Why is garlic in so many savory dishes?

In the EYB Cookbook Club, member Alicia F recently made Marcella Hazan's simple-yet-wonderful tomato sauce. She observed that the sauce is quite delicious as is, but that she thinks "it would be better with garlic." This prompted several other members to chime in, agreeing with her assessment (as well as offering variations of their own). Not everyone is enamored with the pungent allium, however, with one reader of The Guardian writing the newspaper to ask why just about every savoury recipe calls for garlic.


Garlic adds a huge punch of flavor, so it's no wonder that many recipes - especially vegetarian and vegan ones - use it to boost a dish's flavor profile. But it can be a lazy way to add a strong taste that can overwhelm more subtle ingredients. Feast columnist Anna Jones agrees: "There's an overuse of garlic in cooking in general, and in vegetarian cooking especially," she says. "I like to keep some meals more gently flavoured, so leave it out altogether. More subtle dishes don't need garlic, and that should be celebrated."

She and others offered alternatives that will still add zing to a dish without overpowering it. Suggestions included paprika, dried oregano, Marmite, or a dash of acid like lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. A touch of sweetness can help too, through palm sugar, maple syrup, or honey. Garlic lovers, feel free to add as many cloves as you wish, but Jones suggests that you think about what the dish really needs. "Sometimes, garlic is not at all what's missing, or needed," she notes. 

Nigella Lawson has created a food photography app

Does it seem to you like the filters on most photography apps make food look, well, unappetizing? Most of the filters seem geared toward other subjects rather than the plate. Nigella Lawson was among those vexed by this situation, so she decided to do something about it, and has created a photography app specifically for food photos


The app is called FOODIM, and Nigella developed it with the help of her longtime cameraman. The feature that is a game changer for food pictures is a "built-in filter designed to optimise food and a back-of-shot blur dependent on the angle of the phone (as well as a draw-to-blur feature) to give depth of field," according to Nigella's website. This is the app I've been waiting for! 

Unfortunately for me (at least for the time being), the app is only available for iPhones, and only in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. An Android version is in the works for those areas as well. If you live elsewhere, you can register your interest by subscribing to the updates on the app's download link. 

Photo above is taken using the app and can be found at www.nigella.com

Revisiting the golden age of Gourmet Magazine

When Gourmet Magazine shuttered in 2009, it came as a shock to the food world. No one was more surprised than the magazine's editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl. In her new book Save Me the Plums (out April 2), Reichl talks about her decade at the helm of Gourmet. She recently spoke with Amanda Kludt and Daniel Geneen of Eater about the book

Save Me the Plums

Reichl describes her thoughts when she was told that Gourmet was ceasing publication: "I'd fortified myself against the pain of being fired, but this was worse: They had murdered the magazine," she writes. Imagining a world without Gourmet was impossible for Reichl, who had initially declined the job as editor. She thought of herself as a writer, not an editor. 

As the magazine struggled, Reichl imagined that she might get fired, but she was gobsmacked when the publisher pulled the plug entirely, even though several people had offered to buy Gourmet. "I still don't understand what possessed them to do that," she says. "There's literally not a day that has passed since ... it's 10 years now, almost 10 years, that someone doesn't come up to me and say, 'I can't tell you how much I miss that magazine' and to throw that away, that kind of connection that the magazine had with the public, it's unfathomable to me." We don't understand, either. 

You can hear more from Reichl on her book tour, which starts on 1 April (no foolin!) and criss-crosses the U.S., hitting most major cities. 

Featured Cookbooks, Recipes, & the Latest EYBD Books & Previews

EYB wants to make your cooking life easier. Our main focus has always been indexing cookbooks and magazines so you can efficiently search your own collection instead of paging through individual indexes. We also aim to keep members up to date on the best new titles being published. Our new EYBDigital platform allows us to provide  EYBDigital Previews  (sample pages from cookbooks) and EYBDigital Books  (complete digital cookbooks you gain access to when you buy a print book). More information can be found on our EYBD Page.

Below you'll find our latest EYBDigital Previews plus GIVEAWAYS and more!

(Note: Some members have been asking why they cannot add all EYBDigital Preview recipes to their Bookshelf. Please read this Help page for an explanation.)

The team at Eat Your Books

In case you missed it!
Jenny's interview with Darina Allen 
(Note the special tribute to Myrtle Allen the first weekend in April)!
March 2019 Cookbook Previews
Updated - Looking forward to 2019 Cookbooks

Member Photo of the Week:


New Year's Eve gougères with arugula, bacon and Carol's pickled onions from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers
Photo submitted by SheilaS
Have you uploaded any of your own photos yet? Learn more!


 Featured Online Recipe :

   Brazilian chocolate fudge candies (Brigadeiros)

Milk Street's Brazilian chocolate fudge candies (Brigadeiros) from Food52 by Christopher Kimball


 More EYBDigital Titles Have Launched!

The next batch of EYBDigital Books is now available! If you order  Tortellini at Midnight The Little Island Bake Shop Tokyo Stories, or  The Flexible Pescatarian during the EYB promotion period, you will have access to a digital version on your EYB Bookshelf after signing up on our registration page. Click on the book cover or the link below for more specific information. Learn more about EYBDigital Books and see our list of upcoming titles here.

Tortellini at Midnight

3 recipes from  Tortellini at Midnight: and Other Heirloom Family Recipes from Taranto to Turin to Tuscany by Emiko Davies

EYBDigital Preview

Learn more about this title and enter our  giveaway for Tortellini at Midnight! (US, UK, AU & NZ)


Little Island Bake Shop

3 recipes from The Little Island Bake Shop by Jana Roerick

EYBDigital Preview

  Learn more about this title and enter our giveaway for The Little Island Bake Shop! (US & CA)


Tokyo Stories

3 recipes from  Tokyo Stories: A Japanese Food Tour by Tim Anderson

EYBDigital Preview

Learn more about this title and enter our giveaway for Tokyo Stories! (US, UK, AU & NZ)


The Flexible Pescatarian

9 recipes from The Flexible Pescatarian by Jo Pratt

EYBDigital Preview

Learn more about this title and enter our giveaway for The Flexible Pescatarian! (US & CA)

More EYBDigital Previews:

A selection of full sample pages is available for the following cookbooks.  Learn more about EYBDigital Previews.

  Vegan cooking in air fryer

3 recipes from  Vegan Cooking in Your Air Fryer: 75 Incredible Comfort Food Recipes with Half the Calories by Kathy Hester

EYBDigital Preview


Korean Paleo

3 recipes from  Korean Paleo: 80 Bold-Flavored, Gluten- and Grain-Free Recipes by Jean Choi

EYBDigital Preview


  Great Vegan Meals

3 recipes from  Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family: 75 Delicious Dishes for Herbivores, Carnivores and Everyone in Between by Amanda Logan

EYBDigital Preview


Weeknight Instant Pot

3 recipes from  Weeknight Cooking with Your Instant Pot: Simple Family-Friendly Meals Made Better in Half the Time by Kristy Bernardo

EYBDigital Preview


 Cookbooks with GIVEAWAYS!

Each of these featured titles has a current giveaway. Click the photo or blue link for more information on how to enter. For titles that also have an EYBDigital Preview, click on the orange button to view the available full sample pages.


6 recipes from  Gnocchi, Solo Gnocchi: A Comprehensive Tribute to Italy's Other Favorite First Course 
by Christine Y. Hickman

EYBDigital Preview

Learn more about this title and enter our WORLDWIDE giveaway for Gnocchi, Solo Gnocchi!


Mezze Cookbook 

3 recipes from  The Mezze Cookbook: Sharing Plates from the Middle East by Salma Hage

  EYBDigital Preview

 Learn more about this title and enter our giveaway for The Mezze Cookbook! (US, UK, CA, and AU)

The following giveaways are ending this weekend: 

 View Past Weekly Roundups

GBBO's celebrity spin-off

Popular television programs always seem to beget spin-offs, so it's no surprise that we now have one based on The Great British Bake Off. The new version - Celebrity Bake Off - might not be spawning any cookbooks, however (and we may not want it to). It's still a fun romp, and judging from Scott Bryan's review of the show in The Guardian, I hope it finds this version of GBBO finds its way across the pond. 

GBBO books

Bryan thinks that Celebrity Bake Off might even be better than the original. It's not because the celebrity bakers are better than the regular show's contestants (far from it), but rather because the show doesn't take itself seriously. Bryan thinks that the "regular Bake Off feels ever more like an exam," while Celebrity Bake Off delights through the personalities of the contestants. 

Who wouldn't want to watch John Lithgow bake a bread version of himself as Winston Churchill in The Crown, witness Russell Brand attempting to create an expressionist scene depicting the birth of his daughter out of dough, or view Joanna Lumley flubbing up a cake by adding too much raising agent? I generally am not a fan of celebrity reality shows, but this is one I could possibly be interested in viewing. If you've watched Celebrity Bake Off, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the show. 

Are we headed toward a kitchen-less future?

The only thing that is more frightening to me than the thought of a future without cookbooks is a future in which no one has a kitchen. That is the stuff of nightmares, but some experts think that's the direction modern society is headed. WIth advances in meal delivery services and computerized appliances, kitchens might one day become an item that only hobbyists really care about.

white kitchen

One such prediction comes from Eddie Yoon of the Harvard Business Review, who noted that cooking is quickly becoming "a niche activity that a few people do only some of the time." Yoon writes:

I've come to think of cooking as being similar to sewing. As recently as the early 20th century, many people sewed their own clothing. Today the vast majority of Americans buy clothing made by someone else; the tiny minority who still buy fabric and raw materials do it mainly as a hobby.

While there will always be people who embrace cooking as a passion, others view it as just a necessary task or even a dreaded chore. The rise in people living alone works toward this future as well. It can be onerous to cook for just yourself, the thinking goes, which can lead to less-than-stellar meals. Eating out, or using a meal delivery service, appears more attractive to many singles. As one young woman said, "it's healthier than making a meal from leftover bagels and Doritos."

As with sewing, pundits predict that eating out or using a meal delivery service might become more economical than cooking. Online meal delivery services like Blue Apron may be the "Model T" of the cooking-away-from-home paradigm. Why not just have already prepared meals, made from fresh and perhaps even local ingredients, dropped off at dinner time (who knows, maybe even by a drone)? 

Even though these ideas may seem far-fetched, people probably scoffed at the thought of purchasing all of one's clothing instead of sewing it at home. I do not relish the concept of not having a kitchen because I view it as a sanctuary, but it might become the norm at some point. In the meantime, I will enjoy my sunny kitchen and my ever-growing cookbook library.  

Mark Bittman is starting a new food magazine

After Mark Bittman left The New York Times to work for a vegan meal-kit start-up, we did not hear a lot from him. That's about to change, however: Bittman announced yesterday that he is launching a new online food magazine at Medium. The magazine off to a bit of a rocky start, as the original name Bittman chose for the publication (Salty) was already in use.

Mark Bittman

After Bittman was called out for plagiarizing the name (and possibly also the logo), he quickly apologized and said a new name would be forthcoming. Whatever the magazine is ultimately called, it will feature recipes, stories related to food and more. "There's a large part of me that wants people to be interested in food agriculture, or policy, or kids, or immigrants, or race," Bittman told the NYT. Some common types of food writing won't be found in the new venture, such as restaurant or chef profiles. 

Several food industry professionals will be joining Bittman at the new venture, including Melissa McCart, a critic for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Daniel Meyer, a former restaurant critic for Time Out New York; and Kate Bittman, Bittman's daughter and a PR consultant. The magazine's parent company, Medium, does not have advertising on its site, which of course means that the site is not free. Subscribers to Medium pay $5 a month or $50 a year for the content.

Don't forget we have a complete recipe index of every recipe Mark Bittman has published - 28,000+ recipes! There is some duplication due to reworkings of books such as How to Cook Everything but it is still a hugely impressive number. You can also easily add recipes from Bittman's blog and his NYT columns to your Bookshelf.

Spice support: pepper

Pepper, in its many varieties, is one of the world's most popular spices, found in cuisines north, south, east, and west. While it is ubiquitous, few people know much about the spice, such as what differentiates the types of pepper, where the spice is grown or how it is harvested. Over at Serious Eats, new columnist Caitlin Penzey Moog (yes, of the Penzeys' Spices family and also author of On Spice: Advice, Wisdom, and History with a Grain of Saltiness) fills us in on everything we need to know about pepper


When most Westerners think of pepper, they are likely referring to the dried fruits of piper nigrum, a climbing shrub from India. In the wild, the vining plant wraps itself around the trunks of trees and commercially, the plants are manually wrapped around stakes. Flowers produce rows of tiny berries which ripen from green to red. Once ripe, the berries are dried and processed to become the little wrinkled orbs of goodness we have come to love. 

White and green pepper hail from the same plant, but are processed differently. Green peppercorns are unripe berries that are kept from maturing either by drying or pickling. White peppercorns are the centermost part of black peppercorns - the wrinkled brown to black coating is stripped away using water to soften and remove it. In terms of flavor, green pepper is milder than black pepper, and white pepper is more delicate, with fruity or floral undertones. There is also some 'barnyard fund' flavors in white peppercorns due to a small amount of fermentation that goes along with the hull stripping process. 

Other spices called pepper come from a variety of sources. Cubeb pepper and long pepper are from plants in the piper family, so they are related to black, green, and white peppers. Some spices are not even remotely related to these pepper plants, but co-opted the pepper name due to its popularity or because of their heat. This list includes Sichuan peppercorns, grains of paradise, and sansho pepper. In addition to explaining where all of the different types of pepper originated, the article dives deep into the different nuances between different peppercorns in the piper nigrum family. 

Understanding 'the Ottolenghi effect'

Why has Yotam Ottolenghi become a worldwide sensation? That is the question that Good Food (AU) attempts to answer in a recent article about Ottolenghi's current book tour in the land down under. Of course trying to understand a phenomenon like this is a challenge, but the theories raised here convincingly explain how Ottolenghi (you know he's famous because he's referred to by just one name) skyrocketed from cook to superstar. 

Yotam Ottolenghi

Just for Australia alone, Ottolenghi's book sales are impressive. Over the last decade, he's sold over 400,000 books, with his most recent release, Ottolenghi Simple, likely to break Australian records..This despite being, as Jane Morrow of Murdoch Books notes, an unlikely best seller in that country. "The author isn't local, and most Australians won't get to taste his food from his London restaurants and delis," she says adding that when his books first appeared in 2008, "Middle Eastern food was not a cuisine the mainstream was familiar with. And his recipes generally require a long list of ingredients, some of which are obscure." 

Some culinary celebrities come to prominence because of their outsize personalities (think Gordon Ramsay). That's not the path that Ottolenghi followed. By all accounts, he is exceedingly pleasant, considerate, and humble. Helen Goh, who co-authored Sweet, thinks the "Ottolenghi Effect" has to do with the "feel-good" state people experience when using his recipes. " 'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel'?" she says. She believes that the recipes he creates help people feel a sense of "generosity and love" when they serve them. 

Add to that the fact that we are fascinated by celebrity and that Ottolenghi shares all of his culinary secrets with this audience, and you have the perfect storm to explain the "Ottolenghi effect."  Ottolenghi refers to this transparency as being part of what attracts people to his work. "The days of chefs hiding their secrets are long gone," he says. "If you held anything back, you'd get busted. We are all slaves now to this transparency."

Kitchen Witch cookbook store set to close

The past several years has been a rollercoaster ride for the New Orleans cookbook store Kitchen Witch Cookbooks. We've profiled some of the store's struggles, including a GoFundMe effort to help them cope with a traffic slowdown due to a move. Unfortunately the situation has not improved, according to owners Debbie Lindsey and Philipe LaMancusa. The pair recently announced that Kitchen Witch would be closing later this year

Kitchen Witch Coobooks

For years, the store occupied a location in the French Quarter that enjoyed a high amount of foot traffic. Rising rents forced them to move to a location away from the Quarter, which meant that they had fewer people stopping in. When asked what it would take to keep the shop open, Lindsey said that it "would truly take on of those miracles in a Frank Capra movie." She and LaMancusa have been using their savings to keep the shop afloat and can no longer afford to do so. As a result, they will not renew their lease when it expires in September.

Although the lease expires in September, Lindsey and LaMancusa are not sure how long the store will remain open. As of now they plan to last through the spring, and will play it by ear after that. 

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