The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter). [TOP IMAGE ABOVE] I was so looking forward to this book, a collection of recipes which are a bit less common than you’d normally find in American baking books– recipes like like Lamington cupcakes, pine nut tart with rosemary cream, nut and cherry nougat. As a whole, the collection of recipes is elegant- definitely a notch above average. You’d make a great statement if you served one of these recipes to your friends. And although I had a bit of difficulty with the Ultimate Chocolate Brownies (The cooking time didn’t work out for me?), my shortcoming has been like a challenge to me, which has made me want to come back and try more recipes in the book, maybe toward Christmas when I usually try to bake up five to ten different baked goods and give little boxes of mixed goodies to friends as gifts (You always want unique things people haven’t tried before in those gift boxes). For people who like to experiment with different flavors and adapt recipes for different types of desserts, you’ll appreciate the notes after each recipe which offer tips on how to do just that! In sharp contrast with Baking Unplugged, there are plenty of pictures in this book of the final recipes up close, so you can compare and see how your efforts measure up! While the recipes are generally quite easy to execute, this is definitely the type of book for the person who believes that a tiny bit more effort can produce great desserts.
Living in Italy, I feel quite deprived of world cuisine and therefore have noticed that my collection of books dedicated to helping me satisfy those cravings has grown. Joel’s recipe for porcini tapioca cakes also happened to remind me of “world cuisine” coming all the way from Australia. So I thought I’d do a round up of a few ‘well-rounded’ cookbooks that offer a wide range of cuisine type, just in case you get bored easily. If you’re looking for more mushroom recipes, try A Cook’s Book of Mushrooms by Jack Czarnecki (Artisan). If, instead of mushrooms, you want to try out an easy chutney recipe, see the end of this post! Have you got a favorite cookbook with a wide variety of cuisines under one binding?
Through it all I’m working on my own wellness — making stress management and sleep a priority, tweaking what I eat, staying flexible when it comes to necessary change, making sure to move every day, and surrounding myself with inspiring people. Also being realistic and nice to myself if I slip up — I want to be this kind of person for myself and others.
To celebrate the simple act of dining with friends, we’re launching a new feature today. We’re calling it Dinner Party, and it will showcase a few delicious recipes from a brand new cookbook as well as beautiful tableware from a favorite shop or designer. To kick off the series, we chose Rachel Khoo’s charming guide to modern French cooking, The Little Paris Kitchen. Newly released in America, this delightful little volume contains dozens of recipes that taste just as good as they look. To complement the pared down beauty of Khoo’s book, we decorated our table with a few super easy DIYs, a lovely printable menu and pieces from one of our favorite new stores: West Elm Market!
Shibori-Style Tablecloth DIY: We crafted this beautiful dyed tablecloth in the Shibori style using a canvas dropcloth and standard black Rit Dye. First, we folded the tablecloth zig-zag style lengthwise and then again, widthwise, bunching the whole thing together with several rubber bands. Following the directions with the dye packet, we then dyed the entire cloth. The process is quite simple, but the results are beautiful!
Spending my time with someone who works in cookbook writing and testing has made me look at books in a whole new way. My own experience with books made me appreciate the hard work that goes into the organization, but to see first-hand how much testing and skill goes into each recipe makes me have a whole new level of respect for cookbook authors. We’ve been so fortunate to see some gorgeous books come across our desk at work lately, so I thought I’d share some of my personal favorites that I plan to be cooking from over the holiday break. I tend to lean heavily on sweets, so many of these are dessert books (not sure if I should apologize or celebrate that fact) which I hope will still work for everyone. If not, we’ve got an in-depth post coming up tomorrow about a great new recipe book that celebrates the savory as much as the sweet. Happy cooking!
If you’re anything like me, Halloween has a tendency of sneaking up on you like Freddie Kruegar in a nightmare. One minute, you’re installing your air conditioner in May and all of the sudden —BOOM— there are trick-or-treaters at your door. I have no idea how this keeps happening to me (early-onset dementia, perhaps?), but when October 31st rolls around, I often find myself sans-costume and sans-plans. So—if Halloween (two days away, you guys!) has snuck up on you this year, but you still want to get a little festive—don’t worry, y’all! Design*Sponge gotchu covered.
If you’ve ever tried to interact with someone who is in the throes of writing a book, you know they are mostly offline for the duration of the project. If you’ve ever tried to interact with someone who is photographing and developing recipes for a cookbook, then you know that they are offline and most likely their hair (and probably something in the kitchen) is on fire for the duration of the project. That was me. I’d heard about how stressful the process was, but I never fully understood it until I started. However, I also had very fun moments along the way and the process was so very rewarding!
L.A.’s Original Farmer’s Market Cookbook by JoAnn Cianciulli (Chronicle Books) is a great little walk through an American Farmer’s Market. In other words, the best of all worlds. I like this book because I like cookbooks which also tell a story and put the food into the context of where it is made or of who makes it. This book not only tells the history of the market, it tells the history of the stalls whose recipes are featured. The history of the market is presented with historical photographs in the introduction to the book, before getting to the food. It is divided into four sections: Breakfast, Sandwiches and Light Bites, Main Meals, and Sweet Things. The book starts out with a doughnut recipe and ends with…recipes for dog biscuits!! I tested the book in the middle– with crepes from the French Crepe Company, and they were wonderful. But if you want something less ‘predictable’ there is Korean, Mexican, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian (American), and American. The photography is not sophisticated, however, it is enough to induce hunger and make you wish you could take a walk at the market. For me, preparing it at home is the next best option, and I look forward to trying more recipes in the book.
About Quadrille Books: London-based publisher Quadrille Books is home to many great authors like Gordon Ramsey, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo (Two Greedy Italians), Bill Granger, Anissa Helou, Skye Gyngell, Peggy Porschen and Anjum Anand. In 2010, they launched the New Voices in Food series to give up-and-coming foodies the opportunity to showcase their recipes in print. Their catalogue is not limited to food, however. They also boast a vast collection of home, garden and craft titles from well-known designers like Tricia Guild, Kelly Hoppen and Cath Kidston. Their new catalog can be found online here. Their blog, which features previews of upcoming books, can be found here.