This week we’d like to give thanks not only for family and friends, feasting and forks but also for the spate of wonderful cookbooks that were published by talented chefs in 2012.
The inspired collections reviewed below, informed by cuisines from around the world, will both guide you towards making a delectable Roast Turkey in Andean Pepper and Pisco Sauce with Roast Plantains and Sweet Potatoes on Thanksgiving day (“Gran Cocina Latina”) and help you afterwards in your use of leftovers with a recipe for Turkey and Zuchinni Burgers with Green Onions and Cumin (“Jerusalem”).
But these books also go oh so much further than turkey. There is an infinite list of creative vegetable and grain options in each title we selected, a criteria for making it onto this list. All of these authors cook modern, they cook fresh and they cook healthy. They are accessible to the beginner as well as to the experienced chef; it is their unique flavor combinations and not level of difficulty that set them all apart.
We encourage you to let Thanksgiving and the days following be a time of feasting and possibility, an opportunity for new food traditions to make their way onto your tables. These books will set – or should we say “saute – you on your way.
Oh, and if our husbands happen to be reading along, please consider these titles as topping our holiday wish lists!
Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan (2012). If you, like me, have been questing for a more vegetable-based Spaghetti Carbonara recipe, then look no further, this book has it: Spaghetti Carbonara with Parsnips, Pancetta, and Pears. This is just one of the many, modern, fresh and healthy takes on root vegetables in Morgan’s lovely book. Simply put, Roots is one of THE cookbooks of the year, boasting gorgeous photographs of these underground veggies in all their splendor with creative takes on how to coax out their full flavor. Celery Root Gratin, Carrot Ribbons with Sorrel Pesto and Crumbled Goat Cheese (wow – this recipe makes you wonder why you never thought of this before), Raw Beet Slaw with Fennel, Tart Apple and Parsley, Roasted Turnip Ghanoush (a twist on eggplant based Baba Ghanoush, who knew!). Thoughts on availability, storage, history and lore are included but most of all it’s the RECIPES that mesmerize. Perfect for the long, root-cellared winter ahead. ~Lisa Cadow
Gran Cocina Latina by Marciel E. Presilla (2012). O-freaking-le! This is part textbook, part tome, part history lesson, part treatise. Before she was a chef and restaurant owner, author Presilla was a historian and her scholarly talents show through. Her new book, which is more traditional in its flavors than the others on this list, contains over 500 recipes from Latin America’s Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries including beloved tamales, sofritos, adobos. It is evident that this comprehensive undertaking will stand the test of time and not gather dust on your shelf – even though it would take you a culinary lifetime to work through it. So, if you have a hankering to make authentic Paraguayan Cornbread or Central American Sweet-and-Sour Chicken Stew, Puerto Rican Rice and Green Pigeon Peas or a Simple Venezuelan Chunky Avocado Sauce, then this libro de cucina is for you. ~Lisa Cadow
Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson (2012). Lisa Cadow has been a fan of Heidi Swanson’s blog “101 Cookbooks” for years, so it is nice to see another one of her quietly brilliant cookbooks spring to life from the web. Wild Rice Casserole makes you want to walk into your kitchen, take down the ball jar of rice and set it bubbling on the stove, grate some gruyere and start chopping the tarragon. Swanson is a designer and her photographs, composition and layout are almost as delicious as her healthy, “super natural” ingredients. Green Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk and Chives, Little Quinoa Patties with Parmesan and Herbs, White Bean Spread with Rosemary and Toasted Almonds will set you on your way to a flavorful and healthful new year. ~Lisa Cadow
The Sprouted Kitchen: A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara and Hugh Forte (2012). This husband and wife blogging team are relatively new to the food scene but they have a lot of talent and fresh flavors to offer home cooks. Their site was such a success that a book deal came relatively quickly. Coconut Loaf, Buckwheat Harvest Tart, Roasted Cauliflower Cappelini, and Grape Salsas - among other innovations – fill the pages of this whole foods oriented cookbook. They offer another fresh and creative take on how it can be easy to use the seasonal vegetables all around us at farmers markets and yet somehow fancy enough for company - like Roasted Acorn Squash with Hazelnuts and Balsamic Reduction. You’ll have to excuse me now, for some reason I’m feeling the need to get myself into the kitchen! ~Lisa Cadow
Jerusalem: A cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (2012) – Yes, I know the other Lisa normally reviews all the cookbooks for this blog, but this book has a travel log aspect to it and hits my sweet spot. So, I decided to chime in with a cookbook review for this post. I don’t feel too badly about butting in; it is because of the other Lisa I feel secure adding this book to our recommendations – Yotam Ottolenghi is a favorite of hers. And, since I so absolutely trust her cooking instincts, I trust this book. And now, the review — The introduction and periodic pages throughout provide insight into Jerusalem and its history of both people and food. Since I have yet to make it to Israel, this only serves to reinforce my desire to travel there. The pictures of the recipes and the people and places in Jerusalem are gorgeous and lush. The recipes make your mouth water just reading them, and to be honest the squishy cover is so fun to hold that you just have to pick it up. Buy this, and then cook from it, use it as a travel guide, or merely display it for friends and family to see. ~ Lisa Christie