Sometimes months go by and non of the cookbooks that pass through my hands make my heart jump for joy. This is not to say that those books are bad – they are not – there’s just nothing extraordinary about them, nothing that makes them stand out from the crowd. Then, out of the blue within a fortnight, four great new books found their way – more or less magically – into my hands. Enough material to celebrate a full fledged cookbook session on my favorite cozy reading spot – our sofa, next to a stack of pink and orange Post-Its, without which my regular reading routine just wouldn’t be same.
The Perfect Scoop – David Lebovitz
If it wasn’t for his witty writing style on his blog, you’d have to love him for his passion: Desserts and more recently, ice cream. Having worked in the pastry department with famous chefs like Alice Waters at Chez Panisse restaurant or as cooking instructor all over the globe, he certainly knows his trade and not only shares his knowledge on his blog, but comprehensively in his fourth cookbook – a great addition for any sweet tooth. A huge collection of recipe equips the home cook with an overwhelming variety of ice creams, sorbets and granitas, not short of any of the luscious little extras (sauces, toppings, baked goods) that can turn a simple scoop into an elaborate and fancy delight. With his pleasant and comprehensible voice he guides the reader through an extensive list of ice cream relevant ingredients as well as necessary equipment and makes sure to explain all the details on your way to becoming a successful ice cream maker. Laid out in joyful pastel colors, with probably not enough of the beautiful radiant photography (can there ever be?) – the only question remaining is: Do I start with Roasted Banana or Parsley Ice Cream before I try the Champagne-Cassis Granita?
The Oldways Table – K. Dun Gifford, Sara Baer-Sinnott
Having had the fortunate chance to personally get to know the people behind Oldways, the widely respected nonprofit food issue think tank located in Boston, made it obvious: K. Dun Gifford and Sara Baer-Sinnott, the main authors of The Oldways Table are fully dedicated – with all their heart and soul – to the subject of food. The philosophy and main objectives of Oldways are “to help consumers make wise choices about eating, drinking, and lifestyle, emphasizing the traditional pleasures of the table.” So it comes as no surprise that consequently and with proper authority on the subject, Oldways compiled a comprehensible and extensive food reference packed with alluring recipes, helpful instructions, nutritional information and exceptionally amusing stories and essay about food and life. Famous food writers add to this vibrant kaleidoscope, names like Paula Wolfert, Melissa Clark, Elisabeth Luard or Claudia Roden guarantee a flavorful reading experience. If you’ve never heard of the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet and its impact, this is probably the most valuable compendium available. No photography.
Super Natural Cooking – Heidi Swanson
Knowing Heidi, her blog and her first book, I must say, my expectations towards her second book were naturally quite high. The fact that the book seemed to have been glued to my hands speaks for itself – it didn’t fail to impress with every single page I turned. Although my personal preference and focus about food and cooking may not necessarily be whole foods as such, her book gives the theme a refreshing new twist. Tempting and easy to make recipes, accompanied by Heidi’s beautiful photography – vivid colors dress Super Natural Cooking in a very lovely outfit. Besides being visual eye candy, the book provides a helpful in-depth review of a broad range of alternative flours, healthy fats, whole grains and natural sweeteners, what to do with them and their benefits – making it easy for the home cook to come up with an enticing nutritional-packed variety at the dinner table. Would you like some Crema de Guacamole or the cute little Ginger-Amaranth Shortbread?
Basic cooking 2 – Sebastian Dickhaut, Sabine Sälzer (German)
I doubt there are many households in Germany that do not own at least one book from the GU’s hugely successful Basic series. What had started, back in 1999, as a modern and spirited introduction into cooking especially for young people, soon became one of the most successful cookbook series in Germany and has meanwhile been launched in 15 additional countries. Basic cooking 2 doesn’t cater to just beginners anymore, this time around its objective is to spice things up when kitchen routine has kicked in. The new recipes cover a broad international spectrum, featuring easy dishes as well as advanced and ambitious ones, always elucidated with well structured instructions, giving great guidance – a recipe for success – so to speak. The many years of cooking and food-writing experience of both authors (of which one is a passionate blogger, too) clearly shines through, especially in the chapter covering food shopping and tips on how to identify quality ingredients. A very worthy successor!
Disclaimer: I received these books as review copies.