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February 2009 Cookbook of the Month: Your Suggestions Needed [Ends 1/13]

Happy New Year!

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 January 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.


Also, this is the sixth month that I've been doing this, so, while I've very much enjoyed it, it's time for us to rotate to another COTM organizer. If you are interested in doing this, please email me at the address in my profile. It's really not much work - the most time consuming part really is setting up the threads, and, once you've figured out how to organize them, which is usually pretty straightforward, it doesn't take more than 30 minutes, I'd say. One thing I would note is that, so far, the organizer never makes suggestions or votes for a book. I've been comfortable with that (and, as a lawyer, somehow just thought that recusing is the best course!), but others have suggested to me that they think that is sort of a silly rule. So, if you have any thoughts on that, please mention them as well.

And, as always, thanks for participating.

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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 Chinese 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

    November - Alice Waters, The Art of Simple Food

    December '08/January '09 - Revisiting Sunday Suppers at Lucques and The Zuni Cookbook.

    15 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      A NEW WAY TO COOK, Sally Schneider

      Techniques as well as recipes for healthy but delicious food such as Chickpea Stew with Saffron and Winter Squash, Fat Beans with Mole, Oven-Steamed Whole Fish with Chinese Flavors, Thai Seafood Salad with Lemongrass Dressing, and Salmon Cured with Grappa.

      Have cooked from it a little, with delicious results, but it is so vast that having COTM buds to assist would be a great way to really dive in. There have already been a few threads about this book with raves, and here's her website link too:



      1. re: MMRuth

        PORK & SONS, Stephane Reynaud. I haven't cooked from it yet - just got it as a gift for Christmas.
        A PLATTER OF FIGS, David Tanis. Haven't cooked from it either, but have seen great reviews about it on this site.

        1. re: MMRuth

          Well, I just ordered a nice used copy from Amazon, so I will vote for "A New Way to Cook" as well. (But it was this thread that convinced me to order it)

          1. re: MMRuth

            Ill vote for A NEW WAY TO COOK. In general, Id be more interested in doing some older books, books on a cuisine (The Splendid Table, for example) than these new attempts to put a personal stamp on cooking (how new can it be) Its in my library and enuf people have enthusiasm to justify a trial.

            1. re: jen kalb

              I would join you in a vote for The Splendid Table some day. I use it often for reference but have practically never cooked from. It would be fun to give it a spin.

              1. re: JoanN

                Strangely enough, Lynne Rossetto Kasper does not seem to get much notice on these boards. I think that is undeserved.

                1. re: yayadave

                  I subscribe to her e-mail recipes but have yet to make anything. They are an interesting read, though. Pahleeez don't make me buy another cookbook.....

                  1. re: Gio

                    I find it hard to believe that one person's head can hold such encyclopedic knowledge as her's.

                    Did you get any of the Tournabenes' books? I've been looking at them and not opened PPP yet. Did you get that one?

                    I keep meaning to mention "Italian Slow and Savory" by Joyce Goldstein. Nah, you don't need that one, too.

                    1. re: yayadave

                      Ive had the first of the Tournabene cookbooks for a couple of years and just started cooking out of it - excellent. Maybe we can discuss Kasper's books for a COTM for Feb ..

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        We can lobby for Kasper's books.... I wouldn't mind doing some of her recipes, though they seem quite involved. But, I wonder if some folks might not like another Italian month so soon after Mario. Just a thought.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          I have a funny story about that. Or maybe sad. LRK has been here at our library a couple of times for fund raising. And there were a couple of receptions. I thought about buying her books but decided that I have too many cookbooks and won't be buying any more. So I got a copy and had it autographed for the guy next door. But none for me. And, of course, it was all a lie. I'm still getting cookbooks that I don't need, but still none by RLK. I've just checked them out of the library. I've noticed that some of the things I do don't make sense. I'll have to talk to the head fund-raiser and see if Lynne is coming back.

                        2. re: yayadave

                          Did not get the Tournabenes books. But did get the Da Silvano and like it very much after a quick scan. I can see myself cooking a bunch of his recipes. Some sound like my own family's recipes. He's so enthusiastic and the recipes are the epitome of good Italian cooking. Simple, fresh ingredients and seemingly very tasty.

                          1. re: yayadave

                            We've really enjoyed the slow roasted tomatoes from one of LRK's books. We buy tomatoes from the farmers market in bulk in the fall, slow roast them using her method, freeze them and then feast all winter.

                            I used to wonder about her encyclopedic knowledge on the radio show too until I called in with a question once. My question was used on one of the shows. You call and leave a message, a producer calls back to ask you more about it and then a time is scheduled to talk to Lynn when your question and her answer is taped. So even though it sounds like she is searching her memory banks on the spot for an answer and she sounds very extemporaneous, she and her staff have had time to research the whole thing.

                            1. re: karykat

                              Slow roasted tomatoes sound pretty good right now!

                              Interesting about how the radio show works... Thanks for sharing that.


                      2. re: JoanN

                        I will throw in another vote for THE SPLENDID TABLE. I have had the book a couple of years, but I don't think I have ever used a recipe from it. I would like to get to know it better.

                  2. I, too, felt uneasy voting during my term as coordinator. But all coordinators have also been avid participants and I don’t think someone should feel they have to give up one role in order to temporarily serve in the other capacity. I believe that in the early days of COTM there was a sense that a vote, particularly if it was early in the voting thread, would tend to sway other voters. It might be interesting, now that COTM has matured, to test this premise.

                    As far as the coordinator making suggestions, that has been done on occasion in the past—especially in the earliest days. The coordinator might suggest a category and then list a number of examples, note that people in November had requested a certain kind of book for the following May, or might remind us of a couple of titles that had in the recent past lost by only a vote or two. I see nothing wrong with that. Regular posters have made it clear that they do like the discussions engendered by the suggestion threads, but as long as the coordinator’s recommendations contribute to rather than hamper that discussion, I would think they’d be welcome.

                    Despite our being very polite, those of us who are active in COTM aren’t a bunch of shrinking violets. I think the new coordinator should do as s/he thinks best and the community well let him/her know if it isn’t working.

                    1. What? Six months have gone by? That was the fastest six months of my life, then. You've done a super job MM. As have all the COTM coordinators. However, since I feel as though I've gained 100 lbs. I'm ready to go lean. Very, Very lean this time around. So I'm nominating:

                      A NEW WAY TO COOK, Sally Schneider.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Gio

                        I agree with Stewpot, er... Gio!
                        A NEW WAY TO COOK, Sally Schneider
                        I've not cooked from it, but having somewhat settled into our first home, I'm ready to start cooking again. And the conspiracy has begun! ;-)

                        1. re: Katie Nell

                          Very funny, KN. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.....

                      2. I like that suggestion.

                        A NEW WAY TO COOK, Sally Schneider

                        Thanks for all your hard work MMRuth, and congratulations on your new home Katie Nell!

                        1. BALTHAZAR COOKBOOK.

                          Thank you MMRuth!

                          1. A NEW WAY TO COOK -- Sally Schneider.

                            I am giving this book a test run tonight, and now that I've made a couple of delicious dishes, I am excited to cook more! I know it's presumptive, but I wanted to ward off the January blues by cooking from a new cookbook, so after peeking on this thread yesterday, I took the liberty of grabbing A NEW WAY TO COOK from the library. This evening I'm trying three recipes -- Chicken Breasts with Mexican Flavors (306), featuring her Ancho Chile Sauce/Revisionist Mole (p 656) and Warm Bean Salad with Balsamic-Bacon Vinaigrette (444). So far I've tasted the sauce and the beans -- both amazing -- really excellent, and I've made ancho chile sauces and bean salads in the past on multiple occasions using various recipes. I'm impressed by her recipes. I'm excited to try the chicken (going in the oven soon) -- which is basically cooking a bone-in breast in a foil packet with some grilled onions and the mole sauce. mmmm. I know, I know -- it's unconventional to report on the recipes here so let it be known that this is not an actual recipe review but rather someone vouching for the book. If the book wins, I'll post reviews of the three recipes in February. Thanks COTM and COTM-ers for helping me overcome the winter blues by again trying some sensational new dishes...

                            Two other points -- cooking on a budget is a consideration for some of us, including me -- and I was able to prepare these dishes well within my budget. Her recipes are really guidelines, encouraging improvisation. I'll consider that a plus, as we know that we all like to add our own touches here at COTM! Great for the imaginative chef, and easy to incorporate a more budget-friendly or accessible ingredient if need be.

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: foxy fairy

                              I really like the corn soup with cilantro lime cream (or whatever it's called) in anwtc Simple and delicious and elegant.

                              P.S. I haven't added my voice to this thread because I haven't been cooking from the COTM's lately and feel guilty about participating in the choosing, but not the cooking and reporting back. If anwtc wins, since I own it, I hope to cook from it with all of you. But, if you choose something else interesting and wonderful, as you nearly always do, well, I probably try to cook from that, too! Anyway, reading along with interest!

                              P.S. MMR and her predecessors have worked hard to maintain this COMT tradition and herd this opinionated, passionate fun-loving bunch and I am so grateful to all of them, even the ones before oakjoan (my first COTM organizer) as I know these procedures have been built up over a long time. Thank you all and my sympathies/best wishes to the kind soul who steps up next.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                My inbox has yet to be flooded with volunteers. ;-)

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  You only need one. ;-) You have ONE right?

                                  *biting nails nervously, hoping not to be called to *give back* to project that has given me so much, unless the project needs me*

                                  Katie, that's a wicked laugh, I can hear it from here.


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    No, so far I do not have one, though I do have someone who is willing to do it in a subsquent round, once her child is in school. I'll be honest - I don't mind continuing to do it, but I think it's much better to have the rotation.

                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                      Maybe you should put your email in flashing lights in your profile. :)


                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        MMR -- I emailed you. I am interested in organizing but I was sure that the position had already been grabbed by another zealous COTM-er! :)

                                        1. re: foxy fairy

                                          Thanks - I've now got a couple of volunteers and will get back to you!

                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Oh, TDQ, I thought it was going to be your turn next! ;-) Don't worry... your time will come! Heh, heh, heh! (that's my evil laugh, in case you didn't get that!)

                                      (And I haven't been participating much lately either, but I have really, really, really good intentions this next month!)

                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                        No, no, no, Katie Nell! An evil laugh is never anything but "Mwahahahahahahaha"

                                    3. As my New Year health kick will be continuing in February, and I own it already, I'll add my voice to the A NEW WAY TO COOK crowd.

                                      1. Hi - just a note - I've had to change the date for closing the suggestions thread to the 13th, as I'm heading down to Charlottesville this weekend to be with my sister while her husband has open heart surgery (again) on the 12th. I'll put up the voting thread in the evening on the 13th.

                                        Thanks to those who have volunteered to take over - I think we're in good shape now!

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          MMRuth, I hope all goes well for your family. We will be thinking of you, and wishing for the best.

                                          I must admit I have a hankering to try making mole. I suspect we have a clear winner, but I will put in a vote for Diana Kennedy THE ART OF MEXICAN COOKING, but I would be up for amy of her books.

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Glad you found some volunteers - I would have loved to help you out, but have been stuck with lots of work and overtime hours recently and probably for the coming months; haven't even had time to cook much.

                                            I hope everything goes well for your sister and brother-in-law, and will be thinking of you.

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              No problem - I think we're set until this time next year. Then we'll hit you up! Thanks to both you and moh for your kind thoughts.

                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                              Best of luck to your Brother-in-Law, MM. Prayers to you and all your dear family.

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Hi all - I'm back - all went well - and will take care of this today! Thanks for all the kind wishes.

                                              2. I have to ask if any cooks recommending "A New Way to Cook" have actually cooked from this book. I have, and I've been quite disappointed.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Yes, a few of us. In fact, there's an earlier thread discussing recipes and reports from the book (and to which I added some of the recipes I've enjoyed):


                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    Oh yes, I have cooked from ANWTC and have been quite delighted. It's my go to cookbook when I'm stumped.....or just for inspiration.

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Pikawicca: Could you be more specific about why you've been disappointed? It'd help me a lot since I really know nothing about this book except what I've read in this thread.

                                                      Oh, and Gio, could you do the same, i.e., why it inspires you, etc.


                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        Perhaps it's just that I bought ANWTC at about the same time I bought "Starting with Ingredients" and "The Improvisational Cook," both of which I found much more interesting.

                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                          I don't have ANWTC but was looking into it on Amazon in anticipation of this discussion, and one thing I read in the comments was that a lot of the recipes use "impractical" amounts of cream. By this I mean that in a home that typically eats healthy, cream is not a standard in the refrigerator, and when a recipe calls for a couple tablespoons of cream, or a 1/4 cup of whole milk for example, it's kind of irritating. Jut my two cents; as I said, I don't have the book, but if this *is* the case I'd find it annoying.

                                                          1. re: DGresh

                                                            Maybe I'm not as healthy as I think, but I nearly always have cream in the fridge, particularly half-fat creme fraiche, which comes in 200ml tubs here (England). It's a brilliant ingredient for giving creamy richness to food, without all the calories and fat of double (heavy) cream.

                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                              I always have cream in the fridge too, and usually lower fat sour cream (not to mention various cheeses, etc.). The cup size container keeps for weeks and weeks.

                                                            2. re: DGresh

                                                              I think you can freeze cream. Maybe freeze the leftovers in 1/4 cup and/or 2 TBSP portions?


                                                          2. re: oakjoan

                                                            Why I like " A New Way To Cook":

                                                            I've been cooking for a Very Long Time using family recipes and a wide variety of cookbooks. During the last year I have acquired many new cookbooks and I've noticed a trend in recipes... listing alternatives to the stated ingredients... listing alternative methods of achieving the end result. That's my style of cooking. Find a dish that's appealing, study the recipe, envision the end result, make it suit my palette. Healthy, seasonal, tasty, honest.

                                                            A New Way To Cook takes this idea to another level. Based pretty much on a Mediterranean diet but with other influences as well, the recipes are nutritious, satisfying and in the end, celebratory.

                                                            No trans-fats are used and no highly processed foods make an appearance. Ms Schneider's motto seems to be Balance and Moderation. Rich, full flavor with an emphasis on healthy eating is the goal. For instance her Hummus, Pg. 101, has no oil but 13 ingredients, all of which are in every cook's pantry. The Gratin of Beans, Pg., 100, is simple but has an intense earthy flavor that's delicious and a perfect accompaniment for fish or poultry or indeed...anything. Peppers Roasted with Garlic and Anchovies
                                                            is a stuffed 1/2 pepper that is lively and robust, again easy to execute with suggestions for variations and ideas for what to do with leftovers.

                                                            I'm looking forward to cooking from this book and further investigating her methods and techniques whether or not it's elected as the February COTM. I want to eat a more healthy diet without sacrificing the foods I love or the flavors I anticipate. That the recipes in this book will give me I'm certain. It's low fat but not no fat.
                                                            I think this book will change the way I look at recipes forever.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              I must say, I have put on a few pounds with this last COTM... the recipes in the Zuni and Lucques cookbooks are very rich. I have often had to reduce the amount of butter and cream in things like the pureed potatoes, and I am not usually someone who shies away from fat in my cooking. But I am having some fat fatigue, and the thought of lighter, healthier cooking sounds better and better. But no fear! I shall continue cooking from Zuni/Lucques! I can take one for the team....

                                                              1. re: moh

                                                                Try the kale soup in Zuni. Austere and delicious.

                                                      2. I reccomend A New Way to Cook also. I'd like to try some new recipes from it, as I seem to just repeat the ones I've cooked before, the ragu in particular, yum.

                                                        1. I'm trying to eat healthy...at least for this month, so I will vote for A NEW WAY TO COOK.

                                                          1. A NEW WAY TO COOK.
                                                            I'm so excited that people here are interested in this book. It's been a favorite of mine for many years, but I need to be motivated to try some other recipes, so COTM process would be a good way for me to do that.

                                                            1. A PLATTER OF FIGS
                                                              it looks like we have a clear winner, but why should that stop me...
                                                              : )

                                                              Looks like I'll be going back to old threads like
                                                              Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Hot Sour Salty Sweet

                                                              MMRuth, best wishes to your familia

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: pitu

                                                                Ooooh, pitu. I wasn't around for that one and just received it as a birthday gift. Perhaps I'll join you.

                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                  Platter of Figs and Cradle of Flavor and both on my wish lists for future COTM. Maybe there will be a groundswell of support for them for March and April, although, is PofF too new? I thought there was an unofficial (or official) rule that the books had to be more than a year old?


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Certainly not an "official" rule. I think it's just that we usually prefer to choose a book that's available to those who would rather borrow the book from the library than buy it and it can take a while for many libraries to get it in. Here in Manhattan, for instance, I see that PoF is on order, but not yet in any of the branches.

                                                                    ETA: Just took another look and see that Manhattan has ordered three copies and there are already seven holds on them. Could be a good long while before I get a copy of PoF.

                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                      I didn't have HSSS when it was COTM, either. Happy Birthday JoanN!

                                                                      Bklyn library has 4 copies of PofF on order...I don't know how many of us are waiting for them, but I've already heard from two friends about the greatness.
                                                                      It has a Zuni-like buzz. David Lebovitz blogged the spinach cake, so we can start cooking from it online....

                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      I don't think there's an unofficial rule, but I think it does help if some posters have used the book and like it. So, maybe those who have it could try out some recipes and see how they go. I have looked at the book and it looks interesting, and in the Goin/Zuni vein.

                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                        Makes sense to me.

                                                                        OOhh...it looks like St. Paul Library has 2 copies of PofF. Four of CofF.


                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          Looks like they only have one copy in their hands and one on the way .... and 8 holds. It may be a while.

                                                                          I'm waiting for a book from my library. I started out #304 on the hold list. I may get it in time for the beach.

                                                                2. In re: ANWTC -- made the Orzo Risotto last night and it was disgusting. Slimy straight out of the pot, then quickly congealing into a nasty pile on the plate. The whole family was put off. I will not be playing next month; instead, I'll be cooking through Gordon Ramseys" "Healthy Appetite."

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                                    I'll have to cross that recipe off the list of recipes to try! Thanks for the warning.


                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                      OMGosh.....that sounds disgusting. I've not met up with anything like that. Thanks for the warning.

                                                                      Are you going to start a "dedicated thread" for the Ramsey book?

                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                        I've got the Ramsay book as well - could you start a thread maybe?