January 8, 2014
Now that the holidays are over, enjoy some thought for food with a good book about food and cooking.
- Fresh, seasonal food, artisan meats and cheeses, and open kitchens were some of the hallmarks of what was once known as “California cuisine” – now we just call it food. Goldstein was present and cooking at the creation, and more than 200 interviews later -- cooks, purveyors artisans, winemakers, and food writers -- has a terrific story to tell. The book reads like a thriller, and Goldstein brings it to life with Dorie Brown. The Big Boys (and they were mostly boys at that time) in New York were sure it was a flash in the pan, but the public knew what they liked, and dining was changed forever.
- It’s easy to forget that before Deborah Madison wrote the groundbreaking Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone there were no serious, mass-market vegetarian cookbooks – and that wasn’t so long ago. Her latest book, Vegetable Literacy: Cooking and Gardening with Twelve Families from the Edible Plant Kingdom with over 300 Deliciously Simple Recipes is a cerebral and elegant discussion of vegetables – arranged by botanical family – and the recipes that go with them. Beautifully photographed in a spare, minimalist style and elegantly written, it’s vegetarian cooking, all grown up.
- When Katzen wrote the Moosewood Cookbook in the late ‘70’s, she loaded the recipes with eggs, butter and cheese, because back in the day people considered vegetarian dishes insubstantial. Now that vegetables are widely recognized as food, Moosewood’s direct descendant, The Heart of the Plate, is free to cast a wider, lighter net that includes Asian and Latin American foods and flavors. Like its great-grandmother, Moosewood, Katzen’s hearty, homey food looks so darn good, it’s just impossible to resist.
- Beer and cheese have the same problem: too many choices make it hard to know where -- or how -- to start. Janet Fletcher, an award-winning author and cheese columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle sorts it out for you along the beer style axis, then deals in “cheese affinities.” The book is well organized, genuinely informative, and easy reading. Bottom line: your New Year’s resolution is to work your way through this book; start with ales, end with lagers. See you at the cheese counter.
- These are recipes from a region not known for its sweets, which makes them both novel and refreshing, and as such, especially fun to discover and share. Because they are so profoundly woven into a sense of place, Costantino’s narrative –childhood memories of Calabria, reverse engineering a secret recipe, legends and history -- and make this book a journey of the heart as well.
- Here’s your new hobby: honey. Who could resist the variety, charm and versatility of honey? After you’ve read the book, you start seeing it everywhere, trying new varieties and swapping out honey for sugar whenever you get the chance. This is not a cookbook – but you can visit the Red Bee® Honey website (Marchese is a founder) for recipes (look on the "blog" tab), more information about honey, and events.
- The “family table” is the meal that restaurant kitchens prepare for their staff, ahead of service. What makes these recipes so accessible and endearing is the realization that even at most elite restaurants (you’ll recognize the names), they cook for themselves in the same way, and for the same reasons, as the average home cook prepares dinner for a family. They have a budget; they’re pressed for time; they have favorite meals that they roll out to please the staff; they score a new ingredient from a vendor and develop a recipe to go around it. This is home cookin’ from behind the scenes; the recipes are wonderful, the food is delicious, and the stories are funny, generous and kind.
- Come for the recipes, stay for the people. Even cooks who have no use for celebrity chefs and celebrities in general will want this collection of recipes on their shelf. The recipes – this is ‘real’ food not prissy specialties – are interesting and genuinely delicious, as you might expect from chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Alice Waters, or from the collections of home cooks throughout the world. And the stories that accompany the recipes are not so much about how difficult and dangerous life can be, but how good it is to sit down together and enjoy a meal. Proceeds from the book benefit the work of Women for Women International, worldwide. So in addition to the book you buy for yourself, pick up a copy for a friend, then sit down for supper and be happy.