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Remember that dreadful day in 2009 when you learned that Gourmet magazine was to be no more?  For many of us, it was a low point in America’s food culture.  Reichl, the queen of second acts, was tweeting and publicizing the last Gourmet cookbook in no time, but privately, she was devastated.  The new book chronicles that trying year and the comfort foods that pulled her through it, and I got to have a look at it for the Globe.

Click here to read my review of ‘My Kitchen Year’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version of ‘My Kitchen Year’ review

Meanwhile, the Washington Post asked me to have a look at two new gluten-free books.  It’s an exploding genre.  There’s books for pretty much any kind of gluten-free fare you can imagine, though for obvious reasons gluten-free baking probably remains the top seller.  One was wildly popular blogger Shauna Ahern’s re-imagining of thickened, battered, crusty treats usually off limits to the gluten-intolerant.

The other came from British columnist Susanna Booth, who writes the “Free From” (don’t snicker, now) column for The Guardian. To tell the truth, I would have truly enjoyed reviewing Jeanne Sauvage’s Gluten-Free Wish List, also released last year, most of all.  But as Jeanne is a friend, it was proscribed.

 Click here to read my review of  ‘Gluten-Free Girl: American Classics Reinvented’ and ‘Gloriously Gluten-Free’ in the Washington Post.

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It’s been a busy summer and I’ve been a bit behind on updates…but a couple of new cookbooks from the new crop are worth looking at.  In the Washington Post last week, a review of Atlanta chef Steven Satterfield’s major release.

 Click here to read this week’s review of  ‘Root to Leaf’ in the Washington Post.

And in the Boston Globe, a review of Brown Eggs and Jam Jars, by blogger Aimée Wimbush-Bourque.  It’s yet another tale of homesteading and renewal of the spirit – but it’s a very attractively packaged one.

Click here to read this today’s review of review of ‘Brown Eggs & Jam Jars’ in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version of the ‘Brown Eggs & Jam Jars’ review

If you want to see what unadulterated joy looks like, tell your children you’re going to be testing baking books for the next two weeks.  Be prepared for lip prints on the ceiling.  (If you want the opposite effect, substitute “vegan” for “baking”.)    Even the ominous notion that these would be “healthier” sweets – with less sugar, or different sugars – did little to dampen their enthusiasm.

There’s definitely something a little overwhelming about having 3 or 4 desserts in the house at a time.   I called friends over for emergency sampling. When we were invited to dinner, I brought the testing results with me.  Still, sweets piled on sweets, and by the end of the testing period – as you’ll see – I felt a bit like The Hungry Caterpillar (“The next day was Sunday again.  The caterpillar chewed through one nice green leaf, and after that he felt much better.”)  Fortunately, my next testing is a vegetable book.

Click here to read this week’s review of  ‘Baking with Less Sugar’ and ‘Real Sweet’ in the Washington Post. 

Testing Milk Bar Life was an education for me –  and completely unlike any testing I can remember.  Over the years I’ve had to hunt down all manner of seasonally ephemeral produce, little-known condiments from the back shelves of the Asian market, xanthan gum and carbonators from online sites.

But never before have I been asked to buy cake mix.  Or pre-made crescent rolls.  Or Ritz crackers and bread crumbs with “Italian seasoning”.  I got a little lost in the supermarket looking for them, to tell you the truth.

Was it worth it?  the crazy mix of highbrow and lowbrow baking?  The packaged hot dogs wrapped in the homemade buns? The Ritz crackers baked into fresh cookie dough? I’m still working that out.  But you can decide for yourself.

Click here to read this week’s review of  ‘Milk Bar Life’ in the Washington Post. 

The good folks at the Washington Post asked  me to have a look at ‘Home’ by Washington restaurant insider Bryan Voltaggio, and as a non-DC-based reviewer I felt honored to be asked.  Besides, who doesn’t love it when a chef takes his skills back to the home front – restaurant-quality meals scaled down for 4, with equipment all of us have.  Easy! and fast! Right?

Well, maybe not. I’ll let you read for yourself.  Let’s just say, this is one of those stories where I found myself obliged to use the word “compost”.

 Click here to read this week’s review of  ‘Home’ in the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, in the Boston Globe today, you’ll find my review of Brassicas.  Kale, as you probably know, is so hot – hotter than any green has ever been, probably – that there is an actual global shortage of kale seed.  (I couldn’t in fact get any for my own garden this year).  But for heaven’s sake, it’s not the only crucifer there is.  What about Brussels sprouts? and arugula? and cauliflower? and good old broccoli?

Russell’s book has good suggestions for them all.  Please, try them! try them!  then maybe we’ll have enough kale for everybody again next year.

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

Very excited to present my second review for the Washington Post – and my first using my own photography!  D.C. and my house are 400 miles away from each other, which means my reviews can’t use the Post‘s excellent facilities. So my amazing editors agreed to let me try shooting at home, and I promptly treated myself to some pro-grade lighting.  I’ve missed doing food photography since NPR’s Kitchen Window column closed, so it was nice to have an excuse to get back into it (and shop at B&H!).

Even better than geeking out with my SLR again, though, was the testing – dish after dish after dish full of glorious fungi.  I didn’t have to test over a dozen recipes, but I just couldn’t stop.

Click here to read this week’s review of  ‘Shroom’ in the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, in the Boston Globe today, you’ll find my late-to-the-gate but enthusiastic review of Andrea Nguyen’s The Banh Mi Handbook.  (Actually, I tested it back in July of last year, but as they used to say at my local pizza parlor, “Good food takes time…”) Those of you who follow this blog already know how much I love this book, which I believe has gone into multiple reprintings already thanks to the millions of banh-maniacs in this country and elsewhere.

Click here to read this today’s review of The Banh Mi Handbook in the Boston Globe.   Hit the paywall?  Click here for the PDF version of this week’s ‘Banh Mi Handbook’ review

Just in time for what I call Fatstember and Carbuary – my two favorite baking months – the unapologetic and seductive new baking book from Dorie Greenspan.  It’s French home baking, and a sight easier than the high-flying pastries you may think of when you consider French desserts.  While there is one suitably neurotic macaron recipe, nearly everything in here is doable with the confectionery skills of a mortal.

This also marks my first collaboration ever with the Washington Post‘s terrific food section.  I hope there will be more to come.

Click here to read today’s review of  ‘Baking Chez Moi’ in the Washington Post. 

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