We Review the Best of the Latest Books

ISSN 1934-6557

Easy Entertaining: Simple Recipes for Every Occasion edited by Celia Brooks Brown (Ryland Peters & Small) There is something very satisfying about being the host of a gathering and bringing people together for great food and good company. But entertaining can be a daunting experience for the beginner cook, and even the more practiced need inspiration especially when time is short. Packed with simple recipes for everything from brunch to dessert, Easy Entertaining is all that readers need to cook up a storm. Some recipes:

  • Brunch Waffles with Maple Syrup Ice Cream, Warm Potato Tortilla with Smoked Salmon.
  • Starters Baked Goat Cheese, Lemon Potato Latkes with Gingered Avocado Creme.
  • Soups and Salads Butternut Squash Soup, Gazpacho, Caesar Salad,Warm Chicken and Chorizo Salad.
  • Vegetarian Green Thai Vegetable Curry, Roquefort Tart with Walnut and Toasted Garlic Dressing.
  • Entrees sections include: Fish and Seafood, Chicken and Duck, Meat and Game Steamed Mussels with Garlic and Vermouth, Coq au Vin, and Steak with Blue Cheese Butter
  • Sides Chile Greens with Garlic Crisps, Classic Creamy Mashed Potato.
  • Desserts Classic Lemon Tart, Sticky Chocolate Pecan Pie.

There are also sections on Pasta, Rice, and Noodles and Party Food and Drinks.

Editor Celia Brooks Brown, one of the talented teacher-chefs at the famous Books for Cooks bookshop, brings together recipes from well-known food writers:

  • Maxine Clark has taught in cooking schools such as Leith's in London.
  • Linda Collister is the author of titles on baking and chocolate all bestsellers around the world.
  • Clare Ferguson is a food writer with an international reputation.
  • Silvano Franco has had her own cookery programme on BBC TV The Best.
  • Manisha Gambhir Harkins is Features Editor of The Master's Table magazine.
  • Elsa Petersen-Schepelern is a Danish-Australian food writer.
  • Louise Pickford is a British food writer now living and working in Sydney.
  • Fiona Smith is a food writer and food stylist from New Zealand.
  • Sonia Stevenson is one of the great chefs of Britain and her restaurant, the Horn of Plenty in Devon, won huge accolades.
  • Fran Warde trained as a professional chef. She ran a successful restaurant and catering business and cooking school.
  • Lesley Waters is one of the best-known television chefs and teacher-cooks in Britain.

Easy Entertaining features an eclectic mix of basic recipes for aspiring cooks new to entertaining; presented by famous chefs and food writers, the book should be a welcomed addition to everyones shelf.

Culinary Schools 2004 by Peterson's (Thomson Petersons) If readers want to become part of the who's who among chefs and restaurant managers, getting good training is the first step. For nearly a decade, Peterson's has published respected, comprehensive, up-to-date information on degree and apprenticeship programs for prospective professionals in the culinary industry. With details on more than 500 programs. More

Sonoma: A Food and Wine Lovers' Journey by Jennifer Barry & Robert Holmes, with text by Mimi Luebbermann (Ten Speed Press) is the most visually satisfying book to come across my desk in a long time.
Three Californians art director Jennifer Barry, travel photographer Robert Holmes, and writer Mimi Luebbermann team up to produce a combination travel and food/wine extravaganza, which may be as useful in the kitchen as it is pretty on the coffee table. In
Sonoma, we take a scenic, culinary journey through Sonoma s meandering back roads, visiting notable wineries, food producers, restaurants, and outstanding holiday destinations.

Nestled within the lush landscape of Northern California s wine country, Sonoma County has a rich heritage of food and wine production that is recognized worldwide for its quality and craftsmanship. Sonoma County , just 1,579 square miles, has climates ranging from Pacific beach to coastal mountain, and from redwood forest to the wine-producing inland valley. The wine region is divided further into microclimates, which allows for the numerous appellations Sonoma Coast , Russian River , Dry Creek Valley that wine lovers know and appreciate.

Sonoma features 40 regional recipes contributed by Sonoma chefs and food purveyors that highlight local artisan food products such as specialty cheeses, olive oils, quality farm produce, livestock, seafood, and baked goods. These recipes include

  • Goat Cheese Souffles from the St. Francis Winery Kitchen

  • Caesar Salad with Tapenade from the Sassafras Restaurant

  • Asian Marinated Skewered California Albacore Wrapped in Bacon from the Tides Wharf & Restaurant

  • Honey and Fromage Blanc Ice Cream from the Jintown Store

Also included are profiles of local farms and establishments, such as Bellwether Farms, which makes sheep and cow cheeses, Devoto Gardens, which produces 40 different kinds of apples, and Hector's Bees, a one-man operation that supplies honey and wax candles to area farmers' markets. Sonoma , with its fields of daisies, rich green hills, placid inlets and Mission-Revival buildings, lavishly photographed for this book, looks like a paradise in these pages.

Appealing to cooks and travel enthusiasts alike, Sonoma illuminates the extraordinary bounty this part of the country has to offer, an inspirational keepsake to provide pleasure for years to come.

Appetite by Nigel Slater (Clarkson Potter) Nigel's book is not like other cookery books, but if you read it and accept it's premise that most cooking is instinctive, you will get great results from this book. Don't expect it to be prescriptive down to the last pinch of salt - this is not Nigel's style. But you will discover your own way of doing things, and develop the confidence to go on and create your own dishes. If you decide to go through life without cooking you are missing something very, very special. You are losing out on one of the greatest pleasures you can have with your clothes on. Nigel Slater

A chance comment spurred the heralded Observer columnist and wildly popular cookbook author Nigel Slater to write Appetite. A reader asked If you dont give me exact amounts in a recipe, then how will I know if it is right? Slater realized the reader had so little confidence in his own cooking that he didnt know what he liked unless he was told. Appetite is not about getting it right or wrong; it is about liking what you cook.

To help the everyday cook achieve culinary independence, Slater supplies the basics of relaxed, unpretentious, hearty cooking, written with his trademark humor and candor. Slater doesnt believe in replicating restaurant-style theatricality to impress guests -- he simply loves food, and his love is evident on every page.

Slater covers the philosophies of cooking, the basics to have on hand, and detailed descriptions of necessary equipment and ingredients. He tells you which wok to buy (the cheap one), and why it can pay to flirt with the fishmonger. There are sections on seasoning, a good long list of foods that pair well, and a large collection of recipes for soup, pasta, rice, vegetables, fish, meat, pastry and desserts. These are straightforward, easy-to-make dishes adapted for the North American cook -- every one a springboard to something new, different and delicious. And with full-color photography throughout the book, Appetite is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

Food & Drink in Britain: From the Stone Age to the 19th Century by C. Anne Wilson (Academy Chicago) "Glimpses of how people [in Britain] cooked and brewed, and of what they have been swallowing and chewing since that land was first occupied, give a far more vivid view of our past than can any lists of kings, queen, battles, and political parties." -- Thus The Guardian spoke about this most unusual approach to social history, in which C. Anne Wilson traces culinary practices and preferences from our earliest prehistoric forbears all the way down to the generation of the Industrial Revolution, and offers an extraordianary taste of the times. This work of first-rate scholarship is enornously readable and entertaining; its publication in the UK was greeted with wild enthusiasm, and the author has prepared a new introduction and updated bibliography for this first US edition.

American readers will become acquainted with the sources of many of our current tastes and conventions. Discover "macrows," the prototype of macaroni, and that "whales, porpoises and sturgeon were all royal fish." Meringue, to the Elizabethans, was a "dishful of snow," and rather difficult to whip up before the advent of the fork in the late 17th century. Before the Reformation, all buns were "hot cross" in order to "ward off evil spirits that might prevent the bread rising." Wilson provides a tabletop perspective on class structure, religion, politics, and social custom, generously seasoned with such culinary and cultural tidbits as the importance of salt in English history, and the role of romance in England's first taste of the wines of southernmost France.

Adventurous eaters who wish to dine as their ancestors did may do so; Ms. Wilson includes many recipes-such as 17th century rice pudding-which add flavor of a unique kind. This cornucopia of custom and cuisine provides plenty of food for thought for everyone, and what could be of more interest if we are, indeed, what we eat?

Van Gogh's Table at the Auberge Ravoux: Recipes From the Artist's Last Home and Paintings of Cafe Life by Alexandra Leaf, Fred Leeman (Workman) At the Auberge Ravoux, in a tiny artists' village twenty miles from Paris, Postimpressionist painter Vincent van Gogh found a measure of peace in an otherwise ill-starred life. In what would be his last home, he enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow artists and an unparalleled burst of creativity.

The auberge still operates today as the Maison de Van Gogh. Very little has changed since Van Gogh first set down his bags more than a century ago, and visitors to the caf are treated to the same regional cuisine that he dined upon. Here is an intimate view into Van Gogh's world as stirring as sharing poulet and pommes sautees with the artist himself, and quite as delicious.

As an artist, Vincent van Gogh spent most of his life in cafes, hotels, and small inns. These establishments often became the subjects of his paintings, as did the people he met there, many now immortalized in portraits. In the caf he found a place of life in the shadow of this own isolation. And he found food, drink, and friendship.

Written by a culinary historian and the former chief curator of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, in cooperation with the Institut Van Gogh, Van Gogh's Table explores the artist's sojourn at the Auberge Ravoux and presents nearly fifty of its recipes. Old engravings and postcards, letters, and a selection of Van Gogh's paintings transport the reader back to the turn of the twentieth century.

Here is an intimate view into Van Gogh's world, as stirring as sharing poulet and pommes sautes with the artist himself. Written by one of America's foremost culinary historians, with Dr. Fred Leeman, the former chief curator of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and including an introduction by the auberge's proprietor, this unique cookbook/art book explores life in the artists' caf, with traditional recipes ranging from the hearty to the refined. Letters, engravings, postcards, and a selection of Van Gogh's paintings transport the reader to the turn of the century.

OLIVE OIL: From Tree to Table by Peggy Knickerbocker, Photographs by Laurie Smith, Foreword by Maggie Blyth Klein, ($19.95, paper, 167 pages, color photos, recipes, index, Chronicle Books ISBN: 0811813509)

Olive oil has always played an essential culinary role in the Mediterranean, where olives have been cultivated for thousands of years. Today, this healthful, versatile ingredient is a valued staple throughout the world. In Olive Oil, Peggy Knickerbocker and photographer Laurie Smith trace the birth and voyage of the "oil of the gods." They take us to the rustic orchards of Greece, Spain, Italy, North Africa, and California (a burgeoning olive-growing region in its own right), and introduce us to the fascinating process of harvesting the fruit and extracting the shimmering essence. Then they invite us to taste the exquisite results with a host of flavorful dishes.

Here are inspired recipes from the best of Mediterranean cuisines - everything from starters to sweets, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. There is the ridiculously easy Orecchiete with Cauliflower and Pecorino, and the seasonal sensation of Fettuccine with Asparagus, Fava Beans, and Peas. Linguine with Gorgonzola Sauce is a culinary killer, and spring lamb -never tasted better than in Knickerbocker’s recipe for Butterflied Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Mint Gremolata. Her fish and poultry dishes are wonderful: a classic Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Capers, and Endive or a tender Sea Bass in Parchment. Salads and vegetables take on a new life with Knickerbocker’s recipes.

Writing in an energetic and personal style, Knickerbocker says in her introduction, "I want all cooks, after reading this book, to become passionate about olive oil the way I have. I want them to know what to look for in olive oil and then to urge purveyors to be honest and experimental with what they stock. Only then can American food lovers have an increased access to olive oil that one day might reflect its abundance and variety in the Mediterranean." Smith’s photographs explode with vibrancy and -her settings reflect the origins of these delectable foods that showcase the world’s best olive oils, bringing the world of Olive Oil to the reader’s doorstep.

Peggy Knickerbocker is a food and travel writer who lives in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Savior, Food & Wine, Gourmet, House & Garden, Travel & Leisure, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. Laurie Smith’s photographs have appeared in Savior, Food & Wine, and Fine Cooking, and in two previous books, La Parilla and Bocaditos, both from Chronicle Books. Maggie Blyth Klein is the author of The Feast of the Olive and owner of, Oliveto’s, a favorite Mediterranean restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area.

PARMIGIANO! New & Classic Recipes with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese by Pamela Sheldon Johns ($17.95, hardcover, 111 pages, index, color photos throughout, Ten Speed Press, ISBN: 0-89815-937-7)

Parmigiano-Reggiano is considered the king of Italian cheeses. It is savored alone or as an integral component to such beloved Italian dishes as risotto, pastas, soups and salads. So valued is the cheese that the 70-pound rounds are aged in high-security, temperature-controlled bank vaults—and yes, Parmigiano-Reggiano bank heists have happened. The cheese is cherished by Italians and is a mainstay of their diet, with only seven percent of the cheese’s annual production set aside for export. Quality of the cheese is strictly monitored, and any cheese that falls short of the legislated standards is re-labeled as ‘table cheese’ by Partnigiano-Reggiano inspectors.

In PARMIGIANO!, cookbook author and cooking teacher Pamela Sheldon Johns takes us to the heartland of Italy to the artisans’ dairies to see how each round of Parmigiano-Reggiallo is crafted. Detailing the history and geographical origins of the cheese, every step of the cheese making process, and how to store, age, buy and select it, Sheldon-Johns provides the first engaging, thorough, and practical guide to an age-old classic.

Parmigiano-Reggiano has many imitators, but no rivals. (Parmigiano is made in other countries, but has different flavors and textures—due to variations in cows’ mild and processing standards.) Indeed, true Parmigiano-Reggiano can only come from Emilia-Romagna, the same region that gives the world Prosciutto di Parma and other fine Italian foodstuffs. In Parmigiano! each painstaking step in the cheesemaking process is chronicled by stunning color photographs; some 25 additional photos show the simple yet sophisticated dishes. PARMIGIANO!’s 50 recipes explore the heartiness as well as the nuances of the cheese in seven chapters, including:

  • OPENERS: Asparagus and Parmigiano-Reggiano Wrapped in Prosciutto; Parmigiano-Reggiano Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms;
  • PASTAS: Spaghetti Carbonara; Penne with Roasted Beets and Beet Greens; and Fusilli with New Potatoes, Oven Dried Tomatoes, and White Beans;
  • MAIN DISHES: Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Parmigiano-Reggiano Puree; Grilled Eggplant Parmigiano;
  • BAKED GOODS: Potato Focaccia with Red Onions and Parrnigiano-Reggiano; Savory Parmigiano Biscotti,
  • FINISHES: Italian Cheese Platter; Fragolini Parmigiani;
  • BASICS: Building block recipes, including Pasta Dough; Zesty Tomato Sauce; and Pesto.
  • RESOURCES: Where to go in Italy for the Parrnigiano-Reggiano Festival, where to purchase and eat Parmigiano-Reggiano, and mail order services.

About the Author: Pamela Sheldon Johns is a cookbook author, a cooking instructor, and the food editor of Santa Barbara Magazine. She is also program director for the Avignonesi Wine and Food Workshop in Tuscany. Her first book, the Healthy Gourmet Cookbook was a Jangles Beard Cookbook Award nominee. She is currently working on several new cookbooks, including the forthcoming Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles: Vegetarian Cookbook. She travels to Italy frequently and writes about Lillian food and wines for many national food publications.

NEW RECIPES FROM QUILT COUNTRY: More Food and Folkways from the Amish & Mennonites by Marcia Adams ($30.00, hardcover, 294 pages, color photos throughout, index, Clarkson Potter, ISBN: 0-517-70562-1)

In their previous award-winning book Cooking from Quilt Country, Marcia Adams took readers on a memorable culinary odyssey through the rural Amish and Mennonite communities near her Indiana home. Readers and viewers of her public television series fell in love with the simple, satisfying, provincial American fare that is still an everyday pleasure on these country tables, and rediscovered many treasured recipes that have once again become family favorites.

Now, nearly ten years later, she heads back to Quilt Country, serving up a second helping of nostalgic recipes, as well as offering fascinating insights into the changes that are slowly making their way into the Amish way of life. Broadening her scope to include Amish communities across the United States and Canada, too, she has found that higher land prices have caused many Amish and Mennonites to look beyond their agrarian roots; some have moved to far-flung locales in search of cheaper farmland, while others have become entrepreneurs, working in closer proximity to their "English" neighbors. In both cases, outside influences have left indelible marks on the food they prepare—often with delicious results.

NEW RECIPES FROM QUILT COUNTRY celebrates Amish cooking today, with irresistible offerings from the school lunch bucket, the roadside stand, the harvest cellar, and more. The chapter Casseroles and Carry-Ins provides the perfect fare for casual get-togethers and potlucks, while Family Milestones suggests tempting treats for important occasions and celebrations, and Changing Times, Familiar Favorites illustrates some of the ways outside influences have found their way into the Amish kitchen. All of these dishes are sure to please family and friends and become classics on English tables, too.

HEALTHY CROCKERY COOKERY by Mable Hoffman ($15.00, paperback, 256 pages, H.P. Books, ISBN: 1557882908)  enjoys an unsurpassed reputation for creating delicious, satisfying meals using the slow cooker. Now, this highly acclaimed New York Times best-selling author presents all new, healthy recipes full of slow cooked goodness while cutting down on calories and fat.

This enticing variety of recipes from appetizers to entrees to luscious desserts allows you to prepare a scrumptious meal without scrimping on taste or taking valuable time out of your busy schedule. Made with everyday ingredients, these dishes deliver extraordinary flavor while ensuring the best of health. And every recipe includes a comprehensive nutritional analysis.

Try just some of Mable Hoffman’s irresistible offerings, such as Navajo Beef and Chile Stew, Taste of Acapulco Flank Steak, Touch of the Orient Chicken, Wild Rice with Portobello mushrooms, Pesto and Turkey Stuffed Pita Pockets, Garden of Eden Apples or Steamed Cranberry Pudding

Mable Hoffman is a professional home economist and director of Hoffman Food Consultants. The author of many cookbooks, including Crockery Cookery, California Flavors, and Appetizers and Small Meals, she is the recipient of four Tastemaker Awards.

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