Harvest time! Our summery heat wave is trading off days with the fall rain. Each last ripening tomato is a treasure and we are pondering what to do with the leftover green ones. Over the summer we had some giant zucchinis show up in the employee lunchroom, which is where we share all of our extra goodies. A coworker gave me the most adorable tiny eggplants from her yard. They were almost too cute to eat, but I ate them anyway. I’ve been especially happy with the generosity of my coworkers, as this summer was a transition time for my yard and all I have planted are a few pots of herbs I can’t live without (basil, mint, and rosemary).
Living vicariously through my coworkers' gardens, I’ve heard tales of bush beans, rainbow chard, butter lettuce, gem lettuce, sugar snap peas, French petit pois, zucchini, yellow squash, Mexican sour gherkins, pickling cucumbers, a variety of hot and bell peppers, the aforementioned patio eggplant, lots of herbs, heirloom and cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, and butternut squash (not to mention the trees: apple, pear, fig, and plum). This harvest puts us deep into canning season, so luckily there are two preserving books fresh on our shelves: Canning for a New Generation
(updated and revised) and Not Your Mama's Canning Book
The point of my waxing lyrical about all this glorious bounty is that the seasonal new cookbook releases are chock-full of vegetable and fruit recipes. Dandelion and Quince
celebrates unusual plants, such as black garlic, nettles, and fennel pollen. Modern Potluck
is full of veg and fruit side dishes to share with friends. Clean Soups
is timely for this “perfect storm” of the last of the garden harvest and the cooling weather, making for a return to hot soup on the stove.
A Modern Way to Cook
by Anna Jones
Anna Jones’s previous cookbook, A Modern Way to Eat
, is hands-down one of the biggest favorites of Powell’s buying team. We’ve been waiting with bated breath to dig in to cooking from her new book. The recipes provide measurements in both metric and imperial, and you may want to get out your scale as there are some ingredients we Americans aren’t used to measuring in ounces — such as the 3½ ounces of ground almonds in the Amazing Lemon Cannellini Cake (which, by the way, really does sound amazing and is the next thing I plan to make from A Modern Way to Cook
). I made the vegan and gluten-free Pistachio and Raspberry Brownies — so ridiculously good I had to make a second batch a few days later.
While the taste of the brownies was great, both of my batches were very gooey. In fact, a friend dubbed the brownies "gooeylicious." Next time (and this was so good, there will be a next time!) I’ll increase the amount of chia seeds to see if it sets a little stronger. Also, if you use black chia seeds, as I did, be sure to check your teeth for seeds!
In like fashion to her first cookbook, Jones displays a masterful touch in blending flavors in her vegetarian recipes.
Dandelion and Quince: Exploring the Wide World of Unusual Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs
by Michelle McKenzie
Sometimes the best way to understand something new to you is to find an area of common ground. So, as I often suggest to customers in the store, look for some recipes that you already know in order to see if the cookbook will be a good fit for your family. Since this book explores the unusual, I looked for a plant that I knew well and settled on kumquats. I spend enormous amounts of ready cash on these sweet tart fruits, as they are only available for a few weeks in early winter, and I know a whole year will go by before I see them again. This also means I can’t try out the recipe yet, but this winter I’m for sure giving the Kumquat Almond and Poppy Seed Cake recipe a try.
I made the Fruit Fool, which required ground cherries, but I used mixed berries instead. (Are there ever ground cherries at the markets?) I bought the best fruit to be had at a local fruit stand and made a peach fool and a mixed berry and chocolate fool. The richness of the whipping cream is cut a bit with the inclusion of yogurt. I have no tip to offer, as fools are about the easiest thing to make in a kitchen aside from pouring a glass of water or making buttered toast.
Bottom Line: Dandelion and Quince
is for the kitchen adventurer who can’t help but buy the unknown veggies at the farmers and ethnic markets and then wonders what to do with them.
Easy Eats: A Bee and PuppyCat Cookbook
by Natasha Allegri
Have you seen Bee and Puppycat
on YouTube? If you haven’t, it will make this cookbook hard to understand. In a nutshell, animated Bee and her animated friends, including the extra-terrestrial PuppyCat (a sort of dog creature with a cat head and a cat-like attitude), love to eat and end up in an intergalactic search for snacks. Easy Eats
is a fan-based recipe collection inspired by Bee and PuppyCat
. Most of these are pretty simple recipes, easy enough for even a puppycat to make. For instance, the Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes recipe that I made has only two ingredients, although I gussied it up by adding a third...
I always add a little butter to chocolate to make the dipping a little smoother. But watch out for “seizing”! If the water content in your butter is too high, your chocolate might turn into a clot of grainy-looking gunk. The solution? Add more butter or water. In this case, two wrongs do make a right. Your chocolate will turn back into smooth dipping quality. There is some science going on here, but I don’t know what it is.
A fun little book for the Bee and PuppyCat
crowd, and lovers of easy-easy recipes.
Easy Vegan Breakfasts and Lunches
by Maya Sozer
Maya Sozer of the vegan blog Dreamy Leaf has a playful way with her recipe creation. My favorite chapter in Easy Vegan Breakfasts and Lunches
is most definitely Smart Snacks. And I bet all I need to say to send you running to a bookstore for this cookbook is: Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes. Pancakes not your thing? Maybe a Strawberry Parfait Popsicle would start your morning off right. The recipes are mostly quick and easy to make and are filled with flavor. The recipe that will be up first for me: Coconut Curry Polenta With Sautéed Mushrooms.
Sozer marries plant-based foods with ethnic and diverse food styling and comes up with a tasty, creative union.
Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest
by John Sundstrom
From Seattle’s Lark restaurant, Lark: Cooking Wild in the Northwest
is the paperback update of Lark: Cooking Against the Grain
. Besides the slightly different title, the cover has also been changed. This paperback edition still makes a beautiful coffee table book, albeit at a much lower cost. There is a bonus chapter that wasn’t in the hardback edition: Lark Larder, which highlights kitchen basics and condiments.
Insider Tip by Aubrey:
Many of the recipes in Lark
are sophisticated, requiring time and more ingredients to produce a dish, but this simple Wild Mushrooms recipe really hit the spot. Sautéing chanterelles in garlic and oil over high heat gave off a phenomenal aroma and made the natural, earthy flavor of the mushrooms really pop.
Bottom Line: Lark
manages to walk a thin line between sophistication and down-to-earth cooking. Some sample recipes: Hanger Steak With Toasted Garlic Sauce; Sunchoke Soup With Truffled Sunchoke; and, oh my gosh, Black Fig Tarte Tatin With Goat Cheese Sorbet and Grappa Caramel Sauce.
by Kristin Donnelly
Yay! A potluck cookbook! When you are getting ready for a party, this is your one-stop idea generator for shareable recipes. Modern Potluck
includes vegetarian and gluten-free recipes. It’s always nice not to exclude anyone from enjoying the fruits of your labors. Author Kristin Donnelly not only treats us to her own recipes, but garners the best party recipes from some of her favorite home cooks. I made the Strawberry Jam Cheesecake Bars with Buckwheat Almond Crust. My local fruit stand was out of strawberries(!) so I used a mixture of cherry and raspberry. You really can’t go wrong with any assortment of berries. I was out of parchment paper, so I took a chance on just buttering my pan. Don’t do this. Trying to get my bars out of the pan almost destroyed them. But as we all know, it doesn’t have to look good to taste good.
Well obviously, use parchment paper. When making the jam, her suggestion to use a wide pan is helpful. The large surface evaporation area really gets your jam into a jammy condition fast. Also, squishing berries with your hands is a lot of fun. Maybe get your kids in on this action, but they’ll probably need a bath after they get covered in berry goo.
Insider Tip by Leah:
Don't skimp on the salt! These recipes don't include a lot of seasoning, which I'm guessing is because they're intended to be cooked in advance and then heated up later for potluck purposes. For example, the Smoky Squash Macaroni and Cheese (which was delicious, and a revelation! Squash as a substitute for flour... who would have known it would work so well?) only called for salt and pepper at the beginning of the recipe when roasting the squash. If you are bringing these dishes to a potluck, then it makes sense to wait and season them thoroughly at the time of serving. But if you're cooking them to eat right away like I was, I'd suggest seasoning more throughout the process. As far as the mac and cheese goes, I'd also recommend using this recipe as a building block and adding your favorite veggies, cheeses, meats, and/or spices to the mix — the options are limitless!
Bottom Line: Modern Potluck
delivers exactly what the title states: great recipes to share utilizing the wealth of foods our modern world now makes available to us.
Not Your Mama's Canning Book
by Rebecca Lindamood
Not Your Mama’s Canning Book
starts right up with two recipes I want to eat/drink right now: Moonshine Apple Slices and Brown Sugar Bourbon Peaches. Moonshine Apple Slices mixes in five spices and extracts into the moonshine or vodka base, along with a little sweet and a little sour. And here is where this cookbook shines — a recipe for making use of the apples is provided. In this case, it’s Spirited Apple Tarts. The peaches make it into the Drunken Peach Milkshake.
Lest it seem this is all about “adult” recipes, author Rebecca Lindamood has created a full panoply of meals. When judging a canning book's worth, my go-to recipe is pickled carrots. Lindamood’s Ginger Pickled Carrots passes with flying colors. With plenty of ginger and a star anise to beautify each jar, these look to have the bold taste I love in a pickled carrot.
Having said all the above, I realize all I really had to say is that Ree Drummond
(of Pioneer Woman fame) has respected and admired Lindamood and her cooking for years and is her avowed fan.
Canning for a New Generation
by Liana Krissoff
Review by Rhianna:
We have a huge pear tree in our backyard and I'm always looking for novel ways to preserve the (pounds and pounds of) fruit for winter eating and holiday gifts. I already love Liana Krissoff's inventive recipes in Whole Grains for a New Generation
, so I was really excited to see an updated edition of Canning for a New Generation
on Tracey's desk. True to Krissoff's style, the recipes are easy to follow and just a little exotic. A case in point: her lovely Pear Ginger Jam, in which the pears are laced with fresh ginger for a jam that's both comforting and snappy.
I like to use half-pint jars when I preserve, both for ease of handling in the water bath and because the jar is less likely to linger opened but unfinished in the fridge. Also, stir like crazy and use an enamel-bottomed pot if you have one, to avoid burning the jam.
One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers
by Carla Snyder
In this second of the One Pan, Two Plates
series, Carla Snyder concentrates on vegetarian dishes. One Pan, Two Plates,
veggie style, gives us skillet dinners for two that are long on flavor and creativity with no fuss, no muss. This is perfect for the cook who wants to spend a minimum of time in the kitchen while putting out a full-flavored and interesting meal. I've bookmarked the Potato Gratin With Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers. The stated time for preparation is 25 minutes with 70 minutes complete time. Even tired from a day of hard work reading cookbooks for a living, I bet I can manage to find 25 minutes to mandolin up some potatoes for dinner. Author Carla Snyder includes helpful alternative serving suggestions.
Every cook gets a little sick of fussing in the kitchen. Let Carla Snyder guide you into a little peace of mind with her single-pan recipes.
Victuals: An Appalachian Journey With Recipes
by Ronni Lundy
is a foodways book of Appalachia, as well as an introduction to the people and landscape of the area. When you get this book, be sure to stock up on sorghum syrup, as this seems to be the sugar of choice. Other than that, these regional recipes look to be pretty relatable to most spots in America. Victuals
is a beautiful book that works as both a coffee table book and on the kitchen shelf. The recipes are stick-to-the-ribs good, and most are easy to make yet build a complex flavor.
Bottom Line: Victuals
is a love story to this little-known and somewhat mysterious wild country of Appalachian Mountains. (A fun fact to know and tell: in Appalachia, victuals is pronounced “vidls
÷ ÷ ÷
Did you get take-out on the way home this evening? Why not use the time you saved in the kitchen to do a little foodie reading?
Pancakes in Paris
by Craig Carlson
If you are a foodie and Francophile, and if you like rags-to-riches stories, you should curl up on an armchair with a strong cup of coffee and a croissant and tuck into Craig Carlson’s memoir: Pancakes in Paris
A bit like Gabrielle Hamilton of Blood, Bones and Butter
, Carlson starts life treading the dysfunction of his family. Fending for himself from an early age set the stage for the herculean task he later took on: opening an American diner in Paris. With very little restaurant background and about as much French business acumen, but a lot of enthusiasm, Carlson set off to bring to Paris what they didn’t know they needed: good old American breakfast. With many bumps along the way, brushes with the law, and a severe lack of cash, Carlson brought American comfort food to the French. And since this takes place in France, there are loves lost and won along the way. Pancakes in Paris
is a quintessential American tale, big and brash and filled with charm.