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Cookbook of the Month August 2013: The Nomination Thread

Roll up, ladies and gentleman, and welcome to the August nomination thread. Summer has finally arrived in the UK - and with it a veritable feast of vegetables.

So let's be having your ideas for August. Please feel free to discuss as many books as you like, but when you actually make a nomination, please do in in CAPITALS.

If you've never participated before, please do join us. You can find out more about Cookbook of the Month, and see previous picks on this thread:
http://www.chow.com/cookbook_of_the_m...

Nominations will close at 0800GMT on TUESDAY 16th JULY. That's 0100 in California, I believe, and three hours before than in New York.

It's also my last month as co-ordinator, so please also think about whether you're willing to pick up the baton for the next six months or so. It's really not an onerous task!

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  1. Shouldn't that read:
    Nominations will close 16th July?

    Welcome home!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      Well spotted, eagle eyes. Will edit.

    2. You've done a great job GG, can't wait to see the nominations for this month start rolling in.

      1. PICKLED PANTRY by Andrea Chesman

          1. re: Njchicaa

            Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook: More Than 100 Classic Italian Dishes to Make at Home ?

            http://www.amazon.com/dp/0312375360

            1. re: Njchicaa

              Could you tell us why you like it?

              1. re: greedygirl

                I like it because it is full of just good "red sauce" style Italian-American food. I've said before that if I had to get rid of every cookbook I own except one, it would be the one that I'd keep.

                It generated some interest in June's "what cookbooks have you bought?" thread and I know that a couple of people bought it. It could just as easily be done in January as in August. There aren't any grilling recipes or many things involving summer vegetables. I just thought that people might consider it because it was discussed last month. There also are some great pictures of the things one of the members made from it.

                1. re: Njchicaa

                  I think it sounds great in the winter, that's when I do a lot of italian cooking.

                  1. re: Njchicaa

                    It's a really great book of Italian-American classics. It's the one cookbook that I've bought recently that I've used and that my husband also likes. Highly recommend.

                  2. re: greedygirl

                    I just recently purchased this book and it was love at first sight. I can honestly say that I've never purchased a book and cooked so much from it so quickly. Literally everything in this book appealed to us right away. I've reported on a number of the dishes on the Cookbooks Purchased thread here:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9040...

                    I think I've recorded most reviews in EYB though I know I haven't added a couple yet, including their Caesar. While I wouldn't have called it a caesar dressing, we absolutely loved it and have made it 3 times in the past 2 weeks!

                    Though I have hundreds (eeek!) of Italian cookbooks, this is unlike any other. I'd likely describe it as family-style Italian American.

                    We've loved everything I've made from the book so far. I'd say that if you're a fan of Italian food you must add this book to your bookshelf.

                2. RADICALLY SIMPLE

                  I have been on a book buying binge lately; as a result, I have a dizzying array of new-to-me titles. One such treasure is Radically Simple. I resisted buying this one for so very long, but once I checked it out of the library, it suddenly flew into my cart. Tons and tons of us have it, and I think August would be a perfect month for its ease of putting wonderful dishes on the table.

                  Though I am nominating Radically Simple, I'd I'd like to bring two other titles to your attention for future consideration: A Girl and Her Pig (available on Kindle for $2.99) and Beginnings: My Way to Start A Meal by Chris Cosentino (available on Amazon used for a good price). Both books are beautiful and good reads, but its their recipes that make them COTM worthy.

                  Cosentino's book is visually stunning. I stumbled upon it during my recent visit to the Ferry Bldg and knew it had to be mine. Mine! mine! mine! The author is owner of the salamaria in the Ferry Bldg and Incanto in SF and despite the fact that the first few pages are devoted to cured meats (serving them, not making them) and the last few to cheese plates, the majority of the recipes are for creative veggie plates. Describing it really can't do it justice, you need to go into a store and page through it. Did I mention it was visually stunning? Well it is! I am not sure why it hasn't been indexed on EYB yet but trust me, this is a not to be missed stand out.

                  The Pig book's title is misleading, it is not devoted to pig recipes. The author is famed owner of The Spotted Pig In New York, a Brit, and the majority of her recipes are very simple, focusing more on the quality of ingredients than fancy techniques. The other interesting thing about this book is that it also contains recipes for things like pig ears, whole suckling pig (done in the oven on a sheet pan), sheep's head, and sweet breads, recipes I might not attempt to make but I certainly enjoyed learning about.

                  42 Replies
                  1. re: dkennedy

                    There's a very solid adjunct thread for "Radically Simple" in case anyone wants to check it out: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/786040

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      I whill enthusiastically jump on the RADICALLY SIMPLE bandwagon. What a wonderful book!

                      1. re: dkennedy

                        I'd be thrilled to have a push to get back to RADICALLY SIMPLE.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          I've had Radically Simple ever since the thread that JoanN linked to was started and have yet to cook anything from it. Seems to be my MO, now that I think about it. I'd need a push just to get started.

                          Oddly, I'm not motivated to nominate any book for August, at least not right now. I already see two camps gathering though. I hope that folks consider that many home cooks cannot use an outdoor grill for various reasons, mostly their condo or apartment laws etc. We had the same issue when Planet Barbecue! was COTM.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I agree on the whole grilling thing. We've done it a couple of times and there are numerous regulars who have to skip the month (of course we all have to sometimes, for various reasons) because of this. I have a grill, but not everyone does.

                            I really love Radically Simple. I've made one really bad thing from it (oh please stay away from the sardine bolognese) but I've been very pleased with pretty much everything else.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              As one of those with only very rare access to a grill, let me pipe up here and say I really don’t mind particularly if a grilling book is chosen for COTM, although I don’t agree that many grilling recipes can be easily transferred indoors. I bought Planet BBQ last year in the hope that I might be able to do just that and ended up giving it away. Just too frustrating not to be able to make a recipe the way it’s supposed to be made. You just don’t get the characteristic and all-important char and flavor with a grill pan or a broiler that you do with an outdoor grill. In fact, I was disappointed once I got Big, Small Plates home from the library to see that so many of the recipes that appealed to me called for a grill. I sort of lost enthusiasm for it and set it aside. (Although I’m still considering trying the Mongolian Lamb Chops on a grill pan; just haven’ gotten around to it yet.)

                              I’m always perfectly happy to take a month off and revisit past COTMs. There are now so many, and such good ones. Or, as happened this month, I’ll get sidetracked by a new acquisition. I’ve made seven dishes so far from "Smoke & Pickles" and am finding everything about the book enchanting.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                "Smoke & Pickles" is getting so much air time here that I've just ordered it. Couldn't resist after reading all about Chef Lee. Wouldn't it make a good COTM?

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I’m conflicted as to whether or not “Smoke & Pickles” would make a good COTM and have been waiting to see if anyone else chimes in on it.

                                  On the plus side: His writing, both in the intros and in the directions, is simply delightful. He was an English major at NYU and you can tell. You feel as though you’re either sitting across the table from him having a beer and listening to his wonderful stories about how he got into this business or that he’s right there with you in the kitchen telling you what to do next and how to do it. The recipes are bold, exciting, different, many with intense flavors. This is not food you’ve had before. And the instructions are spot on. Everything I’ve made so far has come out just as he said it would and looks just as it does in the photo. This is a very exciting book from an important chef at the beginning of his career.

                                  On the minus side: The book is definitely meat centric. Although there are a number of shellfish dishes, there are very few fish or vegetarian dishes. The recipes are not difficult, but ingredients lists can be long because of the accompanying sauces or dressings. And the flavors, exciting though they are to me, are often unusual, as with the Collards and Kimchi (which I just adored) or the Vietnamese Lamb Chops (ditto). These are not dishes for a family of picky eaters nor are they (for the most part) meals to get on the table after coming home late from work.

                                  I’ve hesitated to start a cooking from the book thread. I know many feel it can give a book the impetus it needs to become a COTM. I always think it takes the wind out of it’s sails. But if it looks as though, for reasons noted above, “Smoke & Pickles” is unlikely to achieve COTM status, I’d be happy to start a thread on it.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    Well, that's a pretty darn good review of the book, Joan. Thank you! Now I'm excited about the possibilities. Long lists of ingredients used to bother me only in that dinner on a week-night is usually wanted, almost demanded, tout de suite and I no longer have the capability of starting earlier in the day. I simply use the week-ends for those sorts of recipes these days.

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      P.S., Gio. The book is indexed on EYB and I've posted short reviews of what I've made there.

                                    2. re: JoanN

                                      If a "cooking from" thread picks up enough steam, then I really kind of don't care if it becomes COTM (gasp - heresy!) because I still end up having that feeling that I've got a pal or two or more cooking along with me. I do understand that others will not agree with this. I didn't always feel this way.

                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                          page 116
                                          just prepared the black bbq sauce for the pulled pork shoulder

                                          the shoulder roast has been in refrigerator with rub for 4 hours.

                                          hope it turns out well-the sauce smells great

                                        2. re: JoanN

                                          I have Smoke and Pickles from the library. It was an instant love. Now, I haven't made anything but random flips of pages has me drooling. His flavor combinations are so interesting. I am also not one to read the stories, but the recipes are so intriguing. There is something about this book I find really appealing.

                                          1. re: JoanN

                                            I also have Smoke & Pickles, and like JoanN, I was taken with the writing. He really writes very thoughtfully and eloquently, and gives you a lot of background on each dish. I love that.

                                            I think it might be a good COTM at some point, but for August, only if paired with another book. I would really, really like a book that allows me to participate in COTM and eat down the produce in my CSA box at the same time. The current COTM is no help at all. Smoke and Pickles is better, in this regard - actually much, much better - but not to the extent that I think it would make a great book for August, at least, not on its own. September or October, it might be just right.

                                            The food in Smoke and Pickles is in some ways more traditional, but in many ways feels more contemporary than in the current COTM.

                                            Actually looking through the book as I write, I am finding a lot more, vegetable-wise, than I thought and a few things are going onto my list for this week. There are not a ton, but still a fair number, of spectacular-looking stand-alone vegetable dishes. So maybe not such a bad idea for August after all. Or September, when I will still be getting summer veggies from the garden in abundance, and some of the rest of you start talking about braises.

                                            1. re: MelMM

                                              I made my first recipe from Smoke and Pickles tonght. It was the Curried Corn Griddle Cakes with Sorghum-Lime Drizzle. A cornmeal buttermilk pancake with fresh corn and scallions mixed in, with a syrup of sorghum (or molasses), butter, lime zest and lime juice. It was pretty straightforward to make and the flavors went together absolutely brilliantly. Delicious. Completely Southern, and yet also had an Asian feel to it. The okra tempura is also high on my list to make.

                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                That just sounds amazing. I love sorghum. As a veganish person, I was not going to buy this book, but now I might have to. (I can handle a little buttermilk.)

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              Joan, your eloquent, engaging review has inspired me to order this book. Thank-you!

                                            3. re: Gio

                                              I just picked up Smoke and Pickles from the library because of the chatter here, and I think it would definitely be a fun COTM. Mr. NS is even more enamored of the book than I am! Haven't tried anything yet, and will have to send it back in two weeks, but Mr. NS has already volunteered to purchase it, so I'd be in!

                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                I'm hoping it will make it as COTM, since I've been slapping my fingers to try to keep from starting a thread on it. But I'm putting everyone on notice right now: Don't you DARE make it an October selection when I'll be away for the first half of the month. It would just kill me.

                                                I've now made 10 recipes from the book and only one was a moderate fail and another had problems that had nothing to do with the recipe itself. I have company coming week after next who will be staying with me for nearly two weeks and maybe that will give me an excuse to try one or more of the big meat dishes that make no sense to do for just one.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  OK, nix on October. But soon, soon.
                                                  I'd love to hear what you've made from the book, but I can wait until it comes up for discussion.

                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                    I'm with you Joan, I'll be away for most of October so I'd be very sad indeed if this was the COTM at that time.

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      My copy is on its way because of all the love you guys gave it :)

                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                          The ground is indeed swelling :)

                                                          Once I had a chance to spend time with it and if I love it as much as all of you do (very likely!), it would be awesome to have it as COTM.

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            "I feel the earth move under my feet
                                                            I feel the sky tumbling down, tumbling down
                                                            I feel my heart start to trembling
                                                            Whenever [that book's] around..."

                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                              love it when you start with the quips early in the morning.

                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                    You want to try a lamb chop recipe? Color me shocked...

                                                    Now, I have to look up that recipe as well.

                                                    ;-)

                                                    1. re: beetlebug

                                                      It's embarrassing to be so predictable!

                                                2. re: Gio

                                                  As promised, here is my wish list of recipes to conquer out of Radically Simple:

                                                  Strata, p. 26
                                                  Tortellini with Yogurt, Mint, and Smoked Paprika Oil, p. 116 (made and loved this one!)
                                                  Figs with Halvah, p. 297
                                                  Ginger Cake, p. 311
                                                  Maple Walnut Expresso Torte, p. 314
                                                  Vietnamese Coffee, p. 321
                                                  Buttery Oatcakes, p. 100

                                                  Recipes Inspired by the Existing Thread:
                                                  Runny Eggs on Bacon Grits, p. 11
                                                  Summer Tomatoes with Za'atar Pesto, p. 45
                                                  Poulet au Creme Fraiche, p 198
                                                  BLT, 181
                                                  Radish pasta,122
                                                  Prosciutto Halibut, p. 156
                                                  Mac and Tomatoes, p. 120

                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                    Those runny eggs on bacon grits are heavenly. I also love the chicken BLT and the Poulet au Creme Fraiche. And the tomatoes with za'atar pesto sounds odd, but tastes delicious.

                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                      The tortellini with yoghurt sounds like a riff on one of my favourite Turkish dishes - manti. Am off to see if I can find the recipe on the interweb.

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        I believe someone reviewed it (a rave, I think) on the RS thread, and that might have enough info in it that you can make it.

                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                    When I get home I'll post the list of recipes I've bookmarked as "recipes to try" in an effort to sway the nominations...

                                                  3. re: dkennedy

                                                    RADICALLY SIMPLE would be perfect for me in August. The trick will just be finding the time to report dishes! I found myself cooking from this again a few weeks ago and was extremely pleased with both the results and the speed (cod with chorizo, smoked salmon creme fraiche pasta).

                                                    1. re: TxnInMtl

                                                      I have been looking for a weeknight cookbook. Like 45 - 1hr or less to prepare and cook. Is this book that type of book or is the prep simple but the cooking still take hours?
                                                      Thanks

                                                      1. re: Siegal

                                                        Every recipe is different. Some are actually fairly involved considering they only have a few ingredients, but I can't say that I've ever spent 2 hours on any one recipe (really, most are significantly quicker than that to put together). Most are fairly easy (the chicken in creme fraiche and the pasta with pesto rosso both come to mind as extremely easy but delicious recipes).

                                                        1. re: Siegal

                                                          Off hand, I think there may be a recipe or two that I've made from there that involve roasting larger cuts of meat, but most of the ones I've tried are perfect for the weeknight. I second the recipe LM pointed out and would add the warm sesame noodles to that list. I work from home currently and when I'm out of leftovers, I can put that together for lunch in the time it takes to cook the noodles (using whatever vegetables I have on hand).

                                                          1. re: Siegal

                                                            Another good choice for weeknights is Mighty Spice (which would also make a great COTM, btw).

                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                              Diana Henry's cook simple would be yet another great choice for weeknight meals.

                                                            2. re: Siegal

                                                              I've been liking Donna Hay's Instant Cook for weeknight meals.

                                                          2. re: dkennedy

                                                            RADICALLY SIMPLE
                                                            I've yet to have a failure from this book, and the simplicity sounds perfect for August. Especially if the heat from July continues. Based upon what I've made thus far, I'd happily work my way through this book, cover-to-cover. (Although I won't promise to do that with my new work schedule!)