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Archive for Books

BOOK: Everything Tastes Better With Bacon

Every bacon lover needs a copy of
Everything Tastes Better With Bacon.


When we first heard about this book, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it: “70 Fabulous Recipes For Every Meal Of The Day,” promises the cover of the bacon cookbook, “Everything Tastes Better With Bacon.”

Any bacon lover would gladly eat every recipe in the book—and some of us might try to eat the gorgeous photographs.

Author Sara Perry focuses half the book on finer variations of the tried-and-true: bacon and lentil soup, corn and clam chowder with bacon, the BLT, green beans with pepper bacon and lemon zest, mashed potatoes with bacon, spinach and Fontina cheese (unless you’d prefer the warm potato salad with bacon and arugula). Spinach salad, a popular bed for bacon, gets updated with a curry vinaigrette.

Ms. Perry reminds us that bacon can be part of almost any dish. Breakfast biscuits are studded with bacon, figs with goat cheese are enhanced with bacon, a risotto is made with pepper bacon and marsala, polenta is topped with a bacon, corn and tomato ragout.

Surprises include a maple sundae with hazelnut-bacon candy crunch and bloody marys with beet-and-bacon bites instead of traditional munchies. How about an apple pie with a bacon crust? We can’t wait until the temperature drops a dozen degrees so we can light up the oven and bake one.

The book starts with a bacon primer: bacon types, storage, cooking tips. Any bacon lover would go hog-wild for this little cookbook. Even if you’ve made many a bacon quiche or frittata, Ms. Perry reminds you that the joy of bacon can be yours in any meal.

  • Buy the book. For $12.89 on Amazon, it makes a great gift (add some artisan bacon for even more thanks).
  • Check out bacon and the other cuts of pork in our Pork Cuts Glossary.
  • Win a bacon buffet dinner prepared by Sara Perry? We can only dream. Instead, we’ll start with the first chapter of recipes and sally forth—a much more exciting prospect than working our way through Mastering The Art Of French Cooking.

  • Comments

    BOOK: The Competent Cook

    The Competent Cook: Essential Tools, Techniques, and Recipes for the Modern At-Home Cook by culinary instructor Lauren Braun Costello, is a delight.

    Even experienced home cooks are not necessarily well-trained cooks. Many people have been doing it “the hard way” since they first picked up the wrong knife—and held it incorrectly.

    Are you an experienced cook? Can you articulate the difference between baked chicken and roast chicken? Do you know why you should trade in that American-style rolling pin (with handles) for a French style (no handles)?

    There are many “ahas” that will enlighten those who enjoy cooking. It’s easy to end up with better knife skills after reading the book.

    Are you a fledgling cook? This book is as good as taking cooking classes—and better than some of the classes we’ve taken, because there’s more detail.


    We are now an even more competent cook!
    Photo courtesy

    We only wish that the 250-page book contained more instruction from Ms. Braun Costello and fewer recipes: The “teaching” ends on page 95. While we understand the desire to provide the basic recipes (from Caesar salad to apple pie) that enable one to practice the techniques, there are more than enough recipe books on the shelf and fewer books about technique. The recipe section could have been improved with mini-course prefaces; for example, how to work with pastry dough (without proper instruction, most people overwork it, toughening the dough).

    Some recipes do contain valuable tips. For example: When making a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato, insert the tomato slice between two cheese slices. This both helps to keep the bread from taking in moisture from the tomato, and helps the cheese melt more evenly since the slices are closer to the heat source.

    We never thought of that! But now, thanks to Ms. Braun Costello, we’ll be making a better grilled cheese sandwich.

    Buy a copy for your favorite graduate or anyone would enjoy learning some new tricks.


    BOOK: What To Eat: A Real World Guide To Making Smart Choices

    What To Eat is informative and fun reading.


    The book Eat This, Not That (now available in a new 2010 edition) is a very helpful guide to making healthier and lower-calorie food choices—and losing weight in the process. The author is David Zinczenko, editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine.

    Now, the experts on healthy eating from Cooking Light magazine have published an equally important guide, What To Eat: A Real World Guide To Making Smart Choices.

    While Eat This, Not That focused on restaurant choices, What To Eat is the “complete grocery shopping companion.” But it’s much more than a guide to consult while walking down the aisles of the supermarket. It’s an enjoyable education about the foods we eat every day.

    Yes, it points out the healthiest choices and warns you against the others. In the process, you learn interesting facts about your favorite foods. Think of it as “fun food facts”—a delightful read as well as an instructive one.

    Sure, you’ll learn where to find the hidden sugar and salt and how to avoid them and which produce has the most pesticides (consider buying the organic versions).

    But if you’re buying nuts—for snacking or for recipes—did you know that each of the choices provides a different benefit? Walnuts have the highest level of omega-3s, pecans have the most antioxidants, peanuts have the most protein and cashews and almonds have 4-5 times the amount of vitamin E as other nuts.

    With 1,000 tips enlivened by more than 650 color photos and illustrations, this is a peach of a book for anyone who wants to learn more about food—from kids to parents to people who want to eat better and people who need to eat better.

    Buy several copies—they make great gifts. You can find Cooking Light What To Eat at bookstores and at Amazon.


    FATHER’S DAY: A Bottle (Or Wedge) & A Book

    Speaking of cheese (as we did in our prior post), if Dad is a cheese lover, there’s a book about “life on the wedge” written by a cheesemonger—someone who pursued his passion to work in cheese.

    Dad might enjoy it along with a pound of something special, or a gift certificate to the local cheese store.

    If Dad prefers Scotch, he most assuredly would like a copy of Michael Jackson’s Complete Guide To Single Malt Scotch…perhaps with a bottle of his favorite Single Malt.

    Bourbon aficionados will want a copy of The Kentucky Bourbon Cookbook, with tempting ideas for appetizers, soups, salads, side dishes and main courses in addition to the more frequently found cocktail and dessert recipes.

    See our Father’s Day book ideas for more choices.


    Cheesemonger: A Life On The Wedge will appeal
    to cheese-loving dads.


    BOOK: Vampire Cooking

    You can find films and books titled “Love At First Bite.” This version is “The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook” with “More Than 300 Suckulent Recipes.”

    Essentially, this is a basic cookbook that mines the current vampire craze by titling recipes with vampire themes: Embrace The Darkness Frittata, Frightful Filet Mignon Caesar Salad, Suffering Suck-O-Tash, and so forth.

    There are also “Tasty Tidbits” about vampires, such as:

    Curiously, some legends make mention that a stake is only to be hammered into the vampire’s chest in one blow, for if it’s struck twice, the revenant can reanimate and return to its vampiric state. So remember that, when you’re faced with killing a vampire.

    A revenant, by the way, is a person who returns after a lengthy absence, or one who returns as a spirit after death—a ghost, for example. (Are the undead “spirits?”)


    A cookbook for those obsessed with all
    things vampire.

    While this is not a cookbook for experienced cooks, it could be an entry level volume for young fans of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, True Blood, Twilight, The Vampire Chronicles, The Vampire Diaries and other fangsome literature and films.

    If you’d like to teach someone to cook, or encourage him or her prepare feasts for their friends, a gift of “Love At First Bite” could be in order.

    The reason other people might be interested is the list of some 100 cocktails at the end of the book that will keep you going for many Halloweens to come: Black Death, Devil’s Blood, Howl At The Moon and Satan’s Whiskers, to name a few.

    You can buy it on Amazon for less than $10.00.


    COOKBOOK & RECIPES: Latin Cuisine

    In her second cookbook, Daisy: Morning Noon and Night:Bringing Your Family Together With Everyday Latin Dishes, chef and television personality Daisy Martinez’s second cookbook offers flavorful Latin recipes that are easy to understand and execute.

    Daisy also helps the novice Latin cook by explaining the ingredients used in each recipe—their origins, what you can substitute and where you can find them.

    Daisy reminisces about traveling around the world with her family and discovering new foods, as well as finding new spins on dishes she’s made for years—the “everyday” recipes that are in this book. To her, eating should be and is a great adventure as well as an education.

    We’ve included two popular recipes that we enjoyed mucho. With great flavors and easy cooking instructions, this is a cookbook that’s sure to please.

  • Read the full review.
  • Make Daisy’s arroz con pollo.
  • Make Daisy’s vegetarian stuffed peppers.

    Arroz con pollo is a great party
    dish. Photo courtesy Simon and Schuster.


    GOURMET GIVEAWAY #1: Picaboo Personal Recipe Book


    Create your own family cookbook (or any
    type of album) with a customized Picaboo
    book. Photo courtesy Picaboo.


    Have you always wanted to create your own recipe book?

    Do you want to create a memorable volume of recipes from different generations of your family?

    Do you want to create a memorial to Grandma by publishing her recipes?

    Do you have a special group of family members and friends who would treasure copies of a professionally bound, great-looking book of recipes, photos, memoirs and anything else you’d like to add?

    Picaboo could be the answer! Picaboo is a fun and easy way to create a customized book of photos with captions, essays and more. You can create your own cookbook of family recipes, vacation journals, wedding albums, family photos for the grandparents—just about anything.

  • THE PRIZE: The winner of this week’s Gourmet Giveaway prize will receive a $50 gift certificate to use on
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Best Reads Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing.
  • 25% DISCOUNT FOR NIBBLE READERS: If you aren’t the prize winner, you can still get 25% off your own custom photo books. Just order a Classic, Classic Leather or Classic Custom book by the end of May and enter SPRING25 at checkout.
  • Learn more about Picaboo Books at
  • Comments

    GOURMET GIVEAWAY: “Spaghetti” Book By Carla Bardi

    It’s not spaghetti, but you could try to fool
    your friends! Photo by Katharine Pollak |


    We love a good joke—especially around April Fool’s Day. So when we were handed “Spaghetti” by Carla Bardi, we were wondering why someone was giving us what looked to be a spaghetti package from a supermarket shelf.

    It took us a minute to realize that it’s a spaghetti cookbook, which contains more than 130 ways to prepare a plain box of spaghetti.

    The recipes are creative and generally easy; the photos are tempting. The pasta is varied—not just spaghetti but bucatini, linguine and ziti. The gimmick is cuter-than-cute and sure to delight any home cook.

  • THE PRIZE: Two winners could cook spaghetti a different way every day for more than four months with this cookbook. While we’re a few days late for April Fool’s Day, you can still keep it in your kitchen cupboard next to actual spaghetti boxes to fool someone rooting around for pasta. Plus, it’ll be right where you need it when you’re wondering what type of pasta dish to make for dinner. Approximate Retail Value: $14.99.
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Best Reads Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, April 12th at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!

  • Comments

    APRIL FOOL’S DAY: It’s A Box Of Pasta (Or Maybe A Book)

    Reminiscent of Cosmo Kramer’s coffee table book on Seinfeld,* Carla Bardi has published a book of spaghetti recipes that looks like a box of spaghetti.

    At first glance it seems to be a spaghetti package from a supermarket shelf. If you hand it to someone, they’ll think you’re giving them a box of spaghetti.

    But look again: It’s a spaghetti cookbook with more than 130 ways to prepare a plain box of spaghetti. The recipes are divided into five separate sections, each one named for the main ingredients:

  • Fresh Herbs, Flowers and Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Eggs, Cheese and Cream
  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • The recipes are creative and generally easy; the photos are tempting. The pasta is varied—not just spaghetti but bucatini, linguine and ziti. The gimmick is cuter-than-cute.

    *If you didn’t see the episode, Kramer authors a book on coffee tables that looks like a coffee table. The “table legs” pull out of the four corners of the book, and the book can stand on its legs. He showed this as a guest on “Regis and Kelly” (who were fascinated).



    April Fool’s: It’s a book about spaghetti.

    The only problem is that reading the book—much less keeping it open as you cook the recipe—is like trying to read the newspaper when it’s folded into quarters. People who commute via the New York City subway have mastered this system (as there’s no place to unfold your paper in a packed subway car). It isn’t the optimal way to read, but it is what it is. People who want to use this cookbook will have to develop their own system.

    But, the incentive might be recipes such as spaghetti with fried meatballs in a sauce of onions and chopped tomatoes, or an exotic spaghetti with red rose and sunflower petals in a basil-wine sauce. A red ribbon place marker is bound into the spine, but perhaps the publishers should have taken a tip from Kramer and made the covers bend back into a cookbook stand.

    Still, the book sold out on Amazon. You can place an order for the new shipment, arriving soon, or head to your nearest bookstore.

  • Find our favorite pasta recipes, reviews and our Pasta Glossary (it explains a lot!).

  • Comments

    BOOK: For Prospective Culinary Students


    This quick read can tell you if you should
    seriously consider a culinary career.


    Want a career change? Can’t find a job in the recession? Love to cook?

    Many people consider careers as a chef de cuisine, pastry chef or caterer. But what’s the reality versus the dream?

    Some insights come from Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder of the French Culinary Industry, in a new book, Love What You Do: Building A Career In The Culinary Industry.

    This quick-read is as easy as sitting through a talk by Ms. Hamilton, as she discusses the costs, training and other requirements of preparing for a culinary career. (Note to Food Network enthusiasts: Don’t expect to become a highly paid celebrity chef or a TV star. You’ll be working long days at an average annual salary of $40,700 (less to start: the national average salary in the first four years of employment is $33,700).

    Ms. Cann covers the practical side: how much you need to live on while you attend school, full-time versus part-time, tuition, career paths, how to get hired and what to expect in your first year.

    It’s a very interesting read for people who love food and want a peek behind the scenes; and, as a paperback, a great gift for anyone thinking of a culinary career.


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