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Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

At Eat Your Books we want to bring you the best recipes - our dedicated team searches out and finds online recipes excerpted from newly indexed cookbooks and magazines. New recipes from the best blogs are indexed daily and members index their favorite online recipes using the Bookmarklet all the time.

Below you'll find this week's recommendations from the EYB team.

Remember you can add any of these online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf - it's a great way to expand your personal recipe collection.

Happy cooking and baking everyone!
From AUS/NZ books:

160 recipes from Simple Flavours: Australian Home Cooking by Geoff Slattery,
indexed by an EYB member

 
From US books:
by Silvena Rowe

 

The summer's best tomato recipes

tomato egg drop soup

For the past nine years, The Washington Post has held an annual "Top Tomato" recipe contest for its readers. This year they had over 200 entries, and they tested a record 60 of them. Testing this time around resulted in "a record number of near-misses, mostly in cases where we were looking for shouts of tomato flavor but found whispers." They even fielded a few recipes that omitted tomatoes entirely. (Note to future contest entrants: include tomatoes for your best shot at the prize.)

The top three recipes can be found in the EYB Library. First-place went to 14-year-old Shannon Li of Brooklyn, New York, with Tomato egg drop soup (pictured above). Shannon loves to cook and makes dinner on most nights for her parents and two brothers. The chance to meet star Ina Garten, the contest's top prize, prompted her to enter. "I find cooking's a stress reliever," says the busy high school student. 

Second place went to last year's third place finisher, Tim Artz of Oakton, Virginia. His dish, Smoky tomato shrimp tamal, is baked in banana leaves as a party-size, layered tamal. First-time contestant Austin Williams took home the third place prize, a collection of the fall's best cookbooks, with a Parmesan BLT galette. This seems fitting since bacon was a recurring theme in contest entries.

Are cookbooks all style over substance?

bookshelves

Today I spent several hours organizing my cookbooks, consolidating them all into the same room for the first time in years. As I gaze upon my favorite tomes, I am excited all over again to cook from them. That's why I was a bit put off by a column in The Telegraph, where Prue Leith dismisses new cookbooks, saying that they are more suited to the coffee table than the kitchen. (A similar article also appeared in The Guardian.)

Cookbooks focus more on beautiful food photography than on creating good recipes, Leith says. "Now the look of the book dictates the sale. In my day you could still buy a good cookbook in paperback with no pictures at all. I doubt if that would sell today. But those books were much used: they lived in the kitchen and got splattered with custard and gravy. Today, if we cook, we google it. New cookbooks lie on the coffee table and we drool over Tuscan landscapes and rustic bread ovens. Before ordering in a pizza," writes Leith in the Radio Times. 

Leith also laments the rise of the celebrity cookbook author, noting that many chefs become popular on television before they even write their first cookbook. "Jamie Oliver did the same trick at the end of the 1990s, with his Naked Chef (again, telly plus book), pulling in a whole new audience who saw him as a kind of rock star rather than a cook." Leith counts Gordon Ramsay, Tom Kerridge, and Yotam Ottolenghi as examples of this trend. But Leith has high praise for Mary Berry, because she wrote many cookbooks prior to her popularity on the Great British Bake Off.

Glancing in my newer cookbooks I do count plenty of gorgeous photos. But I don't see it as a detriment but rather as an inspiration--and sometimes, a guide as to what the finished dish should look like. This is especially important when making something for the first time. While I have a couple of cookbooks that are used infrequently - Alinea comes to mind - I don't just ooh and ahh over the photos in my books. I still find the recipes important and make use of them. How about you? Do you agree with Leith that new cookbooks are better suited for the coffee table than the kitchen?

Epicurious' picks for top fall cookbooks

cookbook collage

Just over a week ago, Food52 shared their top fall cookbook picks. Now it's Epicurious' turn; they've just published a list of their top 30 fall cookbooks. It's easy to spot the future bestsellers as they have made it onto both lists. These top books  include My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl, Nopi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, and Madhur Jaffrey's Vegetarian India.

The lists diverge, however, and Epicurious adds several books by well-known names. One pick from an established author is Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali. Epicurious wonders if this might be Bastianich's "career capstone cookbook." Not only does it contain over twice as many recipes as a standard cookbook, in addition to exploring tools, techniques, and Italian culinary terms, it also covers both Italian and Italian American food, a first for a cookbook of this calibre.

Other big names on the Epicurious list are Jacques Pepin (Jacques Pépin Heart & Soul in the Kitchen), Nigella Lawson (Feel Good Food), and Emeril Lagasse (Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom From My Life in the Kitchen), and blogger Heidi Swanson (Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel). The list also includes drool-worthy bakery books (including the US release of The Violet Bakery Cookbook) and deep-diving single subject tomes. Do you see anything in the Epicurious list that will end up on your Bookshelf?

New 'dos for your honeydew

grilled cantaloupe from Saveur Magazine

Are you melancholy over what to do with your watermelon? If you are tired of the same old melon balls or prosciutto pairing, there are worlds of possibilities beyond the these traditional dishes. Some alternate options for the fruit include soup and pasta, as Gail Monaghan from The Wall Street Journal explains.

While a bowl of fresh melon is wonderful in its own right, the flavors can be greatly enhanced. Says Monaghan "I'd missed out on so much by sticking to plain cubes or balls. Tossed with salt, pepper, sugar and/or citrus juices, that childish snack becomes a polished starter, main course, side dish or dessert. Add a generous spiking of gin, fortified wine, bubbly or fruit liqueur if you want to further steer things in an adult direction." She also suggests making chilled melon soup to serve as a starter, or making a fruit salsa to serve in a pasta salad.

Over at The L.A. Times, Noelle Carter takes melon in a different direction: to the grill. That's right, you can grill melon. If you haven't tried it, Carter says that "it's pretty amazing. Cut thick wedges from a watermelon (seedless -- this isn't meant to be sadistic), brush them with a little olive oil and grill the wedges until lightly toasted with defined grill marks on each side. Somehow the grilling enhances the flavors, concentrating them while muting the sweetness and adding a little smokiness." Top with yogurt, a squirt of lime and a drizzle of honey for a unique treat. Carter has eight more recipes, including a curried cantaloupe slaw.

The EYB Library is also available for inspiration. Try one of these delicious recipes that make the most of your melon:

Gazpacho with honeydew & peppadew from Food52
Grilled cantaloupe with peach agrodolce
from  Saveur Magazine  (pictured above)
Gnocchi cantaloupe feta salad
from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine
Grilled watermelon salad
from The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit
Iced melon soup with melon and mint sorbet
from Delicious Magazine (UK)

 

Don't hold the mayo

Mayonnaise

Not everyone loves mayonnaise. As Max Falkowitz of indexed blog Serious Eats notes: "Mayo-tangy, gloppy, unapologetically oleaginous-takes time to work its charms. But those who see the light find themselves reprogrammed...They love mayo, and its many, many uses." If you are among the converted, you should check out the Serious Eats article on the many uses for mayonnaise

Mayonnaise can do many more things than bind together egg salad or accompany your BLT. It can elevate your grilled cheese sandwich, for example: "the slight tang you get from frying (none of this "toasting" nonsense, please) white bread in mayo is a perfect complement to sharp Cheddar or twangy American cheese, the only two acceptable choices for a classic grilled cheese sandwich."

You can substitute mayo for butter in other applications too, like thickening pan sauces or adding tang to grilled vegetables. You can even use it to make killer cakes. My favorite use is in carrot cake. I take the eggs and oil in a normal recipe and make mayonnaise with them before continuing with the recipe. I find it makes the cake moister and less greasy. What is your favorite use for mayonnaise?

Photo of Mayonnaise from Delicious Magazine by Matthew Drennan

 

Jacques Pépin wins first Julia Child Foundation Award

Pepin cookbook collage

On Thursday evening, the Julia Child Foundation presented its first award, honoring Jacques Pépin for "the influence he has had on the way America cooks, eats, and drinks." The Foundation is named after the American chef, author and television personality who was a long-time friend and cooking partner of Pépin.

Child and Pépin co-authored cookbooks and often appeared on television programs together.  In presenting the award, the Foundation cited Pépin's "mastery in the kitchen and long career teaching and writing about the culinary world." Eric Spivey, Foundation chairman, said "He is someone who deeply believes in teaching others about food and wine. He has also invested time in helping others."

A five-person jury comprised of chefs and culinary experts selected Pépin for the first annual award. Despite suffering a minor stroke in March, Pépin is still going strong. In October, his latest (and what he has indicated is his final) television series debuts along with a companion cookbook, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen.

Back to school cookbooks

Cookbook collage

As the days begin to get shorter in the Northern Hemisphere, state fairs and festivals ramp up and parents eagerly count down to the first day of school. For many college students, back to school means their first real independent living experience. After the first year, lots of students opt to move off-campus into an apartment, where they will need to prepare their own food, often for the first time. This can be a daunting proposition, and many of these young people will turn to a cookbook for assistance. But which cookbooks are best suited for the task?

Laura Reiley, food critic for The Tampa Bay Times, offers suggestions for cookbooks that will help these students explore the world of cooking. She suggests some quite simplistic books, noting that while millenials "can talk about sustainability and the merits of GMO labeling...surprisingly few of them can roast a chicken and whip up mashed potatoes." Reiley first pick is Mug Meals, by the author of Mug Cakes, touting the book's short ingredient lists and its "clearly described techniques for making single-serve lasagnas, soups and such."

Other tomes are The Single Guy Cookbook by Avi Shemtov and blogger Jessica Fisher's Good Cheap Eats: Dinner in 30 Minutes (or Less!) Reiley likes that the latter book "does not steer away from canned beans and chickpeas (absolute staples for first apartments)." The final recommendation is Elena Rosemond-Hoerr's The No Time to Cook! Book, which "presents a whole lot of no-cook ideas that will keep your college kid entertaining in style."

Although Reiley laments that young adults don't know how to roast a chicken, it doesn't look like any of the books she recommends will solve that problem. Mug Meals seems more appropriate for dorm living than a fully-equipped apartment kitchen. Perhaps a book like Cal Peternell's Twelve Recipes would be a better choice for someone beginning to cook. I am partial to Joy of Cooking, which I received as a young college student beginning my cooking journey. Which cookbooks would you recommend for someone in his or her first apartment?

Featured Cookbooks & Recipes

Did you know adding online recipes to your EYB Bookshelf is a really great way to build your personal recipe collection? You can now do this even if you have a free membership!

Try it out now and see how easy it is. Browse the recipes below, choose one that appeals, click on the link, and add it to your Bookshelf. (Make sure that you are signed in first.)

All the recipes we feature in these weekly round-ups have online links so you can add any of them to your Bookshelf. Happy cooking & baking everyone!
From UK books:

24 recipes from Magic Soup: Food for Health and Happiness by Nicole Pisani & Kate Adams

 
From US books:

5 recipes from In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Enter our giveaway (US only -- Ends Sept 2nd)


3 recipes from Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen by Nancy Singleton Hachisu
Enter our giveaway (US/Canada only -- Ends Sept 8th)


43 recipes from The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket 
by Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker, & Jen Stevenson

 

Are marinades worth the effort?

Espresso marinade

It's pretty common for cooks to marinate meats before putting them on the grill or in the slow cooker. But do these concoctions do what they claim - tenderizing the meat and adding loads of flavor? Russ Parsons of The LA Times says no. He thinks that for the most part, marinades are a waste of time.

In fact, says Parsons, long-soaking marinades can actually have a detrimental effect. Marinades high in acids like vinegar or lemon juice can make the meat mealy. But even if it doesn't do harm, a marinade is unlikely to impart flavors into your food. Parsons notes that although "composing complicated marinades may be satisfying on a certain intuitive level, with few exceptions, the mixture won't do much more than coat the surface of the meat. It won't tenderize it, and it will only impart the more forceful flavors."

Most cuts of meat, he says, are too thick to get much of the flavor from the marinade, as it will only penetrate into the top few millimeters. That can be okay for thinner cuts of meat like chicken or steaks. But for the big cuts like pork shoulder or beef roasts, the marinade won't do much to add flavor. Brining these large cuts, on the other hand, does work, "because salty water can more easily penetrate the meat than an oil-based marinade. And brining does more than just give flavor. It actually makes the meat seem juicier by increasing protein's ability to retain moisture," Parsons notes.

Do you agree with Parsons' assessment of the usefulness of marinades? If not, what kinds of marinades do you use?

Photo of Espresso marinade and others from Marinades: The Quick-Fix Way to Turn Everyday Food into Exceptional Fare, with 400 Recipes by Lucy Vaserfirer 

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