Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Three Savory Cookbooks

Canal House Cooks every day, by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

A late arrival in 2012, Canal House Cooks every daycollects many pieces from the annual series of three seasonal books that appear from Canal House, “home cooking by home cooks for home cooks.” I have the good fortune to be surrounded by cooks and great food. I don’t cook, but this book makes me want to try. I think I’ll hard-boil an egg to start (see page 70).  If you decide to do this, I am almost sure you’ll be lured further into this book, from variations on said egg to the delights awaiting you with summer peaches and berries, or wintery lasagna Bolognese.

Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton are the creators of the Canal House food website and a series of seasonal cookbooks for the home cook. They both worked at Saveur magazine in various capacities and do everything at Canal House — cooking, writing, photography and design. The book is arranged seasonally from spring through winter — these are east coast winters with food kept frozen in the snow.

The Kimchi Cookbook, by Lauryn Chun

Two books on preserving have caught our attention around the house. Lauryn Chun’s The Kimchi Cookbook from 10 Speed Press presents 60 traditional and modern ways to make and eat kimchi. Chun, the founder of Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi, offers a wide range of pickling techniques, both in terms of intensity of flavor and the amount of time needed for different kimchis — ranging from long fermented winter cabbages to ready-to-eat kimchi. The cooking with kimchi section pairs all manner of items with the pickle — noodles, dumplings, squash, oysters, chicken, skirtsteak all make appearances. Flounder with brown butter, capers and kimchi — I’m ready.

salt sugar smoke, by Diana Henry

Diana Henry’s new book is titled salt sugar smoke. The lower case letters and simple words of the title convey something of this book’s values (and value). If cooking evolves over time, I think that our era is all about a move toward the simple, the primal, the direct. Now that many of us are shopping at the farmers markets and growing food in our own gardens — and moving away from (heaven help us) the frozen/canned food of a few generations past — the issue of preserving arises fairly quickly. To get seasonal flavor off season, to deal with too much of any produce at hand, to concentrate flavors—all are good reasons to learn preserving, and Henry’s book is an excellent guide.
I’m back. I went to look at something in salt sugar smoke and an hour has passed — so many delicious things! From jams and quince paste, black currant vinegar, spiced feta in olive oil, hot smoked mackerel, rhubarb schnapps! I cannot say more.

Stan Sobolewski

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