Warming Soups and Stews
(and some sweet Maple Syrup)
Reviews by Kristina Sepetys
Now that the last of the fancy holiday leftovers have been eaten and the cold, dark, rainy days of January are upon us, one-pot comfort foods sound awfully good. Three new cookbooks with dozens of hearty chowders, chilis, soups, stews, and a variety of tasty sides and desserts will help you to plan nourishing, filling meals that can be prepared quickly on a weeknight. Add a few slices of warm, crusty pain au levain, a square of cornbread, or homemade crackers, light a candle, and you’ll have a fine meal.
Chowderland: Hearty Soups & Stews with Sides & Salads to Match
By Brooke Dojny
(Storey Publishing, 2015)
Chowders are a chunky, hearty soup, often thick with fish, seafood, bacon or smoked ham, cream, and vegetables. A quintessentially American meal, chowder has been featured in American cookbooks for over 200 years. Considering their depth of flavor, chowders are surprisingly simple to prepare. Brooke Dojny, an award-winning food journalist and cookbook author specializing in New England cuisine, in her latest book presents 57 recipes for chowders of all kinds. Some are made with seafood, some with meat, and some with just vegetables. Try Creamy Clam Chowder; Shrimp, Fennel, and Red Potato Chowder; Portuguese Caldo Verde Chowder; Northwest Salmon Chowder with Leeks and Peas, or any of the delicious stews, side dishes, salads, and desserts. One-pot recipes are relatively quick and easy to prepare, and deeply satisfying.
The Chili Cookbook:
A History of the One-Pot Classic, with Cook-Off Worthy Recipes
from Three-Bean to Four-Alarm and Con Carne to Vegetarian
By Robb Walsh
(Ten Speed Press, 2015)
Robb Walsh is a long-time food writer and three-time James Beard Award winner. He also co-owns El Real Tex-Mex Café in Texas, where they serve “gallons and gallons of Texas chili every day.” In his latest cookbook, Walsh serves up a lot of detail on the fascinating history of chili, another very American dish, which traces its history to the ancient Aztecs. The book includes more than 60 different traditional and modern chili recipes, from easy slow-cooker suppers to dishes with venison, beef, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken, and shrimp chilis, plus a whole chapter on vegetarian chilis. He also includes instruction for mixing your own chili powders and the great variety of peppers you might use. Lovely photography by Eva Kolenko complements the reliable, clear recipes. A long simmer works well for many chilis, and Walsh provides slow cooker instructions with many of his recipes.
Maple: 100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup
By Katie Webster
(Quirk Books, 2015)
Introduced to American cuisine by the indigenous peoples of North America, maple syrup has long been the sweetener of choice to splash on pancakes, French toast, and oatmeal. As people turn away from white cane sugar, maple syrup’s popularity as a natural sweetener has increased. Occasionally overlooked in this enthusiasm is the fact that the luscious amber-colored syrup is more than just a sugary flavor. There’s a depth and complexity to it unlike anything else. Katie Webster’s new cookbook is an excellent way to explore how maple syrup can be used in dishes to highlight its special taste. Webster and her family live in Richmond, Vermont. They’re backyard sugar makers, tapping those trees for sap to convert into flavorful maple syrup. A culinary school graduate and devoted home cook, Webster has always tried to incorporate her backyard bounty into her cooking. She also includes plenty of vegan, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly options. Webster relies on seasonal produce and whole foods in combination with maple syrup to create more than 100 sweet and savory dishes like Maple Cider Brined Pork, Maple Pickled Ramps, and Carrot Ginger Soup with Maple Yogurt. There are plenty of intriguing desserts, such as include Maple Bacon Peanut Brittle, Maple Bourbon Pumpkin Pie, Maple Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Maple Pear Ginger Sorbet, and a Maple Date Bread Pudding the author insists is a “must try.” According to Webster, recipes are tasty and “bulletproof,” meaning they’re guaranteed to be reliable in their execution.