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cookbook reviews: scones and more

by Grace Bonney

Whether you like sweet scones like the ones Chris Chun offered up for us a few weeks ago or the savory ones from this week, there’s nothing like having something great to go with them. Amy Azzarito suggests fried chicken with this week’s savory scones and Damon Lee Fowler’s Fried Chicken: The World’s Best Recipes (Broadway Books) is a great resource if you’re looking to head in that direction. But, if you don’t have $210 to buy that out-of-print first edition (Glad I got my copy at cover price 11 years ago!), have a look at this week’s books which can help you make something to go on your scones, or with them.


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

jam it, pickle it, cure it (and other cooking projects) by Karen Solomon (Ten Speed Press). This is a great beginner’s book for making little snacky things. I say beginner’s because it has lots of popular recipes, for example ketchup, marshmallows, strawberry jam, mayonnaise, potato chips, gravlax, some of it to make from scratch, some of it assembling ready made ingredients. It is a great book for someone who doesn’t already have a lot of books to draw from, who wants all the recipes for every day cupboard staples in one book, or who hasn’t ventured into this type of food preparation. The detailed notes at the back of the book on how to avoid botulism are great, and the book layout, the styling by Karen Shinto, and the beautiful photography by Jennifer Martiné are all impeccable.

Good Old-Fashioned Jams, Preserves and Chutneys by Sara Paston-Williams (published by The National Trust, an imprint of Anova Books). The name says it all. It ended my search for a great chutney book. In fact, I started right on the pumpkin and raisin chutney, and this season will be making pear, orange, and ginger chutney, apple, onion, and sage chutney, and my favorite red onion marmalade. This is a simple book with very few but great photos. The recipes remind you of something you’d find in an old journal. I love it because I love England in the autumn, and I love the romantic idea of being able to visit the properties of the National Trust and buy produce from farmers’ markets to make into preserves, jams, chutneys, relishes, and later eat with great British cheeses and meats. If you’ve never had a book with a solid collection of these types of recipes, or you’d like to supplement what you have, this is perfect. The directions on preserving aren’t too terribly detailed though, but are adequate. Once my pumpkin chutney is mature in one month, if you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know you need to get some supplemental instruction on preserving…

Cook in Boots by Ravinder Bhogal (Harper Collins) If last week’s books were for the men, this is definitely for the ladies. UK-based fashion and beauty journalist Ravinder Bhogal has put together a fantastic collection of Indian/South Asian and some European inspired recipes with the help of Lori de Mori, reminiscent of Sophie Dahl’s book in many ways. Jason Lowe’s photography is stunning (we’ve seen his and Lori’s amazing work in Tuscany) and the book presents more of a magazine layout than your typical cookbook, with a few close-ups of the author’s shoes! Chapters are divided into themes like “Working it 9 -5”, “TV, Remote Control and A Meal for One”, Hard-Up Food”, “Skinny Food”, “Social Grazing” and more. I’ll leave it to you to discover what each of those entails. The recipes are good, but nothing too daring and far out (spicy prawn big dippers with chilli, lime and onion salt; onion and cumin hash browns with fried eggs; sweet potato salad with lime, coriander, and sweet chilli dressing). I love a good looking book, and this has a good feel, look, and has good food.

Supper for a Song by Tamasin-Day Lewis (Quadrille Books UK) is another comfort food book that I think lends itself well to finding the perfect accompaniment to savory scones. The theory behind the book is not cheap food or budget food, it’s how to use up the ‘unused’ parts of food you have to enhance your favorite dishes– How to cook a chicken…again and again, Use your Loaf, Something-out-of-nothing suppers, are just a few of the chapter names which help you minimize waste in the kitchen. But I don’t think of it as a leftovers book, although this is one of the concepts. I think of it as a way to think outside of the box– a way to use up those tidbits here and there that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered turning into a new dish! urn your left over chickpeas into chick pea and smoked paprika soup. Left over mashed potatoes? Make potato farls (potato bread), it only takes a small mound! And then of course there are just good recipes which don’t draw on tidbits, like the Carrot Cake with Lime and MAscarpone icing. Tamasin Day Lewis is a great cookbook author whose books, especially on tarts– are must haves for the shelf. If you have to limit yourself to just a few easy comfort food books, this is one to consider. (Available with Rizzoli in the US from March 2010).

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  • Ahhh! Just when I decide to downsize the out-of-control cookbook collection, publishers offer all of these beauties. I’m going to lose the book-purging battle, I can just tell!

  • Thank you for the wonderful cookbook collection! I am totally addicted to cookbooks. I love the looks of all of these, and will be getting most if not all of them. Keep up the good work, and thank you.

  • i love jam it, pickle it, cure it! it is such a cute book and, in fact, i made the peanut butter cups from there two nights ago.

  • Thanks for the reviews. I was just spying Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It yesterday in our local bookshop, and was unsuccessful in convincing my fella I need to know how to cure bacon. I still believe I need this book…

  • Thanks for reviewing Jam It… I spotted this book yesterday in our local bookshop and was unsuccessful in convincing my fella I need to have a recipe for curing bacon. I haven’t given up hope though.