to Peace and Parsnips
, from Ice Cream Adventures
to Dried and True
, this spring brought with it a medley of cookbooks as varied as our burgeoning gardens. Let’s jump straight in to the reviews!
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Portland Farmers Market Cookbook
by Ellen Jackson
The hotly awaited Portland Farmers Market Cookbook
is here! PFMC
features the earthiness of market produce mixed with the culinary savvy of our local chefs and farmers. The recipes are built around farm-grown ingredients, raising produce to celebratory status. Recipes I know I’m going to try: Cantaloupe-Cucumber Jam with Vanilla Bean, Golden Beet Sunchoke and Treviso Salad, and (yum!) Pear Upside-Down Cake with Caramel Cream and Bacon.
I haven’t cooked from PFMC
yet, and this isn’t even really an insider tip, but I just had a Chocolate Apricot Habañero Truffle that coworker Ashleigh brought in. Made with coconut milk, these are rich and naturally sweet from the apricot. The heat kicker from the habañeros is a nice twist. I guess my insider tip is: if you like chocolate, you should try these!
Celebrate your own local farmers market in Portland foodie style.
Dried and True
by Sara Dickerman
Review by Corie:
I love the idea of having a pantry full of homemade, organically sourced staples. Of course, the reality is that time is a luxury I rarely have (or maybe I rarely utilize), so instead I focus my energy on a few easy-to-make essentials that bring me great joy. This is where my dehydrator comes into play. I decided I wanted to try something pretty as well as useful, and I set my sights on the Herbes de Provence salt recipe from Dried and True
. To my surprise, I didn't need to make a grocery run at all: rosemary, oregano, thyme, and lavender are already running amok in my garden, and I buy fine sea salt in bulk, so as they say in France, "Voila!
" After a few minutes of picking the herbs and six hours of drying them in the dehydrator (that savory herb aroma wafting through my house was absolutely amazing), I threw the herbs in my food processor, added sea salt, and pulverized them into the beautiful salt blend shown in the photos. Simple, charming, and organically sourced! Fini
Using a dehydrator is simple and cost effective, and the end results are always amazing. Make my own garlic powder? Kimchi mustard? Pesto powder? Yes, please!
This is not your ordinary — dare I say, boring — dehydration cookbook. The recipes are original, interesting, and truly inspiring.
Katie Chin's Everyday Chinese Cookbook
by Katie Chin
You know what a treat it is when you are invited over for dinner by a friend that is a really good cook? Katie Chin has written the cookbook form of that invite. Her book starts out with a sort of 101 level class on understanding Chinese ingredients and techniques, which should be a great help to the beginning Chinese cook and a good reminder to the more experienced cook who may not cook Chinese very often. Chin’s recipes are based on her mother’s recipes, the award-winning restaurateur Leeann Chin. Many recipes include close-up photos of the cooking process, so it’s a little like watching Katie cook.
These are the types of recipes seen in Chinese restaurants across America, but with the Chin family stamp of approval, making them a touch more authentic but still approachable for the general American palate.
The Kitchen Shelf
by Eve O'Sullivan and Rosie Reynolds
You can always count on Phaidon to publish a beautiful cookbook, and The Kitchen Shelf
fits this to a T. This is not-quite-a-beginner cookbook, and also not-quite-not-a-beginner book. Authors O’Sullivan and Reynolds give a list of 30 must-have pantry ingredients, and provide recipes to make use of all these ingredients. All you’ll need to do is augment your pantry with two additional purchased items. Each recipe indicates which ingredients you’ll need to buy. The recipes are mostly simple yet result in complex flavors.
After having written this review, I think all I needed to do was mention this recipe: Smoky Garlic Monkey Bubble Bread. I know there are lots of folks who have to avoid gluten and other wheat-based products, but for those who don’t, I’ll bet it’s the rare person who can turn down Smoky Garlic Monkey Bubble Bread!
It’s graduation time. If you want to be a great parent/grandparent, give your grad this book and a gift certificate to a local grocer and set them up for a lifetime of good cooking.
Korean Food Made Simple
by Judy Joo
This is modern Korean food with an international flair. Author Judy Joo’s travels (New Jersey, California, London, China, and, not too surprisingly, Korea) inform her recipes with supplemental spices and side dishes. Not often seen in Korean cookbooks, she includes a chapter on breads, and I cannot wait to make her Kimchi and Bacon Brioche. The photography — showing not just the food but also the location shots taken in Korea — is gorgeous. With her classical French training in the culinary arts, she offers up dishes that are slightly fancy-pants with easy rustic styling.
Bottom Line: Korean Food Made Simple
is a beautiful and inspiring book with a little something for everyone’s palate and ability in the kitchen. I should mention: Korean Pulled Pork Quesadillas. Sounds completely delish.
Ice Cream Adventures
by Stef Ferrari
Ice Cream Adventures
is aptly named; there is no other ice cream book quite like this. Author Stef Ferrari takes her inspiration of delicious meals and turns them into ice cream. After Ferrari enjoyed a meal that included popovers drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sea salt, she created Salty Buttered Honey Ice Cream. Ferrari is also a beer specialist. Since beer is very important to Portlanders, I see every reason to try the IPI Imperial Pale Ice Cream. The IPI has no actual beer in it, but it does have hops.
Ferrari's recipes seem to be created from a sense of joy and delight.
Most of these recipes require an ice cream maker. I don’t have an ice cream maker, but her section on soft(er) serve means even I can make Root Beer and Goat Cheese Soft(er) Serve. Not really an ice cream, but pretty darn close!
by Tessa Huff
Bored with making average, run-of-the-mill layer cake? Layered
shows Vancouverite Tessa Huff’s passion for rich cakes with a touch of special, but not in a froufrou sort of way. Some of these cakes are quite robust, like the six-layer Raspberry Stout Cake with raspberry cheesecake filling between the chocolate layers, but no icing, just a pile of raspberries and candy bark piled opulently on top. These are fancy cakes for grown-ups, although everyone would love her Cinnamon Roll Cake — a giant cake-sized cinnamon roll with extra frosting layered down the middle.
These are cakes for delighting your friends and family, and also showing off, just a little bit.
by Meathead Goldwyn and Greg Blonder
You gotta love a book entitled Meathead
. That the title goes on to include the “science” is the kicker that draws me in. I’m contemplating switching from a charcoal grill to gas, and the section “Charcoal vs. Gas Grill Throwdown” was a big help. Authors Meathead Goldwyn and Professor Greg Blonder know their food science, and they present a massive amount of 'que knowledge — which is helpful for the beginner to understand the seeming vagaries of grilling, and the close attention to every detail should delight the grilling connoisseur.
As a professional cookbook buyer, I have a set of thoughts of what makes a good cookbook, and when it comes to BBQ cookbooks, I don’t want to see the book half-filled with side recipes. That is a waste of good BBQ recipe space. Meathead
has only a few side recipes tucked into the back, and most of them involve a grill, so really, they count as grilling recipes. (Only the two slaw recipes aren’t grilled, and you have to have some slaw with your BBQ, so that’s cool.)
The first sentence in Meathead
is in the forward by science food guru J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, author of the bestselling Food Lab
: “This is the book barbecue nerds have been waiting for.” Nuff said.
by Ratha Chaupoly, Ben Daitz, and Raquel Pelzel
New York's Num Pang sandwich shop makes its own Cambodian version of the Vietnamese banh mi. If you’ve been making your own banh mi and you want to step it up a notch, Num Pang
is for you. Half the fun of visiting NYC is the wealth of ethnic restaurants, and when a visit there ends, I mourn for those restaurants that I won’t be able to eat at, sometimes for years. Thank goodness for New York chefs willing to share their recipes. I’m not going to the East Coast in the foreseeable future, but with Num Pang,
I can fake it a little. I’m looking forward to the summer veggie crops so I can make Chili-Coconut Grilled Corn.
The sandwiches are mostly meat-centric, but there is plenty of attention paid to the sides and the pickle-making, which is so essential to Southeast Asian cooking.
Peace and Parsnips
by Lee Watson
There are some cookbooks that you know you will like before you even open them, and Experiment Publishing is a master at presenting such titles. Peace and Parsnips
is a completely gorgeous cookbook, inside and out. I browsed through it a half dozen times before I even noticed that it was vegan — the recipes are just that rich and interesting.
Lee Watson’s recipes are informed from his travels: India, Spain, France, Mexico, Turkey, and his own homeland of Wales. Vegans, often mocked for their tasteless nut loaves, will have the last laugh with the Eggplant and Tomato Nut Roast with Macadamia Mustard Sauce. The Layered Filo Pie with Roasted Cauliflower Mash and Carrot Puree looks beautiful with its many colors and the filo pastry dough draped simply yet artistically over the edge of the pan. The Dark Chocolate and Beet Brownies (with silken tofu and dried prunes) look addictively delicious.
Rhianna made the Couscous Salad with Tempeh, Preserved Lemons, Yellow Zucchini, and Almonds. Her tip: toasting the couscous in a little olive oil before adding the hot stock adds a delicious nuttiness to the dish.
This is inventive, ethnically styled food for vegans — and for omnivores who will be so busy gobbling down their delicious vegan food that they won’t even notice the lack of meat.
by Sabrina Ghayour
No matter how many Middle Eastern cookbooks there are, there always seems to be room for one more. I suppose with a culture so ancient and covering so many ethnicities, there is bound to be a massive variety in recipes. Author Sabrina Ghayour does what I like best in a cookbook: she takes some fairly common recipes and gives them a gentle tweaking to make them fresh. Her Mousse Cake has green cardamom pods, her Apple Salad has radishes and dried figs, and her Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes are ridiculously good — topped with goat cheese, drizzled with olive oil and fruit molasses.
Play around with the flavors. I made a batch of the Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes using truffle oil and omitted the fruit molasses. I forgot the pine nuts. Still so good I couldn’t stop eating it. (And so embarrassing — there was company over and yet I kept grabbing all the salad. I can’t take me anywhere.)
From the author of the popular cookbook Persiana
will be enjoyed by cooks who appreciate traditional Middle Eastern foods updated for our modern kitchens and tastes. The recipes are uncomplicated and full flavored.
Studio Olafur Eliasson: The Kitchen
by Olafur Eliasson
You may know Olafur Eliasson from his installation sculptures that employ light and/or water. It takes a lot of people to bring this sort of art to life. Eliasson has almost 100 studio workers in his Berlin atelier, and they all gather at a communal table for a family-style lunch, which is created in the artist-designed kitchen. This is a pretty amazing concept and I find it joyously inspiring. I’m not always impressed by “artistic” cookbooks, but this one is a page-turner. There are essays on food, photos of workers busy at their jobs and at dining, and drawings of buildings — all the types of thing that could feel like filler but in The Kitchen
feel holistic and interesting. The vegetarian recipes are simple and wholesome, often with variations provided.
This is a “working” coffee table cookbook that you’ll want to browse as much as cook from. Phaidon, known for their art books, has produced a beautiful and unique cookbook here.
Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore
by Anna Thomas
Perhaps the most succinctly named cookbook ever, Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore
is a cookbook meant for cooks who like to include all their friends and family at the table, meat eaters and vegans alike. Author Anna Thomas wrote 1973’s Vegetarian Epicure
, an early vegetarian bible. The idea that VVO
is structured around is best described by Thomas herself: “Start with the food everyone eats, design a meal or a dish around that, then expand and elaborate with just the right amounts of the right cheeses, meats, or fish for your omnivores. Everyone feels welcome, and we eat the same meal — but in variations.” What I will add to her words is that no matter what your eating preference, these are fully flavored home-style recipes. It will be hard to top Vegetarian Epicure
in its vast popularity, but I can see VVO
becoming a staple cookbook in many a kitchen, including my own.
There are some cookbooks that get passed all around the office, generating oohs
as we browse the recipes. This is one of those cookbooks. VVO
is a great book for those trying to cut back on meat, but still allowing for some carnivore activities.
Whole World Vegetarian
by Marie Simmons
Review by Kim T.:
Award-winning local author Marie Simmons presents vegetarian dishes from all over the world in a cookbook that will add variety and flavor to your vegetarian kitchen. From healthy to decadent and from simple to complex, Simmons includes recipes such as Fava Beans and Greens, Pugliese Style; Sauteed Golden Haloumi; and Shakshuka to broaden your repertoire of favorite veggie dishes. I chose the recipe for Scallion Pancakes with Spicy Dipping Sauce because it had great ingredients my family loves: scallions, sesame seeds, and a spicy sauce.
The dish was easy to make, and after I presented it, it was gone in about 20 minutes! The balsamic vinegar was an interesting addition to the soy-sauce-based dipping sauce, but it totally worked to give it a deep and rich tang.
This is a great international cookbook for vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
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by Ashley E. Sweeney
There is a world of wonderful narrative food writing, both fiction and nonfiction. People love to read about food almost as much as they love eating. While this blog is dedicated to reviewing cookbooks, sometimes it’s good to give a shout-out to the non-recipe-oriented books.
is a good read for historical fiction fans who like their characters gritty, honest, and flawed. Food history buffs will enjoy the many historical recipes sprinkled throughout. Widowed Eliza is alone and grief stricken on what is essentially a deserted island in Washington’s Strait of Juan de Fuca. She forages the island’s slim bounty and homesteads by herself, treating herself to the small joys of baking. Working through her grief, she eventually leaves her island to return to the mainland, broke and on her own, to forge a new life as a baker in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Hardscrabble Alaska is filled with miners and prostitutes, and now one plucky feminist baker. Debut author Ashley E. Sweeney’s Alaska feels authentic, muddy and cold, exciting and scary, and teeming with the sort of characters you’d expect to find in a boomtown.