I got a text from mom.
"Wait until you get home! Brian - on his own!!! - is outside hanging lights around the house! He's finally in the spirit. One of us. One of us."
A note, all of these books I have personally purchased (except for I Scream Sandwich! which was a promo copy from the publisher). These are my own thoughts on these books.
The book is divided into sections based of vegetable/fruit type such as Herbs & Leafy Greens, Roots & Bulbs, and Stone Fruits. It makes it an easy book to navigate for whatever the season is. For me, I love this sort of compendium that rings of Nigel Slater's most recent work. Clear, concise, and in no way fussy. In addition, recipes aren't abstract or filled with hard to find ingredients. Recipes work, are clear, and affordable (especially if you're an avid gardener). The recipes find inspiration from Southern California, Western ranches, Vietnam and more to create a unique collection of stories. For those who need pictures, the book is packed with them; all striking and evocative. All and all, a winning cookbook and a must have.
Wintersweet: Seasonal Desserts to Warm the Home, Tammy Donroe Inman
Seasonal baking is how I generally flow in the kitchen. Come the colder months we keep sweet potatoes, pomegranates, persimmons, apples and the like in the house. Baking becomes a welcome way to warm the house and the body. Apple cider doughnuts become a morning thing that the husband and I can enjoy over coffee.
Inman has created a wonderful, comforting book that take winter produce (plus dried fruit, chocolate, and nuts) and creates an inviting selection of recipes. The photography is top notch and dreamy with winter wonderland tones. A fantastic selection for the baker in your life.
Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks, by Maria del Mar Secasa
Butterscotch eggnog. Mulled white wine. Spiked hot cocoa.
If you're more the type to look towards brandy than brownies to warm yourself up when it gets nippier than a poorly trained chow-chow then this book will get plenty of use as you joyfully stain pages with tangerine juice. A number of additional support recipes are provided such as various infusions, snacks, and how to make marshmallows for your cocoa. Basic bar techniques are also covered in photographic detail.
I spent about four minutes in the store with this book before I decided to take it home (not without a quick stop at the store for the ingredients so my night would be filled with hot buttered rum laced with mace and vanilla bean).
I Scream Sandwich!, by Jennie Schact
Here's the thing about ice cream sandwiches: I find them to be too much work. Too many pans and shaping, cutting, baking, freezing, etcetera and so on. Honestly, I find them to be tiresome so I never make them.
Jennie Schact has - through clever, gourmet recipes and dreamy photography reminiscent of classic Donna Hay - made me want to put together a bevy of ice cream sandwiches like berry pavlovas (blackberry-buttermilk ice cream on crispy-chewy meringue) and plum goods (plum frozen yogurt on lavender-walnut shortbread). Clever combinations such as these combined with clear instruction make this a book that will make you the hit at any party ever for the rest of time, the end, take a fucking bow.
And, yes, I did make ice cream sandwiches. So there we go. Mission accomplished, Ms. Schact.
Duck, Duck, Goose, by Hank Shaw
My buddy Hank does all the shit I don't want to do when it comes to food. Shooting things, waking up at three in the morning to sit in a rainy swamp, schlepping himself over a mountain for crowberries and mushrooms, standing in a stream being reeeeaaallly quiet for hours, making sausage and so on and so forth. I'm fine breaking down and killing chickens but that's about it because it makes me feel super manly and considering I still use the word "icky" that feeling is somewhat foreign to me.
Lucky for me this book is more about how to cook ducks and geese and not so much about how to bring them down. I helped test a few recipes in this book and have had many of the others cooked by the man himself. It's a fantastic tome about the subject. I only know a few ways to prepare duck, but Hank's screw-this-roasting-only noise attitude brings up pastas and curries and makes duck more familiar. I likely will never prepare a goose, but should the occasion arise one Christmas I will now be so on it. If you're the type who needs good reference books I can't recommend it enough.
The Ultimate Panini Press Cookbook, by Kathy Strahs
Single subject cookbooks are dubious at best, they're either paper thin pushouts generated for a quick dollar by the publisher, or they're epic tomes that shut down the subject for the next few decades based on the fact that they're co complete, so informative, and so replete with innovative recipes that are as convivial as they are engaging that there is no need for another book to be written about the subject.
This is the latter (obviously).
No matter what you have in your pantry, Strahs prepares and educates you on the art of the panini. More than that, she teaches food pairings, balancing flavor, and introduces new methods and techniques. She pushes the boundaries of a simple panini press and brings new life to a what was once thought a single-use device.
A must have for the cookbook library.
A special note, for the next while I will not be publishing every Tuesday. Work has me massively backlogged due to the book tour and with the holidays I just need time to recover. The blog will be updating as I can get to it through winter.