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November 2008 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed [Ends TODAY]

Once again it's time for your suggestions for COTM! When you recommend a book, please try to mention if you've cooked from it or not, why you recommend it, etc. , I don't mind lots of chatter on books - in fact, I think it is good and helpful - but please use all CAPS for your actual suggestion.

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 but preferred)

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 October 14th, 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.

P.S. I'm going to repeat my comment from last month:

"I want to make one observation, as posters think about their suggestions for November. 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. "

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  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

    October - Mario Batali: Babbo, Molto Italiano & Simple Italian Cooking

    1. FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT by Rick Moonen

      On yayadave’s recommendation, I took this out of the library. I had barely cracked it open before I knew I just had to own it—and I already have three dedicated fish cookbooks on my shelves. I’ve only tried one recipe so far, a baked bluefish with a clams-oreganata topping, and it was excellent.

      I know many of us will be into heavy-duty preparations for Thanksgiving in November, but I think fish would be a good respite. If people think it’s too limiting, perhaps it could be paired with another single-subject book, such as soups or vegetables or even a get-a-head-start-on-Christmas baking, preserving, or gift-giving book.

      6 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        It's so funny you mention that book JoanN... on yayadave's recommendation I bought the book and have made one dish - a roast hallibut - which was terrific. Now you've given me something to think about. In another thread someone mentioned the New England Soup Company book and now that sits on a CB shelf as well.... perhaps the two?? Or, revisiting one of the past books?? Not nominating, just typing out loud.

        1. re: JoanN

          I seem to remember a month or two ago this came up as a suggestion (one I like very much) and we decided that it was too new to be in most libraries. I could very well be confusing this book with another. I do remember that this book sounded wonderful to me.

          1. re: LulusMom

            LLM -
            I Love Fish Without A Doubt. It's so user friendly and the recipes seem very easy to make. I'm all for uncomplicating life! As for the soup book, it's seasonal and I've already marked off almost all the Autumn soups and some Winter ones as well. It seems to me the slow cooker could come into use here, too.

            1. re: Gio

              Oh, I'm all for Fish Without a Doubt, I just had a memory that when it was voted on a month or so ago, some felt that we should wait until it was more widely available. We eat a LOT of seafood in this house, and given the good reviews the book has gotten, I'm dying to get my hands on it.

            2. re: LulusMom

              It *is* fairly new; published in June of this year. But Amazon has copies at nearly half price and the Manhattan library system has 15 copies. I took it out of the library about a month ago, so I don't think it would be difficult for people to either borrow it or purchase it somewhat inexpensively.


              1. re: JoanN

                Great. I just checked my library, and even in this small town they have a copy "in processing" (meaning it should be on the shelves soon). OK, you've sold me. FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT.

          2. Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food
            Kasper and Swift The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper

            4 Replies
            1. re: Jane917

              If you're suggesting these two books, they will be counted if you type the TITLES in CAPS....

              1. re: Gio

                I would also love THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD, Alice Waters (have not cooked from it--though I keep meaning to).

                Thank you!


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I got the Chez Panisse Cookbook out of the library, and liked it. This one isn't published here until the end of the month though.

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Another suggestion for THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD.

                    I've only made a couple of recipes from it, but the pizza dough recipe is "the one" for me after trying countless variations. I love the Chez Panisse books, but this Waters book seems to be the most accessible and practical for me. The format is easy to use, and while the recipes aren't particularly new or innovative, they represent important "basics" that I believe every good cook should have in her/his repertoire. Given that the upcoming holidays are about excess and lots of cooking, I'd welcome the simplicity of this book in November.

              2. THE MAPLE SYRUP COOKBOOK, by Ken Haedrich (Storey Publishing, 1989, 2001 - paperback, 138pp, $10.95) This little treasure has over 100 recipes, most of them particularly appropriate for the harvest and holiday seasons. Every recipe I've tried has become a standard favorite. Obviously, most are for breakfasts, sweets and baked goods, but there are soups like Sweet Potato-Bacon Bisque, wonderful Maple Balsamic Salad Dressing, pork and chicken recipes, and sides like Winter Squash Spoonbread.

                Interspersed throughout are interesting details about the history and manufacture of maple syrup, how to choose the right grade of syrup for your purpose, etc.

                I can't think of a better resource for cooks looking to find a new addition to their Thanksgiving and Holiday dinners.

                1. KITCHEN DIARIES by Nigel Slater

                  I'm not sure how well known Nigel Slater is in the States, but he's something of a food god over here. He is often known simply as Nigel, for he is one of those mythical cooks who is known by their first name). He is the long-standing food columnist for a Sunday newspaper and writes like a dream. He is emphatically not a restaurant cook, but a home cook with a heart - and his recipes always work. They are wonderfully simple, without being boring, and a joy to read. I have several of his books, but this is the one which is most widely available in the States at the moment, being the most recent.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: greedygirl

                    OOH! I have been wanting to buy that that book very badly....l second KITCHEN DIARIES!

                    1. re: poptart

                      I forgot to say - the focus of this book is very much seasonal cooking. It's basically a year in the sainted Nigel's kitchen.

                      1. re: greedygirl

                        I am in the midst of reading "Toast" and have his book "Real Food Fast". Saw "Kitchen Diaries" recently at Borders and now I am definitely going to go back to buy it.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          How does his cooking vary from Hopkinson's?

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Simpler and less cheffy, I'd say. I think Simon H is quite classical in his technique, while Nigel is much more relaxed. He says: "I have always felt that a recipe should be something to inspire, remind and lightly influence rather than a set of instructions to be followed, pedantically, to the letter."



                            1. re: MMRuth

                              I had read "Toast" and was charmed. I picked up "Kitchen Diaries" at the library yesterday and am charmed again. I've only read through a few months so far, but his recipes are very accessible, relying on great ingredients at their peak rather than those that are unusual or hard to find.

                              I haven’t cooked from it yet, but in many ways it seems to me to be quite similar to Hopkinson in that the lists of ingredients are comparatively short and the preparations not at all complicated. Greedygirl’s assessment that many are less “cheffy” seems spot on to me. And he uses significantly less offal than Hopkinson.

                              The US edition has been fully Americanized in terms of recipe ingredients, but not so in the text. I don't see this as a problem in terms of preparing a recipe, but I didn't, for example, recognize the name of a single kind of apple or many of the types of grapes he mentions.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                I'm so glad you like Nigel, Joan. He's such an institution here, it would be nice if he was a bit better known in the States. He's a brilliant writer, as well as a good cook, don't you think?

                        2. re: greedygirl

                          Are Nigel's books generally available here in the U.S.? Does anyone know? I'd be happy to vote for him for COTM if I thought I could get "Kitchen Diaries," for example, at the library.

                          1. re: NYCkaren

                            Just checked. The Manhattan library system has 5 copies. I reserved one of them. Four to go. Hurry.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              Also I checked on Amazon.com before nominating and there are lots of copies on Amazon for less than $20.

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  My local library is very convenient, but so teeny tiny they never have *anything*--especially recent (read: within the past five years) cookbooks. I've just gotten into the habit of reserving online anything that interests me the moment I read about it. And Nigel Slater was on my radar since my London-resident BF has referred to him before.

                              1. re: NYCkaren

                                They had 2 copies at a local Borders (Boston area).

                            2. How about some Latin American sabor? If you don't have at least one Hispanic in your extended family, statistics say you will soon:) Latin food lends itself to mass quantity preparation for big holidays too...

                              DAISY COOKS by Daisy Martinez. She has a lot of recipes online, they are delicious, and my PR aunties-in-law have given her versions of their memorized family recipes the thumbs up.

                              CAFE PASQUAL COOKBOOK by Katherine Kagal. Mmm, nothing better on a fall day some good green chile enchiladas. There are a few Cafe Pasqual books, so it could be a combo like this month.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: yamalam

                                yamalam: When I first saw Daisy's program, I didn't like her cause she was too hyper. Then I watched a few more and fell in love with her and her wonderful food.

                              2. A NEW WAY TO COOK by Sally Schneider

                                600 recipes which span the globe. She promotes cooking healthier, but it's not a diet book - more on techniques to up the flavor. Winner of both IACP and James Beard Foundation Awards.


                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Rubee

                                  This is an excellent choice as well. I own a copy and would love to have a reason to focus on cooking with it. Just made some roasted fruit from one of her recipes...wonderful.

                                  1. re: poptart

                                    As MMRuth requested, please put the title in all caps if you want your suggestion to be seen/count. For general chit chat about a book, lower case is fine.

                                    Rubee, I had never heard of A New Way to Cook before but my library does carry it. It also has Schneider's The Improvisational Cook (2006) which generally has good reviews on Amazon. Do you know much about it? I'll have to check it out!


                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                      Not familiar with The Improvisational Cook, but thanks CL, will have to check it out.

                                      I've had great success with recipes from A New Way to Cook. I just went through quickly (checking for the food-splattered pages) for some recipes I remember being winners:

                                      Mushrooms with Sake and Lemon in Papillote
                                      Baked Penne with Mushroom Ragu and Ricotta Salata
                                      Corn Soup with Chiles, Lime and Cilantro Cream

                                      Her Foolproof Turkey really is foolproof, and uses an Alice Waters brine. I love the section on marinades and rubs and, as I've mentioned on hummous threads on this board, I'm a fan of her technique of adding ground toasted sesame, coriander, and cumin seeds to my hummus - friends always ask for the recipe.

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Ooohh--thanks for the tips. I'm going to go home and tag those recipes. I will confess that I find the book a tad overwhelming/intimidating. I feel like I should start at the beginning, but that seems like the boring section. I don't know why I feel like I shouldn't just dive into the middle like I do with other cookbooks...


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          No, I know exactly what you mean. I think it's because there are so many recipes, and there aren't a lot of pictures to get your attention.

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I've had this book for ages and have hardly used it as well. It's just so darn huge!

                                    2. re: Rubee

                                      I would love to do A NEW WAY TO COOK!


                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        I bought this book brand new from Alibris for 10.00$ !! Haven't cooked from it yet but.....

                                        As usual I'm torn between 2 books. This one and the fish book. Someone's going to have to persuade me. (@_@)

                                      2. THE NORTH AFRICAN KITCHEN -FIONA DUNLOP.FISH MAJOR URK!

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: Candy

                                          Looks like this was just published this year, but my library has it so I just requested it out of curiosity. Have you tried some recipes from it already, Candy? Is Fiona related to Fuschia??

                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                            That's funny. when I read Candy's post, I thought it was Fuschia as well. Then I looked at the title and realized it probably wasn't. then I wondered the same thing, are they relatives.

                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                              She's a food and travel writer, I found via Google. Born in Sydney Australia but currently living in London.
                                              Here's her web site:

                                              I read Candy's post early this morning and I had a major brain shut down over the last 3 words.
                                              It took me this long to realize she does not like fish...... LOL

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                Oh, THAT is what that meant! Thanks for explaining. really funny. Sorry Candy, didn't get it at first.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  I don't dislike all fish but I am pretty particular. A book just devoted to fish just does not appeal.

                                              2. re: Carb Lover

                                                I made the Tagine with Dried Figs and Apricots last week. Fab. I want to cook ,my way through the book.


                                            2. Here's another vote for FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT! I've been cooking from it a bit for a few months, and have loved everything. Would ehjoy trading notes and stories with other hounds on the subject. And fish is such a good antidote to all the heavy foods that the holidays seem to bring with them every year. We always try to eat lokts of fish in anticipation of all the "stuff!"

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ChefJune

                                                OK, I will try again. I did not capitalize my first post, so my votes go to:

                                                THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD, Alice Waters
                                                THE SPLENDID TABLE'S HOW TO EAT SUPPER, Kasper and Swift

                                              2. I'd love to try a new cuisine. I've dabbled in South American via:

                                                THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE: the flavor and soul of authentic home cooking from Patagonia to Rio de Janeiro, by Maria Baez Kijac. Kijac has been favorably compared to Diana Kennedy and Madhur Jaffrey. Recipes are accessible, and there are lots!

                                                I keep meaning to dive into Marcus Samuelsson's THE SOUL OF A NEW CUISINE; A discovery of the foods and flavors of Africa.

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: NYchowcook

                                                  I like the idea of something new and different myself. I had recommended (sight unseen) the Samuelsson book last month. Have you looked at it? Does it seem interesting? I certainly like the idea of trying something completely different.

                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                    Yes, it's a beautiful book, and is very enticing. I bought it and tagged the chicken and peanut stew, and squid w/ tomato-corn soup. I'm also eyeing the butternut squash, peanut, clam and spinach stew (malata)
                                                    I find Samuelsson fascinating -- Ethiopian by birth, adopted and raised by Swedish parents, and chef of Scandinavian cuisine at Aquavit in NYC.
                                                    I'll cook from it in the next couple days (so I can avoid getting on Ruth's S*** list, recommending a cookbook w/o having used it!

                                                    1. re: NYchowcook

                                                      Ha - I know. I really wanted to suggest Ana Sortun's "Spice", but haven't cooked from it. In fact, I have a lot of books I haven't cooked from yet so MMRuth's new rule will at least motivate me to try a couple of recipes from them...

                                                      I'd love to a Marcus Samuelsson book at some point also; I've been wanting to buy his Aquavit book for some time.

                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                        To clarify - it's not "a rule" by any means - I think the only rule we have is the all caps one (grin). Just (a) an observation on my part that those months tend to be more successful and (b) asking that those who have cooked from books that they recommend tell us a bit more about it, so that voters can be more informed.


                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          MMR: I agree that this is a good observation and like to hear from folks who have a book and can give a description. Helpful.

                                                  2. re: NYchowcook

                                                    I'll second THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE by Kijac.

                                                    1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                      THE SOUTH AMERICAN TABLE by Kijac

                                                      Cool, I already have that one. There is a whole chapter on ceviche:) I've tried two or three recipes and they've come out well. It's a very encyclopedic book - South America spans a lot of different cooking styles and cultures, but that might be perfect for COTM. No pictures though:(

                                                      1. re: yamalam

                                                        Could we do a South American Combo like with did with Vietnamese? I bought "ART OF SOUTH AMERICAN COOKING" by Felipe Rojas-lombar because Mark Bittman had it on his list of 50 cookbooks he didn't want to live without. At the time (about 10 years ago, I think) Bittman said it was the best, and more or less, only, such book out there. I checked it out from the library and was so charmed by it, that I bought a copy.


                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          I just checked my 2 local libraries and they both have the South American books.

                                                          Will check the rest of the books suggested here.

                                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                                            Both are pretty much unavailable in the UK. :-(

                                                  3. I enthusiastically agree with the suggestion of FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT by Rick Moonen and Roy Finamore. I did a review of it on TheCityCook.com in June and have single-handedly given a bunch of copies as gifts. It's great for both beginners and also anyone who's already skilled with cooking fish and shellfish.


                                                    I'm also a huge fan of the recently released FAT by Jennifer McLagan but maybe we can save that for next month!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: thecitycook

                                                      I just checked on Amazon and found that Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries is sellng for $17.50, so I vote for KITCHEN DIARIES by Nigel Slater.

                                                    2. FISH WITHOUT A DOUBT
                                                      A NEW WAY TO COOK