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January 2008 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed

The holidays will be over (yes, they will) and most of us will be fully sated and ready for a little temperance. So let’s aim for something a bit more austere than usual this month. It need not be a diet book. It might be a vegetarian cookbook, an Asian cookbook, a fish cookbook—or an Asian vegetarian cookbook, for that matter. But let’s keep it light. I think most of us will be ready for it.

PLEASE NOTE: In order to make it easier for participants to scan others’ suggestions and for me to tabulate the results, I’d appreciate it if you would make your recommendations in the following format:

TITLE (in all caps), Author: Description of the book or reason you are recommending it (optional)

If you want to second or third a title that someone else has already mentioned, please repeat the title, typing it in capital letters. Just saying “I agree with Stewpot” may well get lost and your choice might not get counted. And the more often a particular title is mentioned, the greater the chance it will be among the finalists.

I’ll post the two or three most recommended books on December 10 and we’ll begin the voting for January Cookbook of the Month on December 11. I’m looking forward to seeing your suggestions. And, as always, thanks for participating.

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  1. THE MODERN VEGETARIAN KITCHEN, Peter Berley. Former exec chef of Angelica Kitchen, a vegan restaurant in NYC. Vegetarian and healthy. Won both James Beard Foundation and IACP awards.

    SIMPLE CHINESE COOKING, Kylie Kwong. Simple yet exotic, with mostly light recipes. She's a celebrity chef in Sydney, Australia.

    2 Replies
    1. re: NYchowcook

      Kylie also has a culinary show that appears on the Discovery Home Channel.

      http://home.discovery.com/fansites/ky...

      1. re: gabby29

        I saw her this weekend! It was a good show - she made pork and braised cabbage w/ apples. Looked great.

    2. SPICES OF LIFE, SIMPLE AND DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR GREAT HEALTH, Nina Simonds
      I bought this after getting it out of the library after suggestions on this board. It is not vegetarian, but fairly vegetable-focussed. Interesting flavor combinations. She has quite a bit of traditional beliefs of medicinal value, etc. of various spices in sidebars to the recipes. I'm not much of a believer in that, but it's interesting reading even if you're not. The recipes are what really interested me in this book. Here's an amazon link:

      http://www.amazon.com/Spices-Life-Sim...

      1. VEGANOMICON. I'm not a vegan, not even a vegetarian, but I love this book. My daughter has a vegan friend who frequently comes to dine, and I bought this book for inspiration. I found it. I was first drawn in by the gorgeous photos, but was entirely captivated by the recipes -- everything I've made so far has been wonderful. These recipes have made me look at cooking in an entirely different way. Can't recommend it highly enough!

        1. I don't know if we're supposed to post *only* titles on this thread, so forgive me for posting this comment if it's the wrong place for it.

          I am *definitely* interested in a vegetable-oriented month, but winter months aren't the best time of the year for some of us in the Northern climes to get good quality in many veggies. (Especially for those here who rely on farmers' markets for best quality.)

          I'd be really interested in a comprehensive, innovative soup cookbook with hot, savory soups and stews PLUS chilled-room temperature savory and dessert soups. One that could appeal to those of us dealing with winter *and* our Southern/tropical friends here. We really need heavier, substantial food in winter in the Northern parts, and, IMO, a soup cookbook could offer that *and* the lower-fat, more healthful aspect. I don't know of any immediately, but I'll research and was wondering if anyone here knew of some?

          6 Replies
          1. re: MaggieRSN

            SOUPS, STEWS, AND ONE POT MEALS, by Tom Valenti: an excellent book for this. It was up for voting at the beginning of the year, but something else won out instead- I'm blanking at the moment what it was! His Ham Hock and Split Pea Soup is really, really good, and it was the first time I ever liked a split pea soup! http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...

            1. re: Katie Nell

              Thanks, Katie! Nice to know about it, whether we pursue it as a group or I check it out on my own. Pea soup can be either great...or horrible. I think the seasoning's tricky because the peas are so absorbent. (JMO) TY for the recipe, too. Just the week for it--cold and snowy. ;-)

            2. re: MaggieRSN

              MOOSEWOOD RESTAURANT DAILY SPECIAL by The Moosewood Collective would also be a match for this, Maggie. Vegetarian, with a few seafood foods, and flavors are drawn from around the world. Recipes are healthy and innovative. People always say "wow" when I cook from this book. Chapters are divided up exactly as you mention above: homemade stocks, veggie soups, bean & grain soups, creamy dairy soups, chilled and dessert soups, seafood soups.

              The second half of the book covers salads - excellent, eclectic ones (like Alabama "hot" slaw and Persian rice and pistachio salad), and a few extras like biscuits, dressings, croutons to round out the soup/salad meal. You might want to at least check it out of the library -- it's exactly what you described looking for.

              1. re: MaggieRSN

                THE WINTER VEGETARIAN by Darra Goldstein. Not 'austere', but speaks to MaggieRSN's concern about the season, and has sections of soups and stews. From an Amazon reader review: Ms. Goldstein is a scholar and a university professor...this book ... is an affectionate, joyful look at the little-known cold-weather food and recipes from many cultures, from the Finnish pulla bread Ms. Goldstein loved so much as a student, to an arcane but wonderful-sounding fruited Bairam plov from Central Asia. There is an entire chapter devoted to the "much maligned" rutabaga, and chapters about Tolstoy's table and Shrovetide festivities which include recipes for Russian blini and Swedish semlor buns. In all, this is a fascinating look at winter culinary traditions around the world as well as a wonderful book to actually use in the kitchen.

                1. re: clepro

                  This sounds like it would be a fun read as well.

                  1. re: ginnyhw

                    Sounds great -- I like the idea of cold weather food, world-wide :) and vegetarian!

              2. I don't have any suggestions yet, but here is the list that beetlebug kindly compiled of the books we've done so far:

                But, for all those viewers out there, here is a list of our all the mother threads starting with September 2006 (the first month of this project)

                Sept - Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/325712

                Oct - Molly Stevens, All About Braising
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/330177

                Nov - Rick Bayless, One Plate at a Time
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339027

                Dec - Dorie Greenspan, Baking from my home to yours
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/347476

                Jan - Judy Rodgers, Zuni Cafe Cookbook
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/355995

                Feb - Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, Hot Sour Salty Sweet
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/366679

                March - Leite's Culinarie
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376081

                April - Claudia Roden, Arabesque
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/387069

                May - Suzanne Goin, Sunday Suppers at Lucques
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/397079

                June - Edna Lewis, Country Cooking
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/406983

                July - Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/416938

                August - Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/427007

                September 2007 - Patricia Wells, Vegetable Harvest
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/437177

                October 2007 - Julia Child "Cookbook Author of the Month"
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/446374

                November 2007 - Julie Rosso & Sheila Lukins, Silver Palate Cookbook http://www.chowhound.com/topics/456241

                December 2007 - Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook *AND* Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/465358

                2 Replies
                1. re: MMRuth

                  Thanks, MMRuth. I meant to do that and completely forgot. :-(

                  1. re: JoanN

                    No problem - thought it would be handy to have on this thread!

                2. FROM CURRIES TO KEBABS, Madhur Jaffrey
                  I have this sitting on my shelf and have barely cracked the surface of it. I think it can fill the vegetarian/Asian/healthy as well as the cold weather/soup/stew needs that we all have after the holidays.

                  1. THE SLOW MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN by Paula Wolfert

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Rubee

                      A PAULA WOLFERT book!!! SLOW MED. is great

                      Also COOKING OF SOUTHWEST FRANCE and

                      PAULA WOLFERT'S WORLD OF FOOD

                      I am really depressed. I just wrote a whole big rec of these books and my computer belched and it disappeared. Just too tired to redo.

                    2. SUPER NATURAL COOKING by Heidi Swanson
                      because vegetarian cooking isn't just for summer months
                      and this has wintery grain dishes and soups
                      I need bright new flavors and healthy food in January!

                      also, it's trade paperback so not $$$
                      AND she has the terrific 101cookbooks.com website
                      that has featured many of the recipes in the book

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: pitu

                        SUPER NATURAL COOKING in conjunction w/ the website: http://www.101cookbooks.com/
                        both by Heidi Swanson

                        I bought this book months ago hoping to broaden my vegetarian cooking repertoire, although I admit I haven't cooked much out of it yet. The dishes look flavorful, vibrant, and healthful. Lots of use of grains, whole foods, and honey as a sweetener. It's a relatively small book so not too overwhelming for January and supplementing w/ the website for those who don't want to buy the book would be great.

                      2. WORLD VEGETARIAN, Madhur Jaffrey. A lot of great grain recipes, great vegetarian dishes, but also hearty enough for winter. I've made a number of recipes from this book, and they work in summer as well as winter, and they're all good.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JasmineG

                          WORLD VEG COOKING is also one of my favorites, but maybe not as much of a fave as her earlier EASTERN VEGETARIAN COOKING - the big section on fritters, breads, and pancakes from India, Korea, etc. is worth the price of purchase alone.

                        2. A NEW WAY TO COOK, Sally Schneider: This is a "healthy eating" cookbook, but it is not at all a diet book. Schneider believes in eating in moderation and that no food should be taboo and that every food should be savored and enjoyed. She cooks with small amounts of butter, sugar and other taboo foods, but the emphasis is on full flavored ingredients, using sauces, rubs, essences, etc. She has some interesting and unusual techniques to extract the fullest amount of flavor from classic dishes. I have this book and I have cooked from it, but I would love to explore it further. All of the recipes that I have made have been quite wonderful. While Schneider uses a wealth of fruits, vegetables, and grains and is clearly inspired by the Mediterranean diet, this is not a vegetarian cookbook. There are recipes for beef, pork, lamb, and fish. This book won a James Beard award and an IACP award when it was published in 2001.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Cuoca

                            Seconded! This is the one I was going to suggest. I just recently picked it up, so haven't tried anything yet, but am excited to. I think it's a good option because rather than specific recipes (which are included), she focuses on methods, flavor-boosting additives, and general suggestions for a healthier way to cook. It would be great to not only do some of the recipes, but also to explore her suggested methods and ingredients in impromptu dishes, and see how well they work and how good they taste. In addition to evaluating some of her suggestions, this could help lots of us improve our shotgun cooking skills, and in a healthful way!

                          2. SUPERNATURAL COOKING by Heidi Swanson (healthy cooking is a plus, plus her online recipe source is terrific too! 101 cookbooks.com)
                            SLOW MED, Paula Wolfert
                            I've not had a chance to cook from these two books, but would love to.

                            1. WASHOKU: RECIPES FROM THE JAPANESE HOME KITCHEN, Elizabeth Andoh

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: wowimadog

                                Another vote for WASHOKU: RECIPES FROM THE JAPANESE HOME KITCHEN by Elizabeth Andoh

                                Thanks for reminding me about this beautiful book! I love Japanese food but am always intimidated to prepare it at home, so starting 2008 by chipping at that fear would be great! I was worried that this may be more of a coffee table book but some of the Amazon reviews (linked below) say otherwise. December will be so crazy w/ work and family stuff that this book could help to center me. My library doesn't carry it, but I will purchase it.

                                http://www.amazon.com/Washoku-Recipes...

                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                  I vote for WASHOKU: RECIPES FROM THE JAPANESE HOME KITCHEN as well -- it sounds wonderful, and it's been quite a while since the cookbook of the month was a more exotic cuisine.

                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    I vote for this too. I've been wanting to buy it for a while, and this would be a good excuse.

                                    1. re: sarahsarah

                                      sarahsarah, check out the formating instructions at the top of this thread . . .

                                      I have Washoku and have yet to cook a thing from it . . . I got a little lost in the swirling narrative and zenstructions leading up to things. So far it is solely a coffeetable book at my house.
                                      : (

                              2. MANGOES & CURRY LEAVES, Alford Duguid
                                http://www.amazon.com/Mangoes-Curry-L...

                                THE ARAB TABLE, May S. Bsisu
                                http://www.amazon.com/Arab-Table-Reci...

                                THE COOKING OF SOUTHWEST FRANCE, Paula Wolfert
                                http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Southwe...

                                I would welcome the opportunity to work from any of the above. I think they each offer an opportunity to indulge in rustic cuisine that offers hearty and lighter options depending upon mood and palate.

                                1. EGGS, Michel Roux. Wee written, clear direction, absolutely stunning pictures.

                                  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0471...

                                  1. SPICES OF LIFE, SIMPLE AND DELICIOUS RECIPES FOR GREAT HEALTH, Nina Simonds - I bought this years ago and have tried few recipes. The ones I have tried have been great.

                                    SOUPS, STEWS, AND ONE POT MEALS, by Tom Valenti

                                    SLOW MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN by Paula Wolfert - because Rubee's being good and not buying anymore cookbooks.

                                    ZOV: RECIPES AND MEMORIES FROM THE HEART, by Zov Karamardian - because my friendly neighborhood librarian thought I would like it. It has beautiful pictures and approachable recipes for middle eastern cuisine.

                                    http://www.amazon.com/Zov-Recipes-Mem...

                                    My preference is to do an Asian oriented cuisine book for February. This way I can link the COTM to my Chinese New Year celebration.

                                    1. EGGS, Michel Roux

                                      eggs are the ultimate comfort foodx, and January calls for some comfort! And I always feel like eating simple foods after the holiday season fanfare and gluttony.