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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 UK books:

2 recipes from Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef by Massimo Bottura

From AUS/NZ books:

10 recipes from Everyday by Karen Martini

From US books:

19 recipes from The Skinnytaste Cookbook: Light on Calories, Big on Flavor 
by Gina Homolka & Heather K. Jones, RD
(You can add indexed Skinnytaste blog to your Bookshelf as well!)

7 recipes from Flour + Water: Pasta by Thomas McNaughton

28 recipes from Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking 
by Johnny Iuzzini & Wes Martin

13 recipes from Indian for Everyone: The Home Cook's Guide to Traditional Favorites 
by Anupy Singla

10 recipes from  Everyday Indian: 100 Fast, Fresh and Healthy Recipes by Bal Arneson

And don't forget EYB gift vouchers are Buy 1, Get 1 Free for the holidays!
(Ends Dec. 18th)


Sunset looks for a new home

Sunset magazine

Time, Inc., the corporate parent of Sunset magazine, announced that it has sold Sunset's 7-acre campus, located in Menlo Park, California. The campus contained several gardens and midcentury ranch-style buildings designed by Cliff May, considered the father of the California ranch home. Sunset magazine's rich history traces all the way to 1898 with a sales publication developed by the Southern Pacific Railroad, which wanted to lure people to the West.

In the 1950s, the magazine moved to its current location and became a chronicle of California living from the kitchen to the garden and beyond. Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet magazine, reminisced about the magazine's impact: "When I moved to Berkeley in 1973, I had all these articles I had been pulling out of Sunset," she said. "I had one that told you how to build your own bread oven in your backyard. They were so ahead of the curve. They made California seem like the most romantic place on earth."

Time Inc. will continue to publish Sunset and has started a search for a new home for the magazine's kitchen, gardens, and offices. The magazine will stay in its current location through 2015. This move is one of many that Time Inc. has undertaken during its spinoff from Time Warner. Earlier this year, Time sold the Alabama property that housed magazines like Southern Living and Cooking Light, but it leased back some of the space, so those magazines didn't have to move.

Some former Sunset staffers worry that the move will negatively impact the magazine. "It will be hard for Sunset to survive as it represents itself now . . . as a working voice of the West, without the tools for testing and experimenting," says Jerry Anne Di Vecchio, who worked at Sunset for over 40 years.

The Hanukkah latke story

Adam & Maxine's famous latkes

Fried foods feature prominently in Hanukkah celebrations, and latkes are popular expressions of the tradition. The popularity of potato latkes is no surprise - what's not to love about the contrast between the crispy exteriors and creamy insides? They're so delicious, Epicurious dreams of a latke party with their five favorite latke and sauce pairings.

But did you know that the first latkes weren't made with potatoes, but with cheese? According to Tori Avey, food blogger and culinary anthropologist, "latkes descends from Italian pancakes that were made with ricotta cheese. The first connection between Hanukkah and pancakes was made by a rabbi in Italy named Rabbi Kalonymus ben Kalonymus." While potato latkes are now a Hanukkah tradition, the tradition of eating dairy during the holiday is actually older.

This practice traces back to the Jewish heroine Judith, who saved her village from the invading Assyrian army. Judith plied the general of the army with salty cheese. When he got thirsty she gave him plenty of wine, getting him so drunk that he fell asleep. Judith then beheaded the general with his own sword, and the Israelites were able to defeat the leaderless army after launching a surprise attack. In Judith's honor, dairy foods are eaten during Hanukkah.

Potato latkes arrived much later, in 18th or 19th century. The tradition can be traced back to Northern Europe, where the slaugher of geese which produced a lot of cooking fat. Even the poorest person could "find a potato in the field, an onion in the cellar, and some of the precious, newly-rendered goose fat to create the Hanukkah culinary story of Neis gadol hayah sham―A great miracle happened there." The fact that they are delicious as well as symbolic cemented their association with the holiday.

Photo of Adam and Maxine's famous latkes from Bon Appétit Magazine

Going on a food safari

Food safari

Ever wonder where chefs find ideas for inventive new menu items? One source of inspiration comes from visiting other restaurants in diverse locations, as Chef Kevin Binkley of Phoenix, Arizona does. He goes on find-dining 'safaris' to be inspired. Most recently he, along with other chefs from his own and nearby restaurants, traveled to Austin, Texas for a whirldwind tour that included visits to 10 restaurants and eating over 74 different dishes.

Binkley doesn't limit himself to travels in the United States; he often goes to Europe as well. When asked what is his favorite food city in the world, he answers without hesitation: "San Sebastian (Spain), no question. From goose barnacles just harvested from the bay to mozzarella made from a cow milked that morning, I could eat there from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep."

These trips involve more than just sampling new food. "For Binkley, nothing is overlooked in terms of the total dining experience. Although the food gets the hardest look, the plating, the flatware, lighting, sound level, wall treatments, you name it, are all considered." One thing he found inspiration from on his trip to Austin is, as one might expect, barbecue.

Most of us aren't going to be able to go on a days-long journey that involves nearly a dozen restaurants and a mountain of food. We will have to settle for traveling vicariously through our cookbooks. Region-specific cookbooks have exploded in recent years, and through them you can virtually travel to any location on the planet, from Africa to South America to Asia.

Nearly every country is represented in the EYB Library, with cookbooks dedicated to little-known cuisines like Mauritius, Lithuania, and Costa Rica. One tome even has safari in its name. And if you don't want to commit to an entire book, the Library contains thousands of online recipes that are country-specific so you can sample the cuisine. Start with Lebanese dishes, proceed to Sri Lankan recipes, and finish with Finnish foods.

What's your favorite virtual road trip?

Photo clockwise from right: King's chicken curry from My Feast with Peter KuruvitaHummus kawarma (lamb) with lemon sauce from Jerusalem, and Finnish meatballs with allspice, sour cream and lingonberries from Leite's Culinaria by Tessa Kiros

In a pickle! 2014's preserving books

It's mid-December, which means that those of us in the Northern hemisphere are enjoying the hard work we did months ago, in the form of Mason jars full of glowing preserves and crisp pickles plucked right off the pantry shelf!  Right?  

Everyone I know who spends as much effort gardening as I do has something to show for it in December - a pint of thick salsa, a sour passel of dilly beans, a jar of fat green pickles. But me?  Once again, I punted in September, and all I've got to show for countless hours in the garden is several quart bags of blueberries in the freezer.  Because freezing is easy. You don't actually have to do anything.

With 1067 titles and counting, "Preserving" is one of the biggest "cooking method" categories on EYB.  And 2014 was a special year in preserving, with at least three major titles capturing the attention of DIY'ers - both the hardworking and the merely hopeful sort - everywhere.

Perhaps the most ambitious - and giftable - is Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving - by DC-based Cathy Barrow. No food group escapes her preserving techniques - not even meat or dairy - making the book a one-stop shopping trip for the well-fed survivalist.  Gorgeous photography by Christopher Hirshheimer and Melissa Hamilton seals the deal.

 Two books devoted specifically to vegetables offer a tighter focus. Firefly Kitchen in Seattle offers up Fresh & Fermented: 85 Delicious Ways to Make Fermented Carrots, Kraut, and Kimchi Part of Every Meal.  If downing endless forkfuls of pickled cabbage fails to attract you, the book offers a multitude of recipes in which the pickles merely form part of an ensemble of complementary flavors.

And Storey Publishing's Fermented Vegetables packs the gamut - arugula to zucchini -  into a single, high-impact volume.  Need to know how to preserve shiso leaf?  lambs-quarters? Saltwort? Look no further.

None of these books, however, will solve the problem of not having 28 hours in the day. Or the problem of wanting to eat everything you cook right away, so there's never anything left over for storage. It's possible I might need to step away from DIY for a bit and spend some quality time in the Self-Help section...

Peace via spice

Poached saffron pears

Much of the news coming out of Afghanistan in recent years has been gloomy, so an inspiring story from the region is quite welcome. NPR's The Salt has one such tale of how enterprising veterans from the decades-long conflict are working with farmers to cultivate the saffron trade.

U.S.-based Rumi Spice, a small, enterprising company from Massachusetts, is attempting to create an Afghan saffron connection. It started last year when American army veterans Kimberly Jung and Keith Alaniz began discussing their time in the country. Alaniz told Jung the story of an Afghan farmer who had a stockpile of saffron but no buyers, and that saffron is one of a handful of crops well-suited to the hot, dry climate of the region.

Jung felt this was not only an incredible business opportunity, but also an excellent way for Afghan farmers to make a living with a product other than poppies, the country's main agricultural commodity--and one which supports the Taliban. As Rumi Spice's website states, "Without investment in agriculture, Afghan farmers have little prospects with shrinking land allotments - making them susceptible to the Taliban. Rumi Spice strives to change this dynamic."

The group feels they can triple Afghan farmers' current average incomes of $400 to $600 per year by cutting out the middleman. They first started selling their product in a few boutique stores in the Boston area. After this November's harvest, they have started selling the product online at www.rumispice.com.

Photo of Poached saffron pears from BBC Good Food Magazine Home Cooking Series: Christmas Vegetarian

Freeze right there

Cutout cookies

Yesterday's post may have pointed out the downside of refrigerators, but today's post is all about the advantages. We're moving from the fridge to the freezer today, as Epicurious provides us useful tips on freezing cookie dough. The holidays can be a very busy and stressful time, but you can use your freezer to get a head start on your baking.

You can freeze almost any type of cookie dough, and even some already baked cookies. For cutout cookies like sugar cookies and gingerbread, Epicurious recommends freezing the dough in flattened discs, and then thawing the disks until they are flexible enough to roll and cut.

Drop cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal, or molasses are even easier. Just roll the prepared dough into balls. (Use a spring-loaded scoop to speed up the process.) "Freeze the dough balls on cookie sheets until firm. Then store the balls in a plastic freezer bag until you're ready to bake them."

Slice and bake cookies were made for freezing, since most recipes instruct you to chill the dough anyway. Thaw the dough for about an hour in the fridge or a quarter of that time at room temperature before slicing and baking. Most doughs can be frozen for up to a month, so you can start now. Check out the Epicurious article for more tips to help with your holiday baking.

Photo of Dark-chocolate cutout cookies from Martha Stewart Living Magazine

Tom Colicchio on refrigeration

Tom Colicchio

As part of its 85 Years/85 Ideas series, Bloomberg Businessweek enlisted chef Tom Colicchio of Craft restaurant and Top Chef fame to expound on the concept of refrigeration. Refrigeration technology isn't even a century old, but it has completely transformed the way we think about food, say Colicchio.

Certain food courses were invented partially because there was no commercial refrigeration. "The idea of an intermezzo course, some sorbet between dishes at a nice restaurant, exists because the fish would be so rank, the chef would have to get the smell out of your mouth." Refrigeration solved this problem but created others, in Colicchio's view.

As we moved away from the icebox and into the era of refrigerators, we were able to eat food from much farther away. Even though we appreciate the convenience, Colicchio argues that it has had a downside. While the farm-to-table trend is an attempt to address this, Colicchio thinks that it doesn't solve it. "Everything starts on a farm and ends on a table. What happens in between is what's crucial; refrigeration and the convenience of having any food when we wanted it stripped the idea of eating seasonally." He notes that in New York City, one study found up to 80% of the food is mislabeled - including allegedly "local" items that are anything but.

Colicchio believes that chefs need to take the lead in relying less on refrigeration and moving produce more quickly from the source to the plate. Of course this is going to cost more, and not everyone will be excited by the concept. Says Colicchio, "You've also got to get the markets to come along to the idea. But too often, we're preaching to the converted."

What's your take on Coliccio's views? Do you think we are too reliant on refrigeration?

Mull it over

Mulled drinks

The start of the winter season has been brutally cold in much of North America. As the temperature plummets, warming drinks become essential. While coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are wonderful for everyday sipping, sometimes you want something a bit different. For those occasions, mulled beverages are just the ticket.

The history of mulled beverages, mulled wine in particular, can be traced back centuries, as The Guardian explains. "Some trace mulled wine back as far as ancient Egypt, where wine was often spiced with pine resin and figs to ensure a safe transition to the afterlife. Others say it came from the Roman emperors; Apicius, the Roman collection of recipes from the 4th century AD, contains a recipe for "conditum paradoxum", wine that was sweetened with honey and spices."

While mulled wine may be the oldest, other mulled drinks, with and without alcohol, have become popular as well. Wassail is made with beer or mead, while mulled cider features either hard cider (apple and pear are the most popular), or sweet cider, sans alcohol. But you don't have to stop there. Other options include hot mulled sloe gin, a spicy mulled Negroni, and a much more tame-sounding mulled apple juice with chamomile.

In addition to the variability of the base beverage, there is quite a bit of flexibility in the spices used. Spices frequently making an appearance include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and star anise. Cardamom, allspice, and peppercorns pop up occasionally. Whether or not to include fruit is also up to the user although although some traditionalists frown upon it. Straining the mixture is also optional and is usually a matter of convenience.

Which mulled drinks will be warming you this winter?

Top photo of Mulled wine and bottom photo of Jared Brown's hot mulled sloe gin both from Observer Food Monthly Magazine

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 blogs & magazines:

Christmas Cake Truffles by Alice Arndell from the Nov/Dec issue of indexed Cuisine Magazine

Raspberry Chocolate Bread Pudding from indexed blog Two Peas and Their Pod

From UK books:

21 recipes from Persiana: Recipes from the Middle East & Beyond by Sabrina Ghayour,
indexed by an EYB member

4 recipes from For the Love of Oats: Delicious Recipes for Healthy Breakfasts, Snacks, Bakes and Drinks Using Oatmeal by Amy-Ruth Finegold, indexed by an EYB member

From AUS/NZ books:

6 recipes from Bistronomy: French Food Unbound by Katrina Meynink
Enter our giveaway (Ends Dec 29th -- AUS, NZ, & UK only)

From US books:

11 recipes from Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade by Rachel Saunders

35 recipes from One Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More by Editors of Martha Stewart Living  -- many with accompanying videos!

9 recipes from OATrageous Oatmeals: Delicious & Surprising Plant-Based Dishes from the Humble, Heart-Healthy Grain by Kathy Hester, indexed by an EYB member

And don't forget EYB gift vouchers are Buy 1, Get 1 Free for the holidays!
(Ends Dec. 18th)

Seen anything interesting? Let us know & we'll share it!