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Welcome, NPR listeners, chowhounds and recipe hunters, and newcomers to my blog! Whether you’re here because you’ve just heard the NPR cookbooks segment on your local public radio affiliate or because you heard there’s a “Best Recipes of 2014” countdown going on, you’ve come to the right place.

Just want the list?  OK!  NPR’s Top 11 Cookbooks of 2014 (in no particular order)

Of course, the cookbooks that made the roundup are just a small selection of the many wonderful titles published in 2014.  

What follows is my shortlist of titles equally notable in one way or another:

Best Actually Pretty Easy, Actually Thai Book Ever
Simple Thai Food, by Leela Punyaratabandhu

Generous Compendium From A Much-Missed Culinary Ambassador for Spain
1000 Spanish Recipes, by Penelope Casas

For Those Who Wonder What It’s Like Cooking in a Restaurant, Complete with No Handholding Whatsoever
Prune, by Gabrielle Hamilton

This Year’s “You Know You’re a New Yorker When…” Shibboleth
Eating Delancey, by Aaron Rezny and Jordan Schaps

This Year’s Convert-a-Carnivore Choice
Vegan Without Borders, by Robin Robertson

For Those Who Hate Wasting Food More Than Anything Else In the Whole World
The Kitchen Ecosystem, by Eugenia Bone

For Ambitious DIY-er’s Who Know No Fear
Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry, by Cathy Barrow

For DIY-ers Who Are Fine With Just the One Food Group, Thanks
Fermented Vegetables, by Kirsten K. Shockey & Christopher Shockey

For Very Ambitious Pasta Lovers
Flour & Water, by Thomas McNaughton

For Pasta Lovers Who Just Want Something New In Their Pasta In 45 Minutes Flat
The Best Pasta Sauces, by Micol Negrin

For Bakers Who Own a Scale, and Are Proud Of It
The Baking Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Hooray for summer cookbooks!

 After a year’s budget-induced hiatus, NPR is back with the summer roundup!  10 new and juicy, sun-kissed, wave-splashed cookbooks for the well-intentioned and the self-indulgent alike.

Click here for the official NPR summer cookbooks roundup.

Here’s a quick and dirty rundown in case you just want to check out the list:[Please note that I’m taking a leaf out of Stephen Colbert’s book this month to show solidarity with those publishers struggling with Amazon’s monopolistic recent moves: This summer roundup list features Powell’s affiliate links instead of Amazon links. Powell’s has excellent prices, fantastic customer service, and ethical business practices, so shop with confidence.]

Top 10 Summer Cookbooks of 2014

And here’s the shortlist:

Because Kale Is Only the Beginning
Brassicas, by Laura Russell.

Memoir/Cookbook for Lovers of Whimsical Food Writing
Slices of Life, by Leah Eskin

Slightly Less Guilty Pleasures
Honey and Oats, by Jennifer Katzinger (Sasquatch)

Best Barbecue Book by a Former Baseball Star
The Nolan Ryan Beef & Barbecue Cookbook, by Nolan Ryan (Little, Brown)

Because Backyard Chickens Don’t Take a Vacation
Egg,  by Michael Ruhlman (Little, Brown)

Most Empowering Buttercream Book Ever
Sensational Buttercream Decorating, by Carey Madden (Robert Rose)

Eye-popping Tropical Savories from Our Island Neighbors
Caribbean Potluck: Modern Recipes from Our Family Kitchen, by Michelle Rousseau and Suzanne Rousseau

recipe testing bw

Behind the scenes at Roundup Testing Central.

Thrilled to report that the NPR Summer Cookbook roundup is back! I’m deep in testing right now. Keep an eye on this space for the announcement and link, first week of June.

It was summer of 2005 when I wrote my first story for NPR’s Kitchen Window, a then-brand-new series on the NPR website. It was my first time working with NPR in any capacity, and I was beyond thrilled.

In the 9 years since the series launch, I’ve written regularly for Kitchen Window, most of it under the sage guidance of editor Bonny Wolf and producer Amy Morgan. For me, it’s been 62 stories in all. I’ve written about octopus, egg yolks, squash blossoms, edible weeds, and mint ice cream (I finished that one the day before my second child was born). I’ve baked my way through Halloween (soul cakes), Valentine’s (iced heart cookies), Easter (egg breads), and Mother’s Day (waffles and scones). I’ve enjoyed heartwarming praise and endured withering critiques from hundreds of readers.  And the kind of stories I learned to tell here formed the basis for my book, A Spoonful of Promises.

Next month, the series will conclude. This story, about the sous vide revolution lapping at the thresholds of home kitchens, will be my last Kitchen Window contribution. My first piece, Garden in a Glass, was a nostalgic reverie about the medieval art of herbal concoctions. It seems somehow fitting that my last should be such a modernist, future-forward piece, complete with thermocouples and vacuum sealers. We’ve come a long way in 9 years, both the food world and I.

NPR continues to provide excellent food coverage through The Salt blog, especially when it comes to food science, food sourcing,  and food trends. But I hope that NPR will someday once again have a place for the thoughtful rumination on food – the essay that takes us out of time and place and into a moment of pure sensibility.

As the immortal M.F.K. Fisher once wrote, “When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it…” We live in a world frantic for connection, and sometimes it’s only food – primal, comforting, sustaining – that has the power to stop us in our tracks; to taste, to remember, to feel.

Click here to read Sous Vide Makes Its Way to the Home Kitchen at NPR’s Kitchen Window.  Or, if you like, browse all my Kitchen Window stories for NPR.

This story features a pork belly recipe from Nathan Myhrvold’s and Maxime Bilet’s  Modernist Cuisine at Home.  You can read more about this book – and over 250 other cookbooks worth getting or giving – on my cookbook-rating app, Cookbook Finder.  Available for both  iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.

Sure, I like eating oranges by themselves. But there’s just something about the taste of orange as a flavoring in other dishes that I can’t get enough of.  Orange zest, dried tangerine peel, clementine juice – as far as I’m concerned, they’re simply most adorable when they’re hiding in plain sight.

Click here to read Oranges: Secret Agents of the Food World at NPR’s Kitchen Window.  Or, if you like, browse all my Kitchen Window stories for NPR.

The couscous recipe from Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion’s Keepers is featured in this story.  You can read more about this book – and over 250+ cookbooks worth giving this holiday! – on my cookbook-rating app, Cookbook Finder.  Available for both  iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.

I make cookies at the slightest provocation – Christmas, Easter, assorted birthdays.  But of all the cookie seasons in the year, it’s Valentine’s Day I love the best.  It’s an excuse for my daughter and me to spend a day playing with icing – dotting, stippling, marbling and brushing gingerbread hearts into edible works of art.

The only problem is making up our minds to eat them.

Click here to read Valentine Hearts That Are Meant to Be Be Broken at NPR’s Kitchen Window.  Or, if you like, browse all my Kitchen Window stories for NPR.

The gingerbread cookie recipe from Cooks’ Illustrated‘s The New Best Recipe is featured in this story.  You can read more about this book – and over 250+ cookbooks worth giving this holiday! – on my cookbook-rating app, Cookbook Finder.  Available for both  iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.

Today’s story features a younger and more foolish T. Susan – one far less experienced in the ways of cookie dough.  All I can say is, the sprinkle cookies get better and better as you age.

Click here to read The Stars Come Out for Holiday Bakers at NPR’s Kitchen Window.  Or, if you like, browse all my Kitchen Window stories for NPR.

Recipes from pastry chef Gina DePalma’s Dolce Italiano and my neighbor DéDé Wilson’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies are featured in this story.  You can read more about those books – and over 250+ cookbooks worth giving this holiday! – on my cookbook-rating app, Cookbook Finder.  Available for both  iPhone/iPad and Android devices and updated regularly.

This year’s Best Books feature on NPR is a bit different.  It’s not subject-sorted lists anymore, but an interactive “concierge” which pools together the choices of many different experts and tags them so that you can filter across all the subjects.

My choices are in the “Cookbooks and Food” section – I’ve chosen just 5.  [The choice of Ottolenghi is not mine, by the way.  I felt the book, sadly, wasn’t tested up to the standard of Plenty and Jerusalem.

Click here to visit “Cookbooks and Food” on NPR’s Best Books of 2013 feature.

You can find out more about all the cookbooks featured on the NPR special on my app, CookShelf, with write-ups of 250+  of the latest cookbooks and regular cookbook news.  CookShelf is your guide to the best cookbooks to give and to get –  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.

TSC top 10 image

The time has come!  My top 10 picks for the best cookbooks of2013 have been released, on CookShelf, the cookbook-ratings app!  on sale for one week starting today for just 99¢!

If you’re starting your holiday shopping this week – and who isn’t? –   CookShelf, will guide to not only my top 10 picks for 2013, but over 250+ other great cookbooks worth getting or giving, along with analysis that looks at skill requirements, recipe listings, and design.   And in-app purchase links make it easy to do all your cookbook shopping with one click.

Who needs CookShelf?  You do!

I need CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!

I need CookShelf for Android!

Next week here on the blog: the honorable mentions list – a long one! Click here for last year’s honorable mentions shortlist.



A happy Thanksgiving to all!  and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow on the CookShelf app to find out – at last – the BEST COOKBOOKS OF 2013!

Get CookShelf for iPhone/iPad!
Get CookShelf for Android!


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