Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Apr 2, 2014 04:25 PM

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? [Through April 30, 2014]

Hello everybody, what have you been up to in the cookbook division? I'm about to move the new David Lebowitz up into my Amazon cart from its saved for later status...that should be a really fun book. How bout choo?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Good Meat by Deborah Krasner
    Bought on the heels of
    Ginger Pig Meat Book by Tim Wilson and Fran Warde

    Both purchased primarily to teach me about ethical farming and butchering practices. As if I wasn't hoity toity enough when it comes to what I spend on food, I felt the need to up my game!

    11 Replies
    1. re: dkennedy

      I have a couple of beef books. I like John Torode's, and I also have Lobel's. I think I like the Lobel's one just a bit more.
      If you are itnerestd in butchery type boooks, I think River Cottage has a GREAT meat book.

      1. re: Westy

        I am not so much interested in butchery, more in learning about the difference between pastured meat and grain finished, including the best way to source, the right questions to ask, the right buzz words to know, the nutritional benefits, the different breeds and there various advantages, the best way to cook so it won't be tough, etc. I am learning a lot but I have a long way to go until I feel I will be educated.

        Just came from meeting with a vendor in my area that is making a business out of delivering farm produce and other locally sourced products. Think CSA without the risk to the consumer. He contracts with ethically run farms for produce, pastured eggs, dairy and meat, and other specialty products. Delivery is either 1 x weekly or EOW. In addition, he has a store front where you can pick up the specialty items he has on hand. I came home with a quart of fresh almond milk, a pint of strawberries, a jar of pasta sauce (dinner tonight), and a container of soft goat cheese in herbed oiled (from my favorite local farm that recently stopped coming to my Farmer's Market). He will also sell you meat by the piece or share a whole animal with you. A perfect way for me to dip my toes in the water.

        1. re: dkennedy

          You might enjoy The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat by Applestone.

          1. re: sharonj

            Thank you. I'll take a look but I think I have enough information with two books I have. I will report back after I have devoured them.

      2. re: dkennedy

        So, my copy of Good Meat arrived and I have to say, I am loving it. It is the first book since Zuni I have felt the need to go through and underline because there is so much useful information in it that it is overwhelming. This way, I will know where to refer back without rereading the entire book.

        My first perusal from the library did not really prepare me for how fantastic a resource this book is going to be. I already touched on it being a guide for understanding more about grass fed beef and pastured poultry, lamb and pork. But now that I have had a chance to review the recipes and pantry sections, I realize they are going to be invaluable as well.

        To be fair, I'm only through the beef section, but, already, wow! She explains the whys and hows about cooking grass fed beef. Not just one paragraph. A paragraph on each cut of beef, and then several recipes for pretty much each cut. Recipes that will work for grass fed beef where your traditional recipes may have failed you.

        For ex., I recently made grass fed burgers and they came out tough which was very disappointing. She explained why (you have to either sear quickly and leave them rare inside or cook them at a much lower temperature than you would expect if you want them cooked through but not tough), she also advises about seasoning, how and when and why this needs modifying, etc.

        I can't wait to finish this book, cover to cover, so I can ensure I am not making mistakes. Right now I have only a few pieces of grass fed beef in my freezer but I am anxious to see if her tips make a difference.

        1. re: dkennedy

          Does she explain what to do with top round london broil? I buy this pretty frequently because it is $9 or $10/pound as opposed to all the other steak cuts which are more than $20/pound in my neck of the woods (even flank and skirt are pricy these days!). The grass fed london broil has a nice beefy flavor but it's tough. My solution to this so far is chimichurri sauce. (It doesn't change the texture, but does seem to help with the mouthfeel). But maybe I'm cooking it wrong.

          1. re: Westminstress

            Hi Westminstress,

            This will be a good exercise for me to see if I can apply the info I am reading. Here is what it tells me about London broil:

            “Next comes the ROUND, again one of the largest portions of the cow. It comprises the entire upper leg. This primal ends just above the shin or shank, and it’s a lean and slightly tough portion of the cow. There are four subprimals: the sirloin tip, the top round, bottom round, and the eye round. The sirloin tip is the source of roasts: for steaks it’s known for minute steak and sirloin tip steak. These cuts can further be cut into kebobs, London broil another name for sirloin tip steak, which like all sirloin tip steak is cut against the grain; London broils are usually marinated... Top round can also be a London broil…”

            Re cooking grass fed beef in general: “Add salt in the form of a rub or in the pan as it cooks but not in a marinade…. Use a meat thermometer, pull out 10 degrees less than ideal and let rest for 15 minutes….cook braises at an extremely low temperature to break down the meat…”

            Re cooking the round specifically: Dived into top, bottom, sirloin tip and eye of round, this portion of the cow offers a wide mix of steaks and or oven roasts as wsll as stew meat and pot roasts…while London broil’s open texture absorbs flavorful marinades to provide a tasty and tender mouthfeel when cut on the bias….

            Recipe #1: London broil (from the beef chuck shoulder steak) p. 77 This is curious because I went back and reread the section on the shoulder and found no mention of the London Broil. But since this is for a shoulder London broil, not one from the leg, it will by definition be more tender.
            Marinate for as little as 2 ours or as long a overnight. Bring to room temp before cooking. Marinade: garlic rosemary, lemon zest, olive oil and red wine sherry vinegar (note no salt in marinade). Blot dry, Season pan with course sea salt. Then, sear over high heat for about 5 minutes. Turn over, cook for 5 more. Let rest for 10 - 15 minutes. Cut against grain.

            Recipe #2: Red Barn Spiced Eye of Round Roast with Beer Sauce, p. 101
            This does not specify is for a London broil but it makes sense that it will work on any roast from the round, which this is. Calls for applying a dry rub all over and let meat sit at room temp for 1 hour. Heat oven to 350. Use a small pan that fits the roast as closely as possible. Roast fat side up for 20 minutes. Raise temp to 425 for 15 additional minutes or until internal temp is 130 degrees. Rest for 15 minutes. Deglaze pan with 1 bottle beer, along with juices and another T. of spice rub. Boil sauce over high heat for15 minutes to reduce by 1/2 (approx 1 - 1 1/4 c.). Off heat, whisk in 2 T. heavy cream. Cut against grain, nap with sauce.

            She notes that when meat is lightly salted before cooking it seems to incorporate the salt flavor into the meat, rather than leaving it on the surface. Salt in the spice rub promotes flavor and brings out he inherent sweetness in the dish. Her is the spice rub called for above:
            1 T. salt (grey salt)
            2 T. sugar
            2 t. sweet pimeton de la vera (aka smoked paprika)
            1 T. gound coriander
            1 T. ground ancho chile
            1 T. ground ginger

            Yields 7 Tbsps.

            Recipes #3: (Marinated Bottom Round), p. 102, I am not posting this recipe since it is for the bottom round

            Recipe #4: Beef Round Sirloin Tip Roast, p. 103
            The recipe notes “Don’t be fooled by the sirloin reference in the name of this cut; this is a part of the round, a working muscle that generally offers more flavor than tenderness. Nevertheless, this end of the round (also known as the knuckle) makes an outstanding roast beef, esp. when rubbed with salt and spice cure (p.30) cooked in this high low fashion and then sliced thinly. The probe thermometer is especially helpful here."

            2 1/2 lb. grass fed beef round sirloin tip roast
            1 onion, finely chopped
            2 cloves garlic, mashed
            1/4 c. Salt and Spice Cure, see p. 30
            1 T. evoo
            1/2 c. red wine
            1 T. butter, cream or creme fraiche
            s and p to taste

            Instructions: Bring meat to room temp and blot dry. In a food processor, process onions , garlic, cure seasonings and oil, into a paste. Rub on meat and let sit at room temp for 1 hour before rolling it and tying roast. Heat oven to 425, convection setting if possible. Roll and tie roast evenly. Lay it in a pan similar in size to roast, the smaller the better. You want a snug fit. Place roast in pan seam side down. Roast without disturbing for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 for another 12-15 minutes. Pull out when internal temp hits 130. Let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Try not to open the oven during cooking time. While resting, make a pan sauce with the red wine, pan juices, and reduce. Add butter or cream and immediately remove from heat. Season as desired. Slice thinly and drizzle with sauce.

            Salt and Spice Cure:

            1 T. fennel pollen or fennel seeds ground up
            1 T. cumin seeds,
            1 t. coriander seeds
            1/2 t. black Tellicherry peppercorns
            1 star anise
            1/2 cinnamon stick
            1 whole clove
            1 T. sea salt
            2 T. sugar

            Grind in spice grinder. Yields 7 Tbsp.

            ETA: I'd be interested to hear how these methods differ from what you usually do.

            1. re: dkennedy

              Thanks dkennedy for all of the detailed information. It sounds like none of these match up exactly with the cut I end up with, which is a large steak (usually around 1.5 pounds or a little bigger) cut from the top round, probably about 1.5 inches thick. I buy it frozen and defrost in the fridge (or in hot water if I forgot to take it out in time). Then I usually heat a cast iron skillet to very hot, scatter coarse salt in the skillet, brown the steak for a few minutes on both sides, then finish in a hot oven (400 or 425) for about 10 minutes.
              But please note that I have an exceedingly slow oven.

              I have tried marinating, but I did not find that it added much, so I stopped. The marinade did not improve tenderness, and as for flavor I get much more bang for my buck by whizzing a sauce in the blender and serving it with the cooked meat. Since the meat is on the chewy side it really helps to have some sauce. I would love to find a way to increase tenderness though.

              One thing I have been intending to try is salting ahead a la Zuni. Another thing I think might be worth a try is cooking for longer at a much lower temperature, either in the oven or perhaps in some kind of improvised sous vide scenario, and then perhaps at the end searing the outside to obtain a nice crust. For this though I would need an accurate meat thermometer, which I do not have.

              I think I will ask my vendor about this, they often have cooking suggestions for their meats. I will let you know if I learn anything interesting.

              1. re: Westminstress

                Hi Westminsteress-

                You are spot on correct.

                Marinating better meat cuts results in the internal meat moisture being slowly removed, and replaced by either salt, sugar, and the marinate flavouring.

                Rub sugar or salt into a piece of meat and you will see the moisture inside the meat running off. Typically this takes about 5 hours, which is fine for pork char siu, or something similar, but not for good cuts of steak.

                If one want a moist steak, sear it first, then bake it, and season it and serve it with a good sauce. Salting it ahead of time will not make the steak tender or moist, only salty.

                There are a number of inexpensive thermometers available for the kitchen today. For meat, buy one with a deep needle probe.

          2. re: dkennedy

            Even though you might not need another meat book but "The Great Meat Cookbook" by Aidells is very good and has a lot of information about the different cuts, sourcing, how to cook etc.

          3. I bought The Art of French Pastry, which was the IACP winner in the pastry category. I really like it -- very explicit instructions for some fairly complicated things.

            4 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              You temptress, I had to go buy that too...

              1. re: buttertart

                Well, you'll be glad you did, I think!

                1. re: roxlet

                  Oh man, it is GORGEOUS. I'm happy it's by an Alsatian pâtissier, the German influence is fun. VERY glad I got it.

            2. A few years old but I just bought My Bread by Jim Lahey on a twitter recommendation from Alex Guarnaschelli. Like the idea of no-knead bread but it takes two days!

              2 Replies
              1. re: jimbo1126

                But for most of those two days, all you do is watch the dough rise in all lovely doughy goodness. It's great bread.

                1. re: jimbo1126

                  I've been trying out various no knead bread books, and that one was one of the first of the no-knead craze. It is my least favorite though--the two loaves I made didn't turn out as well as any of the others I've made. I like the artisan bread in 5 minutes a day series, and the Kneadlessly Simple book was also pretty good. The dilled rye bread from that book was amazing!

                2. Currently I'm awaiting the arrival of David Lebovitz's newly published cookbook, In My Paris Kitchen. It's due to arrive sometime between Friday, April 11 and Tuesday, April 15. I pre-ordered it early October last year so am excited to have it finally on its way. I like reading Lebovitz's blog and am looking forward to seeing how he deals with ingredients and cooking food other than his baked goods.

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    Please report back the second it arrives! I am waiting to order it even though I know it is inevitable. I love his writing style and I can only imagine how yummy his first non sweet book will be. i was hoping to get it for Mother's Day.

                    1. re: dkennedy

                      Will do DK. I don't bake very often and certainly don't bake all the cookies, pies, cakes, breads, etc. I used to so never bought any of his baking books. It will be a treat to have this particular book in my collection. I have a feeling it's going to be very detailed.

                      1. re: Gio

                        Cara Gio, it may come sooner than that -- Amazon says I'll get it on 4/8, the day it comes out.

                          1. re: Gio

                            Didja get it huh huh didja didja??? I apparently ordered both hard-copy and Kindle...oops

                            1. re: buttertart

                              And did you get yours? Waddaya think?

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    Thanks for linking to this, Caitlin. One of the best descriptions of the process I've ever read.

                                  2. re: buttertart

                                    Ooh... my birthday is coming is up soon!

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  No! Dang nabbit. It hath not arriven. I await with baited hook.

                                  1. re: Gio

                                    ha-ha-ha - I can just see you Gio still like an eagle, bated hook at the ready :)

                        1. re: Gio

                          David Lebovitz has an interview on the Paris food scene on Epicurious, with a few recipes from the new book:

                          If they haven't fixed the link on the Israeli couscous recipe, you just need to delete the "stag" from the start of the URL and refresh to make it work.

                          1. re: Gio

                            I got my book yesterday! I've flipped through once and like what I'm reading. I only follow his blog occasionally and I don't have any of his other books.

                            I'm making the rosemary oil to drizzle over my roasted chicken tonight. And, I already have many other recipes tagged. There are a plethora of egg recipes (which I like), traditional (with a twist) French recipes, and lots and lots of prose. The only (mild) complaint is I'd like to see more pictures.

                            Mark my word..this will be a COTM before the end of 2014. And, it will be a good one!

                            1. re: pagesinthesun

                              Thank you, Pagesinthesun. That's great encouragement and great news for me. Now, to have the book in my hot little hands. .

                              1. re: pagesinthesun

                                Oh, rats. This one is becoming very hard to resist. If it is COTM, I'll cave for sure.

                                Also rather curious about Deborah Madison's updated Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

                              2. re: Gio

                                My copy of "My Paris Kitchen" arrived Friday and yesterday I made his spiced speculoos flan. It was good, but probably won't make it again. I had half a jar of speculoos paste in the fridge just waiting to be used up. He spiced the caramel sauce spiced with 5 spice powder which was nice. What I really liked was how easy the flan was. You mix everything in the blender and bake in a water bath covered with foil. The flans came out perfectly set.

                                I think I'm really going to enjoy reading this book. It is as much about Paris as it is recipes. The recipes all seem really approachable and tailored for the home cook.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  I finally got to look at a copy of My Paris Kitchen and oh my, what a treat! I wrote down the ingredients for one of the recipes as a test to see if I would be adding this one to my collection (was there ever a doubt?) & made it tonight.

                                  Bought the book after taking one bite. I think this one is going to make it to COTM fast so get yourselves a copy. The recipe I tested was the simple bistro style steak with mustard sauce. Sorry no page number. Absolute simplicity but perfectly balanced and delicious. The kind of recipe that requires zero effort but offers so much in return.

                                  In essence, you make a compound butter of dry mustard, dijon, salt, pepper, butter and parsley. Keep it chilled until you put the steak on to pan sear. One hour before eating, take the steak out of the oven and season with smoked salt, pepper, and dry chipolte powder. After it comes to room temperature, sear a few minutes on each side.

                                  I served it over a bed of arugula and used a dash of smoked paprika and grey salt because I didn't have any smoked salt. I used dry aged grass fed sirloin. It was yummy. It will be a go to from now on.

                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                    Update: I am now on page 73 of my Paris kitchen and am totally smitten. Hubby has taken the kids out for fast food after math tutoring, so I am dining alone tonight. Inspired by the appetizer section, this is my dinner: glass of Lillet over ice; sliced radishes and fava beans with sweet butter and gray salt; chunks of French ham with Dijon mustard and butter; herb goat cheese and olive oil spread on gluten-free crackers; classical music playing over the Internet. Oh, and David Leibovitz book open in front of me so I can read...

                                    I am reluctant to hit the send button because the print is so small and I have been dictating and God knows how many errors I will catch after it goes to print.... Siri is very smart, but she doesn't seem to understand my voice very well!

                                    ETA: continuing to read on, David, you card, your saucy comment on page 74 make me laugh! I wish I had friends like you to share supper with. I'm always envious when I read books like this that I don't have the right social group to enjoy lingering over a bowl full of olives, or salt-cod fritters of all things! You even make these sound delectable! I guess sharing it with others online is the next best thing. Xo

                                2. Big Flavor Grill - Chris Schlesinger

                                  The idea behind this book is that there's no recipes for over night brines, marinades etc. It's all stuff you can make with no pre-planning. I love the idea of recipes for grilling that will deliver on flavor even though I'm not always organized enough to plan ahead. I already made one recipe for lamb chops with a roasted garlic vinaigrette and they were delicious.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    I see you recommended this, roxlet...thinking about a griller you know?

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Oh, he is too high and mighty to look at grilling books!