We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

Live! from Marilyn's Kitchen by Marilyn Harris (Pelican Publishing Company) Marilyn Harris has answered the phone for thousands of radio listeners as the "cooking lady with a twinkle in her voice" on WKRC 550 AM in Cincinnati . Live! from Marilyn's Kitchen brings together more than 200 of her favorite recipes, from the simplest appetizers to the most sophisticated main dishes and absolutely luscious desserts. Direct from the kitchen of this acclaimed radio personality, columnist, food consultant, and cooking teacher, this is a collection of diverse and exciting recipes served up with culinary insight and stovetop wisdom.

Marilyn Harris, a certified culinary professional member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, is a native of Mississippi and served her culinary apprenticeship in New Orleans before moving to Cincinnati . In between, she has lived and cooked in Hamburg , Berlin , Marple ( Cheshire ), and Wolfenbuttel, with stops in London , Lyon , Paris , and both coasts of the United States . In Live! from Marilyn's Kitchen, Harris provides step‑by‑step instructions and cooking tips, which are sure to inspire and give confidence to even the most amateur cook.

What I've come to treasure most about Marilyn is her refreshing take on healthful cooking one that could only come from someone whose great food instincts have been honed by the best classical training. She's one of the few food writers out there who understands that cooking lighter doesn't have to be a sacrifice, but an opportunity. Who else would think of adding a touch of lemon zest to meatloaf? Her vision leaves plain old meatloaf in the dust, fat or no fat. Marilyn's down‑home, realistic advice is something we all should live by: Moderation in all things – including moderation! – Joyce Hendley, cookbook author and contributing food editor, Weight Watchers Magazine and Eating Well Magazine

I Can Cook, You Can Cook: Simply Great Recipes by Wayne Brokke (Overlook Press) Baltimore 's favorite food personality is now gaining national recognition with his down-home style, no nonsense love of food, and recipes so simple and delicious folks everywhere will be saying: "I can cook, what he cooks!"
From his days as the proprietor of
Baltimore 's first casual restaurant to the popular Wayne 's Bar-B-Que located on the Inner Harbor , Wayne Brokke is truly an American original. He began cooking at the age of five and just never stopped. He has been a restaurateur for more than twenty years. Now, more than 150 of the recipes from Wayne ’s Chesapeake Bay Kitchen are available to anyone who wants to enjoy simple, fast, and delicious home cooking that's more than just comfort food, it's comfort for the soul.
Peppered with
Wayne 's unique anecdotes, these easy-to-follow recipes also include Wayne 's special hints for cooks that encourage experimentation and creativity. I Can Cook, You Can Cook includes outstanding soups, salads, entrees, vegetable dishes, desserts, breakfast, and cool summer drinks, as well as helpful information Wayne has learned on his lifelong cooking odyssey.

When we say simple, we mean basic, “All American” food. For example, look what the chapters include, for example,

  • Soups ( Wayne ’s White Chili, Broccoli Crab Soup)
  • Salads (Broccoli Salad, Cucumber Salad, Original Pasta Salad)
  • Entrees (Chicken Cacciatore, Ginger Pepper Steak, Wayne ’s Guinness Beef Stew)
  • Vegetables (Italian Green Peas, Roasted Potatoes, Creamed Spinach)
  • Desserts (Apple Crisp, Carrot Cake, Grandmas’s Macaroons)
  • Breakfast (Baked French Toast, Oven Shirred Eggs, Cheddar Cheese Biscuits)
  • Cool Summer Drinks ( Orange Cooler, Pink Lemonade, Frozen Hot Chocolate)

I Can Cook, You Can Cook is a useful cookbook for the enthusiastic beginning cook who wants to learn how to roast potatos and cream spinach. The last section, Things Wayne Learned Along the Way, including weights and measures, substitutions, chart for roasting, and other things Wayne learned along the way, will also help with learning the basics.

The BLT Cookbook: Our Favorite Sandwich by Michele A. Jordan (William Morrow) First there's the smoky aroma of the bacon and the sound of it sizzling. Then comes the warm yeasty, smell of bread as you slice it, and the evocative scent as it toasts. The tomato is plump, smooth, and heavy in your hand, the lettuce cool and refreshing.
Who doesn’t love a BLT? 
The BLT Cookbook, Michele Anna Jordan, prolific cookbook author, California chef, radio host and columnist, shares her passion and secrets for achieving a seductive harmony of flavors and textures that create the perfect BLT. For Jordan , the classic sandwich is just the beginning of BLT possibilities.

This cookbook began as a labor of love for Jordan, who discovered long ago that these classic sandwiches were the perfect antidote to morning sickness. While searching (a food‑lovers website) she found confirmation that many others share her passion for this simple and uniquely American sandwich.

The BLT Cookbook is a love letter to the sandwich in all of its variations, from an appetizer comprised of a cherry tomato stuffed with chopped lettuce and bacon topped with breadcrumbs and mayonnaise to BLT‑inspired risotto. The sixty mouthwatering recipes range from variations of the classic sandwich to soups, salads, and pastas, all inspired by what Jordan calls the holy trinity of tastes: acid, salt, and smoky, voluptuous pork fat. Appetizers such as BLTs on a Stick and BLT Napoleons offer great bursts of flavor in small bites while soups and salads such as Spicy Tomato Soup with Lettuce and Bacon and Bread Salad with Bacon, Tomatoes, Onions, and Olives provide more hearty fare. Serve up the Grilled BLT Kabobs at your next summer barbecue. Indulge in the tangy Watercress Soup with Currant Tomato Salsa and Bacon on a chilly afternoon. Impress your guests with the elegant Pappardelle, Bacon, and Zucchini with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette.

Has all this talk made you crave the real deal – stacked high with juicy tomatoes, crunchy bacon, and crisp lettuce? The Full-Tilt Boogie BLT will surely satisfy your hunger. In the mood for lighter fare? The Tomato Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette delivers all the flavor of the BLT in a refined context. The BLT Cookbook also provides details on how to fry bacon, slice tomatoes, and select the perfect leaf of lettuce.

Is it too much of a good thing? Me being a major BLT lover myself, answer is a clear “No.”

The World on a Plate: A Tour through the History of America's Ethnic Cuisine by Joel Denker (Westview Press) During the Depression, the Colombrosians, an Armenian family, began bottling and selling the yogurt they made on their small Massachusetts dairy farm. They labeled their bottles Columbo because nobody could pronounce their name. The Columbo story, the journey of ethnic food from exotic product to everyday item, has become legendary, and it exemplifies a common pattern.

The World on a Plate tells the story of the Colombrosians and other immigrant families who have changed and influenced our food and created a uniquely American culinary pastiche. Joel Denker, a longtime food and travel writer and scholar of American folklore, has conducted fascinating interviews with a range of ethnic-food merchants, crafting a history of our colorful food makers - the grocers, vendors, manufacturers, importers, restaurateurs - and the products they have given us. Decker traces the colorful culinary history of immigrants and the impact that their native foods and unique neighborhoods – from New York City 's Lower East Side to New Orleans ' Italian Quarter – has had on American folk culture.
“We’ve spent a few decades trying to define American food, and the more we eat, the more we know that American food is ethnic food. Call it a melting pot or crazy quilt, our nation’s cuisine borrows, adapts, corrupts, and transcends the cuisines of the world. … This book is the real story behind the story of why we eat what we eat,” say food writers Jane & Michael Stern. A rather small volume, The World on a Plate is a must for food history buffs.

Pillsbury Doughboy Slow Cooker Recipes by Pillsbury Company (Clarkson Potter) These basic “crockpot” recipes are laid out one to a page to make them super-easy to follow. And, with more than sixty mouthwatering color photographs, you can almost smell the wonderful aromas!

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is a key ingredient to any good recipe. With Pillsbury Doughboy Slow Cooker Recipes—and a little bit of planning ahead—you can serve savory meals that took hours to cook and still have time to spend with the family. The Pillsbury Kitchens have double-tested each recipe in various slow cookers. The introduction is packed with helpful information, from how to adapt your favorite recipes to food safety and cooking at high altitude.
The recipes are designed to require minimal preparation with a slow cooker doing most of the work. All are one-pot meals, ready and waiting when you get home. And, as the book points out, slow cooker recipes are useful year round—in the warmer months, this small appliance won’t heat up the entire kitchen the way an oven does.
There are chapters starting with Meaty Main Dishes, like Caramelized Onion Pot Roast, and ending with Very Easy Vegetables and Sides, like family-favorite Au Gratin Potatoes and Onion. In between are Busy-Day Chicken and Turkey, with recipes like Thai Peanut Chicken, which is great for casual entertaining; Super Soups, Stews and Chilies, including Spicy Vegetarian Chili; and Slow-Cooked Sandwiches, like So-Easy Sloppy Joes.
Each of the 140 recipes includes a useful sidebar with a tip for serve-with items, suggestions on how the kids can help, or ideas to make it special. Set the table, whip up a fast salad or side dish, if you like, and sit down to a real, home-cooked meal. When a hot, hearty meal is what’s needed,
Pillsbury Doughboy Slow Cooker Recipes is just the ticket!

Church Potluck Supper Cookbook by Elaine Robinson (Adams Media Corporation) Potluck luncheons and suppers not only nourish bodies, but also souls when people come together for fellowship, community and wonderful food. Church Potluck Supper Cookbook presents more than 500 treasured recipes—soups to desserts—gathered by parson’s wife Elaine Robinson from church cooks across the country.

From Raspberry Glazed Chicken to Stuffed Green Peppers to Mint Chocolate Squares, the recipes in Church Potluck Supper Cookbook show you how to create delicious dishes to take to the next potluck event.

  • Some of the tasty recipes include:

  • Real New England Fish Chowder

  • Chilly Night Chili

  • Old Favorite Ham Loaf

  • Hummingbird Cake

  • Lemon-Strawberry Punch and Mulled Cider

Using this book, you can make mouthwatering meals perfect for any festive occasion. Anyone who enjoys the warmth of good food and the company of good people will appreciate Church Potluck Supper Cookbook.

Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, with Recipes by Amanda Hesser (Norton) Life in the city, love, and unforgettable meals—can a food writer find happiness with a man who has an empty refrigerator?

Amanda Hesser's new book, Cooking for Mr. Latte, is the tale of a romance where food is the source of discovery, discord, and delight—a universal story of good food, great company, and a mate – a modern love story, alive with the bustle of New York City.

Hesser, a food writer for the New York Times, her palate finely honed at four-star restaurants, has been set up on a blind date. He suggests they meet at a loud, unabashedly generic restaurant with mediocre bar food and a chain restaurant-like décor, much to her dismay. She braces herself for the worst. Yet this is that rare blind date where the friend-of-a-friend turns out to be funny, handsome, and smart; so when he ordered a Budweiser, she smiles & does the same. When he has a latte after dinner – definite culinary no-no – she barely blinks. Things seem to be going well, but she can’t help but worry.

At each stage of her courtship—from her first date with Mr. Latte to her first uneasy dinner at his parents' home, from intimate suppers in her Upper West Side apartment to his first attempt at cooking for her—Hesser supplies menus for the meals they share: more than one hundred well-balanced and well-seasoned recipes that leave you satisfied yet wanting more.

As the first date gives way to the second and the third, Hesser manages to turn a blind eye to Mr. Latte’s fondness for artificial sweeteners, to his description of a chicken dish as having “pork chop seasoning, “ and to the fact that his refrigerator contains only mustard, a block of unwrapped cheese, and a bottle of champagne. She has him over to dinner and he avoids the appetizers, explaining he does not like smoked fish. He has her over and she fears the worst, only to be surprised; he calmly prepares chicken in a creamy lemon-and-chutney sauce and tangy couscous seasoned with red vinegar. And on we go.

With warmth and humor, Hesser shares her feasts and foibles, triumphs and near-misses, tense encounters and good times in the kitchen and beyond. Her humorous, sensuous tale leads us date by date, recipe by recipe. Readers join her as she jets to Rome and Spain , or enjoys New York dinner parties with the likes of Tama Janowitz or a crowd of stylish young urban achievers, culminating in her own engagement party and wedding.

 Cooking for Mr. Latte is a book that effortlessly pairs the old and the new: the age-old pleasures of friendship and cooking with the passion of new love, the dizzying unpredictability of going someplace you’ve never been. This is an enticing chronicle of dating & dining – a treat for gourmands and takeout aficionados alike.

The Way We Cook : Recipes from the New American Kitchen by Sheryl Julian & Julie Riven (Houghton Mifflin) Although The Way We Cook is a first book for Julian & Riven, two friends who love to cook together & have a wildly popular Boston Globe food column, it addresses what busy people need: easy meals for the time of day when we’re most exhausted, impressive yet relaxed dinners for company, slow-cooked suppers, weekend breakfasts that leave plenty of time for reading the paper, and desserts anyone can master. Covering territory that’s been covered before, they’re doing it stylishly, with good taste & well-crafted recipes.

The Way We Cook offers over 250 recipes for simple yet attractive fare that's rooted in American home cooking but which also satisfies worldly palates. From Roast Side of Salmon to Creamy Chocolate Tart, each dish is straightforward, contemporary, and elegant: home cooking at its best. It's all here in The Way We Cook:

  • Appetizers: Spicy Pecans, Honey-Roasted Chicken Wings, Marinated Shrimp in White Wine Vinaigrette

  • Salads: Eggless Caesar Salad, Wilted Spinach Salad, Cucumber and Red Onion Salad

  • When You're in a Rush: Ten-Minute Bolognese, Pork Tenderloins with Caramelized Onions, Chicken Roasted on a Bed of Apples

  • Dishes We Make All the Time: Chicken and Corn Chili, Yankee Pot Roast with Caramelized Vegetables, Old-Fashioned Vegetable Soup

  • New Classics: Succotash with Seared Scallops, Chicken Pot Pie

  • Good Enough for Company: Her-Roasted Flattened Chicken, Ossobuco, Orange-Marinated Turkey Breast

  • Simmering Pots: Spring Garden Stew, Portuguese Chicken Stew

  • Sides: Asparagus Cooked for Two Minutes, Potato Crisps with Fresh Herbs, Casserole-Roasted Fall Vegetables

  • Rise and Dine: Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Leek and Egg Frittata

  • If You Love to Bake: Lemon Pudding Cake, Free-Form Apple Tart, Double-Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies

For the past twenty years, these two have been providing hundreds of thousands of cooks with recipes they can depend on. In this long-awaited cookbook, an essential reference for anyone who wants to get the most out of time in the kitchen, they present their absolute most favorite recipes. Julian & Riven say, “What we have learned in those 20 years is that we’re happy being home cooks, which involves a relaxed way of working that is different from what professionals in restaurants do.” In The Way We Cook, their enjoyment is evident.

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