Category Archives: Cookbook Reviews

Our cookbook reviews.

America’s Favorite Food | MyRecipes.com

Can new tech play nice with comfort food cooking?

BUY IT! | America's Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country's best magazines

 

TITLE: America’s Favorite Food
AUTHOR: Many. Edited by, Nichole Aksamit
PUBLISHER: Oxmoor  House
CUISINE: American/Comfort/Magazine

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America's Favorite Food | Digimark AppFEATURED INGREDIENT: IPHONE
Our “Featured Ingredient” for this cookbook isn’t really an ingredient at all. But, it is one of the most important components of this particular cookbook. The Smartphone. Without this “ingredient” you take away some of what makes this cookbook unique among it’s peers.

 

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FIRST IMPRESSIONS
At first blush this is all a little hard to take in. I consider myself a “tech” person too. I get the concept. But, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. To be sure, this is a great collection of some delicious magazine reprint recipes. If you haven’t taken the time to subscribe to each, then this is really a treasure trove. You know the names, Cooking Light, Southern Living, Real Simple, Coastal Living, Health and more. It contains lots of easy to prepare dishes for everyone in your family. There are beautiful food images throughout. All in all, an eye pleasing, easy to flip through book.

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WHAT YOU’LL FIND INSIDE (aka Table of Contents)
Starters
Soups & Sandwiches
Poultry
Meats
Seafood
Meatless Mains
Pasta & Pizza
Sides & Salads
Desserts
Breakfast & Brunch

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How about a small taste of what some of the video extras look and feel like. Hey, everyone needs to know how to cut up a whole chicken.

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THE BEST OF THE BOOK (Our Favorite Recipes)

Spicy Black Bean Hummus Watermelon Margaritas
Hearty Potato Soup Turkey Reuben Sandwiches
Creamy Slow Cooker Chicken Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
King Ranch Chicken Casserole Dry-Cured Rosemary Turkey
Cheddar Burgers w/Red Onion Jam Classic Beef Stew
Brandied Cranberry Short Rib Stew Salsa Verde Braised Pork
Halibut w/Coconut-Red Curry Sauce Fresh Salmon-Cilantro Burgers
Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto Ultimate Mac ‘n’ Cheese
Broccoli Beef Lo Mein Shrimp Pad Thai
Peach & Gorgonzola Chicken Pizza Broccoli Casserole
Italian Chard Dressing Grilled Potato Salad
Oatmeal Cream Pies Salted Carmel Brownies

 

It’s obvious from the list above that just about anyone you would care to feed could be satisfied. There are lots of very traditional dishes. Some with a new, more modern twist. Some have been left to their roots. That’s a good combination. There is no shortage of recipes from any of the individual chapters. Every major food group is well represented.

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BUY IT! | America's Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country's best magazinesSPECIAL FEATURES
This book is actually one giant special feature. Special tips and hints are available for a large percentage of the recipes via the smartphone app. And, as a bonus, the app works well. No hang ups. That means even the least tech savvy cook in your household will be able to take advantage of all that this cookbook has to offer. Each recipe is coded with special icons that represent the dish. There are metric equivalents and nutritional information stashed in the back for reference use.

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CONCLUSIONS
OK, there are a couple of things at play here. First, we should call this cookbook what it really is. It’s compilation of magazine recipes. And, a lot of them are great tried and true dishes. You’re going to find no nasty surprises once you start cooking. They have all been thoroughly tested and they work. A HUGE bonus. Second, This book is not a cooking tech breakthrough of any kind. I do love the use of the current technology. And, I appreciate the fact that smartphones and tablets have found their way into the kitchen. I use mine there. It’s just that it might be too loaded with extra off site “stuff”. I’m just left wondering how often those badges get scanned and used. You also end up with a little tech overload. So, here is the bottom line. Buy it if you are looking for an easy to use, comfort food cookbook for your whole family. And, you may just have a little unexpected fun in the kitchen whipping up your dinner of choice. That too is a nice bonus.

Culinary Expertise 4.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

RESOURCES, LINKS AND PRESS
My Recipes Website
America’s Favorite Food | Digimark Website
Oxmoor House Press Page

BUY IT! | America's Favorite Food: 200 top-rated recipes from the country's best magazines

Canal House Cooks Every Day | Hamilton & Hirsheimer

 

Simple, elegant & refined. Just the way a cookbook should be.

Canal House Cooks Every Day | Hamilton & Hirsheimer

TITLE: Canal House Cooks Every Day
AUTHOR: Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hirsheimer
PUBLISHER: Andrews McMeel Publishing
CUISINE: American/Comfort/Seasonal

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Featured Ingredient: Duck ConfitDuck Confit | By AllanThinks
Duck confit (French: confit de canard French pronunciation: ​[kɔ̃.fi d(ə) ka.naʁ]) is a French dish made with the leg of the duck. While it is made across France, it is seen as a specialty of Gascony. The confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
Gorgeous! Substantial and sophisticated also fit well. That’s my first impression. This is a cookbook that is also a work of art. Simply amazing. From the soft textured cover to the recipe ribbon to the bright white premium stock, this cookbook says class from beginning to end. It is what a cookbook should be.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Spring
Summer
Autumn
Winter

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Sometimes seeing is believing. Have a peek at what the Canal House is all about.

 

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Cold Avocado and Cucumber Soup Lobster Stew
Roast Chicken and Bread Salad Canal House Crab Louis
Open Faced Sandwiches Shrimp Risotto
Smoked Salmon Butter Roast Goose with Ten Legs
Shrimp Roast Pan Fried Chicken Thighs with Zucchini
Asparagus with Lemon-Butter Sauce Baked Ham with Golden Bread Crumbs
Roasted Spring Onions Strawberry Shortcake
Classic Vanilla Ice Cream Apple Tart
Braised Beef Brisket with Onions & Currants Olive Oil Poached Zucchini and Raw Tomatoes

 

OK, there’s a list above of some of our favorite recipes. But, in all fairness this list is very flawed. Just about EVERY recipe contained in this book could have made the list. I haven’t reviewed many cookbooks I can say that about. Anyway, there are of course some standouts. The Lamb Shoulder Chops with Rosemary Potatoes (p. 216) is super easy and super tasty. Here is a common scene from a lot of parties. Someone walks through the door carrying a tray of Deviled Eggs (p. 71). They are immediately mobbed by happy people saying, “Awesome, deviled eggs. I LOVE those”. The Canal House version is simple and classic. Finally, the Deconstructed Carbonara (p.201) is a creative and fun take on a traditional Italian dish. This recipe update works well.

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Special Features
BUY IT | The Canal House Cooks Every DayI love the recipe index up front. For me indexes shelved away in the back of the book are a waste. Being front and center is almost like saying, “Hey, here’s all the good stuff you’re in for, have a look”. There is a very brief intro and then straight into Spring. A conversion table is located in the back of the book as is some author bio information. Obviously, Melissa and Christopher have some amazing culinary credentials. But, this book isn’t about them. It’s about the food. And I like that.

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Conclusions
This cookbook stands out from a very crowded field. It’s apparent from the moment you pick it up that this book is different. The dishes are simple and refined. There is a range of recipe difficulty. But, for the most part the recipes are doable for most competent home chefs and cooks. The images are art. Christopher does any amazing job. They far surpass the normal cookbook photos. You could reprint any one of them, hang it in your kitchen and have an immediate upgrade in your kitchen décor. Here’s the bottom line on The Canal House Cooks Every Day, buy it. Buy it now for a holiday gift for yourself or someone you know. The recipient (even if it’s you) will be happy and grateful.

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Culinary Expertise 6.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

Resources, Links and Press
Canal House Website
New York Times Article
The Kitchn – Recipe Review | Serious Ragu
Canal House on Twitter

BUY IT | The Canal House Cooks Every Day

30 Minutes Vegan’s Taste of Europe | Mark Reinfeld

 

Can meatless versions of European classics measure up?

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

TITLE: The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe
AUTHOR: Mark Reinfeld
PUBLISHER: Da Capo Lifelong
CUISINE: Vegan

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Featured Ingredient: Tempeh
Tempeh (/ˈtɛmpeɪ/; Javanese: témpé, IPA: [tempe]), is a traditional soy product originallySliced tempeh - By FotoosVanRobin from Netherlands (Tempe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in the Sinosphere. [Wikipedia]

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First Impressions
If you’re looking for a nice well rounded assortment of vegan dishes this cookbook will satisfy that. Like the covers says, it contains “Plant based makeovers of classics”. There is a center insert of color images by Fawne Frailey and Sebastian Romero Sea Light Studios. The paper stock is a nice, soft off white that is easy on the eyes and great to page through. This is a nice everyday vegan cookbook. It has dishes you could make for dinner seven nights a week.

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What You’ll Find Inside (aka Table of Contents)
Italy
France
Spain and Portugal
United Kingdom and Ireland
Greece
Germany
Europe Fusion

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Roam around the world…

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The Best of the Book (Our Favorite Recipes)

Pommes Frites French Onion Soup
Quiche Monet Empanadas
Irish Stew Yorkshire Pudding
Currant Scones Beer Soup
Potato Pierogi Swiss Chocolate Fondue

 

I love Greek food, so the Tzatzaki (p.162) and the Spanikopita Triangles (p.173) were both big hits with me. You can use that Tzatzaki sauce on just about everything from salad to corn flakes as far as I’m concerned. The Spaetzle Noodles (p.195) is another winner. I have a spaetzle maker (two actually) and I’m always looking for a reason to break it out. Also, the Chickpeas and Roasted Garlic (p.110) is a mouthwatering side dish. It has 15 to 20 cloves of garlic in it, so it has to be amazing!

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Special Features
The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and BeyondMany of the recipes are annotated with special symbols to help you make cooking decisions. These symbols indicate cooking times and ease of preparation. It’s a nice touch. In the table of contents, the recipe names and page numbers are listed under the chapter names. I LOVE this type of formatting. If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know that feature always rates high with me. Making cookbooks easy to use, there’s a novel idea! Also, as you would expect with any vegan/vegetarian cookbook, there is an extensive section on preparation basics contained in the appendix. As is a metric conversion chart. Hey, it’s taste of EUROPE here, so I guess it makes sense. There is also a great list of additional reading and some super helpful online resources. If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of vegan cuisine there is a lot to keep you busy.

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Conclusions
Mark Reinfeld does a nice job on his “plant based makeover”. These are recipes that you could use again and again. They are relatively easy to make, so it would be a fairly good cookbook for the vegan beginner. The once sparse space of vegan cookbooks is starting to fill up fast. The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe fills the vegan international cuisine void nicely. If you’ve been hunting for that meatless version of your favorite French dish, you can stop looking. The Seitan Bourguignon (p.84) is now at your fingertips.

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Culinary Expertise 5.0
1= Boiling Water (novice) 10= Liquid Nitrogen (expert)

The 30-Minute Vegan's Taste of Europe: 150 Plant-Based Makeovers of Classics from France, Italy, Spain . . . and Beyond

How would you like to be a cookbook insider? Of course you would. Included with every cookbook that a publisher sends out for review are publicity notes. Click below to view the notes from The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe. Have fun being on the inside for a change.

The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe – Publicity Notes

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Resources, Links and Press
Vegan Fusion Website
Video: Eating Live: An Introduction to Live Food Cuisine
Mark Reinfeld on vegan.com
Follow Mark Reinfeld on Twitter