by Mallory Viscardi in Books, August 15th, 2014
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, August 8th, 2014
Opening The Soda Fountain by Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman is like taking a step back in American culinary history. The book takes you on a fascinating tour of the American soda fountain, a traditional establishment that has roots far deeper than a lot of the cola drinkers and ice cream lovers of today realize. It hits the mark of being “a slice of history with a double scoop of how-to.”
The Soda Fountain is divided into two primary sections, Stories and Recipes. The Stories chapters take you through the evolution of the soda fountain as an American culinary institution, from its first days as a pharmacy staple (yes, you read that right) through its Golden Age and into the Great Depression, right on to its second coming in small shops around the country. The stories are fun and charming, featuring tales of jazz and Prohibition. You get the sense as you flip through the pages that Giasullo and Freeman love and respect American food history as much as they appreciate a well-made ice cream float.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, August 1st, 2014
Libbie Summers approaches cooking like a fun adventure, and Sweet and Vicious bursts with color, excitement and inspiration. Her mantras leap right off the page and snare your attention: Welcome the unexpected. Be fearless. Have fun. Be creative.
The book promises right in the introduction that the recipes are melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and they do not disappoint. Summers approach to baking is layering flavors together, some that you’re familiar with, and some that will delight and surprise you from the first bite to the last. Sweet and Vicious breaks the baking into chapters on cakes, sweet breads and pastries, savory breads, pies, cookies, canine goods and secret weapons. That’s right: There’s a whole section featuring treats for your furry friends (and my own pup can attest that these recipes are something special).
The section entitled Secret Weapons is the one that really stands out and brings it all together. Libbie gives you recipes for myriad extracts, the essences that take the layered flavors in her recipes to the next level. You’ll also find a handful of especially wonderful drink recipes tucked in there, along with some infused sugar recipes and a frosting guide. Secret Weapons elevates recipes like the Hot Spiced Donut Holes (below) or the Salvation Cinnamon Rolls or the Lemonhead Cake. Sweet and Vicious also contains a lot of supplemental content that you can find on Libbie’s site. You can order a copy of Sweet and Vicious here.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, July 25th, 2014
If you have a family to feed, I have the cookbook for you. Laurie David’s The Family Cooks was written with the goal of assembling delicious, nutritious meals that will keep everyone at your table full and happy, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I think it knocked it right out of the park.
Overall, the most-enjoyable thing about the book is its empowering message and tone. It encourages readers to take their family’s food choices into their own hands. It gives you all the information you need to make delicious snacks, meals and treats at home. The recipes are sympathetic to both the time and budget constraints many families face today without shortchanging flavor. It has a fail-safe guide to get you in and out of the grocery store in one piece, an ingredient rundown that’ll have you cooking with more flavors in no time, and a buy-and-store guide that’ll help you cut down the amount of food you purchase and then discard because it’s past its prime. The recipes in the book are broken down by course, starting with breakfast and working through lunch, soups and salads, dinner, snacks and drinks, sides, condiments, and sweets.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, July 18th, 2014
There are countless ways to enjoy summer produce, and FN Dish has touched on a lot of them in Off the Shelf (I’m looking at you, Corn and Zucchini Fritters and Peach Jam with Sriracha). One that we haven’t addressed yet is juicing, and that’s because until this week the right book hadn’t come along. Juice by Carly de Castro, Hedi Gores and Hayden Slater (founders of the Pressed Juicery) came out this week and it’s the book you’ve been waiting for if you’ve ever been curious about layering fresh juice into your weekly food routine.
The three entrepreneurs love their juice drinks, and their excitement for what they do shines through each page of the book. Never before has juicing looked more delectable; the flavor combinations they present are so tempting you almost feel like you’re getting away with something when you enjoy them. This book stands apart because it explains the technical side of juicing in simple, inviting language no matter how much or how little experience you have with the process. You can start at the beginning and build your juicing regimen from scratch, or hop in at the middle with Juice’s huge selection of bright, enticing flavor combinations and suggestions. The recipe sections are broken down into chapters on greens, roots and citrus, and each section contains a wide selection of recipes and flavor combinations for you to try. It also has chapters on nut milks, sweet sips, savory and spicy juices, smoothies, flavored waters and elixirs, and more.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, July 11th, 2014
Rawia Bishara’s new cookbook, Olives, Lemons & Za’atar, keeps the family in mind. Like so many home cooks I know, it’s clear through Bishara’s stories and recipes that her food comes from a place of love for feeding family.
Though the finished dishes are foreign and exotic, they ring with notes of familiarity. She builds flavors using ingredients you already know and love (and probably already have in your pantry) as the foundation, then dresses them with a Middle Eastern finish you can’t resist.
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by Mallory Viscardi in Books, July 4th, 2014
Cookbooks written by people who are passionate about their work are the best cookbooks. It’s in this spirit that I present Tom Mylan’s The Meat Hook Meat Book. Mylan is one-third of the braintrust behind The Meat Hook, a little butcher shop with big personality tucked below the Brooklyn Queens Expressway in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This book is meaty (pun intended). It has everything you need to know about how to select, order, prepare and enjoy great meat — plain and simple. The book overflows with mouthwatering recipes, thoughtfully funny anecdotes and an insider’s look at the art and craft of butchery. Mylan’s wit weaves itself through every chapter, making it an exceptionally fun read.
The deeper into it you dig, the more apparent it becomes that The Meat Hook Meat Book is more than a collection of recipes. If you want to learn about different cuts and how to cook them, this is the book for you. If you’re curious about grilling, smoking, roasting and braising, this is the book for you. If you just want to plan your weekly meals with the confidence of knowing you know how to make the perfect roast chicken, pork chop or steak every time, this is the book for you. If you just want a little more confidence when ordering from your local butcher shop or supermarket butcher counter, this is the book for you. Mylan has thrown open the door to the secret world of a butcher’s life and invited you in for supper.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, June 27th, 2014
A different pie for every week of the year is a concept that I can get behind. That’s the idea that drives Allison Kave’s First Prize Pies, and the book is a perfectly balanced year of pie possibility. Pie is known for its finicky nature, but Kave sets readers up for success with a thorough rundown of everything you need to make an exceptional pie, from equipment to ingredients. There are step-by-step photo guides for skills that require a little more explanation, like how to peel stone fruit for the Sugar Plum Pie and how to ace your marshmallow topping for the S’mores Pie. Kave tells you everything you need to know about assembling her pies, making this the perfect book for a home cook who hasn’t ventured too far into the land of pies from scratch.
The book’s seasonal recipes feature classics you crave like Apple-Cheddar Pie, Key Lime Pie and Pumpkin Spice Pie. But it colors outside the lines a bit, too, mixing up flavor combinations with recipes like Eggnog Cream Pie in a Gingersnap Crust, Mint Julep Cream Pie and Root Beer Float Pie. There are enough pie recipes in the book to cover each week of the year (and then some!), so you can think of it as a long-term investment in your culinary happiness. Kave balances the recipes to be practical too. There’s a vegan-friendly You-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Vegan Chocolate-Coconut Pie that everyone at the table will love and a no-bake Banana Split Ice Cream Pie (recipe featured below), which is perfect for the summer months when it’s just too hot to spend hours in a kitchen with your oven blazing. Even summer’s heat is no match for a pie made of ice cream. You can order your own copy of First Prize Pies here.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, June 20th, 2014
Seasonal cooking has become a household idea over the past couple of years, and it’s not hard to understand why. This rings especially true as summer heats up with lush promises of fresh produce. Admittedly, there are a lot of good seasonal-produce cookbooks that really do a spectacular job of highlighting the potential nestled within the freshest seasonal fruits and vegetables, but this year I’m especially taken with Kimberley Hasselbrink’s Vibrant Food.
Vibrant Food takes an artistic approach to building dishes around seasonal ingredients, but not in a way that makes the recipes difficult. (Usually when someone approaches food “artistically,” it can get quite complicated quite quickly. That’s not the case here.) Much to the contrary, the dishes are bright, delightful and striking both in beauty and in flavor. The vibrant colors are as well-balanced as the fresh, crisp flavors that fans of good food appreciate and expect as they eat their way through the seasons. Put simply, the book is gorgeous and the recipes are delicious.
by Mallory Viscardi in Books, June 13th, 2014
The delightful thing about David Lebovitz’s writing is his ability to make even the most-intimidating foreign cuisine seem approachable and familiar. French cuisine can be overwhelming, especially for home cooks. It’s renowned for its heritage of precision, its delicate balance of flavors and its unwavering high standards for taste and presentation. That’s great for a major holiday dinner, but who has time for fussy food in the middle of the week?
My Paris Kitchen took me by surprise with how unpretentious and inviting its recipes are. Crack open the book to any page and it’s not hard to imagine David taking you calmly by the elbow and strolling you down a Parisian street and into his favorite cheese shop, where you discover how fascinating (and delicious!) seasonal cheeses can be. His style of writing is relaxed, conversational and friendly. You’re just hanging out with a friend, chatting about adding ice to wine, the virtues of a good mortar and pestle, and the miracle that is a perfectly ripe cherry tomato.
The other little something special that sets My Paris Kitchen apart is the fact that some recipes are basic and other recipes will gently guide you outside your culinary comfort zone. David’s inviting writing is almost misleading, in that you’ll be halfway through a recipe you once thought to be way beyond your skill level before you realize how simple French cooking can be if you have the right teacher. And that’s the mark of an exceptional cookbook: It doesn’t just give you better recipes; it helps you become a better cook.
Marisa McClellan’s newest book, Preserving by the Pint, is a love letter to small-batch preservers of all levels of experience. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at preserving but were too overwhelmed by all the details and chemistry involved, Marisa is here to help you get your feet wet. At the same time, her inspired flavor combinations are fresh and creative, perfect for experienced canners looking to change up their seasonal preserving roster. My favorite thing about her recipes is that they’re incredibly approachable. The chapters are organized by season, making the book easy to browse and navigate. The recipes call for small quantities of seasonal produce, which I found makes them pleasantly, almost surprisingly, affordable. Her recipes are quick and easy to put together, and they pack huge flavors into tiny containers.
Marisa captures the bright, hopeful flavors of spring, the warm, sun-kissed flavors of summer, the earthy, deep flavors of autumn and the rustic, hearty taste of winter. If you’ve ever found yourself wistfully wishing you could bottle the magic of summer sunshine, give the Peach Jam with Sriracha recipe (below) a try. One taste and you’ll agree that it’s summertime in a jar. I’m not one to wish away the summer days, but I do look forward to the cold January evening when I pull a jar of this off the shelf and treat myself to a tropical vacation with breakfast.