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May-June 2010 Cookbook of the Month Voting Thread (through Sun., May 2)

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It's time to vote for our COTM for May and June, 2010! Voting will be open through SUNDAY, MAY 2.

NOTE: Please vote only if you have sincere intentions to participate in May and/or June if the book you prefer should be selected.

Please vote for one of the following:

WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART, by Shizuo Tuji

OR

GOURMET TODAY: MORE THAN 1000 ALL-NEW RECIPES FOR THE CONTEMPORARY KITCHEN

OR

ITALIAN EASY: RECIPES FROM THE LONDON RIVER CAFE, by Rose Gray
(called River Cafe Easy in the UK)

IMPORTANT: In order to be counted, your vote MUST be typed in ALL CAPITALS to make it easier for me to pick out of the discussion.

Let the voting commence!

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  1. I have sincere intention to participate (and would glady cook from any of the above books) and think/hope my schedule is finally going to ease up in mid-May. But, based on my recent track record of participation (or lack thereof), I am going to abstain from voting. Face it, my fellow home-cooking 'hounds are the people whose cookbook advice I most trust anyway.

    Choose something delicious! I look forward to joining you in our virtual communal kitchen!

    ~TDQ

    1. Another non-voter here - I'm with TDQ if I can I'll participate - I will definitely be reading along though! :)

      1. I'm making a commitment right here to participate this month and cast my vote for WASHOKU.

        But I'll also try to get the other two books from my library in case the voting doesn't go that way...

        1. After thinking it over, vacillating, waffling, going back and forth And saying my worry beads I'm voting for GOURMET TODAY. Although, I ordered washoku from my library syetem just to see what all the shoutin's about.

          1. WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART would be my first choice, though I'd cook from any of them.

            1. My vote is GOURMET TODAY: MORE THAN 1000 ALL-NEW RECIPES FOR THE CONTEMPORARY KITCHEN (but will gladly join in cooking along with Washoku if that wins the vote).

              1. Selfishly voting for GOURMET TODAY because if that wins there's a chance I'll be able to participate; if either of the others win, I almost certainly won't be able to.

                1. Tough one for me, since I would also loved to do Italian Easy (but hey, maybe this summer is the time to do a thread on that), but I've asked for Gourmet Today for mothers day, and will cook from it whether or not it wins. So: GOURMET TODAY, please and thank you Caitlin.

                  1. GOURMET TODAY for me too, as I don't really want to buy Washoku right now.

                    1. WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART would be my first choice. I would certainly join in on gourmet today, but now that cooked tomatoes are medically not-allowed, I won't be able to participate in the italian easy.

                      [Do you know how hard it is to not eat tomatoes? One of my most favorite ingredients?]

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: smtucker

                        Oh sm, so sorry. My step-mother can't eat them either, and I feel for her. She really has a tough time finding food that is both tasty and ok. I hope it is easier for you. And, for what it is worth, the grilled fish in the Italian Easy 2 is tomato free and delicious! (not that I'm trying to sell you).

                        1. re: smtucker

                          I have a friend who can't eat tomatoes and, yes, it's a definite challenge. It's one of those foods that is so ubiquitous that its easy to take it for granted. Also not trying to sell you on Italian Easy, but I would think (hope) there are a lot of recipes, for instance, for pasta sauces that call for olive oil, herbs and cheese or cream?

                          Anyway, good luck. I know from personal experience that it is possible to participate actively in COTM even on a restricted diet.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: smtucker

                            I can't eat tomtoes, either, smtucker. Raw or cooked, they are off limits. So, maybe it will help to know you aren't alone? That's why I didn't vote for Italian Easy, too, though I would probably get it from the library and *try* to make substitutions.

                            1. re: amyzan

                              Well, we can hope that this is only temporary. Been a huge lifestyle change for the past three months. Thanks for all your kind words. It does help to know that I am not the only one in the world who isn't enjoying lamb shanks braised in a lovely tomato sauce.

                              1. re: smtucker

                                Yeah, I'm forever making up eggplant or summer squash based pasta sauces, but there is just no substitute for braising meats. It stinks, truth be told. For me, this is a lifelong sensitivity. There have been periods where my health was better, and I could tolerate tomatoes in small quantity without symptoms. Not recently, however. It's so hard going without foods you previously enjoyed. I sympathize.

                          2. GOURMET TODAY

                            1. WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART, by Shizuo Tuji

                              1. I will leave the voting to others, but will definitely participate in the newly invigorated COTM. All 3 choices look great, although after a library/bookstore reconnaissance mission I confess myself to be a little intimidated by Washoku/Japanese. During my recon I *somehow* ended up walking out of Borders with a copy of Gourmet Today -- and thanks to my 40% off coupon and a $40 gift card I discovered in my wallet, it was free! (What kind of moron walks around with a Borders gift card in their wallet for nearly three years? The kind who's propping up the economy I guess.) I also left the library with Italian Easy (no Washoku in local branch) and can't wait to cook from that too.

                                Long way of saying, bring on the new COTM! And thanks to Caitlin for all the hard work and wrangling of opinions into a coherent process.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: mebby

                                  WOW! That's fantastic. I'm surprised Borders honored a 3 y/o gift card. Good for them. Good for you!

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    No so much kindness as CA law -- they aren't allowed to ever expire here. But as chain stores go, I do like Borders -- and that 40% off coupon was pretty great. Still have $16 left on the card too.

                                    1. re: mebby

                                      mebby: I turned in some books at the famous Berkeley institution, Moe's, a few years ago. I got a slip for $99 credit. Shortly thereafter, my backpack was stolen and there went my creidt. They don't enter it anywhere, just give you the card.

                                      Several years pass. I am in Moe's. I think to myself..."It won't hurt to tell them my tale of woe about the stolen credit slip." So I ask a guy at the front counter. Before I'm finished, he's writing out a new slip for $99 credit.

                                      Now they have a life-long customer. Hmm, maybe I should see if they have any of the COTM books that I don't.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        ok. I think we are all waiting. WASHOKU/JAPANESE COOKING

                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                          I love Moe's -- I grew up in Berkeley (a few blocks from what is now the mecca, Berkeley Bowl -- I remember when it first opened!). Of course Moe's honored your credit -- so glad to hear they are still around in this tough time for independent book shops. I never get to Berkeley any more now that all my family have moved out of the Bay Area, but I do miss it!

                                    2. re: mebby

                                      Lol. Loving your logic!

                                    3. I'll refrain from voting this time too. I'll probably check the winner out of the library, just to see, but I can't commit to cooking from any of them. I'm unfortunately in the no tomatoes anymore camp also, I'm happy to eat Japanese at a restaurant but can't get excited about cooking it for myself, and it just seems wrong to do another omnibus cookbook like Gourmet right after Bittman (even though that's the one I'd most likely cook from). So I'll just wait & see.

                                      I can always amuse myself by posting to previous COTM threads. so I'm not worried.

                                      60 Replies
                                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                        Wow! I had no idea there were so many among us who can't eat tomatoes.

                                        Anyway, it will be interesting to see how it all turns out when the dust settles on the voting. It's a hotly-contested race right now.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                          I had the same initial feeling about the omnibus thing (especially given the reception Bittman has gotten) but I've read some raves of the Gourmet book, and was sold.

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            Ditto LLM -- I definitely was against another "portmanteau" -- except that every time I pick up Gourmet Today I am inspired and excited, which I never was by Bittman. Spent last night pouring over it and marking recipes. Plus, it doubles as a nice hefty weight to get in a few bicep curls in the kitchen should you be so inclined!

                                            BTW, for the ignorant, what is the tomato sensitivity? Is it an allergy? Something in tomatoes? At least the good news is that either Japanese or Gourmet Today should offer some good tomato-free cooking opportunities.

                                            1. re: mebby

                                              I know that for my step mother, the tomato thing has to do with acidity. Not sure about everyone else.

                                              Love the idea of the bicep curls!

                                              1. re: mebby

                                                I went through it last night and did the same. I like how there is a chapter just on cocktails! and lots of Mexican recipes (like favorite chili rellenos) for Cinco de Mayo if it wins.

                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                  It's weird. I don't know why I find Gourmet Today inspiring and Bittman's HTCE uninspiring. You'd think they'd be able the same. Neither has pictures, etc.

                                                  But, when I got Gourmet Today (late in 09), I read through all of the sidebar sections right away. I just thought they were really interesting. I couldn't help but notice all kinds of appealing recipes while I was going through it.

                                                  Funny.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    It seems to me that even tho the two books both are huge and attempt to be comprehensive they have very different philosophies - I have always found Bittman to be a simplifier - retooling and paring down other peoples standard formulas. since I am usually looking for the best tasting recipe, he rarely satisfies me. The gourmet book is like modern gourmet generally - it strikes me as modern restaurant-type food ideas for home cooks. they emphasize freshness but are not above using exotic, rich and expensive ingredients to get the flavor effects and some of the recipes are rather complex . the recipes Ive had from the gourmet book have been really good (my daughters and a boyfriend cooking for us, etc) - I guess if its chosen I will snag it at the library but its too big a commitment for my groaning shelf.

                                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                                      So well put! I totally agree on the difference between the two books. And being a more novice cook than most of you -- but ambitious and particular about flavors -- Bittman is just too minimalist for me.

                                                      1. re: mebby

                                                        I think it's time for me to face the truth: i am not a minimalist. If I were, my shelves would not be overflowing with cookbooks. And I wouldn't have "Chinese" and "Vietnamese" and "Ottolenghi" and "Spanish" boxes stuffed away in my spice cabinet and fridge.

                                                        I love the idea of being a minimalist in certain matters, but have never,ever been one on any matter.

                                                        I'd rather drive or call around town looking for the exact right ingredient than simplify. In truth, I am an extremist.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                    You know, thinking about your comment, Rubee, I wonder if, in a way, with some of the international flair Gourmet Today has, if it isn't more comparable to Bittman's Best Recipes in the World? I wonder if I would have found that one more appealing than HTCE?

                                                    Anyway, onward!

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      I think you could be right, although I'm not very familiar with the Bittman COTM book. Even though I've bought copies to give as gifts, I don't actually own it (which is why I didn't participate). The only book I have is The Minimalist Entertains, which I haven't cooked from.

                                                      I do like how the Gourmet index is also broken down into "Flavors" with recipes under headings like Vietnamese, Japanese, Greek, Spanish, South American, Carribean, etc.

                                                    2. re: Rubee

                                                      I really think that Gourmet looks at the whole world, while the Bittman is only a window to the Western World. I admit, I only own the original Bittman so it may be unfair to compare. The recipes I have made from Bittman lack umph. For example, a mustard pork chop recipe I made once I had to triple the amount of mustard before it "felt" right [or tasted like mustard.]

                                                      So, for me the Gourmet book has a more appealing and expansive range of ingredients and flavor profiles .

                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                        That is one thing I really learned from this month, even though I only made 3 recipes - Bittman's stuff needs serious amping for my taste-buds. Knowing that does help though.

                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                          Exactly!

                                                          That's why I was wondering if I would have found Bittman's "Best Recipes in the World," which is his International'ish book, more appealing?

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            FWIW, TDQ, I've had Bittman's Best Recipes, etc. for some time now, have cooked 3 dishes and each of them has been... how shall I say it? Intensely disliked. OTOH, a few of the recipes from his blog have been true winners.

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              Oh my. Well, scratch that thought, then. Did they not taste good or were they just pathetic imposters for the the real thing? (The latter being my fear when I checked that book out of the library.)

                                                              You know, I wonder if he doesn't test the recipes very thoroughly? Maybe these are just concepts for recipes?

                                                              That's the one you you can count on Gourmet for. Really, really testing the daylights out of their recipes.

                                                              I like Caitlin's point. Big and general, but not basic.

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                One dish that quickly comes to mind was a Russian beet and nut ( I forget now which variety) concoction that sounded interesting on the page but in the final taste was.. absolutely horrible. Gritty. The beets were grated and the nuts were chopped and the whole thing sat like a pink soccer ball on the plate. Not a pretty thing.

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  I havent seen the Bittman recipe but I will post a GOOD recipe for a beet phlkali - the flavors are fantastic. The walnuts are ground to a creamy paste in the mortar with cilantro, ground corander, garlic and other things. and mixed with the baked, shredded beets. I have always hated beets but my whole family loves this stuff.

                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              I have the Bittman International book (big surprise, right?) and have looked through it and cooked absolutely nothing from it. From HTCE I've cooked precisely 1 thing - the shrimp with garlic and paprika, which is quite good - and I've made it several times - and checked it for instructions on how to cook a goose. He just doesn't grab me somehow, things are either simplified or deracinated or both. (I also hate those 100 recipes for X articles he's given to.) The Gourmet Today book made me want to cook from it immediately - and I did even before finishing reading it - the crepe assembly with Italian sausage and broccoli raab - which was delicious. Since I'm moving this month I am abstaining from voting because am not sure how much time I'll have to cook...

                                                            3. re: smtucker

                                                              I do think the 2008 Bittman is much, much more international in flavor - lots of Asian ingredients, for example. But I agree that Gourmet Today feels much more inspiring, I think because HTCE seems so very basic. It's no doubt got a lot of great pared-down recipes on which to riff and build, but my sense is that people who participate in COTM already know how to do that stuff in our everyday cooking. GT is big and general, but it's not basic. It's full of interesting recipes that are interesting sui generis, and it's not really comparable to HTCE or Joy of Cooking, which are full of useful info and building-block recipes, but are reference cookbooks for that reason.

                                                          2. re: mebby

                                                            I'm still kicking myself that I didn't buy Gourmet Today when it was at Costco. So little foresight!

                                                            1. re: amyzan

                                                              That's the reason I own it. I just couldn't NOT buy a $40 book for $22--especially when I was so pleased with the big yellow book and advance word on this one was that it was even better.

                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                The weird thing about this month's voting thread (which this thread is) seems to be that, out of 40+ posts, there are only 8 votes for an actual book.

                                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                                  Wow, you're right, not a lot of votes at all. Although I count 11 (6 for Gourmet and 5 for Washoku). Hopefully the few who participate will be cooking a lot of recipes...hmmmm.

                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                    Despite the fact that the nomination thread was something like 125 posts, there were relatively few actual nomination/second posts - not more than 25 total, I think - for all books, not just the three we're voting on.

                                                                    I can see that some people are not posting votes on account of the proviso I posted, which a couple of coordinators have included the past and which I returned to after a several people expressed frustration in the Site Talk thread about the numbers who've swooped in to vote but never participate. Given that this will go for two months, I expect there may be people who ultimately participate even if they didn't vote. Hope so, anyway.

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      I am not voting this month (having learned my lesson last month) but will try to participate no matter what book is chosen.

                                                        2. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                          Those were my thoughts exactly. I enjoy eating Japanese at a restaurant, but I have never cooked or tried cooking any Japanese food at home. Same goes for Japanese ingredients, I have hardly spend any time window shopping for it, like I do for other cuisines. But as time is passing by, the two month period has started to give me assurance to handle or try getting a handle on this cuisine.

                                                          Gourmet, on the other hand, seemed too generalist to me too, especially after Bittman. But the thoughts from other hounds (below) about Gourmet are encouraging.

                                                          I am waiting for both the books from library, so which ever wins! (sadly it is not going to be river cafe)

                                                          1. re: cpw

                                                            Hey, CPW, lets you, me and Greedygirl start up a River Cafe thread sometime soon.

                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                              Sounds good, we should do that!

                                                              1. re: cpw

                                                                I'm in... I have ordered the Italian Two Easy from Jessica's and there's a bunch of recipes at the Guardian site:

                                                                http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                                                                http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  Sorry, Gio, I didn't mean to leave you out! I knew there was another fan and somehow (I'm going to plead early morning) I just forgot to add you in. Thanks for the links.

                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                    Please.. No Apologies necessary....

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      Lulu's Mom, Gio, cpw, et al. How come you're not voting for Italian Easy instead of planning a side link? The other cookbooks only have a few votes - like 6 and 7...why not go for your choice?

                                                                      If you guys wanted ITALIAN TWO EASY, why didn't you nominate it? Huh? Huh? Huh?

                                                                      I'll vote for ITALIAN EASY right now.

                                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                                        Go, oakjoan, go! :).

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                                          I feel like I've voted for it SO many times and watched it lose. And I'm also very interested in Gourmet Today.

                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                            That's kind of how I feel. I'm also voting slightly tactically (can you tell there's an election on here!), because if Washoku wins I'll be pretty much locked out of COTM for two months, three if you count Bittman as I don't have that either. Also, I do really like Gourmet Today!

                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                              We'll both be locked out of COTM if Washoku wins, but ... thats when we start the River Cafe thread. Win-win situation?

                                                                              Kind of fun watching your election from over here - more exciting than usual, isn't it?

                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                LM I dont get why anybody is "locked out"? even if you cant find either of the books in a lib, etc,. lots of the dishes will be relatively generic and will be findable online or in other Japanese cookbooks?

                                                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                  Locked out ... maybe the wrong choice of words. I'm just not very interested in cooking Japanese for 2 months. I love it, but probably not more than 3 times in 2 months, and definitely am not interested in buying the book (and my library's copy is a "gift" copy, which means you can't put it on hold). I'm sure you've had months when you werent' so interested in the book chosen - thats all I was trying to say.

                                                                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                    From previous experience, I find it's just not the same if you don't have the book. This for me is the big disadvantage of a two-month COTM - if the book doesn't appeal or you can't get hold of it for some reason then it's a long time to wait for the next one. With the way it was, there'd be a couple of weeks and then the voting process would start again, so there'd be some hope of getting a book that works better for you.

                                                                                2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                  Yes, that is a definite disadvantage to the two-month COTM set-up: those who can't get or aren't interested in the group's choice will have a little down time. Also, if the book turns out to be a real dog, two months could see a little long. In the past, the month just sped by.

                                                                                  At least there's always the option of exploring former books you loved, or to try new books you've been meaning to get to.

                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    this is exactly why I was hoping for two months/two sets of threads simultaneously.
                                                                                    thought it would give folks more flexibillity in different scenarios.

                                                                                    having a side thread rather than a second COTM thread makes little sense.

                                                                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                                                                      But isn't it kind of the same thing as having a second set of COTM? People who are interested can play along, those who aren't can ignore.

                                                                                      But mostly I just liked the one month, one book format. But as I said below, I'm willing to do whatever the crowd wants to keep COTM going.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        That's what I was thinking too - that it would be like a second COTM, in which case "both" COTMs would only have a few participants as people would be split between the two. For example, I like the idea of in the future doing River Cafe, but if we did it at the same time as Gourmet, I would just focus on one book.

                                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                                          Thats kind of why I'm wanting to wait to see what wins for this time around. If it is the Japanese books, which I'm sure are lovely but don't much interest me, I'd be thrilled to have a thread about Italian Easy and IE2. Some of us (me!) are so in love with the idea of COTM that going 2 months without would be sad. Especially (hate to say it) after Bittman month, which hasn't been a big hit.

                                                                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                            Oh, don't get me wrong. I can see both sides, especially for those who love to cook!

                                                                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                              I love the one book a month style of COTM too. Its not just the change of cuisine, but also the excitement of voting, getting a new book which might be more interesting than the previous and ofcourse the new discussions. But we have to give the new format a try especially to keep COTM going.

                                                                                            2. re: Rubee

                                                                                              I dont think that follows. Nobody will want to cook from any book ALL the time for two months. One month maybe, two months people will want to diverge and a second COTM will give them that options - I would expect some people at least would cook from both books over a two month stretch.. From the course of this thread, Im starting to feel that a single cuisine book like the Japanese books wont be accepted on a two month basis.

                                                                                  2. re: oakjoan

                                                                                    I voted tactically too. There were the two possible books to win, so I made my pick from the two.
                                                                                    I'll set up the side thread, but maybe wait till the voting is done.

                                                                                    1. re: cpw

                                                                                      Lets wait until the voting is done ... just in case. But I'm excited that there are so many of us interested in the River Cafe books.

                                                                              2. re: Gio

                                                                                As an aside, I went to an Italian restaurant the other day and the menu read just like the River Café cookbook - very simple, just two or three ingredients per dish. I'm pretty sure some of them were actually IN the book (carpaccio of bream) and at least one of the chefs had worked at the River Café. Anyway, it was a really great meal and has inspired me to get the books out again now that summer is supposedly coming (it's cold and rainy atm) and there's great produce to be had.

                                                                              3. re: cpw

                                                                                I could definitely support River Cafe for COTM. Two reasons I didn't -- 1. Lulu's Mom's comment that it might be better for summer when the produce is really great (pasta with figs and chiles?! mmm) and 2. It seemed like it might be a tougher two-month book (although maybe when combined with River Cafe 2 there's enough). Groundswell for a July COTM? But I got it out of the library and am looking forward to cooking from it regardless.

                                                                                1. re: mebby

                                                                                  Just to be clear, it wasn't me who said that about the produce. But totally agree that the figs and chiles pasta sounds wonderful (I look out and see the spring figs on my tree ... half eaten by squirrels - sigh).

                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                    Sorry -- knew I shouldn't rely on my post-40 memory. I have also been looking longingly at the beautiful figs on the tree in my backyard and wondering if this will be the year that I get one -- just one -- before the squirrels get them all!

                                                                                    1. re: mebby

                                                                                      They're ruthless. I am usually lucky if I manage 4 a season between them and the birds. And no problem on the memory thing!

                                                                                  2. re: mebby

                                                                                    FWIW and not intrude on this conversation, the reason I didn't vote RIver Cafe this month is that I was hoping against hope that for the summer months we could combine with the Silver Spoon's "Recipes from an Italian Summer" which looks really fun and it seems unlikely we would Italian in 4 consecutive months.

                                                                                    Also I agree that the 2 month thing puts an extra burden on finding the perfect book for everyone and, well, that's not easy.

                                                                                    http://www.amazon.com/Recipes-Italian...

                                                                                    1. re: waver

                                                                                      please! always feel free to intrude away! I like to think it's like we're all sharing a huge bottle of wine and having a great, animated chat. Everyone's opinion worthwhile.

                                                                                      1. re: waver

                                                                                        I think an Italian summer theme would be lovely -- a kind of kitchen staycation. I'm also curious to see how the two-month format goes -- we may find that the time period is just too long, particularly if you choose to opt out of that COTM choice for one reason or another.

                                                                                        1. re: mebby

                                                                                          That's my feeling (about the 2 month thing) but I'm willing to go with the pack if that is what it takes to save COTM. I really love it, and have learned so much from it.

                                                                                          A kitchen staycation - that sounds great. Now if I could just get my family to agree ...

                                                                                      2. re: mebby

                                                                                        I agree that it's hard to have River Cafe for CO2M, seems too long for a super simple book. If it does turn out to be a winner in next round, I also think that either we should pair it up with other Italian books (River Cafe 2 or JO books or some other), or just have a regular COTM (not a CO2M)

                                                                              4. I really enjoyed kicking off my COTM participation with the Kennedy book - it was such a thrill to delve into a specialized cuisine and I'd love to do it again. So, i vote for WASHOKU and JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART

                                                                                1. I'm hoping for GOURMET TODAY: MORE THAN 1000 ALL-NEW RECIPES FOR THE CONTEMPORARY KITCHEN.

                                                                                  1. WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART, by Shizuo Tuji

                                                                                    But I'll definitely try a few things from the River Cafe if the library has it.

                                                                                    1. Although I will gladly participate in a Japanese Cookbook of the month (I have both books and use them frequently), I will vote for GOURMET TODAY because it will take me out of my comfort zone. I was inspired by all the talk on Italian Easy and bought the book too (Can you say cookbook addiction?). Looking forward to participating no matter what the results are.

                                                                                      1. Okay, I said I wasn't going to vote, but the discussion has swayed me, so I vote for GOURMET TODAY, because I know I wouldn't cook much out of the Japanese books, and Italian Easy isn't even in the running at this point.

                                                                                        1. Selfishly, I hope Gourmet wins because I've cooked three good recipes (two grilled, and the short-cut "scallion pancakes" with tortillas) from it already, and love that cocktail chapter! The mint juleps I made yesterday for Kentucky Derby Day were excellent, and I plan on trying the Tequila Sunrises for Cinco de Mayo. And everyone's talked me into the suggestion of doing Italian/River Cafe summer month(s), love that idea. Maybe River Cafe and Silver Spoon so there'd be plenty of recipes for two months.

                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                            I agree, Italian is perfect for the summer.

                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                              I love scallion pancakes! I'm going to have to look up that short cut version right now!

                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                The scallion pancakes came out really good, though I would use more scallions next time. You basically sandwich minced scallions, sesame oil, salt and egg wash between two nice fresh tortillas, weight them a bit, fry till they puff up, and then drain and cut into wedges.

                                                                                                 
                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                  Ohhh that does sound good. Flour tortilla?

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    Oops, yes, flour tortillas!

                                                                                              2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                Gosh I love mint juleps. Never used a recipe before (just kind of muddled some bourbon, mint and sugar and added ice - perhaps this is why I enjoy Kentucky Derby day so much, but not the following Sunday). I am SO looking forward to this book - whether it makes it as COTM or not.

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  I love them too, and am a big bourbon fan. But the next day, ugh, too much bourbon gives me the worst hangover. We both thought the balance of sugar and mint in this recipe was very nice. But then I think I love all cocktails ; )

                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                    Adult beverages = happiness.

                                                                                                2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                  Initially I thought a 2 month COTM might be a good idea given we'd have 2 books. Although, if Gourmet does win there'd be many recipes from which to pick Washoku, on the other hand, unless some people are simply ecstatic over it, might fizzle. I know I'd lose interest fast based on my quickly scanned portion last night. I must read more before dismissing it, though.

                                                                                                  Regarding a Summertime Italian month... I guess you know my answer. LOL Now I'm off to investigate that Silver Spoon book, I have a collection of Italian regional books but not that one.

                                                                                                3. I should add that if Gourmet wins, I'd be willing to look up the recipes and post some of the ones that are on the Epicurious website, for those who don't have the book.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                    That is a very kind offer, Rubee. And, in fact, for this book (should it wins, and I hope it does because I would really like to dig into it), it would be nice if people would post links to epicurious for every recipe they try if a recipe is available on epicurious.

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                      Even though I have voted for Japanese, I am starting to excited for Gourmet.

                                                                                                    2. WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART, by Shizuo Tuji

                                                                                                      1. VOTING IS NOW CLOSED (because I am heading to bed and people who planned to vote seem to have done so).

                                                                                                        GOURMET TODAY has won, by a single vote (out of 17 votes total cast). I will put up the threads tomorrow, so people can get started.

                                                                                                        The two-month span is an experiment. Come June, when it is time to choose books again, we can revisit the subject of whether we'd prefer one month or two.

                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                          Wow, what a close race. Thank you Caitlin. I think it's going to be an interesting experiment these next two months. Hopefully some good cooking, too.

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                            Close one. Thanks so much Caitln, sorry you had to wade through so much chatter to get to it. thanks again for doing this.

                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                              Thank you, Caitlin. The discussion and voting threads certainly were lengthy for this COTM. Thanks for letting it happen. I think this book has something for everyone...

                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                Wow - very close indeed!

                                                                                                                I am pleased, and am making a cake from Gourmet Today right now (actually, it's made and cooling as I type). Bring on the threads!

                                                                                                              2. WASHOKU, by Elizabeth Andoh *AND* JAPANESE COOKING: A SIMPLE ART

                                                                                                                a suggestion for a future month: "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin."
                                                                                                                It'd be good for a month highlighting unconventional dishes. Most recipes use good quality ingredients, some interesting ingredients ppl will have a fun time using for the first time, and he does a great job of explaining the logic behind his cooking methods. Mostly though, it'll be fun b/c people will likely be inspired to be equally inventive, and come up with some odd stuff.

                                                                                                                1. I think that this month's voting thread exposed a potential flaw in the idea of doing one cuisine for two months. By the end of last week, I felt badly that I had nominated a book that was of so little interest to such a core of regular contributors. I was torn between rescinding my vote and my true interest in cooking from Washoku with the group.

                                                                                                                  I wonder if we need to vote differently, What if we voted in this format:

                                                                                                                  Japanese 1
                                                                                                                  Gourmet 1
                                                                                                                  Fast Italian 0

                                                                                                                  The one means, if chosen, I will cook from it, and the zero is, well, the opposite. This month, the results would have been the same with Gourmet winning, but it might be a better way to evaluate [and count] the number of people who will participate. I fear that difficult books will never be chosen, but it might be worth a one-round experiment.

                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                    Don't feel bad, SMT ! I believe that cooking from a Japanese cookbook is in our future. Personally, I found Washoku a bit daunting and have been looking at "Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking: Simple, Elegant Recipes for Contemporary Tastes,: by Harumi Kurihara. Looks more like what I can coerce DH into cooking. Truth be told, I really prefer cooking ethnic cuisines. Or from books with different emphasis like Ottolenghi or James Oseland.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      I also think this month's voting has really helped develop our feelings about COTM and where it's going. For me, the problem with Washoku was two-fold: it's only really available on Amazon in the UK and is expensive and would have to be bought sight unseen; plus I could not see me cooking Japanese more than two or three times in the two-month period.

                                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                        This certainly helped me decide that I really do like a one month COTM...Gourmet Today not withstanding. I was much to quick to jump on the two month idea...

                                                                                                                    2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                      It may be true that people don't want to cook from a single cuisine over a two-month period, and it may also be true that people decide they don't want anything for two months, and would prefer to go back to one month. But I wouldn't despair of Japanese never winning - it took ages for Indian books to win, even though they were suggested consistently, and when they did, it was a popular month. Thai hasn't made it yet, either. Eventually both probably will.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                        Agree about the not-despairing part. It takes certain books/cuisines awhile to gather enough momentum. Often it's a matter of just zeroing in on which book(s) are the correct one(s) to represent the cuisine. I would do Thai in a heartbeat.

                                                                                                                        Can I throw a weird suggestion out there?

                                                                                                                        I completely understand some of the concerns people have about a two-month thing, which were are just trialing right now. What if, every two months we nominate and vote for TWO books: 1) one we've never done before and 2) a repeat of an old favorite COTM?

                                                                                                                        That way, people for whom the chosen book does not appeal for whatever reason will have a reason to stay engaged for two months that does not detract from the main event?

                                                                                                                        Sorry, I don't mean to re-open the whole discussion, but I've been thinking about it for the past couple of days...

                                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                          two books/topics, two months, two chances to win

                                                                                                                          one book/topic for two months is too long unless there is big support

                                                                                                                          ps I just took Gourmet Today out of the Library, along with the newest Wolfert (on clay pot cookery)

                                                                                                                          adding a second thread running concurrently would give more hope that we get to books that we talk about but can never reach consensus on featuring.

                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            I agree.

                                                                                                                            This would have been my first month doing COTM, but I'm not interested in this book. I imagine that after a few "not into it" months, some people just forget and disappear. Hopefully I'll remember and still be interested next month.

                                                                                                                            I like the idea of revisiting older books -- this would be great, because some people could actually sell their used books on to newcomers if they like (a cheap way to jump into the fold, especially for reluctant folks who could draw on all the guidance in the old thread.)

                                                                                                                            It might also be a good idea to have a running list of nominees. A thread on nominees can flush out some potential problems (like w/ the availability and difficulty of thee Japanese books.) Caitlin & Co (or reader consensus) could choose a few nominees that readers might toy with on a separate thread. Staying active in COTM and the cross over conversation might bring formerly disinterested people to the new book. Eventually past hits will run out, and this will extend that time.

                                                                                                                            Here's another option that might be a confusing alternative at first glance -- have every COTM run two months, but overlap.
                                                                                                                            Jan - Trattoria, plus Lousiana Kitchen
                                                                                                                            Feb - Lousiana Kitchen, plus Essentials of Mexico
                                                                                                                            Mar - Essentials of Mexico, plus How to Cook Everything

                                                                                                                            I dunno. Just an idea. It does sound like focusing on one book (especially for two months, unless its a tome) can alienate some people, maybe losing them for good. Case in point w/ this month's candidates -- maybe you just don't want to eat Japanese or Cajun really. For the people that love it, they can stretch it out for two months. For those that don't, they can get a jump on next month's conversation.

                                                                                                                            -----

                                                                                                                            Also, can I make a suggestion for a CH feature article, or maybe even a COTM special side project? ... Prison recipes.
                                                                                                                            it qualifies as "regional"-esque cuisine I suppose. It'd be really fun seeing how inventive they are, how resourceful, and surprisingly how successful they can be. Also, it'd be a real eye opener for how they live (which is half the point of cooking regional stuff, to step into another culture/life.) If written as a feature article, the condition and cost (health & financial) of state-provided prison diet and food prep can be explored. You can do a slideshow of recipes and techniques, and let the conversation begin.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Russel Shank

                                                                                                                              Hi Russel, Just wanted to point out that we encourage (and love!) people who post on old COTM threads. I know I go back to old ones all the time. At the same time, yes, it does encourage me to go back to an old favorite if it is "revisited."

                                                                                                                        2. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                          Agreed.

                                                                                                                          This would have been my first time doing COTM. I'm only interested in cooking Japanese right now though, so I wont be participating.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Russel Shank

                                                                                                                            I was a little disappointed that Washoku did not win, but after picking up a copy of Gourmet Today at my local library, I am very excited to cook from it...

                                                                                                                            Also, Gourmet Today has about a dozen Japanese recipes, so maybe you can still join us?

                                                                                                                        3. Here's a link to the Gourmet Today site that has some of the recipes as well as a few videos.

                                                                                                                          http://gourmettodaycookbook.com/recip...

                                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                            The Oven-Fried Panko Chicken, Poblano Tortilla Gratin, and Southeast Asian Turkey Burgers have my name all over them... throw in the Spinach and Endive Salad and it's a feast. The problem this week is that we in eastern Massachusetts are under a boil water order. Have been since Sat. night. All the precious farm veggies we bought Sat AM are trying to stay alive till I can use the sink again. DH has been boiling tap water like fury, but how can I wash spinach and leeks, for instance? They require many waters. With any luck the order will be lifted by Wednesday.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                              Those all sound good to me, too. I have various things going on right now that will prevent me from getting into the kitchen until the last two weeks of May. So, I'm going to lay low, then jump in in mid-month, I suppose. The good news is I've got until the end of June!

                                                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                What about using the water/bleach option for initial washings, then just do a final wash with boiled/cooled water? (Although since the leeks are going to be thoroughly cooked, I assume, I do wonder whether it's truly necessary for them.)

                                                                                                                                Sympathies!

                                                                                                                                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                  Thank you Karen. The water/bleach solution is a good idea. What is it? 1tspn to 1 gallon water??

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                    From the Boston Globe:

                                                                                                                                    A. Use disposable dishware, or rinse dishes in a heavily diluted bleach solution (an eighth of a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water). This advice applies whether you wash by hand or in a dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                    I assume that this is true for raw vegetables as well.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                                      Yup, 1/8 tsp/gallon water (which doesn't seem like much at all!).

                                                                                                                                      http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/drinkin...

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                        OK, thanks to both of you. I guess I'd be cooking with white spinach with my ratio.