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It’s not often that the Globe runs a vegan cookbook review (although we regularly run vegetarian and vegetable-centric reviews).  I think the last time was 5 years ago. The book I reviewed at that time was underwhelming, and I got slammed by assorted irate vegans who felt the author poorly represented their cause.  An unfortunate experience all around.

But when Isa Does It crossed my desk, I had a good feeling.  It seemed approachable, well-thought-out, and potentially tasty.  So I made the case to my editor that we should review it.  She agreed,  and I haven’t regretted it…so far.

Click here to read today’s review of ‘Isa Does It’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

Ah, chocolate! When I look at the dirty piles of grey March snow still heaped everywhere in New England,   I feel even more than usual like reaching for some chocolate.  Any chocolate.  Chocolate is sunshine! Chocolate is life! Chocolate is hope!  

This book is not for the casual dabbler in chocolate.  Every recipe is marked with the cacao percentage you’ll need – 55%, 62%, 75%, 83% – and most of them are pretty high-test.  

Someday spring will finally get here.  But in the meantime I’m 83% sure I have a substitute.

Click here to read today’s review of ‘Seriously Bitter Sweet’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

Quick! how many ways to cook something slowly can you think of?  

I bet you said “Slow cooker,” followed by maybe “stewing” or “braising”. But how about “slow steaming”?  How about “sous vide“? Andy Schloss can think of at least 8 (9 if you include slow-cooking desserts as its own thing), and he’s got a chapter for each of them.  

Click here to read today’s review of ‘Cooking Slow’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

Joe Yonan, if you don’t know him, is a fixture on the food journalism scene.  Once a Globe food beat cop like myself, Joe made his way to the Washington Post, where he now heads up the food section.

He’s specialized in cooking for singles: first with a popular column, whose recipes served as a springboard for his singles cookbook,  Serve Yourself.  The current volume is the vegetarian followup.

It’s long been my view, though, that anyone with Joe’s effervescent personality can’t last on the singles scene for long.  I hold out hope that volume 3 will be Serves 4, with Minivan, and I won’t have to keep scaling up his recipes..!

Click here to read today’s review of ‘Eat Your Vegetables’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

eyb imgAs the polar vortex shuts everybody in with their seed catalogues and board games, I thought I’d play a little imaginary game of my own.  It’s my job to test and rate already-published cookbooks.  What if I started on the other end and dreamed up the cookbooks I’d like to see? – ones that I’ve not yet seen on the market but which would be killer cookbooks on my shelf.  Why not?  Let’s give it a go!

Regional Chinese cookbook: I’d like it to be as informative as the Complete Indian Regional Cookbook, but a whole lot better designed – say with the beautiful, open layout of The Food of Spain, or, if it needed to be more compact, a design aesthetic like The New Midwestern Table‘s.  I’d want it to have all 8 classic Chinese cuisines, along with contextual histories, features of the ingredients specific to each, and say 10 or 12 recipes that are really identified with that cuisine.  Maybe written by Fuchsia Dunlop, with her kind of glossaries – with good sourcing notes – and headnotes; or on the UK side, Terry Tan.

New England Kitchen Garden cookbook:  There are a million farmer’s market and seasonal and garden cookbooks out there, but none of them is exactly what I crave.  I’d want this book to focus on the top 10 or so crops we grow well in my region (including but not limited to asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries, corn, squash, and apples).  I’d want it to have some thoughtful cultural notes (like the ones in Grow Cook Eat) and LOTS of recipes for each of the 10 crops.  Because the first week of plain asparagus is great, but by the sixth week, you really want some variation.  I’d enjoy it if the book were interspersed with vegetable quotes (like poems from Lorna Crozier’s The Sex Life of Vegetables), and I’d want a colorful design that combined graphic whimsy with practicality, like the design of the Splendid Table books.

A cookie decorating bible: Actually, I’d be really surprised if this doesn’t exist.  I guess for whatever reason I just haven’t come across it.  I’d like it to have lots of great, well-described techniques (marbling, piping, etc) like Cookie Swap and other books by Julia Usher, but with extensive troubleshooting charts, more pictures, and a whole lot more basic cookie recipes.  I’d like the step-by-step photographs to be as extensive and exhaustive as the ones in The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, but fewer per page.  And I’d like an accompanying website with up-to-date sourcing links for hard-to-find decorating supplies, please.

I could go on and on . . . Funny how even in a world filled with hundreds of thousands of cookbooks, there are still so many great ones yet to be published.  What’s that you say?  You’re a major cookbook publisher and you think I ought to consult / have my own imprint? (20+ years of experience either inside publishing or working with cookbooks – that’s me.)  What a great idea!  Call anytime!

(This post is adapted from the one that appeared on the Eat Your Books blog 01/24/14.)

Of all the excellent 2013 cookbooks I had the good fortune to test last year, it’s Keepers (published by Rodale – not even one of the major cookbook players) that had the most to offer the everyday, hassled-to-the-max home cook.

You wouldn’t necessarily know it from the outside.  The cover, though tasty-looking, and the title as well might be  marketing misfires.  Memoir, I thought – or maybe pastry.  What I didn’t expect (until I read the subtitle anyway) was a parade of family-friendly hits, none taking more than 45 minutes.  One of them, the skillet lasagna, even made it into my Best Recipes of 2013 list.

Click here to read today’s review of ‘Keepers’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

In 1999, I was a culinary student at what was then called “Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School,” and so was Amy Thielen. I’d already spent ten years on one career (as a book editor) and was casting around for another. Amy was still a recent college graduate, but all her jobs had been in food and she knew that’s where she wanted to be. She already had the efficient moves of a kitchen worker, and she had an intense curiosity about the big picture. In our class of 15, it was clear that Amy had hustle.

We lost touch over the years, so when Amy’s book arrived on my porch with all the other review copies, I felt I could set aside the fact we’d known each other in the dotcom days and do a fair job on it. But even so I was surprised at what a strong first outing The New Midwestern Table turned out to be.

Click here to read today’s review of ‘The New Midwestern Table’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

Happy New Year! everybody.

In the holiday hubbub (long road trip to see family, hosting Christmas dinner, multiple New Years’ parties –  the usual stuff) I forgot to check and see which of my reviews had published.

This one came out in the run-up to the holiday, although you may be able to tell from the recipes that I tested it way back in September.  As far as seasonal vegetable books go, it’s a charming mixed bag.

Click here to read today’s review of ‘The French Market Cookbook’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  Cookbook Finder, my cookbook-rating app, you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere!

What, you say you’re already too much of a cookbook addict?  Ah, but you see, Cookbook Finder will help you get control of your problem.  Now you’ll only buy the good ones.

Available for  iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

TSC top 10 + shortlist

It’s official!  I’m releasing my top 10 cookbook picks of 2013 – plus the shortlist – to all and sundry!  Spread the word!  Share the joy! Give the gifts!

In case you’re new to my site, the “shortlist” is basically an honorable mentions list – cookbooks which I may not have tested extensively, as I do the top 10, but which I feel are really notable in one way or another.  And which I feel would make handsome, memorable gifts for your food-loving friends.

My 2013 top 10 (in no particular order):

  1. Keepers, by Kathy Brennan & Caroline Campion
  2. Indian Cooking Unfolded, by Raghavan Iyer
  3. The New Persian Kitchen, by Louisa Shafia
  4. The New Midwestern Table, by Amy Rose Thielen
  5. One Good Dish, by David Tanis
  6. Japanese Soul Cooking, by Tadashi Ono & Harris Salat
  7. Art of Simple Food II, by Alice Waters
  8. Notes from the Larder, by Nigel Slater
  9. Sauces & Shapes, by Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen B. Fant
  10. Wintersweet, by Tammy Donroe Inman

You can read more about the top 10, including my reasons for choosing them, on CookShelf, my cookbook-rating app (available for both  iPhone/iPad and Android) – last day of the 99¢ sale!

And now [drumroll please]… THE SHORTLIST!

Most Comprehensive Contribution to Ethnic Cookery
The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India, by Mridula Baljekar

Most Defiantly Nostalgic
The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat, by Michael Ruhlman

Most Hard-Core Chocolate Book
Seriously BitterSweet: The Ultimate Dessert Maker’s Guide to Chocolate, by Alice Medrich

Most Fascinating Food History Book in Recent Memory
Repast: Dining Out at the Dawn of the New American Century, by Michael Lesy & Lisa Stoffer

Best Use of Winter’s 8 Hours of Daylight
Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More, by Andrew Schloss

Most artful use of soaked cashews & other vegan tricks:
Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Most Artsy / “Mindful”  (aka Most Brooklynish) 
The Kinfolk Table

Keepsake or Baking Book? You Decide
The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook: 100 Delicious Heritage Recipes from the Farm and Garden, by Brent Ridge, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, and Sandy Gluck

Baking Book Most Full of Attitude
Robicelli’s: A Love Story, with Cupcakes, by Allison & Matt Robicelli

Most Useful Book the Day After a Holiday Meal
Vinaigrettes and Other Dressings: 60 Sensational Recipes to Liven Up Greens, Grains, Slaws, and Every Other Kind of Salad, by Michele Anna Jordan

Prettiest Run at Easy Italian
Canal House Cooking Vol. 8: Pronto!, by Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hirsheimer

Best Guide to Trading Up From the 6-Pack and Cheese Dip in Your Refrigerator
Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook, by Joe Yonan

Stylish Weeknight Cookbook for Fans of ‘Real Simple’
How to Feed a Family: Eat Healthy, Live Happy, Stay Sane, by Laura Keogh & Ceri Marsh

Most Worth-It Chef’s Memoir with Recipes
Good Stock: Life on a Low Simmer, by Sanford D’Amato

Intriguing Cook-umentary with Hard-to-Find Ingredients
My Rio de Janeiro: A Cookbook, by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz

Biggest Eat-Your-Heart-Out-’Cause-You-Don’t Live-Here Cookbook
The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen, by Matt Lee & Ted Lee

Most Simultaneously Right-Minded and Sinful
Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts, by Fran Costigan

Loveliest Still Lifes in a Restaurant Cookbook
The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook, by Michael Anthony

Tantalizing, Don’t-Try-This-At-Home Glimpses into 4000 Years of Eating
A History of Food in 100 Recipes, by William Sitwell

Most of the time I have a pretty good sense of when a book will work out.  When Balaboosta came out this fall, I had a magnificent hunch.  “Isn’t this beautiful!” I cooed.  “Aren’t these stories great! and some of my favorite ingredients!”

Then came the testing.   After a week, my confidence in my ability to pre-judge a cookbook was seriously rattled – temporarily, but still.  Ah, well. Nobody’s perfect.

Click here to read today’s review of ‘Balaboosta’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version

On  CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app , you’ll find more analysis of this book, write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks, and regular cookbook news.  It’s the only up-to-the-minute cookbook app anywhere –  just 99¢ this week only!

Know someone who loves cookbooks?  CookShelf makes the perfect virtual stocking stuffer! Just gift it to your favorite cook from your  iPhone/iPad or Android device and start inviting yourself over for supper.

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