* MORE FOOD AND DRINK BOOKS
3.VENETIAN REPUBLIC (Interlink Publishing Group, 2020, 256 pages, $49.95 hardbound) is by Nino Zoccali, chef-owner of some Italian restaurants in Sydney Australia. He has written before on diverse cuisines of Italy. These recipes here come from the days when Venice was a world power, the centre of the spice/salt/silk trade routes. The four key regions were: Venice and the lagoon islands, the surrounding Veneto, the Croatian coast, and the Greek Islands (Santorini, Cyprus, Crete, Corfu, et al). Hence, we have Venetian Prosecco and snapper risotto, Croatian roast lamb shoulder with olive oil potatoes, Cretan sweet and sour red mullet, Corfu's zabaglione, and Dubrovnik's ricotta and rose liqueur crepes. It's all arranged by the regions, with sub-arrangement by course (from antipasti to dolci). And it has a whack of history/culture behind each prep. Loaded with mostly pictures of finished plates, but there are also some maps and tourist attractions. Quality/Price Rating: 90
4.THE SICILY COOKBOOK (DK Publishing, 2020, 240 pages, $39 hardbound) is by Cettina Vicenzino who was born in Sicily and grew up in Germany. She is a cook, food photographer, and writer, and has written several books on Italian and Sicilian cuisine. Three types of food are here --cucina povera (peasant food), cibo di strada (street food), and cucina dei monsù (sophisticated food). It's part cookbook and part travel, with loads of her own photos and cultural/gastronomical notes emphasizing local chefs and food producers. The arrangement is by course, primi (Sicilian cuisine doesn't include antipasti) pasta, through secondi mains and piatto unico, intermezzi, and dolci. She's got a few non-alcoholic drinks and some wine. In all, the vast majority of her 70 preps use local spices, citrus, cheeses, olives, tomatoes, eggplant and seafood. This is a real treat for Sicilian food lovers, featuring ricotta dumplings in an orange and tomato sauce, stuffed sardines, salt cod, and grilled octopus with ricotta hummus.
Quality/Price Rating: 90
5.ARAN (Hardie Grant Books, 2019, 240 pages, $42.50 hardbound) is by Flora Sheddon, who became the youngest ever semi-finalist on The Great British Bake Off Baking Show in 2015. She runs Aran bakery in Dunkeld, Highland Perthshire. She has also written a weekly baking column for the Sunday Telegraph. These are recipes and stories from a bakery in the heart of Scotland. Material includes the origins of the bakery (aran is Scottish Gaelic for bread or loaf) and a day in its life from dawn to dusk. There is location photography plus a slew of recipes for breakfast, lunch and High Tea. Typical are a pork, apple and sage sausage roll, and apricot and almond frangipani. Try also chocolate oat cookies, pear, coffee and hazelnut cake, and pomegranate and raspberry financiers. An impressive giftbook for the stay-home baker in your life. Quality/Price Rating: 90
6.WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER; 50 winning ways to cook it up (Storey Publishing, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-63586-156-3 $16.95 USD paperbound) is by food editor Stacie Billis, who appears on Rachel Ray, TODAY, and the Washington Post. Chicken, according to the USDA, is now more popular than beef in the USA. So she's got 50 recipes plus variations for various forms: roast, grill (my fave), slow cook, instant pot, braise, stew, and even sheet pan. Many can be interchangeable, and of course can be made into leftovers (separate chapter here). The book is full of ideas and kitchen hacks. The book could have been improved if it had also used metric in the recipes, but at least it had a metric conversion chart.
Audience and level of use: beginners, those stuck at home.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: BBQ chicken pizza; grilled chicken and mango salad; jerk chicken; peachy siracha sticky wings; guacamole burgers; ten-minute tostadas.
The downside to this book: I wanted more recipes.
The upside to this book: there's a long section on how to cut up a chicken and do most of the work yourself (saves money)
Quality/Price Rating: 85.
7.HEALTHY ONE PAN DINNERS (Alpha Books, 2020, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-4656-9266-1 $19.99 USD paperbound) is by Dana Angelo White, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant who works with FoodNetwork.com and her own website, developing and analyzing food for athletes. Here she gives us 100 preps for one-pot dinners using a sheet pan, skillet, Dutch oven, baking dish, multi-cooker or slow cooker. She describes each of these with regard to benefits, cleaning up, proper sizing, and of course their best usage. Her basic ten ingredients include boneless and skinless chicken thighs, salmon, lean ground beef or turkey, eggs, and seasonal veggies – along with a kitchen pantry of some 20 different staples. Each prep has both easy instructions and nutritional data (the latter, as always, in metric, while the former is in Imperial measurements). 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: beginners; those stuck at home during lockdown.
Some interesting or unusual recipes/facts: baked pasta primavera; sweet and spicy lamb tagine; lemon-thyme Dutch baby with smoked salmon; hash brown quiche; teriyaki shrimp stir fry; watermelon panzanella with fresh mint; sweet potato coconut stew.
The downside to this book:
The upside to this book:
Quality/Price Rating: 86.
May we all have 2020 vision.