Books For The Cook

December 10, 2008|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,

So many cookbooks to give; so little money to spend. This holiday season, we want the cookbooks we give to offer more - more tips, more variety, more recipes. Here are five new books that deliver good bang for the buck, and that we think the cooks on your list will love. See recipes on page 4.

The Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook

by Barbara Fairchild

Wiley / 2008 / $34.95

Perfect for: The very busy cook who likes to stay on trend

Why we like it: There are more than 1,000 recipes here, and they're short and tasty. Produce guides encourage no-fuss seasonal eating. And a subscription to Bon Appetit magazine comes with the book.

FOR THE RECORD - The volume number of this year's Best of the Best cookbook from Food & Wine was incorrect in an article in Wednesday's You & Taste section. This year's version is Volume 11.

The Art & Soul of Baking

by Sur La Table and Cindy Mushet

Andrews McMeel Publishing / 2008 / $40

Perfect for: The passionate baker

Why we like it: Veteran pastry chef Cindy Mushet serves up a "pro" tip with almost every creation. The precision of her 275 recipes, with weights as well as measures, leads to good results. There's lots of guidance for beginners as well as veteran bakers, and beautiful photography.

Best of the Best, Vol. 1

by the editors of Food & Wine

Food & Wine Books / 2008 / $29.95

Perfect for: The cookbook addict who wants 25 great new cookbooks - but has space for only one

Why we like it: This annual compilation of recipes from the year's best cookbooks offers a stellar roundup for 2008, from authentic Asian recipes to the latest from Alice Waters. Many of the authors share a bonus recipe not in their original cookbooks.

1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes

by Carol Fenster

Wiley / 2008 / $35

Perfect for: Anyone who can't tolerate gluten, but loves to eat well

Why we like it: The sheer variety of recipes here means that a gluten-free diet needn't feel restrictive. Carol Fenster adds lots of tips, menus and an ingredients guide. And her popovers manage to rise as high and taste as good as the ones we've made with regular flour.

A Day at elBulli

by Ferran Adria

Phaidon / 2008 / $49.95

Perfect for: The armchair-traveling fan of molecular gastronomy

Why we like it: We're not big on complicated chef books, but this one makes you feel as if you've booked a table at the famous restaurant in Spain - and had a behind-the-scenes schooling in how pulp extraction, freeze-drying and using liquid nitrogen can create fine food.

basic popovers (gluten-free)

(makes 6 popovers)

shortening, for greasing the pan

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup 1 percent milk, at room temperature

1/3 cup potato starch

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Carol's Sorghum Blend (see recipe)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

Place a rack in the lower-middle position of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil each cup of a standard 6-cup popover pan with shortening.

In a blender, thoroughly blend all the other ingredients. The batter will be almost as thin as crepe batter, but not as thick as pancake batter. Place the pan in the hot oven 5 minutes to heat it. Wearing oven mitts, carefully remove the hot pan from the oven, divide the batter among the cups, and return the pan to the oven.

Bake 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the sides of the popovers become rigid. (Do not open the oven door during this time.)

Quickly and carefully remove the pan from the oven. Pierce each popover along the rigid side with a toothpick to release the steam; return the pan to the oven to bake another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove the popovers from the pan and serve immediately.

Adapted from "1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes"

Per popover:: 139 calories, 5 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 113 milligrams cholesterol, 247 milligrams sodium

carol's sorghum blend

(makes 4 cups)

1 1/2 cups sorghum flour

1 1/2 cups potato starch or cornstarch

1 cup tapioca flour

Whisk the ingredients together until well blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place. You may refrigerate or freeze the blend, but bring to room temperature before using. You may double or triple the recipe.

Per cup: : 460 calories, 6 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 112 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 0 milligrams sodium

chocolate velvet poundcake

(makes 1 loaf or 18 mini cakes)

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65 to 68 degrees)

1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) sugar

1 teaspoon water, at room temperature

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia d'Oro

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat an 8 1/2 -by-4 1/2 -inch loaf pan with melted butter, oil or high-heat canola-oil spray, and fit with parchment paper to extend up both long sides to the top of the pan.

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