Great Books That Have Crossed My Desk

12 Jun

By Stephanie Dickison

One of the fabulous parts about being a food writer is the reading involved – hours spent pouring over cookbooks, food memoirs and histories and books on entertaining and the like.

These are some of the books that have crossed my desk lately that I’m excited about:

ARAB COOKING ON A SASKATCHEWAN HOMESTEAD: RECIPES AND RECOLLECTIONS

Habeeb Salloum

Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina

2005

Part memoir, part cookbook, this moving tale includes chapters entitled, “Who Are the Arab Prisoners?” “Burghul: The Cornerstone of Our Diet in the Depression Years,” “Broad Beans: Delicious When Cooked by My Mother,” and “Stuffed Vegetables: The Food of the Sultans.”

The recipes include comfort foods like Stuffed Tomatoes with Chickpeas, Chicken with Lemons and Olives, Okra Stew, and Fish Patties.Though this book might seem like a mighty specialized book, Habeeb’s stories are not only educational but enveloping and the recipes are easy to follow and a nice break from the standard fare issued in a lot of mainstream cookbooks today.

BROWNIES TO DIE FOR

Bev Shaffer

Pelican Publishing

2006

If you enjoy baking or know someone who does, this is a great book to add to your cookbook collection.

Bev Shaffer is an author, food writer and culinary instructor, so the book, while very easy to page through and follow the recipes, is also extremely thorough and well-written. There is even a chapter on dipping, dunking and layering your brownies.

If you thought you knew brownies before this book, you’ll never believe what Bev has created –Raspberry Mascarpone Cream Filled Brownies, Kahlua Brownies and Macadamia Nut White Brownies. Is your mouth watering too?

THE DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES COOKBOOK: Juicy Dishes and Saucy Bits

Recipes by Christopher Styler, Text by Scott S. Tobis

Hyperion

2006

Okay, so this one’s not so great in terms of a being an inventive cookbook, but it is a lot of fun to flip through.

You can glance at Bree’s Shopping List (fresh broccoli, shotgun sling, Roquefort cheese), make Susan’s Chipotle-Glazed Chicken Wings, Gabrielle’s Guilty Pleasure (Boiled Peanuts), Lynette’s Marngo Martinis and Edie’s Camembert Baked in Its Box (Who Knew?). And there are offerings from the Wisteria Lane neighbours too, but it is in the text from the food stylist on set that is intriguing. Did you know that to bring out the shine in vegetables, they sometimes coat them in Vaseline? And due to continuity, “thirty to forty edible versions of the food that appears in the scene must be made”?

Even if you’re not a fan of the show, you are bound to find a couple of recipes and/or hints that please you.

ENDANGERED RECIPES: TOO GOOD TO BE FORGOTTEN

Lari Robling

Stewart, Tabori & Chang

2003

One of the greatest ideas for a cookbook ever: with sections on “Sunday Suppers,” “Every Culture’s Got One,” “Back Porch Pleasures” and “Passing Down the Plate,” you are bound to find something from your childhood, like brisket or the ultimate cinnamon buns or something that you love, but has been forgotten by today’s cuisines like French onion dip and Georgia Pecan pie.

Lari researched and tracked down recipes and also updated some classics so that they fit into today’s appliance-friendly kitchens, so you are not just getting old favourites, but new-and-improved recipes of your most memorable dishes.

The stories are as delightful as the recipes and after just a few pages, you will no doubt be calling your mother/aunt/grandmother and be pulling out your marked up cookbooks that you haven’t looked at since the Seventies.

I’m off to make Pueblo Salsa and Quince and Apple Pie. Although these are not a part of my own food history, I want to make someone else’s. This is the ultimate comfort food book and a great gift for someone that really loves classic food.

JAMIE’S ITALY

Jamie Oliver

Hyperion

2006

When Jamie Oliver first came on the scene, I was mesmerized. Not by his boyish charm or cute English accent or funky David Beckham-ish haircut. It was the simple way he prepared food – and it tasted great. It was so not what people were doing at the time and I loved to watch him work.

Then, like Oprah, Tom Cruise and Lindsay Lohan, he was everywhere and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I bid him goodbye for a while and went on to other chefs who didn’t have their own shows and lines of frying pans.

But I have come back to Jamie because he is wise beyond his years and now that we’ve been apart for awhile, I can appreciate him again.

In this beautifully designed book, Jamie gives us the stories of the people he met in Italy along with recipes. Like a very light memoir, you get the best of both worlds, and some cool food to make for friends and family, like Spaghetti Fritters (p. 36), Salt Cod Soup (p. 75), Silk Handkerchiefs with Pesto Sauce (p. 110), The Best Tuna Meatballs (p. 203), Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Olives, Bread, Pinenuts, and Herbs (p. 243) and Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Sea Salt (p.293), to name just a few.

To see more of books that are rockin’ my world, click Books.

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