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Cookbook of the Month March 2013: The Nomination Thread

Good morning, COTM friends.

It's hard to believe I know (as I write it's grey, raining and freezing cold in London), but Spring is just around the corner - allegedly! And it's time to think about what we would like to cook in March.

Please note that all nominations should be in CAPS. For more on how Cookbook of the Month works or to see an archive of books we’ve already cooked from this link can give you lots of information: http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

The deadline for nominations is 0800 GMT on Saturday, 16th February, which I believe is midnight on 15/02 on the West Coast of America.

Let the discussion begin - and play nicely, this is my first month as co-ordinator!

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  1. My nominations

    EVERY GRAIN OF RICE-Simple Chines Home Cooking by Fuchsia Dunlop

    ROOTS-The definitive Compendium by Diane Morgan-

    THE HAKKA COOKBOOK-Chinese Soul Food from around the World by Linda Lau Anusasananan

    1. GRAN COCINA LATINA-Maricel Presilla

      Thanks so much, greedygirl!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Allegra_K

        Welcome, gg. And don't worry. We at COTM always play nicely.

        Horribly conflicted. Will be living in Central America in March and April where I’ll have access to so many Gran Cocina Latina ingredients, but I’ll have an ill-equipped kitchen in my rented apartment; the book is just too huge to take with me; and there are very few recipes online. Do I want to be inspired by reading along or beg that this title be put off until I return?

        1. re: JoanN

          I'd be happy to supply you with any recipes you'd need, Joan....
          Though I suppose it would only be easy for you to source the central american ingredients...not much chance of locating aji amarillo or huacataya in Guatemala, is there? And who wants to make pepianes and adobos all the time when its probably much easier to just head to the street corner!

          1. re: Allegra_K

            Thanks, Allegra. And you're right. South American ingredients are as hard to come by as is a decent French cheese. As for pepian, hers sounds far more flavorful than anything I've had in the local restaurants. Maybe I'll just scan that recipe and a few others and take them with me.

        2. re: Allegra_K

          Count me in for GRAN COCINA LATINA. It has been sitting on the shelf and calling my name - need a push to take it down, have a good visit and start cooking.

        3. Thank you so much, greedygirl! I appreciate your assuming the coordination duties here. (Timely, flawless, and not at all greedy!)

          I'm inclined to go back and look at older books mentioned (with fondness and enthusiasm) as COTM possibilites.
          So, a little studying before I nominate.

          1. EVERY GRAIN OF RICE. Just got this and am super excited to delve into it. I know theres a thread going already, but I think COTM would inspire wider participation.

            1. This is going to be fun! On the pinup board over my desk I have a photo of a clock with GMT on the dial as well so I can understand what time it is where I am... Also my glossary of English words is handy. What else do I need? Oh, an idea of the book I'd like to nominate would be a good thing.

              Good Luck GG and don't worry, we'll be gentle.

              1. Going to give it another shot; BURMA

                1 Reply
                1. Big thanks gg for taking this on!!

                  No nominations from me yet. I have a very relaxing (and fun) day planned. I'm listening to classical music, I have my absolute favourite candle burning, I'm dressed in comfy clothes and I'll be spending the day looking through cookbooks and planning meals. mr bc is the best tea maker in the world so he'll be providing refreshments!! This is a little treat that I indulge in once a year!! We'll see what ideas I come up w for COTM nominations as the day goes on!

                  1 Reply
                  1. EVERY GRAIN OF RICE. My copy just arrived too. I'm guessing it might be too soon for many as the US version is just out but I'll nominate anyway. I made four dishes from it last night and they were all wonderful.

                      1. THE HAKKA COOKBOOK, fingers crossed and pretty please.

                        I'd also love to cook from and would quickly get on board with Gran Cocina Latina anytime, sooner or later.

                        Dunlop is, of course, also wonderful, but there's already a long thread on the new book, an personally I enjoy it much more and learn so much more when we try new-to-COTM authors.

                        Good luck Greedy Girl, Blue Room is going to be a hard act to follow, but if anyone is up to the task I am sure it is you.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: qianning

                          Could you tell me more about this cookbook? I got my local library to order some copies, but they won't be in for a while....do I need to own this one?

                          1. re: Allegra_K

                            I found the 'look inside' feature on amazon for the Hakka Cookbook, and I must say that everything sounds delicious! I'm getting tempted......

                            1. re: Allegra_K

                              Yes the recipe list in the Hakka Cookbook is pretty impressive and very interesting. Two of the best Chinese home cooks that I've known have Hakka backgrounds; but I've never had access to any formal Hakka recipes before that plus a personal preference for focused books and I'd much prefer this as a cotm to the Dunlop. Oh well.

                              1. re: qianning

                                Don't worry Q, I plan to get behind Hakka sometime soon. I think it looks like a great book and I like focused cookbooks myself.

                                1. re: qianning

                                  Must....resist!....Losing......willpower.......arrrgggghhh!

                            2. re: qianning

                              I'm very interested in Hakka too, and hope it gets its own month sometime soon, but Dunlop is the one I bought first and the one I'm really excited about right now.

                              I even thought of nominating both books as a pair, but then I think neither will really get its due....

                            3. Taken from these threads, some books that I'd like to open and I think I'd use:
                              Both "The Book of Jewish Food" by Claudia Roden, and "Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking". Roden's has 800 recipes, some never documented says the blurb. Her reputation is respected.
                              The Arthur Schwartz book won a best-of-the-year cookbook award in 2005. I love his Chinese American Chow Mein! A down-to-earth thoroughly eatable book I presume ?

                              Ad Hoc at Home -- this is from Thomas (French Laundry) Keller, but for family home cooking, "the best of". I'm interested!
                              "The Smitten Kitchen" by Deb Perelman -- she has a website with the same name, everything looks good. The book has only a few recipes from the website, the rest new.
                              Susan Feniger's Street Food -- this just plain looks like worldwide fun to me, but hard-to-find ingredients might spoil the fun?
                              I'd love to do either "The Big Book of Noodles" by Vatcharin Bhumichitr, or "Asian Noodles" by Nina Simonds. Savory slurpy slippery (it *is* the Year of the Snake, after all!)
                              Finally, (and there is already a non-COTM thread for this one) "Asian Dumplings" by Andrea Nguyen. This is "mastering gyoza, spring rolls, samosas, and more" -- OK!
                              I am a little wary of Hakka, one review said it wouldn't even matter if you never cooked from it, meaning the rest of the book's content was excellent. That's fine, but for me, for COTM, the food should be out front.

                              17 Replies
                              1. re: blue room

                                Feniger's Street Foods has been on my list for a long while, but I hesitate because of the hard to find ingredients. I have a Mexican supermarket about 20 minutes away but otherwise I have very little to work with.

                                1. re: blue room

                                  I've had AD HOC AT HOME for a while now and haven't cooked much from it (except for the legendary brownies), so I'd second that motion!

                                  1. re: biondanonima

                                    I third that motion! I've made 4-5 recipes from AD HOC AT HOME so far, and they've all been great. Didn't know Thomas Keller made amazing brownies, but that might be next on my list (although I just made a huge batch of Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies - I loved them but my husband thought they were too dense for his taste).

                                    1. re: jen223

                                      AD HOC AT HOME from me too. But I do worry it's going to be too similar to this month's book. But either way, it sounds good, and there's lots of used copies available for under $20 on Amazon.

                                  2. re: blue room

                                    I like THE BOOK OF JEWISH FOOD by Claudia Roden, a book I would actually like to get. (I got Jerusalem for January but then was too tired to actually discuss anything I cooked...)

                                    1. re: limoen

                                      I second THE BOOK OF JEWISH FOOD; with Passover towards the end of March this will be a great book to cook from. I do not have it but it has been on my wish list long enough :)

                                      1. re: limoen

                                        I have it-
                                        good idea for Pesach or a separate topic

                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                          I like your separate topic idea! We all need inspiration to cook something different for Passover, I know I do :)

                                      2. re: blue room

                                        I really like your idea of a noodle book blue room. I have the one you mentioned by Bhumichitr but I've never cooked from it. Another one that I have cooked from and also seems to be on a lot of EYB bookshelves is Cooks Illustrated Big Book of Pasta and Noodles....covers the world w noodle dishes!

                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Oh I have "The Big Book of Noodles" by Vatcharin Bhumichitr, and "Cooks Illustrated Big Book of Pasta and Noodles".. I missed that in BR's list. Also: "Pasta: Williams-Sonoma Collection" by Erica de Mane, and "Bugialli on Pasta, Revised and Enlarged" by Giuliano Bugialli. And don't forget all the chapters in all the other cookbooks that center on Pasta/Noodles. What a super idea!

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            I have the Buglialli book as well Gio. I also have a WS book but it's called Pasta, Noodles & Dumplings: Williams-Sonoma Mastering by Michele Scicolone.

                                            I haven't nominated anything yet but I'll definitely nominate a Noodle book or two...were you thinking of maybe having a Noodle month where we'd cook from various noodle/pasta books Gio?

                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              I don't know What I was thinking, BC. (As usual). For an instant the idea sounded interesting, especially the books that have global recipes rather than concentrating on one country. As I rethink the possiblity of a single ingredient book, it probably wouldn't be practical... I know I wouldn't want more than one or two pasta dishes a week.

                                              1. re: Gio

                                                I could happily eat two pastas a week. But yeah, maybe some wouldn't feel like they were getting their full COTM out of a book they only used 8 times in that month.

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Gio, you talked me into The Big Book of Noodles and I loved what I saw in it, but haven't used it yet. I'd love to have that be a COTM.

                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                I haven't cooked anything from it yet either... perhaps I'll get to it during Lent. It could be paired with a veggie book, maybe. Or the Hakka or Phan's Vietnamese. Somehow I am really wanting more Asian food lately. The take-away places here are horrible and getting worse.

                                                1. re: Gio

                                                  I love cooking Asian. We're lucky enough to have a pretty incredible Szechuan place near by. We get groups of local CHs together and order tons of stuff and have a great time and eat really well.

                                        2. THE HAKKA COOKBOOK

                                          Ditto on Quianning's ..."Gran Cocina Latina anytime, sooner or later." Just not March.

                                          Re: Blue Room's list... "The Book of Jewish Food" by Claudia Roden, and "Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking".
                                          I have both these books. Have cooked from the Roden book and Loved everything. But then I Love Roden's recipes. Have many recipes I want to try from the Schwartz book but just haven't got to them yet. These would make worthy COTMs, certainly.

                                          1. EVERY GRAIN OF RICE. It's an affordable price at just under $20 and I personally am interested in learning more about the more basic Chinese cooking methods.

                                            1. I'll go with EVERY GRAIN OF RICE, though I'd love to see Burma, Gran Cocina and Hakka eventually. I'm still not sure whether the recipes in the latter are any good and haven't purchased it...

                                              1. I'm just popping in to say how lovely GG looks in her jaunty new organizers' hat. Thank you for taking the reins from our dear blue room, who has left some considerably large footsteps to follow...

                                                I'm going to refrain from nominating because I continue to be an absolute COTM flake, but I sure see some some nominations I like, every grain of rice, gran cocina, hakka, ad hoc at home... I'm certain March is going be delicious, as always!

                                                ~TDQ

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  Have you bought Every Grain of Rice yet TDQ? So many quick, pantry-friendly meals in there! Healthful and delicious-looking, too.

                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    Yes, I have EGOR! And I have cooked NOTHING from it. I most certainly need a kick in the seat to get moving on it...

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                  1. Dare I give THAI FOOD (David Thompson) another shot?

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                                      I would love to see THAI FOOD win - I really need to delve into it but I need the support of COTM to get past the overwhelming SIZE of it!

                                                      1. Is it too soon to nominate Jerusalem again?
                                                        ;)

                                                        Barring that, I'll go with BURMA.

                                                        1. Exciting to have you at the helm, gg. I know you'll be a worthy captain.

                                                          EVERY GRAIN OF RICE will be my first nomination (probably my only one, unless things get crazy interesting, which they have a way of doing).

                                                          1. MOTHER'S BEST: COMFORT FOOD THAT TAKES YOU HOME AGAIN

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Bood

                                                              I've never heard of this book, but I'm intrigued. Can you tell us a little more about it?

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                            2. As I mentioned up-thread, I had the pleasure of spending Sunday with my cookbooks and in that process, I came up w a list of books I'd be interested in cooking from for the COTM. I didn't include newer books like Burma, Japanese Farm Food Every Grain of Rice, Gran Cocina Latina since they were newer and I wasn't sure how many folks would have them...but they'd all be great choices. Here's my list:

                                                              Mexican Everyday - Rick Bayless (I love this book, so many excellent recipes)

                                                              Donna Hay - any of her books (I love Donna Hay, have all her books and her recipes are enticing and delicious and often very quick. I especially love her flavour combinations)

                                                              River Cottage Veg Everyday - I don't think I've ever seen a book w so many positive reviews in Amazon and it's a year round book that would work well w winter veggies. During the summer I find it much easier to get excited about veggie dishes so this might be a great book for winter inspiration.

                                                              Bills Food or Bills Sydney Food by Bill Granger

                                                              Splendid Soups by James Peterson

                                                              Neil Perry The Food I Love

                                                              Mozza - Nancy Silverton (amazing book)

                                                              Stir - Barbara Lynch (one of my fave Italian books)

                                                              Cod & Country - Barton Seaver (looks amazing!)

                                                              Leon: Ingredients and Recipes (yum, love Leon food!)

                                                              Irish Traditional Cooking: Over 300 Recipes from Ireland's Heritage by Darina Allen

                                                              I'd love to hear if anyone has interest in any of these. I also love blue room's suggestion up-thread for The Big Book of Noodles or another noodle book. Such variety, that would make for a fun month.

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                I have Bill Granger's Asian book, and it looks really good. Would love to do that one some day, or maybe just a Bill Granger month (a la Jamie Oliver). But the books aren't that easy to get in the US, I think. Mine was a gift.

                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                  For the Burma fans out there, I thought I'd mention that Burma went up against Secrets of the Best Chefs in the Piglet's Tournament of Cookbooks today. As always, the reviews were insightful. I won't tell you which book prevailed but here's the link if you're interested:

                                                                  http://food52.com/the-piglet/2013

                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                    I don't get what or who Piglet is or why I care which book he/she/it chooses. Isn't it just one person's opinion after spending a little time with each book after trying a couple of recipes here or there? Seems so odd to me that this is something I should care about. What am I missing?

                                                                    A year or two ago I stumbled across Piglet's cookbook showdown and disagreed with almost every conclusion he/she/it drew on several books with which I was very familiar.

                                                                    Nevertheless, would love to cook from Burma or Grangers Every Day Asian (is that one of the options) or Bayless Mexican Every Day.

                                                                    And def every grain of rice.

                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      I believe it was you, TDQ, who first suggested Everyday Asian to me, and when I went through it I probably marked at least a third of the recipes to try. I love the look of it.

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        Not sure who Piglet is, but since this appears on the Food 52 site, which features lots of good recipes, I guess I've always assumed there was some food cred behind Piglet?

                                                                        What I find odd are the pairings in these "showdowns." Often seem like apple-orange comparisons--Burma and SotBC are such very different books.

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I don't have a clue to the Piglet's origin TDQ. For some reason I think they were a separate website acquired by Food52.

                                                                          I've been following the Tournaments for a few years now and what I like about them is that someone is taking a closer look at cookbooks and actually cooking from them. A book may have hundreds of reviews in Amazon but few are folks adding reviews after cooking from the books, most reviews tend to be written on receipt of the book and contain first impressions. I don't mind that some of the Piglet judges aren't chefs or in the food business since I'm not either and I need to use these books so often its the insights of someone not in the business that I find most interesting, insightful or humorous. I don't get the impression that they take themselves too seriously and I can't honestly think of a cookbook jacket emblazoned with a "Piglet 201X Winner" I think its intended as entertainment.

                                                                          One year one of the judges cooked w his kids (Batali maybe) and took photos of the food...very entertaining and a nice, real peek into someone's regular life. Some judges take on their task with scientific precision, some just have fun with it.

                                                                          This year I immediately wanted to buy Roots after reading that review. I always seem to learn something from the Tournament but as you point out, it's not for everyone.

                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            One of the people behind The Piglet is Amanda Hesser. She of "The Essential New York Times Cookbook", and other writings. Merrill (I don't recall her last name) is the other half of the team. I recently learned her favorite book is.... "Cooking in Ten Minutes" by Eduard de Pomiane

                                                                            http://food52.com/amanda-hesser

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Oh, that's hilarious. Is it Merrill (Stubbs) or Amanda who says Pomiane is her fav?

                                                                              And, of course, I recall Amanda from our ENYTC month, her Mr. Latte memoir, and her other writing. I didn't know she was behind The Piglet. Very confusing!

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                It is Amanda who likes the de Pomiane. The reason I posted that is because I thought if she was behind The Piglet run-off it would give the lighthearted contest some cred.

                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            What a disappointing review. She made ONE recipe from each book? Ugh. I always want to like the Piglet Tournament more than I do.

                                                                          3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                            I'd definitely be interested in Mexican Everyday but for some reason I feel like it lends itself to warmer weather? I don't know, something about summer and mexican go together for me.

                                                                            The Irish one would be interesting as that's my heritage, and would be good for March!

                                                                            I'm also always down for anything Italian.

                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                              I have Irish Traditional Cooking and like it a lot. It's not flashy, it's just well-executed plain food (the kind people would probably call 'honest' rather than 'plain')

                                                                            2. Welcome greedygirl and thanks for stepping up and into the coordinator's job. And many thanks to Blue Room for a job very well done, with great efficiency and humor.

                                                                              I'll nominate EVERY GRAIN OF RICE though so many of the noms sound intriguing.

                                                                              1. I'll go with BURMA. After looking through Hakka, I'm disappointed and uninspired.

                                                                                1. Thanks for all your welcomes, folks. So far, so good.

                                                                                  Did we ever come up with a "rule" about co-ordinators nominating or participating in the discussion? Sitting on my hands a bit here!

                                                                                  My personal feeling is that it's not a problem as my primary role is to count votes and post threads, but I'd be interested in your thoughts. Staying out of things does NOT sit well with my personality!!

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                    As far as I know there isn't a rule gg. I say nominate away!

                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                        There’s been discussion over the years as to whether or not the coordinator should be a full participant in the process. Most regulars feel that there’s no reason someone should need to refrain from either nominating or voting simply because they’ve volunteered to be herder-in-chief. Nonetheless, quite a few coordinators, for one reason or another, have chosen to step in only to break a tie, sort of like the Vice President in the U.S. Senate. But that was a personal choice, not any kind of group dictum.

                                                                                        I say you’re a participant first, coordinator second, and you should nominate, discuss, and vote, not the least because I’m always happy to read your thoughts, gg. And we certainly don't want to be held responsible for any changes in your personality.

                                                                                      2. I'll nominate THE BIG BOOK OF NOODLES by V. Bhumichitr.
                                                                                        Thank you, greedygirl!

                                                                                        If you go back and read old threads about the COTM process (and I’ve read probably only 20 to 30% of them) you’ll be struck by the many posters with strong opinions who popped up, posted, and disappeared. So I say handle it exactly as you please. I saw that most coordinators did not participate in choosing the book so I followed. It seemed like a good idea because feelings and motives and *everything* can get misunderstood so easily online. But of course there is every reason for ALL interested to nominate and vote!
                                                                                        In the past, instead of nominations & voting, there used to be "suggestions and polling."
                                                                                        I think I remember someone suggested dropping a book title if the objections to it (from a minority of one) were vehement enough.
                                                                                        Mr. blue room teases me by pretending he thinks COTM is an online game.
                                                                                        When I coordinated, the hardest part for me was deciding how many nominated books to include in the voting. If Veggiebook gets 20 votes, and Chickiebook gets 18 votes, fine. Two choices. But wait, there's a third book with 8 votes. I wanted more choices, so I offered all three, leaving several stragglers that had one or two votes each. And guess what -- the third contender was often a very strong contender. But of course you have to draw the line somewhere!

                                                                                        1. EVERY GRAIN OF RICE

                                                                                          just got it and excited for an excuse to dive in

                                                                                          1. Just a reminder that nominations will end at 0800 GMT on Saturday, 16th February, which is in roughly ten hours at the time of writing.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                              Thanks for the reminder gg. I think this is the latest I've ever gone without making a nomination. I'm kind of stumped this month.

                                                                                              I took a look at Ad Hoc at Home because I've had that book since it came out and I don't even remember looking through it. I thought the COTM might be a good way to rectify that. I was actually surprised at how approachable the recipes looked and I definitely want to cook from it now but, for me it wouldn't be an ideal COTM because I'm not sure there are enough recipes suitable for weeknight cooking.

                                                                                              I pulled the Big Book of Noodles off the shelf and the first thing that struck me was that it wasn't so big after all and I kind of liked the idea of pairing it with another noodle or pasta book...but which one? That said, there were lots of yummy looking recipes in the book.

                                                                                              Of all the books I mentioned above, the Veg book probably appeals the most. We'll see if anything changes when I get home and pull a couple of the books up thread off the shelf.

                                                                                              Maybe I'm just in a COTM nomination funk....

                                                                                            2. Nominations are now closed. I am considering the controversial move of not having a voting thread, as one book -- EVERY GRAIN OF RICE - is far out in front, with four books lagging behind with three or four votes.

                                                                                              Your thoughts please. :-)

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                I'm of two minds on that. On the one hand, perhaps it's inevitable that EGOR will win and why put everyone through the hassle, albeit a very minor hassle (your effort excepted)? And it's certainly a worthy, non-controversial book to move forward with. (I own it and would love to cook from it!)

                                                                                                On the other hand, what, really is the harm in proceeding with the voting thread aside from the effort required by you? There may be people who have been holding back their opinions knowing they will have their chance in the voting thread who may feel disenfranchised. It is our process, tried and true and which we have refined over the years, why discard it even though the outcome seems inevitable? Anything can (and has!) happen in the voting thread.

                                                                                                I've never been the coordinator so I don't know the hassle involved, but I believe the coordinator needs to be free to exercise her discretion, so whatever you decide will be just fine. But if it were me, I think I'd probably just put up the voting thread. Even though I'd love EGOR to win... :)

                                                                                                That's my my 2 teaspoons...

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  It's not about the hassle, more that there are four books with three or four votes, and one book with ten. I probably will hold a run-off, but just wanted to hear people's opinions first.

                                                                                                2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                  I'm new to this and will vote for Every Grain of Rice but I think you should go ahead with voting anyway. As TDQ said there may be people who have held back and are waiting for the voting thread to support a book. :)