Holiday Reading or Giving
As late fall morphs into winter, there’s nothing I like more than curling up with a cookbook and fantasizing about what to cook next. Indoor weekends provide more time to hunker in the kitchen, trial new dishes and crank out baked goods or hover over soups and stews. Sticky notes poke out the sides of books stacked on my counter and next to my reading chair. Sure, I consult my iPad for quick reference, but I relish the promise of a hardcover cookbook, flipping through the comforting pages, studying the handsome photographs and dreaming of meals to come. These six hot cookbooks from 2017 offer a delicious way to spend the hibernating months. Enjoy!
Beekman 1802: A Seat at the Table
Recipes to Nourish Your Family, Friends, and Community
Authors: Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell with Rose Marie Trapani
Photography: Christian Watson
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
This is the fourth cookbook by the Fabulous Beekman Boys, founders of Beekman 1802, the lifestyle company centered on their farm and central New York community of Sharon Springs. Their neighbor Rose Marie Trapani provided the inspiration for this book, which features more than 115 recipes arranged seasonally. Trapani grew up in Sicily, and her deep respect for farm-raised ingredients informs her rustic style of cooking. She loves feeding her extended Sharon Springs family, and after trying a few of her recipes, you’ll be tempted to move to this tiny hamlet in the Mohawk Valley to get a seat at her table.
My favorite dinner entrées include chicken apricot potpie with cinnamon, turmeric, golden raisins and sliced almonds, and a baked salmon fillet (they suggest a whole three-pound side! Go big or go home!) topped with sundried tomatoes, green peppercorns, garlic and lemon zest. Desserts run both savory and sweet, such as an olive oil cake made memorable with peppery olive oil, rosemary, anise and whatever homemade jam or preserves you have on hand. Buttery fig cookies are filled with a blend of figs, almonds, chocolate chips and orange zest.
Feeding a Family
A Real Life Plan for Making Dinner Work
Author: Sarah Waldman
Photography: Elizabeth Cecil
Publisher: Roost Books
Sarah Waldman is a mom and knows what it takes to get her two sons, aged seven and four, to eat a nutritious meal. She wrote this book to inspire busy (read: tired) home cooks trying to feed their families while juggling their own packed lives. Poring through her recipes reminds us that a family dinner is possible, and that it doesn’t have to be “perfect.” Her down-to-earth tone bolsters harried parents and reassures them of the lasting value of simple, healthy and tasty family meals.
Waldman has organized 10 meals, by season, generally a one-pot preparation paired with a salad and dessert suitable for the whole family. She provides tips for how to adjust ingredients to feed a baby or infant, eliminating the need for multiple meals. She also offers suggestions on how to convert leftover elements into the basis for the next day’s lunch or dinner.
The book is filled with helpful advice for planning meals and ways to involve the whole family. “If the kids help make the meal, they’re more likely to eat it,” she wisely notes. A recipe developer and food writer who lives on Martha’s Vineyard, Waldman invited four guest families to participate in the creation of the meals to ensure they are “legit.” This book, filled with gorgeous photos shot in natural light, makes a welcome gift for anyone striving to bring joy into family meals.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
Author: Samin Nosrat
Illustrations: Wendy MacNaughton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Salt. Fat. Acid. Heat. Master these elements and you’ll be able to cook delicious food of any kind, with or (preferably) without a recipe. According to Nosrat, salt has a greater impact on flavor than any other ingredient; food can only be as delicious as the fat with which it’s cooked; and acid—salt’s alter ego—makes food more appealing by offering contrast. In other words, salt enhances flavor, fat amplifies it, acid brightens and balances, and heat determines the texture of the final product.
Nosrat has the gift of making the complex simple, explaining the logic behind these principles. She’s the teacher you want to hang out with at the counter or stove. Case in point: Michael Pollan tapped her to teach him how to cook as he prepared his own work, Cooked.
Nosrat developed her culinary chops at Chez Panisse, in Tuscan kitchens and around the world. She spent 15 years pursuing flavors and analyzing this quartet of elements in global cuisines. She has created a deeply researched yet incredibly fun reference book, and Wendy McNaughton’s cheerful watercolor illustrations add to the tome’s delightful ambience. I curled up and read this like a novel and then turned down recipes in the second half for future use. How can I go wrong with a chapter titled “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Chicken”?? And though I’m a huge fan of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab, this book seems more user friendly, equally informative, less exhaustive. And half the weight.
The Vermont Non-GMO Cookbook
125 Organic and Farm-to-Fork Recipes from the Green Mountain State
Author: Tracey Medeiros
Photographs: Oliver Parini
Tracey Medeiros, a regular contributor to Edible Green Mountains, has produced her fourth cookbook, this one celebrating Vermont’s farmers and producers committed to raising, growing and preparing organic and non-GMO foods. This 400-plus-page tome is packed with stories and photographs of the dedicated people responsible for producing our state’s renowned food and drink. The 125 recipes, provided by farmers, chefs, restaurant owners and non-GMO food artisans, highlight organic vegetables, meats, poultry, grains and beans.
Ease into cold weather cooking with smoky lamb Bolognese or grilled beef tenderloin accompanied by rutabaga puree, braised cabbage and horseradish cream. Multicolored beet hash with potatoes serves as a brilliant—and healthy—centerpiece of Sunday brunch while Brussels sprouts with creamy sriracha dipping sauce will convert even purported sprouts naysayers. The late-winter cottage pie encourages riffing with whatever ground meat and veggies linger in your winter root cellar.
Medeiros believes that a healthy diet should include organic non-GMO foods, and in all her writings, she encourages her readers to enjoy simple, wholesome meals made with locally grown ingredients. A storyteller at heart, Medeiros has crafted enduring profiles of Vermont’s pioneer organic farmers, chefs and culinary entrepreneurs. These inside scoops are as delectable as the recipes themselves!
A portion of the cookbook sales will be donated to Rural Vermont, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to ensure that farmers and consumers have a voice in the creation of public policies that impact our agricultural lives.
Bread Toast Crumbs
Recipes for No-Knead Loaves and Meals to Savor Every Slice
Author: Alexandra Stafford with Liza Lowery
Photography: Eva Kolenko
Publisher: Clarkson Potter
Do you harbor a secret fear of bread baking? Do the words “active yeast” cause your heart to sink a little? If so, then this is the bread baking bible for you. Alexandra Stafford’s new book makes the daunting feel doable for the novice bread baker and provides plenty of inspiration for the pros. Her peasant bread master recipe incorporates standard instant yeast that can be stirred right into the dry ingredients and doesn’t require blooming in warm water first. The secret of the preparation is its simplicity: The no-knead bread comes together in less than five minutes, rises in an hour and bakes in buttered bowls or pans. Once you master the basic recipe, you can explore the 40 sweet and savory variations she offers.
Chefs pride themselves on nose-to-tail cooking; Stafford encourages bread makers to embrace loaf-to-crumb baking. The book is divided into three logical sections—Bread, Toast, Crumbs—that follow the loaf as it ages (that’s if you don’t finish it in one meal!) Each section is replete with recipes that allow bread to shine as the star or serve as part of the chorus. Try the savory monkey bread with Gruyère, scallions and bacon, or a meatless frittata rich with melty Fontina and croutons crisped in a mustardy vinaigrette. The leek, ham and Emmental croque madame stands as a satisfying meal any time of day or evening. There’s a recipe for beet-cured salmon served on rye with a smear of herbed cream cheese and capers, and the bread crumb chimichurri sprinkled over roast rack of lamb, grilled steak or pan-seared duck breast takes those classic meals to a whole new level.
Stafford, who lives in the Capital Region of New York, writes for Food52.com and her own blog, Alexandra’s Kitchen.
Real Food Heals
Eat to Feel Younger and Stronger Every Day
Author: Seamus Mullen with Genevieve Ko
Publisher: Penguin Random House
You are what you eat, for better and for worse. Seamus Mullen has experienced both ends of that spectrum. This award-winning chef grew up on an organic farm in northern Vermont and now owns several Spanish-themed restaurants in Manhattan. While his culinary star was rising with several James Beard nominations, his own health was failing precipitously, largely due to his diet. A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis in 2007 and too much time in hospitals kicked Mullen to transform his health through food and exercise.
Real Food Heals champions the joy in eating veggies, good fats, and proteins with meat and dairy as accents. The pages vibrate with energy and rich abundance, no sense of dietary deprivation here. A full 125 paleo-inspired recipes revolve around loads of veggies; olive oil, avocados, unsweetened coconut milk and oil; grass-fed beef and butter; pasture-raised eggs; small oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and anchovies; nuts and seeds. The chef-quality dishes are easy and fast enough to cook at home.
Michael Pollan’s mantra is “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Seamus Mullen’s? “Good food. Fitness. Small choices.” If you’re looking for easy ways to reboot the way you eat and cook, Real Food Heals can guide and inspire you