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August 2008 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed

So Oakjoan has handed her sceptre over to me for the next six months, starting with August. I’ll try to post the September suggestions thread at the beginning of August, so that posters have more time to find/order books, etc. I note that a number of posters were interested in THE GLORIOUS FOODS OF GREECE (yes, that is an example of how to post your suggestions) in July but, as always, the field is wide open. And, as with other COTM organizers in the past, I’ll be refraining from chiming in on the suggestions/voting threads, but not the cooking.

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, depending on how the suggestions tally up, on July 15th and we’ll begin the voting for August Cookbook of the Month. My thought is to keep the voting period itself limited, so that posters will have more time to get the books. I’m looking forward to seeing your suggestions. And, as always, thanks for participating.

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  1. TO PROSPECTIVE PARTICIPANTS (cribbed from Oakjoan, but I think it’s a great idea):

    I have been thinking that there needs to be an introductory paragraph or two each month so that people who come across this for the first time understand what the set-up is. So here goes.

    The cookbook of each month is chosen in a two-part election (1st round and runoff), then the book with the most votes (duh, eh?) becomes the COTM for the next month. Anyone can join in with comments, descriptions, stories, pitfalls, etc. No need to join anything, just get the book (most of our COTMs have been available in many libraries) and start cooking and posting. We also post links to recipes online in case you don't want to or can't get the COTM. This makes it easy to cook along.

    You may substitute ingredients because you're following a diet or because you forgot to buy, e.g., cloud ear mushrooms, or just because you want to see what happens when you add cement instead of corn starch to a pudding recipe.

    The folks who've participated in this project so far are quite charming and funny and smart. We all enjoy discussing the recipes and locating unusual ingredients. Start by suggesting a favorite or untried cookbook or by commenting on one discussed in the suggestion thread. Don't be scared! We've all had, shall we say, less than perfect experiences cooking from the various books.

    For those who may be new to Cookbook of the Month, here's a list, with links to master threads, of all selections since inception:


    Sept - Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

    Oct - Molly Stevens, All About Braising

    Nov - Rick Bayless, One Plate at a Time

    Dec - Dorie Greenspan, Baking from My Home to Yours


    Jan - Judy Rodgers, Zuni Cafe Cookbook

    Feb - Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Hot Sour Salty Sweet

    March - Leite's Culinaria

    April - Claudia Roden, Arabesque

    May - Suzanne Goin, Sunday Suppers at Lucques

    June - Edna Lewis, Country Cooking

    July - Nigella Lawson, Forever Summer

    August - Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby

    Sept – Patricia Wells, Vegetable Harvest

    Oct – Julia Child

    Nov – Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins, The Silver Palate Cookbook

    Dec. – Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook AND Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook


    Jan – Paula Wolfert, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

    Feb – Frank Stitt’s Southern Table

    Mar - Fuchsia Dunlop, Revolutionary Cinese Cookbook and Land of Plenty

    Apr – Simon Hopkinson, Roast Chicken and Other Stories

    May – Peter Berley, The Flexitarian Table

    June - -Penelope Casas

    July - Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

    1. Would love to do Greek with wonderful August tomatoes and recipes designed for sharing and entertaining..


      1 Reply
      1. re: Rubee

        And, of course, eggplants will be in season. Any good Greek or Middle-Eastern book will get my vote.

      2. MMRuth,

        Thank you for that great introductory post. I have not yet participated in COTM, but it sounds interesting and I'd love to give it a try. So here goes for my vote.

        THE INSTANT COOK by Donna Hay. As the song goes, "Summertime, and the livin' is easy." I don't want to get into anything too complicated in the heat and lazy days of August, but I still want to eat good meals. I don't yet own this book, but I've researched it, and it looks perfect for August - uncomplicated meals that aren't dumbed down. Some examples of the recipes are: Tomato, Spinach and Crisp Prosciutto Soup, Baked Risotto with Bacon and Peas, Chicken Roasted on Eggplant and Tomatoes, Lamb Baked on Figs and Fennel, Oregano Veal Chops with White Bean Salad, Spicy Roast Vegetables with Hummus, Pumpkin, Onion and Blue Cheese Fritatta, Thai Red Pumpkin Curry, Blueberry and White Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate French Toast, Toasted Sponge Cake with Pears. I've only read a few of the recipes, but they look pretty good to me. So that's my vote.

        1. I would love to do Mexican in August, and I'd suggest a Diana Kennedy book, either THE ART OF MEXICAN COOKING or THE ESSENTIAL CUISINES OF MEXICO.

          1. Well greetings, and hearty thanks for taking up the sceptre, Queen Ruth!

            I'll chime in for CHEZ PANISSE VEGETABLES by Alice Waters

            The doyenne, instigator/revolutionary promoter of fresh, local, seasonal vegetables.
            What could be more perfect that August's bounty of vegetables, guided by the master?

            1. Hi all,
              I'm new to the COTM fun as well, but I've been thinking of joining the cooking for a while now. So I'm going to second the vote for THE ART OF MEXICAN COOKING by Diana Kennedy, because I just ordered it and am dying to get started...

              1 Reply
              1. re: berkeleygal

                THE GLORIOUS FOODS OF GREECE, Diane Kochilas. Thanks, MMRuth. You'll do a great job.

              2. BEYOND THE GREAT WALL this book is getting great press, recipes could not be simpler

                THE CRADLE OF FLAVOR super Indonesian food. Oh my talk about varied flavors!

                INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN great food for hot sticky weather

                1 Reply
                1. re: Candy

                  I love "Into the Vietnamese Kitchen," but don't think that it takes particular advantage of summer's produce. I would happily back this book in fall or winter, but would rather do a seasonally-focused book next month. Summer is fleeting.

                2. THE GLORIOUS FOODS OF GREECE, Diane Kochilas.
                  Thanks very much, MMRuth. A daunting task but one I know you're up to. Brava!!

                  1. A few more for consideration:

                    THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE by Maria Baez Kijac

                    MEMORIES OF A CUBAN KITCHEN by Mary Urrutia Randelman

                    PLEASE TO THE TABLE by Anya von Bremzen

                    I'll second CRADLE OF FLAVOR by James Oseland.

                    1. THE GLORIOUS FOODS OF GREECE, Diane Kochilas.

                      I'm really enjoying this book -- lots of interesting ideas and yummy flavors (especially if you like feta, which I adore).

                      1. Thanks for taking this on, MMRuth, and thanks to oakjoan for her successful tenure! The list of previous cookbooks is impressive! I'm reminded that I should really buy Arabesque...

                        My suggestions for next month:

                        THINK LIKE A CHEF, Tom Colicchio
                        I have this book but haven't really delved into it. Some nice seasonal recipes that aren't too fussy or time-intensive. Great tips/refreshers on techniques and fundamentals.

                        THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD, Alice Waters
                        I was skeptical of this book when I checked it out from the library. After so many books, what does Waters really have to add? I really like the format and find myself requesting the book again every time I'm forced to return it since someone else has requested it. Probably a sign that I should buy it. The pizza dough recipe is THE ONE I've been searching for my whole life...

                        Candy's suggestion reminded me that I'd love to take this one off my shelf and put it to more use. Some may feel that Viet food may be too narrow or intimidating, but Andrea's recipes are very accessible, super detailed, and clearly-written. Her website recipes would be good for those who don't have access to the book.

                        1. I'd love to do THE OTTOLENGHI COOKBOOK but I don't think it's widely available in the States yet. So my other recommendations would be THE RIVER CAFÉ EASY books by Rodgers and Grey (ITALIAN EASY in the States I believe), which make use of fresh, seasonal ingredients and are great for summer. I'm also interested in Vietnamese, but would prefer PLEASURES OF THE VIETNAMESE TABLE by Mai Pham which is excellent.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: greedygirl

                            PLEASURES OF THE VIETNAMESE TABLE by Mai Pham
                            love this book!

                          2. I really would love to have an excuse to cook more from my RIVER CAFE COOKBOOKS, but I'm also game for the GLORIOUS FOODS OF GREECE (if I can find a copy at the library ...).

                            1. I would like to see us do THINK LIKE A CHEF by Tom Colachio (sp) as well.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: karykat

                                I'm a published cookbook author myself and find this fascinating. I'd be interested in

                                THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE by Maria Baez Kijac


                                THINK LIKE A CHEF by Tom Colicchio

                                what a great concept!! I think I am going to love this site!

                                1. re: WildernessChild

                                  Welcome! I hope you do cook along with us. Check out the other threads from other months to see the enthusiasm our home cooks have for each book......whether or not they voted for it, surprisingly.
                                  Your own blog looks very interesting.

                              2. Is anyone else going to vote?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Gio

                                  Bit of a mixed bag this month, innit?

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    I did post a "last chance to vote" thread and had the mods sticky it for us, in case any one has forgotten to vote. I'm guessing that in August a lot of people go on holiday, etc.

                                    I'll tally up where we are right now and post it.

                                2. Here is where we stand right now:

                                  Six Votes:

                                  • THE GLORIOUS FOODS OF GREECE by DIANE KOCHILAS (with one poster including MEZE by the same autho

                                  Three Votes:

                                  • THINK LIKE A CHEF, Tom Colicchio

                                  Two Votes Each:

                                  • THE ART OF MEXICAN COOKING or THE ESSENTIAL CUISINES OF MEXICO (I'm combining Kennedy votes here)
                                  • THE CRADLE OF FLAVOR
                                  • INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN & VIETWORLDKITCHEN.COM
                                  • THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE by Maria Baez Kijac
                                  • THE RIVER CAFÉ EASY books by Rodgers and Grey (ITALIAN EASY in the States I believe)
                                  • PLEASURES OF THE VIETNAMESE TABLE by Mai Pham

                                  I'm not listing the books that got one vote. I note that we have 4 votes total for Vietnamese cookbooks.

                                  If you decide to make any more suggestions or change your current one(s) for any reason, it would make my life easier if you reply to this post, rather than to other ones on the thread!


                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    Will you have a separate thread for voting only, MM? Is the above list just a recap?

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Yes - I'll post it tonight. Thought it might be useful for posters to see where things stand. It would be nice if there would be just a couple of books to vote on, but we'll see!

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        I'll post the voting thread first thing in the morning, so if any one else has any suggestions, please feel free to post them overnight.

                                      2. re: Gio

                                        Oh - I see the confusion now - I said 'votes' and not suggestions. Well, here's the voting thread!


                                      3. re: MMRuth

                                        Could we combine the Vietnamese ones? It seems to me that people who have, say Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, are unlikely to want to buy the other one, and vice versa. I don't think I can justify having two Vietnamese cookbooks in my life! It might also be an interesting experiment in comparing the two?