2010 Redux: Books
Making a list of picks for the top 5 books on food published in 2010 forced us to consider criteria for adding a book to our shelves. With apps for our smart phones in the addition to blogs and Internet sites devoted to cooking, it's easy to conclude we don't need any more books on cooking or food. Not so. After taking a look at the genre, including fiction and memoirs, books on technique and cookbooks, our picks are the books that transport us; they have a story, inspire imagination, engage thinking, entertain, and provide us with information.
52 Loaves by William Alexander In 52 Loaves, the reader joins William Alexander on his quest to bake the perfect loaf of bread. This particular loaf stems from a memory of the light, airy peasant loaves of France, with a "crisp, but chewy crust". Alexander starts the year (a loaf a week for 52 weeks) with determination and a dry wit which sustain him on his journey. In search of perfection, Alexander researches the history of civilization through bread, grows and harvests his own wheat, confers with artisan bakers, smuggles starter through European customs, and lives among the monks at a French abbey as he helps reestablish their centuries old baking traditions. Illuminating information for the novice or practiced baker, and a delightful read.
Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood When trying to cook and eat healthy foods, we are daunted and often disappointed with the results of baking with whole grains. In Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce, former pastry chef at Spago and Campanile, dispels the mystery behind whole grain ingredients and delivers recipes that work in the kitchen and on our palette. Chapters are organized by grain (amaranth, buckwheat, kasha) offering a helpful exploration of the grain and related recipes. The cookbook contains all the right ingredients: understandable explanations of whole grains that scare off the uninitiated, their baking qualities, beautiful photographs, well researched and well written recipes that result in baked goods with good texture and best of all, great flavor.
The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo and Peter Meehan The two Frank's, Falcinelli and Castronovo have a well earned and well established following for the New York City restaurants Frankies Spuntino 457, Prime Meats and Frankie's 17. The cover of their cookbook is rendered in a style that looks like a reissued classic book of literature with its dark blue color and glittering gold typeface. Inside, find a primer on how to prepare food the Frankie's way with a well- stocked pantry, planning time for preparation, understanding of technique and secret tips. There are amusing illustrations and timelines that give a delightful glimpse into the minds of these chefs. Most of the recipes are time consuming, the kind of recipes that require planning then invite you to get lost in the world of food and cooking for hours. For the serious cook looking for an authentic experience cooking Italian.
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