22 Sep2014


While browsing through a suburban mall on the U.S. east coast recently, I spied these spectacular, authentic, heavy-duty canvas book bags that a company called Levenger manufactures presumably for the Boston Public Library. They were on a summer close-out sale and I bought a couple of them. Anyone who has read this blog for several years knows that I have an extensive and expanding collection of cookbooks and magazines, over two thousand at last count, I think (600+ cookbooks and say 1,500+ magazines)… Nope, I haven’t turned to electronic formats for either and I like to flip through their pages whenever the mood strikes. So many recipes are available on-line these days, but I am very old-fashioned when it comes to these things.


My grandmother was a near serial collector of Ming, Sung, and other various dynastic ceramics from burial diggings in the Southern Philippines… she later expanded to antiques of all sorts. My mother collected dozens of things, including shells, fabric, pottery, etc. My dad liked his cars and audio equipment and LP’s. I will leave a room full of cookbooks and magazines when I head off to the beyond. :) I was particularly taken by these Levenger canvas book bags, because they are so sturdily constructed, and can literally carry some 30-40 books that weight almost as much as a half sack of rice! I haven’t done a post on cookbooks I’m reading (or have been recently reading) in years, the last lengthy post here in 2012, and other book posts here, here and here, so I thought I should do this one.


I got this great book as a Christmas present from a close friend last Christmas, and have used it on recent trips abroad. Unfortunately, not a single Filipino restaurant made the list, probably more because not many chefs happen to course through Manila or Cebu on a regular basis, and the lists are given to the editors by chefs from around the globe. Some sample restaurants in this guidebook are: Yung Kee and Mak’s noodle in Hong Kong (not pricey joints, just places chefs grab grub) along with say Man Wah at the Mandarin Oriental for Cantonese food. Nahm of David Thompson in Bangkok, along with Poonsin and several others. In Singapore, they list fancy Les Amis, downscale Newton Food Centre and Esquina. Bali got Ibu Oka’s listed (of babi guling or Balinese lechon fame) and Sarong as well. I like this book, and refer to it before taking foreign trips…


A few weeks ago in New York, my sister gave me this autographed copy of The New Greenmarket cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz. It includes recipes from several dozen brilliant chefs, using ingredients from the greenmarkets in New York, the Union Square Market being the one I am most familiar with. My sister volunteers there hence she was around when the author was around signing books… It’s a nice guide to using produce as they become seasonally available.


Prior to getting to New York, I had ordered over a dozen books from Amazon and while most were stuck in a balikbayan box that I won’t get for 3-4 months (though port congestion in Manila is now finally being cleared) and I don’t include in this rundown, I did take a few of the books and carried them in my luggage… this small book on Asian pickles being one of them. I have been enamored with pickling for the past couple of years so this just adds to the list of pickling books on the shelves. It’s a so-so book, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it.


I also brought along Patricia Wells’ latest edition of the Food Lover’s Guide to Paris, and as you can see, Mrs. MM and I have tagged dozens of places that we would like to visit or try. Paris is such a gastronomic mecca that I think I could spend a year there and still not visit every place I would like to see, try, taste the food of, etc.


Thai food by an American chef. Great book, light reading, easy to do recipes, delicious outcomes. From the celebrated restaurant that started out of a garage(?!) in Portland, Oregon and now with an outpost in Brooklyn, New York. I have cooked several things from this book.


What did I say with my recent fascination with pickles and salting and food preservation? Enough said.


David Lebovitz’s book on Paris… doesn’t he live the sweetest life?


The Flavor Bible, by the folks who wrote What to Drink with What you Eat… It’s seems a tad oxymoronic to have a guide to culinary creativity, but essentially it is a tome on ingredients and what things seem to go well with what. Take “Crab” as an example, it says great baked, boiled, broiled, grilled or steamed… with things like aioli, apples, artichokes, bell peppers, caviar, celery root, chervil, cilantro, creme fraiche, etc. Get the picture? I think it’s terrific for when you try to come up with new dishes with ingredients you’ve become a bit too familiar with, but don’t break out of a small list of pairings… The book won a James Beard Award so it’s probably a good addition to any comprehensive food library.


A couple of years ago, we visited Seattle after a trip to Vancouver to meet marketmanila readers, and we had a muffin or two and some pastries from this bakery. I bought the book a year later and while it seems to have very doable recipes, I have never actually baked anything from it yet. I vow to do so in the run up to the holidays this year.


I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi’s earlier books, many vegetable heavy and so chockfull with simple, vibrant, tasty combinations that are delicious as well as visually attractive. So I browsed through this cookbook at the recent annual book fair at the Mall of Asia, and with a 20% discount at Fully Booked, I picked up several cook books (the next two books as well) which I devoured on Sunday while supine on the living room couch. Several dishes in this book make me want to run to the kitchen and cook.


A Francophile of sorts, Ms. Williams has a well-regarded restaurant in New York and her book is a nice compendium of simple but tasty dishes with a gallic twist. The photographs in the book are beautifully styled and photographed… some of the best cookbook photos I have come across recently. It’s all a bit contrived, but stunning nonetheless. The photo of pinzimonio, a fancy name for mixed crudités with olive oil, is a still life almost worthy of hanging on the wall…


In an ideal world, I would build my own brick oven, have a temperature controlled drying room, and curing room for sausages and hams, and have a smokehouse for hot and cold smoking… they are all on my wish list. :) Hence this somewhat irreverent and cheeky but seriously useful book on Spanish charcuteria. I am tempted to mail order all kinds of curing mixes, T-SPX cultures and sherry for a pre-Christmas spree with sausages and what not. But I need that humidity and temperature controlled space… :( First recipe I want to try? A simple one for Mohama, salted and dried loins of tuna belly. Doesn’t that just sound amazing?


Got this thin paperback at the National Bookstore booth at the Book Fair, also 20% off on all imported titles. Can you imagine, they had bigger discounts on imported books rather than locally published ones?! Where’s the logic in that? A book devoted to fried chicken of all kinds, seriously, how could I NOT get this book?


Another book from National Book Store, one on all kinds of brassicas like broccoli, but also several kinds of bok choy and choy sums. I didn’t know they were all from the same family.


I thought dropping off our daughter on her college campus would end the 20+ year streak of making gingerbread houses, castles, churches, apartment blocks, St. Basil’s Cathedral, etc., but when I saw this book, old habits die hard. I bought it because it had some clever ideas and materials to use, as well as patterns for a dozen homes, but it was a bit disappointing. I guess after 20 years of doing this on my own (with lots of help from trusty crew), I have amassed several of my own tricks as well. I should have left this one on the shelf…


Very nice book. Simple guides to typical cuts of meat, some interesting takes on classic recipes along with other interesting meat based dishes, and some very clear descriptions of how to make the dish. And their advise for the “perfect” steak — cook it medium rare, develop a nice crust by searing it in a pan on the stovetop, after sprinkling it with maldon sea salt and medium grind black pepper, in a very hot cast iron pan, then transfer to an oven at say 300F to cook until your desired level of doneness, remove from the oven to a cool pan or rack and let it rest for for 8 to 10 minutes. REST for 8-10 minutes, remember that brouhaha years back on resting meat? :)


Another recent obsession have been tacos. I like how you can basically put anything in a taco. I like that they are dead simple to make. I like how finger food messy they are. And I like how they have suddenly sprouted in medium to fine dining places from California to New York to South Africa and Asia. I wanted to make several kinds of tacos for an upcoming dinner or lunch party, so I ordered this book. It’s okay, not great, but will be a sufficient guide for me in my taco explorations…


I’m not sure why I bought this book, as I have never been to the Macrina bakery nor read any reviews of the book, but after flipping through it, I saw several recipes I would eventually like to try at home, so off to the registers I went. A pistachio shortbread, apple-cinammon pull-aparts, an orange chocolate chip coffee cake, etc. are all on my to do list… eventually.


While I cook pseudo chinese dishes quite often, a lot of chinese food recipes can be rather daunting, particularly if you don’t have a well stocked pantry of chinese ingredients and condiments. But this book is quite appealing… making classics like hot and sour soup, crispy beef, winter melon soups, etc. sound so much easier to do than other Chinese tomes. I am very happy I got this book, and will use several of the recipes. Definitely.


I bought this vegetable book second hand at Booksale bookstores (several outlets in Manila, Cebu and elsewhere) that I troll regularly for very reasonably priced, previously owned cookbooks. This one cost roughly PHP200 and it’s well worth it. Notice all the post it tags on it for recipes I want to try, particularly now that I am on a heavy vegetable regimen of meals.


Another find from the bargain bookstore. Also PHP200 for this one. But it’s frankly not as good a book as Michael Chiarello’s first one.


THIS is the man’s grill book to have. I got it over a year ago and it makes me want to book a flight to Argentina or Chile or wherever Mr. Mallman is currently cooking on an open fire. This brings the caveman genes out in the open. And the other grill books I have gotten recently pale in comparison with this one. If you are in the market for a grill book, this is it.


I want a wood fired brick oven! This book is nice, but not as nice as the previous one.


More David Lebovitz. I am helping to make him richer than he already is. And while he lives the sweetest life in Paris. Hmmm, how do I do that? Simple but delicious recipes for things like Fresh Ginger Cake, Cheesecake Brownies, Brown Sugar-Pecan Shortbread, etc. mean this is going to be by my side when I come up with a dozen things to bake for this upcoming holiday season.


This Eric Kayser book has been on our shelves for nearly a decade. But I haven’t looked at it lately, so it’s back in the “current” pile. I have baked some beautiful tarts from this book, when I have all the luxury of time and cool head and hands, and one of them even made it into one of the first magazine articles I did after starting the marketmanila.com blog… Grab one if you see it at a second hand book sale or garage sale.


Got this book a while back, browsed through it, put it on the shelf and never opened it again. I just re-opened it and need to try some of the recipes… Things like soft sandwich bread, english muffins and bagels are all common things that would be nice to do at home. But then again, I could just buy them.


More wood fired cooking.


I normally like Dorie Greenspan books but this one I have ignored for several months. Not sure why, it just doesn’t appeal to me as much as other cookbooks.


A History of Food. I need to place this one on my night table and read a little of it at a time.


On my culinary bucket list, I would like to stay a couple of nights at the Blackberry Farm, the 4,200 acre farm of the Beall family in Tennessee that is reputed to be one of the finest small hotels with a culinary bent. The Beall’s made their fortune on the Ruby Tuesday’s chain of restaurants, and took a small chunk of it to develop this utterly stunning farm in the foothills of the Great Smokey Mountains. Their cookbook is the first step towards fulfilling that culinary bucket list item. :)


I’ve been into vegetables recently, so this book is a must-have.


Latin American desserts anyone? I thought it would be a good way to understand some of our own sweet things… after all, the Mexicans coming over in galleons must have influenced some of our food choices, no? But I haven’t really cooked much from this book.


Nice book. And if I am not mistaken, the chef has a soft spot for Philippine flavors somehow. There are several recipes in this book that sound delicious. I would love to eat at the restaurant if I got the chance.


Vietnamese food is a huge favorite of mine, and this book makes cooking it at home, with little previous Vietnamese experience, quite simple and rewarding…


I always think I am going to bake bread… maybe when I have that wood fired oven. :)


PHP100 purchase from the Booksale store.


More charcuterie.


And finally, a Jim Lahey book on Pizza. I have used this again and again. Now for that pizza oven.

Phew, didn’t realize how long this list was. Need to do them in smaller chunks next time.



  1. George says:


    Sep 22, 2014 | 9:12 pm


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  3. may says:

    fantastic line up!

    Sep 22, 2014 | 9:28 pm

  4. KRon says:

    Really nice selection MM. I always troll bookstores and secondhand bookshops as well, but somehow end up purchasing just a few or none at all, on the logic that I can probably use the few hundred/few thousand pesos for other things more important… but more often than not, that’s not the case at all. :)) I need to remind myself that printed literature can sometimes be excellent investment, or at least a mighty fine way to enrich one’s self.

    Sep 22, 2014 | 10:44 pm

  5. betty q. says:

    MM…don’t know if the recipe of stuffed churros is in that book but if it is, do try it! I use a cannoli filling or you have leftover cheesecake(which is wishful thinking in our household!), you can use that as well and mix in even crumbled Oreos and praline! Flavour the cheesecake filling with Nutella even…endless combos…excellent midnight snack!

    Sep 23, 2014 | 4:09 am

  6. Thel from Florida says:

    We plan to drive our RV to Kentucky this Fall to visit some friends. Blackberry Farm is on our way so I will ask my husband to take me there.

    Wow, wow, wow, you have lots of cookbooks!!

    Sep 23, 2014 | 5:52 am

  7. betty q. says:

    MM…if you are up to making another experiment….try making savoury stuffed churros…excellent appys! …instead of cinnamon sugar, roll in grated Parmesan stuffed with 5 cheeses like cream cheese or ricotta, handful of caramelization onions, chopped, some chopped capers and green peppercorns, chopped, Swiss cheese, a little cambozola, Parmesan and mozzarella. Stuff your cooked churros with it while at room temp. Roll In grated Parmesan. Another stuffing is cream cheese with sundried tomato pesto, caramelized onions, chopped parsley. Even leftover grilled barbecue chicken with Caesar dressing …or mango curried chicken….I better stop….getting carried away again!

    Sep 23, 2014 | 6:24 am

  8. edee says:

    Jason Atherton has a Filipina wife so that explains his soft spot for Philippine flavours. I think i saw him cook adobo in one cooking show :)

    Sep 23, 2014 | 7:10 am

  9. Connie C says:

    Great array of book selections, MM. Don’t cook much these days anymore but maybe some or one of those cookbooks will get me in front of the burners again.

    bettyQ: Can’t imagine savoury stuffed churros, but my son who loves to cook is into savoury. I tell him my taste buds are simpler than his. He would have loved being an apprentice in your kitchen.

    And BTW, you really are coming to ‘Pins for your niece’s or nephew’s wedding, right?

    Sep 23, 2014 | 7:43 am

  10. besYS says:

    Hi MM!
    In 2011, my husband and I visited Vancouver and Seattle. We went to Macrina Bakery and I fell in love with their Harvest Squash Loaf! I saw one Macrina book and bought it right away when I saw the recipe. :-)
    I have baked the Harvest Squash loaf several times. Masarap talaga!! :-)

    Sep 23, 2014 | 8:42 am

  11. Marketman says:

    besYS, will have to look that one up in the book, thanks for the tip! Connie C and Bettyq, WHAT?! a Manila trip planned? You must let us know in advance and if possible, we can arrange a mini-eyeball or re-union for marketmanila regulars! And if you can get to Cebu, and better if we can convince Footloose to cross the Pacific, I promise you a lechon feast like no other in our own yard! How’s that for enticement? edee, aha!, I knew there was a link, just couldn’t remember what it was… thanks for that. bettyq, my churros experiments thus far have yielded lukewarm results… will have to try some of your suggestions. Thel, please do tell… if you manage a night or two at Blackberry Farm I would LOVE to hear about the experience! KRon, I have a good excuse to amass cookbooks and magazines, I say “it’s for new recipe ideas” for the restaurant and I allow myself more than I usually would I think… :)

    Sep 23, 2014 | 8:47 am

  12. f says:

    Hi MM. Which of the woodfired cooking cookbooks would you recommend for stuff other than pizza?

    Sep 23, 2014 | 9:34 am

  13. besYS says:

    MM, I just checked my Macrina book ( Bakery and Cafe Book) and found out that I have a different one than yours. Now, I’m not so sure if that Squash Harvest loaf recipe is in your book. ( in my book, it’s on pages 84-85) The recipe calls for Butternut Squash. :-)
    Anyway, I googled and found the recipe. Please look at those pictures.
    Thank you! Have a great day! :-)


    Sep 23, 2014 | 9:36 am

  14. ami says:

    I was thinking about going to the Manila Book Fair last weekend in SMX but when I found out that MOA beside it was on sale and I wasn’t sure if some roads are still submerged from typhoon Mario, I stayed home instead.

    The book Pokpok is definetely a head turner for pinoys.

    Looks like we have the same post-it system of keeping tab of interesting pages in books.

    Sep 23, 2014 | 12:37 pm

  15. dragon says:

    Ottolenghi’s cooking, persona and recipes seem very attractive. He will be (or is) in Melbourne and would rather try his food than Heston’s $525/head-without-drinks-lottery-style dining.

    Sep 23, 2014 | 2:04 pm

  16. Footloose says:

    Kindle and IPad might be gaining ground among readers and it looks as though they are posed at finally supplanting the physical book, specially fiction, but nothing can ever replace actual cookbooks among food aficionados. I see evidence of this in the local bookstores I regularly visit, the cookbook section’s expansion seems to accelerate when sections for other interests are receding. At this rate, the time when bookstores become purely cookbook stores, I foresee, may not be too far away into the future.

    All I have kept of my former cookbook collection is its threadbare vestige, obviously well paged through but immaculate of grease and sauce stain, one nomad’s absolute minimum:
    Julia Child et al’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking,
    Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee’s The Chinese Cookbook, Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts, Rose Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, Enriqueta David- Perez’s Recipes of the Philippines, Nora Daza’s Let’s Cook with Nora and bound copies of Cooking Illustrated’s early years. My tottering towers of Gourmet magazine were the first to get dispersed.

    It may be easier said to get rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a cycle of seasons but you cannot do that with books. They may not be as impervious to vagaries of trends and fickleness of fashion but that’s precisely why you want to keep them. Being an invertebrate (spineless) book hoarder myself, all I can wish you is may you never run out of shelves in which to keep them.

    Sep 23, 2014 | 5:47 pm

  17. Footloose says:

    I meant just the opposite, change impervious to accommodating.

    Sep 23, 2014 | 6:05 pm

  18. Gej says:

    Wow, over how long a period of time have you been reading these books?! And I suppose there are a good number of non-food books in your current list!

    Perhaps those canvas book bags can double up as market bags?

    If indeed there is that Manila trip planned, can I be one of the first to beg to be included in the mini-eyeball?!

    Sep 23, 2014 | 10:29 pm

  19. Betchay says:

    OMG, so many good-to-read books lined up by your bedside! I hope hubby’s book although non- food related made it to the line up! Ha!ha!ha! We are also big fans of Booksale…never fail to visit an outlet everytime we’re in the mall…big hoarders! :)

    Would love to be part of the welcome party for the generous and full-of-new-ideas Ms. bettyQ! Hope to get lucky again to be invited! he!he!he!

    Sep 24, 2014 | 9:50 am

  20. Mike De Guzman says:

    first, luv that book bag! second, my heart leapt when i saw my dream books (the Macrina book and anything by David Leibovitz) in your stash!

    Sep 24, 2014 | 5:35 pm

  21. carmina says:

    Did your mother ever donate some of her pieces to a museum?

    Sep 24, 2014 | 9:09 pm

  22. Eva Mondragon says:

    Hi MM – I’m so very happy to see this post today. There is something about books and magazines that really gets me going. I, too, love collecting books – mostly, gardening and food, and some on various topics under the sun. Every year, on my birthday, I visit a bookstore and spend at least three hours perusing bookshelves, looking for books that I want to buy as gifts to myself. I must say that this ritual is the highlight of my birthday every year. I always come away with at least two or three. Sometimes, it takes a while before I go through them, and they may sit on the shelf for a while. When I finally have all the time for myself, I make a cup of coffee, sit down and read my beloved books. Visiting small towns is a delight. There are always second-hand bookstores where I always find very interesting books that are no longer in print. About six or seven years ago, I just realized that I was seriously running out of place to house my books. I decided – with a heavy heart – to donate about two hundred of them to my local library. I didn’t know that I would be so affected, but I think I went into depression.

    Sep 26, 2014 | 5:09 pm

  23. Marlene Jackson says:

    Love the bag and your choice of books!! I’m a big fan of your blog and have watched Anthony Bourdain’s Philippines episode several times, and your lechons look delish!!

    Sep 26, 2014 | 11:49 pm

  24. Susan says:

    I use to collect cookbooks…mostly Asian and use to enjoy looking through the cookbook sections at bookstores in the mall…after reading this post I see how much I’ve missed. Nice collection.

    Sep 30, 2014 | 6:00 pm

  25. Natie says:

    I love this post, MM! Cheers to cookbooks!

    Oct 2, 2014 | 7:52 pm

  26. jeston says:

    i see you are curious about the cooking of Jason Atherton he no longer cooks at Maze which was by Gordon Ramsay… he is now his own restaurateur as well :). He has two restaurants in HK already. He has 22ships and Aberdeen Street Social. I was quite underwhelmed with 22Ships, which serves his take on modern tapas… people rave about this place but i find it quite bland… i feel sort of cheated cause all the dishes were plated really nicely but the taste just never lived up to the hype

    Jan 5, 2015 | 4:32 am


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