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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.

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