Roots and Sprouts and Fire

It's March! and that means fresh starts and kitchen adventures and maybe a break from the routine.  It's the smell of dirt and the fresh air. Blogger Sarah Britton has My New Roots, full of seed butters and sprouts and bright-colored salads.  Meanwhile, the Sprouted Kitchen's Sara & Hugh Forte are back with a second opus, Bowl + Spoon,  focusing… read more

New York: 48 hours and approximately 12000 calories

So this weekend my 14-year-old and I took a long-anticipated trip to Manhattan.  I prepared my usual database of places to eat, and was mildly dismayed to realize that, between old favorites and new must-try's, I had put down 17 restaurants for 5 meals.  This, of course, would not do. I started out fabric-hunting in Little India, where I stopped… read more

Round the world and back again

Every once in a while, after a long drought, we get a spate of internationally-flavored cookbooks to enjoy.  In fact, I'm starting to wonder if February/March might be an ideal time for publishers to release these books - halfway between the holiday rush of big-name books and the May onslaught of grills and cocktails. We've had a seemingly endless parade… read more

White Pages & Glossy Photos: A Rubric for Titling Cookbooks

"Well, this is lovely,"  I thought as the new cookbook slid out of its padded envelope.  "Rose Water and Orange Blossoms," it read, in a curling thick cursive.  I scanned downward to see what kind of Middle Eastern food we were talking about - Lebanese, it turned out. Inside, the format didn't seduce me as readily - double-columned, unnumbered steps,… read more

Chefs, simplified.

Geoffrey Zakarian - chef-entrepreneur, TV food show judge (and contestant), big-shot restaurant consultant.  (You might remember his very classy last book, Town/Country, where he presented the same ingredients in "upscale" and "rustic" versions.) But his current book, which was one of my favorite picks last year, is approachable to a fault.  My Perfect Pantry scours your storage areas for things… read more

Under pressure

I know, I know, it's a completely ridiculous question.  What does that even mean? I ask because this season has been remarkably light on slow cooker books, which I had always thought of as a 4-season staple of the cookbook industry. I'm as devoted to my slow cooker as ever, but right now it's mostly being used as a sous-vide… read more

Blizzard cooking

Snowmageddon hasn't been so terrible in our valley so far. Some wind and a lot of powder in the air. But my 8-year-old, bundled in her snowsuit, has been happily making snow angels and tunnels and castles for an hour.   Our local weather guru counseled us to make a big pot of chili ahead of the storm, in case we… read more

Men in T-shirts, cooking

I noticed something funny in my "Discards" pile this morning - a trio of men in T-shirts and jeans. looking at out me with bright eyes and white teeth.  What's going on with  that?  I thought. It turns out that two of them - Jorge Cruise in The 100 and Abel James in The Wild Diet - were suggesting that… read more

The “champagne of tea”

An advance reading copy of Jeff Koehler's Darjeeling (due to publish in May) arrived this week.  Sometimes publishers send me food books that aren't cookbooks, even those most everybody knows I almost never review them.  I was about to add it to the "Library Donation" pile, when, for some reason, my curiosity stirred. I think it was the phrase "the… read more

New leaves turning all around

For the last few days the thud of packages on the porch has subsided.  The fall cookbook surge is over, and the last Christmas stragglers have arrived (a bit too late for their intended recipients). The publishing offices have opened again, but it'll be a few days before the review copies start arriving again.  So I thought - just for… read more

Sleeper books of 2014

The year has come and gone, and along with it the rising and falling tides of popular cookbooks, the best of which appear in EYB's awesome comprehensive list.  Every year, there are a few cookbooks that catch my eye but for one reason or another don't make it onto the Big List.  I vow to spend more time with them… read more

Risking it all on feast day

So I'm trying a completely new recipe for Christmas this year - Andrea Nguyen's Peking duck from her blog.  That is how I found myself in the kitchen last night inflating two ducks with my exercise ball pump, in preparation for three days of cooling and drying.  I practiced a wide repertoire of outraged quacking noises as I did… read more

The Cookie Countdown

I am, and always have been, a cookie person.  I'm happiest when there's a nearly-full cookie box or jar somewhere in the kitchen, just waiting for me to have an excuse: a story filed, a disagreeable chore completed, or just plain "lunch dessert".  A cookie doesn't make you feel as guilty as a big juicy slab of pie, or a… read more

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… read more

Globetrotting vegetarians

Vegetarian cookbooks are not what they once were -  that is to say, big on brown rice and a few other Asian pantry ingredients, or filled end to end with pasta and cheese.  No, they travel everywhere and anywhere, and if they pay a little more attention to the whole grains of the moment, like quinoa and spelt, well, they're… read more

Glass class

If you're like most of us living in the U.S., this week you're currently scrambling with shopping lists and cleaning and agonizing over the weather forecast (which, at least on the East coast of North America, is dire) in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday. If you're like me, one of the last things on your mind is the wine.  For… read more

Straight outta Brooklyn…

A while back I noticed a new adjective creeping into my cookbook reviews.  "The latest Brooklyn bakery book".  "Yet another Brooklyn bistro book". "Another hip Brooklyn-based title from [X] Press."  So - just for fun - I thought I'd map out just a few of the little retail establishments from this tiny, influential corner of the world that are gracing… read more

In a word: Chefs

You know the cookbook season is in full swing when the coffee-table books start arriving (ker-THUNK on the porch!). The spines are the first thing you notice, stark and black, with a single word emblazoned across darkness. MALLMANN, they say.  BROCK.  And DABBOUS. This is only a little different from books of a few years ago, which typically featured restaurants… read more

The Font That Ate 2014

I don't usually make a big deal about typefaces in cookbooks, except to complain when they are too small.  But every once in a while the jackets all suddenly start to look eerily similar, and once you figure out why you can't help but say something.  Have a look:     See something funny?  Other than that they're mostly baking books?… read more

Meat, meat, meat, meat!

Is cooking meat the first great hurdle of any omnivorous cook?  I think it's between that and baking.  I think my progression was pretty typical: first boneless chicken breast, then ground beef, then pork chops, then whole chickens and chicken parts, then ground pork, then the rest.  I didn't get round to beef cuts until a few years in.  (And… read more

The Perfect Instruction

So, over my years as a cookbook reviewer, I've come to realize there is actually a word formula for the kind of recipe that works for me. The ingredients list doesn't matter that much - unless there's a bunch of callouts in the list, like "Saba vinaigrette (see p. 289)" and "48-hour croutons (see p. 311-313)".   No, for me,… read more

La belle cuisine…

This is me in the kitchen: Hair up in a messy ponytail.  An apron that is laundered but nowhere close to white.  Scuffed clogs and glasses spattered with something or other. This is Mimi Thorisson in the kitchen. And by the way, she has five kids. And fourteen dogs. You EYBers are a kinder lot than I, and you may… read more

A glug and a dollop…

What do you think of those Brits and their chatty, poetical way with instructions?  Whenever I read a Jamie Oliver recipe, I prepare myself for an aggressive style of non-measurement - the "glug" of olive oil, the "knob" of butter.  [To me, a glug is maybe 2-3 teaspoons, a knob is maybe 1.5 tablespoons.  But it tends to vary depending… read more

Scriptures for the cook

The third edition of The Spice and Herb Bible came last week, and I did what I always do.  I looked up "fenugreek," and sighed with satisfaction.  There were four solid pages on fenugreek, with its name in 20 different languages, its history, its uses, and a detailed rundown of the plant's anatomical parts. I look up fenugreek because it… read more

Kitchen re-thinks

I had a dinner party this weekend.  There were 10 of us (plus my teenage son), and we had a blast.  I barely cooked at all - just some dessert, a pork roast, and some grissini - because everybody brought something.  The best part was that several of us were cooking at once, and there was room.  My kitchen's on… read more
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