Archive | Bookshelf

Gift Books for Your Favorite Cooks

Reviews by Kristina Sepetys

It’s the rare cook who isn’t delighted to receive a book full of recipes and photographs. Here are some of the latest titles to raise your game in the kitchen. Perfect for the holidays!

 

 

Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking
by Naomi Pomeroy
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

James Beard Award-winning and self-made chef Naomi Pomeroy’s debut cookbook features nearly 140 lesson-driven recipes to improve the home cook’s understanding of professional techniques and flavor combinations to produce simple-but-artful meals.   

 

 

 

Food52 A New Way to Dinner:
A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead

by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

The founders of Food52 share instructions for planning, shopping, and cooking meals throughout the week. Their secret? Cooking ahead. As an example, blistered tomatoes are first served as a side, then become sauce for spaghetti with corn. Learn to cook more efficiently and reduce the stress surrounding meals. 

 

 

 

SymmetryBreakfast: 100 Recipes for the Loving Cook
by Michael Zee
(powerHouse Books, 2016)

SymmetryBreakfast began as a popular Instagram project and evolved into a cookbook featuring 90 internationally inspired recipes and handsome photography shot entirely on an iPhone.… Read More

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Spice it Up!

Book reviews by Kristina Sepetys

Good quality salts, fresh spices, and a grinder are essential parts of any kitchen. They also make wonderful host or holiday gifts, and one of the following books would be a great guide to choosing and using these items. If you are near Lake Merritt in Oakland, take the opportunity to visit the charming Oaktown Spice Shop. With helpful, enthusiastic staff and wooden shelves lined with spice-filled glass jars, it’s one of my favorite places to stock up on all things spices, from standard to specialty. You’ll find dozens of different kinds of chili peppers like the ebony-colored Urfa biber of Southeast Turkey; the sweet and spicy orange piment d’ville, a Basque pepper grown locally in Boonville, California; and the dark red-hued Syrian Aleppo chili pepper. They also offer many varieties of sea salts, like black truffle and ghost chili pepper, as well as blends like zahtar, barbecue rubs, and too many others to list!
 

Bitterman’s Craft Salt Cooking
by Mark Bitterman
(Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2016)

From Mark Bitterman, renowned salt expert and best-selling author of Salt Block Cooking and the James Beard Award–winning Salted, comes a detailed guide to enhancing your favorite foods with natural, healthful, hand-crafted salts.… Read More

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Reflections on Food Culture 

 

Purchase this book

Purchase this book

Best Food Writing 2016
edited by Holly Hughes
(Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016)

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

For anyone who enjoys food writing, this 300-page paperback is one of the leading publications of the year. For 17 years, Holly Hughes has compiled an annual best-of, a robust mix of top pieces from the food writing world. Hughes has combed through magazines and newspapers, scanned websites and blogs, and foraged in bookstores to select pieces that highlight trends, document the particulars of everyday meals, and open a window on the lives of chefs and the people who eat their food. Taken together, the stories offer up an insightful reflection on the food culture zeitgeist, from the earnest to the odd.

The volume often features East Bay writers, and this year is no exception. Oakland resident John Birdsall contributes an amusing reflection from Bon Appétit titled “Brooklyn is Everywhere,” exploring the ways in which hipster artisan food culture is no longer the sole purview of well-known U.S. urban enclaves, but can be found from Tulsa to Chiang Mai. From food writer Dianne Jacob, “The Meaning of Mangoes,” which appeared in Lucky Peach, describes the pleasures of rediscovering some of her family’s former life in Shanghai in a crate of mangoes.… Read More

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The Macanese Melting Pot 

Review by Kristina Sepetys

 

fat-rice-2

Potstickers Royale with Crispy Crepe is one of many recipes to savor in this lively cookbook.

The Adventures of Fat Rice:
Recipes from the Chicago Restaurant Inspired by Macau

by Abraham Conlon, Adrienne Lo, and Hugh Amano
(Ten Speed Press, 2016)

Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo are the chefs and co-owners of the cult favorite and very popular Chicago restaurant Fat Rice. Hugh Amano is a writer and former sous chef at Fat Rice. Featuring 100 recipes, their new cookbook explores the vibrant food culture of Macau with a matching colorful, pop-art, comic-book style. A short ferry ride from Hong Kong, peninsular Macau is a melting pot of Chinese, Portuguese, Malaysian, and Indian foodways. For centuries, Macau was one of the world’s greatest trading ports: a Portuguese outpost and crossroads along the spice route, where travelers from Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and mainland China traded resources, culture, and food. The Adventures of Fat Rice is the story of how two Chicago chefs discovered and fell in love with this fascinating and, at least until now, unheralded cuisine. Find recipes for dishes like Potstickers Royale with Crispy Crepe, Porco Bafassa (smothered and roasted turmeric pork shoulder), Minchi (a classic Macanese meat hash), Po Kok Gai (a Portuguese-influenced chicken curry with chouriço and olives), and Arroz Gordo (a paella meets fried-rice combination).… Read More

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Dorie’s Cookies

Review by Kristina Sepetys

Dorie’s Cookies 
by Dorie Greenspan 
(Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

Dorie Greenspan has created more than 300 cookie recipes, many of which are included in her latest 500+ page book, which features cookies for all occasions. Greenspan is the author of many acclaimed cookbooks including Around My French Table, a New York Times bestseller named Cookbook of the Year by IACP; Baking Chez Moi; and Baking: From My Home to Yours, a James Beard Award winner. Dorie’s Cookies offers everything from Portofignos (with chocolate dough and port-soaked figs) to lunchbox Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bars. Each recipe includes a photo and detailed instructions. They Might Be Breakfast Cookies are packed with raisins, dried apples, dried cranberries, and oats, while Almond Crackle Cookies contain just three ingredients. Find dozens of choices for Christmas cookie swaps, including Little Rascals (German jam sandwich cookies with walnuts), Italian Saucissons (chocolate log cookies studded with dried fruit), and Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops. Unusual and intriguing offerings include Pink-Peppercorn Thumbprints or the popular World Peace Cookie (see recipe below). Enjoy this extensive assortment of all the cookie recipes you’ll ever need!

 

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Warm and Sweet Autumn Reads

Book reviews by Kristina Sepetys

 

Grilled Cheese Kitchen
by Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak
(Chronicle Books, 2016)

Wife-and-husband duo Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollak own the popular American Grilled Cheese Kitchen based in San Francisco, where melted cheese between slices of toasted bread—the ultimate comfort food—reigns supreme. Their new cookbook features 39 grilled cheese recipes created by Gibson, winner of seven grilled cheese championships. Her classic Mousetrap is dripping with three kinds of cheese, while the Piglet wows with its thinly sliced ham and sharp cheddar. Grilled cheese makes a great breakfast—just add an egg! You’ll find 40 additional recipes for great accompaniments and side dishes—including hearty soups, many varieties of mac & cheese, spicy pickles, and tangy spreads—plus tips on choosing the best bread and cheese and techniques for grilling each sandwich at just the right temperature.

 

Purely Pumpkin
by Allison Day
(Skyhorse Publishing, 2016)

In her new cookbook, Purely Pumpkin, Allison Day, popular blogger and creator of the award-winning YummyBeet.com, serves up pumpkin in many different ways. Day treats readers to handsome photography and savory and sweet recipes for all meals of the day, and even includes a whole chapter on pumpkin dessert.… Read More

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Foragers Companion

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

 

The Flavors of Home: A Guide to Wild Edible Plants of the San Francisco Bay Area
by Margit Roos-Collins
(Heyday Books, 2016)

Berkeley forager, writer, and attorney Margit Roos-Collins first published this much-loved foraging guide more than 20 years ago. The new, updated edition introduces readers to the Bay Area’s abundance of edible wild plants and mushrooms and includes instructions for identifying 128 blossoms, berries, nuts, greens, mushrooms, and weeds. Detailed line drawings accompany each description of a plant’s appearance, habitat, seasonality, and taste. Roos-Collins includes recipes for a variety of dishes from seaweed kimchee to madrone berry pudding. An emphasis on ethical gathering practices encourages foragers to harvest responsibly and sustainably. In addition to the section on plants and identification, Roos-Collins includes chapters on teas, seasonings, and medicinal plants, together with information and a bibliography on other foraging resources in the Bay area. Iso Rabins, founder of Forage SF (and the recently opened Forage Kitchen in Oakland) writes in the forward, “Knowing what you can eat in your local landscape connects you to a place more than anything else I’ve experienced.”

Meet Margit, and hear her ideas, tips, and warnings about foraging.… Read More

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Devoured

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

 

Devoured: from Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies
How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

by Sophie Egan
(William Morrow, 2016)

Sophie Egan is the director of programs and culinary nutrition for the Strategic Initiatives Group at The Culinary Institute of America. Based in San Francisco, Egan writes about food and health for various publications. Her new book examines how the values that define our national character shape our eating habits, good and bad, including examination of the extent to which we’re outsourcing our food preparation. The book is filled with facts and statistics about our eating habits, like the fact that the inventors of Soylent, the meal replacement drink, hoped to raise $100,000 through a month of crowdfunding. They got it in two hours. What does that say about our desire for easy, no effort eating? Devoured weaves together insights from the fields of psychology, anthropology, food science, and behavioral economics, as well as examples from daily life, to create a powerful and unique look at food in America.

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Bittman on Baking

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

How to Bake Everything: Simple Recipes for the Best Baking
By Mark Bittman
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)

While browsing the 703 pages of Mark Bittman’s latest cookbook, I’m struck by a question: How does he manage to pull together these massive, information-rich cookbooks in such quick succession? One in the course of a career would be an achievement. But Bittman seems to average about one a year– more than a dozen to date– all dealing with different topics related to cooking, most featuring recipes for cooks of all skill levels looking to prepare wholesome food quickly and easily. In his latest, Bittman takes on baking. Besides offering more than 2,000 recipes, he teaches and encourages readers to be comfortable improvising, varying, and personalizing recipes, whether they want to make them vegan, incorporate available ingredients or new grains, or adapt them to suit dietary needs like gluten-free. The book is filled with helpful sidebars, instructive illustrations, and a wealth of useful detail. Crunchy Toffee Cookies and Gingerbread Whoopie Pies sound enticing, but recipes aren’t limited to sweet confections. There are instructions for savory bites and international items like Finnish Rye Bread, a Flaky Caramelized Fennel and Sausage Tart, a Curried Sweet Potato Galette, and Afghan Snowshoe Naan.… Read More

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The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America

Book review by Kristina Sepetys

The Rye Baker: Classic Breads from Europe and America
By Stanley Ginsberg
(WW Norton, 2016)

Stanley Ginsberg co-wrote the award-winning Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish Baking. He also owns The New York Bakers, a website selling professional baking equipment and supplies, including rye flours. His second book explores the history of rye—its unique chemistry and historical baking methods—and presents more than 70 recipes, organized by region, covering immigrant breads in America as well as rye styles from France and Spain, Scandinavia, Russia and the Baltics, Poland, Southern Germany, and the Netherlands. In Ginsberg’s words, “For rye is more than just a strong-tasting, dark, unruly bread grain; it’s also a piece of our collective history that’s been overlooked and unappreciated for too long.” Besides recipes for familiar rye breads, you’ll find some that are more unusual, like a Breton Folded Rye featuring the natural sweetness of rye and milk, Salty Rye Rolls that pair the sweetness of rye with the bite of salt and caraway, Honey-Flaxseed Crispbreads, Lithuanian Christmas Bread studded with dried fruits and honey, and Weinheim Carrot Rye made with grated carrots and pumpkin, sunflower, and flax seeds.… Read More

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