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Healthy Comforting Imaginative

All in a Single Recipe

Cooking

As winter’s chill settles in, the magnetic pull of the oven, heavy cooking pots, and soup cauldrons draws us back to the kitchen to prepare heartier, more elaborate, more comforting meals.

This new collection of standout independently published cookbooks responds to greater interest in working with high-quality, unprocessed ingredients, accessible instruction that does not involve a restaurant’s worth of fancy batterie de cuisine, and healthier versions of traditional recipes. You’ll not find reference to condensed soup or dried onion soup mix among them.

A good thing, according to a certain celebrity culinary diva.

The Essential Edible Pharmacy

heal yourself from the inside out

Book Cover
Sophie Manolas
Exisle Publishing
Softcover $29.99 (240pp)
978-1-925335-16-3
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Controlling her own chronic illness through diet led Australian Sophie Manolas to a career as a clinical nutritionist. Manolas’s zeal for good food and good health drives this book in its exploration of sixty common superfood ingredients. From arugula to fennel seeds, she denotes the chemistry and healing properties of each food, illustrated with a creative, eye-poppingly colorful recipe and elegant photograph.

With separate recipe and ingredient indices, and sidebars at the top of each section listing these edible pharmaceuticals’ health benefits, it’s easy to flip through and locate delicious ingredients and recipes for whatever ails you. Looking for foods rich in antioxidants? Try hazelnut-rich Torta Gianduia. Need to boost your immune system? A Comfort Salad of winter squash and chickpeas should do the trick. Been abusing your liver? Turmeric Milk is what Manolas prescribes.

The author is an exuberant advocate of healthy eating, and a playful writer. She rhapsodizes about purple kale—“it’s so beautiful I want to make a suit of it and wear it around”—and warns about “full-blown kitchen meltdown” when she runs out of sesame seeds. The Edible Pharmacy is a delightful resource for anyone who wants to achieve better health through cooking, but even if you are blessed with radiant wellness, it earns its place in the cookbook library to help ward off illness, improve skin tone, and boost energy.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

Panetteria

Gennaro’s Italian Bakery

Book Cover
Gennaro Contaldo
Dan Jones, illustrator
Interlink Pub Group
Hardcover $30.00 (224pp)
978-1-56656-017-7
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Inspired by the communal ovens, or panetteria, in rural villages of his native Italy, this London-based restaurant and television chef offers a course on how to bake the tempting breads, cookies, focaccias, tarts, and other treats commonly seen at an Italian bakery. Gennaro Contaldo begins with straightforward advice, like using the proper kinds of flours for different baked goods and seeking out fresh yeast wherever possible. His instructions for a basic loaf of bread are encapsulated in five short, no-nonsense paragraphs, though an abundance of photographs helpfully illustrate the baker in action, kneading, knocking back, and forming the dough into a wonderful assortment of shapes so that novices can achieve similar results. His confident advice makes it seem simple enough to master the art of making fresh bread, if perhaps not daily as he exhorts. Certainly one could use the book as a guide on luxuriant baking days to tackle any number of toothsome creations, succinctly and expertly explained.

The author includes the history of many of the regional and holiday bakery items, like the Neapolitan Casatiello, larded with hard-cooked eggs, cheeses, and cured meats; harvesttime Grape and Rosemary Buns licked with olive oil, rosemary, and cinnamon; and the Le Marche region’s Pane di Farina di Ceci e Semo, a savory Pannettone-cousin that crowns the Easter feast. Dan Jones’s photography makes every illustration a food still life.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked—and Fried, Too!

A Celebration of Potatoes in 75 Irresistible Recipes

Book Cover
Raghavan Iyer
Workman Publishing Company
Softcover $16.95 (256pp)
978-0-7611-8547-5
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

All hail the world’s most beloved vegetable: the potato! Cooking teacher and cookbook author Raghavan Iyer pays homage to our favorite spud in this unabashedly fun and informative recipe collection. While his previous books have focused on Indian and Asian flavors, this cookbook covers many other culinary foodways, from Ecuadorian Filled Potato Cakes with Peanut Sauce to Burning Love (Danish-style Mashed Potatoes with Onions and Pork Belly).

The self-professed potato-holic is an enthusiastic ambassador of potatoes in all their colors and varieties. Each of his recipes are lengthy, not because they are overly complicated, but because he gives very detailed descriptions about texture, appearance, and cooking techniques in each step. There’s no skimping in his recipe introductions either, which describe food history or how he obtained original recipes from friends. A sprinkling of Tater Tips in the margins dole out short potato factoids and cooking hints.

Most of the recipes are very creative and reflect Iyer’s love of spices and unusual, layered flavor combinations, as in the tempting Thick-Cut Potato Crisps with Dark Chocolate, “sexy” Dukkah-Rubbed Potatoes with Pomegranate, and Sweet Potatoes with Chicken and Lemongrass. It is a tuberous tour-de-force to have such an exciting array of original preparations for this familiar kitchen item.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

Cook’s Science

How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of our Favorite Ingredients

Book Cover
Guy Crosby
Cook’s Illustrated
Hardcover $40.00 (504pp)
978-1-940352-45-9
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

In its authoritative Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines and successful public television cooking shows, America’s Test Kitchen has long been the go-to source for explaining the science underlying the preparation of the tasty things that we make in our home kitchens. In this latest of ATK’s top-notch publications, the mysteries of how to bring out the best flavors of fifty common kitchen ingredients are detailed in trademark fashion: well illustrated, often with a witty aside, and listing the Test Kitchen’s various experiments, including the flops.

There are several recipes and variations for each of the fifty ingredients, with discussions on why the recipes work, and “takeaway” and “practical science” sections for truly passionate kitchen geeks who dig chemical and physiological explanations about why these flavors deepen. America’s Test Kitchens do all the hard work, slogging through multiple cooking trials and analyzing esoteric publications like Chemosensory Perception so we don’t have to.

Some of the featured ingredients are surprising choices; one doesn’t normally think of cornmeal, tofu, butter, or cauliflower as being particularly flavorful. Nonetheless, ATK finds the perfect techniques, and explains how to select and store the best-quality ingredients to highlight subtle flavors and make each of the Fab 50 stars of this book shine in each recipe.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

The Book of Matcha

Superfood Recipes for Green Tea Powder

Book Cover
Louise Cheadle
Nick Kilby
Sterling Epicure
Hardcover $19.95 (160pp)
978-1-4549-2218-6
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

English tea purveyors Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby are naturally quite passionate about their products, but hold particular love for matcha. Their luminously photographed book expounds on the long history of this nutrient-dense green tea variety from its origins in China, refinement in Japanese Buddhist tea ceremonies, and incorporation in delicately flavoring all manner of beverages, baked goods, and other edibles throughout other cultures today.

Matcha tea plants are nutrition powerhouses because they are shade-grown, bursting with chlorophyll, amino acids, and antioxidants, and reduce the tannins that give other teas a bitter tang. The authors clearly and persuasively analyze the many health benefits that this dynamic ingredient holds, including warding off arthritis, diabetes, and cancer, as well as its helpfulness with—be still, a gastronome’s heart—weight loss! They make an alluring case for falling in love with this gorgeously green beverage and cooking ingredient.

Having alleviated any possible food guilt, our cheerleaders tempt with a parade of easy-to-prepare, umami-laden recipes: Matcha Lemonade or a Matchatini for a sultry day, Matcha Croissants for Sunday brunch, or Mexican Chicken with Matcha Guacamole for dinner. Advanced cooks will want to try their hand at more complicated recipes like Matcha Macarons or Matcha Mochi Ice Cream Balls. With Cheadle and Kilby as guides, it is a snap to sample this superb ingredient’s many charms.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

The Recipe Hacker Confidential

Break the Code to Cooking Mouthwatering & Good-For-You Meals without Grains, Gluten, Dairy, Soy, or Cane Sugar

Book Cover
Diana Keuilian
BenBella Books
Softcover $19.95 (250pp)
978-1-942952-75-6
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

Diana Keuilian is tired of the “toxic food environment” plaguing modern diets and causing so many food allergies, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Her new cookbook contains more than 120 recipes that are free of the worst toxic offenders: gluten, grains, dairy, soy, and refined sugar. They are, however, full of flavor and nutrition and readily counter anyone’s belief that healthy food can’t be scrumptious.

Keuilian has been hacking, or reworking, favorite recipes on her popular blog, Real Healthy Recipes, for years. Her easy instructions and enthusiastic, can-do preambles are persuasive calls to the kitchen in a healthier mode. Love french fries but hate all the fat and carbs? Try Keuilian’s hacked recipe which features baked parsnips. Need to indulge occasionally? Her bittersweet Peanut Butter Cup and Snickers Bar recipe will make both your tongue and your pancreas happier.

Each recipe is accompanied by a photograph and detailed nutrition and calorie information, so it is easy to find delicious alternatives to fine-tune one’s eating habits. Nearly all of the dishes are also finished with a Quick Tip that offers recipe variations, a shortcut in preparation, or inspirational (but not preachy) suggestions for achieving another step toward a healthier lifestyle.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

On the Coast

Mississippi Tales and Recipes

Book Cover
Troy Gilbert
Matthew Mayfield
Billy Solitario, illustrator
Pelican Publishing Company
Hardcover $24.95 (208pp)
978-1-4556-2255-9
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

This joyful collaboration between authors and artist celebrates the cuisine of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It’s a food culture focused on gifts from the waters and appropriately leads off with a chapter on “boat snacks,” featuring such distinctive items as Back Bay Boiled Peanuts (leftovers to be used in a hummus-like spread), Smoked Mullet and Jalapeno Dip, and Atomic Pelican Beaks (a grilled concoction of jalapenos, bacon, sausage, and cream cheese). Other singular chapters are devoted to “rocks” (fresh oysters), pickling, and hooch. Many recipes are fancifully named and tempt on that strength alone. Can one truly resist the allure of Butterscotch Haystacks or Debris BBQ Beef on Pistolettes for Ship Island?

Strewn among these assertively flavored, indulgent recipes from restaurateur Mayfield and culled from fish camps, sailors, and other locals are essays about the Gulf Islands, hurricane hunters, the boating season, and coastal lore and history. Many color photographs, and Billy Solitario’s blue-hued seascapes and seafood still lifes, add even more to the book’s strong evocation of this unique section of the Deep South. It’s an attractive invitation to visit coastal Mississippi; in the interim, you’ll want to cook from it as much as your waistline will allow.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

Puglia in cucina

Book Cover
William Dello Russo, editor
Colin Dutton, photographer
Sime Books
Hardcover $34.95 (288pp)
978-889521819-9
Buy: IndieBound, Amazon

The heel of Italy’s stilettoed boot, Apulia is a peninsular region with ancient roots that plunge deep into both land and sea. Puglia in cucina is a heavily visual survey of traditional Apulian cuisine, which features an abundance of produce, fish, and seafood. The interior text is scant and the recipe instructions are brief—this cookbook is best suited to experienced cooks who are knowledgeable about the details of cleaning anchovies, sealing chilli peppers in oil, or how long to fry garlic until it is pungent.

Food historians, cooks who like to dig deep into the study of culinary traditions, and those who appreciate a bilingual volume so they can practice their Italian as they cook will appreciate all eighty of these recipes. As much a travelogue as a cookbook, with its brilliant photographs of prepared dishes, food markets, fishermen, street scenes, and local architecture, this sumptuous book is also a good reference for travelers, both before and after their journey.

RACHEL JAGARESKI (October 28, 2016)

Rachel Jagareski

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