The six-volume, 2,438 page and 40 pound “Modernist Cuisine, The Art & Science of Cooking” was under the tree on Christmas Day. Santa and his reindeer were probably muttering under their breath as they hauled this weighty set of books from their nearest invisible gift warehouse. :) The ultimate foodie publication for 2011, and perhaps for another decade after that, it is a stunning and impressive collection of recipes, photographs, technical descriptions, etc. I am not sure I will be able to try any of the sous-vide or other concoctions, but I can tell you it will make great leisurely reading for at least the next year or so. Read more about it in a New York Time review, here.
The stack by the reading chair isn’t all Christmas loot, rather acquired over the past few months, gifts from friends and family, etc.
First up, a fantastic find at a Booksale second hand store, this book on Heston Blumenthal’s Fantastical Feasts. At roughly PHP300 or so, it was an absolute bargain. The book equivalent to his terrific television series on several amazing feasts he prepared several years ago. A great find.
“A Platter of Figs” by David Tanis, who is head chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley for 6 months out of each year. A highly regarded chef, his two books received a lot of press when they were published, so I got both of them. The first book, is arranged around seasonal menus, focusing on the freshest ingredients, in simple sounding but utterly appetizing groups of dishes…
His second book, “Heart of the Artichoke” continues with the seasonal menu theme, and I think one of my New Year’s resolutions must be to try at least a couple of his menus over the course of 2012!
“Harvest to Heat” is another book that received glowing reviews, and while I have only glanced through it briefly thus far, I think the accolades are probably deserved. Again focusing on the ingredients, closest to source and prepared simply, this is a great compilation of recipes and insights from over 100 chefs and food artisians across America.
I think this may have been a gift (acckk, can’t recall for sure) or a Booksale purchase, but it is an easy readable book that helps the home cook prepare several of the wonderful seafood dishes served at Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin restaurant in New York. Tuna carpaccio anyone? :)
Definitely another Booksale bargain find, “A Great American Cook” featuring the recipes of Jonathan Waxman was published in 2007 but I didn’t run across it until rummaging through cookbooks at the second hand store. Lots of simple and classic Waxman dishes are something I am happy to have amongst my collection of cookbooks. At PHP255, another steal. :)
The same day I found the Waxman book, I also picked up Susanna Foo’s “Fresh Inspiration” which is a lighthanded approach to updated Chinese cuisine. I haven’t cooked anything from the book yet, but recipes like “Crispy Jumbo Shrimp with Caramelized Orange Sauce” I hope it won’t be long before I do…
Not a cookbook at all, this book on decorating with flowers is a brand new publication by Tuttle, authored by Roberto Caballero and Elizabeth Reyes. A Christmas gift from my college roommate and his wife, and dinner guests at our home for the past 25 years, it is an interesting look at some of Manila’s chicest homes and the floral arrangements they have while entertaining.
I had intended to visit Mark Bitterman’s shop called “The Meadow” in New York on our last trip, but didn’t get around to it, so I thought I would pick up his book on salt instead. It seems like a stretch to write a 300+ page book on a single ingredient, particularly one as “straightforward” as salt, but let’s see… haven’t even flipped through this one yet.
Jennifer McLagan’s “Odd Bits” is something I have wanted to purchase for several months. I really like the concept of trying to find ways to use up the entire animal (mostly pigs due to our Zubuchon adventure) and am now much more willing to experiment with dishes made up of less prime parts of every animal. I have the author’s other book on “Fat” and it is one of favorites, so I expect good things from this one as well.
I also picked up Yotam Ottolenghi’s new, visually arresting book, “Plenty” with over 100+ vegetarian recipes that look stunning and hopefully taste amazing. I have his other book and both are off-shoots from the eponymous take out food shops they have in London, and a column he wrote for The Guardian newspaper.
Nancy Silverton’s cookbook “Mozza” based on dishes served at Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza which she co-owns with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich was a no-brainer. Easy, yet delicious sounding dishes and tips from a highly respected chef. I have several of her previous books and have loved nearly every recipe I have cooked from them. In recent months, we have fallen into a kind of comfortable “rut” in our home, with the cook relying on old favorite dishes, so in 2012 I would like to try some new things, still familiar, but not the usual, and this is the kind of book to have on hand for that kind of cooking…
Meat. Big hunky cuts of meat. Cooked by the some of the best butchers across America. That is the subject of this hefty cookbook for the serious carnivore. A present from good friends, I have to save this book for March onwards as I am trying to limit meat intake for the next two months or so. :)
Claudia Roden’s cookbook “The Food of Spain” seemed like another good addition to the bookshelves. She has authored several other cookbooks on a rather varied number of cuisines, and we have her book “Arabesque” on the shelves, so I was interested to see her views on Spanish food — not just recipes but history, etc.
Another Christmas gift from good friends, this book on chocolate explores its history and the wide variety of this luscious treat.
Yup, the stack is growing and I need to get reading… Many thanks to friends and family who keep plying me with more and more cookbooks and food related books over the year. The question is, when will I ever feel ready enough to write one of my own? :)