by Gena Hamshaw
10 Speed Press. 150 pp.
Food52 Vegan is a vegan and vegetarian’s dream cookbook, though omnivores will enjoy it too – after all good food is good food particularly when in this case it is both healthful and nourishing.
Clinical nutritionist Gena Hamshaw writes the popular “New Veganism” column for Food52. Founded in 2009 by Amanda Hessser and Merrill Stubbs, Food52 is an excellent online community for cooks of all levels.
Author of Cooking Raw, Hamshaw’s new Vegan cookbook incorporates favorite dishes from her column and includes 60 new plant-based recipes. Some I especially liked include Polenta with Greens, Roasted Tomatoes and Lentil Walnut Crumble, Parsnip Fries with Spicy Harissa Mayonnaise, and Chai Spiced Bread Pudding.
Years ago, vegetables were the “side” that accompanied meat, fish or chicken. Nowadays vegetables are king, reflected in the number of “crossover” cookbooks that appeal to omnivores too. With an increasing awareness of both seasonal and locally produced vegetables, the result is the reverse: a predominance of dishes featuring vegetable-driven recipes, with the focus on more flavorful ways to cook them.
A few ingredients used in these recipes such as the use of coconut oil and nut milk may not appeal to omnivores, but chances are they’ll become part of your repertoire once you’ve tasted the results. A veg-centric style of cooking means looking at plant based dishes in a whole new way, while adding freshness and flavor to your own home cooking.
WHO FOR: Vegans, Vegetarians and those trying to incorporate vegetable-based meals into their diet.
COOKING LIKE A MASTER CHEF: 100 RECIPES TO MAKE THE EVERYDAY EXTRAORDINARY
by Graham Elliott
Atria Books. 250 pp.
Whether they are known for their cockney charm, cleavage and pearls, or a proficiency for yelling expletives, it would seem one has to have a distinctive edge to become a top celebrity chef. Joining their ranks with his own quirkiness is Graham Elliot replete with colorful bow ties, oversized eyeglasses and his love of rock and roll.
A critically acclaimed chef, co-host of the series Master Chef and Master Chef Junior, and owner of a two-star Michelin restaurant in Chicago, Elliot knows a thing or two when it comes to showing others how to cook. In his cookbook, Cooking Like A Master Chef, Elliot thinks food should taste like itself, focusing on ingredients in the peak of their season for ultimate flavor. He also believes there is no right or wrong when being creative in the kitchen; rather, one should experiment and revamp even old recipes.
Elliott would like everyone to be able to cook. The 100 recipes you’ll find in Cooking Like a Master Chef reflect that with simple straightforward instructions and nothing too fancy-shmancy. Divided into sensible sections like Bites and Snacks or Soups and Cool Salads the home cook will find plenty of dishes to please the palate and impress family and friends such as Chilled Summer Cantaloupe Soup or something a bit more exotic like Roasted Quail with Wild Mushrooms and Fava Beans.
WHO FOR: Your favorite home cook or someone who is learning to cook.
WINE IN WORDS: NOTES FOR BETTER DRINKING
by Lettie Teague
Rizzoli. 232 pages
If the thought of reading essays about wine makes you yawn, think again. Lettie Teague, wine columnist for The Wall Street Journal has compiled a collection of brief essays packed with interesting information. Even if you are a novice when it comes to drinking wine, Wine in Words is an easy way to assimilate knowledge about a whole range of wine related topics.
Split into three sections: Fun to Know, Need to Know, and Who Knows?, Teague opines on such things as screw caps versus corks; that having a knowledge of obscure wines can get you a good wine at a good price; the star power effect – a discussion about celebrities who own vineyards such as Sting and Angelina Jolie; and the key fact that wine tastes the way it does due to the location/climate of where the grapes are grown. This place of origin is called terroir, a pesky word often mispronounced, but Teague makes even that clear to non-French speakers by spelling it tear-wah.
Teague’s short essays are equivalent to amuse-bouches: small bites worth savoring. Wine glass in hand, you might also want to read one to yourself as a bedtime story.
WHO FOR: All wine lovers. Would make a nice gift.
NOPI: THE COOKBOOK
by Otto Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
10 Speed Press – 336 pp
If you don’t have any of Ottologenhi’s previous cookbooks: Ottolenghi, Plenty, Jerusalem and Plenty More you don’t know what you’re missing. His is a culinary world known to focus on a Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean approach to vegetables, the type of dishes that visually excite the palate before one even takes a bite. Whether vegetables accompany lamb, beef, chicken or fish such as Smoked Lamb Chops with Eggplant Puree, Jalapeno Sauce and Kohlrabi Pickle or Sea Bass and Turmeric Potatoes in Rasam Broth, vibrant hues and exotic aromas are the norm.
NOPI stands for north of Piccadilly, where one of his restaurants by the same name is located. In this, his fifth cookbook, Ottolenghi has teamed up with Chef Ramael Scully, who adds an Asian inspired influence to both this book and the restaurant. Ottolenghi says that in addition to contemporary restaurant knowledge Scully has “a talent and enthusiasm for what I can best describe as composition.” What Ottolenghi and Scully “have attempted to do is to modify and simplify NOPI’s recipes without losing their essential core.”
Ottelenghi goes out of his way to tell you that many of his recipes in his new cookbook NOPI are not for the beginner…maybe not even for the average good cook. But while it’s true the recipes in in this cookbook were intended for professional cooks, and some even require ingredients many home cooks won’t have in their pantry, that does not mean those with an adventurous spirit can’t tackle them. As he says, “Alternative routes are suggested for different cooks…more complicated cheffy options for those with a bit of time and an overall adventurous disposition; simpler alternatives for those who want impressive results but want to get there pretty swiftly.”
I found the directions laid out in such a clear manner, many are highly doable. So if you want to stretch your skills a little and grow your repertoire, treat Ottolenghi’s words as a challenge not a disclaimer.
WHO FOR: Vegetarians, and Omnivores who, like Ottolenghi, champion vegetables as well as eating meat. Your favorite chef.