All Posts In Books

My Little French Kitchen — Off the Shelf

by in Books, November 7th, 2014

My Little French KitchenRachel Khoo’s new cookbook, My Little French Kitchen, is a delicious breath of fresh air. A regional culinary tour of France, Khoo’s cookbook explores beyond her Parisian stomping grounds to reveal to readers all the hidden gems and treats France’s varied terrains and landscapes have to offer the palate.

The book is a hybrid diary and recipe collecting, and Khoo’s bright voice carries you through each region of France in an enchanting, inquisitive way. The first thing you’ll notice about the recipes is how uncomplicated they are. Khoo says it’s a misconception that French food has to be daunting or complicated to prepare, and her recipes are proof of that.

The tour starts in Brittany, then travels to Bordeaux, Basque, Provence, Lyon and finally ends in Alsace. The food offerings from each are captivating. France’s flavors bloom to life in her Red Wine Roast Chicken from Bordeaux, a simple dish that embodies the French food philosophy: Use local, fresh ingredients to make easy, classic dishes. Her travels reveal the surprising infusions you’ll find innate to France’s borders: Nicois Cannelloni from the French Mediterranean coast, inspired by the region in Provence where France and Italy meet. Or get a taste of the Basque coast with Pork and Clams with Cider and Lima Beans. Though she says it’s incredibly difficult to pick a standout region that surprised and delighted her the most, Khoo admits that Basque holds a special place in her heart, saying: “The Basque region with its laid back surfer attitude (Biarritz on the Atlantic coast is a surfers paradise) and influence from its neighbor, Spain, was the region I enjoyed the most. I loved the little pintxos (Basque tapas) bars you could find tucked in the side streets of Biarritz but also the rugged countryside where you could spot pigs (they are famous for Bayonne ham) grazing.”

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How to Cook Everything Fast — Off the Shelf

by in Books, October 31st, 2014

How to Cook Everything FastMark Bittman is back, and he’s about to revolutionize the way you eat dinner (again). In his newest cookbook, How to Cook Everything Fast, Bittman promises a better way to cook great food, and he certainly delivers.

The book starts with an introductory section and an overview (The Fast Kitchen) that is a culinary treasure trove of kitchen tips. It features everything from how to use to book to insights on families cooking together. It contains the last shopping list you’ll ever need, complete with details and notes on the ingredients and instructions for their proper storage. He also dispels the need (and the reasoning) for extensive mise en place right up front. The idea is to cook smarter and save yourself time by consolidating steps within the recipe.

Sound confusing? It really couldn’t be simpler to follow, thanks to Bittman’s new recipe layout. In easy-to-follow (color-coded) instructions, Bittman separates cooking actions and prep actions to keep you moving quickly and smoothly through each recipe, without clunky overuse of the word “meanwhile.” The book is broken down into sections featuring Main Dishes and Simpler, Smaller Dishes. Each Main Dish recipe gives suggestions for variations as well as immensely helpful suggestions for side dish pairings. And don’t be fooled; just because the recipes are simple doesn’t mean they aren’t absolutely mouthwatering. Bittman is known for his inventive, practical approach to layering flavors together, and one bite of the Broken Won Ton Soup, Skillet Meat Loaf or Broiled Ziti and you’ll see for yourself. Better yet, try the Fastest Chicken Parmesan at home (recipe below). The book is your one-stop shop for quick, easy, delicious meals, perfect for busy weeknights and activity-filled weekend days and busy families. How to Cook Everything Fast is on sale now, and you can order your copy here.

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Cookbooks for Candy (Yes, Candy)

by in Books, October 30th, 2014

Cookbooks for Candy (Yes, Candy)By Michelle Park

The last couple months of the year are packed with excuses to consume ridiculous amounts of sweets. Why not take full advantage of the season’s sugary spirit and make your own? Homemade candy is a great party trick, and it’s surprisingly straightforward. If you have reservations about thermometers and molten sugar, fear not — the well-versed duos behind this month’s picks will have you caramelizing with confidence.

1. The Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook by Liz Gutman and Jen King
Gutman and King, co-founders of the Brooklyn-based candy company Liddabit Sweets, have a love affair with candy. It’s no small task to demystify the art of candy making for the average home cook, but their optimism is contagious. Their playful, extremely thorough cookbook starts with a three-page chart titled Speed Date the Candies, a swift tour of the 75 recipes ahead, so you can quickly find one to fit your needs, whether that’s vegan, fun to make with the kids, or “melt-in-your-mouth-y” (sic) — or all of the above (Chocolate Mint Meltaways). Candy 101 then explains everything you need to know about sugar, chocolate, cleaning, safety and essential equipment. (The equipment section is split into “musts” and “coulds,” and you might find that your kitchen is already equipped to bust out some Pecan Turtle Caramel Corn.) Because Gutman and King want you to remember that “MAKING CANDY IS FUN” from start to finish, these chapters read less like a chemistry textbook and more like a friend discussing softball sugar with you over coffee. As far as the recipes go, no secret is withheld, and they range in difficulty from easy (Buckeyes) to ambitious (Gutman and King’s signature peanut-butter-banana candy bar, aptly named The King) to ambitious and patient (Beer Pretzel Caramels). You can rest easy regardless of what you choose first; “Liz Says” and “Jen Says” bubbles pop up on every other page with additional encouragement, suggestions and troubleshooting tips, should you make any missteps.

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Heritage — Off the Shelf

by in Books, October 24th, 2014

HeritageSean Brock’s new cookbook, Heritage, is easily one of the most-anticipated books of the year. Sean Brock, the Virginia-born executive chef of Husk restaurants in Charleston, S.C., and Nashville, is quickly becoming a titan of Southern cuisine, and the dishes in this book carry his signature blend of elegance and hearty Southern charm. It should be noted right up front that Heritage is not a Husk restaurant cookbook; it’s so much deeper and more thorough than that. Heritage is an edible historical guide to Southern cuisine, and if you give it a chance, it’ll be your new favorite cookbook in no time.

The book is broken down into chapters based on where the ingredients are sourced, including The Garden, The Mill and The Yard, and the introduction includes a whole aside detailing the history of and a recipe for Low-Country Hoppin’ John. Brock also includes for his readers his Manifesto on food, but don’t be fooled: The book doesn’t read like a stuffy, overly structured culinary curriculum. The whole book reads like a love letter to the raw ingredients and agrarians of the South, and getting an inside look at Brock’s passion for preserving Southern heritage seed breeds is a real treat.

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Revealed: The Secret Recipes from Dominique Ansel You’ve Always Wanted — Off the Shelf

by in Books, October 17th, 2014

Dominique Ansel: The Secret RecipesDominique Ansel made his mark on the dessert world with the invention of the Cronut and its subsequent and meteoric rise to culinary fame. He’s been lauded as the Willy Wonka of modern pastry, and, flipping through the pages of his new cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes, it’s not hard to see why. The book is fun, imaginative and innovative. Ansel’s penchant for playing with food is written into every recipe, and when you bring this book into your kitchen, you’re unlocking delicious possibilities for you and your family.

The book begins with a foreword by Daniel Boulud and an introduction by Ansel himself. Then seven chapters cover the tenets on which he rests his baking philosophies: Time is an ingredient; Beyond the comfort zone; Don’t listen; What’s in a name?; Create and re-create; Everything but the flavor; and Never run out of ideas. After that come the recipes, separated into sections based on difficulty: beginners, intermediate and advanced. The book closes with a section on additional techniques called for in the recipes, skills like cooking custard, tempering chocolate and piping.

Ansel’s tour through his approach to pastry is fascinating. The insight he lends to his inspirations and process for developing new, innovative desserts is enthralling. Take, for example, the casual retelling of how the Popcorn Chouquettes came to be: He was inspired by customers who came into his bakery late and wanted a snack that they could enjoy while watching a movie they were en route to catch. A light bulb switched on and a new treat was born. The recipes are a lovely mix of classic favorites (like the Mini Madeleines, the Cannelé de Bordeaux, the Pink Champagne Macarons and the Mini Mes meringues) and inspired new bites (like the Ibérico and Mahon Croissant, the Frozen S’mores and the Angry Egg, which resembles an adorable popular mobile-phone game character). Give the Chocolate Pecan Cookies a try at home (recipe below) and make some magic for yourself. Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes goes on sale October 28. You can preorder your copy here.

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Plenty More — Off the Shelf

by in Books, October 10th, 2014

Plenty More CookbookYotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, Plenty More, could very well be one of the most-anticipated books of the year. It’s not hard to see why. The book is gorgeous, and the recipes will change the way you approach eating vegetables — taking them from simple side dishes and turning them into stars worthy of center plate. Expectations for Plenty More were high, and Ottolenghi exceeded them at every turn.

The introduction is touching and endearing, as Ottolenghi pulls back the curtain on his hesitation to be pegged as a chef that specializes in vegetables. With his restaurant and in his other books, Ottolenghi has made it apparent he’s capable of much more than a delicious vegetable dish, but the way he plays in the vegetarian space is nothing short of enchanting.

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Homemade Decadence — Off the Shelf

by in Books, October 3rd, 2014

Homemade Decadence - Off the ShelfJoy Wilson (of Joy the Baker) is back with a new cookbook, Homemade Decadence. Joy’s signature spunk and personality are all but effervescent in this newest collection of recipes.

The book separates the recipes into Brunch, Cookies, Brownies and Bars, Pies, Crumbles and Cobblers, Layer Cakes, Cupcakes and Skillet Cakes, and Ice Cream Social. The recipes are a mix of classic favorites and new spins on tried-and-true dishes. Mix up your next brunch with Hawaiian Sweet Pineapple Breakfast Rolls or keep things simple with Vanilla Sugar Donuts; you can’t go wrong either way. Tickle your sweet tooth with something new, like Buttered Popcorn Crispy Treats, or stick with something more familiar, like the Classic Lemon Bar. Or maybe you want something a little more refined, like the Peach, Brie and Dark Chocolate S’mores.

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The Slanted Door — Off the Shelf

by in Books, September 26th, 2014

The Slanted Door - Off the ShelfThere are so many wonderful things to say about Charles Phan’s new cookbook, The Slanted Door, it’s almost impossible to pick a place to start. The Slanted Door tells the tale of the San Francisco restaurant of the same name through its storied 20-year history. It follows Phan and his beloved eating establishment as he built it, brick by brick and dish by dish, taking The Slanted Door through three locations in the City by the Bay. The pages are ripe with bright stories, honesty about the struggles that come with starting and maintaining a restaurant, and a rich appreciation for elegant food, wine, tea and cocktails.

The book is broken down into acts of the restaurant’s history, highlighting dishes as they became popular at each of the establishment’s locations. Act One is from Valencia Street in the Mission. Act Two features dishes from the Brannan Street location. Act Three features dishes from The Slanted Door’s final and permanent home, The Ferry Building. Within each location-based act, you’ll find select recipes from the restaurant’s menu, including starters, cocktails, the raw bar, salads, soups, mains and desserts. It also includes essays about how the tea, wine and cocktail programs were all developed to give customers the best possible dining experience.

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Flour + Water — Off the Shelf

by in Books, September 19th, 2014

Flour + Water CookbookFlour + Water by Thomas McNaughton is the ideal cookbook for the home cook who loves a good food story and wants to give homemade past a try. The book features recipes from the renowned Flour + Water restaurant in San Francisco, along with the history of the establishment. It perfectly captures the thought and detail that go into opening and running a restaurant, and building a seasonal menu from the ground up.

The book sings with the possibility of turning inspiration into actualized dreams, and that’s what sets it apart as a restaurant cookbook. It beckons readers to step into their kitchen with their pasta makers and do the same: Have a little culinary adventure inspired by seasonal ingredients. The prose stops just short of being whimsical, an enjoyable mix of good-humored practicality and well-timed comedy. McNaughton takes you step by step and story by story through the launch process for Flour + Water, tying details of the restaurant and menu tightly together with their local and global inspirations in the pages of the book.

As is usually the case when talking about pasta, the recipes will bowl you over with their variety and deliciousness. The majority of the storytelling takes place in the introductions of the book (there are three, each more entertaining than the last). Then it gets down to business with sections for dough and composed recipes. The dough section takes you through the heritage and science of pasta making, and features stunning photo tutorials, easy-to-follow instructions and even an email address you can message if you have questions. It covers everything from equipment to how to cook fresh pasta, and you’ll be crazy with cravings before you crack a single egg thanks to Eric Wolfinger’s immaculate photographs.

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Tacolicious — Off the Shelf

by in Books, September 12th, 2014

Tacolicious CookbookSara Deseran’s Tacolicious is a fiesta cleverly disguised as a bright, colorful cookbook. The book is inspired by the heart of the menu of the collection of taquerias in San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif. of the same name: tacos, snacks and cocktails.

The recipes you’ll find are admittedly a mix of authentic Mexican cuisine and Californian variations on Mexican-American dishes. The book is broken into themed chapters, starting with Salsas, Pickles and More, then focusing on Snacks and Sides, Tacos, Tacos and Tacos, and finishing with Cocktails, Aguas Frescas and More. Peppered throughout the book are fantastic factual tidbits that reveal the deep roots of the food’s heritage, as well as tips and tricks that make the recipes easier to execute. Tucked into these little asides you’ll find everything from tips for cooking beans to an in-depth look at corn tortillas and a comprehensive guide to quick and easy taco dinner recipes. The book has all the information you need to cook delicious Mexican-style food at home, regardless of your past experience with the cuisine.

Deseran also introduces you to vendors that have become friends, the chefs and bartenders that keep their eatery running, and a colorful assortment of characters that bring life to the restaurant and the pages of the book. The recipes in Tacolicious feel like they’re meant to be shared among friends and family (like the Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Taco, recipe shared below). This cookbook is perfect for the busy home cook who wants vibrant, flavorful, fuss-free food. You can order your copy here.

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