It’s a GFR holiday tradition to publish Dean Tudor’s annual list of the best new cookbooks and food and wine related tomes in bookstores now. Watch for a new category of book every week. And please support your friendly neighbourhood Good Food Fighter, and expertly curated, book shops: The Cookbook Store and Good Egg. – Malcolm Jolley, Ed.
Part One: TOP GIFT IDEAS
Art/travel/history books 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.
BOUCHON BAKERY (Artisan, 2012; distr. T. Allen, 400 pages, $50US hard covers) is by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. These are preps for the goods from the bakery of the same name (there are five of them in the US). The French classics are here: baguettes, macarons, mille-feuilles, and tartes aux fruits. As well, Keller promotes his at-home versions of poplar American cookies and sweet snacks, providing some uplift to banal Oreos and such. Co-author Rouxel is the pastry chef for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group (French Laundry, Per Se, Ad Hoc, Bouchon) and he shares his advice for a professional finish for home cooks. Lots of photos by Deborah Jones to look at. It’s a heavy book at almost six pounds, but online sites usually offer free shipping should you want to send a copy to someone across the continent.
CANADA’S FAVOURITE RECIPES (Whitecap Books, 2012, 336 pages, $40 hardcovers) is by Rose Murray and Elizabeth Baird, who together have put out or edited over 40 cookbooks. Their previous collaboration was “A Taste of Canada”, and this current work follows up on that book with 160 more recipes representative of Canada. As the publisher says, “This evocative hardcover volume will be an essential gift for ever Canadian foodie this holiday season!”…and who am I to quarrel with that? The book argues how distinctive our food is, and ho people, climate, and land influence that food. So here we have tourtiere, cod and potato fritters, braised lamb stew, and a maple-carrot cake.
FROM A POLISH COUNTRY HOUSE KITCHEN (Chronicle Books, 2012, 287 pages, $45 CAN hard covers) is by Anne Applebaum and Danielle Crittenden. Applebaum is a 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner (Gulag; a history) and is married to a Polish diplomat. Here is a collection of some 90 recipes of contemporary and classic Polish food, derived from her working the kitchens of a Polish manor house she and her husband bought in 1989. The basics are here: pierogi, cabbage rolls, wild mushro0m soup, venison stew, braised cabbage, sauerkrauts — all arranged from appetizers through desserts and finished off with notes on a Polish larder for preserves. Along the way there are stories and details in a memoir fashion of the manor house, and, of course, some history behind the dishes themselves. And there’s some great close-up photography in the pierogi section.
TARTINE: the boxed set (Chronicle Books, 2012, $75 US hard covers) is a two book set by Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, a husband and wife baker-pastry chef owners of the eponymous San Francisco bakery. Both books were CIA and Beard nominees. One is mostly pastry and desserts, with preps measured in volume, weight, and metric; the other book is the bread book. Very sturdy production for such fat books.
THE WAY WE COOK (Saveur/Weldon Owen, 2012, 272 pages, $39.95 CAN hardcovers) is from Saveur magazine. It is a collection of photographs from 15 photographers (including Naomi Duguid from Toronto) celebrating cooks and chefs all over the world. There are personal stories and 50 regional recipes, and details about individual kitchens and cultures. Covered are restaurants, homes, markets, street food, and rural life. A great affordable gift for the armchair traveler.
THE FUNDAMENTAL TECHNIQUES OF CLASSIC ITALIAN CUISINE (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012, 512 pages, $92 CAN hard covers) is from the International Culinary Center’s School of Italian Studies (NYC). It’s by Cesare Casella and Stephanie Lyness. The ICC is also home to the French Culinary Center. The book has all the important preps from the ICC’s Italian curriculum, along with technical instruction and over 650 photos. Part One is 200 classic recipes, from antipasti to desserts. Part Two has chapters on cheese-making, rustic soups, all the primo and secondo courses, plus specialities of dried legumes, rabbit and egg foams. Some classics: salsiccia (fresh pork sausage), cinghiale in agrodolce (sweet and sour wild boar), and stracotto (braised beef).
LE GOUT FRANCAIS AU CANADA ATLANTIQUE 1604-1758 UNE HISTOIRE GASTRONOMIQUE/FRENCH TASTE IN ATLANTIC CANADA 1604-1758 A GASTRONOMIC HISTORY (Cape Breton University Press, 2012, 254 pages, $29.99 CAN hard covers) is a bi-lingual historical cookbook, with updated recipes, from the cooks at Louisbourg on Cape Breton. In 2013, Parks Canada will celebrate 300 years of Louisbourg with food, music, dance, markets, muskets, and fifes and drums. This book is but one part of the action, for there will be food at the fortress too. There are coupons at the back of the book for entrance to Louisbourg, worth more than the book’s purchase price. So if you are planning on going (or know someone who is), then this is the ideal book for the holidays. Everyone can have time to read it and enjoy cooking from it before visiting. The main author is Anne Marie Lane-Jonah, staff historian for Parks Canada at the Fortress. Chanal Vechambre is a chef certified in cuisine and pastry. The book is richly illustrated, and covers food, gardening beverages, menus, glossary, and a resources list. Typical preps include eel pie, carrot and parsnip fricassee, oyster casserole, and mussels ragout. The Acadian meals here reflect the cultures of the time, but all the recipes have been modernized.
MASTERING THE ART OF SOUTHERN COOKING (Gibbs Smith, 2012, 720 pages, $49.99 CAN hard covers) is by Southern food expert Nathalie Dupree and her TV producer Cynthia Stevens Graubart. Purists may resent the use of the words “Mastering the Art of… Cooking”, but it has been 61 years since Julia Child’s epic was published. Here are 750 or so recipes with 650 variations, all laid out with great research and photos. Early chapters cover the evolution of Southern food, which Dupree has called “the Mother Cuisine of America”. The classics are all here, including two Chess Pie preps (but without any history behind them). Modern updates are made for many veggies, such as grilled asparagus, creamy grits, and okra chips. A large typeface is a boon, and this continues through the index and the bibliography. It’s a great gift if you can carry it (the weight is well-over six pounds).
ELEMENTS OF DESSERT (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 536 pages, $78 CAN had covers) is by Francisco Migoya, now teaching at the CIA. He’s a former executive pastry chef at many of New York’s top restaurants. This is another book in the CIA series, reaching out to both the trade and consumers. It’s a compilation of dessert knowledge, and at this level, appears to be definitive. The first 100 pages cover the fundamentals and philosophy behind mousses, doughs, ganaches, flavours, compositions, combinations, and preparations needed. Then it is on to semi-sweet desserts, plated desserts, small items for a buffet, and even smaller items for “passed around desserts” nibbles. There’s lots of advice on plating and a concluding bibliography. With over 200 recipes in a five pound package you might want to get free postage by ordering it through Amazon etc.
THE JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION’S BEST OF THE BEST (Chronicle Books, 2012, 240 pages, $60 US hard covers) is a 25th anniversary celebration of the Foundation. James Beard set the standard, and since then it has been met and exceeded by chefs such as Charlie Trotter, Alice Waters, Larry Forgione, Daniel Boulud, Rick Bayless, Jeremiah Tower – 20 in all, who contribute here to their oversized and weighty tome. There’s a profile for each of these Outstanding Chef Award winners, plus some of their recipes, and gastroporn.
FOOD LOVER’S GUIDE TO THE WORLD (Lonely Planet, 2012, 320 pages, $39.99 US) is an invitation to travel the world for a lifetime of eating experiences. It includes celebrity food-lover contributions, best places to find local dishes in cities great and small, cultural tips and how-to-eat etiquette, introductions by Mark Bittman and James Oseland, and more than 50 recipes.
COOKING SEASON BY SEASON (DK Books, 2012, 496 pages, $39 CAN hard covers) has about 1,000 recipes organized by season and includes features highlighting the best produce and how to make the most of it. It is fairly comprehensive in that well-known DK style – with a produce guide and a kitchen companion to turn to for every day of the year. Plus 750 full-colour photos. There’s also a Recipe Chooser for each chapter listing all the dishes that can be cooked for each seasonal ingredient.
LAROUSSE ON COOKING (John Wiley & Sons, 2012, 592 pages, $54 CAN hard covers) is the English translation of the 2010 French edition, which was published to great acclaim. Here are 300 recipes (each with a photo) for “everyone, from beginner to expert”. It has coverage from hors d’oeuvre to apps to mains, with some international non-French dishes from Mediterranean or Asiatic countries in a separate chapter. There are 28 “cooking classes” (illustrated techniques) for such toughies as removing an artichoke heart or cleaning scallops. Here is also an excellent cooking glossary plus two recipe indexes by ingredient and by name. The book will get you through about 95% of all your cooking needs. A great gift idea.
THE COUNTRY COOKING OF GREECE (Chronicle Books, 2012, 384 pages, $55 CAN hard covers) is by Diane Kochilas, who has written 18 Greek cookbooks. It’s a regional book, with 200 preps ranging from hand-shaped pastries through seafood, local cheeses, wines and liquors. It is also a cultural guide to tavernas, holiday meals, drinking rituals, meze, and regional specialities. There’s a whole chapter on artichokes, and another on flatbreads. Important meats are lamb, goat, and rabbit. The photos are good for armchair travellers. One could say that this is a posh book.
THE GREAT MEAT COOKBOOK (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, 632 pages, $46.95 CAN hard covers) is by Bruce Aidells. It’s a guide to all of the major cuts of meat (steaks, shops, roasts, ribs), with handy recipe tags for company meals, quick and easy, and leftovers. He also has preps for charcuterie (he owns a sausage company), some rare meats such as bison, goat, heirloom pork), and some offal (tongues, sweetbreads, liver but no heart or kidneys).
CLASSIC DINING; discovering America’s finest mid-century restaurants (Gibbs Smith, 2012, 176 pages, $30 US hard covers) is by Peter Moruzzi, with additional photos and text by Sven A. Kirsten and Nathan Marsak. Mid-century here refers to mid-1900s, so the survey includes such palaces as the Grand Central Oyster Bar, the Del-Bar in Wisconsin, Antoine’s in New Orleans, the Mai-Kai in Florida, Lawry’s The Prime Rib in LA, the Golden Steer in Las Vegas, and Town and Country in Dallas. He’s got notes on over 200 places in all 50 states, along with reproductions of adverts and menus, posters and postcards, and similar memorabilia – but no recipes. These places all had some variation of softly lit wood panelling, starched tablecloths, curved booths, tuxedoed staff, and white glove service. They also had – with exceptions – basically meat and potatoes for the men, shrimp cocktails and lobsters for the ladies. A trip down nostalgia lane for middle America.
CANAL HOUSE COOKS EVERY DAY (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012, 360 pages, $52.99 CAN) is by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton, co-founders who once ran Saveur magazine and its test kitchen. Today they own and operate Canal House in Lambertville, New Jersey, one of the top restaurants in the USA. It’s a seasonal cookbook, beginning with spring, highlighting the produce that comes through the year. There are even 11 menus of celebration for the typical holidays such as Valentine, Christmas, Easter, and Birthdays. And they have 12 essays, one for each month, highlighting some food aspect for that month. About 250 recipes with some essentials for the pantry, mostly illustrated with gorgeous photography. Top notch production, weighing in at about 4.5 pounds.
JAMIE OLIVER’S GREAT BRITAIN (Hyperion Books, 2012, 402 pages, $39.95 CAN hard covers) has 130 of this well-known celebrity TV chef’s fave British recipes, ranging from comfort food to new classics. This is mainly home cooking, based on his parents’ gastropub where he grew up. The publisher says that it’s supposed to be his first cookbook which focuses on the home. It is well-illustrated with over 1000 photos, and covers breakfasts through soup, salad, “pub grub”, afternoon tea, pies, puddings, Sunday lunch, and wild food such as seared venison loin with Scottish risotto and golden pheasant hash. Vegetarian recipes are marked with a “V”.
THE ESSENTIAL JAMES BEARD COOKBOOK (St. Martin’s Press, 2012, 380 pages, $40 CAN hard bound) is a collection of some 450 recipes that shaped the tradition of North American cooking. Know as the Dean of American Cooking, Beard was a presence on the culinary landscape for 50 years. This fat volume, with double columns and mercifully no pictures, gives us some of his best recipes, sorted into categories such as soups, salads, game, fish, eggs, pasta, veggies, grains, yeast and quick breads, and desserts. There’s introductory material about the man, but just a little to connect him to most of these recipes through a few recipe head-notes. This is an engaging book that can serve as a primer for how we cooked over the years.
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.”