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new: cookbook reviews with kristina!

by Grace Bonney

Whenever I visit a new city, I always take time to go to a bookstore and peruse cooking titles. In London, I always dedicate an afternoon to Waterstone’s to look through stacks of books to buy the paperbacks right away, but jot down titles to buy online if they are hardback, to save the weight in my suitcases for other things. [Here you can see but a portion of my book and mag collection placed temporarily until I choose the right bookshelves with doors (Hello, IKEA Billy!).]

I thought I would put these books to even better use by going through past, recent, and new releases for those of you who like cookbooks. I will start this week with two books that match the essence of the recipes we try to bring to you each week – simple recipes that you will actually try – and one book which goes to the heart of design*sponge -a student cookbook. I will try to put together regular thematic round-ups to fill the gaps left by the column. Please let us know what you look for in a cookbook, and what types of recipes you’d like to see more (or less) of!

One last note: The books I will review cover both the US and European markets. At times, especially on the recent/new releases like this week’s titles, you will see a lag between availability in one market or the other. Follow me on Twitter to tell me what you like and don’t like, ask questions, find recipe recommendations from books, and many other food related resources (and a little bit more!). twitter.com/kristinagill

CLICK HERE for kristina’s cookbook reviews after the jump!

(1) From Pasta to Pancakes: The Ultimate Student Cookbook by Tiffany Goodall (published by Quadrille). This is a brand new release, and I chose it for all the design students who read design*sponge. The recipes (mostly for 1) are very simple because the target audience is someone who is completely new in the kitchen– the book includes basics (pasta, cous cous, stir fries, pancakes) that the new cook will soon adapt to fit personal tastes. The photography and the styling are at first a shock– and before you let it put you off, realize that that’s exactly how a novice’s first attempts might look. No one will be intimidated by the idea that the food has to look perfect! Quite a good idea to do the photography this way, I’d say! In short, it’s a fun basic resource for first-time cooks on a budget.

(2) Feed Me Now! by Bill Granger (published by Quadrille): Bill Granger, Sydney-based cook and restaurateur, has a new title available on this side of the world! I love Bill Granger’s cooking style— typically Australian in its simplicity, but also includes a mix of Asian flavors and more familiar US/British style dishes. Feed me now! provides family oriented recipes that are quick and easy for those who are willing to work a bit harder for a huge reward (NB many of them take no less than 30 minutes to cook, not including prep time.) Finding the ingredients may present a small challenge depending on where you live, but the book more than makes up for it with simple recipes like Alsatian Bacon & Egg tart, Miso Fish, and Gooey Chocolate Cake. Yes, Bill’s smile is annoying, but did I mention the photography is by John Kernick? Worth it for the images alone!

(3) Just Five Ingredients by Ainsley Harriott (BBC Books): Keeping with the theme of good meals prepared in little time, Ainsley Harriott’s new book knocks it out of the park! I won’t hide that I’m an Ainsley fan after trying his prawn and beef kebabs from an issue of delicious. (Australia) a few years ago, or that his personality also keeps me interested in his work. (Some people who have seen him on Ready, Steady, Cook! may have their own opinions, sure!) But even if you have no idea who he is, this book is a great addition to your shelf. Why? Each recipe is well thought out, limited to five generally very common ingredients you will often have on hand, tThe technique is not difficult. You may find you reach for it for parties and quick meals during the week, when you’re alone, any time, all the time! And keeping with the theme of simplicity, the photography is quite nice with minimal styling and a focus on ingredients, so it is a pleasure to look at.

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  • I agree with Nico. Vegetarian recipes are great. One of my favorite easy and quick cookbooks is “The Healthy College Cookbook” by Nimetz, Stanley, Starr, and Holcomb. It has a good mix of vegetarian and meat-filled recipes and everything is quick and easy. Nothing original, but great if you just can’t think of anything to cook and need quick simple ideas.

  • Gosh! This is great!!! I’m currently creating a cookbook for my honor’s project, so this is really helpful! Keep it coming please! :)

    ps: i’d like to see some recipes for snack foods like granola bars and that sugar boost for late afternoons in class

  • Really looking forward to this column. Would love it if you sometimes strayed into food memoir/writing territory. I heart MFK Fischer, Jeffrey Steingarten, and, of course, My Life in France.

  • Hi Nico! We’ve actually only featured vegetarian recipes on the ITKW column!

    Ainsley’s book has a whole chapter on vegetarian dishes, and many other vegetarian dishes throughout the book.

    If there is a particular type of vegetarian recipe in particular that you’re after, let us know and I’ll do my best to deliver on both columns.

  • I vote for Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking. She has a blog, 101 Cookbooks, that I live by on the weekdays when I’m trying to figure out something healthy to make that night. Her Otsu is life changing!

  • If you are in London, there is nowhere better to browse for cookbooks than Books for Cooks in Notting Hill. And they do a great lunch when your appetite has been whetted by all those delicious recipes and photographs

  • @Nevis will see what I can do!

    @Courtney Holly is a favorite of ours here. She has contributed a recipe to ITKW, also.

    @Paulette: Great idea! Why not start out with Nigel Slater’s autobiography Toast, A Slice of Life , and Best Food Writing (2005).

    @Claire – I haven’t been to NH in a few months but love Books for Cooks and the Spice Shoppe in front of it. Phillip (Spice Shoppe) was talking of selling last time I was in… The truth is that I can fall asleep in the comfy chairs in Waterstone’s and just blend in, wake up and catch the bus right there on the curb in front!

  • I’d like to second the request for vegan cookbooks and also ask for gluten-free ones. Maybe you could just include one cookbook for special diets per-post, or maybe just dedicate one post to them entirely? I can never find good cookbooks for my picky stomach

  • I am all about minimalistic cooking – love that there are some FAST versions of minimalist cooking out there – so many min. recipes take forever to crank out! (but are good) =)

  • Because I can not cook I only buy step-by-step cookbooks. An overvue of them would help me to discover new autors and new books.

  • great addition and well, of course as a cookbook collector, it’s great to have your keen eye on the street to help guide!

  • @likavika : Tiffany Goodall’s book has step-by-step images, with basic recipes for many common dishes.

    Ainsley Harriot’s book offers more variety of flavors and courses, and is perfect for you, I bet. Each recipe is limited to 5 ingredients and goes step by step with concise but complete instructions.

    Bill’s does not involve difficult technique, but is the most involved of the three. His recipes, however, are never complicated.

  • Love the new column! I’ve been reviewing cookery books for the last year on my blog and I’m slowly building up a nice collection. Yours however is most impressive! I also recommend Books for Cooks in Notting Hill for your next trip to London, though you’ll probably need to pay excess baggage…

  • There is a super vegetarian (but I think that it is not vegan) cookbook out from Gibbs Smith. It is called something like Celebrity Chefs Cook Vegetarian. I don’t remember the exact title. I’ve cooked from it and recently loaned it to a friend.

  • I’ll second Books for Cooks being the best place to shop for cookbooks in London- a favourite place for browsing and being offered snacs they’ve just cooked up in the back.

    Happy Days

  • Heidi Swanson is great! I’m also a huge fan of Ana Sortun’s cookbook “Spice.” It’s not for the faint of heart, but it is amazingly delicious.

  • a platter of figs & sunday suppers at lucques are two amazingly inspirational cookbooks!! love the new column idea and can’t wait to add to my cookbook collection.

  • Bill Granger is a favourite down under and also has a great TV series which I love. We are reviewing a couple of cookbooks in our mag this season, one from a NZ chef – Sean Armstrong and one from an Australian blogger – Jules Clancy of thestonesoup. Will let you know more about those.