Archive | March, 2007

Great Cookbooks That Have Caught Our Eye

15 Mar

The editors would like to thank Gibbs Smith and Pelican Publishing for sending us such great books to review and share.

Books reviewed by Stephanie Dickison. To send your book for review to pan magazine, contact her at

101 Things To Do With a Dutch Oven

Vernon Winterton

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

I had no idea the wealth of possibility of the Dutch Oven. Did you know that not only can you make soups, sauces and stews, but you can make Cheery Pie, Corn on the Cobm Cinnamon Rolls, Breakfast Pizza, Potato Bread, Stuffed Pork Roast, Manicotti and White-Chocolate-Caramel Pecan Cheesecake, to name just a few dazzling options?

It seems to be from this wonderfully well-written gem with simple recipes that we should all be using our Dutch Oven in our everyday cooking if we aren’t already, and if you don’t know what a Dutch Oven is or how to use one, then this book is a must. It might very well change your cooking and thus, change your life!

(Other good book in the “101 Things To Do With” series is the Salad book by Melissa Barlow and Stephanie Ashcraft and the Yogurt one by Geneva Stringham)

Harry’s Roadhouse Cookbook: Square Meals From Sante Fe’s Favourite Kitchen

Harry Shapiro and Peyton Young

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

A delightfully playful cookbook from the owners of Sante Fe’s Harry’s Roadhouse offers traditional Mexican meals that use green chiles and peppers, roasted corn, tortillas, salsas and plantains but with their own personal (and modern) twist – Smoked Duck Flautas with Mango Sauce, Indian Shrimp Fritters, Chile Corn Chowder, Caramalized Figs with Prosciutto and Hazelnuts, Roadhouse-Style Pulled Pork, Wild Rice Pancakes,Tomato Corn Biscuit Pie, Pollo Pibil and Chicken Pot Pie.

The sections are colour-coded for quick look ups, which I really appreciate. Desserts, Breakfast, Appetizers, Salads, Square Meals and Sides can all be accessed quickly and easily making it a great cookbook for use during the week when you want to get dinner on the table quickly or lingering over on a Saturday afternoon, setting up a menu for a dinner party of six or an intimate dinner for two.

This is a book with a lot of heart and tasty recipes that work year round.

Family Dinners: Easy Ways to Feed Your Kids and Get Them Talking At the Table

Janet Peterson

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

It is hard to sit down as a family these days, and even harder to get everyone to eat the same thing, but thanks to Family Dinners, you can prepare quick and easy meals that the whole family with enjoy and hopefully make memories along the way.

There are time-saving tips alongside ways to improve family mealtime. And the recipes are truly family friendly!

Want your kids to eat more vegetables? Ham & Vegetable soup is a great choice.

Is it hard to make salads fun? Not anymore, thanks to Lemon Pie and Layered Vegetable Salads.

French Dip sandwiches turn beef into a treat, Hawaiian Barbeque Chicken has the kids chanting for more and Sour Cream Tuna Casserole brings the family around on seafood.

This vintage-y feeling book is going to be as essential as your Joy of Cooking and other must-haves on the cookbook shelf.

Three Guys From Miami Celebrate Cuban: 100 Great Recipes for Cuban Entertaining

Glenn Lindgren, Raúl Musibay and Jorge Castillo

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

One of my favourite foods is Cuban, but sadly, there just isn’t enough of it. Thank goodness for this incredibly fun book that celebrates both the cuisine and spirit of Cuba to satiate my appetite!

If you hanker for boniatos, empanadas, culantro (not to be confused with cilantro), picadillo, croquetas and moros y cristianos, this is the book for you.

And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you really need this book.

Celebrate Cuban is what I consider a must-have for any food lover.

Vintage Restaurant: Handcrafted Cuisines from a Sun Valley Favourite

Jeff Keys

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

I love that they call it handcrafted, because it gives you a real sense of the dishes in this gorgeous book that if you tell your friends about, will never make it back to your kitchen shelf.

A little blend of French and a little bit of Western cuisine makes for some sumptuous dishes with heirloom vegetables and in-season ingredients and sections about the lost art of great soup and the art of cold smoking.

You will wow friends and neighbours with these simple to prepare dishes that seem too sophisticated for home cooked meals like Spicy Pork Loin Chop with Sweet Corn and Cheddar Cheese Polenta and Rock Shrimp, Fresh Sage, and Smoked Pork Sausage Gravy and Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding with Steam Whiskey Sabayon Sauce.

See? It’s absolutely incredible.

And yes, you can borrow my copy. You’re just going to have to leave a little collateral is all. Yep, your car should do.

For now.

The Turkish Dining Table: Recipes for Health and Happiness

H. Güler Vural

Pelican Publishing

© 2006

I think we all have food ruts that we fall into – basic recipes that we prepare over and over again, not for lack of food but lack of ingenuity and perceived time and energy.

It is books like The Turkish Dining Table that really livens things up. With recipes such as Mint Soup and Bosnian Ravioli, it is impossible not to smile at the new flavours and possibilities.

And one of the unexpected pleasures of this colourful, easy-to-follow book is that there is an entire section on healthy eating and cooking, due to Mrs. Vural being hypoglycemic (meaning having an abnormally low level of sugar in the blood).

This book is a great education about Turkish food and a healthy way to eat in general.

Esalen Cookbook

Charlie Cascio

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

If you can’t make it to the world-renowned Esalen Institute (located on cliffs above the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur, California), you can at least bring the kitchen with you.

The food made daily from the organic farm on its grounds is not only good for you, but tastes incredible. And is very in line with the Institute’s principles:

“Esalen Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to the exploration of human potential. As a retreat center where people live and work in a communal setting, Esalen residents and guests participate in an incredible variety of alternative education and personal growth programs in subjects such as meditation, massage, yoga psychology, ecology, spirituality, art, music, and much more.”

Soulful dishes like Moroccan Lamb Stew and Pecan-Encrusted Chicken satisfy both your waistline and your appetite. And the well-photographed food continues to entice with recipes such as Artichoke, Yam and Blue Cheese Scones, Leek-and-Onion Tart and Sweet-and-Spicy Breakfast Polenta.

And it’s all presented in an easy-to-follow layout illustrated with gorgeous photos.

A wonderful book filled with good food that will do your body and your spirit good. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Southwest Flavours: Sante Fe School of Cooking

Susan Curtis and Nicole Curtis Ammerman

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

Have you always wanted to make New Mexican and Southwestern meals but been intimated by the recipes or methods?

This book breaks down the equipment you need, ingredients used and even frequently asked questions about these cuisines.

Beautifully photographed food alongside easy-to-follow recipes make this big book a must-have for anyone wanting to make authentic dishes with little effort.

There are wonderful mouth-watering dishes like White Bean & Smoked Chile Salad, Jicama & Carrot Slaw with Lime Vinagrette and Seafood Brochettes with Toasted Fennel Seed Vinagrette. And if that doesn’t do it for you, how about Smoked Chile Mussels, Anchiote Citrus Chicken in Banana Leaf and Flourless Chocolate Torte?

School is in session and it’s never tasted so good.

(You can also get the Sante Fe School of Cooking Salsas and Tacos, which is a nice accompaniment and also features more options for Taco Night than you could possibly imagine.)

Faster! I’m Starving! – 100 Dishes in 25 Minutes or Less

Kevin and Nancy Mills

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

I know that some people who like to cook don’t like these kinds of books that focus on speed and quick meal preparation, but I think that in today’s frenetic world where emails abound and weekends are for catching up on work, these kinds of books can be a saviour.

With sections on “Techniques Geared for Speed,” “Helpful Equipment” and “Emergency Meals,” you are bound to come away with some methods of speeding up your prep time that surely we can all use from time to time.

I especially liked the quick recipes for Southwest-Style Falafel, Short-Cut Beef Bourguignon, Easy Veal Chops, Roast Beef in 20 minutes, Indian Fried Rice and Chile Rellenos Mini Casseroles.

You may want to spend hours basting Cornish game hens but sometimes a quick dinner is all that you can manage. This book will help you prepare a quick and nutritious meal and allow you to do what you need to do. If only the office could be this easy!

The New Orleans Program: Eat, Exercise and Enjoy Life!

David A. Newsome, M.D., and Chef John Besh

Pelican Publishing

© 2006

Now here’s a book that I’m excited about. These authors describe a lifestyle that includes eating and exercise, yes, all while consuming such luxurious dishes as Belle River Crawfish Salad and Shrimp and Chicken Jambalaya. There are some restrictions like no fries, snacks like chips or candy or desserts, but the meals themselves seem to make up for it. For example, doesn’t Soupe De Poisson with Spicy Rouille sound good? And do you still want fried chicken? Just make it their way on page 192. Apparently you can still eat well and feel good!

I haven’t done the program myself, but it’s tempting. And this isn’t just a cookbook. There is a lot of nutritional information contained in these pages, so if you want to know the difference between good and bad fats, your fat intake and even exercises to help you live better, you can find it all here.

An interesting book for those tired of traditional diet methods.

Cristina’s of Sun Valley

Cristina Ceccatelli

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

With over 145 photographs, this book features recipes from Cristina’s Restaurant, a “charming European-style bistro on a small street in the world-famous ski resort town of Sun Valley.”

It is a real delight for the senses and a great foray into the foods of rural Tuscany, where Cristina grew up.

Highlights include Breakfast Gnocchi, Tortellini with Cream & Saffron Sauce and Shrimp & Mango Salad with Citrus-Champagne Dressing.

Fiesta on the Grill

Daniel Hoyer

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

Books about barbequing usually bore me. One, because I don’t have one, and two, because the books on grilling often offer dull recipes that don’t take much thought and/or effort.

That is, until now.

Like a world party, Daniel Hoyer has finally made grilling fun with dishes inspired from the New World, Latin America, the Caribbean and the American Southwest!

He not only includes exciting dry rubs and marinades (Mojo and Cracked Pepper-Coriander-Lavender Rub), smoking recipes and salsas and sauces (Charred Cherry or Pear Tomato Salsa and Cilantro-Pumpkinseed Pesto), but the proper techniques for roasting chiles and types of fuel to grill with.

So not only can you now make Lamp Chop Anovada and Tuna Steaks with Anchiote Citrus Glaze but you will be able to expertly grill and barbeque just like the pros!

A must-have for those wanting to tackle the grill with ease and those who crave bright dishes bursting with flavour!

Carlos’ Contemporary Fresh Cuisine

Debbie and Carlos Nieto with Arlene Michlin Bronstein and Ken Bookman

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

Although I have been cooking both professionally and for fun for 20 years now, making French food still intimidates me.

But Carlos of Carlos’ restaurant in Highland Park, Illinois has created a cookbook that is perfect for people like me. Although the photos illustrate incredibly well-crafted works of art, when I look at the recipes I feel confidant that I can make the described dish.

That’s a first.

And now I am tackling dishes like Lamb Gateau with Ratatouille, Wilted Spinach, and Garlic Puree and Prosciutto Celeriac Terrine with ease.

Guess who’s place is popular at dinnertime? Come on by and I’ll share my Lobster Soufflé with Lobster-Tomato Sauce.

Thank you Carlos, wherever you are. I am a French food fiend now.

Historic Cookery

Fabiola C. Gilbert

Ancient City Press

© 1970

Every cook has basic books that they refer to often. Usually these books are splattered with soups and gravies and the corners bent and torn, but they are well-used and immensely loved.

If you love New Mexican food or want to learn more about making basic dishes properly, this is the book for you.

Written in a simplistic style with very short ingredient lists and instructions, you will be able to master New Mexican cooking in a very short time.

Want to know how to make Tamales, Pozole, Frijoles and Estifado (Sweet Stew)? This is where to make it from.

And like Fabiola says,

“Try the recipes. And when you do, think of New Mexico’s golden days, of red chile drying in the sun, of clean-swept-yards, outdoor ovens, and adobe houses on the landscape. Remember the green valleys where good things grow. And think too of families sitting happily at the tables, because good food and good cheer are natural compadres and because, as the Spanish proverb says, a full stomach makes a happy man. Buen provecho, amigos.

Sierra Mar Cookbook

Craig Von Foerster

Gibbs Smtih

© 2006

The Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California is a big beautiful place and the same can be said for the oversize, coffee table cookbook.

Rich in text and photos, this cookbook offers fine cuisine that you can actually make without too much ado.

Recipes like Hoisin-Grilled Quail Shitake Mushroom Potsticker, Peanuts and Plum Sauce and Golden Tomato Thai Gazpacho utilize ingredients like Heirloom Tomatoes and local fare that help bring out the extraordinary flavours of these dishes. There are flavours from around the world in these recipes – Asian, French and Mediterranean, to mention just a few.

The recipes are quite short for such fine food and a real treat to try. And while your creations may not look as fantastic on the plate as Craig’s, the book’s photos offer real inspiration for presentation and before long, you’ll be plating your food with as much ease and grace as Craig.

Throughout the book, there are Chef Notes which are fun and a lovely personal extra that really gives this book heart and also offer extremely helpful tips like how to tie a fish round.

Although this book would not have been one that I would have normally sought out (it’s so big and fancy looking), I am grateful for finding it because it is now on my cookbook shelf and is poised and ready for the next dinner I make.

I can’t wait.

The Cookin’ Cajun Cooking School Cookbook: Creole and Cajun Cuisine From the Heart of New Orleans

Lisette Verlander and Susan Murphy

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

The Cajun/Creole food of New Orleans is often praised and written about. It is a distinct cuisine and often is not deftly replicated in restaurants. That’s why I think it’s important to add to your range of talents because there is nothing like a good Filé Gumbo, Beignets, Étouffée, Pecan Butter Sauce, Rémoulade Sauce and Crayfish Bisque.

This little softcover won’t take up much room on your shelf, but it’s contents will be of utmost value like when you want to make Rockefeller Sauce and Roast Turkey, Cajun Style.

I believe that Cajun and Creole dishes and flavours are vital to a cook’s repertoire, and this is the perfect little book to learn the basics of New Orleans cooking.

Small Plates: Appetizers as Meals

Marguerite Marceau Henderson

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

A great size with lots of pictures, this book is going to be one that you’re constantly pulling off your shelf.

As you must know by now, small plates, sometimes called tapas, are huge in restaurants right now. This kind of eating allows the diner to try many different kinds of food in small amounts.

This book really expands on the idea of small plates, so it’s not just olives and tomato salad offerings. These are hearty meals – just smaller portions.

With just about every other page filled with a photograph, you can really get an idea of what to serve at your next dinner party or if you want to make something for a late night snack.

This book really changed my idea of what a small plate can be – check these ideas out – Lamb Riblets with Minty Red Wine Sauce, Seared Salmon with Leek-Carrot Sauce, Louisiana Sweet Potato and Sausage Stew and Tourtiere.

What a fun way to cook – appetizers as meals. It’s a great new way to think about dinner. Only one question remains: What are you going to make tonight?

Culinary Mexico: Authentic Recipes and Traditions

Daniel Hoyer

Gibbs Smith

© 2006

Now that winter is upon is, it is not only time for comfort foods and heavy dishes, but piquant flavours and all of the sweet, sour and savoury tastes that we are craving. Or at least I am, anyway.

That’s why I’m so exited about this book. Pineapple Vinegar. Baja-Style Fish Tacos. Coconut Ice Cream and Peanut and Chipotle Cream Soup. The vibrant flavours are so exciting! And with great photos, you can really get a sense of what a dish can look like, if you aren’t familiar with it already.

And this book takes cuisines from various regions like the Yucatán Peninsula, the states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Veracruz, as well as many other places, so you really get a wide range of dishes like Corn Turnovers with Fresh Garbanzo or Squash-Bottom Filling and Baked Gouda Cheese Stuffed with Spiced Meat alongside Durango-Style Beef Stew and Cowboy-Style Beans.

This is one book that you’re not going to want to miss out on.