Friday, August 18

Want to cook? Grab a book or two

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The Modesto Bee

        Bee News Services

This is a great time to be a cook.

There are cable channels and blogs devoted to cooking, and recipes aplenty on the Internet. Nothing replaces a good cookbook, though, and publishers know it. Today’s cookbooks are better illustrated, better priced, more thorough in explaining techniques and downright more interesting because they also provide a narrative of the recipes.

One of the most gorgeous cookbooks out so far is “Malouf: New Middle Eastern Food,” by Greg and Lucy Malouf (Hardie Grant, $49.95). The Maloufs put the heady aromas, exotics spices, complex flavors and delightful textures of Middle Eastern cuisine within anyone’s reach. Recipes for spice mixes, dressings, relishes and jams are included.

Knopf – “My Beverly Hills Kitchen” (Alfred A. Knopf, $35)

In “A Month in Marrakesh,” Andy Harris shares his food journey to Morocco. The 250 recipes cover breakfast, soups and snacks, tagines, roasts and desserts. “Marrakesh” is $34.95 from Hardie Grant.
The Southern tradition of gathering around the table for good food is served up in three new cookbooks.
Restaurateur Alex Hitz gives 175 of his favorite Southern dishes a French twist in “My Beverly Hills Kitchen” (Alfred A. Knopf, $35). There’s nothing pretentious here. Hitz’s aim is comfort food with a focus on sauces, pot pies, grits, hot and cold soups, and stories and recipes from celebrities like Bill Blass and Betsy Bloomingdale.
In “Southern Living Around the Southern Table” (Oxmoor House, $29.95), Georgia native Rebecca Lang makes gratins, soufflés and pot pies. And then she offers bakes: blue crab casserole, five cheese mac, salad and dressing one-dish supper, chicken and wild rice with pecans, Swiss bread pudding and more.
Also from Oxmoor house is “Southern Living Home Cooking Basics: A Complete Illustrated Guide to Southern Cooking” ($29.95). The book is packed with recipes and photos, and emphasizes techniques. If you’ve never picked up a Southern cookbook, do yourself a favor and check out one of these. The recipes are approachable and the results always please.
A similar kind of hospitality with recipes from south of the border comes from “Muy Bueno” (Hippocrene, $22.50), culled from the Muy Bueno Cookbook blog. The recipes are uncomplicated and the pictures make the dishes look so good that you’ll want to try them in the comfort of your own home. Plus, there are all the salsa and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks that take up nearly half the book.
Baking is in full swing, and publishers share recipes from bakeries.
“The Brown Betty Cookbook” (Wiley, $22.99) is a compilation of recipes from Philadelphia’s bakery and personal favorites of authors Linda Hinton Brown and Norrinda Brown Hayat. It’s easy to get lost in the recipes for cakes, pies and cookies, but that would mean missing out on the stories of the women who’ve inspired these “modern vintage desserts.”
From the other side of the coast comes “The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook” (William Morrow, $35). Seattle chef Tom Douglas, winner of the 2012 James Beard Award for outstanding restaurateur, shares 125 recipes, including his triple coconut cream pie. The book includes bakery favorites, jams and jellies, breakfast and brunch, soups and ice cream.
Nancy Baggett, author of 14 cookbooks, focuses on “Simply Sensational Cookies,” a collection of 200 recipes with streamlined techniques. The book is $29.99 from Wiley.
In “Fix-It and Forget-It Pink Cookbook,” (Good Books, $24.95), Phyllis Pellman Good interviews breast cancer survivors to discuss how important food is in the survivor’s recovery. Good has teamed with Avon Foundation for Women Breast Cancer Crusade, and for each copy of the cookbook sold, $1 will be donated to the foundation.

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