You many not realize it (I didn’t know it until I started writing about food), but the arrival of new cookbooks is a seasonal event. They tend to come out in large clusters in the early spring (in time for the peak summer season) and in the fall (so that you have new ones to choose from for holiday giving). So far, this season’s crop of books is just gorgeous. In fact, so many lovely ones have crossed my path recently that I’m splitting them up into two posts, so that this doesn’t turn into an epic.
Having grown up in Southern California and Portland, OR, I partial to that variety of sandwich that is hard to find off the west coast. I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about. It is made on either sourdough or whole grain bread and includes very thinly sliced red onion, sprouts, cucumbers, avocado, lettuce, shredded carrots, a smear of mustard, a bit of cheese and, if you’re me, a few slices of turkey breast.
Though we don’t lack for sandwiches in Philadelphia (it’s the homeland of the cheesesteak, after all), it’s hard to find ones made in that hippie, crunchy west coast style. However, with the help of The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches I’m working to broaden my sandwich horizons. Written by Susan Russo and photographed by Matt Armendariz, this book is gorgeous and is sure to induce hunger pangs. I think someone should do a cook-through blog of this book (and invite me to share in some of the sandwich bounty. *I do realize that sandwiches don’t have a whole lot to do with canning, but the book is just so pretty that I couldn’t resist including it in this stack.
A few weeks ago, someone asked a question on the Food in Jars Facebook page, wondering if there was a good source for ethnic canning recipes. At the time, I didn’t have a good answer for her. That was before How to Cook Indian showed up on my doorstep. If you’re in search of recipes that can guide you through a world of Indian recipes, including wide assortment of chutneys and pickles, this is a fantastic book. I will warn you that not many of these recipes can be water bath canned, but many will keep in the fridge for a nice, long time. For more on Indian pickles, I also recommend checking out some of the posts that the Tigress has written on the subject.
Hooray! A new canning book! Tart and Sweet is a lovely book written by Kelly Geary and Jessie Knadler and I’m so delighted to add it to my preserving library. I think one of the things that you guys are going to love about this book is that when a recipe needs pectin, it calls for Pomona’s Pectin. I don’t know of any other book that references that particular pectin and so will be a great confidence boost for those of you who are just starting out using it (oops, I’m hearing in the comments that Put ’em Up also includes instructions for Pomona’s Pectin. I had forgotten that). But don’t think that this is just a jam book, it also includes a variety of pickles, preserved fruits and other amazing sounding compotes. I’m really looking forward to making a few of the recipes from this volume.
Have you ever found yourself tempted to buy a jug of goat milk in a natural foods store? If the thing holding you back is a fear that you wouldn’t know how to best use it, then Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese is for you. Written by prolific cookbook duo Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, this is a beautifully photographed and appealingly penned volume. It has me itching to leap up from my chair and make the cajeta on page 148.
I have been reading Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks for more than six years now. It was one of the first blogs I followed and has always been a source of great inspiration for me. When Super Natural Cooking came out, I wasted no time in ordering a copy. It has been a beloved volume in my kitchen and when I heard she was she was working on a new book, I had no doubt that it wouldn’t be similarly wonderful. Having now had my hands on a copy for a couple of weeks, my hunch has been born out. Super Natural Every Day, is a fantastic book. It is bursting with bright, healthy, accessible food that I can’t wait to eat. With Easter coming up, I’m definitely going to make the Hard-Cooked Eggs with Dukkah on page 106 very, very soon.
As a native west coaster, I am ordained by birth to love Sunset Magazine. My mom subscribed to it when I was a kid and over the years, I’ve build up quite an archive of vintage cookbooks published by the Sunset empire (Cooking Bold and Fearless, for instances). The One-Block Feast is the latest volume to issue forth from Sunset and is dedicated to food editor Margo True’s project – to produce delicious meals only using the foods grown in the yard at Sunset HQ. I followed much of the project last year via their blog and loved both the concept and the execution.
What makes this book so fabulous is that it isn’t just documenting the process. It gets into the nitty gritty and gives readers the tools to tackle all the same projects as the One-Block team took on. And while I don’t have the space for chickens, I plan on using the guidelines offered here to finally turn some of the crappy wine I have squirreled away into useful vinegar.
There are some cookbooks that are clearly designed to be used regularly and there are some that are more aspirational in natural. While I am totally smitten by River Cottage Every Day, I’m a bit afraid that it falls more into the aspirational category than the regular utility one for me (remember, this is just my opinion. Cooking styles vary widely, so it might work differently in your life). That’s not to say that there aren’t a few recipes I will try (hello Cauliflower Cheese on page 322), but many of the recipes are too far outside of my culinary dialect for daily use.
All that said, I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with an aspirational book. This volume has rapidly become my go-to escapist fare, the thing I turn to when the pressures of my regular life get a bit intense and I just want to imagine a life lived in the English countryside, where gooseberries grow like weeds and there’s always time for a four hour braise. But it’s not going to be as useful as the Every Day title implies.
You don’t have to be a country girl (or boy) to want to crawl right inside the pages of Heartland. Written by Judith Fertig, this huge book is appropriate for both coffee table displaying and trips to the kitchen. It offers good reminders that the artisanal food revolution isn’t just happening along the coasts. I am desperate to make the Popcorn with Smoked Gouda on page 120.
The Complete Kitchen Garden is a book that does just what it says it’s going to do. It walks you through the steps necessary to plant and maintain a thriving garden and then shows you what to do with your bounty. However, if you’re like me and don’t have any outdoor space, don’t write this one off. It also contains 100 recipes that are the perfect thing for those heady days of mid-summer and early fall. I am already looking forward to making the Roasted Fall Vegetable Tart on page 118.
Now, because no cookbook post would be complete without a giveaway, here’s the deal. I have one copy of the The Complete Kitchen Garden to give away to a lucky reader. Leave a comment and tell me what your current favorite cookbook is by Monday, April 11 at 11:59 p.m. I’ll close the comments at that time and use random.org to select a winner.
And now, the disclaimers. All books included in this post were sent to me as free review copies. However, I chose which books to include in this round-up and all opinions expressed herein are mine. The links embedded in this post are Amazon affiliate links. I earn a few pennies each time you click, which occasionally adds up to enough money to buy a few new jars. If you click through and buy something, I earn a tiny bit more, which gets invested in produce, vinegar and sugar (we’re living high around here!) If clicking these links makes you feel squidgy, feel free to skip ’em and find the books another way. Thanks!