It’s a GFR holiday tradition to publish Dean Tudor’s annual list of his favourite new cookbooks and food and wine related volumes in bookstores now. Dean covers some of the big names, but always includes interesting and sometimes overlooked gems from this year. Click here to browse the whole series for 2013, and watch for a new category of book every week. – Malcolm Jolley, Ed.
PART ONE: TOP COOKBOOK PICKS
Art/travel/expensive cookbooks might be some of the best books to give a loved one (or to yourself, since you are your own best loved one), because most may cost you an arm and a leg. Books for the coffee table have their place in the gift scheme: just about every such book is only bought as a gift! And don’t let the prices daunt you. Such books are available at a discount from online vendors. Because of the “economy”, not too many pricey food and wine books were released last year and this year, and book reviewers were cut off from many foreign imports and expensive books.
SETTING A FINE TABLE; historical desserts and drinks from the Officers’ kitchens at Fort York (Whitecap, 2013, 144 pages, $19.95 paper covers) is probably at the top of my gift food books for the Holidays – it is a great read and it is affordable (Amazon has it at $14.56). It’s edited by Elizabeth Baird (well-known cookery expert and author AND a volunteer historic cook at Fort York) and Bridget Wranich (Programme Officer at Fort York AND co-founder of the Culinary Historians of Canada). There are 31 preps here, with the original and the modern equivalent for each, introduced by an explanation of why it was chosen, how it would have been used at the Fort in the past and how it is used at the Fort today. Research and testing was done by the Volunteer Historic Cooks at Fort York. Everything in that day was local, and so it is here today. Go mad over orange gingerbread, jumbles, peppermint drops, and negus ice. There’s also a bibliography for additional reading, including a list of historic cookbooks, and specialized recipe indexes.
THE WORLD’S BEST ASIAN NOODLE RECIPES (Race Point Publishing, 2013, 288 pages, $30 CAN hard covers) is a publisher’s collation consisting of some 125 recipes from top international chefs who specialize in noodles: from Japan, China, Korea, Thailand, India, as well as Montreal, New York city, London, Paris. Each prep is sourced as to provenance, with tales of the restaurant. Recipes are presented by ingredients: seafood, meat, poultry and veggie. Typical are ebi yakisoba (sweet and spicy shrimp noodles), potato noodles in sake clam sauce, Tokyo seafood ramen soup, bow ties with Asian chicken, and Thai sesame noodles.
THE ART OF THE PASTRY (Monacelli Press, 2013; dist. Random House Canada, 240 pages, $45 hard covers) is by party designer David Stark with John Morse. Stark does planning and design events for dinners, opening nights, baby showers, museums, awards evenings, bat and bar mitzvahs, children’s parties, anniversaries and weddings. These are all here. Indeed, some weddings here were produced in collaboration with Martha Stewart Weddings (30 pages of details).
125 MILLION TRADITIONAL ITALIAN GOURMET MENUS (Academia Barilla, 2013; distr. T. Allen, unpaged, $31.95 spiral bound) is from the well-respected Academia Barilla, a teaching/research centre in Italy. There are 225 recipes here, 50 for each of four courses (antipasto, primo, secondi, dolce) plus 25 side dishes. Apparently, it is mathematically possible to mix and match for 125 million combinations of Italian cuisine, enough to satisfy everyone. Each prep is on a card in this spiral edition, which can be flipped back and forth to match other dishes – and thereby you can create your own menu. Each prep is illustrated, and there are indications of cooking times, calories, difficulty, ingredients (both avoirdupois and metric weights and volumes), and the instructions. Some suggested menus are given, and it is all held together by an index. Bargain price.
PIMENTOS & PIRI PIRI; Portuguese comfort cooking (Whitecap Books, 2013, 376 pages, $39.95 CAN soft covers) is by Carla Azevedo, a chef grad from George Brown College and a grad from Ryerson’s Journalism school. It is a substantially updated, revised, expanded and extended version of her first book, Uma Casa Portuguesa which dealt with home style Portuguese food, but largely Azorean. Here, she concentrates more on the mainland and some transition elements in North America to account for the tastes of the waves of Portuguese immigrants over the past 20 years since she wrote Uma. She spent time with Portuguese women and came up with this book of new preps and stories from the Portuguese kitchen. There is a primer on the essential of Portuguese cuisine, 330 recipes from apps to desserts, engaging photos, and both metric and avoirdupois measurements in the ingredient lists. Anyone for grilled octopus in red pepper and olive relish? Or caldo verde, piri piri, and bolo de natal com figos?
KENVIN; an artist’s kitchen (Gibbs Smith, 2013; dist. Raincoast, 344 pages, $60 CAN, hard covers) is by Kenvin Lyman (1942-2011), a cook, winemaker, organic farmer, international artist and illustrator. Indeed, it has been described as “food, art, and wisdom of a Bohemian cowboy”. The book is part memoir and part cookbook, loaded with details about his Utah ranch and farm: growing, preparing, and eating locally). His illustrations are scattered throughout. It is well worth a look.
TREME; stories and recipes from the heart of New Orleans (Chronicle Books; dist. Raincoast, 240 pages, $34.95 CAN hard covers) is by Lolis Eric Elie, and comes with tons of endorsements, which are unnecessary since the book is related to the acclaimed HBO cable-TV series. Here are 100 heritage and contemporary recipes from the post-Katrina survival of New Orleans. There are original preps from chefs and guest stars (such as David Chang) and from Commander’s Palace restaurant. Try crawfish ravioli, smothered turnip soup, slow-roasted duck, sweet potato turnovers, and the Sazerac cocktail.
J’AIME NEW YORK; 150 culinary destinations for food lovers (Editions Alain Ducasse, 620 pages, $52 CAN hard covers) is by well-known chef and educator Alain Ducasse, assisted by Alex Vallis. The book weighs 11.5 pounds (just over 5 kilos) and has a padded cover – to protect your foot if you drop it?? Included is a portable guidebook to take with you on your outside journeys. There are lots of photos and materials on restaurants in New York City. The basics range from hot dogs in Brooklyn to restaurants in Manhattan, with histories and food accounts plus recipes. Ducasse also wrote J’Aime Paris, but that book had 200 destinations.
SWEET DELIGHTS FROM A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (I.B. Taurus, 2013; dist. Raincoast, 254 pages, $33.50 CAN hard covers) is by Habeeb Salloum and his two daughters, Muna and Leila. It is an historical account of traditional Arab sweets and the sweet tooth of the caliphs and their feasts. The book has academic scholarship, with footnotes, glossary, bibliography and 32 colour plates. The 300 recipes are derived from nine major mediaeval Arabic cookbooks, written 1100-1400. About 1600 preps were examined: pastries, cookies, puddings, cakes, pies, candies. Their next book is to be Mediaeval Delights from the Arabian Nights, concentrating on the feasts.
MARY PRATT (Goose Lane Editions, 2013, 160 pages, $55 CAN hard covers) is the catalogue for the Mary Pratt career retrospective now touring Canada (St. John’s, Windsor, Kleinberg, Regina, Halifax). Here are 75 reproductions of her most renowned work which includes Eggs in an egg crate, Salmon on saran, Eviscerated chickens, and Cod fillets on tin foil. There are also five essays about her work which elevates the mundane to the monumental – all food related paintings.
CUISINE NICOISE (Gibbs Smith, 2013, 240 pages, $44 CAN hard covers) deals with the cooking of the French Riviera, as written by Hillary Davis, a food writer who lived near Nice for 11 years. The cuisine has always been dependent on locally accessible food, with lamb-pork-game-duck-chicken dominating over beef. Most of the cuisine is, of course, related to Italian food: there is a good commingling over time. The wide range here includes a dozen soups, 13 salads, plus meats and desserts.
PATISSERIE (Rizzoli, 2013; dist. Random House Canada, 800 pages, $55 CAN hard covers) is by Christophe Felder, a master pastry chef with 20 French cookbooks to his name plus a major pastry school in Strasbourg. This book is subtitled “Mastering the fundamentals of French pastry” and promotes the techniques over the recipes: nuances of rolling out dough for croissants, caramelizing apples for a tarte tatin, and so forth. The 210 preps have 3200 step-by-step photos. Basic chapters and sections deal with crème patisserie, pate a choux, chocolate ganache, and decorations with sauces and syrups.
MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY AT HOME (Firefly Books, 2013, 240 pages, $29.95 CAN hard covers) is by Jozef Youssef, who has worked in several places in the UK and trained in molecular gastronomy with Heston Blumenthal. He also manages www.kitchen-theory.com. He uses food science to being flavour, texture, taste and aromas to recipes in new ways. And now you can do it yourself (DIY) at home! Step-by-step photos demonstrate techniques, although sometimes you’ll need some close domestic equivalent. Sous-vide, transglutaminase (meat glue), dehydration, centrifugal cooking, evaporation, rapid infusion, adding smoke, spherification, carbonation, foams and airs, the hydrocolloids of gels and gums, liquid nitrogen – they are all here, along with food pairing and inspired avant-garde presentations. The actually does take culinary physics out of the lab and into the kitchen.
THE MAGNIFICENT CHICKEN (Chronicle Books, 2013, $28 CAN hard covers) is a revised and expanded version of a 2001 book, photographed by Tamara Staples. These are championship chickens, with more than 40 breeds here and an informative text. The introduction explores the finer points of poultry shows and chicken portraiture.
FEAST; generous vegetarian meals for any eater and every appetite (Chronicle Books, 2013, 288 pages, $39.99 CAN hard covers) is by Sarah Copeland, once a lead recipe developer for the Food Network and now a major US cookbook author and food writer. It’s a good book for a variety of lifestyles: transitioning, adding more meatless dishes to the diet, giving up red meat, moving on from poultry and seafood. The 140 preps are arranged by meal occasion of breakfast, brunch, sammies, meals in a bowl, and sweets. She convinced me that I could begin my day with a kale shake, although I’d rather try roast broccoli and chickpeas with ricotta and kale, or a caprese for four seasons.
DANIEL; my French cuisine (Grand Central Life & Style, 2013, 396 pages, $60 CAN hard covers) is the long awaited book by Daniel Boulud, the multiple Beard Award winner who runs 14 restaurants (7 in New York City) including one in Toronto. There are essays here by food writer Bill Buford on preparing over a dozen recipes. The whole book contains over 100 recipes with Boulud’s insights: these are preps from his restaurants and the photos are for the professional platings. Each prep actually has two recipes: one as used in the resto and another for making at home. He’s got four seasonal menus based on his fave French regions: Alsace, Normandy, Provence, and Lyon. For this book, they’ve called in the heavy duty top log rollers of Keller, Ripert, Pepin, Vongerichten, and Guerard. What, no Batali?
Dean Tudor is a Ryerson University Journalism Professor Emeritus, The Treasurer of The Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada and creator of Canada’s award-winning wine satire site at fauxvoixvincuisine.blogspot.com. Visit Dean’s websites at deantudor.com and gothicepicures.blogspot.com. His motto: “Look it up and you’ll remember it; screw it up and you’ll never forget it.”