good fun on the Riviera!
12.THE BEER BUCKET LIST (Dog 'n' Bone, 2018, 224 pages, $26.95 CAD hardbound) is by Mark Dredge, who is an international beer judge and acclaimed/awarded beer writer. This is his fifth beer book. It is a collection of over 150 "must try" beer experiences featuring the planet's best beers, bars, breweries, and beer events. It is indeed a "beer bucket list" to try before you die. He manages to combine city guides, travel, food and history via pubs, bars, brauhauses, hop gardens, beer festivals, and others. For the shorter version, his top ten includes seeing the Burton Unions at Marston's Brewery in UK, drinking in the Pilsner Urquell brewery cellars, visiting the brewing Trappist monasteries in Belgium, Oktoberfest in Munich, drinking Guinness in Dublin, et al. Each occurrence has photos, description "lowdown" directory-type data, and visiting tips. A great book for travelers.