Late winter is sometimes not the most exciting time for new cookbook releases, but that was not the case this year. A number of inspiring cookbooks with can't-wait-to-cook recipes have come out. To recover from all the brouhaha of the holidays, our office took a bit of a break from team meals, but our appetites are back now and we've cooked from a few of our favorite recent releases. We are so over our post-holiday slump that we're now looking forward to next month's Pi Day! In the meanwhile, here are some recently released cookbooks that we've been enjoying.
Koreatown: A Cookbook
by Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard
I'm going to call it now: Koreatown
will doubtless be one of my top five cookbooks of 2016. This is one of those cookbooks where every recipe calls out to me. Inspired by American Korean neighborhoods, most of these recipes are traditional Korean with a splash of Americanism. Authors Deuki Hong and Matt Rodbard introduce each recipe with hints and recipe history. Small essays and interviews turn up throughout: "Why Two-Year-Olds Need to Eat Kalbi," "Don't Tell David Chang He Is a Korean Chef," "Eric Ripert Really Likes Korea, We Really Like Eric Ripert," and perhaps the most important essay, "How to Cook Korean Food at Home without Pissing Off Your Neighbors." Koreatown
is a celebration of Korean food, with the photography to prove it. If you have any interest whatsoever in eating Korean, you will love Koreatown
I was first taken by the Kimchi Pancake, but it was the Butter Dumplings that sealed the deal. The recipe sounded a little insane: Make pork dumplings, but add in butter. A lot of butter. We're talking four sticks. These turn out like soup dumplings, except with a burst of butter instead of soup. I suggest making your dumplings much smaller than the recipe says so that you can put a whole dumpling in your mouth, otherwise you are likely to get a face full of butter when you bite into the larger dumplings: a face full of tasty, tasty butter. Or, hang your face over a bowl of rice so that the butter can drip down. Waste not, want not.
Protein Ninja: Power through Your Day with 100 Hearty Plant-Based Recipes That Pack a Protein Punch
by Terry Hope Romero
All I really have to say to sell this cookbook is: Terry Hope Romero
. Romero is the self-proclaimed "Vegan Cookbookista," and why not? Author of multiple vegan cookbooks, and coauthor with Isa Chandra Moskowitz of Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook
, her vegan books have helped to bring about a new vegan renaissance. Protein Ninja
follows the same format of the popular Salad Samurai
, except they've mostly left behind the light text on black background. Protein Ninja
addresses the concern many healthy food advocates have with a vegan diet — the lack of protein. There are breads, snacks, desserts, and most of all, bowls. And let me just say this: I'm an omnivore and I'll happily cook from Protein Ninja
Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat
by Chrissy Teigen
Sheesh. I had every expectation of not liking this book. After all, what could a model, nay, a supermodel, nay nay, a swimsuit supermodel possibly know about eating food? What could the recipes be like? Wave a lettuce leaf near your mouth? Nibble on a frozen pea?
But I'm a bookselling professional, so I set my low expectations aside and gave Cravings
a look. And, for pity's sake, guess what? Teigen's recipes are awesome! She seems nice. She's funny. I'd bet she'd be fun to hang with. And, always a plus in my mind, she cooks bacon the right way: in the oven, so the rashers come out nice and flat.
Rather than describe her cookbook myself, I'm going to leave the description to her own words: "I know how I like my food. I like it spicy, salty, sticky, crunchy, juicy, oozy — basically any dish you know and love, jacked up to a bordering-on-socially-unacceptable amount of flavor." Her recipes stand up to this statement. Do you like garlic, cheese, bacon, butter, or an absurd amount of crunchy crust on your chicken pot pie? It's all here.
I made her Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Cranberries, Walnuts, and Blue Cheese. I accidentally burnt the heck out of it — and it was still delicious! I served this burnt dish to guests, and we all had seconds.
One more thing: If you are a John Legend fan, Teigen has included her husband's chili recipe. I'm kind of captivated by the presentation of chili in a Fritos bag, and this must happen soon in my house.
James Beard's All-American Eats
by The James Beard Foundation
is a travel book/cookbook dedicated to longtime restaurants that have stood the test of time. These are restaurants that have perfected their recipes with years of customer feedback, and earned awards from the James Beard Foundation. As well as recipes, many of the restaurants have shared their background stories so you can get a feel for the place even if you haven't had a chance to visit it in person. Most of the recipes border on comfort food: Banana Pudding from Bowen's Island Restaurant in Charleston; Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Kramarczuk's in Minneapolis; and Pesto Minestrone from Nick's Italian Café in McMinnville, Oregon. (That is a little shout-out to our own Nick's, beloved by many a Portlander out on a day trip through wine country.) James Beard's All-American Eats
is for the cookbook lover who likes a slice of history served with their meal.
Dining at the Ravens: Over 150 Nourishing Vegan Recipes from the Stanford Inn by the Sea
by Jeff and Joan Stanford
Until this cookbook, I had not heard of The Ravens, a restaurant at America's only vegan resort. Now, I'm very much aware, and would welcome a visit. These recipes take a big step beyond basic: they are thoughtfully put together, thinking not only of taste but of presentation as well. This isn't a run-of-the-mill vegan cookbook; this will be a great book to bring out for special events, as the recipes are a little lux.
I made the Red Pepper and Potato Soup with Balsamic Reduction. It looks a bit like tomato soup, but the predominant red pepper taste gives it a fresh kick. I didn't have a garnet yam, so my soup was more harvest gold than Valentine's red.
(Normally lentil soup leaves me yawning, but the Ravens' Red Dahl Soup looks incredibly sumptuous! It has a massive amount of different spices — and raisins and ginger. I don't want to give their recipe away, but there is coconut milk in it as well.)
The Bare Bones Broth Cookbook: 125 Gut-Friendly Recipes to Heal, Strengthen, and Nourish the Body
by Katherine and Ryan Harvey
Bone broths are all the rage now. Tasty and healthy, bone broths form the rich base not just for soups but also for most savory recipes that require a liquid. Authors Katherine and Ryan Harvey start out by teaching us a bit about how these broths help to keep us healthy, and then they move into the broth recipes. The rest of the cookbook, which makes up the majority, is comprised of recipes to use the broth in: Loaded Lamb Stuffed Yams, Chocolate-Braised Pork Shoulder, Classic Paella, and of course plenty of soups and stews.
Coworker Corie is our broth-canning expert. She regularly fills her pantry with homemade broth, and she made the Beef Bone Broth recipe. Even with her extensive background in broth making, she said this was the best broth she has ever made.
Lucky Rice: Stories and Recipes from Night Markets, Feasts, and Family Tables
by Danielle Chang
Danielle Chang has run Luckyrice festivals
in some of the larger American cities since 2010. Inspired by Asian night markets, gatherings of street food vendors for late-night revelers, Chang has pulled together recipes from "markets, feasts and family tables." In Chang's Lucky Rice
, she guides the recipes with additional history of the dish or region it comes from, even when the region is the unexpected Chinese American region (or "ABC," American-born Chinese). It's nice to see Chinese American food get a legit shout-out, because for me and I'm sure others, mild and crunchy Chinese is comfort food. But most of the recipes are based on the actual cuisine of Asian countries.
Browsing Lucky Rice
, I looked for a few key things: Is the Hot and Sour Soup actually hot and sour? Yes. Does the Mapo Tofu have plenty of Sichuan peppercorns? Yes. Is there something completely weird that I must have? Yes — Jewish Pastrami Egg Rolls.
For those of us not lucky enough to be able to get to a Luckyrice festival, this is a home-kitchen way to enjoy Asian culture through some wonderful recipes.
Eat Your Heart Out: The Look Good, Feel Good Cookbook
by Dean Sheremet
Former actor and dancer Dean Sheremet went through a difficult break-up with his celebrity wife, LeAnn Rimes. He came through the dark times, like many of us, by cooking his way out. After all, it's called comfort food for a reason. As a dancer, he knew his body couldn't stay healthy on a steady diet of traditional comfort food. He followed his new passion and enrolled in culinary school. After graduating at the top of his class, he entered the trial-by-fire arena of restaurant kitchens (Nobu, Nougatine). Our gain from all his hard work is a cookbook filled with recipes for healthy comfort food. There's some killah stuff in here: Grilled Peach and Burrata Salad, Sweet Potato Scallion Latkes, and Butternut Squash Lasagna.
Coworkers Tom and Dev made the Winter Squash and Eggplant Gratin. The sweetness of the squash balances with the rich complexity of the eggplant and is topped with plenty of fried pepitas. The recipes are nicely explained so that even beginning cooks can understand the steps, and let's face it, sometimes even experienced cooks want to be told exactly how a recipe is supposed to work.
The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make
by Erin Gleeson
The Forest Feast for Kids
! Many of my coworkers did a happy dance when a copy of this book came through our office. We all love the original Forest Feast
an enormous amount. There are about 10 cookbooks that never leave my kitchen – Forest Feast
is on that shelf. It is one of the most beautiful cookbooks ever made, and the kids' version is just as stunning.
The Forest Feast for Kids
is a gorgeous vegetarian book for adults to share with kids. The photos are as lovely for the adults to look at as they will be inspiring for kids to make. The Forest Feast for Kids
would be a perfect way for your children to share in the cooking for family guests. Who doesn't like to show off their talented kids? I'm not hinting or anything, but if any of the kids I know would like to invite me to a Grilled Cheese Party (page 80), or would like to have me over for a Fried Banana Split (page 66), I'd be totally game!
One Dough, Ten Breads: Making Great Bread By Hand
by Sarah Black
Fellow Book Buyer Rhianna reviewed this cookbook:
Sarah Black's welcoming book provides all of the instructions, photographs, and encouragement necessary for the novice baker to turn out golden, airy loaves of rustic bread, with lots of variations. One Dough, Ten Breads
begins with the easiest recipe and techniques and advances like a cooking class, adding new processes and skills as the reader masters each chapter. My favorite aspect of the book is Black's helpful margin notes, which anticipate questions that might arise as you work through a specific step in a recipe.
I was thrilled with the results of the Simple White Loaves recipe in Chapter 1, which I augmented with one-part whole-grain rye flour and a long, cold fermentation period in the fridge. Not only was it fun to follow Black's techniques for hand mixing and kneading (I usually use a standing mixer), but it was easy to fit the bread baking process into my hectic schedule as a working mom with small children. The result was two gorgeously crusty loaves with coveted air pockets and a house that smelled awesome. I can't wait to move on to Chapter 2.