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Zen Vegan Food: Delicious Plant-based Recipes from a Zen Buddhist Monk

Koyu Linuma. Tuttle, $16.99 (96p) ISBN 978-4-8053-1661-0

Linuma, deputy chief priest of Fukushoji, a Buddhist temple near Tokyo, showcases the flavors of shojin ryori, or vegan Buddhist temple cuisine, in this illuminating collection. He starts with a primer on Zen vegan food, which—in addition to being free of animal-derived proteins—focuses on balancing sour, sweet, hot, salty, and bitter aspects to optimize each ingredient’s full flavor (though readers are advised to adjust to their guest’s preferences “to show your care for other people”). Recipes are on offer for two different dashi stocks and a mushroom miso paste—staples that are called on often to lend depth to dishes, such as deep-fried tofu and potato croquettes. A basic rice porridge becomes a springboard for multiple varieties of congee, including one with pickled plum and Egyptian seasoning and another starring seared carrots. Main dishes—organized around ingredients including kabocha squash, napa cabbage, and daikon radish—feature such showstoppers as kabocha squash fritters and a soothing napa cabbage soup, while an unexpected chapter of Italian-influenced recipes swaps tofu for cheese in a number of dishes. Meanwhile, Linuma’s charming “Zen Vegan Notes” share helpful tips and snackable trivia (in olden days, for instance, adzuki-bean congee was eaten to ward off evil spirits). This makes cooking with mindfulness an appetizing endeavor. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Silk: Fiber, Fabric, and Fashion

Lesley Ellis Miller, Ana Cabrera Lafuente, and Claire Allen-Johnstone. Thames & Hudson, $95 (504p) ISBN 978-0-500-48065-6

In this luxurious tribute to one of the world’s oldest textiles, curators Miller (Balenciaga), Lafuente, and Allen-Johnstone, all associated with London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, take a deep dive into the museum’s rich trove of silk. The authors trace the material’s cultivation, production, and trade routes dating back to 500 C.E., and describe methods of producing silk textiles (such as weaving, crocheting, and embroidering) as well as how it is dyed and printed. More than 600 images enchant, and include lovely fashion pieces by Oscar de la Renta, Dior, Balenciaga, and Alexander McQueen, as well as luxe carpets, bedroom screens, parasols, and even couture Barbie dolls. A glossary of textile terms demystifies the finer points of silk production and artistry, and there’s a reading list for those with a deep curiosity in the topic. Any fan of fashion will devour this exquisite volume. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Eat Like a Human: Nourishing Foods and Ancient Ways of Cooking to Revolutionize Your Health

Bill Schindler. Little, Brown Spark, $28 (304p) ISBN 978-0-31624-488-6

Millions of years ago, humans’ ancestors “figured out how to eat in highly nutritious ways that allowed them to thrive,” writes archaeologist Schindler in his impassioned if underwhelming debut. He opens in Kenya, where he drinks cow’s blood mixed with milk, a staple of the Samburu people with whom he stayed. The Samburu, whose diet contains little meat, fruit, or vegetables, are remarkably healthy, and Schindler set out to discover how, without access to fluoride or supplements, they manage to be so. What he concludes is that the best road to health is simply to consume food that is as nutrient-dense as possible. Schindler claims that cultivated vegetables are full of harmful toxins, and goes on to explore how the contemporary approach to agriculture is wasteful and creates foods lacking in nutrients. Decrying what he calls the modern human predicament that people “can eat to obesity and still be malnourished,” he advocates for foraging, fermentation, and ancient cooking practices. While the positive personal changes Schindler himself undergoes are clear, it’s unlikely most readers will have the time or inclination to adopt his radical practices. Those looking for a reasonable plan for healthier eating won’t find one here. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Nobody Tells You: Over 100 Honest Stories About Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenthood

Edited by Becca Maberly with Roger Marwood. Bluebird, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5290-5605-1

More than 100 mothers detail their pregnancy experiences in this informative and inspiring anthology from Maberly, founder of A Mother Place parenting classes and her father, gynecologist Marwood. The essays are wide-ranging in topic—conception, birth plans, labor, postnatal depression, breastfeeding—and tone, as seen in “About Pregnancy After Loss,” in which Georgia Keogh-Horgan describes having another child after her firstborn died, and in “About the Bodily Fluids!” in which Hannah Rowlinson humorously outlines the mess of giving birth. Elsewhere, Olivia Dudleston sheds light on her unexpected middle-of-the-night anxieties in “You Will Worry About Your Baby.” Each essay is accompanied by a photo of parents and their child, and following each piece, Maberly and Marwood dispense parenting advice in the form of lists, tips, and helpful how-tos. Maberly and Marwood live and work in England, so a few of the references will be lost on American readers (certain apps offered by the NHS, for example), but the stories of motherhood are universal. The authors’ candor is refreshing (“Am I the only person who found labour a bit of a drag?”), occasionally brutal, and always encouraging. For readers thinking about having children—or already in the midst of pregnancy—this will be a treasure. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Bittman Bread: No-Knead Whole Grain Baking for Every Day

Mark Bittman and Kerri Conan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-0-358-53933-9

“Unless you live near a bakery owned by people who really care, you are not going to find a way to get better bread into your life,” writes James Beard Award winner Bittman (Animal, Vegetable, Junk) in this splendid guide to creating what he deems the perfect whole-grain loaf. While he gives his predecessors, such as Jim Lahey—whose famed no-knead, Dutch oven method yielded “the best white bread”—their due, he argues that the naturally fermented whole-grain bread he devoted six years to developing is much healthier than white loaves, and just as easy to make. Chapters progress from the production of a versatile “indestructible” starter to the “jumpstarter” (a combination of starter, flour, and water) to finished loaves with numerous flavor variations. The starter is used to make baguettes, weeknight deep-dish pizza, and scallion pancakes, and even works for “doughnutty things,” such as drop beignets and cinnamon rolls—which call for less sugar than their white-flour counterparts due to whole wheat’s natural sweetness. Interspersed throughout is an entertaining dialogue between Bittman and his wing-baker, Conan, that addresses common baking questions—including how to ascertain which water-to-flour ratios work best. This hits the spot. Agent: Danielle Svetcov, Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Vegan, at Times: 120+ Recipes for Every Day or Every So Often

Jessica Seinfeld with Sara Quessenberry. Gallery, $20.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-982149-57-4

“Once your body realizes vegan food can be flavorful, filling, and very satisfying, your mind will follow.... You will not starve,” promises Seinfeld (Deceptively Delicious) in this charming collection. Without adopting a vegan lifestyle wholesale, Seinfeld (who was initially a skeptic of the “dogmatic” trend herself) offers a simple approach to “ease into veganism” by occasionally incorporating more plant-based foods into one’s diet. These uncomplicated and recognizable recipes don’t scream “vegan”—most simply switch out dairy for plant-derived options (cashew, almond, oat) or swap butter for nut and vegetable oils. Breakfast offerings include flaky biscuits “that could be a catalyst for any nonbeliever” and are made with plant-based butter and milk, and chia pudding with caramelized bananas. Legumes and mushrooms serve as the foundation for an all-purpose meat substitute in dishes such as mushroom bolognese or taco salad. A chapter of small bites, dubbed “quickies”—including a green hummus (made verdant with parsley or cilantro) and a meatless club sandwich—and lists for vegan pantry basics (chickpeas, shallots, Dijon mustard), cooking equipment, and menu ideas offer an encouraging push for those ready to take the leap into meatless cooking. The result is a pleasurable and practical guide for testing the vegan waters. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists

Phaidon editors. Phaidon, $39.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-83866-331-5

“I have thousands of cookbooks and the truth is I never cook from them. I read the recipes and look at the pictures,” writes Chef Massimo Bottura in his introduction to this freewheeling compilation of recipes from more than 70 artists. Mirroring that sentiment, the entries here—described by Bottura as “self-portraits”—are more for looking at than they are for actual cooking. Jam-making instructions are shared in the form of a collage, while Nicolas Party’s illustrated two cherries “recipe” begins, “Choose a sunny afternoon in July.” Several contributors wear their refusal to provide measurements as a badge of honor. Others’ recipes are deployed as statements: Martha Rosler’s red, white, and blue gelatin salad is embedded with army figurines, and Michael Rakowitz’s recipe for a sandwich of tahini, cheese, and date syrup references UN sanctions against Iraq and etymology. More practical takes include Subodh Gupta’s chickpea pancakes with step-by-step photographs. Visual humor runs throughout, often with cartoonish flair: Nikolai Haas’s mixture of goat cheese and cream cheese is smeared onto “something round” and studded with vegetables to approximate a head, and Olaf Breunning’s food faces are Instagram-ready. There’s lots to visually enjoy, but home cooks should be forewarned this is more about ideas than recipes. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Once upon a Chef: Weeknight/Weekend: 70 Quick-Fix Weeknight Dinners + 30 Luscious Weekend Recipes

Jennifer Segal. Clarkson Potter, $32.50 (288p) ISBN 978-0-593-23183-8

“Sometimes we cook because we have to and sometimes because we love to, but either way, the reward is the same,” writes Segal in this resourceful roundup of the best recipes from her Once Upon a Chef blog. Segal’s a realist at heart (“Much as I love to cook,” she writes, “I don’t harbor any romantic notions about weeknight cooking”), and that comes through in the no-nonsense, flavor-filled recipes she dishes up on busy nights as much as it does in her slow-cooked weekend meals to linger over. Various cuisines are on offer during the week, such as soba chicken noodle salad with ginger peanut dressing, blackened fish tacos with pickled onions and lime crema, and dinnertime breakfast burritos. Segal’s beginner-friendly instructions will motivate novice home cooks into recreating well-loved dishes—such as creamy potato soup and chicken marsala—and leisurely weekend recipes, “for when you have a few hours to putter around the kitchen,” including her chicken chili and cornbread pie and a beef stew that’s been a big hit on her website. Throughout, Segal provides helpful make-ahead tips and informative ingredient blurbs (“Tarragon, with its sweet, anise-like flavor, is an essential herb in French cooking,” she notes in the pan-seared halibut recipe). Those craving more variety in their cooking routines should take a look. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple

Dorie Greenspan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35 (400p) ISBN 978-0-358-22358-0

Five-time James Beard Award winner Greenspan (Dorie’s Cookies) offers in this superlative volume a tantalizing medley of bakes, ranging from familiar favorites to inventive twists on classics. In her inviting and assured tone, she gives readers a peek into her recipe developing process with how-tos and gentle nudges, such as a reminder to keep ingredients at room temperature. Greenspan lives part-time in France, and the country’s cuisine is apparent in her affinity for brioche-based creations and in recipes including her Peanut-Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Paris-Style (which mirror the nut-topped type flaunted in Parisian shop windows with a peanut praline finish). The author marks her favorites with hearts, but there is much more to love in here that reflects Greenspan’s extensive travels, such as her dense-brownie-like Lisbon Chocolate Cake and cheese swirl babka buns—a savory riff on the sweet New York classic. Other standouts include a sumptuous lemon meringue layer cake, and caramel crunch–chocolate cookies, prepared in muffin tins instead of a baking sheet to achieve its caramelly flavor. Meanwhile, basics such as pie crusts, curds, and pastry creams are corralled into one handy chapter. This sweet trip around the world will leave bakers with much to savor. Agent: David Black, David Black Literary Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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The Cocktail Workshop: An Essential Guide to Classic Drinks and How to Make Them Your Own

Steven Grasse and Adam Erace. Running Press, $27.50 (216p) ISBN 978-0-7624-7297-0

The student becomes the barmaster in this fun, easy-to-follow tutorial. The reading list for this independent study in mixology consists of short chapters covering 20 classic cocktails. Each is accompanied by a brief history of the drink’s origins; three adaptations that “proceed up a ladder of increasing complexity”; and is rounded out by a “workshop” assignment, which might involve learning a specific technique and creating a unique ingredient (such as making oleo-saccharum, an 18th-century cocktail syrup derived from citrus and sugar). Whiskey sour aficionados will be amused to learn that any drink built on a foundation of spirit, citrus, and sweetener (including daiquiris and margaritas) could essentially be called a “sour,” and will undoubtedly appreciate the New York sour riff—which floats a layer of red wine atop the drink’s foam. Martini enthusiasts shouldn’t skip the workshop on homemade vermouth (which takes two weeks to mature). Elsewhere, homemade Earl Grey syrup puts a teatime twist on the French 75. Novices and connoisseurs alike will find this a bottomless resource. Agent: Clare Pelino, Pro Literary. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 10/01/2021 | Details & Permalink

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