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Whole30 Friends & Family: 150 Recipes for Every Social Occasion

Melissa Hartwig Urban. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (288p) ISBN 978-0-35811-579-3

Urban (The Whole30), cocreator and CEO of the Whole30 program, offers a wealth of appetizing recipes for those who have adopted the Whole30 diet and struggle with cooking for crowds. The dishes, organized by occasion, consist of options for, among other events, weeknight family meals, potlucks, and special get-togethers and allow followers, Urban writes, to indulge, stick to the plan (eliminating sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy), and not feel cheated. In most cases, guests wouldn’t even realize these recipes are part of a meal plan, with such winning dishes as mustard and coriander-crusted pork tenderloin with tangy apple-mustard compote (“Date Night”); citrusy watermelon strawberry shortcakes (“Kid’s Birthday Party”); crisp prosciutto-topped deviled eggs (“Study Group”); chilled coconut–almond butter bananas (“Kid-friendly Family Dinner”); and lime-garlic hot wings with green chili sauce (“Game Day”). Most recipes are made with ingredients that home cooks will easily find in the supermarket. This treasure trove is suitable for any number of large gatherings of people, Whole30 adherent or not. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Sushi Modoki: The Japanese Art and Craft of Vegan Sushi

iina. The Experiment, $18.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1-61519-608-1

In this concise manual, iina, who hosts cooking classes in Tokyo, instructs readers in the craft of vegan sushi, leaning on various vegetable preparations to visually evoke a variety of sliced fish. Skinned boiled pepper stands in for rich tuna, while steamed, seasoned eggplant takes the place of eel. Her recipes are clever, but often the sleight of hand falters: konnyaku, a firm, flavorless jelly, plays the roles of both squid and shrimp to ill effect. A wan impression of uni, the roe of sea urchin, reveals the limits of pure imitation, as a mixture of kabocha squash, carrot, and sake lees (the leftover from sake fermentation) can deceive the eyes but not the palate. While iina finds her footing in commonplace vegan recipes like inarizushi, bundles of rice in a sweet fried tofu skin, she often stumbles when she strays too far from tradition. One recipe needlessly replaces rice with cauliflower, and another marries kiwi, asparagus, and tofu cream cheese in a rice paper wrap. Beyond the delight of visually appealing dishes, home cooks will likely find little satisfaction here. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking

Toni Tipton-Martin. Clarkson Potter, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6173-8

James Beard Award–winner Tipton-Martin (The Jemima Code) collects and crafts recipes that cross generations and cultures in this fascinating cookbook. She frequently pairs a contemporary dish with historical antecedents: meatballs in barbecue sauce appear along with a sidebar for a “forced meat” (ground steak) recipe from an 1866 cookbook; and a Southern sweet potato cake incorporates mango in a nod to Senegalese tradition. The author exhibits sly humor, as when she recalls the uproar in 2014 when Whole Foods deemed collard greens “the new kale.” This volume is as useful as it is informative: for example, a beverage chapter kicks off with a discussion of how “drinks soothed the horrors of enslavement and oppression while lubricating spirits during religious acts,” and includes biographical sketches of historical figures (the owner of Fraunces Tavern in Revolutionary War–era New York City was Samuel Fraunces, from the West Indies and nicknamed “Black Sam”). There are gumbos and a peanut soup to start, as well as mains including beef stew, Caribbean roast pork, and fried chicken (one of four recipes is from a 1970 cookbook and uses a pressure cooker). Tipton-Martin enjoys unparalleled skill at building bridges between the past and the present, making this volume inspirational on many levels. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Jewish Cookbook

Leah Koenig. Phaidon, $49.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-7148-7933-8

In this outstanding and comprehensive cookbook, Koenig (Modern Jewish Cooking) explores Jewish cuisine from around the world. Wherever the recipes originate, they tend to be humble options: Sephardic slow-cooked eggs dyed brown with onion skins and coffee grounds, and an Ashkenazi stewed carrot tsimmes (a sweet stew) with dried fruit, for instance. A chapter on fritters presents classic potato latkes for Hanukkah and torpedo-shaped beef kibbeh from the Middle East. Along the way there are recipes for pan-fried gefilte fish in a curry sauce from South Africa, a sweet potato and pecan kugel from the American South, and a chicken and chestnut omelet from Azerbaijan. Koenig is a graceful writer, whether explaining the techniques for different challah shapes and their meanings (the braid is meant “to resemble the hair of a malevolent demon”) or differentiating Israeli-style rugelach from its American cousins. Included are recipes from restaurants that have wedded Jewish favorites with local traditions: Michael Solomonov of the restaurants Zahav and Abe Fisher in Philadelphia makes a steak sauce with soy sauce and sweet kosher wine, and from Warsaw, Poland, Aleksander Baron contributes a bread pudding dotted with poppy seeds. Desserts include dainty black-and-white cookies of the sort commonly found in New York delis, and chickpea flour shortbread. This is an excellent, thoughtful entry in Phaidon’s expanding lineup of accessible cookbooks. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Lateral Cooking

Niki Segnit. Bloomsbury, $40 (612p) ISBN 978-1-63557-264-3

U.K. food writer Segnit (The Flavor Thesaurus) brings a vast breadth of knowledge to this massive and quietly playful exploration of the art and science of cooking. In what is as much a personal culinary history as it is a reference, Segnit is as likely to recall dining on tapas along the Camino de Santiago in Spain as she is to cite one of the hundreds of cookbooks she draws on for source material or to discuss the role of clam chowder in Moby Dick. Her mission is to present intuitive cooking as a learnable skill, one that can be developed through an understanding of how certain foods relate to each other in terms of how they are prepared. Learning to master a basic flatbread is the starting point for a panoply of connected dishes along a continuum that proceeds from crackers and soda bread to buns and brioche. A dozen such culinary trails are uncovered in categories that include sauces, chocolate, roux, and nuts, where, for example, marzipan easily transforms into macaroons. Home cooks can tinker with the many “flavors & variations” provided for each dish, or experiment with ingredients by taking heed of “leeway” options that suggest, for example, doubling the molasses and halving the sugar for an extra-sticky loaf of gingerbread. This extraordinary cookbook provides a treasure map full of both straightforward satisfactions and rewarding detours. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Defined Dish: Whole30 Endorsed, Healthy and Wholesome Weeknight Recipes

Alex Snodgrass. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-0-358-00441-7

The Defined Dish blogger Snodgrass debuts with this collection of dozens of gluten-free, dairy-free, and grain-free recipes that are packed with flavor. She organizes the recipes by region—in the “Mom-Bo Italiano” chapter are modified Italian-American classics such as chicken saltimbocca roll-ups and rosemary-lemon shrimp. The “Better Than Take Out” chapter has plenty of Asian-inspired dishes, such as red curry shrimp and sweet potato noodle stir-fry, black pepper chicken, and Mongolian beef stir-fry. A Texas native, Snodgrass includes appetizing examples of Southern and Tex-Mex cooking in the “Southern Charms” and “Tacos y Mas” chapters, most notably Cajun crab cakes with remoulade, cauliflower rice jambalaya, street tacos made with steak, and crispy carnitas. Helpful notes at the top of each recipe inform whether the dish is entirely Whole30 compliant, and Snodgrass adds tips for modifying other dishes (“omit the sugar and add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar,” she writes for her creamy tomato basil soup). Readers looking for healthy dishes that do not sacrifice flavor will find plenty to enjoy in this outing. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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The Weaving Explorer: Ingenious Techniques, Accessible Tools & Creative Projects for Working with Yarn, Paper, Wire and More

Deborah Jarchow and Gwen W. Steege. Storey, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-63586-028-3

Dedicated and newbie weavers will find their dream projects in this lushly photographed primer on using everything from yarn and paper to wire and more to create unique and creative projects. Jarchow, a debut author, and Steege (The Knitter’s Life List), who has written or edited a wide range of craft books, view practically anything as a possible material in the weaver’s hand, and the diversity of their project list reflects that open-mindedness, with products ranging from a parachute-cord bag to elegant tapestries made from worsted weight yarn. They provide easy-to-understand directions to create such projects as beaded necklaces and bracelets and paper baskets, and, for those interested in making their own loom, an explanation of how to assemble a simple frame one. However, the authors don’t limit crafters to the loom, explaining how to make floor mats with a braiding tool known as a lucet, and how to weave “on, or with, some everyday materials: stones, paper, and ribbon.” Instructions for calculating yarn requirements, tips for success in different mediums, a glossary of weaving terms, and a list of commonly used materials round out this robust guide. Ideal for hobbyists and artists alike, Jarchow and Steege’s smart and beautiful volume will find its way to the keeper shelves of many craft aficionados. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Fathers and Daughters: Helping Girls and Their Dads Build Unbreakable Bonds

Madonna King. Hachette Australia, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-73364-020-9

Australian journalist and television presenter King (Being 14) polled and interviewed 1,300 girls, and many of their dads, along with parenting experts, school administrators, and psychologists for this, unfortunately, rather routine and unenlightening investigation into the father-daughter relationship. King relates how normal adolescent emotional development and changing needs can affect clueless and tuned-in dads alike, observing that teenage girls want dads who are supportive but nonjudgmental, and are genuinely interested in and solicitous of their opinions—which may be difficult for those stuck on thinking of their girls as children. Though King crafts a decent narrative, she offers nothing new and very limited advice, relying primarily on the voices of her interviewees to set the tone, which is marred by Down-Under colloquialisms and takes on customs, culture, and education. The concluding chapter features a list of skills dads should keep in mind for rekindling and maintaining the dad-daughter connection: unconditional love; confidence building; being there; shared interests and quality time together; teaching life skills and decision-making; and meaningful, not superficial, communication. Despite exhaustive research, including the use of American experts and authors, this is so relentlessly Australian as to make King’s work unlikely to appeal to U.S. parents. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Top-Down Knit Sweaters: 16 Versatile Styles Featuring Texture, Lace, Cables, and Colorwork

Corrina Ferguson. Stackpole, $24.95 (120p) ISBN 978-0-81171-828-8

Extolling top-down sweater knitting as a neater and more customizable process than the alternative, this pattern book from designer Ferguson (Warm Days, Cool Nights) shows how to use hand-dyed yarn and brilliant color combinations to create stitches that will really pop. The 16 projects included are both charted and written out, so knitters can follow along as they prefer, and the photographs of each sweater include multiple, close-up views of stitch patterns, yoke detailing, color work, hem length and/or edging. Moreover, each pattern contains at least one detail—such as a shawl pin or “statement button”—that adds an extra bit of personality. Though projects aren’t labeled by difficulty level, experienced crafters can quickly determine whether they can tackle any given project. Most appealing to beginners will be either the “fast fun knit” shawl-collared “Flora,” or “Lenora,” a “warm and woolly layering piece.” The more complex knits gathered here are the author’s specialty, though, with the reversible “Constance” and the color-worked yokes of “Maude,” “Zelma,” and “Trudy” particular highlights. Ferguson clearly has a knack for color, and it will behoove readers of this appealing collection to attend to its plans and suggestions carefully. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 08/30/2019 | Details & Permalink

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Making a Life: Working by Hand and Discovering the Life You Are Meant to Live

Melanie Falick. Artisan, $35 (320p) ISBN 978-1-57965-744-4

Falick (Knitting in America) profiles authors from her former Abrams imprint, STC Craft/Melanie Falick Books, as well as other artisans she admires, in a remarkable series of 30 vignettes that simultaneously comfort and stimulate. “Even though I didn’t need to make my own clothing... to stay alive,” she says of her own crafting pursuit, knitting, “I needed that bond to feel whole, competent and grounded.” Falick asks two basic questions, of herself and others: “Why do we make things by hand?” and “Why do we make them beautiful?” Among the artisans profiled are Natalie Chanin, who helped pioneer “slow fashion”; Charles “Chip” Dort, who cuts linoleum blocks to print fabrics; and the members of the African American Quilt Guild of Oakland, who use the medium to explore their lives and their California city’s history. Other subjects include weavers, spinners, dyers, and shoe, spoon, and furniture makers. Falick sprinkles choice quotes throughout: “For the next two hours,” says Elsa Mora to her paper-cutting class, “the only thing that matters is that we’re here and we’re going to do this... and do it well.” Falick’s treasury, sumptuously photographed, will appeal to anyone who admires the people dedicated to making the world around them more beautiful. (Nov.)

Reviewed on 08/30/2019 | Details & Permalink

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