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I’ve concluded that baking books are just plain hard to write. The measurements are finicky, your readers have different kinds of equipment and ovens running at different temperatures, and any number of small errors in the book production process can doom a recipe to failure. I don’t review very many baking books – maybe 4 a year – and about half of them generally involve some sad little tale of testing gone awry. Books like The Fearless Baker, Baked Elements, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, and Joanne Chang’s Flour I prize all the more because they actually worked (at least in my kitchen).
This week’s contender was one of the ones that didn’t, unfortunately.
On CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app this week, you’ll find more data points and analysis of The Secret Lives of Baked Goods, as well as new reviews of An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails, The French Market Cookbook, and Fifty Shades of Kale (!). Treat yourself to a copy of the app for cookbook fanatics – it’s available for both iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated every Wednesday .
Mostly, my work for NPR can be found in the mouthwatering weekly Kitchen Window series. But yesterday, after collaborating with the terrific NPR books team, I released a story for another NPR series I love, ” Three Books”. It’s not my first; I did one some years ago on “stone soup” books – books on cooking with bare-bones ingredients during lean times.
This one is kind of the opposite. They’re “let them eat cake” books that are so frivolous that I’ve always felt actually making something out of them is strictly optional – cakes like Colette Peters’ magnificent trompe l’oeil stack of cushions, pictured at right.
It’s not that lean times have deserted us – far from it. But even in lean times, you still have to feed your imagination, too, don’t you?
Click here to read Feast for the Eyes: 3 Cookbooks Just for Looking, from NPR’s 3 Books series.
The Yogurt Cookbook is one of those great-sounding ideas you can’t believe hasn’t been done before. In fact, it has – this book is a re-issue (newly photographed and designed). It’s a far-ranging book, trotting across Central Asia and Europe, and there are a lot of good ideas. Is it a keeper? Read on to find out.
Also, my 12-year-old son has a very in-character cameo appearance in this week’s story.
On CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app this week, I’ve got a story on husband-and-wife cookbooks, as well as many more data points and analysis of The Yogurt Cookbook and all the latest cookbooks. Treat yourself to a copy of the app that’s a zine for cookbook fanatics! It’s available for both iPhone/iPad and Android device and updated every Wednesday .
Full of Flavor brings up a classic cooking paradox: Many of us like the idea of improvising more in the kitchen – of changing things up, swapping things out, being creative. And Maria Elia wants to help, with a book that urges you to “Create…like a chef”! But there’s the rub. If you really want to go all buckaroo in the kitchen, are you going to turn to a cookbook to tell you how? If you really want your independence, are you going to ask someone to prescribe variations on a roast chicken for you? Hmm. Conundrums aside, it’s a solid cookbook, and it does live up to its title.
For many more data points and analysis and recipe links of Full of Flavor – and well over 200 other cookbooks – help yourself to a copy of CookShelf, the cookbook-rating app. It’s available for both iPhone/iPad and Android device. And it’s updated just about every Wednesday with more news about the latest, greatest cookbooks – essential reading for every cookbook lover.