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Vote for the February 2014 Cookbook of the Month!

Welcome to the voting thread for the February 2014 Cookbook of the Month. A total of 12 different books were nominated, with two coming out on top, but not by a landslide: Dumplings and Hakka cuisine. Which will reign supreme?

***While you mull over the choices, please give some thought as to whether you'd like to be our next coordinator. We will need someone new to step in with the March nominations thread (your first post will be around February 7). ***
Now back to our regularly scheduled program…

Our first nominee is THE HAKKA COOKBOOK: CHINESE SOUL FOOD FROM AROUND THE WORLD by Linda Lau Anusasananan. “Even if you have other Chinese cookbooks, it’s worth getting to know Hakka cuisine, because it’s mostly home style cooking, ideal to try in your own kitchen. In the book Anusasananan traces her roots and shares stories from the people she meets on her journey into her past…There are classic recipes for Fried Pork Hash Wontons, Salt Baked Chicken…and lots of vegetable dishes including Braised Mountain Mushrooms, Pickled Carrots and Radishes and Stir Fried Lettuce and Garlic.

“According to Anusasananan, the Hakka are like the ‘Jews of China,’ nomads who migrated from North-Central China to the South… Their cuisine is the food of the working person, robust and sometimes fatty. They use a lot of salt-preserved ingredients such as preserved vegetables, cured meats and soy sauce. The food is related to Cantonese, but more rustic. Famous Hakka classic dishes include Steamed Pork Belly with Preserved Mustard Greens, Stuffed Tofu, and Salt-Baked Chicken.” http://cookingwithamy.blogspot.com/20...

The second nominee is ASIAN DUMPLINGS by Andrea Nguyen. “Plump pot stickers, spicy samosas, and tender bāo (stuffed buns) are enjoyed by the million every day in dim sum restaurants, streetside stands, and private homes worldwide. Wrapped, rolled, or filled; steamed, fried, or baked–Asian dumplings are also surprisingly easy to prepare, as Andrea Nguyen demonstrates in Asian Dumplings.

“Organized according to type (wheat pastas, skins, buns, and pastries; translucent wheat and tapioca preparations; rice dumplings; legumes and tubers; sweet dumplings), Asian Dumplings encompasses Eastern, Southeastern, and Southern Asia, with recipes from China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Tibet, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.” http://tinyurl.com/lqw8exf

To view the nomination thread, please click here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/930519

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 Tuesday, January 21st at 7 PM Central Time.

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      1. I'm voting right off the bat. It remains to be seen how far that will get.

        We're gonna miss you when you're gone BigSal!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gio

          Thanks to Gio (and all) for your support throughout.

        2. Wow, what interesting choices! I don't own either so I am going to sit back and watch.

          2 Replies
          1. re: dkennedy

            I don't have either myself, so I too am going to sit back and watch, at least for now. I could see myself using the dumpling book, so if that wins and DH is on board for a month of dumplings (which is not even a question, he LOVES them), perhaps I'll invest. My cookbook collection is overflowing the shelves I have dedicated to it, though, so I'm trying not to buy more...

            1. re: biondanonima

              Get the book. I was one of Andrea's testers so I am pretty familiar with it. In the credits they have my last name wrong, that is okay, the dumplings are all good.

          2. Great job once again BigSal. So we decided not to do a mix of dumplings with the tofu book? I guess that makes my choice a little easier, although both these books sound delicious.

            3 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom


              I'd be glad to post a companion thread for Asian Tofu, but there were not enough actual nominations for Asian Tofu and Asian Dumplings as a pair to make it to the voting round.

              1. re: BigSal

                Totally fair enough. I'll be happy whichever wins, I think.

              2. re: LulusMom

                I might have voted for Nguyen if it had been both books.

              3. Just placed a hold on both from the library. Of the two, I am more likely to make use of the Asian Dumplings book as my family LOVES pan fried dumplings and I rarely take them out for them and even more rarely make them from scratch. I am curious to see how many Asian Dumpling variations there are. So I guess that decides my vote!

                1 Reply
                1. re: dkennedy

                  I also just put The Gluten Free Asian Kitchen on hold at the library. Looks like either way, if I am going to participate, I will need to do some modifying.

                2. I'd be happy with either of these, but after looking both through this morning, I'm going with the Hakka book. Both are very interesting books.

                  1. I'm actually quite torn. I nominated Asian Dumplings, and I am quite keen to cook from it, but I don't see myself doing much more than a half dozen recipes in the month. Truth is, I love dumplings, but how many can I really eat ha ha.
                    That said, I need a push to get into this book and COTM might just be what I need.

                    I don't know much about Hakka cuisine, but I just spent some time reading reviews of The Hakka Cookbook and it sounds fascinating. What to do?

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: delys77

                      Do what your gut tells you. Or your heart. Whichever you choose will be just right.

                      1. re: delys77

                        Oh, Delys77, lets make dumplings! BigSal will set up a tofu thread and we'll happily cook from both books. Hakka is much newer book and will have its COTM later :)

                        1. re: herby

                          Herby! Shut Yo Mouth. LOL. Let the chile decide for hisself.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Gio has gone all southun on us.

                              1. re: Gio

                                Ha ha it would seem the debate is heating up. I'm going to ponder for a few days.

                            1. re: Gio

                              Gio! LOL

                              One has to try, dumplings are still two votes behind :)

                                1. re: Gio

                                  Of course, Gio, nice to have some fun :) Sometime we all get a bit too intense for no reason. I'll just sit a month out (again!) if the Hakka books win since I am not buying and my library doesn't have it. That said, there is only one vote separating Hakka and Dumplings - yah! :)

                        2. I am on a tight budget-
                          so I put on hold a copy of Asian Dumplings-
                          I have in my library The Hakka Cookbook-

                          1. Do any of you have The Gluten Free Asian Kitchen in your home libraries? I am intrigued but reluctant to buy it without a Chowhound or EYB endorsement. The reviews on Amazon are favorable, but it is not indexed and I am not sure how Chow-worthy the results will be. I would love some input.....

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: dkennedy

                              My library has it, DK, and I need to return a DVD today since I wasn't able to renew it. It is a diffrent branch but not too out of the way. If I pick it up tonight I'll have a good look either tonight or tomorrow and let you know what I think. Could be good for my gluten-intolerent SIN who loves Asian food. I do not remember if Asia Dumplings has a GF recipe using rice flour. Did you look?

                              1. re: herby

                                Yes, there are rice wrappers that are very simple to make and delicious. Since we both are not gluten intolerant I'm not sure if the wheat starch is a no no. But there are also a number of recipes for using those pretty translucent wrappers.

                              2. re: dkennedy

                                I have it, but I haven't cooked much from it. I had been cooking gluten-free for many years before this book came out, so when it did, I didn't find much in it that I hadn't already figured out on my own. However, should the dumpling book win, there is a gluten-free version of a wheat-based dumpling dough in the book, which might be worth a try. That said, there are a lot of dumplings in Nguyen's book with gluten-free wrappers. Not a majority, by any means, but there are whole sections on tapioca and rice-based wrappers.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  Thanks Herby and MeiMM for responding. I have been searching online and have found the GF dumpling recipe from GF Asian Kitchen posted online (link to follow). I also read that Asian Dumplings does contain a GF wrapper recipe. I will try the GF dough recipe and then proceed from there. My kids will be excited at the prospect of dumplings being made at home (GF) since I rarely let them have the regular ones anymore.

                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                    DK, I looked at both books more tonight. Asia Dumplings has a number of GF wrappers: tapioca, rice sheets, sticky rice dough one GF and another containing wheat starch that most likely could be subbed by tapioca starch. Lots of interesting fillings, techniques, etc.

                                    GF Asian Kitchen is a pleasant book and useful if your existing library does not have a good selection of Asian books. She starts dumpling section by saying that she was inspired by Asian Dumplings to create her own :) So, if I already have books that inspired her, do I really need her book?

                                    I think that the book is appealing enough and useful for a certain audience but there is nothing new or challenging for me in the book, and that you will be served well by Asian Dumplings in your quest for GF dumplings and so will I.

                                    Now we just need to rally up some votes!

                                    1. re: herby

                                      Thanks for the legwork Herby. I have a recipe for the GF dumpling wrappers out of GF Asian Kitchen (from the internet) so I'll use that and then work out of Asian Dumplings, assuming it is the COTM.

                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                        DK, if there is anything in GF Asian Kitchen that you would love a recipe for, I am happy to paraphrase while I have the book.

                                        1. re: herby

                                          Thanks Herby but I think I'll be ok with Asian Dumplings from the library.

                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                            You are welcome :) I wasn't thinking just COTM but rather in general - there are some recipes for Asian pancakes that I am going to take closer look at and maybe save in my pepperplate. That kind of thing.

                              3. I haven't voted because I'll be away for half the month. That said, while I absolutely love Hakka food and as most folks know, I have a cookbook monkey on my back, I have not purchased this book as I've yet to read of anyone who has actually cooked from the book and endorsed the recipes.

                                I do have the Dumpling book and will be happy to dive in if it wins but although I love dumplings, unfortunately mr bc doesn't share my passion.

                                Nevertheless, I'm enjoying this tight race and in many ways I hope Hakka wins to see what folks I trust think of the book.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                  So far we've cooked one recipe from the Hakka cookbook, the chicken variation of stir-fried beef on pages 162 - 163. My notes tell me that it was delicious and we should repeat it. It has all the usual stir-fry ingredients and utilizes all the standard Chinese cooking techniques so not a difficult recipe to follow, in fact quite easy. Served with steamed rice to mop up all the luscious juices and temper the heat a little bit. But, we didn't think it too terribly spicy.

                                2. This will be one more month that I have no interest in participating. I think the last month I partook in COTM was May... It's been quite awhile.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Njchicaa

                                    Sometimes it's when we step outside our comfortable kitchen that we learn the most. I've found many an enjoyable dish in cookbooks that I had previously dismissed but for the COTM.

                                    1. re: Allegra_K

                                      I've had several books which didn't grab me on first look regain my interest after reading CH's reviews on COTM.
                                      And I'm so glad they did! I now have a number of favorite dishes I never would have tried otherwise.

                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        Isn't that the truth? I always have to remember my disappointment when FISH: Without a Doubt arrived on my doorstep. I couldn't believe I had spent hard-earned dollars on this. And then we started cooking.... and it is now one of my absolute favorites. Sometimes recipes that don't jump off the page to me are reviewed by someone else with more imagination proving just how wrong my first impressions were. How did I live before knowing Rick Moonan's brilliant cast-iron broiled fish technique?

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          I had the same reaction when I checked Fish Without a Doubt from the library. Thanks for the reminder - I need to revisit the book and the thread!

                                          My most recent experience was Edward Lee's Smoke and Pickles. First look at the library book didn't excite me. After reading the first week of COTM reports I purchased the book and have been very happy with most of the recipes I've tried. A few of the pickle recipes will always be part of my rotation from now on!

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            And for me it was Vietnamese month. I had a hard time imagining that my family (or I) would be interested in eating Vietnamese food more than once a week. I ended up finding that it is one of my very favorites both to cook and to eat, and I am drawn to those recipes. I loved that month more than I could ever have imagined.

                                            Even if I'm initially not very interested in a book I will try to get it from the library just to give it a once-over (unless it is Porky's House of Ham or something). And then I can usually find at least one or two things that seem worth trying. I like forcing myself to step out of my box.

                                            ETA: When the Melissa Clark books won, I grumbled. I had really taken a dislike to her weekly column in the Times. But I figured after reading some really positive and delicious sounding reports that I'd go ahead and buy one of the books. Needless to say, I ended up with both by the end of the month and they are now both well-stained and well loved. I use them a lot. I love them a lot. I just gave one to a friend who loves to cook. So - happy I was proven wrong on that one.

                                    2. Just went to my library's website only to find that the only way of checking out Asian Dumplings is as an ebook. Huh? When did this start happening? Pffft.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        LLM, it is a small-ish book and might be not too bad as an e-book. Give it a try, you do not even have to return it, it just disappears on the due date :)

                                        1. re: herby

                                          OK, thanks for that info herby. I just know that I'm semi-frustrated so far by using e-cookbooks. I won't totally give up on it, but so far it requires a bit more work than I would like.

                                          1. re: LulusMom

                                            I can't imagine trying to use an e-version of a cookbook on my Kindle Touch... but I suppose it is not that far of a jump from using my husband's iPad to view a recipe online and I do that fairly often.

                                            1. re: Njchicaa

                                              I think the books on the iPad are a lot easier to navigate than a Kindle book. I must have about 200 cookbooks on my iPad by now, and I use them a lot. I have a Kindle as well, which I like for novels, but not for cookbooks.

                                              1. re: Njchicaa

                                                Using the kindle for cookbooks is a major PITA.

                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                            My copy is a traditional book and according to the Library website is "in transit" Woot!

                                            1. re: Berheenia

                                              Lucky you! I'd be more than happy to grab the library copy if it was there. May be forced to do the download though. I do already own the Tofu book (thanks to the generosity of one of our own COTM regulars), and her Vietnamese.

                                          3. ASIAN DUMPLINGS. I am getting a crave going for some rice rolls. They are not sushi. The wrapper is made with rice flour and is steamed until done. The Mondu is also good. The book is one I'll not part with. There is so many great dumplings in the book.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Candy


                                              Please cast your vote by selecting the "recommend" box underneath Asian Dumpling above.

                                            2. Neck and neck. Maybe the two books will tie, and we can cook from them both?!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                I have neither book but after doing some googling they both look good . May have to change my vote... And swing the pendulum the other way ;)

                                              2. Ack! I'd love to participate in cooking from either of these books, but it will have to be at a later date. I'm pretty much off COTM these days, as I'm getting married in March and any spare time I have is going toward preparations. But I look forward to reading along as much as I can.

                                                I can't believe your six months is already coming to a close BigSal. You've done a brilliant job!

                                                24 Replies
                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                  Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Looking forward to you participating again this spring. Your pictures are always so gorgeous.

                                                  I really appreciated the support throughout! Thanks again for the email on the day of my first post as coordinator preventing an embarrassing gaffe. :)

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            Aw, thank you all! What a great group this is!

                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                  Going to be *quite* the hen party.

                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                    Sincere congratulations LN, how exciting! Warm wishes to you and mr hound-to-be...lucky he!!!

                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                      Congratulations, LNightshade!
                                                                      I've always loved reading your comments on various COTM recipes. . . might we hope that you would share a bit of your news about your wedding? When you have time, that is! ;-)

                                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                                        Thanks again to all of you! We will indeed be having a Chowhound wedding. I think there are at least a dozen people coming whom I've met via Chowhound, either hounds themselves, or the spouse or friend of a hound. I even met my maid of honor on Chowhound. Come to think of it, I met my officiant on Chowhound also! (What a great place this is!) Some of those hounds have volunteered to prepare dishes, as it will be all homemade food.

                                                                        But best of all, Mr. Nightshade will actually and legally become Mr. Nightshade! And we'll go off together with our pasta machine, to live happily ever after.

                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                          This truly will be a CH fairytale wedding! I love that you are serving homemade food. You must post pictures!!!!! Congrats again.

                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                            LN... you'll have to tell us the date, or there abouts, so we can toast your wedding!

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              Yes! There can be a worldwide CH toast (or three) simultaneously!

                                                                                  1. re: meatn3

                                                                                    and, of course, to LN! It'll kind of be like one of those Bachelor viewing parties - we'll drink along with those at the wedding. Except I'm guessing we'll all be behaving ourselves.

                                                                                    It isn't a dry wedding is it LN???

                                                                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                      Hahaha. Dry wedding. Good one LulusMom!

                                                                                      March 22nd. Ceremony at 5pm, toasting directly thereafter.

                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                        Oh good. Just beyond the Ides of March. You're safe. LOL

                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                          So 8 pm eastern time. Oh, we can definitely play along. Expect to feel a very strong pull from this coast, right ladies?

                                                                                          Oh, just remembered I'm going to see Book of Mormon that day. Perfect to have a drink after *that* show!

                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                  All the very best wishes, L. I'm very happy for y'all.

                                                                            2. Just a reminder that voting ends tomorrow at 7 CST.

                                                                              1. Voting is now closed. Join us in the announcement thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/960770