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Cookbook giveaway - Better from Scratch

Better from Scratch cookbook

Better from Scratch (Williams-Sonoma) is chock full of recipes for everyday food items that many of us purchase, like ketchup and bacon. You can read author Ivy Manning's views on why it's better to make these items from scratch in our author interview. In addition to the recipes, the book includes tips on food storage and how to make delicious DIY gifts.

We're delighted to offer three copies of Better from Scratch to EYB members. Enter soon - the contest ends on August 15, 2014.

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 magazines & blogs:

Bulgur & Lentil Salad by Andy Harris from the June issue of indexed Jamie Magazine

Homemade "Magic Shell" from Good Housekeeping, added with the Bookmarklet

4 blueberry recipes from the July/August issue of indexed Vegetarian Times Magazine

From UK books:

29 recipes from Tessa Kiros: The Recipe Collection

Malt Loaf from Simply Good Bread by Peter Sidwell, indexed by an EYB member


And don't forget to enter our contest for a chance to win a free LIFETIME membership!
(Ends July 31st)


Me and my cookbooks - Diana Henry

We are back with another installment of the "Me and my cookbooks" series. Many EYB members have told us they enjoy meeting members and special guests through this feature. We'd love to introduce more people, so if you'd like to be featured, just email us at info@eatyourbooks.com.

Today we highlight author and cookbook collector Diana Henry. Diana is no stranger to EYB Members; her cookbooks can be found on hundreds of member Bookshelves. The EYB Member Forum also features a topic on cooking with Diana Henry recipes, so after exploring the 131 recipes by Diana Henry available online or while awaiting delivery of the new cookbook that this article may inspire you to buy, you can wade into that discussion.

Diana's latest book, A Change of Appetite, was published earlier this year in the U.K. and is now available in the U.S. In addition to her well-regarded cookbooks, Diana has been The Sunday Telegraph's food writer since the early 2000s and also contributes to various magazines. What follows are excerpts from a touching article that Diana posted on her website about her love of food writing and cookbooks.

Diana Henry's cookbooks

About seven years ago I got divorced. Of course the reasons given as the causes of a divorce are never the real ones. 'He never puts the lid on the toothpaste' isn't really about the toothpaste, or the lid, or even general untidiness. So cookbooks didn't exactly cause my divorce, but books - and in particular cookbooks - were a contributing factor simply because they are so important to me.
At one point my ex husband and I stood on the landing of our home, the shelves of which housed about 4000 books, most of them cookbooks. 'Really you have to get rid of some of them. There's just too many,' he said. I was amazed that somebody could ask me to do this. It was almost as if he'd said 'Get rid of your past.' Because to me these weren't just books. They were loved and used, but they were also, in a way, a map of my life. They reminded me of particular phases and they also chronicled the previous 30 years through food styles and food photography. There were, admittedly, a few that I rarely opened, such as Anton Mosimann's Cuisine  à la Carte, his hymn to nouvelle cuisine. But as soon as I look at those pictures, food graphically arranged on hexagonal plates, I am back in the London I arrived in during the mid 80s. There's a book called The China Moon Cookbook by Barbara Tropp that I don't use much any more. But that reminds me of all the Asian/Californian dishes I cooked in my early 30s. There was no way any of these books were going anywhere. It would have been like throwing out chunks of my life.

I was given my first cookbook when I was about 6. It was the My Learn to Cook Book by Ursula Sedgwick, published by Hamlyn. I'd hate to lose this because the illustrations give me the same frisson of excitement now as they did then.

It looks fun, it's colourful, but what I loved most were the illustrations for the instructions. I could see exactly what I had to do, and how my dishes were supposed to turn out. The tomatoes with eggs baked inside them seemed to me a genius idea, and the picture of the finished dish made me hungry. It was one of the first savoury meals I ever made.....

Cookbook coverThe most profound book-buying experience, though (and it was something that really did affect the course of my life) was in north London in the autumn of 1986. I had moved to London to do post graduate studies in journalism. Moving there overwhelmed me. There wasn't a food ingredient that I couldn't find and there was a restaurant, somewhere in the city, for practically every cuisine you could think of. One day after college I was mooching around the bookshop near my flat and found a book called A New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. I had never heard of her, but the food sounded good. And the writing in it took me to the Middle East, a place - since coming to London with the Edgware Road and all the Middle Eastern groceries near my flat - that didn't feel so far away.

On a shelf nearby there was a book by a woman I had heard a little about - Alice Waters. Her book, The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, was actually marked down in price, but when I flicked through it I knew I would give almost anything to take it home with me.

It is difficult to explain now how very different Alice's approach was to anything that had gone before. It was so simple. It showed a Mediterranean spirit applied to American ingredients. The menus went like this:

Goat's cheese with baked garlic and sourdough
Chargrilled pork with roast peppers and griddled leeks
Plum sherbet

There were other menus - some more elaborate, some celebrating the garlic harvest, or the new season's lamb. But all of them were about simplicity and purity and just valuing good food. The book and its menus actually sent a shiver down my spine. Nobody was cooking like this - we were in the middle of nouvelle cuisine - and it seemed so fresh. These two books - Roden's and Water's - are very different but they had a huge impact on me. I loved Claudia because her writing was so personal, because she put food into a cultural and historical context, because she painted vivid pictures and made me want to travel. I loved Alice, because her outlook was so fresh. It's a common chant nowadays, but 'simple and seasonal' was a new mantra when Alice started to voice it. I had no intention of being a food writer then but these books were constant companions both in my kitchen and on my bedside table. Claudia Roden has the power to transport any reader, as well as make them hungry.

Continue reading on Diana's website.

Cookbook store profile - The Cook Book Stall

It's time for another installment in the EYB series highlighting independent cookbook stores. Discover (or get reacquainted with) a store near your home - or plan a new target destination when you travel.

To keep this feature vital, we're asking our members to help us. We already know of many great stores, (you can view the full list here), but we'd love to learn about more - especially those treasured by our members. So please share the names of independent cookbook stores that you know, love, admire, or are just plain crazy about. Add a comment to this posting, or email us at info@eatyourbooks.com with the name, address, and owner (if you know it). We'll do the rest.

The Cook Book Stall

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to the Reading Terminal Market, a vibrant and historic public food market located in the heart of the city. Tucked away between food and tableware vendors you will find The Cook Book Stall, an independent cookbook store specializing in interesting and unique titles not readily seen in the chain stores. This gorgeous shop, a feature of the market for over 30 years, has been highlighted in Saveur magazine as one of the ten best places in the world to buy a cookbook. Owner Jill Ross answered questions posed by EYB about the store. 

Two cookbook stores have closed down in the last year - The Cookbook Store in Toronto and Salt and Pepper Books in Maryland. How does The Cook Book Stall stay competitive in the current trading environment, where online stores offer low prices and free home delivery? 

I am sad that two bookstores closed; it is a tough business. I have an awesome location in the Reading Terminal Market. It is a historical landmark and a destination for tourists. We are close to the convention center and that helps. I also have an online shop that I promote in the store and I offer a discount from there. I have a great sign in my store that says "find it here, buy it here, keep us here" and most people like it and it makes them think. I also allow no cell phone pictures, either of the bar code or the cover of the book. That kind of pisses people off, but I explain to them the reason and they are usually cool about not taking the picture.

Why do the customers in your store prefer to come to The Cook Book Stall rather than stores such as Barnes & Noble or online shopping?

I think that people like to shop here because I try and make it very inviting. I also hear people say that they like it because they have never been in a cookbook-only shop. I always have interesting titles out and try to find cute things to catch their eyes. I think that people like the attention that I can give them and the time I put in trying to find the perfect book.

Do you specialize in any particular areas of cookbooks? 

I don't specialize in any specific type of cookbooks; I try to have titles that you wouldn't find walking into a Barnes and Noble. I have a nice section for making food for pets and a great selection of kids' cooking books.

Do you import many books from overseas?

I don't import any books, but I do carry a magazine from Sweden called Fool, which is amazing!

What currently are the big sellers at The Cook Book Stall?

The big sellers right now are fermentation and preserving books. My local books are always a big seller for me too.

Are many of your customers professional chefs? What are the books that they are buying now? 

I have a lot of chefs that shop here, usually on Mondays; their selections can range from butchering to tapas. They all love the Phaidon books and other chefs' books. Fool magazine is a big hit.

What type of books do you like to cook from yourself? Do you have a favorite cookbook of all time?

They are all my favorites! I could never pick just one. My go to book when I am stumped is Heidi Swansons' Super Natural Cooking.

What events to you have at the store in the next couple of months? 

I have a couple of events coming up, I have a signing/demo with Priya Krishna author of Ultimate Dining Hall Hacks, that will be on 18 September. I am also planning on a waffle demo in August, to coincide with a new book coming out called Will it Waffle. I want to have some fun with that.

The cilantro cuisines

I sometimes think of it as the "Cilantro belt" - the band of nations falling between 15 and 30 degrees north of the equator.  You know, Mexico, Cuba, Morocco, India, Thailand, and many many more.  It's not that all dishes from those countries use cilantro - they don't.  And it's not that other countries don't use cilantro- they do.  But they're all countries where you'd be surprised to go a week without tasting cilantro in your food, somewhere.   And if you look at a cookbook jacket from those cuisines, chances are that flash of green you see is cilantro.

Anyway, summertime is when I personally eat a lot of cilantro, and I've always figured it's because those subtropical nations have a way with dealing with cooking in warm weather.  But I don't really know that that's it - I mean, make enough salsas and curry pastes and layered rice dishes and you definitely get the feeling that staying cool and out of the kitchen is not all that high a priority.

For me, I think it's just that over many summers, that bright, fresh green taste of cilantro - and lime - and mint - has come to be associated with the sound of lawnmowers and the smell of sunscreen and the promise of ice cream more than twice a week, if not daily.  Cilantro on the garnish, cilantro root in the paste, coriander in the dry rub, cilantro bolting in the garden...it's all there in the culinary soundtrack to summer.

The frustrating thing is that whenever I do go to the garden for some fresh cilantro, it always seems to be between-times - either frondy and flowery and bitter and tall, or barely past the two-leaf seedling stage.  I try to remember to plant some at least once a month, but somehow it just doesn't always work out.

How about you?  Do you also have a fair-weather relationship with cilantro, or is it a year-round resident in your fridge, like the carrots?

Grain vs. grains

Two salads

During the hot days of summer, cool salads feel just right and news feeds buzz with recipes for salads made with grains and grain products. The LA Times sings the praises of grain salads. Meanwhile, the NY Times is promoting cool noodle dishes as perfect summer food. This has all the makings of a classic East Coast/West Coast rivalry, in this case heavyweights Russ Parsons (Team Grains) vs. David Tanis (Team Pasta).

Parsons, the advocate for grain salads, notes the variety and "range of new flavors and textures" you can get with by substituting different grains like farro, quinoa, and barley. What's more, you can make a big batch of the grain on one day and vary the add-ins to make each salad unique. Tanis, advocating for pasta salads, points out the many ethnicities that feature cold noodle salads: you can easily make Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Middle Eastern variations. Interestingly, both men think couscous belongs on their side. Russ Parsons notes that couscous "looks like a grain and acts like a grain," so he wants to claim it. Tanis does not make such a statement; he quietly assumes the claim by describing a salad made with Israeli couscous. 

Of course, the only real rivalry here is between our own taste buds for tonight's dinner; we can enjoy both types of salads all summer long. And let's not forget another salad featuring grain: bread salad. While you chew on that, here are a few popular grain and pasta salad recipes from the EYB Library:

Couscous and mograbiah with oven-dried tomatoes from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta from Fine Cooking Magazine
Kale and quinoa salad with ricotta salata from Smitten Kitchen
Chinese noodle salad with roasted eggplant  from Orangette
Double tomato pasta salad from Tinned Tomatoes

What is your favorite salad made with grain (or a grain product)?

Photos of Couscous & mograbiah and Chinese noodle salad from the EYB Library





Five flavors to rule them all

Ice cream coneBaskin-Robbins, the world's largest chain of ice cream specialty shops, is known for its famous "31" logo, which suggests a different flavor of ice cream available for each day of the month. However, the chain may want to winnow its lengthy list of flavors, as this Parade magazine article explains. It provides a map of each state's most popular flavors of the ice cream, based on the stores' dairy carrier shipment data.

Even though consumers have dozens of choices ranging from blueberry cheesecake to "Wild 'N Reckless Sherbet," it's not a shock to learn that vanilla is the favorite flavor in about half the states. The classics are classics for a reason. However, there is an interesting grouping of mint chocolate chip in the southwestern corner of the country. Perhaps it's due to the cooling properties of mint (those states feature a lot of hot, desert terrain).  

It is somewhat surprising, however, that a mere five flavors dominate the entire country (some states don't have a Baskin-Robbins location and so are not given a favorite). The three flavors besides vanilla and mint chocolate chip are Oreos 'n cream, pralines 'n cream, and chocolate. Only two states had chocolate as the number one flavor.

If you had to choose just one ice cream flavor, what would you pick?

Photo of Brown sugar ice cream with a ginger-caramel swirl from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones in the EYB Library


Little known treasures

Cookbook covers

Some cookbooks become instant classics and profoundly influence generations of cooks. In the 1960s, Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking became a bestseller and improved the cooking skills of legions. More recently, Ottolenghi took the world by storm, expanding the range of countless cooks. These and other classics sit on thousands of EYB members' Bookshelves. But other great cookbooks languish in relative obscurity, yet are indispensable to those who have discovered them.

The Telepgraph provides us with a top 10 list of little known cookbooks that they turn to again and again, even though the books may not have made the bestseller list. The first cookbook mentioned is The Scandinavian Kitchen by Camille Plum. Britain shares a lot of ingredients with Scandinavia, so why not expand their use? The second book is Lucas Hollweg's Good Things To Eat. While noting that this is not a revolutionary cookbook, the authors posit that if you have this book, you will "find yourself turning to it more and more, for a family supper, or lunch for friends. Hollweg writes with self-deprecating charm about the food that makes him feel hungry and happy."

It will come as no surprise that many "hidden gems" on The Telegraph's list are quite popular among EYB Members, who know a thing or two about cookbooks. The first of these is Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison, which is highly rated on this site. The same goes for A Platter of Figs by David Tanis, which graces many EYB Bookshelves. And while Paula Wolfert may be better known for other books, The Food of Morocco is fairly well-known to EYB Members.

Naturally, The Telegraph's list is skewed to British readers. What do you think of their list, and which cookbooks in your collection would you add to it?

The shape of things to come?

Flare saucepan

What happens when a rocket scientist applies his skills to cookware? You get a new saucepan that is up 40% more efficient than a conventional pan. The Flare cookware series, developed by Lakeland in conjunction with Dr. Thomas Povey of Oxford University, uses channels in the sides of the pan that allow more heat to enter the pan than a conventional, smooth-sided pan.

An avid mountaineer, Dr. Povey turned his talents to cookware design after struggling to boil water at altitude. He realized that a lot of energy is spent just heating the pan. "There's nothing wrong with (a usual saucepan), but it loses a lot of heat, which means it has less energy efficiency, which means it wastes more heat, energy, and gas," said Dr. Povey, who applied aerodynamic and heat transfer science "used in rocket and jet engines to create a shape of a pan that is more energy efficient."

The cast aluminum pan works most efficiently on gas cooktops, although it can be used on electric, ceramic and halogan hobs (but presumably not induction hobs).  As is the norm with innovation, these pans come at a premium price: the 20cm (8") saucepan clocks in at £49.99 ($86 USD; $91 AUD). 

What do you think of the new design - is it here to stay, or is it just a flash in the pan?

Life's delicious messes


Indexed blog Food52 posted that we should "give up on clean hands and clean shirts" because it's cherry season. Contemplating the delicious mess of cherry pitting got us to thinking about other ingredients and foods that made messes in the kitchen but are so good they're worth it. The first task that came to mind was seeding a pomegranate, another messy yet delicious red fruit. Before we found a cleaner way to seed pomegranates, we could count on finding red specks all over the kitchen for days after working with them.

Moving away from fruit, but keeping it sweet, we turn to molasses and its cousins honey and corn syrup. These sticky ingredients cling tenaciously to every surface, from the measuring cup to the spatula to the bowl and the inevitable drips on the countertop. Even the bottles in which they are stored seem to seep liquid when no one is watching. But there is no substitute for molasses in gingerbread cookies or honey in baklava.

Another sticky sweet is chocolate, and anything dipped in it leaves a mess behind. But we are generally willing to overlook that, because, well, it's chocolate. There are countless tips that range from which utensil is best to how to shake and flip to remove excess chocolate. Despite all this, the mess still seems to find its way onto the counter (at least for me).

Flour and cornstarch are notoriously difficult to contain, especially when a mixer is involved. One tidy trick is to cut a hole in a piece of waxed paper and put your beater(s) through the hole to keep the flour from flying. You can also drape a towel over your stand mixer--easy peasy. A more difficult feat is remembering either trick before the flour is airborne.

Finally, chicken can be messy in general, but two types of chicken dishes are the worst offenders: fried chicken and high-heat roast chicken. One leaves a frightful greasy mess on your stovetop; the other a frightful greasy mess in your oven.

What recipe or ingredient makes the biggest mess in your kitchen? And what do you do to contain the mess?

Photo by Darcie Boschee

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