by Mallory Viscardi in Books, December 5th, 2014
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, November 29th, 2014
“If you can make a cake or a batch of cookies using a mix, you can surely bake something from scratch!” This is the premise of Kamran Siddiqi’s new cookbook, Hand Made Baking, and the simple, delightful, classic recipes in the book deliver on that promise. Siddiqi’s goal is to set even the most-timid home baker up for culinary success with easy-to-follow and fun-to-make dishes. Everything in Hand Made Baking, from the friendly headnotes to the luscious images, draws you in and compels you to head straight for the kitchen. Classic Cream Scones and Lemon-Poppy Seed Drizzle Cake (recipe linked below for you to try at home) dare you not to crave them. The Cinnamon-Raisin Granola wants to be your new go-to breakfast. Jammy Linzer Cookies are the perfect sweet treat to make this holiday season.
Siddiqi shared with us several tips to ensure success when baking from scratch. “My first tip, though quite obvious to most, is to read the recipe first; this helps any confusion later on.” He added, “Learn how to measure flour properly. Proper measurement of flour is crucial in baking, and not doing so can lead to lackluster baked goods. A pretty standard way to measure flour is the ‘fluff, pour, and sweep’ method, which I talk about in detail in the ‘Before You Begin’ chapter of my book.” If you’re just starting out baking from scratch, Siddiqi recommends his Nancy Drew Blondies, the Everyday Chocolate Cake and the New York-Style Bagels as a jumping-off point. And with the holidays coming up, Siddiqi said his family and friends always request the Pistachio Polvorones, the Molasses Spice Cookies, Forgetabout it Cinnamon Rolls (perfect on Christmas morning), Cranberry and Almond Coconut Macaroons, and the Chocolate Pudding Pie. The reality is there’s not a bad recipe in the book, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it again and again.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, November 21st, 2014
Michael Ruhlman’s newest cookbook, How to Roast, is here to bring the magic back to holiday cooking. Slated to be the first in a series of technique-specific cookbooks, How to Roast takes you through the history of and variations on roasting, one of the oldest forms of cooking. The book reads easily, laced with Ruhlman’s signature wit and humor, and his efficient approach to cooking translates nicely here. He gives you all the information you want without making you feel like he’s telling you too much, or taking too much of your time. It’s beautifully concise while remaining descriptive enough to whet your appetite for roasting.
The book starts with an introduction that lays out a quick history of roasting, then jumps right into chapters on The Basics, The Recipes, and Equipment and Tools. The Basics covers the technical side of roasting, from what Ruhlman means when he says “high heat” versus “medium heat” to various kinds of specialty roasting, like spit roasting and smoke roasting. Then you move on to The Recipes, a chapter that includes iconic dishes like Roasted Chicken and includes step-by-step tutorials for skills that are a little more complicated, like how to properly truss that chicken up before you pop it in the oven. But Ruhlman doesn’t stick solely to the classics. You’ll find recipes for roasted dishes that range from Roasted Shellfish with Tarragon and Thyme Broth to Broccoli with Garlic to Roasted Tomato Sauce. He even sidles up to the sweeter side of the technique with dishes like Roasted Peaches with Creme Fraiche and Mint (recipe below for you to try at home).
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, November 14th, 2014
The holiday season is here and it’s time to make room on the shelf for books that will make holiday menu planning easy and fun. Rick Rodgers’ The Big Book of Sides is the perfect answer to everything from your most-elaborate holiday meals to your year-round weeknight family dinners.
The book is broken down into sections based on ingredients and preparation method, starting with Getting It to the Table, then covering Eat Your Vegetables, From the Root Cellar, A Hill of Beans and others. It’s a brilliant layout, making it easy for you to select a recipe based on what you’ve already got in the pantry or the refrigerator. The book boasts over 450 recipes, which means you’ll never be left scrambling to come up with a new way to serve potatoes again. It covers everything from classics, like Potato Rolls, from-scratch Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese, and Potato and Fennel Gratin to new favorites, like Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup and Carrot Ribbons with Pomegranate Dressing (recipe below for you to try at home). The Getting It to the Table chapter even includes comprehensive menus for all your special occasions, from Old-Fashioned to New-Fashioned Thanksgivings, to a New Year’s Day Open House, to a Sunday Roast Pork Dinner.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, November 11th, 2014
Long-hailed as the queen of American baking, Rose Levy Beranbaum is back in the spotlight with her new book, The Baking Bible. Beranbaum’s steady voice and seasoned hand is the perfect guide for any home cook, regardless of skill level. In fact, what you’ll find in the pages of The Baking Bible far exceed standard recipes. Beranbaum intentionally loaded as much information as she could into each recipe, telling FN Dish: “Some people at first glance perceive my recipes as intimidating because they are long, but on the contrary, they have all the information needed to achieve success. Guidance is given for each step of the recipe so that they work for beginners as well as advanced bakers.”
The book covers every type of baked good imaginable, from rugelach to cupcakes to cheese course pairings. It starts with Cakes, then covers Pies, Tarts and Other Pastries; Cookies and Candy; and ends with Breads and Yeast Pastries. Each section has numerous subcategories, all clearly identified and simple to follow. It makes finding the exact recipe you’re looking for easy as pie. It also contains Beranbaum’s Golden Rules, perfect baking mantras to bring into the kitchen at any skill level. Beranbaum offers two crucial tips that home cooks tend to overlook: “Weighing is not only more precise, it is faster and easier. Many affordable scales are available that switch back and forth from ounces to grams. Beginning bakers should know that they need to use the exact ingredients specified in the recipe and not try to substitute unless substitutions or equivalencies are offered in the book. Oven temperature is critical to the success of baking, so if recipes are taking longer or less time than the range indicated, the oven needs to be adjusted either by turning up or down the heat or calling in a professional to calibrate the oven.”
But don’t mistake the book’s heft and content for a collection of complicated recipes. Beranbaum wrote these dishes up with the busy home baker in mind. Some of her favorite low-fuss recipes include the Chocolate Sweetheart Madeleines, the Cadillac Milk Chocolate Bread Pudding, the Stilton Baby Blue Cheesecakes and the Rose Red Velvet Cake, which Beranbaum says “has a major wow factor because it looks like it was sculpted by hand but is actually formed by the pan itself and easy as can be.”
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, November 7th, 2014
Jessica Merchant has worked her vibrant magic and captured the charm and humor of her blog, How Sweet Eats, in her new cookbook, Seriously Delish. The book delivers on the promise of the title, and within the bright pages you’ll find 150 recipes that you’ll want to make again and again.
The book is broken down into sections based on course, starting with Breakfast, then moving on to Snack Time, Vegetable-like Things and more. The dishes are fun and filling, with delightful twists here and there, infused with Merchant’s signature pizzazz. She layers flavors together in interesting and delicious ways, and the photographs are enough to make your stomach rumble. The Grilled Gouda, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese with a Potato Soup Dipper is going to jump onto your list of favorite winter comfort foods. The Wedge Salad with Pomegranates, Chives and Toasted Almonds is a perfect (and perfectly beautiful) salad for holiday season entertaining, with its bright little fruit jewels and Merchant’s homemade Parmesan Ranch Dressing. The selection of tacos, taquitos and enchiladas is also perfect if you’re expecting a crowd this holiday season. The recipes yield a lot of flavor and a lot of servings, perfect for when you’re entertaining. And the desserts! They’re everything you’d expect from the How Sweet Eats creator, from the Fleur de Sel Caramel Bourbon Brownie Milk Shakes to the Mocha Coconut Tiramisu and the Chocolate and Peanut Butter Lover’s Brownies. Pick any dish in the book; you can’t go wrong.
When it comes to arranging a holiday menu, Merchant has tried-and-true advice for you: “Don’t stray too much from traditional meals. I find that most people want the nostalgic tastes of the holiday — and those can be taken away by changing every dish. I find that incorporating one or two different dishes each year and keeping the majority of traditional favorites is a way to keep everyone happy.” And her rule for staying sane and enjoying the holiday feast, even if she has to do most of the cooking is easy: “Prep ahead! It may sound cliche, but it’s the key to enjoying yourself on the holiday. Order a fresh turkey a few weeks before, make your shopping list and shop as early as you can, grabbing the freshest produce the day before. Set the table a week ahead of time and prep as many dishes or chop as much produce as you can. Elicit the help of others so you can enjoy the day too!”
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, October 31st, 2014
Rachel 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.”
by Guest Blogger in Books, October 30th, 2014
Mark 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.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, October 24th, 2014
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.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, October 17th, 2014
Sean 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.
Dominique 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.