Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Books: Cookbooks Full Of Classic, Creative, & Healthy Recipes

THERE ARE FIVE NEW COOKBOOKS that would be worthy additions to your collection, full of recipes that will enlighten you to traditional recipes, creative ones where you can put your signature on dishes, and plenty of ideas for healthy meals, and they are: A Cook's Book, by Nigel Slater; Smithsonian American Table, by Lisa Kingsley, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution; The Five Elements Cookbook, by Zoey Xinyi Gong; The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton; and Danielle Walker's Healthy in a Hurry, by Danielle Walker.

A Cook's Book: The Essential Nigel Slater

By Nigel Slater

Ten Speed Press; hardcover, 512 pages; $45.00; available today, Tuesday, March 7th

Nigel Slater is an award-winning author, journalist, and television presenter, with shows on the BBC. He has been food columnist for The Observer Magazine for over twenty-five years, and his collection of bestselling books includes the classics Appetite and The Kitchen Diaries. His memoir, Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger, won six major awards and is now a film and stage production. 

A Cook's Book is Slater's newest tour de force, the story of his life in the kitchen, complete with more than 150 delicious, easy, and gratifying plant-based and meat recipes. There are stories behind his many recipes, such as the first jam tart he made with his mum, standing on a chair trying to reach his family's classic Aga stove; the first time he ate a sublime baguette in Paris and the joy of his first slice of buttercream-topped chocolate cake.

Slater breaks down the book into the following chapters, which speak to his philosophy of cooking. A Bowl of Soup's recipes include Pumpkin Laksa, Spicy Red Lentil Soup, Pea and Parsley Soup. In Breaking Bread, learn how to make Soft Rolls with Fets and Rosemary, Blackcurrant Focaccia, and a Large Sourdough Loaf. Everyday Greens features the recipe for Cheesy Greens and Potatoes, Spices Zucchini with Spinach, and Herb Pancakes with Mushroom. Everyday Dinners highlights Beet and Lamb Patties, Pork and Lemon Meatballs, Mussels, Coconut, and Noodles. A Slice of Tart's recipes include Mushroom and Dill Tart, A Tart of Leeks and Cheddar, and Blackcurrant Macaroon Tart.

"Dinner is rarely more than a single dish in this house," Slater writes on his food philosophy. "A bowl of noodles with chile and greens; plump, garlicky beans slowly cooked in the oven, a boned chicken leg on the grill brushed with thyme and lemon. Sometimes we feast: a vast dish of pasta with mussels and shrimp; a steaming pie of sweet potatoes and lentils; baked fatty pork with butter beans and broth. Even then, this is straightforward eating. The nearest you will get to a starter is a bowl of olives. Dessert or cake is more often a midmorning thing. Tiramisu, after all, means 'pick-me-up' - a neat, sweet punch of energy for whom we start to flag. Come to dinner and you are just as likely to get your food in a bowl as on a plate. And those bowls won't match either.

"But casual does not mean careless. There is much pleasure to be had from doing a little thing meticulously - taking your time to perform a kitchen task that could be done more quickly. There is a lot of satisfaction in slowly, carefully unfurling and washing salad leaves. Drying them too. If I am enjoying a specific kitchen task - making a salad dressing, shaping a loaf, or grating a lemon - I will often slow down, taking a minute or two more to enjoy the process. It is why my mortar and pestle gets as much use as my food processor. Both have a place in the kitchen, but one is about getting something done, the other about enjoying doing it."

Smithsonian American Table: The Foods, People, and Innovations That Feed Us

By Lisa Kingsley, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution

Harvest; hardcover, 304 pages; $40.00

The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum, education, and research complex, and in this wonderful cookbook, it presents a sweeping history of food and culture that gives a fresh look at the people, ingredients, events, and movements that have shaped how and what we eat in the United States.

This blend of history and recipes leads to an exploration of the American table, and how we have fed ourselves, for sustenance and for pleasure, through the lens of location, immigration, ingenuity, innovation, and culture. 

"Where we live shapes what we eat," Lisa Kingsley writes. "The environment, available foodstuffs, and migration have determined the diets of indigenous peoples, colonizers, immigrants - and their descendants. From the wild rice harvest by the Ojibwe of Minnesota since precolonial times to the lemongrass- and fish sauce-infused  crawfish boil that bubbled up with the arrival of refugees from Southeast Asia to Houston, there is both continuity and creativity in the story of American food."

With the richly detailed Smithsonian American Table, you can cook your way through American history with over 40 iconic and notable recipes. The chapters span coast to coast and stretch over centuries, and this enlightening, enriching, and entertaining collection uncovers the many histories of American food.

There are passages on how Native American growers and chefs who are reclaiming and reinventing indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques, on a Black chef who gained national renown and culinary influence by showcasing her skills on her own television show in segregated New Orleans, and on how everything from fondue to Jell-O salads to pumpkin spice became national obsessions.

In addition, you can read about The Great Migration, which includes the evolution of soul food in Harlem, how Americans that moved to the suburbs in the 1950s popularized backyard cookbooks, and the evolution of metal lunch boxes, as synonymous with manual laborers, and then ones for children featuring Star Trek, Peanuts, and the Muppets.

The Five Elements Cookbook: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine with Recipes for Everyday Healing

By Zoey Xinyi Gong

Harvest; hardcover, 288 pages; $35.00

Zoey Xinyi Gong, who was born in Shanghai, China, is a registered dietitian (R.D.) and a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) chef. She is the founder of Five Seasons TCM, a brand that focuses on education around TCM nutrition, which is a thousands-year-old practice for holistic wellness

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the five elements - Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth - work in balanced harmony throughout the universe. 

Gong is dedicated to making Traditional Chinese Medicine modern, and having it be a reliable and practical lifestyle for all, one that serves as a bridge between Eastern and Western perspectives of wellness. 

In the stunning and accessible guide, The Five Elements Cookbook, which is named after a foundational theory of what balance and optimal health looks like, Gong gives a stunning introduction to the beginner concepts of TCM. 

It offers a photographic guide to the most commonly used medicinal ingredients, which include American ginseng, turmeric, reishi, gogi berries, and ginger; their healing properties, and how to use them seamlessly in your cooking.

There are over 50 recipes so readers can eat for healing. Each one ingeniously incorporates a food-as-medicine ingredient, with consideration for seasonality, digestion, and body constitution, and body constitution, and specific concerns, such as menstrual pain, nausea, anxiety, blood circulation, respiratory health, and more. 

Recipes cover meals that you can have all day, as well as beverages and desserts, and they include: Sesame Goji Granola, Reishi Mushroom Miso Soup, Steamed Whole Fish with Herbal Soy Sauce, Yin-Nourishing Pork Bone Broth, Reishi Hot Chocolate, Fermented Brown Sugar Rice Cake, Calming Papaya Smoothie, and Shiso Rice Rolls. 

Gong focuses on the three major principles of TCM food therapy:

Joyful Eating - "This is my favorite aspect of TCM food therapy. There are countless diets our there, yet few of them highlight the joy that eating should bring to us and the significant influence that a happy mind can have on our well-being."

Individuality - "Just as happiness speaks differently to each of us, the most optimal diet is also never one-formula-fits-all. TCM food therapy focuses on bian zheng lun zhi, which means that a diet is prescribed only after differentiating an individual's unique conditions and constitutions...Eating according to your own body is paramount. Following a trendy diet blindly may cause more harm than improvement, if it happens to worsen your imbalance. On the other hand, individualized food therapy can help address health problems at their root. You may start with an intention to improve digestion and end up having better skin and mental clarity as positive 'side effects.'"

Environmental Awareness - "TCM is a medicine developed from the observation of nature. We are, after all, part of our natural environment, and in order to stay in sync with it, basing our diet on seasonality and locality is key. In recent years, the concept of eating seasonal and local food has been getting more and more attention. Farmers' markets and farm-to-table restaurants are popular destinations in many big cities around the world. But TCM food therapy goes a step further to designate dried goods and nonseasonal foods to each season as well."

The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes 

By Sam Sifton

Ten Speed Press; hardcover, 256 pages; $28.00

Sam Sifton is an assistant managing editor of the New York Times, overseeing culture and lifestyle coverage. He is the founding editor of NYT Cooking an award-winning digital cookbook and cooking school, and he is an "Eat" columnist for The New York Times Magazine.

This is the debut cookbook from the popular New York Times website and mobile app NYT Cooking, and it features 100 photographed no-recipe recipes to make weeknight cooking more inspired and delicious, and it comes in a book that you can handle as you improvise in the kitchen.

Sifton makes improvisational cooking easier than you think. Each meal is presented with a picture and the ingredients needed for it, ideally ones you have on hand or ones that can be picked up quickly at the store. There are ways to make the meals as big or as small as you would like, and you can substitute ingredients as you go.

While Sifton acknowledges that, of course, he cooks with recipes, but when it comes to these, "cooking without recipes is a kitchen skill, same as cutting vegetables into dice or flipping an omelet," he writes. "It's a proficiency to develop, a way to improve your confidence in the kitchen and makes the act of cooking fun when it sometimes seems like a chore."

Sifton gives a handy guide to what you need in your kitchen to achieve these no-recipe recipes, such as alliums (onions and garlic, for example), baking staples, beans, butter, canned fish, cheese, eggs, oils, pasta, and vegetables.

Some of the recipes featured include Shaved Cucumbers with Peanut Sauce, Black Bean Tacos, Pizza without a Crust, Dried Fruit and Almond Pilaf, Ketchup and Kimchi Fried Rice, Weeknight Fried Rice, and for dessert, Oven S'Mores.

Danielle Walker's Healthy in a Hurry: Real Life. Real Food. Real Fast. Gluten-Free, Grain-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes

By Danielle Walker

Ten Speed Press; hardcover, 336 pages; $35.00

Danielle Walker is the voice behind the most-popular grain-free website on the internet, AgainstAllGrain.com. She is a self-trained chef who tempts a range of appetites with innovative and accessible grain-free recipes that are not only healthy and delicious, but also can be credited with saving her life after a diagnosis of a serious autoimmune disease. She is the author of two New York Times bestselling cookbooks, Against All Grain and Meals Made Simple.

In Danielle Walker's Healthy in a Hurry, she proves that healthy cooking is both something you can do and it is quite satisfying. Walker chronicles over 150 quick and easy recipes to get healthy, gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free food on the table fast, from no-cook lunches to one-pot dinners and simple desserts. These paleo recipes are inspired by her sunny California lifestyle and diverse cuisines from around the world.

Danielle crafted each recipe to be free of gluten, grains, and dairy, and most have just ten ingredients or less. Most of these meals are fast to make, giving busy people with dietary restrictions lots of ways to eat well on a tight schedule. 

Some of Walker's delicious meals include No-cook lunches, such as Pesto Chicken, Nectarine & Avocado Salad, and Thai-Style Shrimp Salad; Freezer-friendly meals like Pork Ragu over Creamy Polenta and Turkey Chili Verde; and Sheet Pan dinners, including Mediterranean Salmon with Artichokes & Peppers.

With prep times and cook times, dietary guidelines, a pantry of sauces and spice mixes, and six weeks of meal planning charts, Healthy in a Hurry will help you become a calm and organized chef.

Walker writes, "My recipes and techniques will change the way you think about healthy food. It truly can be prepared without a lot of stress, and everything is so tasty that you'll want to serve these dishes to your family - or the whole community - whether they eat a standard diet or one that's gluten-free, dairy-free, or otherwise allergy-free. 

"Cooking everything from scratch definitely takes more time, but the process can be very rewarding. And with the help of all the wonderful store-bought products now available for grain- and gluten-free eating, most of these recipes can be made in about the same amount of time it takes to order and pick up takeout. Of course, convenience often comes with a higher price, so I've included recipes for items like dairy-free heavy cream, almond milk, or cashew milk to make all of those items from scratch if you choose to do so.

"I also love to keep loads of spice mixes and sauces in my pantry and refrigerator to jazz up an otherwise mundane plate of protein and vegetables when I really need to put dinner together quickly. And I am a lover of leftovers. I firmly believe in making a double batch one night and repurposing the second batch into something new for lunch or dinner the following day. As a busy, full-time business owner and mother of three, I rely on these tactics week after week to keep fresh food on the table for my family."

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