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Pie Academy: Master the Perfect Crust and 255 Amazing Fillings

Ken Haedrich. Storey, $35 (480p) ISBN 978-1-63586-111-2

Haedrich (Dinner Pies), founder of the The Pie Academy website, delivers a substantial and highly informative volume on the popular dessert. Writing in a conversational tone, he provides detailed instructions for each aspect of pie making and includes suggestions for acquiring basic equipment (“My one beef with heavy ceramic or stoneware pans is that they’re often so thick that the crust doesn’t brown quickly enough”) and troubleshooting techniques (“Don’t roll toward yourself. That’s awkward,” he suggests to bakers who can’t keep dough round when they roll). There are also plenty of photographs to help readers become acquainted with essential pie-making steps, such as fluting the crust, blind baking the crust, and creating a lattice pattern. This recipe collection is bound to please bakers of all tastes with its impressive number of pie crust variations, such as flaky cream cheese, cornmeal, and a simple press-in crust. The bountiful assortment of fillings includes cherry-vanilla, maple custard, and kahlua fudge brownie. Readers will appreciate pie variations for specific fruits, such as apple: caramel apple slab pie with melted butter crumb topping, apple butter pie, and buttermilk pie with fried apple rings. This is an excellent resource for home bakers looking to up their pie game. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Enchanting Embroidery Designs: Whimsical Animal and Plant Motifs to Stitch

MiW Morita, trans. from the Japanese by Makiko Itoh. Tuttle, $14.99 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-4-8053-1618-4

Morita, a Japanese painter, designer, and illustrator, combines poetry and instruction in this gracious embroidery guide. For each design, Morita provides a poem about its central motif, written with the simplicity and whimsy of a children’s picture book—the text for her alligator brooch begins: “Once upon a time, on a quiet night,/ an alligator was hiding in the dark waters of a marsh.” For her coasters decorated with “Micro Micro Microbes,” she asks the reader, “See?/ They really do exist./ Look! Look closely.” Other designs include a cuckoo tea cozy, pine tree ornaments, and a blouse embroidered with contentedly grazing sheep. The chapter on tools and basics is suitable for beginners and features directions for handling embroidery thread; Morita also includes instructions for simple stitches, such as straight, back, and outline. She gets fancy with French knots that combine colors of thread and can sit close or far apart on fabric. Her diagrams and instructions are tidy, with helpful arrows and outlines. Morita set out to make designs “that are fun to do,” and any crafter who picks this up will agree she hit the mark. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Chasing Flavor: Techniques and Recipes to Cook Fearlessly

Dan Kluger, with Nick Fauchald. HMH/Martin, $35 (368p) ISBN 978-13285-4633-3

In this excellent debut cookbook, New York City chef Kluger presents accessible, flavorful recipes adapted from those he serves at Loring Place, his Greenwich Village restaurant. Kluger excels in explaining cooking techniques, and some of the pro tips he shares include roasting vegetables on a rack in the oven to keep them from steaming on the bottom (as with his roasted cauliflower with a peach-apricot puree and nut vinaigrette); braising vegetables in their own flavor-enhancing juices rather than water; and coating baked croutons with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano so they won’t get soggy in a panzanella. Kluger’s recipes ask “why not?” and answer in ways that make sense, like sweetening a barbecue sauce with carrots and repurposing pickling brines in vinaigrettes and pastas (as with the pickled green tomatoes that dress the cavatappi with corn and chanterelles). Throughout, he pays respect to his mentors—Danny Meyer, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, and the late Floyd Cardoz—as he explains the techniques he’s learned from them, often highlighted in his “Takeaways” sidebars. With a refreshingly earnest approach to cooking, this volume will prove to be an asset to cooks of all skill levels. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Tasty Adulting: All Your Faves, All Grown Up—A Cookbook

Editors of Tasty. Clarkson Potter, $21 (192p) ISBN 978-1-984825-60-5

The editors of Tasty, the food and lifestyle offshoot of Buzzfeed, share dozens of tempting, accessible recipes and helpful cooking advice “for the young (or young-at-heart-) adult.” There are plenty of comfort food options, such as corn chowder with chorizo; sour cream and onion potato salad; and chicken and dumplings. Healthier options include stuffed peppers with spiced quinoa and feta, and apple pie granola. Several recipes are paired with photos that detail preparation techniques (for example, for beer-battered fish and onion rings), and, along the way, helpful “Life Skills” sidebars offer basic kitchen wisdom (“Sifting mixes ingredients together in a way that helps breaks apart any big clumps... if you don’t have a mesh strainer, add the ingredients directly to the bowl and use a whisk”). While the repetition about “adulting” can grow wearisome (“the best thing about adulting is investing in good produce”), there is plenty of humor to ease the anxieties of those who have little experience with a hot stove. (“Where’s the beef? Who cares,” they write as they introduce salmon burgers.) This is a solid collection of recipes for novice cooks of any age. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Herbarium: The Quest to Preserve and Classify the World’s Plants

Barbara M. Thiers. Timber, $40 (304p) ISBN 978-1-60469-930-2

Thiers, director of the New York Botanical Gardens’ herbarium, delivers a fascinating and beautiful resource for gardeners about her field—the study of plants via dried and preserved specimens. She begins by highlighting the pioneering Luca Ghini (b.1490), an Italian physician and professor who first advanced the study of plants’ medicinal qualities from “a minor subdiscipline of medicine into an independent scientific endeavor.” Ghini is credited for creating the first herbarium—a book filled with pressed specimens of plants, glued onto the pages alongside annotations about a particular plant’s features, the circumstances behind its collection, its known medical properties, and other facts. “If handled carefully and kept protected from moisture, insects, and light,” the author notes, “a dried plant specimen could be preserved in this manner indefinitely.” Thiers tracks the discipline as it evolved, spurred by Renaissance scientific curiosity and more recently by technological advances, such as genetic sequencing tools that allow scientists to research extinct species using herbaria specimens. Today, she writes, there are some 390 million specimens held in 3,300 herbaria around the world, giving scientists a greater understanding of plant life generally, as well as a deeper understanding of how forces like climate change are affecting the environment. Green-thumbed readers will find this to be a stimulating intellectual adventure. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Fantastic Origami Flying Creatures: 24 Realistic Models

Fukui Hisao, trans. from the Japanese. Tuttle, $19.99 (112p) ISBN 978-4-8053-1579-8

Crafters looking for diversion from a stressful world may well find what they are looking for in this delightful origami design collection. Origami artist Hisao, making his English-language debut, details 24 beautiful and intricate creations, including peacocks, an eagle, Chinese dragons, and a bevy of flying insects. In the introduction, Hisao explains that folding origami models is an art. At the same time, he believes people of any skill level should be able to make each of the designs depicted, and to that end uses diagrams, photographs, and written directions to make them achievable for the devoted crafter. However, as the projects grow increasingly complex, the two-dimensional color drawings can be hard to follow, but Hisao remains reassuring, writing that while one’s own attempts may not be exactly as pictured, that’s okay—giving the figures one’s own unique touches is part of the origami tradition. This guide shows that practice and patience—and sometimes a little bit of glue—are all that’s needed to create an origami menagerie of one’s own. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Statement Macramé: Create Stunning Large-Scale Wall Art, Headboards, Backdrops and Plant Hangers with Step-by-Step Tutorials

Natalie Ranae. Page Street, $22.99 (168p) ISBN 978-1-64567-007-0

Fiber artist Ranae (Macramé at Home) provides an appealing guide to supersized versions of macramé that can span walls and divide rooms, or hang dramatically from the ceiling to the floor. She divides her 12 projects into three sections: Headboards and Wall Hangings, Plant Hangers and Home Décor, and Backdrops and Curtains. Each project contains step-by-step photographs of the knots required—from the “Lark’s Head Knot” to the “Diamond of Double Half Hitches.” Among the most alluring projects are a multiple planter, the “Ravana,” which offers a visual riff on the craft’s hippie past, and the “Venice Backdrop,” which shows how large-scale macramé can enhance any domestic space by adding a dash of the house-proud, fixer-upper aesthetic. Near the end, Ranae discusses her process and how crafters might individualize their own projects. Rounding things out are a brief resources section on the best places to purchase rope, metal hoops, and wood rings, and an invaluable reference guide to knots and patterns. Though not recommended for beginners, Ranae’s collection of intricate designs will give creative satisfaction to accomplished fiber artists. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Share and Savor: Create Impressive and Indulgent Appetizer Boards for Any Occasion

Kylie Mazon-Chambers. Page Street, $21.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-64567-013-1

Cooking with Cocktail Rings blogger Mazon-Chambers debuts with a lavish spread of impress-your-guests boards and platters. The fare has a global flavor profile and recipes are organized by theme (classic entertaining, special occasion, international Mediterranean, close-to-home favorites), with presentations showcasing options including a charcuterie cheese board with raspberry-habanero jam and maple-apple baked brie; a Tailgating Board of Korean chicken wings; and a seafood platter full of buttery mini lobster rolls. Italian, Greek, and Turkish recipes comprise Mediterranean platters featuring spanakopita bites and rice and beef dolmas. The Hawaiian pupu platter stars ahi poke cups, while a Mexican board includes a simple shrimp ceviche. Recipes include planning timelines (what to do early in the week; the day before; an hour before), and lush photos serve as inspiration for arranging eye-popping platters. These innovative, crowd-pleasing spreads elevate the standard meat and cheese board. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Gordon Ramsay Quick and Delicious

Gordon Ramsay. Grand Central, $32 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5387-1933-6

Chef, restaurateur, and TV personality Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy, Lean & Fit) extends a guiding hand to those who need to quickly get dinner on the table in his excellent latest. Ramsay incorporates elements of American, French, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mediterranean, Moroccan, and Thai cuisines, and his pantry contains ingredients that are now widely available in large supermarkets. Dishes are kept at two or four servings, reflecting what is served at Ramsay’s restaurants and cooked for his own family. Zucchini fries, for instance, are made using the same technique as at his Union Street Café in London (they are crispy thanks to a semolina coating), and spicy beef and bean quesadillas disappear quickly at the Ramsay dining table, he reports as a chef dad. Many of his tips are familiar (lining up green beans to trim their edges at once), while some of his methods underscore the chef’s kitchen smarts, such as choosing larger turkey cutlets instead of chicken for a kiev treatment, and enhancing the flavor of hummus with black sesame paste instead of just tahini. A metric conversion chart is provided, as the recipes feature imperial weights and measures. This accessible volume presents many ways for home cooks to expand their weeknight repertoires. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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Flower School: A Practical Guide to the Art of Flower Arranging

Calvert Crary. Black Dog & Leventhal, $32 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7624-7146-1

This visually stunning offering from Crary, executive director of FlowerSchool New York, highlights the creative potential of flower arranging. In his view, flower arranging can be approached as high art, and he describes the excitement of watching “a bale of branches and a bundle of flowers... turn into a masterpiece in the hands of an expert.” To that end, Crary offers an in-depth description of what it takes to become a master flower arranger—someone who pairs “unique artistic vision” with horticultural expertise and a “deep grounding in the fundamental mechanics of working with cut flowers.” Accompanied by vivid color photography, the text takes the reader through the steps of assembling the necessary equipment (knives, pruners, wire cutters, waterproof tape), deciding on a color scheme (with various possible palettes), choosing the right vase, and then handling and cutting the flowers themselves. The book aims high and might seem daunting for the casual garden stroller and flower snipper, but the pay-off will be rich for any gardener who sees flowers as an ideal artistic canvas. Agent: Judy Linden, Stonesong. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 07/17/2020 | Details & Permalink

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