Tag Archives | cookbooks

Cookbooks: Batch

The cover of Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

I think of myself as minor expert on canning and preserving books. In addition to having written three of my own, I have a working familiarity with nearly everything that’s out there and so whenever I’m asked to recommend books for specific purpose, I flip through my mental file and offer up a few options.

The spine of Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

Need help with small batch fermenting? Amanda Feifer’s Ferment Your Vegetables is the best option. Looking for thoughtful recipes with a modern, Southern twist? Kevin West’s Saving the Season is for you. Domenica Marchetti’s Preserving Italy will help you recreate your Italian grandmother’s pantry. And Karen Solomon’s Asian Pickles is brilliant and self explanatory.

The waterbath preserving spread in the cookbook Batch

I’ve also found myself suggesting Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison’s new book Batch a great deal lately (if their names sound familiar, it’s because they are the bloggers behind the website Well Preserved).

This book is essential for anyone who wants a huge, exuberant, smart, gorgeously designed, and vibrantly photographed book that deals with seven styles of food preservation, offers recipes for using the food you’ve preserved, and helps you make the very most out of every scrap of food you grow, buy, and forage.

The introduction to the fermenting section of the cookbook Batch

I particularly like how they’ve structured this volume. The first quarter of Batch is designed to help you build the skills you’ll need in the balance of the book. It’s here that you’ll learn about waterbath canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cellaring, salting & smoking, and infusing. Joel wrote the bulk of the book’s text and his writing telegraphs calm knowledge and reliable expertise.

The introduction to the Peppers chapter of the cookbook Batch

The remainder of the book is organized around 25 ingredients, laid out in alphabetical order. Starting with apples and ending with tomatoes, each ingredient chapter helps you make the very most of seasonal produce with recipes to preserve, store, and consume.

A page featuring Batch-It recipes in the cookbook Batch

One of the brilliant elements in this book is the Batch-It approach. The recipes are grouped so that it becomes easy to make two or three things in concert with one another rather the traditional approach that silos each project. I find that having read my way through this book, I now am constantly thinking about how I can couple my preserving activities.

Falafel lettuce wraps in the cookbook Batch

Another thing that makes this book so uniquely useful is the way in which the recipes for using the preserves are nested into the ingredient sections. Some put the preserve to work as an active ingredient and others demonstrate how a side of sauce or chutney can easily enhance a simple plate.

Back cover the cookbook Batch by Joel MacCharles and Dana Harrison

Along with being a reliable and useful resource, Batch is a pleasure to glance through. Dana is an artist and designer, and both her creative eye and her work are found throughout Batch’s pages. Every time I open it, some new element catches my eye.

If you’re an avid canner and you’ve not added it to your bookshelf yet, I highly encourage you to add it to your wish lists and shopping carts!

Disclosure: I bought the copy of Batch you see pictured above. I count Joel and Dana among my friends, but the opinions offered here are offered on the basis of their exceptional book, not our friendship.

Comments { 5 }

Cookbooks: The Modern Preserver

The Modern Preserver Cover

These days, it takes a lot for a canning book to delight me. After all, I’ve spent the better part of the last decade totally immersed in jamming, pickling, and preserving. I sometimes even begin to think that perhaps I’ve seen every trick and flavor combination there is. And then a book like The Modern Preserver drops out of the sky and into my mailbox, and I am delighted.

The Modern Preserver Spine

Written by Kylee Newton, an artisan jam maker from New Zealand and now based in London, The Modern Preserver offers up a familiar and fresh array of jams, pickles, compotes, jellies, cordials, and more. The design is clean, the photography is gorgeous, and the voice of the book is reliable and charming.

The Modern Preserver Green Bean and Coconut Relish

The book opens with a short introduction that details Kylee’s background, and then offers a bit of information about her ethos as a preserver. From there, she talks about the rules of preserving. Do know that this section is far briefer than it would be in an American book. I’ll dig a little more into that in a moment.

The Modern Preserver Fennel and Orange Pickle

Following the intro, we dig into the recipes. The first section contains Relishes, Chutneys, and Sauces. Next up is Pickles, Fermentations, and Vinegars; followed by Jams, Jellies, and Compotes; and Curds, Candies, and Fruit Cheeses. Bringing up the rear of the book are the Syrups, Cordials, and Alcohol.

I have bookmarked a goodly number of recipes in this book, and every time I open it, I find something else that I’d like to make, or at the very least, use as inspiration for a related preserve (Blackberry Relish! How had I never thought to make that!)

The Modern Preserver Lime and Saffron Jelly

My only quibble with this book is that there’s no acknowledgement that best practices for preserving vary depending on where you are in the world. Here in the US, it’s standard practice that we use jars designed for canning (not recycled jars from store-bought preserves). We use two piece lids and we make sure that the flat lids are new each time we can. And finally, we run everything we make through a boiling water bath. None of this is in the book (I’m a little bit surprised that the US publisher didn’t make them at least add an appendix referencing the different standards).

All that said, I will still be preserving from this book. I’m just going to make sure that I bring along my food science knowledge and general understanding of canning. Everything will be packed into appropriate jars and will get a trip through the canning pot (to determine timing, I’ll reference recipes with similar ingredients and densities).

The Modern Preserver Back

Now, with all that off my chest, let’s have a giveaway! The kind folks at The Countryman Press have given me one copy of this gorgeous book to give away. Here’s how to enter!

  1. Leave a comment on this post tell me about a recipe source that’s been serving as inspiration for you lately.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 18, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 19, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The Countryman Press sent me the copy you see pictured above for photography and review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit. Both are being provided at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Comments { 181 }

Giveaway: Broth & Stock from the Nourished Kitchen

Broth & Stock cover - Food in Jars

I learned to make broth from my mom during my childhood, though there was never a point at which she sat me down for a lesson. It was simply something she did and in my way, I watched and absorbed the information. When I had my own kitchen, homemade chicken stock was one of the very first things I cooked.

Broth & Stock intro - Food in Jars

These pots of homemade broth are something I mostly do by feel, and while I don’t think that’s going to change anytime soon, there’s a new book on the topic that I am delighted to welcome into my kitchen. Called Broth & Stock from the Nourished Kitchen and written by Jennifer McGruther, this book offers info on making your own broths and stocks as well as recipes designed to help you make the most of every drop.

Broth & Stock scrap broth - Food in Jars

The book opens with an introduction that walks you through a brief history of broth (mention of portable broth in this section inspired me to cook two quarts of my own stock down into a single, concentrated cup, so it served me before I got to the first recipe!). From there, we get chapters entitled The Broth Maker’s Kitchen, Master Broths and Stocks, Poultry, Meat, Fish, and Vegetables. It’s a simple and highly useful method of organization.

Broth & Stock pho - Food in Jars

One of the things that I appreciate about this book is that it’s useful whether you’ve got a whole day or less than an hour to make your stock. What’s more, the recipes for using up the batches of broths and stocks you’ve made are appealing and aren’t limited to just soups and stews (risotto! glazed bok choy! gratins!). It makes me hungry every time I pick it up.

Broth & Stock back - Food in Jars

Thanks to the kind folks at Ten Speed Press, I have a copy of this book to give away. Here’s how to enter the giveaway.

  1. Leave a comment on this post that has something to do with homemade broth, stock, or soup.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, June 4, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, June 6, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Ten Speed Press sent me the copy you see pictured above for photography and review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit. Both are being provided at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Cookbooks: The Whole Coconut Cookbook

The Whole Coconut Cookbook Cover - Food in Jars

The books I write about on this site come into my life in a number of ways. Some I buy for myself. Others are review copies that I request because I think they’re a good fit for what I do. And still others are review copies that land on my doorstep without any prompting from me.

Coconut Cookbook Risotto - Food in Jars

These unsolicited copies can be a mixed bag, but often they end up turning me on to books that I might not have otherwise discovered. The Whole Coconut Cookbook by Nathalie Fraise is one such happy discovery.

Coconut Cookbook Red Curry - Food in Jars

I can trace my love of coconut back to the early eighties, when Trader Joe’s sold individual popsicles. These fruit pops were a regular treat in our house (they had chunks of real fruit in them!) and whenever I had the choice, I’d opt for coconut (black cherry was my second choice). Made from sweetened coconut milk, and thick with strands of shredded coconut, it was the best thing ever on a hot afternoon.

Coconut Cookbook Orange Cookies - Food in Jars

Sadly, The Whole Coconut Cookbook doesn’t have a recipe for my childhood popsicles, but what it does have is an appealing assortment of vividly flavored recipes for every meal of the day. You’ll find recipes using coconut milk, oil, butter, aminos, vinegar, flakes, shreds, flour, and even fresh, young coconut.

The Whole Coconut Cookbook Back - Food in Jars

I’ve marked nearly half the book’s recipes as things I’d like to try someday. Top on the list is the Lemony Mushroom Risotto you see above, followed closely by the Millet, Kale, and Miso-Tempeh Saute (I also have a thing for millet). It’s a nice little collection of modern, coconut-forward recipes.

Comments { 3 }

Giveaway: Whiskey by Michael Dietsch

Whiskey cover - Food in Jars

In my early years as an adult of drinking age, I made terrible choices. I drank many an amaretto sour or green apple martini before eventually coming to my senses. Slowly but surely, I found my way to a small handful of cocktails that I enjoyed, were designed to be sipped slowly, and didn’t make me feel like I’d spent the evening licking a Jolly Rancher.

Whiskey spine - Food in Jars

The bulk of this short list featured drinks made with a member of the whiskey family. Over time, I’ve also found myself gravitating towards the same array of spirits in when preserving peaches and cherries. There’s just something about those flavors that speak to me.

Whiskey contents - Food in Jars

So, now that you know that I have something of a weakness for the world of whiskey, it will make perfect sense that today I’m writing a post about a lovely new book called Whiskey. Written by Michael Dietsch (he is also responsible for Shrubs, a most fabulous book), this volume offers its reader the history of whiskey, helpful instruction on making cocktails, and 100 pages of the most popular whiskey cocktails of all time, arrayed in chronological order.

Whiskey cherry bounce - Food in Jars

Half compelling history and half instructional volume, this book begins with a dive into whiskey’s history (known today as distilled spirit made from a grain mash, though that wasn’t always the case) and an explanation the differences in spelling (whiskey/whisky) and where they appear geographically.

From there, Michael traces its international heritage and deals with the history of production around the world. Finally (because the first half will make you thirsty), we get to the nuts and bolts of cocktail crafting and the recipes.

Whiskey mixer recipes - Food in Jars

It’s a wonderfully crafted book, written with skill, humor, and enthusiasm. The photography is gorgeous and the whole thing is presented in a very pretty package. If you have a family member who is a fan of whiskey (Father’s Day is just around the corner!), it would make a lovely gift (particularly if paired with a nice bottle).

Whiskey back - Food in Jars

Thanks to the kind folks at The Countryman Press, I have both a recipe from this book to share, and a copy to give away. The recipe is for a Whiskey Cobbler, which speaks to me thanks to the presence of berries. Here’s how to enter the giveaway.

  1. Leave a comment on this post that has something to do with whiskey.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, May 21, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, May 22, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States and Canadian residents. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: The Countryman Press sent me the copy you see pictured above for photography and review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit. Both are being provided at no cost to me. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

 

Continue Reading →

Giveaway: Foolproof Preserving from America’s Test Kitchen

Foolproof Preserving cover - Food in Jars

Over the years, America’s Test Kitchen has become known and respected for their tireless pursuit of the very best recipes and techniques for home cooks. In their newest cookbook, Foolproof Preserving: A Guide to Small Batch Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Condiments, and More, they’ve turned their attention to the art of putting up.

Foolproof Preserving peach jam - Food in Jars

Like the other America’s Test Kitchen books that have come before, this volume is thoughtfully constructed, clearly written, beautifully photographed, and features a number of recipes that will have both new canners and seasoned preservers leaping up to gather produce and pull out their cookware.

Foolproof Preserving pickled red onions - Food in Jars

The introduction to this book is particularly useful, because it answers so many of the questions that people typically have about canning. They clearly go into the issues around acid content, achieving set, adjusting for altitude, and, in the case of fermentation, the relationship between salt and temperature.

Foolproof Preserving figs - Food in Jars

As I see it, there exists a fairly large flaw with this book. To my imperfect count, of the 111 recipes included, 42 of them cannot be processed and made shelf stable. To be fair, there are 16 recipes for quick and fermented pickles, which are things that never go into a boiling water bath in the first place. But that still leaves us with a goodly number of recipes that will require space in the freezer or fridge.

I can see why the authors made the choices they did. They were developing recipes where the topmost priority was flavor, texture, and freshness. Those are all noble and worthy goals. However, as someone who preserves primarily to create good-tasting food that can live on the shelf until needed, I find myself frustrated to be confronted with a tomato jam recipe that can’t be processed (particularly since a small amount of citric acid would make it safe for the canner and would have very little impact on the finished flavor).

Foolproof Preserving back - Food in Jars

Reading the introduction, I have a sense of why this book came to be as it is. The authors confess from the start that they approached this project as canning novices and that the testing was a process of discovery for them. I can see how that shaped the book I hold in my hands, because they were not driven by the primary goal of having shelf stable preserves to last the year. However, it doesn’t stop me from wishing they’d better addressed the fact from the start that 38% of the book focuses on short-term, rather than long-term, preserving.

Foolproof Preserving giveaway pack - Food in Jars

With all of that off my chest, let me say that again that this is a beautiful, well-designed, useful book. If long-term shelf stability isn’t your primary goal, you will find much to love here. I plan on exploring this book throughout the summer and fall, just taking care not to fall in love with too many recipes that demand space from in my limited fridge and freezer.

Thanks to the kind folks at America’s Test Kitchen, I have one copy of this beautiful book to give away, along with a jar lifter and stainless steel wide mouth funnel. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post. Tell me about something you’ve preserved lately, or a preserve you opened and enjoyed in recent days.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Sunday, May 8, 2016. A winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Monday, May 9, 2016.
  3. Giveaway open to United States only (so sorry!). Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: America’s Test Kitchen sent me the copy of the paperback you see here, along with a box of jars, two wide mouth funnels, and a jar lifter. I’ve included the jar lifter and one of the wide mouth funnels in the giveaway, they’re also providing the second copy of the book. All this has been done at no cost to me. No additional compensation has been provided. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.