Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Favorite Books of 2016

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo

Just One Damned Thing After Another, the first book in The Chronicles of St. Mary's series by Jodi Taylor

Conclave by Robert Harris

Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley

Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens


Friday, November 4, 2016

Review: Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre

Nourishing Meals is a revised edition of Segersten and Malterre's very popular self-published book of the same name.  This is a comprehensive cookbook that covers recipes made of whole foods that are as allergen-free as possible.  All of the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, and most of them are vegetarian, while many are vegan.  There is meat in here, but not a huge amount.  I do not have identified food allergies, and I don't think this book is by any means only for those who do.  The food in here is more than anything healthy for your body and for the environment.  I think this is actually a book that is equally useful for helping people without allergies to eat more whole foods.  The recipes are simple and delicious-sounding.  They cover a wide range of flavors from around the world.  The recipes are easy and short, and while there are some ingredients that most people probably don't have in their pantries (coconut sugar, buckwheat flour, sprouted brown rice flour), it is by no means over-the-top.  All of these ingredients can be purchased from a place like Whole Foods or online. The book includes a section on stocking your pantry with these kinds of ingredients, and once you have them, these recipes are pretty simple.  In addition to the large number of recipes, there is a ton of information on dealing with ingredients ("kitchen tips" and "ingredient tips," like how best to cut corn from the cob, how to make hazelnut meal, and a lot of ingredient swaps), and on the research behind the health benefits that the authors discuss.  There are also lists of easy breakfast ideas, tips for salad dressings and sauces, how to add more vegetables to your child's diet, tips for storing fresh produce, etc.  Just a few recipes that caught my eye: Raw Breakfast Tacos, Coconut Flour Flatbreads, Date and Walnut Cinnamon-Swirl Muffins, Jalapeño-Lime Kale Slaw, Chipotle Yam Fries, Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions, Curried Lentil and Rice Casserole, and Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables! by Peter Meehan

The latest cookbook from the maverick food magazine, Lucky Peach, is all about vegetables.  Unsurprisingly, given the general Lucky Peach culture, this book is not, however, vegetarian, let alone vegan.  There is very little meat in the recipes to be sure, but there is a fair amount of fish products.  There is also a good amount of veiled and not-so-veiled distaste for veganism and vegetarianism.  I am fine with cookbooks about vegetables not being vegetarian, but I find the negative attitude towards vegetarianism/veganism to be unnecessary.  It doesn't come as a surprise, since the general Lucky Peach attitude is rather macho and satirical.  It seems, though, somewhat retrograde to be still making fun of vegetarianism and veganism, given that they have become pretty mainstream diets in the last decade or so.  That being said, there were a lot of fun and innovative recipes for dishes that heavily focus on vegetables.  I also like that the recipes reflect a modern attitude towards what used to be called "ethnic food."  That is to say that there are dishes inspired by food from all over the world, but these recipes aren't ghettoized as exotic or ethnic.  They're just delicious recipes.  The recipes are also fun to read, as there are little irreverent details all over the place.  The French Onion Soup recipe, for instance, includes in the ingredients list the following: "6 C Brown Vegetable Stock (page 128) or some lesser concoction, warmed."  The Lucky Peach people have a lot of powerful friends, so many of the recipes are borrowed from popular places in NYC.  Recipes that look fun/delicious include: Hummus (with miso), Saucy Fried Tofu or Vaguely Korean Watercress-Apple Salad, Buffalo Cucumbers, Zuni Spicy Broccoli and Cauliflower, Roasted Squash with Pipián Sauce, Tofu Coney Island (tofu fries with miso mushroom chili), and McAloo Tikki Sandwich. This is a light-hearted and original cookbook with a bit of an attitude.  I should also mention that it includes intentionally ugly photography, like the cover, which is meant to reference 90s infomercial graphics.

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cookbook Review: Soframiz by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick

Soframiz is a cookbook by Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick, of Sofra Bakery & Cafe, a Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This is a gorgeous book, and as you can tell from the cover, the photography and graphic design are excellent.  All of the food is photographed from directly above, and as we all know from Instagram food porn, this is the easiest way to make your food look good.  But the food and accessory styling is top-notch, so the quality of the photographs is great.  In other words, Soframiz makes a great coffee table book, full of gorgeous photos of mouth-watering food.  But that being said, the recipes are totally doable, and very well-written and clear.  The book includes definitions of terms and ingredients that might not be familiar to  most Americans.  I should also point out that the food is Middle Eastern in flavors and inspiration for the most part, but the authors have added their own twists to traditional recipes.  For instance, there's a recipe for "Nana's Pumpkin Bread" thrown in there somewhat randomly, and I far as I know, pumpkin bread is not a Middle Eastern thing.  There are also Pistachio Toaster Pastries with Rose Water Glaze (the fanciest Pop Tarts of all time?), Tahini Brioche, Brown Butter Pie with Espresso Dates, and Green Apple Fatoush.  More traditional dishes like Shakshuka (eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce), Kunefe (a really delicious dessert sweet cheese pastry with shredded wheat on the top--I know it sounds bizarre, but it is so good), Boraks, and of course, Hummus, are included as well, and they all include the authors' special takes on these classic recipes.  This is a beautiful and original cookbook.
(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)


Monday, October 3, 2016

Book Review: Martha Stewart's Vegetables

The newest book from Martha Stewart is all about dishes that have vegetables as their main ingredients.  This is not a vegetarian cookbook, and it is not all side dishes.  There are even a few desserts!  Instead, it is a lovely and diverse collection of recipes arranged by the vegetable that they showcase.  Every dish is accompanied by a beautiful photograph.  Each section (based on type of vegetable, like bubbles, roots, tubers, pods, etc.) starts wth a section that discusses seasonality, varietals, and tips on storing, prepping and cooking.  The dishes are original yet not too complicated or bizarre.  Recipes that sound particularly good are Pasta Carbonara with Leeks and Lemon, Herb-and-Scallion Bread Pudding, Carrot Fries, Twice-Cooked Potato and Leek Casserole, Kale-Ricotta Dip, Kale and Avocado Salad with Dates, Green-Pea Burgers with Harissa Mayo, Cranberry Bean Salad with Delicate Squash and Broccoli Rabe, Garden Greens with Chopped Eggs, Fig and Arugula Crostini, Smoky Brussels Sprouts Gratin, Goat Cheese with Edible Flowers and Arugula, Roasted Broccoli with Grated Manchego, Breaded Eggplant with Arugula and Parmesan, Roasted-Tomato Hand Pies, Pistachio Guacamole, and Corn and Scallion Chilaquiles.  

(I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.)