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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.

An American's Impressions of Norway

Yay, a post that isn't a cookbook review! As much as I love reviewing cookbooks, that wasn't the primary intent of this blog. I've been meaning to write about my vacation to Norway last summer for 7 months now, but I got caught up in...stuff. Fourth year of med school is really busy, okay?

Last June, my fiance and I spent 10 days backpacking through western Norway. Why Norway? I saw a picture on my attending's desk of a beautiful fjord he visited, and I knew I had to be there. The other incentive was that flights to Norway are surprisingly cheap. We flew via British Airways for $400 round-trip at the beginning of peak season, and prices are even lower if you fly on a budget airline or during the off-season.

Oooohh ahhh so beautiful

Cookbook Review: Foodimentary by John-Bryan Hopkins

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

With bright, colorful illustrations and a dedication to celebrating food holidays, one for every day of the year, this is a fun book but not really an essential one. This is coming from a person who never saw the point in food holidays to begin with, so perhaps I am just biased. In the intro, John-Bryan Hopkins describes how he came to be the food holiday guru, which apparently started with a desire to launch a food blog with a punny name and no initial idea of what to write about. He eventually realized that food holidays, such as National Donut Day, were always trending on Twitter, and thus an idea to blog about self-created food holidays was born. He respected some food holidays that were already around, replaced some of the less popular ones with more exciting food holidays of his own, and made up the rest to fill in the remaining days of the year. While I had never heard of Foodimentary before, he apparently has a loyal Twitter following and has been written up in many magazines, proof that anyone can carve a niche for themselves with a little ingenuity and media savvy.

Cookbook Review: Something Old, Something New by Tamar Adler

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

If you've ever been fascinated by the wobbly aspics and funny gherkin hors d'oeuvres of the "old days", this book was written for you. Adler aims to bring these forgotten slices of history back into the culinary forefront, with recipes that adapt them to more modern tastes. It's a noble goal, and it is always interesting to see what was considered trendy in the food world decades ago. 

The book is laid out in an interesting manner, more resembling a long conversation rather than a cookbook. Adler introduces each classic dish by first telling a story about its historical context. This can go on for longer than necessary before she eventually drops off a recipe, describes the recipe in detail, then moves on to the next sometimes-unrelated dish. 

Cookbook Review: My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

I know, I know. Another review of a David Lebovitz cookbook. I really wanted to write about this book before I got lost in a bunch of other new cookbooks, so here I am. This book happened to catch my eye at the public library, and as a fellow lover of Paris, I knew I had to cook from it.

I've waxed rhapsodic about Lebovitz's writing before, but it's especially prominent in this book. If you like charming stories about Paris, interspersed with seemingly random recipes, this is your book. If you have a short attention span like me, you will probably find yourself skipping through some of the text to get to the recipes within, which cover some French classics with a twist and a surprising amount of Middle Eastern recipes. Some are basic (like hummus), some (like the desserts) can be pretty involved. Besides the text, my other major complaint is probably with the recipe selection, which I wished had been more diverse. I like to bookmark the recipes I want to make on my first pass through a cookbook, and there honestly weren't as many as I expected to bookmark in this one.

Cookbook Review: The Perfect Scoop, Revised and Updated by David Lebovitz

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

I love David Lebovitz. He's a rarity, someone who is as talented of a writer as he is a pastry chef, and his books are a joy to read. His passion for food just leaps off the page. So when I got approved for an ARC for his revised and updated version of the Perfect Scoop, I was over the moon. Especially since this book is currently on my wedding registry, and it was a stroke of luck that I should get a preview.

I've heard the original edition of The Perfect Scoop referred to as the bible for ice cream. I've never actually read it myself, as I've never taken the leap and bought my own ice cream maker, but as both a shiny new ice cream maker and this book are on my wedding registry, I'm now counting the minutes. Without the chance to test a recipe yet, I can't vouch for the quality of the recipes myself, but I have heard from every corner of the food blogiverse that his recipes are top-notch. The selection alone in this book is staggering, and I doubt you would need another ice cream book after buying this one.

Cookbook Review: The Pesto Cookbook by OIwen Woodier

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

People who know me know that I love a good pesto. It's my favorite sauce for pizza. It's my go-to quick meal (Costco frozen tortellini tossed in pesto and Parmesan). Whenever I see pesto on a restaurant menu, I have to order whatever dish it graces. But all this time, my view of pesto has been limited to Pesto Genovese, which is the classic pesto made from basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, and olive oil. Delicious, but this beautiful cookbook aims to broaden your horizons of what a pesto is. A pesto is essentially any kind of herb paste, with or without nuts, with or without oil. Who knew that gremolata was a pesto? Or romesco? Harissa, or even chimichurri?

It all makes sense now. Pesto is essentially a way to mix, concentrate, preserve, and add herbs to any dish in a way that packs a lot of flavor in a little package. Woodier teaches you that pestos can be versatile and convenient. They can transform a filet of fish or a handful of steamed vegetables into a gourmet meal. It's an exciting concept that makes this book a must if you have a robust herb garden. When you have too many herbs and not enough inspiration, this is the book to turn too.

Cookbook Review: Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu

When looking up essential cookbooks to buy, I consulted a lot of online lists, curated by acclaimed chefs and food writers, and more than once, this cookbook popped up. I had never heard of Leela Punyaratabandhu before, but I do love Thai food, so I was sold.

First of all, there's no ignoring it--this book is gorgeous. Even from just the cover, with that glorious salmon in red curry sauce, you know you're going to be in for an experience that is as pleasurable for the eyes as it is for the taste buds. The food photography is truly stunning, and about half of the recipes come with an accompanying full-page photo.