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Aug 10, 2012 11:07 AM

September 2012 Nomination Thread [for Cookbook of the Month]

Hello to everyone, and an unreserved welcome to COTM!

As a group we choose, cook from, and post opinions on, a different cookbook each month. New books or old, sometimes 2 books, a cooking website, or even a general cuisine theme counts as a “cookbook”.

There are no restrictions or requirements to join -- just post in the COTM threads.

Please put your choice for September in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.
*** Nominations are open until Wednesday, August 15, 2012 -- 9 p.m. EDT***

Use this thread to discuss, persuade, dissuade, tout your favorite. Ask questions, make suggestions. After the nomination period, a vote will determine the winner.

Here is the (awesome & of interest) archive of the books that have gone before:

Remember … please put your choice in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS.

To me, September is prime cooking time. It’s getting cooler (ha!) in my half the world and beginning to warm up in the southern half. So -- inspiration / anticipation everywhere, yes?

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  1. No one ready to nominate yet? I'm not either but I thought I'd get the process stated by Suggesting two books I'm interested in at the moment:
    Bill's Food by Bill Granger
    The Union Square Cookbook by Danny Meyer and Michael Romano

    Never having eaten at either restaurant these chefs own I cannot attest to the quality of the food they serve, but the recipes certainly sound enticing at first read and I notice that their fans are wild about them.

    Granger is an Australian who had fabulous success with restaurants in that country before relocating to London with continued success. Many of his recipes are on the net, although I haven't cooked any yet.. too busy with current COTMs, etc.

    The Union Square Cafe at 21 East 16th Street, NYC has "been lauded for their outstanding food and superb service by Gourmet, Food & Wine, the New York Times, and the James Beard Foundation." (Amazon review) As I read through the book I see that although many recipes do have a Mediterranean slant there are many others that simply represent what the chef cooks at the cafe... a mix of many influences.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I just recently acquired The Union Square Cookbook (the restaurant used to be one of my business lunch hangouts), marked many recipes I'd love to try, and would be very happy to see it as a COTM. Extra added attraction: lots of lightly used copies on Amazon for less than $1.50. I wonder if it might not be a better choice for October since many of us will still be reveling in the last of the season's summer produce and the book does have a number of hearty, fall-type, dishes such as Braised Oxtail and Roast Breast of Veal. That, and the fact that I'll be away most of the month of September. ;-)

      1. re: JoanN

        Oh yes, I thought of the late Summer/early Autumn abundance of produce from gardens, Farmers' Markets et al,. In that case I offer:

        >>Vegetable Love by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
        >>Mediterranean Harvest: Vegetarian Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine by Martha Rose Shulman
        >>A Year in my Kitchen, by Skye Gyngell

        No particular reason except these are currently on my shelves and I have yet to cook many from any...

        ETA: OTOH, I still think an Ed Giobbi book might be just the thing, but then I'm partial.

        1. re: Gio

          As you know, I'm a big fan of Italian Family Cooking, and I recently borrowed Italian Family Dining from a friend. Wonder how long she'll let me hold onto it? I may have to lobby for Giobbi sooner rather than later.

      2. re: Gio

        Ack! I just wrote what I assure you was a scintillating reply and it disappeared. Shame on me for multi-tasking while posting.

        Anyway, I'm just popping in to congratulate blue room on her first month as coordinator. I have high hopes for Sept.

        I actually had high hopes for August, but I've been called out of town unexpectedly twice this month and, here's the kicker, I had to return my books to the library. Normally I can renew online mid-month, but my card has apparently expired, which requires an in-person visit to the library during regular hours. I thought about buying the books, but looking forward for the rest of August, I see State Fair on my calendar. No time for cooking when you can indulge in everything deep fried and on a stick.

        Anyway, choose inspiredly for September everyone!


        1. re: Gio

          Union Square Cafe is my favorite restaurant in the world. It is casual, lovely, a great atmosphere, terrific service and incredible food. I have both cookbooks and love them.

          1. re: Tom P

            That's a super recommendation, Tom... I've been slowly going through their first book and it all looks like recipes I'd like to make. I'll definitely plug it for Autumn meals.

            1. re: Tom P

              How can you go wrong with a cookbook that devotes an entire chapter to mashed potatoes? Per Amazon: "There's also an entire section devoted to mashed potatoes. Prepared with everything from over-dried tomatoes to eggplant, ginger and garlic, the restaurant's variations on this distinctly American dish are among its most popular offerings." My library only seems to have "Second Helpings." I wish it had both, but the good news is, as JoanN points out, affordable used copies are available on Amazon.


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                And we could nominate them together... some cook out of one, some the other...

          2. Thanks for getting us started, Gio. I have the Union Square Cookbook and one of Granger's (Bill's Everyday Asian) and could use an excuse to get another.

            Other ideas are Bistro Cooking at Home by Gordon Hamersley. We spoke of this book in January. It seemed too similar to Pepin at the time, but now this sounds quite appealing.

            I don't know much about Giobbi, but did buy some books based on some of Gio's recommendations. I also have interest in some of the Italian cookbooks listed below.


            My Calabria

            Dolce Vita or Made in Italy (David Rocco)

            Antipasto Table

            Naples at Table

            Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey

            I'd also love a soup book, but want to wait for the cold weather to arrive first.

            35 Replies
            1. re: BigSal

              Of those cookbooks you listed, Sal, I have:

              My Calabria - 1 recipe so far
              Made in Italy - 1 recipe
              Antipasto Table - 1 recipe
              Naples at Table - Almost made his Cauliflower salad for Christmas dinner last year... made something else instead. Have his "Jewish Home Cooking:Yiddish Recipes Revisited" and would love to cook from it. Perhaps near a Jewish holiday?

              Mozza - Looks Very interesting to me as I read the recipes at EYB
              Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey - is this the Sardinia book?

              ETA: OK I see that SMABH is the Sardinian book but for used @30.00 do I want to spend the $ when i just bought a 30.00 book for $0.01? LOL

              1. re: Gio

                $30 for a used book does seem to be a bit much.

                1. re: Gio

                  I picked it up at Abe Books yesterday for 4.19.

                  1. re: angelsmom

                    You were certainly very lucky with that find, angelsmom. i don't know where you are in the world but I'm located near Boston and there are no Abe Books stores anywhere near me,. Here's what Abe's is selling it for on-line...

                    Here's the page from Alibris...

                    1. re: Gio

                      I bought it online, must have gotten lucky for a change. If I don't like it, I will let you know!

                      Author: Efisio Farris
                      Title: Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey: The Mediterranean F
                      Bookseller Book No.: B12350558
                      Price: US$ 4.19

                      Book Description:  

                      Date Processed: August 11, 2012

                      1. re: angelsmom

                        <"I bought it online, must have gotten lucky for a change. If I don't like it, I will let you know. ">

                        WOW! Very Good For You. And thank you for that offer. I'll wait with bated breath...

                      2. re: Gio

                        Abe isn't a bookstore. It's a collection of used/out-of-print/rare book dealers who sell online. It's part of Amazon now.

                        1. re: sr44

                          I see. Thank you. I've ordered from Abe Books in the past but thought they were a brick and mortar store not just an on-line seller. Also, I have seen their books for sale at the Amazon re-sellers listings but didn't know they were affiliated with Amazon in any other capacity.

                  2. re: BigSal

                    I have Antipasto Table and have made quite a few recipes from it. It's a very good book. I just wonder whether a book of only antipasti is a good choice for COTM. Perhaps it would be best if paired with something else.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      Glad to hear that the recipes in the Antipasto Table have been good. Pairing it with another book would make sense.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        dont want to argue with you too much (:<))but in my experience Antipasti covers an extremely diverse range of dishes and can fill just about any role in a meal, from vegetables to salads main course, etc, They also tend to be very well seasoned and maybe more creative than traditional vegetables and mains. In this day and age I would think of it more as a small plates book (I believe this book came out before that craze)

                        Since we very rarely serve a big meat course in our home, these types of dishes are a welcome alternative, for flavor and protein.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          No question you can make a meal from the dishes in this book, especially for those of us who are cooking for just one or two, and I've done so more than once. In fact, the book includes menu suggestions using only recipes from the book. (The book, by the way, was published in '91.) Nonetheless, as with Raising the Salad Bar, especially for those looking to get a weekday family meal on the table, I think it would stand a better chance of being selected as a COTM if it were as an adjunct to another Italian cookbook rather than a standalone. But I'd be happy to see it selected either way.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            Are we talking about the same book? Amazon says 98
                            I always support pairings - have been wanting to try one of Sciolone's books so maybe we could do a multi of hers one month.

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              The one you've linked is the paperback jen. I suspect Joan is referring to the hardcover edition:


                              I picked mine up for a song on Abe's and as I mentioned on this thread, I just love it (as I do all of my Michele Sciolone's books). An MS COTM would be amazing!

                            2. re: JoanN

                              Absolutely. The less different recipes I have to make to put a meal on the table, the easier my life is. I love cooking, but there is only so much time in the day, and I do love other things too. I know that I'm a mother who thinks JoanN has a definite point.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Ah, that explains it.

                                I honor Joans and your point of view for sure. Most nights when my kids were growing up the only thing on the dinner table was salad/or veg and pasta, or bread and cheese. Unless I had cooked indian or something on the weekend and there were leftovers. Because that was all my husband could manage and my kids would eat.

                                but I still think that many "antipasti" are unfairly pigeonholed as specialty items, whereas they can serve a broader purpose in the meal. if I managed to make grilled red peppers dressed with olive oil and garlic, for example, I could serve them out, garnishes with a little parsley and some anchovies, over the course of the week. and they serve very well nutritionally as a veg or salad. Likewise something like fish in escabeche (ex sarde in saor) which keeps well and can add a boost of flavor as well as a few beneficial protes to the diet.

                                Dont know why I am still arguing since I prefer multi-book months generally, anyway.


                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  Far be it from me to enforce my own issues on the crowd, I promise! I'm just saying that there are some of us with young children who don't have the time to make the kinds of meals we made pre-parenthood. I definitely hear you on the various ways the components of the meals could be used. I'm just saying that right now, I often find that one recipe is about all I want to deal with, and then I find an easy starch (baguette, couscous, rice) and roast a vegetable or make a salad, and I feel like I'm still getting the fun of cooking without it being overwhelming. Oh, how I love those perfect recipes that include all the components of a meal! Anyway, glad you can see my POV, and totally understand why it isn't everyone's.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    I can't even do as well as you, LLM. The real issue for me is that weekday evenings are my quality time with my child. I could do more prep in the mornings, but that's my only time to exercise. I could try to do more fun cooking on the weekends, but that's when we do laundry and other housework. I'm just having a hard time striking that balance. So everything we eat is super simple. This time of year: a grilled protein and a grilled or steamed vegetable. Of course, I want my child to appreciate good food, too, so I'm really struggling on how to fit some more adventurous cooking in... If anyone has any good tips for me on how to find the time to really cook when you have a young child, I'd love to hear them.

                                    But, that's not really what I popped into this thread to say. What I was going to say is that the one month that "tapas" worked well for me (and this was pre-child) was when we did the River Cafe books, Italian Easy and Italian Too Easy. Remember all of those bruschetta and mozzarella recipes at the front of the books? Well, for some reason, it seemed like those books drew on such a limited palette (and this is the rare chowhound instance where I mean palette and not palate), that it just seemed you had all of the ingredients on hand anyway. Remember how we jokes that every recipe called for a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and a handful of grated parm? Anyway, that was one month where I really was able to get into serving several small dishes for an ordinary weeknight dinner.


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      DQ and LLM... you will be happy to know that post-children allows you the same amount of cooking as pre-children. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And if you are very lucky, those children that prohibit lavish evening meals will make those meals for you.

                                      Post children, I allocate about two hours a day to cooking dinner, and about 20 minutes to whip together a lunch. I am not sure I could count the number of meals over the years that included pasta and steamed broccoli mid-children.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        I have to say, I was absolutely thrilled when Lulu asked if she could go to cooking camp. I tried and tried, but all the local ones are only for 7 or 8 and up, and she's only 6 right now. We cook together, but I think she'd be so proud to come home and make us something on her own. Can't wait!

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          I saw this very tall step-stool/bench (with safety rails) on Amazon that is supposed to allow a child to help in the kitchen. I've been eyeing it, wondering at what age I can start enlisting my child to "help" in the kitchen while I cook.


                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            Also really fun - take him to the farmer's market or your local gourmet store (where ever they have samples) and get him involved in tasting. I promise if you let him taste and choose, he'll feel more involved and it will be so fun.

                                            1. re: LulusMom

                                              Good idea about the sampling! We do go to the farmers market, which he loves, though not necessarily for the food...


                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I'm always amazed that those of you with small children at home find the time to join in the COTM at all! I have a hard enough time cooking after work, and work stops at a specified time. As much fun as it is for me to do a production dinner on a weekend, I always appreciate the option of some dishes that don't require a lot of work. I'm really enjoying this month because Mr. NS is engaged in the grilling aspect! I don't mind the small plate idea, as I can put attention into one small dish, and the rest of the meal can be a simple complement. But, not having children to feed, I don't always worry about a perfectly balanced meal.

                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                          Have any of you checked out the Mom 100 Cookbook? I saw it the other day in the bookstore and was intrigued so I did some digging. The kindle addition is available for $3.96 or something like that.

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            Never heard of it, but the table of contents is sure fun! I'll have to see if my library has it...once I renew my library card, that is.

                                            Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              It does get easier, TDQ, I promise. Still and all, I'm just not willing to give up 1.5- 2 hours a day of the little free time I have to making dinner each night (or even 5 nights a week - usually that kind of dinner comes once or maybe twice a week). I love cooking, I love family dinners, I love sharing my love of food with Lulu. But, as you point out, there is only so much time in the day, and your bonding time with the Dairy Prince is really really important. Once he's old enough to want to start helping around the kitchen, that is a great time to do both the bonding AND the cooking (although sometimes easier said than done, when each step has to be explained and very carefully done).

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                Oh, funny, I just mentioned above the "helper step-stool" I've been eyeing on Amazon. I can't wait for him to start helping! We do have play dishes and a play barbeque and have been play cooking, as well as real dishes in the sandbox. I'm hoping we can graduate to "helping" in the real kitchen soon. What do you think, age 3?

                                                I also have to confess, that even if I do the COTM cooking this past year or so, I haven't always had time to report back. So even on months when it appears I haven't been cooking, it's more likely that I haven't been posting. I try to post when it appears no one else has tried a dish or when my results have been different from everyone else's, but it's seemed kind of pointless to just post, "Me too". Even so, it's not more than 1 or 2 COTM dishes a month I've been able to pull off...


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  I know, I know. Even just getting on the computer sometimes seems like the most daunting (or time-wasting) thing to do. Trust me, I get it. And so do the other moms.

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    Have you seen the video blog

                                                    In the earliest videos, the little boy was about 2 year old. He's more hindering than helping in the kitchen. But it's amazing to see how he turned cooking into a bonding activity. I'd love to start cooking with my 1.5 year as soon as she's able to.

                            3. re: BigSal

                              I'm always happy to do Italian! From Big Sal's list, I've got Mozza, My Calabria, and Antipasto Table. (And many others, of course.)

                              1. re: BigSal

                                I completely overlooked Bistro Cooking at Home by Gordon Hamersley when I was thinking about your list, Sal. I'd love to the Bistro book but perhaps in the Autumn? There seem to be many braises and roasts but I suppose there's a good mix of recipes to keep everyone happy.

                                I see that Herby has started the nominations with A Year In My Kitchen... Guess I'll have to haul it out and review it yet again.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  That's my plan too. I'm going to sit with some of these books and see what makes sense for September.

                                2. re: BigSal

                                  I'd love to do Bistro Cooking. I've had it for ages, have made 2 or 3 things and all were wonderful. Need a push to use it more (and I'm going through a bit of a cooking slump right now, so a push would be a good thing). Also have Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey and would love to use it, but I assure you that right now it would take the push of COTM to get me to do so. Not the book's fault, entirely mine.

                                  1. re: BigSal

                                    There's another book called Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli. I keep meaning to nominate it, because it's an exceptional book. The chapter on risotto, for example, is 72 pages long, and has 16 recipes. That means a lot of the pages are devoted to detailed discussion of the rice, the stock, the cheese, the technique, etc. I have never seen such detail in any other book.

                                  2. First off, congratulations and thanks blue room...nice to join in to your first COTM!

                                    Wow, what great ideas so far. Of course as Italian food lovers, the thought of an Italian COTM holds incredible appeal here at casa bc. I also have a Bill Granger book (Simply Bill) and though I haven't cooked from it as yet, the recipes looked wonderful. I've made one dish from The Union Square Cookbook and it was a huge success so I'd be interested in delving deeper. As for the Italian books, I have all the ones mentioned thus far. Here's what I can add to the conversation:

                                    Giobbi - Gio's passion for this author was all I needed to entice me to buy these books. I've only made one dish thus far but it was excellent. The recipes in these books strike a great mix between quick and simple dishes and, more time consuming recipes. The fact that the author is also health conscious is a plus too!

                                    Mozza - I've made 3 dishes from this book and all have been outstanding. This is a wonderful book with many enticing photographs. The author's conversational writing style is engaging and makes this a great read in addition to a great book to cook from. I also appreciate the wine recommendations that accompany the recipes. The ones we've tried this far have been spot on.

                                    My Calabria - I've made one dish from this book and it was a hit. The book itself is beautiful with stunning photgraphs. This is a region of Italy whose cuisine I'm less familiar with so the book holds tremendous appeal in that regard. This book also has wine recommendations.

                                    David Rocco's books - both are recent additions to my shelf. I've made one dish from the newer book and it was great. The instructions in the recipes are clear and straightforward. I always appreciate photographs and especially when they accurately depict the finished dish as was the case in this instance. These books seem to have some new twists on classic dishes which is what held appeal ....along w the occasional photo of the chef of course!! ; - )

                                    Antipasto Table - I'm a huge fan of Michele Scicolone. She is one of my favourite cookbook authors and her dishes have never, ever disappointed me. This is a wonderful book with so many fresh and tasty looking dishes. It would make a great book for a September COTM since the author tends to make use of lots of fresh veggies. I've made several recipes from this book (4 are reviewed in EYB) and all were terrific. I have most of Ms Scolone's cookbooks and another one I'd highly recommend for its sheer variety and of course quality is 1,000 Italian Recipes which I use on a regular basis.

                                    Naples at Table - I bought this over a year ago however I haven't cooked anything from it as yet. I do have an Italian friend who calls this her "go-to" cookbook and she raves about the dishes. This book doesn't have any photos if I remember correctly...

                                    Sweet Myrtle & Bitter Honey - As Gio points out, this is a Sardinian cookbook. This is such a beautiful book and it's a sheer pleasure to read with historical tidbits woven into the tales of how dishes originated etc. I've made one dish from the book so far and it was wonderful. There really seems to be a good variety of dishes in this book with a significant number of antipasti recipes which I appreciate since an "antipasti dinner" is very much how we like to eat during the summer months.

                                    Since we're talking Italian cookbooks, I'd also like to throw out another book that hasn't been mentioned thus far:

                                    Stir - by Barbara Lynch. This has fast become one of my favourite Italian cookbooks. There's a wonderful mix of classic dishes and some unique, new-to-me at least dishes. The recipes are clear, well-written and easy to follow and the results are, without exception, remarkable. I've given this book as a gift on 3 occasions as I do believe it to be a new classic. The author's passion for cooking and food shines through.

                                    So, like others, nothing to nominate as yet but I'm loving the suggestions thus far.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                      Finally, a book I own! I bought Stir at Costco just to support the home town girl. Haven't made a single thing yet, but my initial read through convinced me that I had not wasted my money.

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        Bc, I also have Stir, but wasn't sure how many others would own it or how available it would be through the library. I'd be interested in cooking from it as well.

                                      2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        My Calabria is absolutely wonderful. Really a labor of love, and it shows. I'd love to cook more from this book, and I think it would work well for late summer. I have others on your list, but this is the one that would most interest me for this time of year.

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Thank you, Breadcrumbs -- I held my breath for the first post to show up -- 12 hours! (Thank you, Gio!)

                                          1. re: blue room

                                            Oh I remember that feeling. You have done extremely well indeed.

                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            Naples at Table is one of the very best Italian cookbooks ; delicious pasta and veg recipes in particular, and great background writing, and I would LOVE to spend a month cooking from it, however there are not a lot of cheap used copies out there so I think it would be best combined with one of the others, My Calabria, the Giobbis (Italian Family Cooking in particular) or some such to continue the theme of Italian and good late summer veg dishes.

                                            Not in the mood for a chef's book right now

                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              I also have Stir and haven't cooked anything from it yet though I liked the recipes a lot when I got it (why does that happen?). I went to a cooking demo Barbara Lynch did and the food was great (we got tastings). So it would be a good incentive to start cooking from it if it was COTM. But I wonder how many people ill own it.

                                              I'm also very interested in the Union Square books. I have them both and have mainly cooked from the first and everything has been great. I'd love a month cooking from those two.

                                            2. This was a tough start, Blue Room, and you handled it well - no place to go but up from now on:)

                                              I do not have any of the suggested Italian books and do not want to buy any either whether they cost $100 or $0.01 since none appeal to me...

                                              A YEAR IN MY KITCHEN by Skye Gyngell has my attention

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: herby

                                                what is difference btw British/American publications of books?

                                                1. re: jpr54_1

                                                  The main difference is how ingredients are measured. British books typically use grams millilitres not cups and spoons. There are also some differences in ingredients' names, i.e. aubergine (eggplant), rocket (arugula), etc.

                                              2. Lots of good ideas. Not feeling pulled in any particular direction yet, just "signing in" to follow the conversation.

                                                Like your intro blurb BR, and many thanks for taking on the moderator job.