Archive: Cook's Library

Old-School Cooking Whizdom

"A recipe is like a road map," writes chef Lauren Braun Costello. "A road map shows you where to go and how to get there, but does not teach you how to drive." (Photo courtesy of RCR Creative Press) This is how Costello and her writing partner Russell Reich kick off their new book, "Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft." And this is why I'm devoting today's space to an itty-bitty book that can fit inside a purse. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a veteran of several high-profile kitchens, Costello abstains from the same ol' recipe show-and-tell. Instead, she and Reich dish up a stick-to-your-ribs collection of kitchen aphorisms -- 217, to be exact -- that reveal the hows, whys, whens, whats and heart and soul of cooking. A mix of the pithy ("Preside happily over accidents") and the practical ("Use wet measures...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 7, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (1)

Tasty Summer Reads

Wherever you live and no matter your wallet size, the mere mention of the word ‘summer’ beckons, reminding us to take off our shoes, walk in the grass and yeah, maybe even get lost in a book. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life (at the age of three, I requested my own copy of the newspaper), but it is during summer when my literary appetite turns voracious. More than any other time of year, summer is when I devour biographies and memoirs for my mental escape, and I’ve been known to mix up new releases (just finished “Losing Mum and Pup” by Christopher Buckley) with old favorites that I love to crack open and revisit, particularly if they’re travel and food related. To that end, I’ve dished up a batch of five edible memoirs that not only earn a space on my over-crowded shelves but that get re-read,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 16, 2009; 07:42 AM ET | Comments (7)

Three Cookbooks I'm Excited About

The UPS guy and I have become pretty good pals, and I owe it all to cookbook publishers. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t receive a review copy of a new kitchen-appropriate title, an embarrassment of riches that requires constant upkeep. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it, even when a book doesn’t speak to me or goes promptly into the donation pile. Here are three titles that have passed the “looks good” test and have earned a time slot on the recipe-testing calendar at the Casa. (Courtesy Clarkson Potter Publishers) “Real Cajun” by Donald Link I’ll admit, New Orleans has a spiritual hold on me, so it didn’t take much to win me over with Donald Link’s book about the food of his native Acadiana, the heart of Cajun country. I was expecting all the classics -- etouffee, gumbo, jambalaya -- which are...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 13, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (8)

Cook’s Library: What’s Baking on the Shelves

It’s a tough life opening the door for the UPS guy who drops off a review copy of a new cookbook on a nearly daily basis. Hey, somebody’s gotta do it. On the floor by my desk is a tower of new titles that I’m snacking on, bit by bit. Today’s sampler is a trio of baking books all worth a looksee. The stand-up easel functionality of Mollie's Katzen's "Desserts." (Kim O'Donnel) Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads by Nancy Baggett Post Food section contributor Nancy Baggett, who’s got a dozen other books under her belt, has dreamed up a collection of 75 recipes for no-knead bread. I must admit, I’ve been slow to warm up to this idea that seems counterintuitive, but Baggett seems to have it all down to a science. She even includes a section on making over your traditional yeast recipes to the Kneadless method. Stay...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 5, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (12)

Guided Curry Tour

K Street: I love curries but am a bit intimidated by all of the spices. In an attempt to overcome this, I've talked some friends into joining me for a "curry day" and having a do-it-yourself cooking class. We want to get the relevant spices, toast and grind them -- we are planning to make 3-4 dishes, if possible, and then we'll sit down and eat when all is over. My question is whether you can suggest a good source for recipes that will go over how to handle the spices, etc. I saw that you referenced a new curry cookbook in your blog recently, so thought that might be an option. Ideas? As I mentioned in this week’s chat, I love this idea. In fact, it’s got me thinking about the possibility of doing a “Curry Week” in this space this fall, announced in advance so that readers could...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 19, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (6)

A Kid's Cookbook for Everyone

There's a new kid's cookbook about to hit the shelves, and it's poised to set kitchens around the world on fire - and that's a good thing. Flapjacks from "River Cottage Family Cookbook." (Kim O'Donnel) Anyone who's ever been in pursuit of a kid-friendly cookbook knows that the pickins' are generally slim - a patchwork selection of dumbed-down recipes, cutesy cartoon illustrations and very little culinary background that might prove useful. At last, at last, the British are coming, and they might just save the day, with the U.S. edition of "The River Cottage Family Cookbook." The latest title from the successful River Cottage series (I've got "Fish," the James Beard award-winning "Meat" and "Cookbook" in my midst ), "Family" is unlike any other children's cookbook for one reason: intellectual parity. In fact, if you're in the market for a clearly written, entertaining cookbook for beginners with a focus on...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 30, 2008; 07:20 AM ET | Comments (10)

Chat Leftovers: College Kid Cookbooks, Heart-Smart Apps

Bethesda Mom: Do you or any of the clicksters have a recommendation for a good super basic cookbook for college students -- i.e. people cooking on a budget and without fancy equipment? My son will be in his first apartment next year after two years of dorm living (at your old alma mater, Penn), and I don't want him living exclusively on cheesesteaks and deli from Koch's. I have not done a good job in teaching him up to this point and I want to make August "Cooking Boot Camp" for him and his younger brother. (I plan to have younger brother cook dinner at least one night a week next school year). Hey Mom, the first title that springs to mind is "Now You're Cooking" by Elaine Corn. I much prefer the optimistic tone of Corn's cover copy ("Everything a Beginner Needs to Know to Start Cooking Today") than...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 21, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (29)

A Tribute to Chengdu

The original plan for today's blog post -- to compile a summer reading list of cookbooks and culinary memoirs -- has been scratched and put on the back burner for now. Here's why: Among the handful of titles that I planned to mention (and start reading myself) was "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China," by British journalist Fuchsia Dunlop. So I'm flipping through the pages of Dunlop's third book (she has two cookbooks to her name), and I'm looking for a few lines to excerpt, and all of a sudden, the word Chengdu pops off the page. Author Fuchsia Dunlop, from the cover of "Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper"(Courtesy W.W. Norton/Tang Yuewu) Again and again. "Shark's Fin" is the tale of Dunlop's adventures in the mid-1990s as the first Westerner enrolled at the esteemed Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine. The school -- and most...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 20, 2008; 10:25 AM ET | Comments (6)

Edible Poetry

April is National Poetry Month, and today, April 17, is Poem in your Pocket Day, which means pick a poem, put it in your pocket and sing it loud and proud when the urge strikes. In the spirit of poetic exchange, I've served up a buffet of three poems -- all with food references -- that speak to me like a low-hanging mango begging to be picked. The first dish is an ode to the artichoke by Beverly Fields Burnette, a Raleigh, N.C.-based poet and president of the North Carolina Association of Black Storytellers. Artichoke Pickle Passion: A Sonnet In southern springs we dug for artichokes In Miz Olivia's tall and weedy yard. She dipped her snuff, but never, ever smoked; At eighty-five, she wasn't avant-garde. Her 'bacco spittings grew the vegetable; Well nourished were the tubers, strong, the stalks. And even though their worth was questionable, With hoe in...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 17, 2008; 08:05 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Buffet of Food Memoirs

Even for a junkie like me, it's hard keeping up with the constant flow of new food memoirs that are cropping up on bookstore shelves like weeds. It's a literary all-you-can-eat buffet, a smorgasbord of titles covering all aspects (and perspectives) of the food world, from a former eavesdropping server at Per Se (Phoebe Damrosch's "Service Included") to a celiac girl-meets-chef love story (Shauna James Ahearn's "Gluten-Free Girl") -- and that's just a sliver of what's been published since September. While on vacation earlier this month, I had time to make a dent in the tower of books by my bed, and devour a brand new memoir hybrid (part love letter to New Orleans) I'm dying to tell you about. And just as soon as I finished all four books, I've come to learn about yet another newly launched title ("Fair Shares for All" by John Haney) that has me...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 19, 2008; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (1)

Chat Leftovers: Cookbooks for Meatless Reasons

During yesterday's What's Cooking , a reader from New Orleans, La., with a few holiday gift cards burning a hole in her pocket expressed an interest in vegetarian cookbooks. In response, I asked for more information about her cooking habits and interests, and here's what I found in the queue after the live hour: We cook three to four times a week, eating leftovers otherwise. Not vegan -- but looking to reduce meat consumption for environmental and budgetary reasons. We like ethnic food, we dig hippie grains, etc, we are adventurous, and we're looking to expand the number of foods we eat per week. I also found this post from "Midwest," who writes: Can you recommend a Web site or book that offers recipes for relatively simple, hearty (but not high fat or calorie) vegetarian main dishes? Hubby has agreed to try a vegetarian night once every couple weeks, but...

 

By Kim ODonnel | January 16, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (34)

Getting Your Chocolate Groove On

Marcel Desaulniers is hard-core when it comes to chocolate. His e-mail moniker is Goganache, for crying out loud. In 15 years, the chef-author has written six choco-filled cookbooks, covering every nook and cranny in the cacao world from cakes to pie, brownies to truffles, and then there's ice cream, of course. If you're still looking for a holiday gift for the chocoholic in your life, Desaulnier's latest endeavor, "I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas," may be just the ticket. Nothing seems too complicated in this collection of 70-plus recipes, which read clearly and offer guidance. Golly Polly's Doodles. (Kim O'Donnel) Earlier this fall, Desaulniers, who's chef/owner of The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Va., and I shared a table at The National Press Club's book fair, a proximity that allowed me to get a real mouthful of treats from his new book. I immediately fell in love with his Golly Polly's...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 20, 2007; 09:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

All Hail the Vegan Queen

She's a high-school dropout with no formal culinary training, but Isa Chandra Moskowitz is quickly becoming one of the hottest names in the vegan cookbook world. At the age of 16, Moskowitz, a born-and-bred Brooklynite eschewed her meat-and-potatoes upbringing and embarked on a vegan punk rock journey that would morph into a public access television cooking show and ultimately, into a successful career as a cookbook author. It was only two years ago when Moskowitz, now 34, published her first book, "Vegan With A Vengeance," which has sold more than 50,000 copies, and already she's got two more under her belt, "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World" and most recently (October), "Veganomicon," both written with her punk pal, Terry Hope Romero. Isa Chandra Moskowitz. If you thought vegan was far off the mainstream path, think again. "Veganomicon" is kicking everyone's butt on amazon.com; it is currently #18 on the list...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 10, 2007; 10:34 AM ET | Comments (0)

December Foodie Magazine Roundup

Ever since I compiled a roundup of Thanksgiving special issues at the end of October, I've been receiving requests for a similar overview of the food mag world's annual holiday spreads. As November winds down tomorrow and makes room for the most festive time of the year, here's my take on December-centric food issues you may find at your nearest check-out counter or magazine stand. Today, I take on four magazines; tomorrow, I'll finish with another batch of three. And as usual, comments and magazine-y tidbits are most welcome in the coments area below....

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 29, 2007; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (0)

Some Pepper With My Cookie, Please

I was looking for a new twist on a holiday cookie, and I found it in the most unlikely of places -- a cookbook focusing on the Indian Ocean spice route. "Where Flavor Was Born" is indeed a spicy and lively collection of nearly 100 recipes from the countries and island nations on four continents that surround the world's third largest ocean. (If anyone can find a resource that lists all countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, I'd be grateful.) Sugar and spice makes everything nice in these cookies. (Kim O'Donnel) The genius idea of making the spice connection among the cookery of four continents belongs to Norwegian food writer and TV cooking personality Andreas Viestad, who traveled to eleven countries for research, including his beloved Zanzibar, an East African island nation I've been hankering to visit for several years. Rather than by country, continent or type of dish, the book...

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 28, 2007; 09:49 AM ET | Comments (27)

Kim Cooks Up a Book

My editor tells me I'm allowed one full-blown shameless plug, so here goes: I am the proud mama of my first-born cookbook, "A Mighty Appetite for the Holidays." It is a cute little (7x7) soft-covered book that is small enough to tote on your daily commute or to tuck into a carry-on bag on your flight over the river and through the woods. The book is divided into two sections -- the Thanksgiving feast, from soup to nuts, and the festive month of December that includes four holidays, a winter solstice and a new year. My goal is to gear you up with a battery of recipes (with plenty of room for improv and variation), inspire you to try new ingredients and expand your culinary horizons, and maybe, just maybe, entertain you with stories about the mercurial marriage of family, food and the festive season. Here's cookin' with you, kid....

 

By Kim ODonnel | November 2, 2007; 07:12 AM ET | Comments (12)

Thanksgiving Magazine Roundup

If you've waited in a supermarket checkout line lately, chances are you've caught up on the dedicated-to-Thanksgiving special issues from food magazines. I rounded up six of them during a recent checkout, and have since leafed through, scribbled notes and made an assessment: Not one stands above the rest or inspires me to take this year's Thanksgiving feast to a new level. Thank goodness for my back issues from years past, which seem to cover the basics and have more of an instructional focus. I know, it must be challenging for mag editors to come up with a new Thanksgiving theme year after year, but I gotta say, I'm left feeling un-wowed. Below, my notes; please weigh in and offer thoughts on additional magazines that have either helped or hindered this year's preparation. BON APPETIT Can you judge a magazine by its cover? Focus on the contents of the plate...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 29, 2007; 11:32 AM ET | Comments (29)

Tea Geeks

"It's time for tea," Mary Lou Heiss declared to me in our phone conversation last week. And in this case, Heiss, who owns a specialty foods shop in western Massachusetts with her husband, Robert, doesn't mean that the kettle is on. Instead, she means that tea, as an artisanal product, is finally getting its due in the United States. "Earlier this year, we went to the World Tea Expo, a sort of newish trade show (it launched in 2003), and we met so many people who are about to start a tea business," says Heiss. "Within the next year, tea is going to explode." Tea experts Mary Lou Heiss and Robert Heiss. (Steve Garfield) The Heiss's, who sell about 120 kinds of loose-leaf tea at their store, Cooks Shop Here, have just published "The Story of Tea," an impressive body of work that is part travel journal, brewing manual, history...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 22, 2007; 07:32 AM ET | Comments (16)

'Tis the Season - for Cookbooks

Autumn means crackling leaves as well as cookbooks, which are showing up in droves at my doorstep. There are simply too many titles to mention in one article, so while the season is hot, I'll dish up a few at a time in an ongoing cookbook alert. Here's a taste of today's featured titles. If you've been the slightest bit curious about oysters or want to expand your bi-valved horizons, A Geography of Oysters" by Rowan Jacobsen has your name all over it. Jacobsen, a staff writer for the quarterly food mag Art of Eating, shares his love of the oyster, which began at the age of 12, an experience he describes passionately from get-go and one that set the stage for his equally impassioned guide to eating oysters in North America. In many respects, Jacobsen's book is a travel book, chockful of maps and lists of oyster bars and...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 16, 2007; 11:02 AM ET | Comments (15)

The Gillian School of Cooking

Lemon curd. That's what I learned on my first day as a line cook rookie at Cashion's Eat Place in the summer of 1996. Emily, the pastry chef, had set me up with a pot of butter, egg yolks, sugar lemon juice and zest, instructing me to whisk constantly, so that the eggs wouldn't curdle. I was to holler when the mixture was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Because I didn't know any better, I whisked the curd using my entire arm, rather than my wrist, an error that quickly tuckered me out and made me feel faint. That's when Gillian walked in. She pushed open the kitchen doors and demanded to know who the new girl was, and stupidly I told her I wasn't feeling very well. "Are you pregnant?" she barked. "Um, I don't think so," I said sheepishly. I better not be, is...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 2, 2007; 09:51 AM ET | Comments (3)

Italian Cookbooking

A What's Cooking reader who recently returned from a vacation in Italy is champing at the bit for "an authentic, not-too-difficult Italian cookbook" to recreate some of those magical moments at the table. Ah, Italia. Seven years have passed since I walked on Italian soil, but that place, it does something to you. Bewitching, magical and even a bit maddening, Italy gets under your skin and never lets you go. Some of us come back to our routines but we're never quite the same - we're constantly day dreaming. And others (who've got the right idea), such as food writers Nancy Harmon Jenkins, Faith Willinger and memoirist Marlena de Blasi return stateside merely to pack up their affairs and start a new life on the other side of the ocean. Some of you may know that I cut my teeth on Italian cucina, when I took a master course at...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 20, 2007; 10:55 AM ET | Comments (6)

What Is Food Writing?

It is a question that's been on my mind of late. Over the course of the past 10 years, I have been fortunate enough to get paid to play with food and write about it. There have been recipes, restaurant writeups, reported articles, essays, weekly columns, Web chats and this daily blog. When asked what I do for a living, I say I write about food, not that I'm a food writer. And the reason is this: I'm a writer first. I like to tell stories. Food is my passion, and it is the entryway for those stories. Food is the entryway. The door swung wide open when this spring I got my hands on a copy of "American Food Writing: An Anthology With Classic Recipes." The brains behind this collection of work that spans 250 years is Molly O'Neill, whose food columns in the New York Times Magazine planted...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 13, 2007; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (2)

Indie Cookware/Cookbookery

Open House was the name of a cookware/houseware store on Bala Avenue, one of the few main drags in my hometown of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., a stone's throw from Philadelphia. Open House was a locally owned shop with untreated hardwood floors much like an old-time hardware store. It stood on a corner, with storefront windows, about six blocks from our house on Penarth Road. I remember going in with my mother, and we'd poke around at all the cool stuff -- placemats and pottery, platters and glassware, pots and utensils. I remember classical music filling the room. Maybe my mother can fill in the dots, but it was a magical place for me. A taste of the Kitchen Witch in New Orleans. (Kim O'Donnel) Flash forward 30-some years, and I've still got a yen for independently owned cookware and cookbook shops. They're a dying breed, I know, as are small...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 27, 2007; 12:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

'Round the World in Sushi

Did you know that the prized and beloved fatty tuna (aka toro) was once considered unfit for human consumption and relegated to cat food? Or that Canada was central to shaping sushi as we know it today? These are just some of the interesting tidbits tucked inside "The Sushi Economy," a new book by Sasha Issenberg, a Philadelphia-based writer. If you ever wondered how and where that sushi traveled before it appeared on a pretty plate next to the lump of wasabi, this book may satisfy your curiosity, and perhaps have you asking even more questions. The book reads much like a spy novel, traveling back and forth in time, among five continents, with a cast of characters that include fishermen, business moguls, auctioneers, rising star sushi chefs, airport officials, pirates, launderers, fish surveillance and of course, the blue fin tuna. Last week, I caught up with Issenberg, who was...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 29, 2007; 11:17 AM ET | Comments (0)

Cooking Up a New Life

In the mid-1980s, the only thing that Jeff Henderson knew how to cook was crack cocaine. As a young drug dealer in San Diego, Henderson was making up to $35,000 a week. In 1988, the lush life came to a crashing halt, when Henderson was arrested and ultimately indicted on federal drug trafficking charges. Henderson, who's now the executive chef at Café Bellagio in Las Vegas, tells the story of how he cooked his way through -- and out of -- prison in his recently released book, "Cooked: From the Streets to the Stove, from Cocaine to Foie Gras." Two years into his originally mandated sentence of 19 1/2 years, Henderson started working in a prison kitchen. For me, the following passage, which describes Henderson's initial trepidation in the kitchen, is one of the strongest in the book: Cooking took me back to the Motel 6 in San Diego. I...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 16, 2007; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (3)

E-Z Meals? Depends Who's Talking

In this week's chat, a reader asked about a new cookbook on the market, "A Twist of the Wrist" by Nancy Silverton that's getting some attention. It's important to mention the subtitle here: "Quick Flavorful Meals With Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags and Boxes." When you read that, what comes to mind? Balsamic vinegar, fennel pollen and mostardo, by chance? I know what you're thinking, I must have some of that easy-to-find burrata cheese to make my crostini sing. All of the above-mentioned ingredients are highlighted in orange and listed in Silverton's "Twist Essentials," a detailed glossary at the book at the book. Now, when I first heard about this book (and its premise), I thought of basics for the average home cook in need of inspiration and a few shortcuts. Even when I read Silverton's introduction: The goal of my so-called mission is to show people a way to...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 13, 2007; 08:57 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Cookbook Look

A few new cookbooks have come my way, and although I've yet to test their recipes, they seem worth a look-see, with lots of potential for kitchen playtime. I've an avid reader of 101cookbooks.com, the lively blog written by San Francisco-based photographer/designer Heidi Swanson, so I was excited to learn of her new cookbook, "Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways to Incorporate Whole & Natural Ingredients Into Your Cooking, " which was released this month. (She also is the author of "Cook 1.0: A Fresh Approach to the Vegetarian Kitchen.") What a treat to have a first edition that's paperback! One of my pet peeves about newly released cookbooks is their hardbound stiffness that makes page turning and in-kitchen referral a big pain. Swanson's photos, which are a major ingredient in the book, are so luscious and colorful you'll want to eat the pages. Like a good pantry, the text is...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 15, 2007; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Growing Appetite for Portland

I want to thank all the Portland-savvy readers who shared their eats and drinks picks over the past few days. Your enthusiasm is inspiring and made me want to stay in Portland for several more days. Here's to a Portland visit in 2007! Before hitting highway I-5 Friday afternoon, we made a stop in the Hawthorne District for a quick stroll, and of course, a visit to Powell's Books for Home & Garden. One of the many specialty stores of the Powell's book empire, PBHG is a misleading, understated name for what could easily be the most comprehensive collection of cookbooks for sale in the country. For the stalwart devotees of New York's Kitchen Arts and Letters, this is not to say KAL is without its high standards of culinary stackdom. I love the place and will pop in when on the Upper East Side. However, PBHG is probably the...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 28, 2006; 01:51 PM ET | Comments (7)

Easy Breezy Reads

I'm an August baby -- but that's not the only reason I consider it a month of romance and intrigue. For four-season denizens, August is the last big pause before the insane frenzied pace of 21st century urban life resumes. August allows us to stand still and breathe -- the salty air of the ocean, the perfume of a peach, the smoky fumes of a neighbor's char-grilled burgers. It's the last chance for a swim, an evening with the fireflies, or a date with all those books you've wanted to meet. And maybe, just maybe, there's still enough time to get out of Dodge before the school bell starts to clang clang clang, the whistles blow, the highways bend, the days get shorter and we wake up it's Thanksgiving for crying out loud. Congress takes a break in August -- why not the rest of us? A week from today,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 9, 2006; 11:24 AM ET | Comments (1)

Gluten-Free True-Blue Breakfast

Always on the lookout for new cookbooks, I was eager to crack open my newly arrived copy of "World Vegetarian Classics" by American-Brit cook Celia Brooks Brown. In addition to penning cookbooks, Brown appears on BBC's food channel and is a private chef, whose celeb client list includes Chrissie Hynde and Stella McCartney. When shopping for a new veggie title, I was particularly drawn to Brown's assertion (stated on her Web site) that "Vegetarian food still has a boring, brown, 'socks and sandals' stigma" which she has endeavored to reverse. If photos are an important ingredients in your cookbooks, this title will appeal; they are big and beautiful and dotted throughout the book. Brown has compiled 220 recipes from around the world, neatly organized by continent. Although keen to try the Pacha Rice (Egypt) and the Akara with Pilipili (black eye pea cakes from Nigeria), I made a beeline for...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 17, 2006; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Rainy Day Reads

With the nonstop onslaught of rain over the past two weeks, I've been staying dry indoors and devoting some attention to my growing bedside mountain of books -- both brand-new arrivals and seasoned veterans. Baja California is the intriguingly long peninsula that juts south from San Diego, Calif., into what is a different country, literally. Although separated from the Mexican mainland by the waters of the Gulf of California, Baja is 100 percent Mexico, amigo. West coast chef Deborah M. Schneider, who caught the Baja bug 20 years ago, shares her culinary adventures from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas in "¡Baja!: Cooking on the Edge." Inspired by the variety of fish and shellfish, fruits, veggies, herbs and chiles along Baja's 2000 miles of coastline, Schneider shares the recipes she learned in the villages, be it street food or campfire lobster. Cookbooks that teach geography are among my favorites, and in...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 6, 2006; 09:46 AM ET | Comments (3)

Only in New York

While not eating in New York this weekend (stay tuned for a dining report later today), I went window shopping, one of the best ways to walk off calories in the mecca of design and fashion. Setting off for a long, post-prandial stroll down Fifth Avenue, I had no intention of buying anything, let alone shoes, one of my top retail weaknesses (I'm also a sucker for books), but there it was, the 57th Street location of Arche. It's one of my all-time favorite pit stops for Frenchy shoes that I rarely can afford. The newly launched sale strengthened the temptation, and lo and behold, I walked out two pairs heavier. The mini-version of the "Art and Cook." cookbook. (Kim O'Donnel) Another favorite haunt (also on West 57th) is Rizzoli, the most stately and grand of any book store I've ever laid eyes on. Is it the store's mansion feel,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 27, 2006; 10:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Conscience-Raising Foodbookery

In yesterday's post on culinary reading, I mentioned two distinct trends in food titles this year -- culinary memoirs and an umbrella topic that includes buzz words such as organic, sustainable, ethics, ecology and politics. As a culture, we are starting to wake up to the harsh reality of environmental destruction and its far-reaching impacts on the food we put in the shopping cart and ultimately in our mouths, and we're seeing these revelations show up in droves on bookstore shelves. The list that follows is just a sample of the body of work focused on food politics, authored by experts in a variety of fields - journalism, cooking, conservation, science, agriculture and public health. It was Michael Pollan's " ">The Omnivore's Dilemma" that got me thinking in a profound way about the food chain, akin to how I felt a few years ago when I read "Fast Food Nation"...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 8, 2006; 08:41 AM ET | Comments (0)

Books to Chew On

After a thorough scouring of book shelves and review lists, it seems that 2006 is the year for two genres among food-centric titles: culinary memoirs and organic/sustainable/food ethics and politics. In a typical year of recent memory, it's one or two (tops) foodie auto-bios that get released - "Garlic and Sapphires" by Gourmet magazine's Ruth Reichl was last year's big chow, for example. This year, it's a veritable literary smorgasbord, with at least eight new titles to sink your teeth into, from a motley mix of great writers, chefs and critics. Here's what's on the menu:...

 

By Kim ODonnel | June 7, 2006; 10:36 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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