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October 2008 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed [Thread ends TODAY, 9/15!]

First - my apologies for not putting this up sooner. I want to make one observation, as posters think about their suggestions for October. It seems to me - and I've gone back and reviewed many of the COTM threads - that the most successful months have been those where we've ended up using books that some posters have used a lot and love, rather than those when we've tried a book that may sound interesting, but that posters who've made the initial recommendations for them haven't actually used (which I know I've done - no finger pointing here!). This isn't meant to impede posters from making recommendations, but just food for thought, so to speak.

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 September 15th, 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. CRADLE OF FLAVOR: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore by James Oseland

    I know, I know. I keep nominating this. As I said in previous nominations, 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 in the past and was so enchanted with it I ended up buying it. I've only had a chance to try one recipe so far (excellent), but have scads of them bookmarked. 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.


    I know we've done quite a bit of Asian recently and some people may feel ready for a change. On the hand, what a wonderful way to compare the cuisines of various Asian countries while many of the recipes are still fresh in our minds.

    15 Replies
    1. re: JoanN

      I second CRADLE OF FLAVOR, Oseland.

      And, if we're tired of Asian (never!) I humbly suggest:

      ART OF SIMPLE FOOD, Alice Waters (this book was from Oct 2007, which will make it a year old in Oct--is it too new?)

      ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKING, Felipe Rojas-lombar

      Thank you MMRuth!


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        To clarify: I've not cooked from any of the three books that I've seconded or nominated. RE: Cradle of Flavor, I liked that it beat out Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (which is one of the current COTM of course) for the James Beard award they year they both came out, 2006.

        RE: Art of South American Cooking, it appeared on Mark Bittman's list of "50 cookbooks I would rather not live without". http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5086... Of this book Bittman said, "Unfortunately, the only serious book on the subject to
        date. Fortunately, it's damned good." One caveat is that list of Bittman's is about 5 [EDIT: his list is 10 years old] years old and he's in the process of updating it. However, I checked the book out from the library and found so many of the recipes so intriguing that I ended up buying the book. My worry is that this book may be hard to get ahold of. I would be in favor of doing a South American combo (similar to the current Nguyen/Pham) if that is a worry for people.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Wow, TDQ, South American sounds really good. I'm going to check my local libraries.

        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          Hey there, this is probably a moot point since there doesn't seem to be a lot of interest, but I would like to un-nominate art of simple food. It's a great book, don't get me wrong, and I absolutely plan on cooking from it, but I'm realizing the strength of that book is in its basics and simplicity. While the might find some of the recipes delicious, I don't think many of the home cooking 'hounds would find the recipes very challenging.

          Sorry for any confusion.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I don't know -- the biscuit recipe in this books yields the best damn biscuit I've ever eaten.

            1. re: pikawicca

              This is the Art of Simple Cooking? I've got to check it out since I bought the book and have never used it. Can I use my White Lily flour?

              1. re: MMRuth

                Yes to the Art of Simple cooking, no to White Lily. These are not Southern-style fluffy biscuits. They're crisp and flaky.

              2. re: pikawicca

                Hmmm...maybe I'll have to try that biscuit ASAP--while I'm still on hiatus from my diet! Thanks for the tip.

                However, I think I can't ask MMRuth to indulge me yet again while I re-nominate a book I just tried to un-nominate. ;-) Thankfully, I don't think it will be up to me because this book doesn't seem to be the frontrunner the voting thread... :).


              3. re: The Dairy Queen

                I would be interested in The Art of Simple Food! Sure the recipes are "basic" but the pizza dough recipe is brilliant and now my go-to recipe! The candied pecans are pretty darn perfect as well. The Chez Panisse books are great, but I find the latest Waters book to be the most accessible and practical.

                I'm all for Mario Batali too, but I would like to delve into one of his older books, Simple Italian Food. I bought this book a while back and need to get into it more!

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD by Alice Waters

                  SIMPLE ITALIAN FOOD by Mario Batali

                  MMRuth, sorry that I forgot about the all caps before!

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    CL: You wrote "The Chez Panisse books are great"....that made me think of one of my all-time faves from the 1st CP cookbook (with Bertoli) and the carrot soup with red pepper puree spooned on top. Try it! You'll love it!

            2. re: JoanN

              CRADLE OF FLAVOR

              I've made a few things from this cookbook and everything has been absolutely excellent. Some of the ingredients were difficult to find for me, but those are available by mail order. And, really, the food has been very, very good.

              Edited to add address of place to buy hard-to-find ingredients:


              1. re: mirage

                I'm 4th-ing Cradle of Flavor. We've gone ost it too many times.

              2. re: JoanN

                I would also like CRADLE OF FLAVOR.

              3. At my husband's request, "Can we PLEASE do Italian this month" ; )


                4 Replies
                1. re: Rubee

                  This too funny - Mr. G. said the very same thing tonight. Actually he said Italian or South American....

                  We are really enjoying the Vietnamese cuisine and I've been cooking Italian all our married life.... Who knows what lurks in the minds of - some - men?

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Yes, please!


                    1. re: Rubee

                      PS - Have cooked from it (just made the caponata this weekend) and have eaten dishes other people have cooked from it ; )

                      All winners!

                    2. I am really enjoying the two book slection we're doing this month. Only that same vein how about...
                      HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET
                      BEYOND THE GREAT WALL
                      by Alford and Duguid
                      How about...
                      MY BOMBAY KITCHEN instead!!! ;)

                      1 Reply
                      1. A list of past COTM:


                        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

                        September - Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham and Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: Rubee

                          Please no back-to-back Asian! I'm enjoying the Vietnamese cooking this month, but want to do something completely different next. MOLTO ITALIANO is a superb book, and I would be happy to cook from it even more than I already do. Also, the seasons are changing, so recipes that focus on fall produce would be welcome.

                          1. re: pikawicca

                            I'm kind of feeling the same. I'm LOVING these Vietnamese books so much, but I feel like another Asian book might be overkill (and besides, why not save it for when we've had something that hasn't been such a hit?). We've been doing a lot of european, vegetarian and asian for the last few months. I see that a Bayless book has already been done, but another of those would be a big change from what we've done lately. Or (and I say this totally sight unseen) how about the Samuelson (gosh, I hope that is his name) Africa book? These are not votes right now, just ideas popping into my mind, hence lack of caps.

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              Some favorite recipes from MI:

                              Cheese Bread from Genoa
                              Pancetta-Wrapped Radicchio
                              Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions, Anchovies, and Toasted Bread Crumbs
                              Tortelloni with Sage Butter
                              Jumbo Shrimp Marsala, House-Wife Style
                              Chicken Stew with Polenta, Celery Root, and Sage
                              Grilled Veal Rolls Sicilian Style
                              Braised Rabbit with Leeks, Turnips, and Vin Santo
                              Orange Tart Capri Style

                              1. re: pikawicca

                                Thanks pikawicca - appreciate your chiming in on this.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  I second the suggestion of MOLTO ITALIANO - I have this book and have cooked quite a bit from it. Would like the boot in the rump to do more.

                                  The antipasti are very interesting. There's a wonderful fennel custard, and one made with cardoons, porcini salad with arugula, and a warm terrine of polenta with sausages and peppers.

                                  Lots of good veg recipes.

                                  This is a really good book...PLUS it has a very simple tomato sauce that has become the base for lots of sauces I make. Shredded carrots are an ingredient.

                                  Soups: onion soup ala Emilia-Romagna, chicory soup with egg, bread dumpling soup, anchovey and almond soup and porcini soup with mascarpone crostini.

                                  There are lots of pasta recipes (green olive sauce, pesto, beans and potatoes, carmalized onion sauce, monkfish, thyme and zucchini and a baked pasta with ricotta and ham (looks fabulous). The pasta section is realllly big.

                                  Fish include grilled mackerel with eggplant and salsa verde, swordfish paillards with leeks and grapefruit, tuna rolls Messina style, bass grilled with chard. Sicilian marinated tuna with scallion fritata.

                                  Meat: Stuffed chicken legs, chicken thighs with saffron, green olives and mint; chicken stew with polenta, celery root and sage, grilled with olive past and broccoli rabe, game hens with pomegranate, braised duck legs with dried oranges and almonds, recipes for quail, turkey.

                                  Veal rolls, rabbit sausage with vinegar, leg of lamb with green olives, mixed meats in broth with green sauce; venison goulash, stuffed meatloaf, pork sparerids with red wine, pork loin in the style of porchetta, osso buco toasted pine nut gremolata, and on and on.

                                  There are also several dessert recipes that look intriguing, e.g., an Easter tart made with ricotta and faro, an orange and olive oil cake, roasted pears with chocolate, etc.

                                  This is a really good cookbook!

                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                    [To MMRuth--if this kind of discussion in the "nominations" thread makes your life too difficult in terms of tallying votes, etc., please say so and I'll knock it off!]

                                    That does sound delicious, oakjoan!

                                    For oakjoan and others who have cooked from Molto Italiano, do you have any experience cooking from Hazan's "Essentials," which was a previous COTM?

                                    I'm just curious since I'm starting to get very selective about buying cookbooks lately. I wasn't participating in COTM in the early days when we were cooking from Hazan, but I've since bought a copy of "Essentials". Ever since my disaster of ruining my two Dunlop library books by spilling water on them (and therefore having to buy the soggy pair from the library), I've bought all the COTM books figuring that one way or the other I would end up owning them anyway. So, if a Batali book won, I'd probably want to buy that, too.

                                    Thank you!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Dear DQ: I don't have experience cooking from Hazan's Essentials, but I have used (over and over) her two volumes...too lazy to go look at the titles but they're something like Classical Italian Cooking, I and II.

                                        I was never a big fan of Hazan. My sister hounded me into buying the 2 I have because she thinks Marcella is a goddess. I did, however, change my pesto-making technique per her instructions, and it was way better than mine ever had been before. So I started to feel I'd not given her a real chance, having been put off by her smoking and imperious manner.

                                        I get the feeling from Batali's book that he's done more experimenting with different combos, while still retaining the basic Italianesqueness of the dish. He also has many classic recipes. The stuffed meatloaf is a recipe I've made over and over for dinner parties.

                                        Hope this helps.

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          Thank you oakjoan, for sharing your thoughts. It's always helpful to hear more perspectives, I think. I understand that Hazan's "Essentials" was the combination and updating of those two "Classics" books I & II you're referring to (though I can't remember the exact names either and too tired to look them up. Probably doesn't matter since they aren't up for COTM).

                                          I don't know know much about Batali except that he sure does seem warm and accessible, so I could see how that would appeal to you, especially if you were turned off by Hazan's manner a bit. I wish, actually, I hadn't read that NYT piece about Hazan's memoir that some one posted over on Food Media & News--I was blissfully ignorant of her stern manner. I really hadn't noticed it in reading Essentials and hope I don't now "read" that into it in the future because of this external stuff I've read." Maybe I'll think of her as an exacting piano teacher!


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I cooked out Essentials and loved it - one of my favorites. It's a comprehensive lesson in Italian cooking, from simple traditional dishes to company-worthy dishes. Batali's recipes seem to me a bit more sophisticated and modern.

                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen


                                              I actually liked the NYT piece on her and her husband. It made her more human to me, even though she seems a bit crazier than I'd previously thought. It's like the 2 of them have their own world and don't trust anybody but each other.

                                      2. re: pikawicca

                                        We've also have had good luck with Molto Italiano. I haven't cooked a lot of dishes from it yet (we have a long todo list), but two of the dishes have already made it into our regular rotation:

                                        The Lobster Risotto - I adapted this to use snow crab legs, which makes it inexpensive, easy, and quite tasty. Simmer the shells for the broth, and add the meat at the end. Serve with garlic bread (a baguette sliced, oiled, toasted, and rubbed with a garlic clove.)

                                        The pork loin in the style of porchetta - (garnished with a fennel frond pangrattato) - this one scales well and the leftovers are very good.

                                        1. re: Steve Dunham

                                          Steve D: I also love that pork loin "Porchetta" recipe in Molto Italiano.

                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      Thanks - I always *mean* to post that!

                                    2. I agree, please no more Asian. I'd be thrilled with Italian or Mexican this month, or maybe one of Bittman's books (I really like Best Recipes in the World), and a Batali book would be great.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: JasmineG

                                        Are those "all cap" votes for those books? <grin> Just so I know how to count them ....

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          I thought that this was just the suggestions thread, so we weren't voting yet?

                                          1. re: JasmineG

                                            Apparently, if a book gets more nominations than any other that's the book which will become COTM for October. No need to vote. That's my understanding, anyway.....

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              It is the suggestion thread, not the voting thread - I always seem to get the "lingo" wrong when I follow up on these threads. Sorry about that!

                                          2. re: MMRuth

                                            MMR: Your instructions said to put them in caps and so I did, oh Glorious Leader!

                                        2. MARIO BATALI'S MOLTO ITALIANO
                                          I've nominated it a couple of times, especially now that fall is almost here we are ready for Italian, right? Pasta.... sauces...guanciale... mmmm

                                          1. MARIO BATALI'S MOLTO ITALIANO

                                            I cook from it all the time. Everything always turns out delicious.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: arizonagirl

                                              I, too, use this book very often and would echo the previous nominations. The Romagna onion soup is just one of many dishes I make quite often to rave reviews from my s/o.

                                            2. I'm going to interject here, which I don't usually do, but, I think it would be helpful if those recommending books would also mention whether or not they've used them. Not trying to be a PITA, but, based on my review of past COTMs, it seems to me that the most successful ones, as I mentioned above, were ones where posters had used the book, even if only for one or two recipes, and were happy with the results. I hope no one minds (too much) my mentioning this, but I think it's for the great COTM good! So, if you have more to add to your recommendations, I think it would help other posters if you would be willing to do so. Obviously, there's nothing wrong with recommending a book that you find appealing, but I'm hoping that a little more depth to the discussion will help us pick a book that will work out well.



                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Sorry I didn't do that, MMRuth. As a matter of procedure, would you like those of us who have already nominated to go back and say whether we've cooked from the books we've nominated or would that be too confusing for you in terms of tallying votes and, therefore, something that you just ask of us for the remainder of this thread and for future months?


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I guess that, if posters recommending a book have cooked from it, I think it would be useful to have that information added, otherwise, no need to do so. As I said in the original post, I'm sure that I too have suggested books that I've not cooked from, but I think that more information would help us arrive at a book that all will enjoy. Thanks for clarifying!

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    Okay, I do have an explanatory comment re: one of my books that I'll go back and add. In future months, I'll make sure to include that info...the first time around!

                                                    Thank you!


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Id like to nominate CRADLE OF FLAVOR again. Ive cooked from it very successfully and would like to be incented to try more. I still have a garden full of asian basils that should hold into October, but this book is simply not as good as a cold season choice. Im as frustrated as anyone over the idea of having two SEAsian books in a row, but this simply will not be a good choice again til spring.

                                              2. I think I'm going to vote MOLTO ITALIANO this time around.

                                                1. Well, I've been giving this a lot of thought. A few months ago I was thinking Caribbean would be interesting remembering Jessica Harris on Sara Moulton's first show, then last month it was Mario but I voted for Vietnamese, now this month I have Creole/Cajun on my mind. I have 3 of Paul Pruhomme's cookbooks and have cooked from Louisiana Kitchen but not from Seasoned by America and Fork in the Road. Perhaps Gullah would prove exciting... "one of the forgotten cuisines of America, " as Gourmet magazine calls it. http://www.gourmet.com/food/2007/09/f...

                                                  I need more time to choose just one.....

                                                  34 Replies
                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    You are welcome to suggest more than one book, by the way.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      Thank you for reminding me, MM. I just need to decide which ones.

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        what about those fish books? Are they worthy?

                                                        1. re: yayadave

                                                          I bought both of them and your suggestion, Fish Without a Doubt, is terrific, however I think the books are too specific. Not everyone loves fish enough to just cook that for entire month. While I realize that no one really cooks from the COTM every night, still it seems more logical for people to use a cookbook that has recipes for a variety of food. Having said that, I hasten to add that I've been wrong before.....

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            I suppose you've been wrong before, but I bet it was a loooong time ago. I agree that these books are very specific, but I was thinking that they (or one of them) might open people up to stuff they haven't done much of. ie. Probably the Vietnamese cooking was new to many people. I shouldn't get into this, because I haven't gotten involved in the COTM except to read (lurk) the threads.

                                                            1. re: yayadave

                                                              Well - you ARE into this so why don't you join us? Vietnamese cooking was very new to me. I can't even remember if I've ever eaten Viet. food, so cooking from the books this month has been both eye opening and exciting. In fact all the ethnic cooking we've done has given me a new appreciation of food from around the globe. I'm going to do the Italian recipes this month but am looking forward to many other cuisines in the ensuing months. Come along, Dave, it's really fun!

                                                              1. re: yayadave

                                                                I lurked for a long time, too. It's never too late to jump in. I will have to say, it's a lot more enriching than I ever imagined.


                                                                1. re: yayadave

                                                                  Good point yayadave. I knew that I liked Vietnamese food well enough, but have been shocked by just HOW much I'm loving the food I'm making this month, and how much more I want than I thought I would. So it has most definintely opened me up, which is one of the things I love about participating in this.

                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                  I just picked up the Moonen book that I’d reserved from the library and have only begun to explore it. There are a number of similarities to the Peterson book in terms of species info, preparation technique, and substitutions; but I think Peterson has the edge on general information, going into much more detail about the many varieties of fish and shellfish, how to select them, and the best ways to prepare them. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of overlap of recipes, however, and Moonen’s sound excellent and quite different from Peterson’s. Just looking through it, I think I’d have a tough time advocating for one over the other.

                                                                  Perhaps, if a book such as this is considered too specialized for a COTM selection (which I really don’t think it is), it might be paired with another single-topic book such as one on vegetables or soups.

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    Oh what a good idea, Joan. A pairing of books. And thus the COTM moves on to another dimension. That, I think, is what it's all about.

                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                            Ooh, I would love Paul Prudhomme! Louisiana Kitchen would be fun.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              These are all good and interesting ideas Gio. I could easily be swayed by them.

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                Me too! I would be interested in learning more about those cuisines...


                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                  Well one thing about Chef Paul is that he has a wonderful web site and so many of his recipes are on the Net.

                                                                  LLM: I've been fascinated by Creole/Cajun/Gullah for a long time. Although each is different in it's own way, it's all about folks establishing their own identity in a foreign land. As for my own experience...I've had Creole and Cajun cuisine but not Gullah, which I understand is Low Country cooking. We have had Frank Stitt's cookbook in the past I think Gullah would be different than his.

                                                                  TDQ: Chef Paul's book, Fork in the Road, was written as he was in the throes of losing a mountain of weight. It's many of his original recipes revisited. I met him at a book signing and he was so huge he needed an automatic wheelchair to get around! Seeing him in recent months - looks like he took his own advice..... He lost a lot of weight.

                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                    The low country one is probably the one I'd have the least interest in, mainly because I live fairly close to the area where that stuff came about, and so get to eat (probably not very great) versions of it in local restaurants. Pure selfishness on my part! But the Creole and Cajun sound just wonderful, and I loved the Caribbean idea too.

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      That's really interesting, and inspiring, Gio about Chef Paul's weight loss. It sounds like a book I ought to look into regardless of whether it becomes COTM! Thank you for sharing that tidbit.


                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                  Except for his shrimp and andouille gumbo, which I’ve probably made at least twice a year since the book was first published, and his extraordinary meat loaf, it’s been a while since I’ve done any cooking from Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen and would be happy to spend time with it again. But I think Seasoned America, A Fork in the Road, and the Prudhomme Family Cookbook—all of which I have—are also-rans. In Seasoned America he takes more or less classic American dishes and adds his own unique seasonings to them, so it’s sort of an all-American favorites with Louisiana Kitchen seasonings. And you’re right, Gio, about Fork in the Road. Prudhomme’s editor and publisher desperately wanted a new book from him. He was at the peak of his popularity. But his health was at stake. It was a diet book or nothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, but my preference for a COTM choice is to go with an author’s seminal work if there is one and with Paul Prudhomme there’s just no question that the seminal work is Louisiana Kitchen.

                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                    I have Seasoned America, any recipes you'd recommend?

                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                      I'm not at home just now and it's been too long since I've cooked from it to recall specific recipes. I'll try to remember when I get back among my cookbooks.

                                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                                      Yes, I agree with your assessment of Louisiana Kitchen. That's the book I've cooked from. However, I want to see what I can find about Carribean food. Just to see which cookbooks are authentic, available and exciting.

                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                        there are a quite few books out there (ive been following this cookbook realm since the 70's) but Ive not found any that really cover the whole area, actually produce delicious regional food and are readily available. Good luck.

                                                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                                                          Thanks Jen_Kalb....are you familiar with any of these cookbooks?

                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                            Ive heard of a couple of these and eaten Doug Rodriguez' food, but havent tried any of this group (though I had planned to look at the Trinidad book at some time). the problem is there is a market for caribbean books among vacationers but the WI people I know dont cook from books and most of the book recipes are oversimplified or just not great. Its fundamentally simple cooking using a limited range of ingredients. but is dependent on having a touch for seasoning up the dishes. Hard to get that in books unless a fine cook is involved. Find Rosamund Grant's first book for a sample of a book of very good Caribbean recipes.

                                                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                                                              I have this book by Rodriguez:


                                                                              I have made several ceviches and a couple of other recipes that I like. I also have a book called Miami Spice, but the only thing I think I've made from it is the amazing Key Lime cake. I also have a number of Dominican cookbooks, but I think they are all in Spanish.

                                                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                I really don't want to derail this nomination thread MM. I was just wondering which cuisine I'd like to try. Probably Carribean is a very subjective and specialized cuisine for a majority to want to cook.

                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                  Not to worry! I'll persevere on the 15th and wade my way through the thread to come up with the voting thread. <grin> To interject a little more opinion here, which I try not to as the "organizer", I think the more we talk about books and suggestions, the better off COTM will be in the long run.

                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                    MMR: I have been reading through this thread and see that lots of folks asked about putting books in caps. I remember going back and forth on that quite often. Now I think that any time somebody suggests a book it would be easier for all of us, but mostly for you, to notice it in ALL CAPS. When the suggestion thread has so many longish posts it's harder to winnow out the names of the books suggested.

                                                                                    1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                      MMRuth said it didn't bother her if we engaged in discussion in this thread. When I mention the name of the book in all caps, I'm nominating it. When I mention the name of the book in normal sentence case, I'm discussing it. I'm pretty sure that's the convention Gio was using also--discussing the books in regular sentence case before deciding, at the bottom of the thread, which ones to nominate.

                                                                                      Of course, if at any point, this convention starts to bother MMRuth, I hope she lets us know!


                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        That's correct. However, since today is the last today for suggestions, I'd ask that people who have made suggestions go through and check that they did use all caps. If you've made a suggestion - or discussed a book that you'd like to be included in my counting as a suggestion - and it's not in all caps, please just reply to yourself and put it in all caps for me. I'm happy that we've had an in-depth discussion about books, but I'll only count books that are in CAPS.


                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                            Here's a link to an old article in the New York Times that references a number of Caribbean cookbooks. I have a copy of "The Sugar Reef Caribbean Cookbook," which the author of the article slams for containing misinformation, but says the recipes are good. I haven't cooked from it in years but do recall making some very tasty dishes from it when it first came out.

                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                              What kind of misinformation, since the recipes are supposedly good? The author says the average temperature in the Caribbean is 10 below zero? He/She says that folks around there love that choucroute garnie?

                                                                              Sorry for the dumb "humor", but I'm a bit bleary right now.

                                                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                  Thanks, jen. I seem to be forgetting to paste referred-to links more and more often. Pleased to know I can count on the kindness of strangers.

                                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                    Hmm, I only noticed the author of the article said that aside from the recipes (or something close to that), the book was unreliable and proceeded to correct statements made about history in the Caribbean.

                                                                        2. ARTICHOKES T ZA'ATAR by Malouf and Malouf

                                                                          1. MOLTO ITALIANO
                                                                            My library actually has this one! The first they've had since VCFE and I am eager to participate again.


                                                                            1. I vote for MOLTO ITALIANO since I already own it and I love it.

                                                                              1. Finally here are my nominations:

                                                                                LOUISIANA KITCHEN, Paul Prudhomme
                                                                                MOLTO ITALIANO, Mario Batali

                                                                                1. MOLTO ITALIANO -- Mario Batali

                                                                                  SPICE -- Ana Sortun.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: foxy fairy

                                                                                    I want to clarify that although Batali has always irked me on Food Network, his recipes do sound good, and I'd very much like to cook Italian in October, celebrating the autumnal harvest.

                                                                                    Please, not another month of Asian.

                                                                                    That full title of Ana Sortun's book -- oops -- is

                                                                                    SPICE: FLAVORS OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN

                                                                                    I know it's a bit late to rev up interest for this coming month maybe -- but it occurs to me that Ana Sortun's SPICE would be a lot of fun for a future COTM! I cooked a number of the recipes last fall (lentil kofta, pomegranate salsa, hot buttered hommus with basturma, whipped feta) and she really turned me on to spices like Aleppo chile, different paprikas. I could see it being a great candidate for COTM, especially in cooler months. She does credit Paula Wolfert (author of former COTM The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen, which I adore) as one of her teachers, but I found that most of their recipes to differ greatly. In terms of avoiding overlap, I know we just cooked Greek, too, but it's an idea for the future.


                                                                                    I attached photos of the hot buttered hommus with basturma (kind of like a pastrami? the meat is wrapped around the baked buttery hommus) and the lentil koftas with the pomegranate salsa.

                                                                                  2. I have a question. It looks like there is a lot of interest in Molto Italiano, with some suggestions as well for other Batali books. If you have an opinion about only doing Molto Italiano vs. opening it up to all of Batali's books, please reply here. For what it's worth, I found this on his website, and suspect that, given how much promotion he does of his books, there may be a lot of other recipes available on line as well:



                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      From a very selfish point of view, if we are going to do Batali I would like to include THE BABBO COOKBOOK along with Molto Italiano simply because I have it, have made little from it, and would like the excuse to get cracking on it.

                                                                                      Seeing which way the wind is blowing, I've just ordered Molto Italiano from the library. And there do seem to be quite a few recipes from the book online. Here are six from the Food Network site:


                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                        I'll second THE BABBO COOKBOOK in addition to Mario B books if we do them.
                                                                                        It's been fun doing a related couple or group of books (ie, like this month), and will give everyone more Mario options. I have Babbo, but I've steered away from his othe FN books.

                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                            a few more:

                                                                                            Mario Batali's posts and recipes:

                                                                                            Radicchio with Bacon and Rosemary - Radicchio al Rosmarino
                                                                                            Bread Soup -Zuppa di Pane
                                                                                            Jumbo Shrimp Marsala (Housewife-Style) -Gamberoni alla Zasalinga Siciliana

                                                                                            Neapolitan Crostini
                                                                                            Eggplant Involtini
                                                                                            Ricotta Gnocchi with Sausage and Fennel
                                                                                            (and links to other Batali recipes):

                                                                                            Pappardelle with Peas and Parmesan

                                                                                            StarChef Batali recipes:

                                                                                            FoodandWine recipes:

                                                                                          2. re: JoanN

                                                                                            <"Seeing which way the wind is blowing, I've just ordered Molto Italiano from the library. ">

                                                                                            And I've just ordered it from Jessica's Biscuits!

                                                                                            I would not be opposed to "doing" all the BATALI Books.....There are tons of his recipes online as previously referenced. He is such a generous soul.
                                                                                            If any folks get the Fine Living Channel there are reruns of his Molto Mario shows now airing in the afternoon in the Boston area.

                                                                                            1. re: JoanN

                                                                                              JoanN, I do really want to do Cradle of Flavor sometime, just a few months apart from the Vietnamese books.

                                                                                              On the Batali thing, I think we should try to keep it to 2 books max, but thats just because it seems to work out better when it is limited. It seemed like the spanish month was sort of all over the place. And I think we should try not to have it always work out that if we've done an author once we aren't willing to do a different book by that same author at a later date.

                                                                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                              I tend to much prefer it when we do one cookbook over more than one, because I think that you're right, MMRuth, when you say that if we pick the cookbook that people have cooked from and are passionate sbout, it makes for a much more engaging month.

                                                                                              1. re: JasmineG

                                                                                                While I do understand your position, I feel that whether we cook from just one/seminal work of one author, cooking from several cookbooks either in the same genre or from the same author gives everyone more options. For instance, this month as we cook from two different Vietnamese books, I have inserted a few recipes from Charmaine Solomon's Viet chapter in her compendium "The Complete Asian Cookbook" (1981). They complimented the menu I had planned perfectly.

                                                                                              2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                I'd love to do Babbo with Molto Italiano and Simple Italian Food (which has many recipes that are also in his later book Molto Italiano).

                                                                                                I have Babbo, and would love to cook from it, and the odds of doing Babbo at a later date when we've already cooked from Molto Italiano seem slim. Also, it's worked well with the months we've combined books (i.e, Dunlop, Casas, Vietnamese), and it seems to encourage more involvement if some have one book but not the other.

                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                  Even though I suggested Simple Italian Food because that's the only Batali book I own, I totally understand if you want to just keep it to Molto Italiano and Babbo. I can get both of those books from my library and like how one focuses more on rustic, everyday dishes while the other is fancy-schmancy restaurant food. Babbo was one of my favorite cookbooks to read from start to finish.

                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                    Hi - another 'hound warned me that google say that his site maybe corrupted:


                                                                                                    Wanted to give you a heads up!

                                                                                                  2. MAPLE SYRUP COOKBOOK by Ken Haedrich. This affordable ($10.95, Storey Publishing, 2001) little book contains over 100 recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sweets. It also has interesting sidebars on the history and tradition of maple sugaring.

                                                                                                    From oatmeal muffins to salad dressings to roasts to side dishes to desserts and beverages, maple syrup adds an addictive extra flavor dimension. Move over, umami, here comes maple! Virtually all the recipes have readily-available ingredients, and do not require advanced cooking skills. This is accessible, delicious food. Winter-Squash Spoonbread, anyone? And don't forget the Maple Mocha Pudding for dessert!

                                                                                                    I have made many of these recipes, and never been disappointed.

                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                      I think we should limit the number of books, BUT I certainly think we should accept online recipes as well. There are probably a lot of Molto Italiano recipes on line ---- actually, I'll go check right now.

                                                                                                      It's more inclusive if we allow folks who can't afford a certain book or can't find it at the library to cook from recipes online. I'd certainly be happy to post paraphrased recipes when I make that recipe from Molto Italiano.

                                                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                        Just fyi - a bunch of links are posted above - if you find more, please post links so we can add them if Batali/Batali book is COTM. Thanks!

                                                                                                    2. For the Batali books, Molto Italiano, Babbo & Simple Italian Food, can someone give a brief summary on the differences in the three books? For example, is one fancy (I suspect Babbo is) or is one of the not fancy better than the others? I've never looked at his books and my little brain has a hard time focusing on more than one book at a time. Which book, if any, is easier for everyday cooking.

                                                                                                      I'm trying to figure out which one I'm going to focus on getting from the library.


                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                        From what I read at the Babbo web site:

                                                                                                        Simple Italian Food: Recipes From My Two Villages.
                                                                                                        This is the earliest of the three....."Mario draws inspiration for his distinctive dishes from the two "villages" that have left their stamps on his cuisine: Borgo Capanne, the tiny hillside village in Northern Italy where he lived and cooked for several years, and New York's Greenwich Village, where he has ready access to bountiful produce and outstanding artisan-made products; his full-flavored, smartly presented fare combines the best of both worlds."

                                                                                                        The Babbo Cookbook:
                                                                                                        This book represents Mario's signature dishes from the restaurant of the same name. 150 recipes.

                                                                                                        Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home.
                                                                                                        There are some repeats from earlier books, but also pared down versions for the home cook.

                                                                                                        Here's the web site:

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          I got Molto Italiano from the library yesterday. I am always a little concerned when picking up a new cookbook because many ingredients are not available here in Biloxi, I go to New Orleans for specialty grocery items more than I care to admit, but this book has many very accessible recipes. I intend to dig into this whether it is COTM or not.


                                                                                                        2. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                          You have to take them cum grana salsa, but I find reading the reviews on the Amazon Web site helpful when I'm trying to make similar decisions.

                                                                                                          I can only speak personally of the "The Babbo Cookbook." I wouldn't call it "fancy" in the sense that the recipes are particularly difficult or time-consuming to prepare. Yes, some of the pastas, if you're making you own from scratch, aren't get-'em-on-the-table-in-half-an-hour simple. But then, dishes like ravioli or tortellini never are. I really haven't cooked from it yet, but just reading through the recipes and ingredients, many--if not most--are very accessible with ingredients lists you can fit on half a 3 X 5 card. What makes these his "signature" dishes, I believe, is the quality of the ingredients and the combination of flavors rather than complicated preparations.

                                                                                                          1. re: beetlebug

                                                                                                            I have all three, and I think if I had to pick one for everyday cooking, it would be Molto Italiano.

                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                              PS - A local CH, ArizonaGirl, cooks extensively from Molto Italiano on her blog, so check it out for pics and reports. I recently made the Batali caponata for a dinner at her house, and there's a pic of that as well.


                                                                                                          2. So, it seems quite clear that Mario is going to pull ahead for October. I do like "Mario Batali The Food Personality", he seems so approachable. Anyway, effective yesterday, I'm back on track with my Weight Watchers core plan which calls for whole grains (including whole wheat pasta), lean meats, seafood and poulty, eggs, and lots of veggies and fruits. No cheese, bacon, butter or nuts. A little olive oil no problem. If anyone knows of any recipes in particular in any of the 3 MB books or online that sound like they might fit, I would love to hear about them. I have to admit, I'm a little overwhelmed by Mario's ouevre!

                                                                                                            Thank you!


                                                                                                            1. ART OF SIMPLE FOOD, by Alice Waters

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: conniemcd

                                                                                                                Hi conniemcd,

                                                                                                                This suggestion thread ended 9/15. Here's the current voting thread that ends tomorrow: