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Vote for your December 2013 Cookbook of the Month!

Welcome to the voting thread for the December 2013 Cookbook of the Month. This year we’ve cooked from a variety of cookbooks that took us on journeys to Jerusalem, China, Portugal, Burma, Italy and Mexico. We’ve also explored a chef’s spin on home cooking, bistro cooking, small plates, vegetarian cuisine with a Mediterranean focus and a book that mixed Southern and Asian cooking. This month we had 10 different books nominated and two clearly had the most nominations. How will we finish 2013?

The first nominee is FANCY PANTRY by Helen Witty, originally released in 1986. Here’s part of a review of the book from The Spokesman-Review. http://tinyurl.com/k6u48ck “With a little time, a measure of patience and the use of top-quality basic ingredients, anyone can have a pantry stored with a variety of tantalizing gourmet treats.…The 250 recipes are clearly written and, for the most part, easy to follow. Even a beginning cook should be able to follow the instructions for such complicated-sounding delicacies as brandied beef and anchovy spread and potted ham. The recipes include many condiments, ranging from how to add a gourmet’s touch to store-bought mustard to a variety of chutneys, jellies, and relishes. Recipes for making yogurt are here and, for the sweet tooth, a dazzling array of desserts that include some sinfully luscious sauces. The book also includes several recipes for foods that can be frozen or refrigerated rather than stored on a shelf, including an easy-to-make crème fraiche...” http://tinyurl.com/nxjwtfe

Our second book focuses on a particular cooking method. Published in 2011, ALL ABOUT ROASTING: A NEW APPROACH TO A CLASSIC ART by Molly Stevens “feature(s) the full range of dishes from beef, lamb, pork, and poultry to seafood and vegetables. Showstoppers include porchetta ingeniously made with a loin of pork, a roast goose with potato-sage stuffing, and a one-hour beef rib roast-dishes we've dreamed of making, and that Molly makes possible with her precise and encouraging instructions. Other recipes such as a Sunday supper roast chicken, herb-roasted shrimp, and blasted broccoli make this an indispensable book for home cooks and chefs.” http://tinyurl.com/lokdmxw

To view the nomination thread, please click here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/923422

To view the history of COTM and how it works, please visit this link:

Please cast your vote by checking the "recommend" box underneath your chosen title (one vote per hound please).

Voting will close on Thursday, November 21st at 7pm Central Time.

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      1. Another brilliant job BigSal. I'm so grateful for your stewardship of COTM; you've really added a lot!

        1. Tough choice! Going to sit on the couch and think about this one.

          4 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            I'll join you in contemplation with a cup of coffee; may I offer you a cup?

            1. re: herby

              I'll take a decaf if you've got one. Thanks!

              1. re: LulusMom

                Of course, here you go - enjoy! While the virtual me is lounging on the coach waiting for the votes to come in, the physical me had to get to the office and get some work done :)

            2. re: LulusMom

              Settling down on the couch... This is an interesting one. If Fancy Pantry wins, I'll be cooking from Good Stuff.

            3. I am not sure there have ever been two books that are more different in the voting round. Need to ponder....

              1 Reply
              1. re: smtucker

                I agree, both sound interesting but are definitely worlds apart.

              2. Been tending to other things and completely missed this month's discussion. Fortunately I own both of the contenders and they are two completely underused books in my collection. Which to choose? Either way I will be learning a lot as I really have never cracked either book.

                1 Reply
                1. re: dkennedy

                  Me too! Not sure how that happened. And I own neither of those books...

                2. My library has the Roasting book, and I think of the two I'd get more use from it, so I have requested a hold on it. Of course I'm still waiting for Essentials, which was due over a week ago ...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LulusMom

                    I can sympathize on the library front; I'm still waiting for a (non-COTM) cookbook that was due on 10/29.

                    Based on discussion in the nomination thread, I ordered a used copy of Fancy Pantry, and I've requested All About Roasting from the library (thankfully no wait). I'm holding off on voting for now, however.

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      Bummer, my library has neither book. But I ordered Fancy Pantry used online and intend to use it to make Christmas gifts no matter the outcome of the voting.
                      How far will the cookbook cabinet expand?? There must be a limit. I already have years of Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines on one large closet shelf organized by month.

                  2. Not having nominated anything I have no idea what I'm doing next month. Of the two books in contention the Roasting book has piqued my interest, but the last few weeks taught me that I must be careful and sensible about what I eat. Less really is mo' better in my case. And here I thought I was being very judicious with selection and amounts.

                    So, I sit and wait and wonder thinking that if All About Braising wins then I'll buy it. If not I'll simply retreat to a couple of new books I've recently added to my collection.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Gio

                      Sounds understandable and reasonable. Less probably is mo' better for all of us (hard to say, even harder to live by!), not to belittle in any way your situation this past month.

                    2. Just got back from the library, where I put in "hold" requests on two books...they both have appeal, but I'm a tad more interested in the H. Witty book simply because she'd be a new author to add to the COTM repetoire.

                      1. Man, how time flies. I've been completely unable to participate in Nov COTM so far, despite good intentions... I will probably sit out the voting for Dec given that time will get even tighter around the holidays. Very divergent books this month... it'll be interesting to see what wins...

                        1. My travels seem to be at a stop so I dove in with a vote (above) and ordered Fancy Pantry! The book seems perfect for re-acquainting myself with my kitchen.

                          Sounds like a book which is well suited to the way I cook - I tend to be more pantry driven than recipe driven - if that makes any sense.

                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                              We'll need a new thread on "Foods to nibble on so You Don't Bite Your Nails" to help us through this last day of watching and waiting!


                            2. One more day to go. Anything could happen. Is it five o'clock yet?

                              1. It's a dead heat. Voting ends tomorrow at 7 Central Time. If there is still a tie at the close of voting, I will break the tie with my vote.

                                1 Reply
                                1. I don't have either book, and next month will be super busy so I don't dare cast a vote that could be a tie-breaker. I'll see what happens. But there are so many things I still want to make from the Hazan books that I may stay with those and get my vicarious thrills reading your reports. And try to refrain from buying whatever book wins.

                                  1. I wish I could guarantee I would cook in December. If so, I'd vote for AAR. Totally want to cook from that book.


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Yeah, I'm in. Just looked at the recipes in EYB again. I can commit to cooking in December, no problem.


                                    2. Kind of excruciatingly slow moving race at this point, eh? Separated by one vote!


                                      22 Replies
                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Absolutely! Like waiting for paint to dry so you can see what color you REALLY chose.

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          That's the reason for couch equiped with nice cocktails :)

                                          1. re: herby

                                            Herby, if I poured you a nice tall beverage and offered you some nice, snacky spicy toasted pecans, could I encourage you to change your vote? I mean, since we're just sitting here with nothing to do but snack and chat and imbibe...


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              Your offer sounds so very tempting, TDQ :))

                                              I know that I will be baking cookies (already have 5 events to bake for in December!) and making gifts from the kitchen for some special friends. Whatever I cook in December I know it won't be roasted, well, maybe some veggies and a chicken and for that i do not need a cookbook. Most likely I will be eating out of the freezer and if I decided to cook it will be something Asian, spicy, full of vegetables and maybe noodles. So, no changing of vote, sorry...

                                              Fancy Pantry has many wonderful recipes - give it a try if it wins. I made many things from it - the best ever lemon curd, wonderful roasted cranberry relish, a few flavoured vinegars, etc. All turned out great and I am looking forward to browsing through the book with others and discovering new to me recipes in there.

                                              1. re: herby

                                                I'm afraid I haven't felt very fancy lately, though it is hard to turn down "the best ever lemon curd." I even enjoy middle of the road lemon curd. I might certainly have to try at least that.


                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                  The recipes are not that fancy to execute, many are simple with delicious results. I'll post lemon curd recipe when I get home tonight.

                                                  1. re: herby

                                                    That's very kind of you, herby. I might be less intimidated if it were called, "Practical Pantry" Or "Servicable Pantry". Much less exciting for the rest of you, though.

                                                    Dang, we're tied again!


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      LEMON CURD Fancy Pantry p. 301-302
                                                      1 1/2T grated lemon zest
                                                      1/2C strained lemon juice
                                                      1/2C + 2T unsalted butter
                                                      pinch of salt
                                                      4 egg yolks
                                                      1 egg
                                                      1 1/4C sugar

                                                      Beat egg yolks and egg at high speed until foamy; gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is pale, fluffy and very thick, about 5 min.
                                                      Put everything into a bowl set over boiling water and cook whisking constantly until it thickens and is steaming hot, about 10 min.
                                                      Pour curd through fine-meshed strainer into dry sterilized jars, cool and seal with sterilized lids. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

                                                      You can substitute limes for lemons to make lime curd but I have not done it.

                                                      1. re: herby

                                                        A curd recipe without that nasty cornstarch! How exciting!

                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                          Is cornstarch common in curd (sounds like it may be in your experience)? I've used various recipes, but all based on lemon juice and zest plus sugar, eggs, and butter, no added starch. My favorite is Alice Medrich's version where you bung it all in a saucepan, cook, strain, no double boiler. Lovely results.

                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                            Which Alice Medrich book is it from? Guess you could cook the above curd straight if you are confident with eggs and won't scramble them :) Double boiler is simply safer and still basically one pan to wash.

                                                            1. re: herby

                                                              It's from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, and as much as the method (which is simple), it's the tartness and silky texture I loved (as mentioned in our other recent exchange about Medrich, I prefer tart lemon desserts).

                                                              You can see it in this blog post, if you scroll down to the bottom: http://butteredup.blogspot.com/2012/0...

                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                Thank you for the link! Sounds delicious but I just love the one from Fancy Pantry, whatever I try I always come back to it :)

                                                                Did I say that I made lemon bars from Chewy Gooey; they were very nice but I think I like Ina's slightly better. I'll have to try them side by side to decide.

                                                                Now I want to make the cake that Roxlet made from Momofuku - very showy and delicious looking.

                                                        2. re: herby

                                                          Thanks herby, I'm going to have to test this one against my go-to (Ottolenghi's). Soon.

                                                          1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                            Ottolenghi's lemon curd? Interesting... is it in his original book?

                                                      2. re: herby

                                                        Once you make that lemon curd, I have a cake recipe you should try. It is a lemon almond butter cake out of In The Hands of a Chef by Jody Adams. I just made my first recipe out of this book (roasted spice rubbed pork, p. 328) with very favorable results. The lemon cake caught my eye, so I have it tabbed to make. I bought a jar of lemon curd (hang my head in shame) as a cheat so I could skip over that step in the recipe. Maybe when one of you make your lemon curd, you can send some my way! I'll post the recipe later or provide a link if I can find it online.

                                                        ETA: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/le...

                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                          Thank you for the recipe, DK! I saved it in my pepperplate - sounds yummy. Wonder though if the cake is too sweet - 1:1 sugar and flour. Are you planning to make it soon ?

                                                          I have a box of Meyer lemons in the fridge and will be making lemon curd on the weekend. I think I'll make enough to give as gifts but not sure if it can be processed for longer self life. Happy to mail a jar your way but wonder how it will cross the border; they are so fussy about food especially homemade kind.

                                                          1. re: herby

                                                            Herby you are very kind. I was only joking about someone sending me a bottle of homemade lemon curd - but what a very thoughtful offer!

                                                            I do think the cake is supposed to be dense and sweet - like a piece of marzipan - with the lemon curd cutting through the sweetness. Yum! That sounds right up my alley. But also note that there is an additional 1/2 cup of almond flour in there to cut through all the sugar. Yum again.

                                                            I am leaving town for the week so I won't get to this recipe until mid December at the earliest. Will post when I do.

                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                              Oh gosh, now I want to make that cake, too!


                                                          2. re: dkennedy

                                                            This recipe looks fantastic. But, I wonder if I am missing something. Does it say the size of the springform pan?

                                                            1. re: beetlebug

                                                              The original recipe calls for a 9" spring form pan.

                                                              1. re: dkennedy

                                                                Thanks. I'm making a note in pepper plate now.

                                            2. I forgot my knitting. What... I'm just curious, that's all.

                                              6 Replies
                                                  1. re: Westminstress

                                                    Took me a long time but I just decided.

                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                      Mr QN would applaud your decision. "All About Roasting" showed up from the library a few days ago, and he is in love. i didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't the book I voted for!

                                                1. Voting is now closed. Please join us in the announcement thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/925229

                                                  1. BigSal was so kind as to start a Cooking from Helen Witty's Books thread with a ton of links to recipes from Fancy Pantry.