Friday, December 11, 2009

Cookbooks by Friends & Bloggers I Know

This year a number of my friends and fellow bloggers wrote books. I will not pretend to be unbiased when it comes to these books. I wish the authors much success! Here is a list of the books that I got a chance to review and enjoy:

L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook
L.A.'s Original Farmers Market Cookbook
My friend JoAnn Cianciulli wrote this terrific book with profiles of the vendors at the market at 3rd and Fairfax. Having visited the market I fell in love with the book. JoAnn is a fabulous storyteller and having written several cookbooks she knows how recipes work. Another reason why I love this book is the variety of recipes. There are dishes from all over the world yet the ingredients and instructions are very straightforward. I've made the crepes and the spiced nuts, both are winners. You could cook out of this book for a year and never get bored, you'll find everything from Seafood Gumbo, Kalbi, Tuna Sambal, Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche, to Almond Horns and Banana Cream Pie. If you love street food, this cookbook will really appeal to you.

Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned
Soaked, Slathered and Seasoned
I feel very fortunate to have gotten to know Elizabeth Karmel this year. She is smart, funny and a very talented cook and restaurateur. I am not much of griller, but I turned to her book time and again for marinades and sauces. You will never buy a premade spice rub after trying her recipes for Hot & Sticky BBQ Rub or her Original Three Ingredient Rub. I also learned the proportions for making excellent compound butter from her book. With or without a grill, the vinaigrettes, pestos, butters, rubs, sauces, marinades and more make this a super handy reference.

Asian Dumplings
Asian Dumplings
I am extremely lucky to live in San Francisco where I can get an staggering array of Asian dumplings, morning noon or night. A good thing, because I sometimes think I could subsist only on noodles and dumplings. Andrea Nguyen has written a book that will demystify making dumplings at home. I feel terrible for not yet having tried any of her recipes, but if you live in a place where Asian dumplings are not readily available, this will be your go to guide to making them. And really, wouldn't it be fun to throw a dumpling party and have a bunch of friends over to make them, eat them and take some home?

Tequila
Tequila
In the course of my writing for Cheers magazine I have talked to quite a few bartenders and beverage managers and they have all told me that tequila is where it's at. Vodka is passe, gin is well established, but tequila has a range of styles and flavor profiles that don't only get bartenders excited but cooks like me and seasoned chefs like my friend Joanne Weir. Joanne gathered cocktail recipes both new and classic from bartenders all over the country. In the second half of the book she shares recipes for nibbles that include tequila and can be paired with tequila. She shares the brands she loves, how tequila is made and describes the different styles of tequila. This book paired with a bottle of tequila would make a fantastic gift. Or just buy it for yourself and become a tequila connoisseur.

Modern Spice
Modern Spice
Author Monica Bhide is my Twitter friend. I have never met her in person, but I feel like she is my friend, in part because she writes wonderful personal stories with her recipes. They are stories about friends and family that will touch your heart. Her book is not a memoir but it almost feels like one. Monica has taken Indian spices and flavors and infused them in recipes that take a fraction of the time or effort of more traditional Indian recipes. For pure comfort food, try the Indian "Burger" made from mashed potatoes or Salmon with Kumquat Chutney.

The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
I have to hand it to Jaden. In a very short time she has established herself as a food blogging diva. This year I shared the podium twice with her at food blogging conferences. Her recipes are well-tested and perfect for those who want to try their hand at making Asian food at home. Her chatty informal style has made her a hit with countless fans. Jaden's photos are lovely and if you enjoy her blog, I am sure you will want to add this book to your collection.

Not cookbooks, but memoirs with recipes:

The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry
The Sharper Your Knife The Less You Cry
This book came out in paperback in the Fall of last year, but I didn't discover it until the Spring of this year. I read it on my way to the Foodista Food Bloggers Conference. I was mid-way through it when I met the author Kathleen Flinn. Kathleen is just amazing. She's always coming up with good ideas and seems to have the energy and wherewithal to make stuff happen. We all need people like that in our life. Her book was perfect for my trip, it's a wonderful kind of vacation read. It took me to Paris and to the trials and tribulations of cooking school. Who wouldn't want to vicariously experience that? Plus there are recipes for classic French dishes and more.

My Sweet Life in Paris
My Sweet Life in Paris
I am such a fan of David's that he could write a shopping list and I would probably love it. He lives a life in Paris that many of us only dream about. But rather than share the details through rose-colored glasses David tells it like it is. Funny, satirical and a master pastry chef who will win you over with his recipes and his prose. Read this book and you will feel like David is your friend too. I shared my book with a friend planning a trip to Paris so I can't tell you about all the recipes I've bookmarked. If you or someone you know is planning a trip, his resource guides are a must.

Hungry Monkey
Hungry Monkey
It's impossible to overstate how funny this book is. I didn't know Matthew Amster-Burton all that well when I read the book, but I got to know him even better through his hilarious tales. It's about cooking for and with kids, but the recipes are ones that even someone without kids will want to make. Laugh out loud funny; you won't be able to put it down. I wasn't.












Still on my list to read: