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September 2008 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed - ENDS TOMORROW!

Yes, it seems too soon - to me at least - but it's time to come up with ideas for September, and I wanted to post this early in the month, so that participants will have time to get the chosen book from the library, ordered via snail mail from the U.S. (that's for greedygirl and other non-U.S.-based posters), etc. One idea that I want to throw out there - not necessarily for this month - is to have a month where we cook from past COTMs - a chance for us to use books that we may already have, and to try recipes from them that perhaps we've not tried before. So, if you love or hate this idea, please post about it as well. My initial thought on that would be that I'd set up threads with general categories, such as appetizers, soups & salads, main courses (maybe broken down in some way), side dishes, desserts, etc., and that posters could either post their reports there, or post on the original COTM threads and then link to them. Might be a nice idea in December, when we're all busy with other things ....

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 leave this thread up until August 12th, and plan to do what I did last time, which is not to have a run-off vote, unless two books are hopelessly tied. 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. Here's the link to last month's suggestion thread, in case that inspires any one! There was some interest in doing a Vietnamese book.

    Edit: Guess it would help if I included the link:


    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      Last minute effort to drum up votes for INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN. (I've already voted, so please don't double-count this, Ruth).

      Reason: Carb Lover posted the associated website in her August post. It includes plenty of text recipes, sufficient for participation amongst those of us who aren't able to come up with a hard copy of the book.


    2. CRADLE OF FLAVOR: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland.

      This was published in 2006 and won the James Beard award that year in the Asian cookbook category. I took this out of the library when it was in the running a month or two back and was so enchanted with it I ended up buying it. I haven't had a chance to cook from it yet and am eager to do so. Lots of info on ingredients and where to buy and how to store them. Well-written and interesting introductory text and what seems like a very thorough index.


      5 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        CRADLE OF FLAVOR looks very interesting, and I too purchased the book, but haven't yet cooked from it. (I'm with Stewpot, er JoanN!)
        Same for
        THE SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE by Marcus Samuelsson. African cooking by an Ethiopian man raised in Sweden(!).

        Ruth, I like your idea of somehow making it accessible and easy to go back and cook from the old COTM's. In my ideal world I would have listed or tabbed all the recipes that people raved about. Maybe we could do a collection like that online for each COTM, and then report in the original COTM thread. Just thinkin'

        1. re: NYchowcook

          THE SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE by Marcus Samuelsson

          I'd be into this. I bought it recently but have not had time to cook from it. Fall would be a perfect time for some of the hearty spicy stews.

          1. re: moh

            September is not exactly "fall" here in the Midwest; we'll still be up to our eyeballs in corn and tomatoes, with temperatures in the 80's.

        2. re: JoanN

          CRADLE OF FLAVOR, please. It looks like I'm going to be swamped through about the first week of September, which means I'll have to continue my COTM hiatus through August, but I hope to be able to resume participation in September. YAY!

          Also, I recently checked ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKING by Felipe Rojas-lombar out of the library and was thoroughly enchanted. I'd love to cook from it one of these months.


          1. re: JoanN

            Ditto CRADLE OF FLAVOR. My garden is still full of thai and lemon basil to use and all of the recipes I have tried from this book thus far have been wonderful. Id love an incentive to cook more of them, in season.

          2. Referring to your first paragraph, MM.....

            I've been considering this and my thought is to continue to have a single COTM for those who do like to collect new cookbooks, along with cooking from an old one each week, changing books each week or not. I have returned to several previous choices on alternate nights while keeping true to the current book.

            Regarding my nomination for September, I'm still in deciding mode. (p_q)

            1. For those who may be new to Cookbook of the Month or would simply like to see a list of past titles in considering MMRuth's proposal to cook from past selections, here's a list with links to the master threads.


              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 – Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

              Aug. - Diane Kochilas, The Glorious Foods of Greece

              1 Reply
              1. re: JoanN

                Thanks Joan - forgot to do that!

              2. Just picked up Heidi Swanson's SUPER NATURAL COOKING and am curious to try that one..

                1 Reply
                1. re: poptart

                  I would love to try SUPER NATURAL COOKING as well. And I believe that a lot of Heidi's recipes are also available on her website.

                2. Since I can't seem to tear myself away from all the recipes I still want to try from my past favorite cookbooks:


                  For me, that would include:
                  Marcella Hazan, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
                  Judy Rodgers, Zuni Cafe Cookbook
                  Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Hot Sour Salty Sweet
                  Claudia Roden, Arabesque
                  Suzanne Goin, Sunday Suppers at Lucques
                  Rick Bayless, One Plate at a Time

                  I'd love to get a chance to do Zuni or Lucques while we still have great summer produce (we originally did them in January and May, respectively). Also, it would give those who weren't participating early on to choose from books they missed and/or presently own.

                  1. I like the "best of" month idea a lot, but think it makes most sense to save it for December, when taking lots of time to dig into a new cookbook is harder for a lot of us. Like Gio, I'm still thinking on my suggestion for next month ...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: LulusMom

                      My only issue with doing it in December is that I love, love, love baking books, but I suppose that could be solved with the Dessert COTM. I still want to find a food gift book... a Chowhound needs to write one!

                      1. re: Katie Nell

                        I had the exact same thought last year. But then I found that December left me with way too little time to explore books like that, let alone practice different stuff before giving it. Maybe that would be a good idea either for the dessert COTM or for a November book?

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I know... in my ideal Christmas season, I would be in a snow-covered cabin in the middle of nowhere with groceries and craft supplies helicoptered in for about 1 month... yeah, that's my kind of Christmas! :-)

                    2. CRADLE OF FLAVOR

                      BEYOND THE GREAT WALL

                      I live in the same town, with in a few blocks of Pikawicca. She is right, it si just too hot here in Sept. and most of Oct. to think about stews etc. As for December, if i have a chance to breathe let alone do much but snack until after the holidays it will be a miracle.

                      1. New to this, and very excited about joining in.

                        INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, Andrea Nguyen
                        PLEASURES OF THE VIETNAMESE TABLE, Mai Pham

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: clepro

                          INTO the VIETNAMESE KITCHEN is an excellent suggestion. The book can bridge seasons beautifully. I have owned it since publication and am still not through the entire book

                          1. re: clepro

                            Welcome to COTM, clepro, and the excitement of running around the town (both of them) looking for specialty ingredients! It's a blast. :).


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              I spent several hours reading through some of the Dunlop posts last night. Man, am I sorry I missed that! I have both cookbooks as of May, but have yet to try them. And we could have run around town together. (Plus, I'm doing the WW Core too...first diet of my life.)

                              BTW, if we end up doing either Into the Vietnamese Kitchen or Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, give me a ring. I've got them both.

                              1. re: clepro

                                Welcome clepro! You're right to be sorry you missed Dunlop Month. I think it was the best COTM we've had - shopping for ingredients, trying out substitute ingredients, reading Dunlop's wonderful descriptions of Hunan and Szechuan, and sharing photos of pickled turnips, sesame paste, black beans, etc.

                                I go back often to reread the messages on those threads. It was GREAT!

                                1. re: clepro

                                  Hi Clepro--for what it's worth, I had to abandon Dunlop about halfway through the month because I and my partner were both gaining weight, in spite of all of the adaptations I made to the recipes. Here's a post on what I thought I did right and wrong that month from a core plan perspective http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4733...

                                  Perhaps I should have LITERALLY been running around town looking for ingredients so I could have racked up activity points (but, it was March, and a a cold one at that, so, I forgive myself for driving...). As oakjoan says, it was a great COTM.

                                  But, I've also really enjoyed subsequent books--Hopkinson's recipes were wonderful, though, again, not many that were core friendly. Some of his dessert recipes, as adapted by me, are especially memorably WW friendly. Here's a post about some of the adaptations I tried (no recipes thought) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5051... I really enjoyed the recipes I tried from Flexitarian Table and most of those could be easily adapted (Berley uses a lot of butter!). Penelope Casas was HUGELY core friendly, I thought.

                                  Here are some of my favorite core friendly (though not all COTM) recipes:

                                  Berley's butter and white wine tofu:
                                  (you have to count the points for the wine; I use my allotment of healthy oil instead of the butter and sprinkle on a wee bit of Molly McButter if I feel I need the buttery taste).

                                  Berley's fresh corn polenta w/sauteed cherry tomatoes:
                                  (leave out the butter, use your daily allotment of healthy oil instead, count the points for the parm cheese, add a dash of Molly McButter if you feel you need the buttery flavor).

                                  Gio's Chipotle Meatloaf:
                                  (We leave out the cheese--it's still delicious).

                                  Sweet potato fries (the corn flake mock fried chicken that I put alongside this recipe is WW friendly, but calls for a lot of non-core ingredients so you have to be sure to count all the points. That's a desperation/trying to satisfy a craving recipe at our house). This time of year, we do the sweet potato fries on the grill:

                                  Some wintery ones:
                                  Quinoa & Chipotle chicken hotdish http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4733...

                                  Cuban Style Pork and Sweet Potato Stew:

                                  Crockpot flank steak:

                                  I've ordered my copy of Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. I'm going to be swamped for the next couple of weeks (though I really, really want to squeeze some Greek cooking in if I can before the end of the month. We're only halfway through, there's still time, right?) and the first week of Sept, but, after that, I'll be ready to run around town looking for Vietnamese ingredients and am happy to have company for that.

                                  Good luck with the core plan. I haven't updated my core plan thread in awhile, but maybe I'll do that now and put a link to that post here. [EDITED TO ADD LINK http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4733...] Bottom line, if you already do a lot of "from scratch" cooking, you'll get the hang of core plan in no time, although, you'll still need to get creative about finding core friendly recipes. If you don't do a lot of from scratch cooking, the key is to have on hand some core friendly convenience foods... Here's a pretty good thread on the core plan vs. the points plan http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4750...


                            2. INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, Andrea Nguyen

                              The best Viet I've ever seen; passes great muster with several ex-pats in my Little Saigon. And, it's had time to get into lots of public libraries.

                              1. I would like to suggest that we combine INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN with PLEASURES OF THE VIETNAMESE TABLE. I have the latter and I don't know whether I need two Vietnamese cookbooks in my life. Do other Chowhounds feel the same - ie if you have one you're not likely to buy the other? Are they substantially different?

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  I would prefer INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN by Andrea Nguyen for next month.

                                  I guess it could work to do both books, but as has sometimes happened in the past with multiple books, there has been less participation/focus. I own several Viet cookbooks, but not Pham's book. My library does carry it so I would check it out again. If we must do both books to finally get Viet food on the table here, I'm all for it!! :-)

                                  Both books are good but pretty different from what I remember of Pham's book. I found Pham's book to be more "old school", whereas Nguyen's book has a more modern sensibility w/ apparent French influences and attention to cooking technique. Nguyen's book is extremely well-written and detailed (something that is harder to find these days), which makes learning to cook Viet food much more approachable.

                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                    When we did two Dunlop books, I think there was still a lot of participation, though I know what you mean that sometimes there has been less focus etc. (JC, I think). In this case, I guess my feeling is that I don't object to doing two Vietnamese books, if it means more people are able to participate without buying a new book, and it might lead to interesting discussions about how the recipes of the two authors differ. (Hope it's okay for me to chime in on this topic!)

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      It's more than ok for you to chime in, MMRuth!! I appreciate your points. Dunlop's two books worked very well, and it would be interesting to compare both books.

                                      Oh, and I do like your idea of revisiting previous books (perhaps in Dec?). I'm not sure if we should pick one or a cluster, but my first choice would go to Sunday Suppers. I think I've only made 2-3 recipes from that book...

                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                        On the revisiting previous books - another thought I had on that is that maybe we would limit it to the first 12 books we did, and then we could do this again with the 2nd set of 12 books later. We could include all of them, or favorites amongst them (I think Vegetable Harvest, for example, had v. little participation.)

                                    2. re: Carb Lover

                                      Carb Lover, thanks so much for the description and differences between the two books. I haven't seen either one, and I think from what you've said that I'd probably prefer Nguyen's, although honestly, either would probably be wonderful.

                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                        As MMR says, it might be interesting to compare the two, although your description of Nguyen's book has made me want to own that too, dammit!

                                      2. re: greedygirl

                                        I Iike GreedyGirl's idea of combining both books also, as I already own Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table too.

                                        When we combined Dunlop's book, I had one - LOP. I enjoyed cooking out of it so much, I went out and bought RCC the next month, and have been cooking from both ever since.

                                        MMRuth, I like your suggestion of doing the first 12 months first of the past cookbooks - it will be easier to organize and focus.

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          Rubee - just checking - is this a vote for the Vietnamese book(s)?


                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Oops, sorry for the confusion! I thought this was the suggestion thread.

                                            My vote would be for the first 12 months of the past COTM.

                                            (and if Vietnamese won, it would be nice if both books were part of the COTM).

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              My fault - I didn't mean vote, though I wrote vote! I'll mark down your suggestion for this month as the past COTMs. Sorry about that!

                                      3. And btw, I reallly like the idea of COTM Revisited. As a relative newcomver, there are lots of books that I already have (Arabesque/Hazan/Lucques for example) that I'd be interested in getting to know better. The first two especially, as I've had them for a while now.

                                        1. FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT, Rick Moonen. If you've ever eaten fish prepared by him, or if you've ever heard him talk passionately about keeping our oceans alive, or if you would like to have buying, storing, preparing fish demystified for you, this is a super book.

                                          Even tho he's a restaurant chef, he developed these recipes with co-author Roy Finamore in a New York apartment kitchen, using basic ingredients and equipment. No fancy resto dishes here.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: ChefJune

                                            I had heard a little about this book, but not really looked into it. Having done a few minutes research (yes, very indepth), it sounds wonderful to me, and I will second FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT for COTM.

                                            1. re: ChefJune

                                              Love the idea of doing a fish book one month, and this looks like a really good one. (I really like James Peterson's "Fish & Shellfish," also.) But I assume it's quite new since the Manhattan library system has it on order but there are no copies available yet. Perhaps we could put this off for a couple of months until those of us who rely on the library can get our hands on it?

                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                That makes lots of sense to me JoanN.

                                            2. INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN

                                              Those of you who loved "Arabesque" will love this book as well.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                Interesting -- why do you say this, pikawicca?

                                                1. re: JasmineG

                                                  I get the same "vibe" from both books. What shines through is the authors' encyclopedic knowledge of their subjects, and their love for each cuisine. The recipes were obviously tested (unfortunately not a given these days) and are reliable. Gorgeous photos in both. These two books are on my "keep forever" cookbook shelf.

                                              2. Since I truly love working with the ethnic cuisines I'm nominating
                                                INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, Andrea Nguyen.

                                                For those interested, Ms Nguyen's blog is here:

                                                1. CRADLE OF FLAVOR: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Just a reminder that I'll be putting up the voting thread on Wednesday morning over my morning coffee, so if you've not put in your suggestions yet, please do! (I do have my morning coffee quite early, btw!)

                                                    1. REVISITING THE PAST 12 COTM'S

                                                      I really like this idea as I've really only participated in a couple of mo.s and would love to have the opportunity to check out some of the past books. The only thing that makes me hesitant is the idea of posting all the recipes to general category threads. It seems like it would make it very difficult to use as a reference in the future. I know I have visited old COTM threads several times for inspiration. Perhaps within the general category threads you could post the links to the original cookbook threads and ask that participants post on both? I know it'd be a lot of work, but I hate the idea of revisiting all the books and not having the reports included in the original threads..

                                                      Thanks MMRuth!


                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                        I agree that your suggestion is the best way to handle it. For now, it looks like the Vietnamese books and Cradle of Flavor will be the runoff books (per my handy dandy spreadsheet), so maybe we can explore the past COTMs idea further. One idea that I may have mentioned is that we cull the list of 12 down to less than all 12 books.

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          Okay, I am up before up before you but going back to bed. INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN or CRADLE OF FLAVOR. Now I am letting the dogs back in and going to sleep, at least until 8:30. TTL my neighbor will not be having her lawn mowed at 7as she did this AM. Not my hour of the day for loud noises

                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                            INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN - everything I have made from this book is delicious, and it's very kid-adaptable too for those of us feeding children and craving chilli.