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cookbooks!

cookbooks!

Three years and three months since I started this blog, there have been nearly 7,000 views, online including my various micro reviews of cookbooks- about five-dozen titles so far.  It’s actually one of my favorite subjects, and I have published some 5 or 6 previous cookbook gazetteers over the past few years.  I haven’t counted how many volumes I have in my kitchen library, but it’s possibly a couple of hundred.  Here are a few more lucky finds, often found second-hand.  Believe it or not, I have found unused, $40 titles seconded for $3.99 in local bargain and thrift stores – or estate sales.

For new readers, I’ve been using this basic index framework for a couple of years, for lack of any other template.

 

Native

Native American Cooking; Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations. Lois Ellen Frank, 1991, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, NY.

ISBN -0-517-57417-9

This title demonstrates that a non-Native author can in fact create a quite decent book about Native foods, as a tribute rather than appropriation.  It’s creative and visually inspiring as well.  Many individuals and Native communities contributed to the book, and they are well credited at the very beginning.  Frank tackles some delightful and unexpected recipes, and backs them up with striking photos (she’s a photag).  If you come across this title, grab it.

Colonial

The Food of Portugal

Jean Anderson, 1986, William Morrow and Company, Inc, NY.

ISBN 0-688-04363-1

I’m including this richly turned-out book under colonial cooking because it manages to lend greater understanding to contemporary global fusion cooking.  In three hundred pages, the author authoritatively translates cooking traditions across hemispheres, from Macau to Brazil.  Portuguese cookery has benefited from- and likewise influenced foods and cuisines across the Americas, and beyond.

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland

Beth Dooley and Lucia Watson

Knopf, NY 1995

ISBN0-679-41175-5

Many Minnesotans, especially Minneapolitans, will recognize these authors.  I was fortunate to cook at Lucia’s restaurant in Minneapolis around the time this fine cookbook was published, and it was and is a marvelous piece of work because it is a one-stop celebration of seasonal cooking, upper mid-West heritage (including Native traditions).  At the time of printing most local and seasonal cuisine was confined to vegetarian or other alternative cafes.  We emphasized cooking locally and seasonally at The New Riverside Café, for example in the 1980s.  This cookbook is endlessly captivating to read, with a homey layout and deft writing.

Lucia’s restaurant just received James Beard Award recognition this past month, which gives you some idea of the quality of the food and service at this excellent establishment.  Congratulations, Lucia!

Classic American

‘cookin’ country cajun: Basic Acadian Cooking from the True Acadian Country of Louisiana.”

Bobby Potts, 1989, Express Publishing Co

ISBN 0-935031-40-5

I have a Louisiana cookbook (by renowned chef Paul Prudhomme – which I have previously reviewed) that I’ve relied upon for 20 years.  However, I feel very fortunate to have stumbled on this startling, slender paperback of only 64 pages.  Thinner than a slice of bread, this guide is packed from floorboard to rafter, and front to back, with visually stunning photos and authoritative information and recipes from Cajun country.  I haven’t looked to see if more are available online, but if you can, get ye a copy of this little treasure.

Comprehensive Cuisine

Amana Colony Recipes

Compiled by the Ladies Auxiliary of the Homestead Welfare Club

Homestead Iowa, 1948

No ISBN assigned, no publisher listed.

A wonderfully printed collection of sheer comfort food from the kitchens of the Amana religious societies.  Recognize the name? Refrigerators? Air conditioners?  Various household appliances?  Yup, that’s them.  The Amana cooking traditions are well known and loved, so it’s nice to see them represented in this benevolent book.  There is one index in German, and one in English, reflecting the cultural origins of this respected sect of Christianity.  While the recipe selections are the very picture of simplicity on the surface, any one of them would travel well to a starred restaurant.

Vegetarian

The book of Miso

William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi

Autumn Press, MA, 1976

ISBN 0-394-73432-7

This handy volume is almost an expression of artisanal quality, just like the authors’ beloved fraternal twin:  The Book of Tofu.  I think I have had my copies for 25-30 years now.  I actually used to make homemade tofu at home for years. There is no aspect of Miso that these authors do not address.  It represents indispensible staple in the Japanese kitchen – and it appears in other Asian cuisines as well.  This is a fermented soybean paste, highly nutritious and a superfood.  Everything from soups to desserts is covered in this fine book, which is also by the way, macrobiotic.

Baking

Danish Home Baking

Karen Berg

Dover,1957

ISBN 0-486-22863-0

With a focus on sweet baked goods, for which Danish baking is justly  famed, you can find authentic approaches to every baked good imaginable.  The scattering of black and white photos in this modest paperback don’t prevent you from imagining these tantalizing products in color.  There is even a metric conversion chart in the back.

World Food

Traditional Venetian Recipes: Cuisine of the Serene Republic

Arsenale & Editrice, 2009

Verona, Italy

Another slim paperback, probably intended for English reading tourists, would be a wonderful addition to any bookshelf.  With fold-out front and back covers displaying charming watercolors and characteristic food lore, this tribute to the cuisine of St. Mark shows the amazing intersections of east and west.  Marco Polo lived there, and I’m sure he must have had many of these distinctive dishes that make Venetian foods so memorable.

Reference

Schott’s Food & Drink Miscellany

Ben Schott

Bloomsbury, London, 2003

ISBN 0-7475-6654-2

Not exactly where to start.  The New York Times did a full review in 2004, Food Trivia Perilously Close to Usefulness”. (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/08/books/08grim.html?_r=0 )

That might actually be a good square one.  This miniscule book is tightly packed in tiny print and reads like a fascinating kaleidoscope of incomprehensibly interesting and unrelated information that most foodies would be happy to recite if they do not possess an internal information pause or edit button.  I haven’t read it through, but I think it’s meant for casual grazing and distraction.

Quirks

Rose Recipes:  Customs, Facts, Fancies

Jean Gordon

Red Rose Publications (who else?) 1958

I never imagined that anyone could squeeze almost 90 pages of recipes centered around that noble flower.  After a quick perusal, you may think of Gertrude Stein, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”  Syrups, ice cream, sweets, wine, soups, preserves, roses in ancient Roman food, theology, poetry and medicinals.  Rose omelettes, rose prayer beads, rose syrup, skin crème, and on and on.  It really is an unusual and intriguing study of an ingredient that western cuisines most often do not exploit.  Once many years ago I made a torte that was rose flavored – and our customers at the restaurant seemed to be enchanted by it.  However it was so time-intensive that I only made it one time.  I called it Gateau:  la Vie en Rose.  (regards to Mme. Piaf).

“God gave us memory

That we may have roses in December” – Margaret L. Woods

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100_1682In the past few weeks I  somehow located a couple of indispensable   ingredients to emulate  a fantastic batch of Corona de Pane Siciliana, yesterday:  ‘The Crown’, a typical Sicilian bread.  The ingredients in question?   A finely milled Semolina flour, officially designated  with ‘Tipo 00′, which is a hard wheat (high gluten) popular in Italian kitchens- including pasta production- but most especially for bread-making in Sicily.  Sometimes referred to as ‘Double Zero’ in English – governed under state agricultural standards – similar to an appellation.  And then- unbleached bread flour?- there are always happy surprises in this world.  This is one of them.

I finally found my 2.2# bag of Double Zero at Cossetta’s in St. Paul for $4.36.  The price is a bit steep for the weight, but I estimated that I can make eight loaves of excellent bread, saving about $40-45 at the cash register.  A commercial loaf of Semolina bread in Minneapolis last week was $4.99-5.99.  Mine cost about $1 of ingredients

The second ingredient I discovered was Gold Medal’s UNBLEACHED bread flour ($3.89 at Rainbow Foods, Uptown).  I have used and have loved bread flour over the years, because it does makes a discernible difference in raised breads.  But I tended not to use it because it is hard to find organic, or at the very least unbleached.   I will be going back to this product often, because I have tended to make a lot of my own bread for the past 35 years- plus, this unbleached flour gave a richer color -and I believe superior flavor- to the final loaf.  Together, these two ingredients alone contributed to a baking of Italian style bread that I could not  have imagined coming out of my oven.

Some other elements helped to make this successful:  Malt powder, fresh (compressed) yeast, a wooden bread peel and baking stone.  Also, this bread only has a first and second rising; no third rising!  However, if you administer a redundant 2nd rising, this bread turns out to be very forgiving. 🙂  In jazz there are no mistakes, there are only opportunities.

Here’s the basic recipe, which I adjusted only merely from The Italian Baker, by Carol Field ( 1985, Harper & Row)

2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast or 2/3 oz (18 grams) fresh yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 Tbsp olive oil

1-1/2 tsp malt powder (I used Carnation Instant Malted Milk), plus 1/2 tsp sugar

1 cup water, room temperature

about 2-1/2 cups fine semolina flour (tipo 00, or double zero)

1 cup plus 1 Tbsp unbleached bread flour

2 tsp salt

1/3 cup sesame seed (use raw white sesame seed)

I used a counter-top mixer (Kitchen Aid) with a kneading hook attachment, and it worked beautifully.  In the mixing bowl, crumble the fresh  (or dried) yeast into the warm water and add the malt powder & sugar.  Add the remaining cup of room temperature water, and let sit for 10 minutes until the yeast has proofed.  Add olive oil to the yeast & water.

After you know the yeast has started working, combine your flours, and slowly begin to incorporate at medium low speed in your mixer.  When all the flour is in, increase speed to medium and slowly add salt, and knead with the dough hook until it yields an admirable, satiny, soft, sturdy dough.  This took only about 5 minutes with my machine.  Remove dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and allow to rise for approximately 1-1/2 hours.

Punch down and knead the dough very slightly and allow to rest, covered, for 5 minutes.  Now it is time to shape your loaves.  Now you can form Mafalda, Corona, or Occhi di Santa Lucia.  Here is how to make the Corona.  Divide the dough in half, and pat out each roughly into the shape of a rectangle- I think mine were about 4″ X 8″.  Now take your bench knife (or a regular knife) and tri-sect the rectangle, cutting the dough about 1/3 of the way toward the center.  Spread slightly apart, so that it resembles a three-toed bear claw pastry.  making Sicilian Bread again :)

I sprinkled my work-surface with a scattering of sesame seeds and placed the loaves on them.  Then lightly mist the top of the loaves with water and cover well with the remaining 1/4 cup of sesame.  I used a baking peel, sprinkled with a good dusting of regular semolina flour (or cornmeal) – so I put my loaves on the peel, covered it with plastic wrap, and covered that with a light kitchen towel.  If you are baking them on a baking sheet, instead of a baking stone, then place your bread directly on the baking sheet, which has been sprinkled with semolina (or cornmeal).  Allow to rise for 1-1/2 hours, or until double.

Preheat your oven to 425F for 20 minutes, with or without a baking stone, mist your bread with water & place  in the oven, misting them with water every 3 minutes thereafter, for the first 10 minutes.  Lower heat to 400F and continue baking for another 25-30 minutes.  Cool on baking rack, and wait until the bread is completely cool before slicing.

100_1680

click on any photo to enlarge.

N.B.  The original recipe calls for malt syrup, which I didn’t possess for this baking… so I punted.  I will shop soon at a home-brewers shop to source this uncommon ingredient.  I think of malt syrup as a softer, rich, complex ingredient, as opposed to the plain, hard sweetness of cane sucrose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the California goldfields in the 1840s and following, emerged a heritage recipe unique to the US – and the Judicial System.  If you want to read about a monstrous period in American history, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Gold_Rush .

While this event resulted in the (conservatively estimated) deaths or massacres of 100,000 Native people, it also increased the population of San Francisco from a sleepy mission village- on the Ohlone Tribes ancestral domains – to a boom town of nearly 40,000 in 2 years.  Of course there was every crime and vice imaginable, from genocide to petty thievery.  Local communities and governments took justice into their own hands and doled out punishments of every description, whether they were proportional to the crimes or not.  So of course, many criminals met the hangman’s noose.  One town or another became so rife with lawlessness that it became known as Hangtown, due to the frequent, characteristic administration of capital punishment.  The origins of this dish emerge from legend, when one man was offered his Last Meal before walking up the scaffold.

Because of the turbo economy that was rising in California, and bouying the nation following the end of the Mexican-American War, the US went to the gold standard.  In those hedonistic gold territories, there was skyrocketing inflation- – can you imagine a hamburger for $50, a quart of milk for $75, and fresh eggs $20 apiece?  One unapologetic criminal apocryphally made history by asking for the 3 most expensive ingredients he imagined money could buy at the time:  Oysters, eggs and bacon cooked in a skillet together.  Presumably he met his Maker with his appetite fully satisfied by something like The $1000 Breakfast.

I first learned about this dish when I was reading Evan Jones’ amazing gastromical history, ‘American Food,’ which I briefly reviewed in this blog a couple of years ago.  If you want to try this very rich and delicious dish, even if you’re not planning to kick the bucket, I suggest putting it on your Bucket List.  You already know the 3 main ingredients – this is how I cook it.

For each serving –

1/2 dozen fresh shucked oysters in their liquor

3 strips of bacon

1-2 eggs

Also have on hand:

cornmeal or crushed cracker crumbs to bread the oysters (I used Blue Cornmeal today)

tabasco sauce

black pepper

a little cream to mix with the eggs

oil or butter for frying

Fry your bacon until brown and crispy and set aside on paper towels, draining most of the bacon fat out of a large heavy skillet.  Replace with some vegetable oil or butter and return the pan to medium heat while you bread your oysters.  First whisk an egg with a few dashes of tabasco sauce and season with some black pepper.  Dip your oysters into the egg, and then bread them with cornmeal, cracker meal (or flour or Panko bread crumbs if you like).  Brown the oysters well on all sides, and keep in mind that they don’t require much cooking time – probably just a few minutes.

Now beat your egg with a little cream, milk or water and pour over the cooked oysters and cook, stirring occassionally until the eggs are set but still softly scrambled.

-you can crumble the bacon into the cooking eggs

-you could cook each ingredient separately, making an actual omlette

-you could cook the oysters and eggs together and serve the bacon on top like a frittata

-you could look online and find out probably countless variations of this dish from the deconstructed-highbrow, to the shanty-town fry cook’s original hoosegow no-frills version.  However you decide to approach this little piece of culinary history, it’s easy, it’s truly delicious, and it’s fast…considering that it is actually slow food.

It’s been some time since I reported on cookbooks, but I have 2 additions that I have to mention, or lightning will strike me. The first is a 2011 Solstice gift from Diane, “BULL COOK and AUTHENTIC HISTORICAL RECIPES AND PRACTICES, by GEORGE LEONARD HERTER  and BERTHE E. HERTER,  Herter’s, Waseca, Minnesota“,  (c) 1960, 61, 62, 63 – in total 7 editions, and a treasure.  To give you a teaser, it provides the instruction for preparing “DOVES WYATT EARP”.  Mine is a 1963.

And today I found another real gold nugget:  a first-edition of “Brown Derby COOK BOOK”, (1949), forward by Rbt. H. Cobb, President, The Brown Derby Corporations, which finally closed in 1985, amid significant national nostalgia, having served generations of Hollywood’s elite.  It has a handsome brown leather cover, with speckled edges – and the seller asked only $6.  It’s worth $50 on Ebay, if you had the heart to sell something irreplaceable.   The Derby opened in 1926.  Sixty years is not a bad run.  The menu was famous for Grapefruit Cake, a cocktail, a Blackbottom Pie, Cobb Salad, a Red Velvet Cake, and a long list of other major & minor culinary credits.

(photo courtesy http://www.etsy.com/listing/78806862/hollywood-vintage-postcard-brown-derby )

Here is the renowned

Brown Derby Black Bottom Pie (10″, serves 8)

Start with Shell Pastry Dough For Open-Faced Pies, 2 10-inch shells

3/8 c (1/4 c & 2 Tbsp) sugar

1 egg

1/4 tsp. lemon rind, grated

Small pinch salt

1/2 tsp vanilla (bean or extract)

2/3 c butter

2-1/4 c flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Use an electric mixer to combine egg, lemon rind, salt, vanilla, until creamy.  Knead butter till smooth, and add to egg mixture.  [* that’s apparently correct – knead the butter?  Counter-intuitive = good. ]  Then combine all in the mixer at slow speed until a paste is formed.  Beat at high speed for only a moment or two.  Allow the paste to relax, and roll out thin on a lightly floured board, baking the shell at 400F for 10-12 min.  (probably best to do a blind-baking w some aluminum foil and/or pie-weights.)

Now on to the Black Bottom Pie

BROWN DERBY’S BLACK BOTTOM PIE

2 tsp (one envelope) unflavored gelatine

1/2 cup milk

1 oz. sugar (that’s 2 Tbsp)

1 pinch salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg yolk

3 ounces sweet chocolate

1 pt. cream, whipped (that’s 2 cups of heavy cream, not yet whipped)

1 prebaked baked pie shell

Soak gelatine in small amount of cold water for 15 minutes.  Bring milk to boiling point.  Beat together sugar, salt, half of vanilla, and egg yolks until light, thick, and creamy.  Add 1/2 of the boiling milk over egg mixture.  Blend well, then add to remaining hot milk.  Return to heat, stirring constantly, for a few seconds.  Remove from fire before boiling point is reached.  Press soaked gelatine free of any excess water and dissolve in hot mixture.  Strain through a very fine sieve.  Add 2 ounces of the chocolate, which has been shaved; beat until smooth.  Cool until it reaches creamlike consistency.  Fold in half of whipped cream and remaining  half of vanilla.  Fill prebaked pie shell.  Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Top with remaining whipped cream 1 inch thick.  Remaining chocolate is now shaved into curled spears and stuck in top.  Dust with grated chocolate.

For reference, here is a little more background and some modern context for this famous Hollywood eatery,  as well as an updated read on this recipe:  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/dailydish/2011/10/from-the-culinary-sos-archive-the-brown-derbys-black-bottom-pie.html

cookbooks!

Native

Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider, Dubin & Tolley.  What an amazing book.  This brilliant gem, beautifully photographed, tells you about REAL Native American cooking.  This is a combination of heritage food, POV home cooking, and thousands of years of wisdom.  Get it, order it, search for it- this was a gift from a friend in California, and these focus on foods from the tribes there.

Colonial

To Set Before the King:  Katharina Schrott’s Festive Recipes First-hand intelligence practically from the table-sides and kitchens of the Habsburgs.  Nothing much more to say.

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

Buckeye cookery, ed. Estelle Woods Wilcox.   If you came of age in the 60’s or 70’s, you were probably aware of this book.  It is a friend to self-sufficiency enthusiasts.  However, it is also a valuable document for all of us.

Classic American

A Shaker Kitchen, Norma MacMillan.  Learn something more about the Shakers, besides their famous Shaker Lemon Pie.  A pious and simple tradition, producing simple, breathtaking food.

Comprehensive Cuisine

The Art of South American Cooking, Felipe Rojas Lombardi.  This is a stunning, thick volume of culinary treasure.  Think:  Southern Cross meets Joy of Cooking.

Vegetarian

Simple Food for the Good Life, Helen Nearing.  A goddess from the Pantheon of American Back-to-Nature movement speaks.  She & her husband (Scott) are intelligent, belligerent, humorous icons.

Baking

The Book of Whole Grains, Marlene Anne Bumgarner. I’ve had this cookbook for probably 30 years, and I love it and refer to it often.  It’s not strictly a baking book, but it does have a wealth of recipes categorized into 10 chapters of one whole-grain each; and then additional chapters for nuts/seeds; and finally legumes.

World Food

Japanese Cooking:  A Simple Art, Shizuo Tsuji, intro MFK Fisher.  This 450 page bible of Japanese cookery in English language is illustrated with simple line-drawings; it earned the praise of MFK Fisher AND Craig Clairborne.  This reflects the science, detail and aesthetic of a renowned food tradition.  This is definitely a specialty book.

Reference

Greast Garnishes, ed. Su-Huei Huang.  This is a book of Chinese food garniture- and the connections to the history of the Imperial Court are inescapeable.  Bi-lingual in Mandarin and English with colorful, detailed photos.

Desserts

Chocolate, Linda Collister.  This is a beautifully photographed collection of classic chocolate recipes- it’s a modest 125 pages or so, but it is described by The Guardian as one of the best chocolate cookbooks you’ll ever own.  I think that’s probably true.

Food Writers

First of a pair:  “Love and Kisses and a Halo of Truffles” James Beard’s correspondence with Helen Evans Brown, ed. John Ferrone.  I love reading collections of letters.

Quirks

This isn’t a quirk, but a follow-up to the previous category.  Epicurean Delight:  The Life and Times of James Beard, Evan Jones.  Two giants of American food and writing in one volume- this is quite  a biography, and James Beard lived quite a life.

A few more cookbooks from my bookshelves 🙂

Native

Hopi Cookery, by Juanita Tiger Kavena. ‘A compendium of more than 100 authentic recipes of the peace-loving Hopis’ says the book cover.  Recipes include Pinto Beans with Watermelon Seeds, Blue Corn Dumplings-and Piki-, the famous tissue-thin cornbread of the Hopiit.

Colonial

Old New Orleans Cooking (I’m researching the identity of the author)- This modest 60 page volume from the first half of the 1900s contains ‘hundreds of secret recipes that helped this historic city to establish its fame.  I received a photo-copy of the fragile volume in 16 double-sided pages.  From Jambalaya and Crayfish Bisque, to 3 kinds of Pralines, you had better believe this is authentic, old-school N’awlins cooking.

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

Miss Beecher’s Domestic Receipt-Book (1846), Catharine E. Beecher.  By an American writer, suffragist,  anti-slavery activist, proponent of Kindergarten education and a member of one of the most prominent families of the era.  An authoritative volume of early American cookery, with no index or illustrations.

Classic American

Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook (Revised, Enlarged Edition), by the Food Editors of the Farm Journal, ed. Nell B. Nichols.  When you think about old-fashion American country food, this is one of the sources you would be well-advised to seek.  It can often be found in a good used-bookstore for a pittance, and it will turn out a rich selection of history and know-how.

Comprehensive Cuisine

The Jewish-American Kitchen, Raymond Sokolov.  I have pored over this beautiful and interesting recipe book- and I have referred to it elsewhere on this blog- namely when I overcame my fear of making Chopped Liver.  It is almost a coffee table book, with big, beautiful photos, clear writing, and amusing style.

Vegetarian

the vegetarian epicure, by anna thomas.  The title and author may appear in modest, lower-case letters, but this is a collection of 262 recipes that made itself known in CAPITAL LETTERS, since it appeared in the early 1970s.   It’s smart, sophisticated, down-home and international all at the same time.

Baking

World Sourdoughs from Antiquity, by Ed Wood.  This is  a history of cuisine and an actual cookbook.  Lots of amazing recipes, as well as a culinary reconstruction of  both ancient and early modern bread making techniques.

World Food

The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, Gloria Bley Miller.  Craig Claiborne, a famed restaurant critic and gastronomic writer for the New York Times, said of this book, “A labor of Love…Should be treasured by anyone with a serious interest in the Chinese cuisine.”  He’s right.  True Bird’s Nest Soup?  Ten Precious Rice?  Braised Porkballs & Lilly Buds?  It’s all here.  I used to live in China for a half-year, and I did manage to learn some cooking techniques and recipes- but that was merely scratching the surface.

Reference

Wild Plant Family Cookbook, by Particia K. Armstrong.   This book seems to be 1/2 reference, 1/2 actual cookbook; and it is a staggering achievement.  It features and highlights wild foods from the Midwest of the United States- foods that have been consumed here by Native Peoples for thousands of years before colonization.

Desserts

Biscuits & Slices; and a bonus volume:  The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits, from the Australian Women’s Weekly Home Library.  These large sturdy paperback editions reflect an aspect of- and love for sweets that are unique to English sensibilities- these cookies and bars are appropriate for High Tea, after-school and midnight snacks.  Some metric measurements (see below).

Food Writers

Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain.  This book became a literal and literary overnight sensation.  And anyone who has watched Chef Bourdain’s TV series (No Reservations) will see that this nearly world-weary, brilliant funny foodie is a formidable figure in world food consciousness. 

Quirks

Metric Cooking for Beginners, Binevera Barta.  Liters, mL, grams, kilograms and Celsius in your recipes bumming you out?  I found this instruction guide-cum-recipe manual from the 1970s  for a dollar at a used bookstore.  I do have a combination kitchen weight scale that I use, and some of my measuring implements also show metric gradations.  If you use international recipe sources at all, some are strictly metric.  You can always get yourself a metric calculator too- that might actually be easier, but it can set you back US$40 (cf http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FONJN6?ie=UTF8&tag=sciencemadesimpl&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000FONJN6 )

image courtesy of http://www.clipartof.com/details/clipart/229985.html

cookbooks!

Native:

Stalking the Wild Asparagus, Euell Gibbons.  This is not strictly a cookbook, nor is it by a writer who identifies as Indigenous.  Rather, it is a famous underground piece of writing by a wild-foods forager here in North America (he famously did a Grape-Nuts cereal TV ad in the 1970s, asking, ‘Did you know many parts of a pine tree are edible?’ ) It’s a great travelogue through Indigenous subsistence fare by a man who loves wild food and explains it well.

Colonial

Cooking in Old Salem, by Winston B. Spurgeon- a beautiful gift-shop paperback from the 1980s- fireplace cooking, Moravian baked-goods, lots of good history & period-food.

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

Real French Cooking, with Outstanding Recipes From Other Countries.  The mid-century classic by the Brilliant Savarin, AKA Brillat-Savarin.  Belongs in your French section, along with Julia, and Simca Beck.

Classic American

Big Valley Amish Cook-Book, a Cookbook from Kishacoquillas Valley.  A thousand recipes from the Heartland and the 1970s.  You will find everything from 10 versions of Shoo-Fly Pie, to 2 versions of Happiness Cake (look that one up on the web).  Also a section on one-dish meals, various jell0-salads; and real heritage recipes, including hickory nut icing.  This is what one well-fed population of Pennsylvania Amish farm families ate for some generations, and they evidently ate well.

Comprehensive  Cuisine

The Africa Cookbook, Tastes of a Continent, by Jessica B. Harris could also appear under the World Food category here.  But this book is breathtaking in its scope- it really spans an entire continent, and it is a wonderful starting point for a newcomer to African cuisines.

Vegetarian

Can’t ignore New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, by the Moosewood Collective.  It’s an oldie but a goodie- and it’s not strictly ovo-lacto.  They do include an array of fish/seafood recipes- so it’s definitely not a vegan affair.

Baking

The Italian Baker, by Carol Field.  From yeast to quick breads, from savory to sweet, this is one of those big juicy cookbooks that is just fun to read, even if you don’t actually try any of the recipes.  There are line-drawings inside (a la James Beard), the lay-out is lovely and the perspective is very complete.

World Food

A brand new find from an estate sale:  The East European Cookbook, by Kay Shaw Nelson.  This book is authentic, authoritative & appeared almost 40 years ago.  No photos in this book either- only text- but you almost want to eat the book itself, the recipes are so gorgeous to read.  I can’t wait to start cooking from it.

Reference

The Cook’s Dictionary and Culinary Reference, by Jonathan Bartlett.  I have a paperback version of this title, and it is like a telephone book.  I have a few other big, giant culinary reference books, and it is useful to have a selection of them for cross-reference.  You want to know the history of honey in one page, what a hogplum is, or a one-paragraph synopsis of what Hollandaise Sauce is all about?  This is 500 alphabetical pages of exactly that kind of interesting information.

Desserts

1001 Cookies, by Gregg R. Gillespie.  An American cookie aficionado has produced the logical next step after the beloved 101-ways to cook a chicken-type format.  Yes, it is 1001 recipes, there is a colorful photo of each cookie.  This guy must have been baking cookies for years.  Some of the recipes are transparently similar, with slightly different names, or one or two different ingredients.   There are  quite a number of treasures if you are patient.   But he does surpass 1000 cookies, which is indisputably impressive.

Food Writers

Well, this is presented by the Countess of Toulouse-Latrec:  Chez Maxim’s, Secrets and Recipes from the Wold’s Most Famous Restaurant.  Does it belong on the coffee table or the kitchen table? it’s so beautiful & full of history.  Most importantly, you can reproduce Maxims Souffle’ au Fromage.

Quirks

Hors D’Oeuvres, by Eric Treuille & Victoria Blashford-Snell.  A big, colorful walk through top-drawer finger foods from the 1990s.  None of these starters have gone out of style, the advice on service and production is timeless & excellent; and this was another estate sale find, at a small mansion in Minneapolis last weekend.

Cookbook Gazette from my bookshelves

Native:

Northwest Native Harvest, Carol Batdorf.  A beautiful publication by Hancock House & full of Indigenous food ingredients and approaches to traditional food preparation

Colonial

I will repeat a reference to:  The Little House Cookbook, by Barbara M. Walker.  This writer & historian has contributed something very important to the story of American Food

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (am I repeating myself again?), Fannie Merritt Farmer

Classic American

I’m including The Tassajara Bread Book (Edward Espe Brown) on this list, and if you don’t somehow find a copy, I’ll be mad at you.  This is why god made Ebay.  Any old copy will do, but plan to wear it out.

Comprehensive  Cuisine

The New York Times International Cook Book (I have a 1971 Edition).  A treasure trove of lots of recipes, adapted for American kitchens, and probably popular at your local country club 40 years ago, for all the right reasons.  Very good.  I love Craig Claiborne.

Vegetarian

Fast Vegetarian Feasts, by Martha Rose Shulman (her dad a well-known writer) is a book I’ve worn down to a nub.  Lots of wonderful, creative, delicious and informed, do-able recipes.

Baking

A World of Breads, Dolores Casella, AND a bonus amazing volume, A World of Baking (1966 & 68).  These are 2 books that inspired me in high school to pay attention to baking- besides the women in my family.

World Food

Himalayan Mountain Cookery:  A Vegetarian Cookbook, Martha Ballentine (1976).  Spiral-bound, priceless)

Reference

The Rituals of Dinner, Margaret Visser (ever wonder why you’re should scoop your soup away from you?  or why you keep your knife-blade pointed toward you?  It’s polite.)  My friend Hortensia gave me this book nearly 20 years ago.

Desserts

Sweet Maria’s Italian Cookie Tray, A Cookbook, Maria Bruscino Sanchez.  So many of my cookbook finds have been in used book-stores.  This is one of them. Classic Italian cookie making.  Great Biscotti recipes.

Food Writers

American Food, Evan Jones.  Paperback, stunning, informative, comprehensive, delicious, historical.

Quirks

Wild Foods Field Guid Cookbook:  An illustrated guide to 70 wild plants and over 350 irresistible recipes for serving them them up, Billy Joe Tatum.

Okay.  I have reduced my cookbook entries to one per category.  But I’m going to do it again, since I promised I would.  There are more where these came from, and I would marry any one of these books- but that’s impractical.

cookbooks!

Exactly one year ago the Dubious Citty Katt (that’s how the local press referred to her in print- honestly) twisted my arm to start this food blog.  I confidently said at that time that I’d share my favorite cookbooks.

For a year I’ve haven’t been sure how to do that, particularly since I learned as a child that we have to keep our  promises.  For one thing I have 3 or 4 bookshelves full of cookbooks.  Really big shelves.  (Please click on the photo if you don’t believe me).

Some books are large and colorful, some are sort of clinical;  but with most of them I would be happy to sink into a chair and just read it like a novel.  One of my favorite aunts proudly and happily admitted that very same thing to me one day in her kitchen (when I was in high school), where I was perpetually hanging out (and do not end sentences with prepositions please).  Everyone EVERYONE loved Aunt Jane’s cooking- and she taught me pie crust- along with my mom and grandmother.  Now, how will I describe my cookbook collection after all my big words.

About 130 a month guests come to this blog, which is amazing, Thank you for visiting.  And I finally figured out how to tell you about my cookbooks.  I describe this blog as a post-modern excursion into ‘food, Native foods, and omni-cuisine’ (or something like that). So I have created 12 completely arbitrary and capricious categories and I’ll list 2 examples of my favorite books in each one, also capricious and arbitrary.  I’ll try to do a cookbook gazette every once in a while until everyone tells me to stop (but please give me at least two chances.)  I hope you all get to look through some of them sometime.  There are more.

Native:

–Native Harvests, Barrie Kavach – a compact, clear volume that has a surprising degree of detail about pre-Contact food preparation practices

–Cuisine of the Water Gods, Patricia Quintana.  This is a beautifully produced book, not only rich in authentic cuisine and history, but a pleasure to read.

Colonial

–The Early American Cookbook, Dr. Kristie Lynn & Robert W. Pelton.  A gift-shop cookbook that has a wealth of surprising information about early cooking techniques.

–The Williamsburg ART OF COOKERY or, AccompliB’d Gentlewoman’s COMPANION:  Being a Collection of upwards of Five Hundred of the most Ancient & Approv’d Recipes in Virginia COOKERY*

[* a ‘B’ here indicates an S-tset, or Double SS, so this is not a misspelling]

Groundbreaking publications (19/20Centuries)

–Mrs. Beeton’s COOKERY BOOK.  Look it up for yourself, it’s revelatory.

–Classic American Cooking, Pearl Byrd Foster.  This woman is one of the fountainheads of modern American cuisine awareness.

Classic American

–James Beard’s American Cookery.  A cookbook that I never tire of reading.  He’ll tell you how to make Hangtown Fry, a maple glazed doughnut, or Scrapple without batting an eye, with sheer pride of American food traditions.

–Masters of American Cookery, ed. Betty Fussell.  Here is a recent and reliable look at the emerging consciousness of food in the US.

Comprehensive  Cuisine

— Joy of Cooking (aka Joy), Irma Rombauer, Marian Rombauer Becker, Ethan Becker.  There are many editions and iterations of this classic.  I have a double set of paperbacks, as well as a battered 1-volume version.  They all look like they have weathered a category 3 hurricane.

–Mastering, etc, Julia Child, Volumes I & II.  Ditto, category 4 hurricane.

Vegetarian

–Laurel’s Kitchen, Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, Bronwen Godfrey.  A brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

–The Farm Vegetarian Cookbook (Revised), ed. Louise Hagler.  A little-known, brilliant, beloved, admired classic.

Baking

–Beard on Bread, James Beard.  This is Beard at some of his best.  No wonder they named a national award after him.

–The Art of Baking, Paula Peck.  This volume deserves to be much more widely known and used by everyone.  This is where I learned how to make Genoise and Viennese specialties.

World Food

–Delightful Thai Cooking, Eng Tie Ang.  A very helpful and correct introduction to a favorite ethnic cuisine in the US and world food scene.

–Flavors of India, Madhur Jaffrey.  This is another one of my severely battered cookbooks.  It was a Christmas present from my parents many years ago, and I’m surprised the binding is still holding together.  This author has produced more fine books than I can count.

Reference

–Chilies to Chocolate:  Food the Americas Gave the World, Nelson Foster, Linda Cordell.  A brilliant analysis, critique and meditation on the role of Indigenous foods in world history.

–On Food and Cooking:  The Science & Lore of the Kitchen, Harold McGee.  One of the undisputed bibles of modern Gastronomy- the marriage of aesthetics, cuisine and science.

Desserts

–The Art of Viennese Pastry, Marcia Colman Morton.  This slim volume, written by the wife of a diplomat, harks back to the twilight of the Habsburgs, and a world before the onset of Post-modernity.

Gourmet’s Best Desserts, the ed.s of Gourmet

Food Writers

—Memories of My Life, Auguste Escoffier.  Brilliant European food history.

–As They Were, MFK Fisher.  Brilliant American food history.

Quirks

–The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book, Alice B. Toklas.  Don’t make the brownies.

–The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker.  A comprehensive walk through the food world of Laura Ingalls Wilder, well worth reading.

A beautiful painting from Mexico

A beautiful painting from Mexico

I made two of the wooden kitchen shelves from reclaimed wood many years ago – they are pretty heavy, considering that they don’t look particularly heavy.

The original watermelon painting I found in Mexico last year (08)- I asked the artist to sign and date the back of it for me- I think it is a TRULY fabulous painting.  It looks like something right out of the 20s- Juan Gris, or some of those cubist types.

I always used to buy seeds from the co-op, so of course it was in little plastic bulk-sales bags, and I’d get them mixed up.  The caraway and the cumin; the anise and the fennel.  None of them had anything indicating what they were- usually just a PLU number- mostly because I thought I could positively identify one from the other (some of them look like each other).  So now I know exactly what everything is, although I had to kind of evolve from ape to man on that one.  The Herbes de Provence I use, and the Spanish smoked paprika is pretty amazing.  You should find some and experiment…..very carefully, but experiment.

Black tea, jasmine extract, Oblaten (for making certain cookies), tomato paste in a tube.  Very important to have at all times

Three shelves of completely tattered and worn out cookbooks.  Some of them do not survive, but I usually find another copy to replace them when I’m lucky.  I write dates and pencil in changes to recipes – I’ve done that for a decade or two I think.  I’m going to put a list together of some of my favorite cookbooks.  I have a lot of standard titles for various categories- i.e. a lot of people would instantly recognize the cookbook or author.  Then there are titles that food freaks know about- Mrs. Beaton, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, books MFK Fisher, Colonial Williamsburg Cookery (a facsimile edition from the 1600s I think), The Boston Cooking School Cookbook, Old Salem Cookery.

I have at least a dozen cookbooks by/for/about Indigenous Foods, and a number of textbooks about them.  The Hopi Cookbook, Aztec Cooking (it’s the only Aztec cookbook I’ve ever seen), A Cherokee cookbook, Northwest Tribal Recipes.  A lot of the cooking information is authentic- and then you also have adapted western ingredients in some as well (wheat flour, leavening, dairy products, etc).  Some of the traditional foods prepared with newer ingredients can be fine- but you also want to know what the real thing is like.  Our tribal communities everywhere were incredibly healthy only a few generations ago because our diets were  rich with wild, good foods, and quite a lot of cultivated ones as well.

I keep a NO WAR pin on my spice rack so I can see it every day all the time.  Behind it in this photo is a poster about traditional Cherokee Foods, in Cherokee language, using the Cherokee Syllabary (sp).  Quite cool.

I’ve made a few pieces in my kitchen workspace that I always keep in use or close by.  I’ve never had a microwave in my life (I got a really shocked look from one of my friends  recently when he was looking around my kitchen to find the food zapper- I’ll be 50 next year), but I do like kitchen tools- from corn shellers to china caps, and Turk’s Caps to big slabs of marble.  I do use a food processor and a big fancy mixing machine that could possibly winch a Cooper Car out of distress if it was hooked up properly.

I have no idea how to align the photographs at this point with the things I’m writing, so this would make a very good rainy day project.