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Gift season approaches: What cookbooks are people looking at?

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Went to B&N yesterday. I saw a couple of books that just came out:

1. Susan Spicer (New Orleans-style cooking). Looked good. Definitely not Wednesday night cooking, but looked like a great book for entertaining.

2. Cook by Jamie Oliver. as ever, really practical. Is it just me though, or are his recipes getting less and less simple? I have a couple of his older books that I reach for to use. I reach for his new stuff and just read.

3. Kitchens of Biro: Interesting, but no way in heck am i going to make any of it Too complicated. I have only had mixed results from his first cookbook.

4. Jean-gearge V has a new Asian cookbook. Very good. i suspect it is similar to his other books: Some very straightforward (and great) rcipes with a couple of all-day shopping and cooking ones thrown in.

What else is out there?


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  1. My newest purchases are Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food and Patricia Wells Vegetable Harvest. I love them both.

    1. I practically never buy dessert books, but I took one look at Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma and simply had to own it. Great on technique, a wonderful read, and wine pairings!!!!--unusual in a dessert book. It just arrived and I've barely flipped through it, but can't wait to spend time with it.

      9 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        I hope to give a couple of copies of Michael Ruhlman's new book, "The Elements of Cooking."

        1. re: rockandroller1

          those are the three on my list
          Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food
          Dolce Italiano
          and The Elements of Cooking (holding out for the Kahlman illustrated version, a la Elements of Style...)

          1. re: rockandroller1

            RockandRoller, I saw Michael Ruhlman pumping his book yesterday on the Cleveland noon news, and I might purchase this work.

            I was amazed when he stated that good cooking isn't about $50K magazine kitchens and boutique ingredients. Its about good ingredients, a few choice tools and the knowledge of basic techniques and the desire to experiment a little.

            I did not realize that he was from Cleveland until about 1 year ago, but he is obviously very knowledgeable, plus his friendship with the culinary maverick Tony Bourdain, is a definite plus.

            Surely he Mr Ruhlman have a few local book signing at indie bookstores, plus the usual Buns-and-Nibbles and Border chains.

          2. re: JoanN

            Ooh, Joan, I'm realllly jealous. I'm just too cheap to buy cookbooks anymore....especially since I've had to rent our local football stadium to store the ones I already have. I might just have to have this one, though.

            1. re: oakjoan

              I understand. I made the mistake of throwing away a whole bunch of cookbooks recently and those spaces on the shelves just kept beckoning to me. I nearly always buy cookbooks at Amazon.com when I'm buying something else anyway and want to get the total order up to $25 to get the free shipping. That way, I figure I'm not only getting the cookbook at a very good price (often about half retail), but I'm saving an additional $6.25 by not paying for shipping. Just amazing what I can rationalize when it comes to buying cookbooks!

              1. re: JoanN

                JoanN: I'm going to buy this book! I made 2 desserts from Dolce Italiano for Thanksgiving (I already posted in another thread about this but wanted to tout the Gina De Palma book cause it's so great. I made Cranberry pie and creamy pumpkin custard (or was it called "mousse"). The cranberry pie was just okay, mainly because I'd originally planned to make another tart with cranberries and blueberries. So I used that combo instead of all cranberries. I also didn't entirely make her crust which sounds wonderful. The pie was pretty good, but not great.

                On the other hand, the creamy pumpkin custard was outstanding. It's a rich baked custard of pumpkin, cream cheese (I used half mascarpone and half light cream cheese cause that's what I had), eggs, brown sugar, crystallized ginger, and pumpkin (I used butternut squash as I had no pumpkin).

                It's baked in ramekins and then served with a compote of golden raisins steeped in orange juice and rum. Again, I had no rum and used a combo of calvados and pear brandy - tasted great.

                The custards are supposed to be unmolded, but mine never got firm enough to come out of the ramekins...so I left them in, spooned the raisin compote over and topped with a dollop of mascarpone mixed with nonfat yogurt.

                The combo of the rich pumpkin/mascarpone custard and the tangy raisin compote is spectac. The whipped cream topping adds another layer of flavor. It's a great dessert!

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I'm so glad you made--and liked--that custard. I gave it serious thought for Thanksgiving, but ended up going traditional instead. I'll have to find an excuse to try it soon. Sounds heavenly.

            2. re: JoanN

              I was at B&N a few days ago and was looking at Dolce Italiano - good choice. It is going on my list to Santa. lovely.

              1. re: JoanN

                I just bought this yesterday morning at DiPalo's - she was doing a signing there. Didn't intend to buy it, so to speak, but well, as I saw my bill running up, I figured it wouldn't be terribly impacted by the addition of this book. It's beautiful and there are lots of things I want to try - especially since my Christmas meal is Italian, and I hadn't figured out what to do for dessert - yes, now I remember, that was the justification for buying it! Anyway - great photos, I like her voice, and the chocolate/tangerine semi freddo maybe for dessert. She's very sweet, by the way.

              2. Now that we can get really good Spanish ingredients like Pimenton Dulce and Picante and real Serrano ham here in the SF Bay Area, I've become very interested in Spanish cooking. Thus, I was really happy to see that Spain's most popular cookbook (for about 35 years) has just been translated into English. It's called __1080 Recipes__ and it is quite comprehensive (over 900 pages.)
                You can see more about it here: http://www.ecookbooks.com/p-20675-108...

                I'm always looking for new Jewish cookbooks, so I was thrilled to see 2 really nice (and really different from each other) ones, __Cooking Jewish__ and __Aromas of Aleppo__.

                __Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family__ is by Orange County (CA) Register food writer and columnist, Judy Bart Kancigor (who is a friend of mine -- no bias, though -- I really admire her work) and who originally collected the recipes and wrote this book as a gift to her family. It's full of wonderful stories and recipes that really work and is a book with which I can really identify. Judy first self-published this book and sold over 10,000 copies. An editor from Workman Publishing (the folks who publish the Silver Palate books) saw her at a conference and they decided to publish her book. It's been a long time coming, but it's really good and I highly recommend it. More info: http://www.ecookbooks.com/p-8270-cook...

                The other (completely different) Jewish cookbook is __Aromas of Aleppo: The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews__ by Poopa Dweck. This absolutely beautifully photographed book contains recipes that are completely new to me but that look really wonderful. More info: http://www.ecookbooks.com/p-8708-arom...

                11 Replies
                1. re: Nancy Berry

                  I saw Aromas of Aleppo book. It looked very nice. More like a coffee table book than anything I would subject to splatter in my kitchen.

                  1. re: Westy

                    The recipes are really good, so just scan or enter the ones you're going to use into your computer and then print them out for shopping, cooking, etc. I do this all the time -- much neater and more convenient than using the book directly.

                    1. re: Nancy Berry

                      In my book, nothing will ever top Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food. It has recipes from all over the world, including places like India, China and the Middle East. It's a beautiful book - the recipes are great and so are the sepia photos (some from long ago).

                  2. re: Nancy Berry

                    There are just a few reviews of 1080 on Amazon. While they are good, I'm a little concerned about some negative reviews of the corresponding Italian book, Silver Spoon. I already have a few Spanish cookbooks, such as The New Spanish Table, that apparently give more background information than 1080.

                    One online review of 1080 (from a Boston paper) included a recipe for pasta with bell peppers and ham. That turned out pretty good, though it didn't seem to be particularly Spanish in character.

                    I found a copy of The Splendid Table in a used book store. It has a lot of information besides recipes. But it is very focused on one region of Italy, with page after page of ragu recipes. I expect to get ideas from it (such as long cooked double boiler polenta), but I doubt if I'll every follow a recipe exactly. Check the latest radio episode for a recipe from the book for pasta with orange juice and almonds.


                    1. re: paulj

                      Ah! That foolproof, no-stir, long-cooked, double-boiler polenta! Just brilliant. Lynne Rosetto Kasper got that recipe from Carlo Middione, author of The Food of Southern Italy, another overlooked gem. He has a recipe for "Eggplant Sandwiches," mortadella (or prosciutto) and Provolone sandwiched between two slices of eggplant, breaded, and baked until crisp. You cut them into wedges and serve them as cocktail finger food either hot or at room temp. Positively addictive.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        this reminded me of the "eggplant on waffle-maker thread a while back.... i'll bet your sandwich would be fantastic on the waffle-iron, JoanN!


                        1. re: alkapal

                          I'd missed that. Thanks for pointing it out. And you're right. I'm sure they'd be terrific on the waffle iron.

                        2. re: JoanN

                          Joan! Regarding the Carlo Middone recipe.....You should be arrested for telling me about this! Sounds too terrific.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Joan -- I'm glancing at The Food of Southern Italy at amazon right now... the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Is this one that you cook from often? One critique mentioned that he requires hard-to-find culinary tools for many of the recipes. Do you agree with that? That comment was the only thing swaying me against the book.

                            What level cook would most enjoy this book, and succeed with it, do you think? I definitely want a good Italian cookbook for my mom, but I would also like a book that will be used often (weekly, say, or at least twice a month). I think my mom would go CRAZY over that eggplant "sandwich" you mention... mmm! :)

                            1. re: foxy fairy

                              I can't say that I do cook from it often, but that has more do with me than with the book. I've had the book since it was first published 20 years ago and as an avid (crazed?) cookbook collector I just automatically reach for my newest books. But I turn to Middione for certain specific recipes and for pasta and shellfish dishes--especially when I want something simple, flavorful, and uncomplicated. It's very definitely the kind of book you can cook from weekly. Many of the recipes are quite simple (no lengthy preps; no unusual ingredients) and each recipe has menu suggestions and wine pairings.

                              As far as hard-to-find tools is concerned, he has workarounds for all of them. He recommends a special kind of baking pan for breads, but it's not at all necessary. And most of the other tools he specifies are for particular pastas and pasta shapes such as one of those rolling pin thingies for making ravioli. I didn't come across any mentioned tools the lack of which would keep you from preparing the recipe, so don't worry on that account.

                              I don't think you'll go wrong in buying this. Especially now that I've checked the price on Amazon and seen what it's selling for. Very definitely worth it.

                          2. re: paulj

                            I looked through 1080 at B&N. I think I'll pass on it. A lot of recipes were simple, generic European ones, not that different from what one might find in Joy. The instructions for all recipes are simple, straight forward, with little discussion of the ingredients, regional origins. The New Spanish Table is more inspiring for a cook who wants to both get a flavor of Spain, and improvise.


                        3. Not new, but I definitely want a copy of Bouchon this year.

                          Ruhlman's new book - not really a cookbook though.

                          Bittman's veg book - my husband doesn't eat red meat so I am looking forward to it. I really like his other books, though I know he has his detractors on this board...

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: jnstarla

                            You may really enjoy Peter Berley's "The Flexitarian Table" - includes menus with veggie/non-veggie options and wonderful flavors. Search the boards for a discussion a couple months ago.

                            1. re: mimilulu

                              I like Flexitarian Table a lot, and second the recommendation.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Thanks guys! I am always on the lookout for good cookbooks that accommodate his weird no-red-meat thing.

                                1. re: jnstarla

                                  I eat almost no red meat, and no pork at all. I often just sort of slightly change recipes. Turkey cutlets for porkchops or putting dark meat chicken in place of beef or rabbit in stews, braises. Doesn't always work out, but a surprising number of times it does. And of course turkey bacon and ground turkey can be subbed for regular bacon and ground beef.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    We definitely do all of that - but it'll be nice to not have to think about subbing things out while reading recipes, you know?

                                    1. re: jnstarla

                                      Absolutely - and you'll like that you get a couple of different ways to do each dish. I think it helps you look at *all* recipes as more adjustable. I hope you like it.

                          2. I have looked at Lynn Rossetto Kasper's "The Splendid Table" and really can't figure out why it doesn't get more play on these boards. It has a lot of good stuff in it.

                            Also, at this link, there are several lists of good cookbooks.

                            1. I want everything by Jeffery Alford and Naomi Duguid. I found Homebaking on a bargain table, but I really want the Seduction of Rice and whatever else they have.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: WCchopper

                                I have made some very good things from Home Baking. Including the banana bread. (A little different from the usual.) And the chocolate cranberry sweet buns. Alford taught a class here once, and I had the chance to try the middle eastern pizzas with lamb and pine nuts. Phenomenal.

                                1. re: karykat

                                  I made the date and onion seed bread. It was subtly flavored and had a very nice texture. It was unusual and very very good. I made the everyday skillet cake too, but I think I overcooked it a little. Any other recommendations from the book? Have you made the foccacia?

                                  1. re: WCchopper

                                    I love Home Baking. I've made the middle eastern pizzas which were so good. The pizza dough also freezes really well. My husband and I have made the dough 3 or 4 times and frozen the extra for last minute dinners. I've also made the Irish soda bread (awesome) and the country fruit cake (I think that's what it's called). My Home Baking book is loaded with TONS of post it notes. I can't wait to bake more from it.

                                2. re: WCchopper

                                  I love their books and have them all except Seduction of Rice - need to get that one too! :)

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    That's the first one I bought - love it.

                                3. http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Cookbo...

                                  do use the "search inside" feature.

                                  older, but simply wonderful: new york cookbook, by nyt food columnist molly o' neill.

                                  ethnic, delis, high-end dining establishments, neighborhoods, recipes, stories, history.

                                  so easy to browse. uncomplicated, diverse. so readable in bed, to muse and plan.....a must have for new yorkers who love food and nyc! i love it and i am not a new yorker. in fact, i'd recommend it for anyone who loves food!

                                  also (apparently) recommended by cooks magazine (according to an amazon community reviewer).

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: alkapal

                                    Yeah, that Molly O'N book is great! I'm about as opposite as you can get from a NYr...being in Northern Calif. and all.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      I've had this book for several years now. Enjoyable browsing, as Alkapal says. And I've had good luck with the recipes; several--the Cool and Cruncy coleslaw, Mohamed's Marvelous Marakesh Carrots, et al--having become standbys.

                                    2. I recently bought Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey - a Sardinian cookbook. I've cooked six recipes from it so far and all are wonderful - and a great excuse to head up to Arthur Avenue to scout out Sardinian ingredients! The book also has lots of interesting side bars about Sardinia, its cooking and the ingredients.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        This sounds intriguing. Can you tell us what the biggest hits have been for you so far?

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          Here's a link to what I've cooked so far:


                                          The clam soup was fantastic, as was the stew and the lamb pasta dish. Also loved the salad.

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Thanks so much for the link - sorry I had missed this discussion. The pictures are mouthwatering. But I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to track down the ingredients here in NC.

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              If you like, I can post about it on the Home Cooking board on that thread - there are probably some good substitutions. Also, there are some on line sourced I can post on General Topics

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                MMRuth, you are really amazing - I'm a bit in awe of you and your cooking, so will very willingly take every suggestion you offer. I'll keep checking that link and see what shows up.

                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                  You are very kind - but all I really do is follow the recipes! Having no children and working from home makes it easier for me than for many to cook - it's pretty much my only hobby - or at least the only one I pursue regularly. I'll try to post about the substitutions and online sources tonight. My mother lives in NC (New Bern) so I'm familiar with the difficulties of getting ingredients.

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    Here's the link to online sources:


                                                    So far, I've used pecorino Sardo, fruttato and Saba, because I couldn't find musto d'uvo (so I diluted the Saba). Also Ricotta Salata.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      Ricotta salata is also big in Sicilian cooking, such as on pasta alla norma.

                                      2. After cooking from it this spring, I really want a copy of Arabesque by Claudia Rodin. It's not brand new (came out last fall), but that's the one I want ;-)

                                        1. On my list (most are not recent releases):

                                          The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the Passionate Cook, Paul Wolfert
                                          The Cooking of Southwest France: Recipes from France’s Magnificent Rustic Cuisine
                                          Paula Wolfert
                                          The New Spanish Table by Anna Von Brezem
                                          The Art of Simple Food...by Alice Waters

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: huruta

                                            Has anyone cooked from Pure Desserts yet? It looks like it would be a good gift book? I have it but haven't tried anything from it yet. Would this be a good nomination for cookbook of the month?

                                            1. re: karykat

                                              I'm reading this right now - haven't tried any of the recipes yet but I'm going out tomorrow to hunt for cacao nibs so I can try her recipe for Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies. But so far I really love this book. Just the introductory pages where she discusses ingredients has been very informative - and I am an experienced baker with literally hundreds of baking books. I think I am going to learn a lot from this book. I can't imagine this book not being a welcome gift for the baker on your Holiday shopping list.

                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                I would love to know how your experiments with the book go. I have the book but haven't tried anything from it yet. I love chestnuts and am looking at the chestnut walnut meringues and the chestnut pound cake.

                                                1. re: karykat

                                                  I'll be happy to report back. :)

                                                  I found the cacao nibs today so I'm planning on trying the cookie recipe sometime this week. (Going to Mom's house for Thanksgiving so no cooking for me this year - just baking.)

                                                  1. re: karykat

                                                    The chestnut pound cake is wonderful. It makes a quite large cake - next time I'm going to halve the recipe and put drained Turkish candied chestnuts (available in jars) in it instead of walnuts...

                                            2. Also, (and I know this one is old too) the Zuni Cafe Cookbook as I have maxed out taking it out of the library and renewing it over and over.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: WCchopper

                                                Do the Zuni preparations tend to be extremely intricate and involved? I hear raves, but I somehow have it in my head that it might take me forever to put one of the recipes together. I haven't looked through the book- I think I've just inferred as much from comments on chow.

                                                1. re: foxy fairy

                                                  That was my initial impression as well. But, when I started cooking from it (through COTM), I found that it took more planning than labor. For example, the roasted chicken and bread recipe looks positively daunting. It's at least 4 pages long. But part of it is that Rodgers gives excellent details in her directions so that you can visualize what the item should look or taste at any particular stage. As for prep, the chicken has to be salted and herbed three days prior to consumption. It sits in the fridge until the day of and then roasted. The bread salad is not too difficult to put together, although there are numerous steps.

                                                  I've found the recipes to Sunday Suppers to be much more work without as much direction. Although, I do love that cookbook too.

                                                  The bottom line is that I've found most of her recipes to have a lot of seasoning, inactive labor time. And, the labor part, her directions are so clear that putting together the dish doesn't seem to be too onerous or labor intensive. Zuni has a lot of comfort food done extremely well through technique and ingredients.

                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                    That sounds like something I'd like quite a bit -- I think I'll peek take a peek at Zuni at the library. Thanks, beetlebug, for the explanation - that clarifies a lot for me!

                                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                                      I made the mock porchetta from Zuni recently, and like beetlebug said, the directions were really detailed which gave me a lot of confidence in trying something completely new for me. So, while it's not a quick cook type of book, it seems more dense with information than actual "work."

                                                      1. re: WCchopper

                                                        How much prep time (average) for the dishes you've tried??

                                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                                          There are a lot of recipes in Zuni that are all about exciting combinations and have practically no prep time at all. Fried Eggs in Bread Crumbs; Mixed Lettuces with Roasted Cherries, Hazelnuts, & Warrm Saint-Marcellin; ir-Dried Beef & Fuyu Persimmons with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar. Don't be put off thinking every recipe is time intsensive. Some are; many, many aren't.

                                                        2. re: WCchopper

                                                          I made that mock porchetta, too and agree completely about the instructions. The finished product was quite delicious. I had the same reaction as some others here about the Zuni Cookbook at first. It looked like overly complicated recipes and more of a beautiful display-type book rather than one I'd use. WRONG! After it was cookbook of the month a while ago, I was completely won over. Ended up making lots of stuff.

                                                      2. re: beetlebug

                                                        REALLY good pont about Zuni v Sunday Suppers, beetlebug.
                                                        Much of the stuff in Zuni is actually quite astonishingly simple, and brilliantly good.
                                                        Kale soup 4 ways, I'm lookin at you!
                                                        Sunday Suppers makes me want to eat at her restaurants instead of do it myself, where Zuni has the opposite effect.

                                                  2. I've heard about this one "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking", but I've yet to see it on the shelf anywhere so I can have a good look at it. Has anyone else had a close look at this one (it's brand new.)



                                                    1. For those who have the new Alice Waters cookbook on the list, has anyone had positive experiences cooking from it? Because I've heard pretty negative reviews from friends of mine who have used it.

                                                      Sunday Suppers at Lucques is on my wish list, I hope Santa sees it this year!

                                                      1. What's the take on Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean by Ana Sortun (Regan Books, c. 2006)? I checked Spice out of the library this past week for perusal, and I think I'll make the hot buttered hummus this week. I'm going to get the basturma today :). Any book that sends me to the Lebanese market is already a winner!

                                                        Who has cooked from Spice, and how have you found the dishes? They look relatively simple and I like her writing style, her tales of learning from the women of Turkey, and some of her intriguing ideas (like toasting orange zest overnight!)
                                                        I might put this on my wish list. It would certainly expand my horizons, yet the dishes also look really accessible, the type of food I'd be proud to serve at a dinner party or bring to a potluck. Ingredient lists don't seem overwhelming, nor do techniques.

                                                        I'd like a yay or nay from a hound who has it. :) Which specific dishes have you made/would you make again??

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                                          you might want to start a new thread on that book - I know I'd be interested in the results

                                                          you might not reach the widest possible audience on the HC board by putting it on a gift book thread . . .

                                                            1. re: foxy fairy

                                                              I have it and it is great. The format is a little odd - it goes by flavor combinations as opposed to types of food, but it is excellent.One surpise was that the ingedients are not impossible to get down here in NC. I had visions of not being able to come up with the necessary stuff, but so far, so good.

                                                              1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                I love the pistachio beef kebabs -- but I double the spices. A great use for the grass-fed ground beef from TJ's. Juicy and very flavorful. A big hit.

                                                                I ate at her restaurant a few weeks ago, and while it was a disappointing meal, I loved the whipped feta with peppers. I'll be trying this recipe next.

                                                                1. re: emily

                                                                  Well, I lied -- I made the muhammara instead of the whipped feta (TJs didn't have the requisite soft French feta). It seems that most muhammara recipe reviews I see are usually very favorable, but this one is really good -- I think using the aleppo and urfa chiles adds a lot of complexity. And I like her recommendation of using panko for bread crumbs since it makes it that much more convenient for me.

                                                                2. re: foxy fairy

                                                                  I LOVE this cookbook- I did a lot of cooking from it last Fall.

                                                                  Here are some of my favorites:

                                                                  Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers (pg 149)
                                                                  Black Kale Malfati in Chestnut Soup (pg. 125)
                                                                  Rosemary's Spicy Caramel Popcorn (pg. 170)
                                                                  Deviled Eggs with Tuna & Black Olives (pg. 203)
                                                                  Shrimp with Kasseri Cheese, Fennel & Fenugreek (pg. 206)

                                                                  The only real bomb I had was the Monkfish with Ginger (pg. 53)

                                                                  1. re: jens

                                                                    We sampled several recipes from SPICE last week -- red lentil & bulgur cakes (kofte) with pomegranate salsa, the whipped feta (YUM, can't stop eating it) and the hot buttered hommus with basturma. Wowzas. Delicious, fun, and with a great Middle Eastern market nearby, I was able to get my hands on all of the necessary ingredients. What fun. Bold flavors, bright colors, simple preparation once you get the ingredients. :) I like the hommus with butter *much* more than hommus with tahini. I'm looking forward to trying the Aleppo chiles in other dishes - soups, sauces, spicy mayo...

                                                                    (I'll post recipe reviews with pics here:


                                                                3. I will be ordering A Love Affair with Southern Cooking this afternoon from Amazon for myself. I have ordered a coupe of other books for friends who post here so i won't be mentioning the titles right now, they both post here. If you e-mail me, address is on my profile I'll share the title and author. It is a new and most excellent book.

                                                                  1. I'm looking to get Charlie Palmer's Practical Guide to the New American Kitchen. Lovely little book, and I love reading the prose chefs have to offer, since recipes can be had anywhere. It just seems like a nice little read every now and again, especially for beginners.

                                                                    The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Rheinhart. Utterly fantastic, really. I love bread, so this would simply be perfect for me, and would be something I'd keep around for the rest of my life.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ATaleOfFiction

                                                                      It is an outstanding little book. I really like it very much. The recipes are straightforward and outstanding. The sections where he adds side dishes in addition to a main dish are great.
                                                                      I like it more than his Cooks at Home book.

                                                                      1. re: Westy

                                                                        Yeah, I got Cooks at Home and then ended up never using it.

                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                          Re: Cooks at Home

                                                                          Me too (re Cooks at Home). I finally traded it in at the used book store.

                                                                          I'm still in love with Breakfast Lunch Tea, Recipes from the Rose Bakery in Paris. It's one I've used countless times since buying it about 8 months ago. Great lamb shank recipe in addition to all the great baked stuff,

                                                                    2. I was just checking out the website of Gastronomica, which looks like a great publication on food and culture. The editress, Darra Goldstein (professor of Russian at Williams College), has four cookbooks out. Anybody know anything about them? The Winter Vegetarian, The Georgian Feast, Baking Boot Camp, A Taste of Russia. The sample recipes look good -- I want to try the "fudgy" mudslide cookies from BBC.

                                                                      I think Gastronomica, which looks like an edgy, snazzy culinary journal that goes way beyond the average food mag, would be a cool gift for the culinary anthropologists out there (but a pricey one, at $47 for a subscription). I think it's going on my list, though - the food writing in BA, even Gourmet, isn't satiating ;) me anymore.



                                                                      1. The ones I've had my eye on are:

                                                                        Jose Andres' "Tapas: a Taste of Spain in America."
                                                                        Alain Ducasse's "Grand Livre de Cuisine"
                                                                        Yoshihiro Murata's "Kainseki: the Exquisite Cuisine..."

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: steinpilz

                                                                          Last Christmas I asked for, and received, a copy of the 1974 edition of "Joy of Cooking". What fun.

                                                                          It's a fantastic read, and I've been looking HIGH and LOW for a good recipe for muskrat! :-)

                                                                          The gifter had no problem getting her hands on this through the web.

                                                                        2. I'm considering the following thus far:

                                                                          1. Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt
                                                                          2. The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman
                                                                          3. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

                                                                          I'm also in search of a nice cookbook focusing on coffee and tea.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: gabby29

                                                                            I'm still not seeing them in Manhattan, but any minute now we should be getting meyer lemons and that means I'll be able to make the Meyer Lemon Curd Tart from The Sweet Life again. It was right up there with one of the best desserts I've ever made. The Spiced Apple and Sour Cream Cake is not to be missed, either.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              The Sweet Life is a great book -- I completely agree about the Spiced Apple Cake. There is something about that cake -- so tender, perfectly spiced... and the crunchy sugar on top is perfect. Also really liked the banana cream and the sticky toffee pudding (though she calls it something else). Only disappointment was the cinnamon caramel mousse.

                                                                              One of my favorite dessert books.

                                                                            2. re: gabby29

                                                                              I asked for VCFE by Madison last Christmas -- what a great book! I've learned lots and had lots of fun. I like the organization by ingredient so I can pick up whatever veg, grain, etc appeals to me and then consider all sorts of adaptations. :) I asked for another book too but this is the one I keep turning to again and again, as it includes both fancy dishes and simpler weeknight preparations.

                                                                            3. I just bought Home Baking (Jeffrey Alford) a couple of days ago and it looks very good, lots of nice photos, could be a "coffee table book" imo, and def. a book that I'll 'study' in bed!
                                                                              Also recently bought The Slow Mediterranean Cooking book.

                                                                              1. I am eagerly awaiting Shirley Corriher's "Bakewise".

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                                  You many have long wait. She's already about 3 years behind, William Morrow still isn't listing it in it's catalag, and the Bakewise Web site is still under construction.

                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                    Joan, I am beginning to wonder if it will be published at all. Shirley Corriher has not written her normal food science column in "Fine Cooking" in a long while, nor has she appeared on "Good Eats" in over 2 years.

                                                                                    Shirley Cooriher is 72 and I am left to wonder that maybe her health is declining for the reason that she has not finished the book. I sincerely hope this isn't the case, but I do not know how else to explain it.

                                                                                    I do not have the King Arthur whole wheat baking book, so maybe that will take the place of Mrs Cooriher's tome.

                                                                                2. I saw Jamie Oliver on Martha yesterday, and I have to agree, his new book, Cook, looks really interesting. I found it especially intriguing that all of the profits go to his 'Fifteen' restaurants... where they take kids off the streets and teach them all about running restaurants. Really endearing when he called Martha "Tiger"! :-) The photography is raw and beautiful in this one. From browsing through it, I would think it would be great for a newer cook. I especially liked the picture illustrating the different doneness of meat.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                    I wish I had seen that show...I love Jamie Oliver. Martha, not so much. I remember seeing him in the kitchen at the River Café during the cooking show Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers had. The BBCA aired a series showing Jamie's work with the street kids in his restaurant kitchen. What a tireless and giving teacher he is. I just love his enthusiasm....not to mention his recipes.

                                                                                  2. Alice Waters' new book is sublime. I don't like her restaurant, but her recipes work extremely well for home cooks who are cooking with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. Her recipe for Cream Biscuits is worth the price of the book: I've been making biscuits for 40 years, and this is the best version I've ever made or eaten anywhere.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                      I found an Alice Waters recipe for cream biscuits online. Is this by any chance the recipe in the book? (You'll have to scroll down a bit.)


                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                        Hmmm. I love Alice Water's other books (CP Veg etc)
                                                                                        I thought I wanted this new one, but paging through it at the bookstore this weekend, I thought it would be better as a gift to someone that needed one cookbook and didn't have a shelf-full and years of experience with the basics of simple/seasonal/local. That is, I figured this book was not for me, but would make a great gift. Am I wrong?
                                                                                        What else is tucked in there?

                                                                                        1. re: pitu

                                                                                          Before I made the biscuits, I would've said the same thing. I was actually reviewing this as a possible gift book selection for a cook in need of a good basic cookbook. I'm going to check out some of the other recipes, though; their simplicity may be deceptive. I'll post if I think the book belongs on an already-crowded shelf.

                                                                                      2. Better than a cookbook, I would give a subscription to Cook's Illustrated. I absolutely LOVE that publication and always look forward to my next issue. It is beautifully done. Just a thought!

                                                                                        1. My latest, based on two NYT reviews today, is Roast Chicken and Other Stories, by Simon Hopkinson - though I have to confess, I've already ordered it for myself from my local bookstore, and have asked my husband to pick up his other books in London this week while he's there on a business trip.

                                                                                          1. Can anyone help me? Hubby's tapping his toes, waiting for my Christmas list. I'm interested in the books below. Does anyone have experience with the FCI's books? Any comments?

                                                                                            Any other recs along the lines of these books?

                                                                                            (I'll just say generally that I'm not really interested in a cookbook that focuses on one type of food group or region, or makes me run around for esoteric or out-of-season ingredients. I'm looking for something that either emphasizes technique, or..a general cookbook--a la JOC in terms of range--but for someone who's been cooking from her JOC and Doubleday cookbooks for thirty years, has cracked the bindings, has pages falling out, etc., etc....and is a bit bored with them by now or simply needs "new" recipe inspiration to keep weeknight meal preparation from becoming tedious. Am I making sense? Oh, yes, and I *am* interested in classic French cuisine and technique.)

                                                                                            1. French Culinary Institute's Salute to Healthy Cooking (Pepin, Soltner, Sailhac, Torres)

                                                                                            2. French Culinary Institute's The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cooking

                                                                                            3. Willan, La Varenne Practique

                                                                                            4. Sara Moulton Cooks at Home (thought this might be particularly helpful with the everynight meal preparation)

                                                                                            Thanks to anyone who can help.

                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: MaggieRSN

                                                                                              I've heard good things about La Varenne Pratique -- it has a bunch of 5 star reviews on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/...

                                                                                              Other books which emphasize technique and are very inspirational are Judy Rodgers' The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques.

                                                                                              1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                Thank you so much, Dana. I've read so many positive thoughts here on CH re Zuni and Sunday Suppers; I'll check them out as well. Tomorrow's my deadline or Mr. Santa says he'll just pick up some coal to put in my stocking ;-).

                                                                                                1. re: MaggieRSN

                                                                                                  Let me put in my two cents for Sunday Suppers - I love this book and continue to cook with it past the May COTM. I refer to Suzanne Goin as my husband's "girlfriend" as he is completely enamoured with anything I cook from her book. Yes, some of the recipes are ingredient and labor intensive, but a lot of it is just getting the meat/fish ready (by putting in a bowl and adding various seasonings then leaving overnight or for at least four hours), and there are quite a few "make on the spot" recipes. I also found that the more I cooked with the book, the more I got used to her methods and the easier and faster I was at cooking from it. If I were to recommend one book it would be this one.

                                                                                              2. re: MaggieRSN

                                                                                                For a general cookbook, I've been using the big yellow Gourmet cookbook. I haven't had a bad recipe yet. I don't like the Bon Appetit cookbook though. I also use Peter Berley's Flexitarian Table as a general go-to book. It's organized by season and I've loved cooking with it. I have an outdated thread somewhere on the board (I need to add my foray into winter dishes.)

                                                                                                I agree with Zuni Cafe for a technique cookbook. Simple comfort food using stellar technique for the best results. Sunday Suppers is also great but the recipes are a lot fussier and labor intensive. Delicious though. Both these books have been Cookbook of the Month choices so there are numerous posts about various dishes.

                                                                                                1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                  I had forgotten about Gourmet, beetle--I'll give it a look see at Amazon or someplace similar, as well as Flexitarian (today, on another thread on this board, is the first time I've heard of it! Like the seasonal aspect). TY for the suggestions.

                                                                                                  1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                    I agree with you, beetlebug, about the big yellow Gourmet book. I've read posts on the board from people who say they don't like Gourmet magazine and they don't like Ruth Reichl and therefore assume they wouldn't like the book. But the book is a collection from the very best of Gourmet over the past six decades thoroughly retested and updated. And I agee with you, too, that I haven't tried a single recipe that was a dud. In fact, it has quickly become my go-to all-purpose cookbook. Just last night I was looking online and going through my many cookbooks looking for a recipe for meyer lemon marmalade to use up my leftover meyer lemons. I finally found it in the big yellow book. And if you haven't yet tried the "La Brea Tar Pit" Chicken Wings, get to it ASAP. Couldn't be simpler; couldn't be better.

                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                      Like you, it's my go to book when I want to use a certain leftover ingredient. I can usually find something I want to make with it and have most of the other materials already in the house.

                                                                                                      I'll have to check out that wing recipe.

                                                                                                      Edit: Since I'm procrastinating to the nth degree, I had to pull out the cookbook asap. These look fantastic and so easy. I hope to make them before year's end. Thanks JoanN.

                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                        Funny, last night I was scouring the Web, looking for recipes to use up my Meyer lemons, as well.

                                                                                                        I found Dorie Greenspan's recipe for lemon sables (link below) in a blog, and, thought, hmm, I haven't finished my Christmas baking...those look good.

                                                                                                        But I don't know now. Love marmalade for itself and its versatility in sweet and savory recipes.


                                                                                                      2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        Here is my cookbook report on the Flexitarian Table. I haven't had time to post my winter menu forays yet.


                                                                                                    2. I just got the Susan Spicer book for my sweetheart. I was intrigued because it's from her New Orleans restaurant cooking, but has lots of recipes without peppers which I can't eat. And I discovered that it includes a recipe I've made of hers that I saw in Gourmet or BA. For a semolina cake with a pistaschio creme anglaise and a dried cherry sauce. Truly outstanding, so I have high hopes for the rest of that book.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: karykat

                                                                                                        Good morning,
                                                                                                        I want to get a cookbook for my girlfriend. she likes cooking and especially baking and has lots of cookbooks. I want a cookbook that would be good for couples to cook together, romantic dinners as well as casual dinners.

                                                                                                        she likes Indian. We both like lamb, chicken, pork loin, and simple fish. i like italian

                                                                                                        1. re: daves_32

                                                                                                          For Indian, I would recommend Mangoes and Curry Leaves - a beautiful book, some simple recipes, some more complicated. I've used it a lot and love it. I think if you search for the book title on this board, you'll find discussions of recipes. No baking in it though. My recent favorite Italian book is Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey, which is a Sardinian book - I started a thread on it as well with photos of things I've made. Happy Holidays!

                                                                                                          1. re: daves_32

                                                                                                            Since she likes baking, a few newer books she might like are Desserts by the Yard, The Sweet Life, or Pure Desserts. These are all beautiful books. I think any of these would be great. Another option could be Demolition Desserts which is a little different.

                                                                                                            Another thought if she doesn't have it would be Home Baking by Alford and Duguid. These are the same authors that wrote Mangoes and Curry Leaves. It's homestyle baking from around the world so a touch of the different. It includes some Indian style roti, tibetan, lebanese, portugese, chinese, vietnamese, a little US, everything. Everything I have made from this has been good.

                                                                                                        2. I got three copies of that "Cook With Jamie" by Jamie Oliver as gifts this Christmas. Traded them all in for $120 worth of Portuguese and Brazilian cookbooks. Very happy with that transaction.