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Sunday, August 30, 2020


...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"...
10.PASTA PERFECT (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 2020, PASTA SECRETS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-84975-818-5 $19.95 USD hardbound) is by Laura Santini, an award-winning food writer for "Easy Tasty Italian" and "At Home with Umami". It was originally published in 2017 as "Pasta Secrets". Here, for 70 preps, she uses fresh pasta, so she's got the basics on how to make pasta and gnocchi (but no cavetelli), as well as tips and advice through the first quarter of the book. The rest is all about the sauces (but 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. The book could have been improved if it also used much more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Some interesting or unusual recipes include quick pad Thai; Singapore- style; ricotta, green olive and basil; raw avocado carbonara; mushroom ragu; classic pesto genovese. But do we actually need another pasta book, even if it is fresh pasta?Quality/price rating: 86.
11.DELICIOUS DIPS (Ryland Peters & Small, 2017, 2020, 64 pages, $13.95 hardbound) is a publisher's collection of some 50 recipes for dips from fresh and tangy to rich and creamy, using meats, legumes, veggies, herbs, olives, nuts, seeds, yogurt and cheese. Something for all, from 13 different UK food writers, principally Hannah Miles (with 15 preps).
12.HOW TO DICE AN ONION (Dog 'n' Bone, 2020, 128 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is by Anne Sheasby. These are hacks, tips and tricks for the home cook, originally published in 2007 as "Kitchen Wisdom".  Scores and scores of fail-safes will reward the budding home cook, offering assistance in all aspects of cookery. The best tips are those that try to correct your mistakes; next best are those tricks that employ substitution. It's an easy read, but try to dip into it often for reminders.
13.PINK GIN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 64 pages, $14.95 hardbound) is a collection of some 30 or so pink-hued cocktails. Most of the preps come from Julia Charles, with some more from Laura Gladwin. It's an open-and-shut slender work, with the recipes scattered among three categories: cocktails, sparklers, and coolers. Most call for "pink gin" but you can use regular gin and add your own colouring, if need be (grenadine, cranberry juice, rose/red wine).
14.ILLUSTRATED STEP-BY-STEP BAKING (DK Books, 2011, 2020, 544 pages, ISBN 978-1-4654-9431-3, $40 USD oversized hard covers) is a lush and plush book for those beginners (or even experienced cooks) who have a fear of baking. These are easy-to-follow recipes with more than 1500 photos of techniques and final plating. Caroline Bretherton has a UK café and has worked in television cooking shows; she beings that Brit sensibility to the details. There are 80 classic preparations here, with a further 250 variations based on transferable skills and substitutions. She also has some classics without variations, such as buttermilk biscuits, pumpkin pie and devils food cake. There are cakes, pastries, cookies, soufflés, cheesecakes, pies, tarts, savouries, and breads (all yeasted or flat or quick). There's an indication of quantities, time in preparing, and time in baking. And metric tables of equivalents to balance the mix of metric and avoirdupois listing of ingredients. The book could have been improved if it also used more volume metric in the recipes. But still a great book for all the stay-home covid-19 avoiders who are baking. Quality/price rating: 89.
15.BIG NIGHT IN (Ryland Peters & Small, 2020, 176 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-192-2 $19.95 USD hardbound) is a publisher's collection of recipes from the RPS stable of cookbook authors. The idea here is to have themed menus to cook and eat at home (whenever social distancing stops), to stay home with friends and/or family, and enjoy a meal with a pre-set unusual menu – and presumably save money, especially on alcohol. Sarah Vaughan compiled the recipes which were contributed by 32 different writers (headed by Jenny Linford with 17 preps, while Miranda Ballard and Carole Hilker have 11 apiece). There are 19 themed menus, including a vegan celebration, an indoor picnic, a curry and beer night, and a scandi fish affair. Most intriguing is avocadelicious. Great idea, great fun. Each menu are three courses plus drinks. The book could have been improved if it also used more volume metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Very useful for the better times to come, although the current rules do allow for five people congregating together with social distancing – two couples are all doable in most homes. Just tailor the menu down a bit.  Quality/price rating: 89
16.SMOKE & SPICE; recipes for seasonings, rubs, marinades, brines, glazes & butters (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2013, 2020, 144 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-206-6, $19.95 USD hard covers) is by Valerie Aikman-Smith, a food stylist (film, TV, books) and writer (magazines, books). It was originally published in 2013. The 90 preps here emphasize the flavours to be added to the BBQ grill. For example, for pork, try the smoky chili BBQ sauce or the bourbon glazed pork chops or the szechuan rub (also the Cajun crispy pork belly). Pork also needs an apple cider brine. Moving to lamb, there's lavender salt
crusted leg of lamb, mint and lemon kebabs, pomegranate rack of lamb with harissa sauce, or date lamb tagine. Others: cherry-glazed duck skewers, Jamaican jerk chicken, spiced red snapper, caramelized beet tatin with marinated goat cheese, or matahambre beef
marinade. The book could have been improved if it also used more metric in the recipes, or at least had a metric conversion chart. Quality/price rating: 89.

May we all have 2020 vision.

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