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Butcher and Beast: Mastering the Art of Meat

Angie Mar, with Jamie Feldmar. Clarkson Potter, $40 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-57366-1

Mar, the owner and executive chef of New York City’s Beatrice Inn, presents herself as a true carnivore in this rich and enticing debut. Recipes are doled out across four seasonal chapters with a European flair and strong emphasis on red meat and game. Winter options include venison Wellington, as well as a short rib and beef cheek pie. Summer fare is only marginally lighter, featuring roast leg of mutton with Yorkshire pudding, and tempranillo vine–smoked hare with huckleberry conserve and vanilla. Dry-aging a rib-eye rack for 90 to 160 days is the key to one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, whiskey beef, which also involves a weekly wrapping of the steak in cheesecloth that is soaked in single-malt. Even desserts can be beefy, as proven by the bone marrow–bourbon crème brûlée. Along the way, Mar tells the story of her rise to culinary fame, chronicles her restaurant’s history, and poses for striking photos (in one, she’s seated at a banquette in a slit dress, a forkful of tagliatelle in one hand, and the head of a wild boar resting on her exposed knee). This alluring collections of recipes from an exciting Manhattan chef will leave meat eaters salivating. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/12/2019 | Details & Permalink

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All About Dinner: Expert Advice for Everyday Meals

Molly Stevens. Norton, $40 (400p) ISBN 978-0-393-24627-8

The latest from James Beard Award–winner Stevens (All About Roasting) helps home cooks resist the urge to order in with a raft of relatively easy-to-prepare meals. After an introduction that lists “15 habits of highly effective cooks” (including not skimping on salt and using an oven thermometer), Stevens breaks down the chapters in traditional sections (salads, fish, vegetables). While there’s little revolutionary, dishes such as salmon fillets marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil, and broccoli raab sautéed with garlic and hot pepper will have perennial appeal. Stevens is a teacher at heart and that background shows through her thorough instructions: if one roasts cauliflower for a spicy soup on a parchment-lined pan, “pick up the paper like a sling and slide all the vegetables into the pot.” Many recipes provide instructions for making in advance, and helpful sidebars highlight, for example, the types of feta cheese (Greek has “a bold flavor” while Bulgarian tends to be “creamy and mild”) and explain the differences between “air-chilled” and “wet-chilled” chicken. A brief chapter on sweets includes shortbread and a carrot layer cake. Steven’s options are solid and have great potential to work their way into rotation for time-pressed home cooks. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 07/12/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Nourish Soups: Hearty Soups with a Healthy Twist

Rebecca Woods. Quadrille, $22.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-787-13268-9

Woods, a recipe developer and food stylist, debuts with this excellent outing featuring nutritious soups. While “the joy of soup is its simplicity,” these vibrant recipes, accompanied by enticing photographs of finished dishes, elevate a simple comfort food to an impressive culinary centerpiece. Her introduction on preparing meat, fish, and vegetable stocks is followed by ideas for such toppings as croutons, drizzles, or crispy fried onions. More than 60 boldly flavored and internationally inspired concoctions are grouped by style (“Light & Refreshing,” “Hearty & Wholesome,” or “Creamy & Comforting”) with whole food ingredients: jerk chicken soup overflows with charred corn, peppers, and pineapple; udon noodles and salmon in a miso broth explode with color and nutrition; curried paneer soup, “a sort of cross between dhal and a saag” is a hearty spiced bowl. For creamy and satisfying soups, there’s parsnip, pear, and cardamom, as well as a tortilla-topped chipotle sweet potato soup. Vegans, vegetarians, and dairy-free home cooks also will find much to enjoy in these recipes that celebrate wholesome ingredients and nutrition without sacrificing flavor. Woods offers an exciting spectrum of innovative options for unleashing the health-packed power of soup. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 07/12/2019 | Details & Permalink

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How to Raise a Reader

Pamela Paul and Maria Russo. Workman, $19.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5235-0530-2

Paul and Russo, respectively editor and children’s book editor of the New York Times Book Review, bring parental and editorial knowledge to this practical, reassuring guide to encouraging children to read. Devoting different sections to different age levels, from infants through teenagers, the authors give recommended reading lists, with a mix of classics and newer titles, in each. Suggestions for fostering a love of reading in children include reading to one’s newborn, giving books as birthday gifts and organizing used-book swaps as birthday party events, and encouraging teenagers to connect online with contemporary YA authors (Sarah Dessen, Brendan Kiely, and Tahereh Mafi are cited as particularly engaged writers). Writing in the second person, in a casual but fact-based style, Paul and Russo also seek to quell adult worries. For example, they assure their audience that while school curricula may push reading in kindergarten, “many perfectly bright children are simply not able to process the steps of independent reading before age 6 or 7.” Furthermore, parents need to remember to leave the instruction to school, and to focus on enjoyment, “sprinkling the fairy dust around reading and books.” With the bottom line that “If you want to raise a reader, be a reader,” their primer is recommended for all worried parents and anyone looking for suggestions of what books to read or give to children. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/12/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Maangchi’s Big Book of Korean Cooking: From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine

Maangchi, with Martha Rose Shulman. HMH/Rux Martin, $35 (448p) ISBN 978-1-328-98812-6

Maangchi’s magnificent latest (after Maangchi’s Real Korean) makes it clear why she’s attracted nearly four million subscribers to her YouTube channel: she has an easy style that makes even challenging recipes seem doable. Her popular Korean fried chicken comes with precise instructions, including a method for testing oil temperature without a thermometer. Korean food has become better known in the U.S. recently—the author points out that hardly anyone asks what kimchi is anymore, and expands the classic repertoire with four types of bibimbap and seven kinds of kimchi, including a crisp version with pear, cucumber, and radish. She also brings in family stories—a spicy sesame spinach side dish hails from her father’s hometown; her grandmother made chicken and soy sauce with margarine for her to take on a blind-date picnic. Thematic chapters focus on street food, soups and stews, and vegan Buddhist temple cuisine (including oyster and enoki mushrooms tied with blanched cilantro stems). Desserts tend to the simple: rice cakes for the harvest moon festival steamed on a bed of pine needles. A photographic guide to equipment and ingredients is a thoughtful touch in this openhearted volume. This will be a go-to Korean cookbook. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Three Birds Renovations: 400+ Renovation and Styling Secrets Revealed

Erin Cayless, Bonnie Hindmarsh, and Lana Taylor. Murdoch, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 1-76063-440-9

The cofounders of Three Birds renovation company bring to life nine houses they’ve remodeled in informative, magazine-style spreads. The authors open with a personable introduction describing their story, as longtime friends who recently became business partners. Several of the homes covered are the authors’ own, allowing for an insider’s look at the family-centered calculations that go into their designs. For example: viewing butler’s pantries as extraneous, they turned one into a small secondary office to create a workspace near a center of family life—the kitchen—but cordoned off enough to allow for the concentration parents and kids will need to conduct household business or finish homework. Before and after photos are included throughout to show how the authors solved problems, such as by opening up a closed-off stairwell by adding an adjacent empty space: “As with all our renovations, we wanted to transform ugly into beautiful, closed-off into connected, and dark into light.” Their aesthetic is clean and bright, with whites accented by moments of pastels or jewel colors. The houses also emphasize natural light and creating connections between indoors and outdoors. This thoughtful and lovely interiors compilation shows a keen attentiveness to day-to-day living. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2019 | Details & Permalink

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But Where Do I Put the Couch?: And Answers to 100 Other Home Decorating Questions

Melissa Michaels and KariAnne Wood. Harvest House, $28 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7369-7414-1

With the encouraging tones of cherished friends, lifestyle bloggers Michaels (The Inspired Room) and Wood (The DIY Style Finder) offer empathetic advice on creating a beautiful home in this practical offering. Alternating chapters, the authors empower readers with lessons on topics that include mixing multiple decorating themes, having fun with wall designs, indulging creative design without clashing elements (hints: embrace the rule of threes, pay attention to scale, and make room for white space), creating a “beachy, coastal vibe” even if one is inland, and balancing “sentiment and style.” (“The heart of the home is the people who live in it, so preserving memories and telling stories matters more than any design trend,” Michaels counsels.) The savvy authors are also cognizant that the great majority of readers are not dealing with unlimited budgets and suggest ways to make large impressions with a small amount of money. Design-loving readers will want to add this stylish tome to their permanent libraries. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Japanese Knitting Stitches from Tokyo’s Kazekobo Studio: A Dictionary of 200 Stitch Patterns

Yoko Hatta, trans. from the Japanese by Cassandra Harada. Tuttle, $18.99 (128p) ISBN 978-4-80531-518-7

Not for the faint of heart (or hand), this knitting guide from yarn virtuoso Hatta will appeal to those already expert in the craft. The superbly designed and photographed book represents Japanese knitting at its finest, with a basic introduction to reading Japanese knitting patterns, which are charted entirely instead of written out. Knitters familiar with charted patterns won’t have much trouble casting on, but those who prefer reading patterns will be well advised to practice with yarn and needles before beginning. Helpfully divided among sections labeled “Knit & Purl,” “Lace,” “Cable & Aran,” and “Rib & Twist,” the 200 stitch patterns—most of which should be familiar to veteran knitters—are illustrated via photos of finished swatches next to their chart patterns, so one may see how, for instance, to translate Hatta’s lace charts into the knitted fabric. The four projects at the book’s conclusion consist of small but complicated endeavors, the easiest of which is a four-color stockinette-stitched striped “Mini Scarf.” This is a perfect stitch dictionary for any knitter embarking on charted territory for the third or fourth time. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Atsuko’s Japanese Kitchen: Home-Cooked Comfort Food Made Simple

Atsuko Ikeda. Ryland Peters & Small, $19.95 (192p) ISBN 978-1-78879-081-9

Ikeda’s second cookbook (after Sushi Made Simple) expertly takes readers into a world of Japanese home cooking far from the austere precision of the sushi counter, or the late-night rush of the ramen-ya. Aimed at readers new to Japanese cooking, Ikeda explains how to plan meals and properly use chopsticks, as well as listing the five essential ingredients to stock (soy sauce, sweet rice wine, sake, rice vinegar, and miso). “Making omurice brings back memories of my school days,” she says, introducing the first dish she learned to cook, an omelette-wrapped ketchup-flavored fried rice. But she does not shy away from complex fare, such as mackerel simmered with red miso, leeks, and ginger. Ikeda’s experience as a cooking instructor is evident in the morsels of history she sprinkles throughout, such as that chicken katsu was inspired by British curry. And just as she explores the foreign origins of many Japanese dishes, she also brings new flavors into her own kitchen, as in the matcha tiramisu, inspired by her Italian mother-in-law’s cooking. This welcome primer goes a long way toward making Japanese cooking accessible to home cooks curious but perhaps intimidated by the cuisine. (July)

Reviewed on 06/28/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Lifelong Gardener: Garden with Ease and Joy at Any Age

Toni Gattone. Timber, $19.95 (216p) ISBN 978-1-60469-853-4

In this cheery guide, Gattone, a University of California –certified Master Gardener, addresses the needs of fellow boomer horticulturalists. Gattone’s suggestions focus first on the needs of a gardener’s body (such as balance, mobility, reaction time, and knee pain); secondly, on the garden itself (essentials for a “garden of ease” include being “fully accessible” and saving time, money, energy, and space); and thirdly, on which tools to purchase, including an expandable rake and a lightweight battery–powered leaf blower. She combines simple tips with a humorous take on aging (griping about her own bad back and recounting how, after eye surgery, she nearly clipped off her finger while pruning roses). Sidebars entitled “Toni’s Tips” cheer from the sidelines (“Remember that sometimes the only thing you have control over is your attitude!”), while “Gardener Profiles” feature representative senior gardeners from Gattone’s local Master Gardener chapter in Marin County (which has, she notes, “one of the oldest populations in California”). Gattone doesn’t delve deeply into gardening lore, but her chatty voice is engaging, unself-conscious, and above all else, encouraging. Practical and sweet, Gattone’s pep talk is perfect for any aging gardener thinking of throwing in the trowel. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 06/28/2019 | Details & Permalink

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