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Monday, January 20, 2014

New Cookbooks for the New Year

The beginning of the year represents a time for new things and that includes cooking. These cookbooks have the power to inspire you in the kitchen and get you cooking, baking and even fermenting. 

Mary Karlin has written books about wood fired ovens and making cheese and now takes on the broader subject of fermented food in Mastering Fermentation. The book has both recipes for making and using fermented foods—everything from from cheeses, to breads and grains, vegetables and meats as well as beverages. The recipes include some ingredients you’ll have to go out of your way to find, but the instructions are clear as day. Karlin, who is also a cooking instructor, writes clearly and inspires confidence. 

While much of the food faddists are shunning grain, Whole-Grain Mornings embraces it. Beyond just simple bowls of oatmeal or buttermilk pancakes, first time author Megan Gordon tempts readers with Nutty Millet Breakfast Cookies, Triple Coconut Quinoa Porridge, Zucchini Farro Cakes and loads more very original recipes. The book also shares Gordon’s story of finding love, moving to Seattle, her granola company and her beautiful photography. 

I’ve heard it said that if you find one recipe you love in a cookbook, it’s worth the price you paid for it. In my house, “make Japanese food” is a frequent request. I have several excellent Japanese cookbooks, and this year added another to the collection. Japanese Soul Cooking includes recipes for several dishes that are favorites from special restaurants and the streets of Tokyo and beyond. The recipe that won me over here was for Okonomiyaki, but the Mentaiko Spaghetti is a keeper too. There’s background on the dishes, tips on the techniques and ingredients. If you love Japanese food, you will want this book. 

Pok Pok is a game changing Thai restaurant in Portland, that now has an outpost in NYC. Andy Ricker a Thai food fanatic has made it his mission to recreate as authentically as possible the flavors of Thailand. I know, people hate the word authenticity, but Ricker takes it seriously. His respect and knowledge of Thai food is truly something. He even speaks Thai (with a Northern accent or so I’ve been told). If you want to really know what Thai food is all about, short of going to Thailand (or Portland) his book also titled Pok Pok is the next best thing. The recipes are detailed but not “cheffy” they are however the real deal. 

No doubt you’ve heard the news, the Jewish deli is disappearing. If you’ve ever eaten in a real Jewish deli you know what a shame this is. With a mammoth menu and soul food for those of Eastern European descent, the deli is an American original. Given the difficulty of finding good deli food, making your own might be your best bet. The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home has modernized recipes for Bagels, Bialys, Smoked Whitefish Salad, Kreplach, Latkes and more using the best quality ingredients. With this book you can personally save the deli all the while savoring the food and reading profiles of some “artisan” delis as well as interviews with noted Jewish food experts. 

Our lady of chocolate, Alice Medrich has done it again. Her latest book Seriously Bitter Sweet revisits her classic recipes found in Bittersweet in light of the fact that chocolate ain’t what it it used to be. We now have more choices than ever and that’s a good thing. But Medrich has retested many recipes to help you get the most out of them using the best chocolate available. You’ll fall in love all over again with the Queen of Sheba cake, Nibby Espresso Cookies and Chocolate Olive Oil Crostini.

Disclaimer: These books were provided as review copies and this post includes affiliate links.