Monday, October 10, 2016

Cookbook Season

Happy October! This is the month when many of us get into the kitchen in a serious way. With the holidays coming up and all the luscious seasonal ingredients available at the farmer's market, fall is a favorite time to cook. Just thinking about making that first batch of pumpkin bread puts a smile on my face. It is also the month when many new cookbooks get released. I have been looking at a lot of the new releases and have come up with a list of the ones that look really good to me. Please let me know of your favorites as well!

Simple by Diana Henry

Diana Henry is a British food writer who lives in London. Though she is not very well known here, she is one of Britain's best-loved food writers. She has a weekly column in the UK's Sunday Telegraph and writes for several other British publications. I just picked up her most recent cookbook "Simple" and I can already tell that this is no ordinary cookbook. The food looks beautiful and delicious and the recipes look easy. I've already found half a dozen I can't wait to make, such as her Moroccan-spiced chicken with dates and eggplant. I love her philosophy about cooking: if you have a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry you can throw together delicious meals with very little effort. She is admired for the originality of her recipes, especially in the creativity of her flavor combinations. Food writers such as Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi sing her praises. I can tell this is going to be one of my go-to cookbooks. 

A New Way to Dinner by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs are the founders of Food 52, one of the best food websites around. If you love to cook and haven't checked out this website, please do. You will frequently find me there looking for recipes, especially those using seasonal ingredients. Now the two founders of Food 52 have written a cookbook called "A New Way to Dinner." It's all about efficiency for the modern cook. The secret is cooking ahead. It offers complete grocery lists and menus for one-week blocks. I haven't seen this one yet but, if it is anything like Food 52, I know I will love it. This book will go to the top of my wish list for new cookbooks this fall. 

Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten

Of course, I have to get Ina's most recent cookbook. I have all the others and they truly are my go-to cookbooks. I probably use them more than any other cookbooks in my kitchen. Ina's recipes always work and they are delicious. I remember when her first cookbook came out (so many years ago now!) and I learned about roasting vegetables, a technique I now use all the time. The vegetables cook perfectly and taste delicious, becoming golden-brown and caramelized. If you have Ina's cookbooks and have watched her television show over the years then you know what an important role her husband Jeffrey has in all this cooking. He is her chief taster. Plus he is adorable. Now she has written a book about Jeffrey's favorite recipes. They range from Friday-night roast chicken to the prosciutto-and -Camembert tartines they first tried in Paris. I don't have the book yet, but I noticed in "Food and Wine" magazine that one of the recipes is featured: "Crusty Baked Shells and Cauliflower." Boy, does that one look good!

Jessica Koslow's tiny cafe Sqirl in east Los Angeles is a gathering spot for Silverlake hipsters. It features global-inspired breakfast and lunch fare with house made jam. I have to admit that I haven't been yet but hear raves from everyone who has. They talk about burnt brioche toast with house-made seasonal jam and jam-stuffed brioche french toast. They also mention delicious, power-packed rice bowls. Now after learning a bit about this cookbook I am determined to go. Jessica's food is said to surprise and engage all of the senses. It looks good, tastes vibrant, and feels fortifying yet refreshing. In her first cookbook she shares 100 of her favorite recipes for health-conscious but delicious dishes. Some of the highlights are: raspberry and cardamom jam; sorrel-pesto rice bowl; lamb merguez with cranberry beans, roasted tomato and yogurt cheese; sticky-toffee whole wheat date cake; and Valrhona chocolate fleur de sel cookies. Sqirl opens first thing in the morning and closes at 4:00 pm 7 days a week and there is usually a line of people waiting to get in. The menu features morning food, sweets, savories, salads and bowls -- the kind of food you could crave any time of the day. I can't wait to try her restaurant as well as buy her new cookbook.  

Small Victories by Julia Turschen

I love the sound of this cookbook: "recipes, advice and hundreds of ideas for home-cooking triumphs." Julia Turschen is a writer, recipe developer and co-author for best-selling cookbooks such as Gwyneth Paltrow's "It's All Good," and Dana Cowin's "Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen." She shares more than a hundred lessons she's learned in the kitchen through a lifetime of cooking thousands of meals. She celebrates the "aha" moments, the epiphanies of cooking. One example is when she discovered that for a chicken skillet pie recipe she could substitute store-bought creme fraiche for homemade bechamel sauce, saving a lot of work. Each recipe ends with "spin-offs" so that cooking one thing can lead to another meal. Ina Garten has written the foreword and highly recommends this book. It is said to be a beautifully curated, deeply personal collection of easy and delicious recipes. One of the highlights is brisket with apricots and prunes, a dish that can be make entirely ahead of time and reheated in the oven. Sounds perfect for fall!

Happy cooking!  


  1. I love The Barefoot Contessa and her cookbooks and I am going to buy her newest one...
    inspiration in the kitchen fuels my meals.
    Thank you for presenting these books.

  2. INA FOR SURE cause we share the same name.............CONTESSA!
    That first one SIMPLE is speaking to me just from the cover!
    SO, you have been going into my SPAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    GLAD To have figured out where many of YOU went!

  3. The Small Victories book looks great. I'm a Nigella girl generally!

  4. Small Victories looks very appealing and got great reviews. They all look good actually....

  5. I always enjoy your cookbook reviews! They all look wonderful! Have a wonderful weekend!

  6. All of these look so amazing! I already bought the Diana Henry book and have Ina's and Julia Tershen's books on hold at the library. I'm also really looking forward to "Deep Run Roots" by Vivian Howard as I love her show on PBS.