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Cookbook Review: The Family Table Slow Cooker by Dominique DeVito


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While I do love my slow cooker and believe in its magic, I have to admit that I'm not always the best at using it. So I was understandably excited to get this ARC and make better use of this contraption that is otherwise gathering dust in my closet. While this may not be the book to change that completely, I did find a number of interesting and delicious-looking recipes within its pages that have me ready to dig it out of storage.

That's mostly because this book is full of recipes! Really, there's a terrific amount. For the most part, they are targeted towards families as the title would imply, as they are unfussy, straightforward, and sure to please a number of palates. There's not many exotic, gourmet ingredients here or complicated restaurant-style dishes. Just honest, commonly found grocery staples put to good use in recipes like Stuffed Mushrooms, Spicy Shrimp Scampi, and Super-Simple Split Pea Soup. There are also some more international offerings, like Indonesian Chicken Curry and Tandoori Chicken, but for the most part, the recipes lean American. For me, this was a disappointment, as my palate is more diverse and adventurous than most of the recipes in here. For families and new cooks, this is ideal, and I can see why this was the direction DeVito took.


Cookbook Review: The Natural Baker by Henrietta Inman


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As an amateur baker and wannabe pastry chef, I couldn't help but be won over by the beautiful and inspired baked goods in this book. Henrietta Inman has clearly put a lot of thought into her concept--that she can make baked goods with all-natural ingredients taste as good, or even better, than their traditional baking counterparts.

Ingredients like coconut oil, coconut sugar, spelt flour, and maple syrup abound. What was previously thought to be reserved for people with food allergies is now celebrated here. Inman stresses the importance of their nuttiness and deep rich flavor in ways that make me, a white flour user, very curious.


Book Review: Yankee's New England Adventures by Editors of Yankee Magazine


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Is this my first non-cookbook review? I guess so...

Being a proud New Englander, I couldn't resist requesting an ARC of this travel guide. It's full of  interesting and off-the-beaten-path recommendations for things to do and places to see in this beautiful region I call home. Each recommendation comes with a little blurb about what makes it special, as well as helpful info like phone numbers and websites. They range from things like local historical sites to art museums to classic lobster shacks.

It's also packed with balmy, gorgeous pictures of New England in the summertime and fall--really, New England at its best. Notice how no one ever posts pictures of New England in winter slush mode, which is the other half of the year.


Cookbook Review: SOUL by Todd Richards


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Soul food--oh, where do I begin? So homey, unpretentious, flavorful, and eclectic. I've loved it ever since I was a kid growing up in the South. Todd Richards evidently does to, as he establishes from the first few pages how deeply soul food runs through his veins. An award-winning, James Beard-nominated chef from Atlanta, he brings his passion for this often overlooked cuisine to the table with a dense cookbook of recipes that elevate it to an art form.

Seriously. Forget your standard fried chicken, collard greens, and biscuits. Try Collard Green Ramen, Candied Bacon with Turnip Hash; and Curried Cauliflower, Crab, and Sweet Potato Gratin. The recipes are fun and ridiculously creative. It's clear Richards has some serious chef chops and isn't about to slow down for the reader. He's cooking like your grandmother would cook if she trained at Le Cordon Bleu. In the process, he challenges everything you thought you knew about soul food.


Cookbook Review: Love in a Tuscan Kitchen by Sheryl Ness


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I remember the first time I saw the rolling hills of Tuscany on a bus to San Gimignano. Sun, olive groves, and perfect fields as far as the eye could see. I fell in love immediately. 8 years later, I'm about to leave for my honeymoon in Tuscany in a couple of months, and I came across this book on Netgalley, which is like every one of my fantasies come to life.

Sheryl Ness captures what it's like to fall in love with this beautiful land, but with the added twist of also falling in love with an Italian chef in the process. She has a love story fit for a Hollywood movie. She set aside her conventional life in the US for a sabbatical in Tuscany, and while asking a small town chef for his hot chocolate cake recipe, she made a connection that would turn into a passionate romance and a happy marriage. It's the stuff of dreams, but it's also her real life. What a lucky lady!


Cookbook Review: T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks by Sharon Hudgins



Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I didn't know what to make of this cookbook when I first found it on NetGalley. The title is bizarre alone, and then the premise of two Texans cooking in Siberia? I've certainly never read anything like this before.

What I came to realize was that this was a deeply personal account of a couple of food lovers who find themselves on the adventure of a lifetime in Siberia. Not only do they make do with what they can scrounge up in that cold, barren land--they thrive, make friends, and find a way to incorporate their new surroundings into their collective palates.

Sharon and Tom Hudgins are two extraordinary people who seem to have taken their love of international cuisine all over the world with them. It's inspiring to read about their day-to-day lives in Siberia and how they adapted to what was evidently a big culture shock. The stories are entertaining, interesting, funny, and unexpected. They capture the essence of Siberian culture in a way that I've never seen documented before.


Cookbook Review: New Favorites for New Cooks by Carolyn Federman



Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I've been so excited to write my review of this cookbook in advance of its publication this week. It is everything I would have wanted in a cookbook as a kid. It's fun, eye-catching, delicious, and gourmet. It demystifies cooking for newbies but doesn't talk down to them. And for someone who is relatively new to cooking (as in I didn't learn how to cook until the end of college), there were quite a few recipes in here that I bookmarked to make myself, even though I'm not a kid!

It's clear from even a cursory glimpse of this book that Carolyn Federman knows how to select, adapt, and write recipes for kids. There's sweet potato fries and chocolate lava cakes. But there's also things a lot of kids might not have tried before, like hummus and pesto. The pesto, by the way, is presented in a slightly more grown-up grilled cheese, with mozzarella and actual chiffonade of basil. Yum! Not only are the recipes things that kids would actually eat, but they're also relatively nutritious too. They're definitely not the gut-buster, grease bombs that kid's meals usually are.

Cookbook Review: Love Welcome Serve by Amy Nelson Hannon



Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Little known secret--I'm from the South! And even though I may have spent my formative years in New England, I sometimes like to whip out the southern card whenever I'm feeling proud of my roots. Amy Hannon's beautiful cookbook made me come out hootin' and hollerin' for my home state. She set out to create a cookbook that not only celebrates southern recipes, but also captures the essence of the south--hospitality, warmth, and community. As a preacher's wife, she knows a good deal about all three, and it is evident in the recipes and stories she shares.

The recipes range from appetizers and mains designed to please a crowd to comforting casseroles to decadent desserts. There are southern classics, like Hannon's signature shrimp and grits to chicken and dumplings, made the real southern way, with the kind of dumplings rolled out like thick pasta. This was my personal favorite dish growing up so it was especially exciting to see a recipe for this. She also puts her unique spin on classic dishes such as iceberg salad, which she dresses with a homemade herbed ranch and garnishes with marinated tomatoes for added flavor. She's also inspired by memorable restaurant dishes, which she whips out replicas of at home, something I found very relatable.

Cookbook Review: Veggie Burger Atelier by Nina Olsson



Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I once lived with a roommate whose diet consisted almost entirely of veggie burgers (if she happens to be reading this: Hi, Rachel!). Being firmly in the pro-meat camp, I thought this was crazy. However, I now think she was onto something. I've made my own veggie burgers from scratch, and they are delicious (also very low in fat). I could easily eat them every day.

I would never have thought of writing an entire cookbook on veggie burgers, but now that I've read Veggie Burger Atelier, I'm fully convinced of its necessity. Never mind the silly name and its diminutive size. It is packed with recipes. There are recipes for everything, from the patty itself, to the buns, condiments, and even sides. There are 6-7 different types of burger per chapter, with each chapter representing flavors from a different region of the world. Before every recipe, there is a little blurb from Olsson herself that conjures up some of the flavors and textures that can be expected from each recipe. Olsson quickly establishes herself as not only a veggie burger guru, but also someone with global and far-reaching tastes.

Cookbook Review: The Science of Cooking by Dr. Stuart Farrimond



Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that is so astounding in its thoroughness and sheer dedication to its premise that I struggle to begin to review it. How does one write a short blurb and assign a star rating to something that was clearly a monumental project for years? It doesn't seem fair. I will say that Dr. Farrimond has produced a landmark cookbook that challenges the reader to rethink everything they thought they knew about food. He lends his scientific background to a delicious subject with teaching tidbits behind every page.

The book itself is broken down into sections that address common myths and questions about various topics in food and cooking. What is the difference between organic and free-range chicken? What does dry-ageing really do to a steak? What is the much-discussed Maillard reaction and why is it so important? Answers to these questions and more are explored right down to the molecular activity that shapes our world. Dr. Farrimond breaks everything down in laymen's terms while not compromising on sharing the real nitty-gritty science behind everything.

Cookbook Review: Amish Cooking Class Cookbook by Wanda Brunstetter



Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

If you've ever had Amish food before, you know they make simple, honest fare that is as comforting as it is delicious. It's hard to learn how to make that food without growing up in that kind of household, with a mother at the stove every day and a home-cooked family dinner every night. It's therefore easy to see why the idea of an Amish cooking class is so appealing.

The sample I received covered Drinks, Breads, Breakfast, Cakes and Brownies, Candies, Bars and Cookies, Pies, Puddings, and various other sweets (honestly, all the best parts of a meal as far as I'm concerned!). I was thrilled to see a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread, a sweet cinnamony bread with a sourdough starter that is passed down from one Amish wife to another. You'll also find recipes for such Amish classics as fry pies, shoofly pie, baked oatmeal, and hootenanny bread. In addition, there are just some good ol' fashioned down-home recipes in here as well, such as divinity, chocolate chip cookies, sausage gravy, and bread custard pudding. Delicious.

Cookbook Review: A Literary Tea Party by Alison Walsh


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As a lover of children's literature, tea parties, and food, I knew from the description alone that I would love this book. A book with recipes reimagined from references in classic novels? Like Alison Walsh, I was that kid who wished she could taste some Turkish delight after reading about it in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I too longed for sip of Anne Shirley's raspberry cordial. It's one of those books that you makes you think, "Why didn't I think of writing this?" Brilliant concept from the start.

Then when you read Alison Walsh's heartfelt intro, you realize just how dedicated she is to making this book a success. She admits that as a blogger first, cook second, she had to spend a lot of time researching and tinkering with recipes to get them to work. As anyone who has worked with candy can attest, it is a labor of love, and I felt grateful to Walsh for sharing the fruits of her labors with us.

Cookbook Review: The Art of Making Gelato by Morgan Morano


Note: I received a digital advance reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Some of my fondest memories I have of my family's trip to Italy as a teenager revolved around the sumptuous gelato I ate there. Even the most average gelateria in Italy seemed to serve something far beyond what American gelato stores were producing. Pistachio was my flavor of choice, and I must've had pistachio gelato at least 6 times during that one trip.

Morgan Morano knows that feeling well, which is why she opened Morano Gelato, in Hanover, NH. In her introduction, she tells her story of how she came to be a gelato master and why she is dedicated to upholding the authenticity of Italian gelato in America. In a weird twist of fate, I happened to have sampled her gelato only a few months ago when I went on an interview at Dartmouth and remember thinking that this was probably the most authentic gelato I've had in the US. Suffice to say, it was a nice surprise when I opened this ARC and heard about Morano Gelato again.