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The Big Book of Instant Pot Recipes: 240 Must-Try Dishes for Your Multi-Function Cooker

Kristy Bernardo, Emily Sunwell-Vidaurri, Amy Rains, and Stefanie Bundalo. Page Street, $30 (516p) ISBN 978-1-62414-882-8

Four food writers and bloggers collaborate in this latest workable Instant Pot entry. They display the device’s versatility and use icons to indicate such categories as gluten-free, vegetarian, and grain-free, but fail to show the total prep time for each recipe, adding guess work to a process that’s meant to save time. The Instant Pot excels with dishes that employ pressure cooking—and there are plenty of quick recipes, such as mole carnitas, corned beef and cabbage, BBQ apricot pulled pork, and sweet and tangy pineapple shredded beef. Some recipes, however, require more preparation: caramelized onion vegetable stuffing calls for 15 ingredients and eight steps, employing both an oven and the Instant Pot, and the teams’s steamed tamales and creamy mushroom risotto takes just as long as the traditional prep. Not all recipes present such challenges: cajun chicken bowls, or corn and green chile casserole, which incorporates a boxed corn muffin mix, come together quickly, as do such hits as chipotle and smoked gouda meat loaf, and blue cheese mashed potatoes. There are many enticing recipes, but the volume is best for skilled home cooks, as they’ll be able to assess a recipe’s practicality and adapt accordingly. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/30/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Joy of Seafood: The All-Purpose Seafood Cookbook with More Than 900 Recipes

Barton Seaver. Sterling Epicure, $35 (496p) ISBN 978-1-4549-2198-1

Chef Seaver (For Cod and Country) distills his vast knowledge of seafood in this encyclopedic work. Noting that today’s technology allows for frozen fish to be just as good as, if not better than, the fresh seafood in stores, Seaver shares the best preparations for over 100 species. Each entry opens with an overview of a species and its aliases (Acadian redfish is sometimes sold as rosefish or ocean perch), along with preparations —grilling, roasting, poaching, and others—and acceptable substitutes for when you can’t find a specific fish (e.g., jack and tilapia can be substituted for meaty grouper). There are 15 recipes for shrimp, 19 for oysters, 25 recipes that call for canned anchovies, and more than 30 for salmon. His selections are smart: fried haddock en adobo, halibut gravlax with dill, and sauteed sablefish with rosemary and Madeira wine. For down-to-earth comfort food, there’s also pasta with imitation crabmeat and fennel cream sauce, as well as a tuna melt and tuna casserole. This superb collection conveys Seaver’s experience, enthusiasm, and creativity. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/30/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Chinese Takeout Cookbook: From Wontons to Sweet ’N’ Sour, Over 70 Recipes to Recreate Your Favorites

Kwoklyn Wan. Hardie Grant, $22.99 (160p) ISBN 978-1-78713-419-5

Declaring from the outset that his debut isn’t meant to be a definitive guide to Chinese cuisine— it focuses on classic takeout dishes —U.K. restaurateur and chef Wan shares his recipes for more than 70 of the most common Chinese dishes in this solid if unremarkable collection. All the hits are here: vegetarian spring rolls, five spice ribs, roast duck, beef with oyster sauce, chicken chow mein, hot and sour soup, egg fried rice. Home cooks may be taken aback by Wan’s heavy-handed application of cornstarch to practically every dish, but he argues that not only does cornstarch help seal in flavor and ensure tenderness of proteins while frying, it helps thicken sauces for such dishes as Happy Family (pork, chicken, and beef with mixed vegetables) and shredded crispy chili beef. He rounds out this volume with such surefire hits as sweet chili crispy chicken wings, chicken and sweet corn soup, sweet and sour chicken balls, and mixed Chinese mushrooms. Wan’s debut will resonate most with those in search of recreating the familiar. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 08/30/2019 | Details & Permalink

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You Are What Your Grandparents Ate: What You Need to Know About Nutrition, Experience, Epigenetics and the Origins of Chronic Disease

Judith Finlayson. Robert Rose, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7788-0633-2

Journalist Finlayson (The Chili Pepper Bible) draws upon the groundbreaking work of late epidemiologist David Barker in this fascinating and eye-opening treatise on how a wide variety of chronic diseases (heart disease, diabetes, obesity etc.) are linked not only to current lifestyle but to such other factors as stress, environmental toxins, and even, per the title, one’s grandparents' diet. Finlayson argues that the seeds of good health are planted long before birth; research shows that what one’s mother ate during pregnancy—and even what one’s grandmother ate—as well as the kinds of trauma and experiences to which a pregnant mother is exposed (e.g. famine, poverty) may affect the gene expression of her offspring and thus that of future generations, as well. Emphasizing the importance of good nutrition, Finlayson comprehensively examines the first 1,000 days after conception as the time when the groundwork is set for a healthy (or unhealthy) life. In conclusion, Finlayson proposes that rather than cutting public health assistance, a more cost-effective approach would be to improve people’s economic stability, consequently improving their access to nutrition. Finlayson’s observations will be of interest not only to scientists but to all those seeking to enhance their own—and their children’s—health outcomes. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Mayo Clinic Guide to Fibromyalgia: Strategies to Take Back Your Life

Andy Abril and Barbara K. Bruce. ayo Clinic, $21.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-893005-49-5

Rheumatologist Abril and psychologist Bruce, directors of the Mayo Clinic’s multi­disciplinary Fibromyalgia Treat­ment Program, present a comprehensive guide to one of medicine’s most misunderstood conditions. Fibromyalgia is a sensory disorder caused by changes in the nervous system that leads to miscommunication between the body’s nerves and brain about pain. In clear, lucid language, Abril and Bruce offer the newest guidelines and advice for every step of a patient’s journey, from the sometime elusive diagnosis to treatment and the daily management of pain and limitations. Part 1 discusses the causes of fibromyalgia and dispels common misconceptions—for instance, that fibromyalgia is a mental health disorder. Part 2 focuses on treatment, including pain medications and cognitive behavioral therapy, while Part 3 is all about identifying and taking positive actions against recurring and new symptoms, such as through regular exercise and improved nutrition and sleep. The most successful way to treat fibromyalgia, Abril and Bruce conclude, is with a variety of therapies performed by a coordinated team of experts. Coming from one of the most reliable, respected health resources that Americans have, this book is the first one a newly diagnosed patient should consult. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Healthy as F*ck: The Habits You Need to Get Lean, Stay Healthy, and Generally Kick Ass at Life

Oonagh Duncan. Sourcebooks, $24.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9386-4

A speaker on fitness, Duncan offers her own brand of forthright personal coaching in a straight-talking guide that amounts, alas, to little more than a retread of common wellness advice. She argues that, while people who want to lose weight and get healthy perennially seek out new trends, that focus is better directed to the “old news” that changing habits is most important. Her often humorous and on-point directions aim to motivate small shifts that lead to real change, such as through her “7 Habits of Highly Healthy Motherfuckers”: eat more vegetables; get enough sleep; eliminate alcohol; reduce stress; eat everything, but in smaller portions; prep meals and plan ahead; and “exercise consistently.” Duncan’s easy-action, common-sense advice on avoiding trigger foods, using digital reminders, asking friends for support, and redesigning one’s environment to facilitate new habits characterize “the life-changing, magical art of getting your shit together.” Some counterintuitive suggestions crop up, but they ably serve to reinforce the “habit loop.” This approach may not appeal to all, and the profanity-as-gimmick gets tiresome, but Duncan’s sustainable lifetime program makes sense. Agent: Sam Hiyate, the Rights Factory. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple

Paul Kahan, with Rachel Holtzman. Lorena Jones, $35 (288p) ISBN 978-0-399-57858-8

In this entertaining cookbook, Chicago chef Kahan (Cheers to the Publican, Repast and Present) celebrates sharing family-style meals with friends and family. Many of the chapters start with a core recipe followed by several fun twists. For instance, after readers master a basic pizza recipe, they will be inspired to incorporate exciting toppings, such as honey-roasted winter squash and kale pesto; roasted eggplant, smoked mozzarella, and hot honey; and mortadella, taleggio, and charred bitter greens. He devotes another chapter to salads, instructing how to select different types of greens organized in different categories (neutral, bitter, and herbs) and sharing enticing salad creations—such as charred radicchio with arugula, cherries, and parmigiano, as well as mixed greens with roasted shallot vinaigrette, nuts, and shaved cheese. The roasted whole fish chapter has plenty of ideas, most notably serving it alongside shrimp with a romesco and warm pepper vinaigrette, and succinctly shares the process of butchering fish. The most memorable recipes come from the panzanella chapter, in which Kahan transforms the classic bread salad with renditions adding roasted leeks, pecans, and apple; tomatoes, green beans, olives, and anchovies; or dandelion greens, honey-roasted squash, and pear. Kahan’s flavorful guide will help readers create memorable meals with ease. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Munchies Guide to Dinner: How to Feed Yourself and Friends

Editors of Munchies. Ten Speed, $30 (218p) ISBN 978-0-399-58012-3

The editors of Munchies, the food-focused vertical of Vice media, collect the best of their recipes in this delightful collection of practical, tasty dishes served with a side of irreverence. Leaning heavily on familiar comfort food and drinks (garlic bread, chicken pot pie, margaritas, martinis, chili cheese dip, etc.) along with a handful of themed meals (steakhouse dinner, taco night, finger food for a binge-watching night), the Munchies team strike the right balance of enticing dishes that readers can prepare without calling for too much effort or resorting to ingredients cooked in a microwave. Velveeta cheese is the linchpin in their baked mac and cheese, and they also include easy recipes for pastas—including a spinach, mushroom, and ricotta ravioli—as well as a pitch-perfect onion dip with homemade mayo. Even if readers choose to sub in store-bought ingredients for the from-scratch components suggested in some of these recipes, they’re still going to wind up with a terrific dish. This is a solid choice for home cooks looking for practical everyday dishes. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Fix It with Food: More Than 125 Recipes to Address Autoimmune Issues and Inflammation

Michael Symon and Douglas Trattner. Clarkson Potter, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-9848-2553-7

In this practical volume, Iron Chef America winner Symon (Playing with Fire) turns his attention to a food regimen intended to reduce inflammation and its accompanying pain. Symon, who manages his rheumatoid arthritis and discoid lupus through diet, and his frequent coauthor, Trattner, identify wheat, meat, sugar, dairy, and alcohol as aggravators of inflammation. The first section of recipes introduces a 10-day cleanse via a meal plan called “The Reset,” which purges all five ingredients, essentially leaving behind whole grains, eggs, fruits, and vegetables, along with anti-inflammatory agents such as turmeric and walnuts. Breakfast choices include baked eggs in avocado, while lunch might be a warm spinach and mushroom salad, and, for dinner, stuffed peppers with black-eyed peas and quinoa. Among the dairy-free options, a cream of wild mushroom and barley soup gets its creaminess from oat milk, and its bone broth provides a healthy dose of collagen. Spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles sub for pasta in the flour-free section, and the natural sweetness of fruits star in sugar-free choices such as apple-and-cherry oat crisp. Whether coping with an autoimmune disease or simply seeking a flavorful, natural diet, readers will find fresh ideas here. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Typographic Knitting: From Pixel to Pattern

Rüdiger Schlömer. Princeton Architectural, $27.50 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-61689-854-0

Museum curator and graphic designer Schlömer’s appealingly photographed and artfully laid-out guide charts a rigorous course for knitters interested in converting various texts and typefaces into knitted items. Aside from a few mittens, hats and sweaters, most finished projects consist of small squares and knitted samples showing elaborate typefaces. Schlömer suggests that beginners start with the “Pixels” chapter before moving on to “Patterns” or “Patches,” and then the most advanced, “Modules.” Each project is labeled with the font used, whether it is “Elementar Sans B” or “Helvetica,” then the knitting technique employed to execute the project, such as using “intarsia [and] stockinette stitch,” or a more advanced use of “3 colors, garter stitch and slip stitches, vertical changes in color.” The project templates are both charted and written out, to allow knitters to choose which method they are most comfortable with, but even starter patterns will require patience and fortitude. As Schlömer himself points out, “Combining knitting and typography is first and foremost a mental exercise.” Knitters will find in his work either stirring encouragement to further explore the genre he introduces, or a forbidding warning against venturing into it. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/16/2019 | Details & Permalink

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