Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Gift Tip: Four Great New Cookbooks

If you have cooks and food lovers in your life - or if you just want to treat yourself - read on!

I have recently become the grateful recipient of these four new publications and each one of them would make a wonderful gift.  All four would make an exceptionally wonderful gift!

All of these publications are much more than "cookbooks" - each one provides a very good read as well!

New Cookbooks that I am currently loving
 Eat:  The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley)

Anything by Slater is an an enjoyable and educational read.  This is a wonderful collection of recipes for the home, with an emphasis on using what's on hand and what's in season.  Slater's genius is the manner in which he creates new combinations and still produces recipes that are ultimately do-able for the home cook, even the beginning cook.  If you love to cook, you will use this book - a lot.
Highlight Recipe for me so far:  "Root Vegetable Tangle"

One Good Dish by David Tanis (Artisan)

By now, most of us in the food loving world know that Tanis worked for years at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters and has authored two other books:  "A Platter of Figs" and "Heart of the Artichoke". That first book made devoted followers out of many of us.  Tanis also writes a weekly column for the New York Times called "City Kitchen".  He is a master of combining incredible flavor with amazing simplicity.  Here's another cookbook that I predict will get  a lot of use.  The beginning cook will learn a great deal about the ways in which very basic techniques can yield delicious dishes and the more experienced cook will have a number of "A-Ha" moments. 
Highlight Recipe for me so far:  "Save Your Life Garlic Soup". 

Prune by Gabrielle Hamilton (Random House)

If you have had the opportunity to read Hamilton's memoir, "Blood, Bones, and Butter", you know that that Chef Hamilton can write.   This newest offering from her is actually a very different kind of cookbook, ranging from highly technical recipes to incredibly easy preparation (i.e. Radishes, butter, and sea salt).  Prune, her restaurant and the topic of the book, is not dedicated to one particular type of cuisine - this for me,  makes the book even more interesting.  It has a very different layout from most cookbooks, with notes from Hamilton scribbled on the sides of pages, and with a whole section devoted to "family dinner" - the meal shared by the restaurant staff before service. As Julia Moskin points out in a New York Times review of the book (November 5, 2014), and I agree, it seems to be written with sous chefs in mind.  The recipes in Prune are not for the beginning cook, but for anyone who developed a moderate level of skill and confidence in the kitchen, it can be a private tutorial in the creation of some really good food.
Highlight Recipe for me so far:  "Cod in Saffron Broth with Leeks, Potatoes, and Savoy Cabbage"

America Farm to Table by Mario Batali with Jim Webster (Grand Central Life & Style)

It just so happens that we haven't learned or heard all that we need to know about the concept of Farm to Table!  In this, his 11th cookbook, Mario Batali takes us on a wonderful tour of farms, farmers, and producers, and introduces us to lots of wonderful recipes using their products.  A beginning cook could do well with this book - the only real challenge is recognizing that the farms and producers are all over the country.  So,  for example, an East Coast cook would have to understand that an Asparagus recipe from Southern California would need to wait until late Spring in order to be true to the message of the book.  The book is laid out and photographed beautifully and it is fun to read the side stories of growers and producers. 
Highlight Recipe for me so far:  "Apple Salad with Salami and Wine Marinated Mushrooms"

***Please Note:  if you are planning to purchase any or all of these great new books, consider your local, independent bookstore as your source.  Even if they do not have the book in stock, in most cases, they will be able to get it for you in the same amount of time it will take for it to be shipped to you. Thank You!***

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