Sybil Pratt

Jamie Oliver, still proclaiming his “Naked Chef” credo, has been a fabulous fixture of our food scene for over 18 years, and he’s never lost his touch. His signature pizazz and irrepressible can-do confidence shine in his 20th cookbook, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food. Not one for modesty, Oliver promises that by using his “genius combinations of just five ingredients,” you can get these “utterly delicious” dishes on the table in under 30 minutes—or get the prep done in 10 minutes and let your cooker do the rest. The clever layout—visuals of the five ingredients on the left and a totally tempting photo of the finished product on the right, with super-simple instructions in between—is a big plus, as is Oliver’s joy in making from-scratch cooking truly doable, whether it’s Smoky Pancetta Cod with a side of lentils for a Wednesday night, or flambéed Peachy Pork Chops followed by marmalade-infused Speedy Steamed Pudding Pots for a Saturday night soirée.

The cultural identity of the Palestinian people persists, as does the pleasures of the Palestinian kitchen. Yasmin Khan, a human rights activist and award-winning cookbook author, celebrates its vibrant flavors in Zaitoun: Recipes from the Palestinian Kitchen, seasoned with many moving stories and fabulous photos from her culinary journey. Khan has gathered over 80 recipes with an emphasis on simple, seasonal, plant-based food. She collected classics from Palestinian grandmothers (Hummus with Spiced Lamb), contemporary dishes from friends (Freekah with Butternut Squash) and dishes inspired by local ingredients (Olive, Fig and Honey Tapenade) or techniques (Chocolate and Tahini Cookies). Khan’s instructions are detailed, her header notes informative and her enthusiasm infectious.

Instead of an Instant Pot, an air fryer or a slew of newfangled kitchen appliances, the accomplished cooks and testers from America’s Test Kitchen suggest you take out that tried-and-true multitasker resting quietly in the back of a cabinet. They’re convinced that a big, enameled Dutch oven is “very nearly the only pot you’ll ever need in your kitchen,” and they offer a revelatory roster of over 150 recipes that take advantage of its best features in Cook It in Your Dutch Oven. These dishes go way beyond stews—just try some of the one-pot wonders like Weeknight Pasta Bolognese or Green Shakshuka. Go for Braised Cod Peperonata, deep fry to your heart’s content, then bake a crisp-crusted Spicy Olive Loaf, and for a grand finale, serve up a fudgy Chocolate Lava Cake.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Jamie Oliver, still proclaiming his “Naked Chef” credo, has been a fabulous fixture of our food scene for over 18 years, and he’s never lost his touch. His signature pizazz and irrepressible can-do confidence shine in his 20th cookbook, 5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food. Not one for modesty, Oliver promises that by using his […]

Let’s Eat France! by François-Régis Gaudry and friends is a big—as in, six pounds big—boisterously beautiful, ingeniously designed and illustrated book that answers every question you have about French cuisine and all the questions you didn’t know you needed answers to. There’s no table of contents, no chapters, no categories. Every turn of the page invites you to delight in an eclectic, serendipitous survey of France’s edible heritage. You’ll wander from an exploration of the crunchy cornichon pickle and a consideration of the great gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, to a recipe for an amazing Sardine Pâté, a family-friendly Pot-au-Feu (that’s beef stew, to you), a classic cherry-studded Clafoutis and 372 more remarkable French dishes, plus maps, charts and anecdotes. As a flâneur in the fertile fields of French gastronomy, you’ll learn about wines, hand-crafted liqueurs, cheeses, foie gras, oysters, breads, cakes, galettes, famous chefs and hors d’oeuvres. C’est merveilleux!

If “real” cooking is on your agenda for the new year, there’s a fresh cookbook about an old technique that’s a must. Searing Inspiration: Fast, Adaptable Entrées and Fresh Pan Sauces  by Susan Volland is your ticket to getting fabulous, four-star meals on the table in a flash. Using a skillet and the skills you’ll develop under Volland’s savvy tutelage, making Rib Steaks with Whiskey Béarnaise, a classic Sole Meunière or Tamarind-Glazed Chicken will be a breeze. The ingredients may vary, but the technique—sear, deglaze, embellish—is the same. You sear ingredients in a hot, oiled skillet and remove; deglaze with wine or another liquid; add the flavor-boosting aromatics you’ve chosen and prepped; re-add the seared ingredients and you’re a dinner diva.

Doug Crowell and chef Ryan Angulo, co-owners of two revered neighborhood restaurants in the restaurant-rich borough of Brooklyn, believe that the most important ingredients in any dish are kindness and salt. Their debut cookbook, appropriately titled Kindness & Salt: Recipes for the Care and Feeding of Your Friends and Neighbors, shows you how to salt early and generously to bring out the best in over 100 recipes, from Mushroom & Goat Cheese Scramble, Pommes Frites and Seared Scallops  to desserts and cocktails. Though you can’t sprinkle kindness on pasta or popovers, you can serve this superbly satisfying bistro food (Duck Meatloaf, Narragansett Mussels, Banana Foster Profiteroles) with warm, cordial confidence.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

If “real” cooking is on your agenda for the new year, there’s a fresh cookbook about an old technique that’s a must.

Top Pick in Cookbooks, December 2018

’Tis the season for baked sweets, and Christina Tosi, the two-time James Beard Award-winning baker, mastermind maven and chef/owner of Milk Bar, will amp up your cake-making capabilities. The wildly innovative Tosi, who found most cakes to be boringly blah, decided to find ways to give them the verve and variety her sugary sensations are renowned for. The remarkable results are all in All About Cake. These winners—from bundts and a Strawberry Layer Cake to cupcakes, sheet cakes, fancy layer cakes, cake truffles (yes, you can turn out a Cake Truffle Croquembouche for Christmas), microwave mug cakes and a Banana-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crock-Pot Cake—tell flavor stories with creative fillings, craveable crunches, hidden gems of texture and Tosi’s signature unfrosted sides. Having at your side a wonderfully opinionated pro like Tosi who can’t—and shouldn’t—curb her enthusiasm and instructional fervor for all things baking is an unbeatable, delectable treat.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 

’Tis the season for baked sweets, and Christina Tosi, the two-time James Beard Award-winning baker, mastermind maven and chef/owner of Milk Bar, will amp up your cake-making capabilities.

National Geographic and America’s Test Kitchen have combined their prodigious talents to produce the lusciously extravagant Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey. With over 100 recipes, 300 photographs and 45 maps, it’s the perfect gift for Italophiles. It’s a wonderful coffee table book and top-notch cookbook, but it’s also a travel guide to Italy’s 20 regions, filled with vibrant, full-color photos and explorations of the edible treasures that make each area unique—cheese, wine, cured meats, produce and so much more. Brimming with tradition and tested to the nth degree, these recipes showcase the robust regional food that makes Italy a mosaic of magical flavors. Whether it’s Venetian Seafood Risotto, aromatic Tuscan White Bean Soup, Umbrian Sausage and Grapes, golden Roman Gnocchi or a light and bright Sicilian Fennel, Orange and Olive Salad, each dish takes you into the authentic heart of la cucina Italiana.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 

National Geographic and America’s Test Kitchen have combined their prodigious talents to produce the lusciously extravagant Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey.

Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s first cookbook, Zahav, was named the Best International Cookbook in 2016 by the James Beard Foundation. Now the pair is back with Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious, an appreciative deep dive into iconic Israeli food, and its release is perfectly timed for Israel’s 70th anniversary. With fabulous photos of food and people, plus instructive, step-by-step photos, Israeli Soul is a home cook-friendly culinary tour of the dishes brought to Israel by immigrants and shaped by cultures “both ancient and modern.” Solomonov and Cook’s exuberant narrative details their “soul odyssey,” searching market stalls, restaurants, street carts and bakeries in big cities and remote villages for the best versions of gastronomic go-to’s like hummus, pita, shawarma and falafel, plus sabich, salads, soups, stuffed veggies, kebabs and sweets. It’s an irresistible invitation to enjoy the legendary soul food of Israel.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s first cookbook, Zahav, was named the Best International Cookbook in 2016 by the James Beard Foundation. Now the pair is back with Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious, an appreciative deep dive into iconic Israeli food.

Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook’s first cookbook, Zahav, was named the Best International Cookbook in 2016 by the James Beard Foundation. Now the pair is back with Israeli Soul: Easy, Essential, Delicious, an appreciative deep dive into iconic Israeli food, and its release is perfectly timed for Israel’s 70th anniversary. With fabulous photos of food and people, plus instructive, step-by-step photos, Israeli Soul is a home cook-friendly culinary tour of the dishes brought to Israel by immigrants and shaped by cultures “both ancient and modern.” Solomonov and Cook’s exuberant narrative details their “soul odyssey,” searching market stalls, restaurants, street carts and bakeries in big cities and remote villages for the best versions of gastronomic go-to’s like hummus, pita, shawarma and falafel, plus sabich, salads, soups, stuffed veggies, kebabs and sweets. It’s an irresistible invitation to enjoy the legendary soul food of Israel.

MANGIA BENE!
National Geographic and America’s Test Kitchen have combined their prodigious talents to produce the lusciously extravagant Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey. With over 100 recipes, 300 photographs and 45 maps, it’s the perfect gift for Italophiles. It’s a wonderful coffee table book and top-notch cookbook, but it’s also a travel guide to Italy’s 20 regions, filled with vibrant, full-color photos and explorations of the edible treasures that make each area unique—cheese, wine, cured meats, produce and so much more. Brimming with tradition and tested to the nth degree, these recipes showcase the robust regional food that makes Italy a mosaic of magical flavors. Whether it’s Venetian Seafood Risotto, aromatic Tuscan White Bean Soup, Umbrian Sausage and Grapes, golden Roman Gnocchi or a light and bright Sicilian Fennel, Orange and Olive Salad, each dish takes you into the authentic heart of la cucina Italiana.

TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
’Tis the season for baked sweets, and Christina Tosi, the two-time James Beard Award-winning baker, mastermind maven and chef/owner of Milk Bar, will amp up your cake-making capabilities. The wildly innovative Tosi, who found most cakes to be boringly blah, decided to find ways to give them the verve and variety her sugary sensations are renowned for. The remarkable results are all in All About Cake. These winners—from bundts and a Strawberry Layer Cake to cupcakes, sheet cakes, fancy layer cakes, cake truffles (yes, you can turn out a Cake Truffle Croquembouche for Christmas), microwave mug cakes and a Banana-Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crock-Pot Cake—tell flavor stories with creative fillings, craveable crunches, hidden gems of texture and Tosi’s signature unfrosted sides. Having at your side a wonderfully opinionated pro like Tosi who can’t—and shouldn’t—curb her enthusiasm and instructional fervor for all things baking is an unbeatable, delectable treat.

 

This article was originally published in the December 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Take a culinary trip through Italy, embrace the soul food of Israel and more in this month's Cooking column!

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