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COOKBOOK SPOTLIGHTS

An enormous number of cookbooks are published each year making it extremely difficult to decide which cookbooks to welcome into our kitchens. To help make that process easier, Project Foodie Cookbook Spotlights present and describe interesting cookbooks along with example recipes from those cookbooks.

The Literary Foodie

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Written by Peggy Fallon   

Even the most avid foodie needs some time away from the kitchen. So what better way to unwind than to read about our favorite subject?

Here are some recently released books sure to whet your appetite and occupy those lusciously lazy hours spent sipping lemonade on the porch, lounging on the beach, or snuggled up in bed.

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

This touchingly candid memoir by the author of the best-selling A Homemade Life is a cautionary tale of how the decision to open a pizza restaurant ignited a significant crisis in her young marriage. After she and her husband maneuvered their way through the endless obstacles and bureaucratic red tape involved in setting up a new business, they soon learned that running an actual restaurant bore no resemblance to hosting successful dinner parties at home. With a tender mix of humor and self-reflection, the author shares both the challenges and moments of enlightenment that impacted their restaurant and their marriage.

Wizenberg also includes 20 home-style recipes (like Sautéed Dates with Olive Oil and Sea Salt; Sriracha-and-Butter Shrimp; and Shortbread with Rosemary and Candied Ginger) that she credits with keeping her sane during this incredible journey.

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

After a 10 year stint as Gourmet’s Editor-in-Chief, it makes sense that Reichl’s first novel is set in the New York offices of the fictional Delicious! magazine.

As part of her new job there, heroine and California transplant Billie Breslin explores the restaurants and artisanal food shops of downtown New York—taking us along on every step of her mouth-watering journey.

The story takes some twists and turns involving family secrets peppered with a bit of mystery and a fair amount of history; a little romance; and an intertwining sub-plot involving none other than the late James Beard. Remarkably, through it all, the well-developed characters keep it believable. And the food descriptions keep it irresistible.

As a small bonus, the book ends with the infamous recipe for Billie’s Gingerbread…one that I intend to try as soon as the weather cools down!

Slices of Life by Leah Eskin

This syndicated writer for the Chicago Tribune has woven together the story of her food-centric life, as inspired by her 10 years of columns with accompanying recipes. Eskin is not some celebrity gourmand, out of touch with how real people eat. Instead, in this book she shares her Midwestern sensibilities on life in general, and family in particular. With a whole lot of food in-between.

Be sure to have a pad of sticky-notes nearby when you sit down to read this one, for with over 200 recipes, you’re bound to find more than a few to flag for future use. For right now, I’ve set my sites on Free-Range Cilantro Shrimp Wraps, Beach-House Spaghetti, and Caramel Butterscotch Pudding.

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney

Forget the time-lapsed perfection depicted in most television programs—restaurant chefs require stamina, faultless timing, precision, and nonstop communication. Every. Single. Day. After 15 years in the business, Gibney amassed a résumé that reads like a guide to America’s premier restaurants. Then at age 27 he left the kitchen for the classroom and earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. What began as his thesis evolved into this book, which has received critical acclaim from the likes of chef/authors Anthony Bourdain and Gabrielle Hamilton. There are no actual recipes, but enough real-life restaurant drama to keep you hungry for more. And a final chapter titled “Selected Kitchen Terminology” will leave you talking like a pro. A must-read for anyone who wants to know what really goes on in the “back of the house.”

Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes

The author of the best-selling memoirs recounting her life in Tuscany now tackles her pampered upbringing in the complicated South of the 1950’s and ‘60’s; her search for independence elsewhere; and her eventual decision, so many years later, to once again make the South her home.

As seems to be the provenance of so many great Southern writers, the inquisitive, intellectually-inclined Mayes seemed a bit of a misfit in her troubled family. But amidst all the characters—and there are indeed, in true Southern form, some genuine characters—there is a coming-of-age story filled with adventure and bittersweet memories. The book is beautifully written with wit, honesty, and deep affection. One need not be Southern to understand the power of home.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Devouring the Sweet and the Savory

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
Image

Working at Project Foodie is a resourceful way to keep on top of the astounding selection of cookbooks released throughout each year.

It’s not unusual for us to spend hours poring over shiny new volumes—in pursuit of prospective Recipes of the Day for our readers, but also to assess which books might find their way back into rotation for our own personal cooking forays. Is there anything more soul-satisfying than being the very first to introduce a tantalizing new recipe to friends and family?

Needless to say, things occasionally get a little tense when multiple staffers set their greedy sights on the same hot cookbook. But behaving like the adults we are, negotiations are established, bribes are offered, and deals are made. (Not necessarily in that order.) And when all else fails, seniority prevails.

The following trio of books created this very sort of stir in the office, so we’ve decided to disclose a few delicious details—complete with sample recipes—to whet your appetites.

But that’s it. No more information is forthcoming. You’ll have to buy your own copies of these cookbooks to grasp the full experience. Because I'm busy trying new recipes.

All Things Honey

There’s nothing wrong with the little plastic bear that stands proudly in most kitchen cupboards. In fact, I am seldom without one. But now that accomplished food pro Marie Simmons has broadened my palate with Taste of Honey: The Definitive Guide to Tasting and Cooking with 40 Varietals, my bear’s tiny arms are gathering dust while I pal around with his more sophisticated cousins.

If the title of the book reminds you of wine-tasting jargon, it’s no accident. Ms. Simmons’ exhaustive research results in a comprehensive guide to 40 varieties of honey—deftly describing their unique attributes and suggested uses, as well as all the background buzz on bees and honey production.

The book contains 60 clearly-written, easily executed recipes with international flair. You might choose to begin with a home-style Popover Pancake with Honey Spiced Apples; then move on to Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Tangy Honey Dipping Sauce; Roasted Eggplant Slices with Warmed Feta and Honey Drizzle; and then slide into the finish with Crinkly Honey-Roasted Pears with Vanilla. (I’ll also take an order of Chunky Peanut Butter and Honey Cookies to-go, please.)

I appreciate the ingenious “Quick Hits” at the end of each chapter: super-simple, just-add-honey ideas to brighten every meal. Stunning photographs and charming graphics throughout the book further sweeten the deal. And just in case you are living in a honey wasteland, Simmons provides a list of mail order sources.

This is probably the only book on honey you’ll ever need--or want. It is also totally gift-worthy….especially when accompanied by a jar of nature’s finest. I think this is what’s known as making the best of a sticky situation.

Recipes to try: 3 viewable recipes from "Taste of Honey".


Café Cooking at Home

Flour, by the über-talented Joanne Chang, has been one of my go-to baking books ever since it debuted in 2010. Now it has a welcome sidekick on my bookshelf: Flour, Too—Indispensable Recipes for the Café’s Most Loved Sweets and Savories.

It seems Chang’s loyal customers had expressed disappointment when some of their favorite café fare was not included in her first cookbook. Lucky for us, she acquiesced…and then some. This volume contains 100 mouth-watering recipes, accompanied by 50 stunning photographs by Michael Harlan Turkell.

Chang’s training as a pastry chef often influences her savory dishes—with outstanding results. (Her original take on Chinese Scallion Pancakes begins with focaccia dough. Who knew?) Her Best Boston Cream Pie is genius. And few would forgo the opportunity to devour her Mushroom and Leek Lasagna with Creamy Béchamel; Flour’s Famous Egg Sandwich; and the restaurants’ top-selling comfort soup: Mama Chang’s Hot and Sour.

Along with a decent representation of beginner-friendly recipes, there is a smattering of chef-y ones that many will seize as a challenge. For example, I freely admit I would probably abandon all principles and run away with anyone who baked me a perfectly buttery-crisp kouign-amann (a specialty pastry of Brittany). But here, with characteristic attention to detail, Chang devotes 3 pages of text to ensure success for the home baker. No longer must I chastise myself for being a pastry slut. This recipe is now at the top of my Bucket List.

One can only hope Chang has accidentally omitted at least one more café favorite from this volume, because I’m already looking forward to her next book.

Recipes to try: 9 viewable recipes from "Flour, Too".


Relishing the Big Easy

Not to be overly dramatic here, but there has been a void in my life since the most recent season of Treme came to an end. Such a brilliant series—interesting story lines, good music, NEW ORLEANS, and a believable sub-plot involving chefs (celebrity and otherwise) and post-Katrina restaurants. Foodie-Couch-Potato Heaven.

I am obviously not alone in my opinion. The show has a tremendous following, so a cookbook was bound to happen. Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans by food writer and New Orleans native Lolis Eric Elie is a thoughtful collection of 100 heritage and contemporary recipes, some from real restaurants and real chefs, with others attributed to the likes of various characters on the show—each with the colorful tale behind it. The book is delicious reading for fans of the show as well as anyone else who loves the food of New Orleans. I guess that covers just about everybody.

Mix up a Hurricane and drool over Boucherie’s Collard Greens with French Fried Grits; La Spiga’s Buttermilk Biscuits; Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse Tomato Napoleon; and Bayona’s Café au Lait Pots de Crème with Mudslide Cookies.

Oh, and don’t forget to brush off that powdered sugar from your lap. Beignets will do that.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Treme".

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Sliding into Summer Reading

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Written by Peggy Fallon   

There are lots of full tummies and plenty of happy faces at Project Foodie as we eat our way through the many spring cookbook releases.

Here are some staff favorites that will transport you to mouth-watering armchair-vacation spots; provide yet another reason to procrastinate on that kitchen remodel; and tempt you to explore your inner masochist…if you’re a chicken, that is.

The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

The Lee Brothers have already proven they know a thing or two about Southern cooking, so we can’t think of anyone better to lead this food-centric exploration of Charleston, South Carolina—arguably the most charming city in the U.S. So before opening this captivating book, pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea and settle into the porch swing (even if it exists only in your mind). In addition to plenty of fascinating historical tidbits, you’ll discover local favorites like She-Crab Soup; Butter Beans with Butter, Mint, and Lime; Baked City Ham with Plum Glaze; and a big, crackly Huguenot Torte topped with a cloud of buttermilk-spiked whipped cream. By the time you finish drooling over the recipes, it may just be time to treat yourself to a Moonshine Martini.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen".

The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance

A trip to Seattle is never complete without eating at one of Tom Douglas’ legendary restaurants; but a pilgrimage to Dahlia Bakery is always a must. Instead of simply disclosing the signature savory and dessert recipes I’ve always dreamed of duplicating at home, this book is a thoughtful compendium of practical tips to ensure success, enticing color photos to get you salivating, and enough personal stories to keep it all interesting.

Although I firmly intend to die while eating a big slab of Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie (the closest to heaven I may ever get), until that day I’ll spend my time musing over Dahlia Doughnuts with Cinnamon Sugar, Mascarpone, and Jam; Bing Cherry Hand Pies with Pinot Noir and Vanilla; Red Haven Peach Blueberry Crisp with Cornmeal Crumble; and Toasted Pine Nut Marzipan Tart. What a way to go!

Recipes to try: 5 viewable recipes from "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook".

The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

Reading about this lovely young author’s charmed life left me wondering, “Where did I go wrong?” Once a London fashion publicist, she changed the course of her life when she moved to Paris and earned a degree at Le Cordon Bleu. (Move over, Sabrina.) She now travels the world, holding workshops and cooking for huge client events as well as intimate pop-up restaurants. Oh yeah, and this book was a best-seller in the UK, and landed her a BBC television series.

But I digress. Once I moved beyond my petty jealousy, I was duly inspired by her Salad Niҫoise Wraps; Coq au Vin on Skewers; French Beef Stew Fajitas; and Vacherin “Hot Dog” with Rosemary Rhubarb.

With only 2 gas burners and a mini oven in her Paris apartment, Khoo manages to serve up ingenious makeovers of classic French dishes. The take-away lessons here are that it’s all about freshness and flavor; one should take as much pleasure in the food prep as in the eating; and French-inspired cuisine is within everyone’s reach—no matter where you live, or how tiny or seemingly ill-equipped your kitchen might be. And okay, maybe I’m still a little bit jealous.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "The Little Paris Kitchen".

Fifty Shades of Chicken by FL Fowler

It was inevitable. Somebody had to do it. And I’m glad this pseudo-named author was the one. Following in the stiletto-heeled, black-leather-boot footsteps of the fiction bestseller, this parody-in-a-cookbook contains 50 chicken recipes “bound (get it?) to be delicious.”

But in addition to the genuinely witty X-rated text and brilliantly styled photographs that often made me laugh out loud, the recipes are quite solid. Chapter sub-headings such as Dripping Thighs; Mustard-Spanked Chicken; Pound Me Tender; and Chicken Under the Covers introduce chicken lovers to spicy diversions like Crispy Chicken Tenders with Cashews and Coconut Curry; Trussed Roasted Chicken with Chorizo Stuffing, and Grilled Beer-Can Chicken with Cajun Mayonnaise. This book takes food porn to a whole new level. And it’s a delectable departure you won’t regret. Trust me.

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Beyond Beer and Potatoes

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Written by Peggy Fallon   

ImageYou may have watched Clodagh McKenna's Irish Food Trails series on PBS, or caught one of her appearances on The Food Network, the Today show,The Rachel Ray Show, the Nate Berkus Show, or Martha Stewart's Morning Living. Or perhaps you're familiar with one of her earlier cookbooks, like the award-winning Homemade. But if you haven't heard of her yet, just stay tuned. You will. Clodagh's Kitchen Diaries: Delicious Recipes throughout the Year by Clodagh Mckenna is only the most recent of this Irish dynamo's many accomplishments.

More than just another pretty face, McKenna studied in France and New York before training at the acclaimed Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. She then proceeded to establish a network of farmers' markets throughout Ireland; launched her own brand of food products; runs the highly successful Clodagh's Kitchen, Food Court, and Food Market at Arnotts department store in Dublin; writes for numerous magazines and newspapers; and has been featured in Forbes, Saveur, The Huffington Post, and The Daily Meal. And that's probably only the half of it.

In this celebration of seasonal food and drink, McKenna shows how to add a bit of her inimitable style to each and every month of the year. And it's a far cry from my mama's traditional Irish cooking. This well-travelled author adds her magic to disparate recipes like Pappardelle with Beef Ragu; Naan Bread (learned  from an Indian chef at her restaurant); Spicy Lamb Koftas with Tomato Salsa and Tzatziki; and Spiced Butternut Squash and Coconut Soup.

As unfortunately happens with many UK books re-packaged for the American market, the editing sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. (e.g., the Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies don't contain any chocolate. And although the basic recipes for the many jams and preserves sound divine, I would strongly suggest you continue to follow established USDA guidelines for canning, rather than relying on the often sketchy instructions given here. Ditto for roasting a turkey.) But all things considered, this is an appealing book brimming with wonderful ideas for entertaining and some very captivating recipes.

Whether you celebrate Mother's Day or Mothering Sunday, few could resist a McKenna-style high tea featuring an assortment of mouth-watering mini-sandwiches and jam tarts; Buttermilk Scones; and Lemon Drizzle Cake. Though McKenna provides plenty of valuable tips for table settings and creative presentations throughout the book, she really pulls out all the stops in the October chapter, with her Bloodthirsty Punch; Ghost Meringues; Spiced Pumpkin Cake; and Freaky Fingers cookies.

Oh, and have I mentioned March? Not surprisingly, McKenna has plenty of party tips to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. And lucky for us, she is willing to share some of them right here on Project Foodie. A hundred thousand thanks to Clodagh McKenna!


Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries".


Clodagh McKenna’s Top Ten Party Tips for St. Patrick’s Day

1. Impress your guests by greeting them in Gaelic (Irish Language): ‘Céad míle fáilte’(kayd meeluh foll-tjuh). This means ‘A Hundred Thousand Welcomes.’

2. Warm the hearts of your guests with a delicious Irish Coffee. Just add 2 tablespoons of Irish Whiskey to a warmed glass and stir in 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. Add 2/3 cup of strong coffee and, using the back of aspoon, pour cream onto the surface of the coffee. Substitute the whiskey with Baileys Irish Cream liqueur for a ‘Baileys Coffee.’

3. When toasting your drinks, use the traditional Irish toast of ‘Slainte’ (SLAHN-ch ). The direct translation of Slainte means ‘health’ and can be heard in pubs, homes and restaurants throughout the country.

4. Make a chic Irish-themed floral arrangement of different shades of green foliage and flowers and tie green ribbons around the vase.

5. Have Irish-themed party bags to hand out to your guests — tuck in items such as a shamrock (if you don’t have one, try making shamrock-shaped cookies and frost with green icing!), some gold coins and maybe include an Irish breakfast tea bag.

6. Create an Irish cheese board for your guests — Ireland produces some of the best cheeses in the world, so be sure to include some of Ireland’s greats like Cashel Blue and Dubliner Cheese. Serve with homemade chutney and crackers. Or be creative and make an Irish Cheese Fondue!

7. Every year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I make Mint and Chocolate Cupcakes in my bakery — they are so delicious and festive. You’ll find the recipe in my new cookbook, Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries.

8. For your party, serve my delicious Smoked Salmon Mousse in a bowl set in the middle of a large platter. Surround the platter with crudités of celery, carrot and cucumber to replicate the Irish flag. To make my mousse, simply blend together 8 ounces smoked salmon, 3 ounces softened cream cheese, 2 ounces crème fraîche, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, juice of 1 lemon, and season with salt and black pepper.

9. Print out mini Irish song booklets so that your guests can sing along to traditional Irish music. Here are a few titles to get you going: Whiskey in the Jar and The Wild Rover by the Dubliners.

10. Give your guests the gift of Irish gab! As your guests enter, have each one kiss the ‘Blarney Stone’ — this will certainly keep the conversation flowing!

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Flour Power

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Written by foodie pam   

ImageI am a baking fool. In good times and in bad, creating something wonderful out of flour and sugar soothes my soul. I consider baking not only relaxing, but downright therapeutic. During this time of year, when life seems to be racing out of control, there is nothing more satisfying than setting aside a few hours to try my hand at some new recipes. This end-of-season selection of books left Team Project Foodie salivating! From innovative desserts that appeal to the kid in each of us; to mini-masterpieces ideal for entertaining; a love letter to vanilla; and a bonanza of first-class cookies--you'll want to stock your pantry and preheat that oven. Only something good can come of it.  And this is no time of year to overlook man’s best friend! Whip up one of these tasty canine treats, and we know exactly who will beg to lick the spoon!

Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith

Goldsmith, a pastry chef and contributor to the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, presents 80 whimsical, original recipes sure to bring a smile to your face as well as your tummy. Explore your inner child with desserts like Peanut Butter Fudge Brownies; Tangerine Creamsicle Pots de Crème; Sweet Corn & Blueberry Bread Pudding; and Buttered Popcorn Gelato. Regression has never tasted so good. -- Picked by Peggy Fallon.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Baking Out Loud".



Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets by Abigail Johnson Dodge


Dodge has done it again. Specifically, this Contributing Editor to Fine Cooking magazine has compiled 100 of the sweetest little recipes imaginable. Even though petit, these tiny treasures pack full-size flavor. Set your sites on Two-Bite Apricot-Pistachio Tarts; Double Espresso Whoopie Pies; Frozen Nutella Yogurt Bites; and Salty Mixed Nut Brittle, and I guarantee you’ll come back for seconds. And isn’t that the real point of bite-size desserts? --- Picked by Peggy Fallon.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets".


Pure Vanilla by Shauna Sever

Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m one of Them. Don’t get me wrong; I love me some chocolate. But given my druthers, vanilla wins out every time. And now, thanks to author Sever, I can come out of the closet. With 80 recipes like Buttery Baked Vanilla Bean French Toast; Vanilla Nougat Candy Bar Bites; Golden Pear Vanilla Jam; and Malted White Hot Chocolate, I suspect a lot of others will soon join me. There’s also a healthy smattering of vanilla history and folklore to read while dessert is in the oven. Surrender to the bean! -- Picked by Peggy Fallon.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Pure Vanilla".

Seriously Simple Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Cookies are one of my favorite sweets to bake, for these tiny treasures are so easily shared. But even when I simply stash an entire batch away for myself, cookies have a built-in portion-control factor that softens any guilt feelings I might harbor. (Assuming, of course, I eat only 1 or 2 cookies at a time.) In Seriously Simple Cookies, Nancy Baggett provides a glorious collection of more than 200 recipes, ranging from traditional to modern as well as simple to challenging. Whether you're a card-carrying cookie monster or simply know one, there are enough good recipes here to satisfy cravings well into the new year. -- Picked by Pam

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Simply Sensational Cookies".

Better Food for Dogs by David Bastin and Jennifer Ashton, and Grant Nixon, D.V.M.

Foodies like to eat real food. So why feed your dog processed stuff out of a can? Even though it’s often served with the best intentions, commercial dog food is not always the healthiest choice. This book is filled with hard-to-find nutritional advice and tips to keep your pooch healthy; as well as savory recipes for the canine gourmet. (Rotini with Meat Sauce, anyone? How about a Divine Dinner Burrito?) And something tells me treats like Oatmeal Peach Cookies and Blueberry Banana Biscotti will leave more than a few tails wagging. Bone Appétit! -- Picked by Peggy Fallon

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Better Food for Dogs".


Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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Chefs, Roots and Learning: Cookbooks That Caught Our Eye

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Written by Team Project Foodie   

ImageTime for more of our favorite cookbooks... today we’ve got a hodge-podge of recent eye catching cookbooks. Although it seems it might not be a total hodge-podge in that, unintentionally, we've set our sights on two cookbooks that are both by San Francisco (or soon to be former San Francisco) Chefs. Perhaps, we’re biased (Project Foodie is based about 45 minutes south of San Francisco) you’ll have to be the judge.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn

Author of the acclaimed The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry once again reflects upon her life in the world of food; but this time, the student has become the teacher. With empathy and humor, Flinn gradually transforms nine insecure, inexperienced, processed-food-eating folks into decent home cooks. The book includes simple, solid recipes for meals that are delicious, economical, and nutritious. -- picked by Peggy Fallon

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School".

Roots by Diane Morgan

This handsome tome un-earths the enduring appeal of root vegetables. With over 225 inspired recipes by veteran food pro, Morgan--complete with photos by Antonis Achilleos—ROOTS makes the ideal reference/cookbook for farmers’ market shoppers, CSA advocates, or anyone who has ever lifted a gnarly vegetable from a produce bin at the supermarket and wondered, “What’s this?” -- picked by Peggy Fallon

Recipes to try: 3 viewable recipes from "Roots".

 

Beginnings by Chris Cosentino

San Francisco residents know first hand the innovative food that Chris Cosentino produces at his restaurant Incanto. In Chris’s first book he presents recipes for the home chef that showcase his style of Italian food with seasonal ingredients.  As the title suggests, Beginnings focuses on first courses most of which have a rustic twist.  Mixed throughout the book are hand-drawn sketches of the dishes and personal stories from this innovative Chef.  We eagerly await the next in what is presumably a series of books by Chris showcasing all the courses he so intensely creates. -- picked by Pam

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Beginnings".


Cooking Off the Clock by Elizabeth Falkner

Elizabeth Falkner may be best known as a pastry chef with her Citizen Cake restaurant in San Francisco (sadly closing at the end of this year), but she does much more. Cooking Off the Clock showcases not only Elizabeth’s savory side but also her personal recipes – the food she cooks for herself at home.  While many chef cookbooks present recipes from their restaurant, those recipes are often difficult to reproduce at home.  Cooking Off the Clock captures the essence of Elizabeth Falkner with recipes we can all make.  Something I wish all chef cookbooks provided.-- picked by Pam

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Cooking Off the Clock".


Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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With Yeast on My Mind....

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Written by foodie pam   

ImageI am a baker. A bread baker, that is (although I do enjoy baking sweets, as well.) When time is limited I opt for no-knead recipes; but whenever I'm home for a full day, slow-rise, artisan breads are my loaves of choice. And, like many home bread-bakers, I’m always on the lookout for challenging recipes, unusual flavor combinations, and new techniques to try. Lucky me! Each year a new crop of bread-baking books is published. Here's what caught my eye this year; and since I truly believe you can never have too many bread cookbooks, I’ve also listed a few other books from years past that remain on my "active" cookbook shelf. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Hot off the press

All You Knead is Bread by Jane Mason

All You Knead is Bread celebrates the breads of the world, with simple slow-rising varieties, sourdough, everyday breads, occasional breads, celebration breads, and sweet breads from around the world. Whether you want to learn new techniques or explore breads from other cultures, I’m sure you’ll find both the similarities and differences in these breads intriguing.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "All You Knead Is Bread".

Nick Malgieri’s Bread by Nick Malgieri

Most bread books focus only on making bread, and assume you’ll find dozens of uses for the loaves you bake. Generally that’s true, but I often wonder whether certain breads wouldn’t be better suited for some use other than what I’ve chosen. Nick Malgieri’s Bread takes aim at this problem by combining bread recipes with complementary savory recipes. The breads range from slow-rise to pan breads and rolls, to filled breads and more. In some cases I’m not sure which recipe draws me in more: the bread itself, or the accompanying application. Either way this book is sure to keep me baking well into the spring...and then some.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Nick Malgieri’s Bread".

Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish

No-knead bread remains popular because of the minimal effort involved in making it. (Novices think it's magic.) And while the finished bread tastes very good, it isn’t always the most flavorful loaf out there. In this book Ken Forkish offers similar, but slightly more complex techniques which result in noticeably enhanced flavor. Yes, you’ll still cook the loaf in a covered cast-iron pot, but you will also get an opportunity to work the dough a bit with your hands. Not a bad thing, if you ask me, since this small effort results in deeper, richer flavor.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Flour Water Salt Yeast".

Favorites from years past

Artisan Breads at Home by Eric Kastel

Overall, I’m a fan of the entire Culinary Institute of America’s At Home series, but the bread- baking book is my favorite. These recipes work without fail, and provide all the details needed to bake exceptional breads, rolls, sandwich bread, and even special-occasion breads. This is the most-used book in my bread cookbook library.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "Artisan Breads at Home".

The Italian Baker. Revised by Carol Field

This update to the James Beard award winning cookbook explores Italian bread in all its glory.  If the phrase "Italian bread" conjures up only a couple of different varieties, then be prepared to be amazed. From numerous loaves to unique rolls, to sandwiches and sweet breads, this book will teach you the essence of bread making, Italian-style. I’m slowly working my way through the entire book and loving everything I make.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "The Italian Baker, Revised".

My Bread by Jim Lahey

This book is the no-knead bread source. If you want a simple, dependable recipe for bread that can be easily made with minimal fuss, look no further. This is the book I inevitably turn to whenever I want great-tasting homemade bread during a busy week. I’ve even trained Foodie Husband to make it!

Recipes to try: 4 viewable recipes from "My Bread".

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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‘Tis the Season…

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Written by Peggy Fallon   
ImageFor anyone who loves to bake, each season of the year unlocks a new range of opportunities. When the fruits of summer become little more than a memory, it’s time to start peeling apples. No sooner do you become accustomed to that rhythm, than it’s time to puree persimmons and explore the wonders of winter squash. Consciously or not, much of our everyday baking reflects the change of seasons. And so it goes.

In The Seasonal Baker, Chef John Barricelli, author of the acclaimed SoNo Baking Company Cookbook, takes us on a very personal journey. But don’t dismiss this as just another baking-by-the-seasons-from-the-farmers’-market sort of book. Nor is this a collection of intimidating recipes for the sometimes-elaborate creations produced at the author’s bakery. This book focuses on what Barricelli cooks for his family and friends during his leisure hours. Tried and true favorites made with love, from a discriminating home baker.

It’s no surprise this third-generation pro shares plenty of tips right along with his recipes. His impressive résumé includes stints at River Café, Le Bernardin, and Four Seasons; followed by years as an integral part of Martha Stewart’s Omnimedia team. A natural-born teacher, Barricelli’s recipes are clear, concise, and inspirational—for both the novice and accomplished cook. In addition to the predictable sweets made from seasonal produce, there are plenty of basic desserts suitable to serve year ‘round. And beyond all the picture-perfect baked goods, there are home-style frozen and “other fruit spoon desserts” that don’t require an oven. Chapters like “Tarts, Quiches, Pastas, and More” and “Focaccia and Pizza on the Grill” add a significant number of intriguing savories to the mix.

There’s a little something for everyone, with originals like Nola’s Five-Fruit Granola; Cherry-Nut Cantucci; Eleanore’s Mardi Gras Apple Crêpes; Hazelnut Semifreddo with Raspberries; Spinach and Feta Turnovers; and the decadent Grilled Pizza with Bananas, Nutella, and Chocolate. And—Shhhhh!—please don’t spoil the surprise for my grandchildren, but I’m pretty sure Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cinnamon Cream will be part of our Thanksgiving dessert buffet. We may celebrate on opposite coasts, but Barricelli’s recipes share deliciously universal appeal.

Recipes to try: 2 viewable recipes from "The Seasonal Baker".

Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.

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