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Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktail Recipes from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels

Alia Akkam. Hardie Grant, $19.99 (176p) ISBN 978-1-78488-332-4

Journalist Akkam debuts with a dazzling collection of cocktail recipes from famous hotel bars around the world. Each hotel gets a brief history covering its “distinctive and colorful” legacy, and the descriptions and recipes will help scratch the travel itch for those stuck in armchair travel mode due to the pandemic. There are classics, such as the pisco sour from Country Club Lima Hotel in Peru and the Singapore Sling as poured at the Raffles Singapore. However, the recipes for more obscure drinks are the most enticing, such as the peach liqueur–infused Moods of Love from Shanghai’s Waldorf Astoria or Little Match Girl from Copenhagen’s Nimb Hotel (tequila, ruby port and Lillet Rouge). Simple instructions make the recipes doable for home bartenders, though it may take some effort to ferret out the more obscure ingredients (Faude beetroot spirit, apricot distillate). If there’s a disappointing note, it’s that the venues themselves are only rendered in two-color illustrations. Nonetheless, this sparkling treat would make a luxe start to any holiday, real or imagined. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Always Add Lemon

Danielle Alvarez. Hardie Grant, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-1-74379-543-9

Australian chef Alvarez debuts with a quirky collection of recipes meant to teach readers how to “use cooking as a way to discover new cultures, new ingredients, new and old ways of doing things.” Recipes are organized by food type (salad; seafood; poultry and meat) and each begins with a brief introduction that includes valuable tips. For crispy-skinned fish, for instance, she recommends putting the fish, unwrapped, in the fridge for a few hours before cooking to dry out, and reminds readers to check the expiration date on leaveners before starting to bake. The wide array of recipes features seasonal ingredients, though several may be hard to source, such as cape gooseberries for clafoutis, sorrel for potato gratin, and nasturtium for oven-roasted prawns with miso butter. Fortunately, there are equally adventurous dishes featuring commonly available ingredients like pork carnitas with pineapple and jalapeno salsa inspired by Mexican cuisine, and spaghetti with cauliflower, anchovies, currants, and almonds from Sicily. Though large blocks of instructions are in small type and can be hard to read, they are full of helpful explanations (“Leave the vegetables whole so you can easily fish them out afterwards,” she writes for the ribollita soup). Readers, though, who come to this expecting a heavy citrus element will be disappointed; the title is a nod to one of Alvarez’s eight “strong beliefs about cooking,” in this case, “A little bit of lemon will change everything.” This cookbook is ideal for experienced home cooks searching for adventurous eats. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the World

Asha Gomez and Martha Hall Foose. Running, $33 (224p) ISBN 978-0-76249-558-0

Chef Gomez follows My Two Souths (also coauthored with Foose) with an eclectic recipe collection in which ingredients’ appearance takes center stage. Colorful ingredients, Gomez posits, offer nutritional benefits as well as visual appeal (“If a food has an attractive color, chances are it’s beneficial for you”), and, indeed, the vivid hues of her midsummer salad with grapefruit, cherries, watercress, and rainbow chard, and autumnal kabocha pumpkin bean soup are beautiful to behold. Adventurous cooks will fall in love with such dishes as Catalonian paella, quail ragu with picante frantumato, and fish head stew, with respective nods to Spain, Italy, and southern India. Those with less experience in the kitchen will be able to whip up a quick “emerald potion” smoothie, a 20-minute meal of “Pigs and Apples,” and an elegant seed-crusted whole roasted cauliflower. Desserts feature cardamom-huckleberry compote and saffron-poached quince. Gomez’s experience as an online cooking instructor shines through in her precise and easy-to-follow instructions. Drawing on an eclectic palette and knowledge of global cuisines, these recipes will delight food lovers of all stripes and cooks of all skill levels. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Colourful Fun Embroidery: Featuring 24 Modern Projects to Bring Joy and Happiness to Your Life!

Clare Albans. White Owl, $19.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-5267-5385-4

Hello! Hooray! blogger Albans offers 24 cheerful projects in this delightful embroidery how-to. Albans writes that she believes in dedicating time to nurturing creativity; thus, projects are arranged according to the time it takes to produce them. Most are doable in a few hours and are collected in the “Crafternoons” chapter. Among them are “Happy Clothes Labels” that read “You Look Lovely Today,” speech bubble pincushions captioned “Ouch!” and rainbow necklaces. Slightly harder “Medium Makes” include a “blue skies” design that incorporates blue and white felt for the sky and clouds; banners with motivational mottos; and a felt letter tucked inside a felt envelope and stitched onto a circular piece of colorful fabric placed inside an embroidery hoop. The more involved “Pick Me Up Projects” feature three-dimensional, satin-stitched tumbling blocks, a patchwork bag with affirmations embroidered on it, and a 12” quilting-hoop clock. Crafters will find plenty of encouragement and lots of opportunities to be creative while working their way through Albans’s spirited resource. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Raising Your Spirited Baby

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Morrow, $18 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-296152-5

Kurcinka (Sleepless in America), who teaches classes for people struggling with their children’s behavior and sleep issues, delivers a powerful guide to help anyone struggling to raise a baby who is “spirited,” or “genetically wired to be highly alert and intense.” Readers will find a checklist to determine whether their baby is spirited according to five traits (intensity, sensitivity, alertness, irregularity, and high activity levels), and assistance in gauging their own level of stress via a “Parent Self-Assessment” (“How often do you feel your baby is more difficult to manage than other babies?”). From there, Kurcinka introduces readers to the “Spirited Baby Method,” based on asking “what is my baby telling me” through behavior cues, as well as asking “what do I need to stay calm—so I can calm my baby?” Helpful summaries conclude each chapter, and Kurcinka intersperses charts throughout, with guides to picking up on sleepiness cues, reducing nighttime feeding, and transitioning to solid foods proving especially useful. Kurcinka’s helpful book offers abundant understanding and encouragement for parents, as well as plenty of “teeny, tiny steps” toward better managing baby’s behavior. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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KitchenWise: Essential Food Science for Home Cooks

Shirley O. Corriher. Scribner, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-982140-68-7

James Beard Award–winner Corriher (Bakewise) uses science to help readers “spot bad recipes and know how to fix them” in this strong outing. Chapters focus on different food groups and explain the science behind common cooking problems (proteins sticking to cookware), how to fix them (preheat the skillet before adding ingredients), and why the solutions work (“the metal expands, closing some imperfections and creating a hot surface”). There are more than 30 recipes illustrating her techniques, such as an oven-roasted chicken breast that calls for a buttermilk brine because its calcium activates tenderizing enzymes in chicken. She also debunks common kitchen myths—for instance, she argues that some vegetables become more nutritious after they are cooked, such as carrots, whose carotenes, minerals, and vitamin C are more accessible to the body after cooking. There is also a fascinating chapter devoted to the science of taste and flavor, in which she points out, perhaps surprisingly, that adding a bit of salt to food can decrease bitterness and increase sweetness. Cooks of any experience level will walk away from this sharp guide with some new tricks. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The Art of Tapestry Weaving: A Complete Guide to Mastering the Techniques for Making Images with Yarn

Rebecca Mezoff. Storey, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63586-135-8

Weaving teacher Mezoff surveys contemporary tapestry techniques in her beautiful and expansive debut. Mezoff reminds readers that “there are many combinations of tools and materials you can use to create a tapestry,” and one of her goals for the book is “simplifying those choices so that you can get started.” The author begins by suggesting novices get comfortable making mistakes, before going on to cover everything from yarn terminology to how to choose a loom. The book’s second part teaches crafters how to make tapestries of their own. For Mezoff, “one of the most magical things about tapestry is that the structure of the fabric and the image are created at the same time,” with every tapestry “woven from bottom to top much like a brick wall is formed: each brick supports the ones above it.” Throughout, she uses close-up illustrations and diagrams to explain the more complicated aspects of the craft, such as determining “ whether a weft yarn will work on a particular warp.” Handsome photographs, a glossary of terms, a primer on color theory and design principles, a succinct history of tapestries, and examples of tapestries by artists working in the medium today round things out. Mezoff’s canny and thoughtful guide is sure to inspire crafters of all skill and experience levels. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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7 Ways: Easy Ideas for Every Day of the Week

Jamie Oliver. Flatiron, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-25078-757-6

The prolific Oliver returns with a clever if not groundbreaking follow-up to 2017’s 5 Ingredients. The organizing principle is what Oliver calls “hero ingredients,” or commonly purchased grocery items (brocoli, cauliflower, chicken, etc), each of which here serves as the foundation for seven dishes. Recipes are vegetable-focused (a quiche’s bright-green pea filling, for instance, is enclosed in a crust that incorporates avocado and is topped with a tangle of salad), rely on packaged items (such as a bag of “mixed stir-fry veg,” and cooked rice for chicken meatballs), and ethnic-inflected but without much concern for authenticity (a calzone contains cheddar cheese and mustard). Dishes like a “Milanese” eggplant parmigiana call for three and a half ounces of rosemary focaccia to make breadcrumbs, teriyaki salmon is cut accordion-style and served atop rice noodles steeped in green tea, and the chicken chapter offers seven ways to roast a whole bird. Though the recipes aren’t overtly inventive, this does much to advance Oliver’s quest to make nutritious food accessible. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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The French Laundry, Per Se

Thomas Keller. Artisan, $75 (400p) ISBN 978-1-57965-849-6

Chef and restaurateur Keller delivers an inspirational and elaborate take on the culinary collaboration between his Michelin-starred restaurants the French Laundry, of Yountville, Calif., and Per Se, of New York City. United by a culinary credo that puts guests first and uses only the finest ingredients, the restaurants’ staffs collaborated on the 70 recipes showcased here, which highlight Keller’s technique-driven “small focused courses.” Canapés include variations on the signature cornet, a savory salmon-filled tuile cone; first courses feature a summer corn parfait and a healthy variety of salads; and a section on vegetables offers an innovative celery root pastrami and an assortment of pickles. Roasted rack of venison and Japanese-inspired sea snails are standouts among the meat and fish dishes, while a treacle tart topped with rosemary-scented yogurt, and anise-flavored pear soup are artful desserts. The recipes are complex and demand precision, and will challenge even the most ambitious home cooks. Indeed, every elegant page projects Keller’s high standard of “perfect culinary execution.” An essay by Corey Chow, a chef on Keller’s team, sums it up nicely: “What it’s really about is respect. Respect for ingredients. Respect for technique.” Though more aspirational than practical, this superb work is as much philosophical treatise as gorgeous cookbook. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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This Will Make It Taste Good: Recipes and Stories from My Kitchen

Vivian Howard. Voracious, $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-38112-3

North Carolina chef, restaurateur, and PBS host Howard follows 2016’s Deep Run Roots with a personal and playful introduction to her fare. Chapter titles and recipe names are upbeat and engaging (Herbdacious, Can-Do Kraut), and explained in a pun-packed, chatty voice. Dishes are introduced with frank confessions, including her struggle to correctly spell “hors d’oeuvre” and various kitchen failures. Recurring sidebars called “No Brainers” offer simple ways to use condiments such as the Community Organizer—a sweet-sour paste of tomatoes, peppers, and onions—as meatloaf topping or a flavor base for soups. Her palate is wide-ranging and incorporates flavors from global cuisines, evident in the Japanese-inspired seasoning she adds to her Quirky Furki Party Rolls and her conversion of Italian classics like pizza into spicy “mozzarella toast.” Howard also shares a recipe for fried chicken, which she has only recently begun serving at her restaurants; in her version, she adds her signature pickling liquids and oils to punch up the batter. She also reveals details about her private life, including the strains of a two-chef marriage and going on book tours. Howard’s enthusiastic exploration of her life in and out of the kitchen shows her at her best and most delightful. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/02/2020 | Details & Permalink

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