Dinner in an Instant - Melissa Clark

Do you question if Melissa Clark ever sleeps? I do. She's a wife, mother, author of many books and columnist at the New York Times. There has to be two of her. The dynamo has another cookbook coming in early 2018: Favorite Recipes from Melissa Clark's Kitchen: Family Meals, Festive Gatherings, and Everything In-between that can be pre-ordered now. And her previous titles and her two newspaper columns, A Good Appetite and What's for Dinner are indexed for our members. Two clicks and all the recipes from both columns can be added to your bookshelf.

But back to the reason we are here today, Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, and Instant Pot is the second book this year from Clark. This title tackles those appliances that can make our busy schedules a little less hectic - the pressure cooker, Instant Pot (have you entered our contest to win an Instant Pot?) and slow cooker. What I love about Dinner in an Instant is that the recipes are complex in flavor with plenty of international flair. The "in an Instant" portion of the title is somewhat misleading as many of the recipes do take an investment of time with prep, marinating and searing to add flavor but the reward is well worth the effort. 

Japanese beef curry, Wild mushroom, pancetta and pea risotto, and Garlicky Cuban pork are a few examples of recipes you will find. As with Melissa's Dinner Changing the Game, this book will always be handy and both titles have made my best books of 2017 list. 

Special thanks to Clarkson Potter for sharing a recipe with us today - the Korean chile-braised brisket and Kimchi coleslaw. The publisher is also providing three copies of Dinner in an Instant in our contest open to members in the US. Be sure to scroll down to enter. 

Korean Chile-braised brisket + Kimchi coleslaw

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Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes, plus at least 1 hour for marinating
Yield: 8 servings

Gochujang, a very slightly sweet and powerfully spicy Korean chile paste made from gochugaru (Korean red chile), has become a staple in my kitchen, where it adds a more intense, complex bite than other hot sauces. Here I use it to flavor tender beef brisket, along with the gochugaru chile flakes for added heat, sesame oil, garlic, and lots of fresh ginger. If you can't find gochujang, Sriracha makes a good though slightly less spicy substitute.

And if you're not a coleslaw fan, you can certainly skip it and simply serve some kimchi or a salad on the side.

  • 4 to 5 pounds beef brisket, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dried red chile flakes, preferably Korean gochugaru
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil, as needed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup lager-style beer
  • ¼ cup gochujang (Korean chile paste) or Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 5 cups shredded cabbage (from 1 small cabbage)
  • ¼ cup chopped kimchi, plus more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons peanut, grapeseed, or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Juice of ½ lime, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste


Cut the beef into 6 to 8 pieces instead of 3 or 4 pieces. Marinate and brown as in steps 1 and 2. Place the meat in the pot and cover with the sautéed onion mixture from step 3. Cook on high for 7 to 9 hours or low for 10 to 12 hours.

1. Rub the beef with the chile flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

2. Set the electric pressure cooker to sauté (or use a large skillet). Add a tablespoon of the oil, let it heat up for a few seconds, and then add a batch of the beef and sear until it's browned all over, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil as needed. Transfer the beef to a plate and repeat with the remaining batches.

3. If the pot looks dry, add a bit more oil. Add the onion and sauté until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute longer. Add the beer, gochujang, ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and sesame oil. Scrape the mixture into the pressure cooker if you have used a skillet.

4. Cover and cook on high pressure for 90 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes, and then release the remaining pressure manually.

5. To make the kimchi coleslaw, combine the cabbage, kimchi, both oils, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl and toss well. Taste, and add more salt or lime juice if needed.

6. Transfer the beef to a plate or a rimmed cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Set the pressure cooker to sauté and simmer the sauce for 15 to 20 minutes, until it is reduced by half or two-thirds (remember that it thickens as it cools). Use a fat separator to skim off the fat, or let the sauce settle and spoon the fat off the top. Serve the sauce alongside the beef, with the kimchi coleslaw.

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on January 17th, 2017.


Reprinted from Dinner in an Instant. Copyright © 2017 by Melissa Clark. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Christopher Testani. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Cook Book Stall in Philadelphia is closing

Cook Book Stall

Our list of favorite cookbook stores around the world is again getting shorter. The Cook Book Stall, which has been a fixture of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia for 35 years, is closing down on December 29.

Current owner Jill Ross, who purchased the store from original owner Nancy Marcus, has helmed the spot for the past 15 years. While she says that pressure from online booksellers has made it more difficult to stay in business, that's not the only reason she is closing up shop. "Mostly, I am just ready to move on and I'm ready to try something new," she said. "I've been here 15 years. I think that's a good run for any business."

Ross and her then-boyfriend moved to Philadelphia in 2002, and while shopping at Reading Terminal Market she noticed a "help wanted" sign at The Cook Book Stall. She thought it would be a good way to occupy her time until she finished school or decided on her next move. After working there for a year, she purchased the business.  The next adventure for Ross will involve growing her dog-walking business, and becoming licensed as a personal trainer. 

Vegan Recipes from the Middle East

Many cultures blend together to make up the melting pot that represents the food of the Middle East. Generations of  Iranian, Israeli, Armenian, Kurdish, Greek, Cypriot, Azerbaijani and Turkish cooks, as well as other nations, join together as the foundation of this varied and vibrant cuisine.

One constant among these people are the reverence and respect they have toward cooking with food that comes from the earth.

In Vegan Recipes from the Middle East by Parvin Razavi, vegan cooking blends natural culinary delights from various cultures with a contemporary approach to deliver dishes that will please the modern cook. Here are warm and spicy stuffed vegetables, cool and fragrant soups, delicate preserves, pilafs, breads, pickles, relishes and pastries with beautiful photographs to boot.

The dishes of the following countries: Iran; Armenia; Syria, Lebanon, Jordan; Egypt; Morocco and Turkey are the focus of Parvin's recipes. The book is organized in chapters for each country with a focus on the mezze style of cooking and serving. It is not unusual for up to ten dishes to be prepared for one meal in the Middle East and they are all served together. There is no designation of courses - everything is brought to the table to enjoy. I love this type of celebration that sets out myriad dishes so that guests can explore and share. 

The Crispy saffron rice and Orange and coriander relish were two dishes I tried several months ago and they were perfect, especially the relish.  I love the sweet and sour combination that added a bright note to our chicken dish (of course, this relish would be good with any number of vegan dishes such as rice or lentils).

Special thanks to the publisher for sharing the recipe below for Stuffed aubergines with walnut and pomegranate with our members today as well as providing five copies of this book in our contest for members worlwide. Scroll to the bottom of this post to enter.

Stuffed aubergines with walnut and pomegranate
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Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A little oil
  • 500 g ground walnuts
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate syrup
  • 250 ml water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100 g approx. Pomegranate seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • A little parsley, for garnishing

1. Halve the aubergines, place in a generous amount of salted water and steep for half an hour.

2. Sweat the onions in a pan with some oil until transparent and add the garlic.

3.  Add the walnuts and pomegranate syrup to the saucepan and slowly bring to the boil with the water.

4.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes, stirring regularly.

5. Add the pomegranate seeds and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring constantly.

6. Remove the aubergines from the water and wipe well with a clean cloth.

7. Cut into each aubergine flesh twice lengthways and saute in a heated frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side.

8. Add the lemon juice to the pomegranate and walnut mixture, and spread on the aubergines. Serve with pomegranate seeds and a little parsley as a garnish.

Tip: The nut and pomegranate filling can also be supplemented with 150-200 g strips of seitan and served with rice.


The publisher is offering five copies of this book to EYB Members worldwide. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on January 15th, 2017.

How to choose the 'keeper' cookbooks


Whenever you face cookbook overload - the shelves are bulging, and there is hardly any room left for even one volume - naturally, that means you will see several new 'must have' books. How do you decide which books are worth buying and taking up that precious real estate, or which of your current collection can be passed on to a new home to make room? Rebekah Denn, writing for The Seattle Times, has some ideas

Denn notes that, although everyone seems to keep predicting the death of recipes, cookbooks just keep getting better and are therefore more worthy of that precious shelf space. You might wonder how that is possible. Our very own Jenny Hartin had the answer, and was quoted in the article where she noted astutely that "Cookbook lovers and cooks are demanding more." We are spending serious cash on these beauties, and we expect them to deliver the goods. The production quality keeps growing as well, with better layouts and gorgeous photography.

Returning to the concept of picking only the 'keepers' among all of the wonderful releases this year, Denn provides some sage advice. She doesn't think that merely delivering one or two great recipes is enough, and advises you to copy those recipes down on a card or in a computer file (don't forget to index those as personal recipes), and then finding that book a new home. 

Denn also gives us some tough love - she says nostalgia should not be a factor in keeping a book. She suggests taking a photo of the cover to preserve the warm fuzzy feelings. Denn also recommends taking a cookbook for a test drive by picking up a copy at the local library before committing to a purchase. We try to find several online recipes for the best new releases to help in that regard. 

At the conclusion of the article, Denn provides her list of 'keeper' books for 2017. The list includes some Member favorites including BraveTart; Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat; Six Seasons, and The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen

Holiday cocktail ideas

Lillet, orange & vanilla mimosa

In the rush of holiday meal planning, it's easy to overlook the drinks. But having the right cocktail can make the dinner or brunch special, and Australian Gourmet Traveller has the goods, with a list of 20 Christmas cocktail ideas. The recipes range from traditional to contemporary. 

On the traditional side you'll find champagne crustas, eggnog, sangria, and a Bajan rum punch. The punch recipe is from chef Paul Carmichael, originally from Barbados. That's where his father developed the recipe, which he shared with Paul in the form of a poem: 

One of sour, two of sweet
Three of strong and four of weak
A dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice
Serve well chilled with plenty of ice

More adventuresome cocktails include a bright and refreshing cucumber and Tequila concoction, and the Lillet, burnt orange and vanilla mimosa pictured above.

The EYB Library contains hundreds of vibrant holiday cocktail ideas, like these Member favorites:

German mulled wine (Glühwein) from Chow.com
Pink sangria from Cuisine Magazine (NZ)
Fresh whiskey sours from Ina Garten
Sparkling pear Hanukkah sangria from The Kitchn
Spiced pomegranate gin from Jamie Magazine 
Batched rye-cranberry shrub cocktail from Serious Eats 
A winter sultan from Diana Henry at The Sunday Telegraph

State Bird Provisions, Review, Recipe and Giveaway

2017 is the year of the cookbook.

So many titles this year, more than any other, deserve a well-earned spot on "the best cookbooks of 2017" list. Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski's State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook is another such title. The couple's Michelin-starred restaurant by the same name is located in San Francisco and was named Best New Restaurant in 2013 by James Beard. Two years later, both chefs took the Best Chef West category. The power couple manage to remain married despite working together in the stress-filled restaurant business all while creating amazing food. They need to share their secrets for this seemingly Herculean, yet harmonious, union. When my husband works from home (on a different floor than myself) it throws off my whole game.

The couple's debut cookbook, State Bird, captures the spirit of the restaurant where guests start to eat even before an order is placed. Carts roam the restaurant with tiny bites for guests to sample. As I page through the book, I find myself dreaming about the flavors and textures of each dish based on the photographs alone. For instance, the first recipe State bird with provisions (fried quail - the state bird of California is quail)- the super crunchy breading (a mixture of flours, pumpkin seeds and bread crumbs) jumps off the page, the generous shards of parmesan along with the rainstorm of chives and black pepper promises to be the perfect bite. I am excited to experiment with this recipe. 

The entire book has the same feel. These folks love food - good food.  With dishes such as Everything pancakes with smoked mackerel, cream cheese, and sweet-and-sour beets; Fried pork belly with plum, fish sauce, herbs, and long pepper; and Dutch crunch "bao" with carrot halwa, all levels of cooks will find excitement and inspiration here. The measurements are in weight and volume and the recipe instructions are detailed with components outlined clearly and separately. For example, the quail is set out over four pages, one page devoted to the finished dish photo. Breaking these recipes down for us, makes them less intimidating: marinate the quail, bread the quail, make the onions, and then finish the dish. 

Special thanks to Ten Speed Press for sharing the following recipe today and for providing three copies of this beautiful book for our contest below. 

Black butter-balsamic figs with basil and fontina fondue 
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Serves 4 

Make the fondue 

  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ⅔ cup shredded Fontina Val d'Aosta or Cowgirl Creamery Wagon Wheel cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • ⅛ tsp kosher salt
  • 3 turns freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 2 Tbsp crème fraîche 


Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Immediately turn the heat to very low to keep warm. 

Pour an inch or so of water in a second small saucepan and bring to a boil. Put the cheese in a heatproof mixing bowl that will fit in the saucepan without touching the water. Set the bowl in the pan and turn the heat to medium-low. When the cheese begins to melt, about 30 seconds, pour in the warm cream. Continue to cook the cheese mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the cheese has fully melted, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Stir the egg yolk, salt, pepper, and Tabasco into the cheese until well combined. Turn off the heat, remove the bowl, and stir in the crème fraîche until well combined. Cover and keep warm for up to 1 hour. 

Finish the dish 

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8 large ripe fresh figs (preferably Black Mission or Kadota), halved lengthwise
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • ⅛ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp thinly sliced scallion (white and green parts)
  • Micro basil leaves or torn basil leaves for garnish

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat. Let it bubble and crackle, swirling the pan occasionally, until it stops crackling and turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Continue to cook, swirling constantly, until the butter smokes and turns a blackish color, about 30 seconds more. 

Put the figs, cut side down, in the pan, turn the heat to medium, and cook without stirring until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the thyme and sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Toss well and continue to cook, tossing occasionally and making sure to brown the round sides, until the figs are deep golden brown and soft but not falling apart, about 2 minutes. 

Add the vinegar to the pan, turn the heat to high, and cook, swirling and tossing constantly, just until it reduces slightly to glaze the figs, about 30 seconds. 

Drizzle about ½ cup of the fondue on a large plate, top with the figs and glaze, and sprinkle on the scallion and basil. Serve right away. 

The publisher is offering three copies of this book to EYB Members in the US. One of the entry options is to answer the following question in the comments section of this blog post.

Which recipe in the index would you try first?

Please note that you must be logged into the Rafflecopter contest before posting or your entry won't be counted. For more information on this process, please see our step-by-step help post. Be sure to check your spam filters to receive our email notifications. Prizes can take up to 6 weeks to arrive from the publishers. If you are not already a Member, you can join at no cost. The contest ends at midnight on January 13th, 2017.

Batali steps down following sexual harassment allegations

Mario Batali 

After reports that four women have accused the culinary megastar of sexual misconduct, Mario Batali announced that he would be stepping back from day-to-day operations of his restaurant ventures. ABC has also asked the chef to step away from the daytime talk showThe Chew, where Batali is one of the hosts.

Three of Batali's accusers worked for the chef, while the fourth did not work for him but did work in the restaurant industry. Her allegation stems from conduct at a party in New Orleans approximately ten years ago, where she says that Batali groped her breasts after she spilled wine on her chest. The stories from the three employees combine with this account to show a pattern of behavior that dates back many years.

Batali was reprimanded for inappropriate behavior as recently as two months ago, said a spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, which provides support to some of the restaurants where Batali is an owner. In a statement to the website Eater, the chef did not deny the allegations. In his statement, Batali said "I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses."

Women have been reluctant to come forward with their stories, citing Batali's huge influence in the industry and his reputation as being vindictive as reasons they have remained silent. One woman who claims she was inappropriately touched by Batali in the 1990s said that the chef "has clear intent on being threatening when he is wronged. And the level of vindictiveness is very chilling. So, it never occurred to me to share tales out of school."

A few of the women have mixed feelings about Batali, noting that he has hired and championed female chefs in his restaurants. Del Posto's kitchen is currently led by a female executive chef and executive pastry chef. 

With the restaurant industry's longstanding reputation as a "boys club" with a pervasive culture of harassment, Batali will likely not be the last prominent chef to face allegations of impropriety. Earlier this year John Besh left his restaurant group following several accusations of harassment, and four women have also alleged harassment by former Jean-Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini. 

Vanilla extract in an instant

vanilla extract

A couple of weeks ago we discussed vanilla in our Spice Support on baking spices. There was a blurb about a shortcut to homemade vanilla extract - and now we have details to go along with that blurb. The Kitchn recently posted a tutorial on how to make vanilla extract with an Instant Pot

While traditional recipes require weeks or months for the beans to release their delicious flavor and aroma into the surrounding alcohol, using an Instant Pot means you can have extract ready in less than one day. This is perfect if you wanted to make vanilla to give out as holiday gifts but hadn't got around to it yet. 

In addition to an Instant Pot or similar electric pressure cooker, you'll need a few glass jars with screw-on lids, and of course vanilla beans and 80-proof alcohol (vodka is the preferred spirit due to its neutral flavor profile). The Kitchn does not recommend trying this in a stovetop pressure cooker. After cooking, the vanilla will be ready to use once it has cooled, although you will get more flavor if you allow it to steep for another week or so. 

I opted to make vanilla extract the old-fashioned way - the photo above is of the beans at the start of their process a couple of weeks ago. Had I discovered this method before, I would have tried it. Let us know if you have done this - The Kitchn promises a flavor as full as the long-steeped method.

Cookbook Gift Guide for the Ultimate Collector

We all know someone special, like myself, who has the mother lode of all cookbook collections. We want to give them the greatest gift of all - a cookbook that they don't own, but how does one know without having access to their Eat Your Books profile and even then have they indeed loaded all their titles?

I have put together a list of cookbooks that likely will not be in those super-collectors' collections so that you will be forever known as the gift whisperer. For other ideas for those less-obsessed collectors, be sure to check out my Top Books of 2017 and my earlier gift guide which shares links to guides from prior years. All gift guides have been tagged with #giftguide so that you can click that tag and bring them all up. 

Please remember, if you are interested in buying any books (or any items from our affiliates), using the BUY BOOK  button for your purchases helps support our indexing efforts and you can access our affiliate stores through these direct links Amazon USAmazon CA and Amazon UK with the same result.


Global Cuisine

The Iraqi Table
by Raghad Al Safi is the result of the author having collected recipes for over a decade, refining and then compiling them in this stunning book. The Iraqi Table is a loving tribute to the author's motherland and its food which bears the influence of many cultures and eras, making it a rich, eclectic and complex culinary experience. This book needs to be on everyone's shelf as is it filled with photographs that capture the soul of Iraqi cuisine preserving it for those who have left this complex country or those who have never been. The recipes are utter perfection and tempt me like no other book on this varied and vibrant area of the world. From street food to comforting meat dishes and delicious desserts, the 100 authentic recipes here along with personal anecdotes all pay homage to the author's love of her heritage and the family table.

Palate Passport
by Neha Khullar takes readers on a trip around the globe to learn about the people, places and history where each extraordinary dish was discovered. Along with recipes and personal stories, readers will feast on other relics collected along the way including original artwork from India, beautiful photos from Portugal and age old rituals from Croatia. Both a cookbook and short story collection, the book will serve as inspiration to cook international dishes at home and motivation to travel with these dishes as a compass.

Polpo E Spada: Catch of the Day: Recipes and Culinary Adventures in Southern Italy by Domenico Ottaviano shares stunning photographs of the sea- and land-scapes of Italy and the luscious seafood dishes and recipes that are unlikely to be found elsewhere. From antipasti to main courses, fresh seafood is featured with one tempting dish after another. Pinzimonio of caramote prawns with chicory tips, Couscous with white amerjack ragout, and Cuttlefish stuffed with savoy cabbage and pine nuts are just a few examples. This book is the choice for the seafood or Italian food lover or anyone who appreciates gorgeous food and scenic photography.

Other global titles for gift giving include:

Advanced Cooking

Master Chefs Of France, The Cookbook is a stunning volume filled with beautiful photography that can also double as a coffee table book. 77 of the best French Chefs in the world share their trusted recipes including appetizers, soups and main course dishes. 154 recipes in all with a forward by Jacques Pépin and preface by Paul Bocuse with gorgeous photography by Alan Batt, known as Battmann.

Chasing Bocuse: America's Journey to the Culinary World Stage by Philip Tessier is a book brimming with personal anecdotes, vibrant pictures, and a course-by-course offering of recipes for the home chef from the famous competitions. As Tessier describes the journey to the competition first as competitor, then as coach including the chaos, pressure, and the glorious result, readers will feel every heated moment. With a collection of recipes for meals served at every stage, readers will be able to taste those moments as well. Combining a great story with recipes crafted by America's culinary giants, this beautiful celebration of a historic victory will make every reader feel and cook like a champion.

Advanced cooking - one more level up

Caldos / Broths by Ricard Camarena is for the cook or chef that wants to understand the complexity of creating broths, sauces and soups. This book is written in both Spanish and English and unlocks the code of flavor in broths that are the backbone of most dishes. Camarena oversees a cluster of Michelin-starred restaurants that have generated a great deal of excitement. A major reason for that excitement is chef's intensely flavorful broths, which underlie nearly all his dishes and are prepared using innovative methods. Here, he lays out his philosophy and techniques for making and using broths. This is definitely one area of cooking that I wish to master and I look forward to soaking in the knowledge shared in this title.

Ideas and Recipes between Cuisine and Pastry
 by Jose Romero is where sweet and savory disciplines converge. The book is presented both in English and Spanish with 27 chapters with over 40 creations with step-by-step photographs. Like Caldos above, this book will strengthen your understanding of balancing flavors to create the perfect bite.


Restaurant/farm to table

The Volante Farms Cookbook: A Century of Growing by Ryan Conroy is a beautiful seasonal title that shares the history of the farm that began in the western foothills of Italy in 1881 and lands in Massachusetts where Volante Farms is located. Recipes include Peach polenta upside-down cake, Last of the tomatoes bread pudding, and White chocolate rhubarb scones along with vibrant photographs. This new title deserves your attention.

The Myrtlewood Cookbook: Pacific Northwest Home Cooking
 by Andrew Barton shares beautiful home cooking that takes cues from the kitchen gardens and forest harvests of the Pacific Northwest. Andrew Barton and his friends run Secret Restaurant Portland, a monthly supper club. After hosting dinners for five years, a culinary style emerged that reflected his practical approach to cooking: accessible recipes alive with flavor, lovely on the plate and the palate. This title delivers 100 recipes that amplify the tastes, colors, and textures of summer tomatoes, fall mushrooms, winter roots, and spring greens. You will gain nearly as much from reading these recipes as from cooking them. We will be bringing you a full promotion on this beautiful book soon.


Modernist Cuisine

Of course, every serious cook and baker would love the Modernist Cuisine titles. They carry a hefty price tag and deservingly so. Modernist Bread is the newest addition to the Modernist family and has been the recipient of stellar reviews. Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Bread are on my wish list.  Modernist Cuisine at Home I own and love and provides a glimpse into the genius minds behind these titles. 

I hope this unique list helps you for those hard-to-buy-for cookbook lovers. 

In praise of ugly food


If you spend any time on Instagram, you may start to feel a bit insecure about your cooking and baking. Impeccably staged, lushly lighted, stunning photographs featuring glistening vegetables, intricately decorated pie crusts, and artfully composed plates could make anyone eye their grilled cheese sandwich with disdain. But just because a dish is not gorgeous doesn't mean is not delicious, says Kat Kinsman at Serious Eats

Kinsman relates an event she witnessed at a Southern Foodways Alliance symposium, where chef Sean Brock created a chicken and dumplings dish with his mother. At previous demonstrations, everyone snapped multiple images with their phones, uploading the beautiful shots to social media. With Brock's dish, however, people hesitated, and Kinsman realized it was because the dish wasn't photogenic. But it was delicious, and part of an historic event, so Kinsman took a photo and posted it with the caption "Some food isn't pretty and does not need to be."

Her concern is that by only posting images of the most visually pleasing foods, we are in danger of creating a history that will omit some of the most valuable and important foods of our time. Kinsman is "terrified that the less-lovely and monumentally delicious ducklings will be lost to the ages, overshadowed by prettier dishes in this new era of visual gluttony." 

In the world of potential dystopian futures, one without ugly food may not seem that bad. But imagine a world where people never knew about chicken and dumplings, beef stew, baba ganoush, hummus, or split pea soup. That is not a future I would like to see. To combat this, Kinsman makes sure to post photos of dishes that are meaningful to her, regardless of how pretty they may look. I think that's a splendid idea, and I'm sharing a photo of yesterday's lunch of potato and dumpling soup, similar to the German chicken soup with dumplings recipe from Food & Wine by Molly Yeh.

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