Monday, October 26, 2009

Miscellaneous Food: Christmas Cookbooks

Just in case anyone has been looking for presents for their favourite blogger-friend (cough, cough), I was looking through Amazon myself today and came across these brilliant books! Of course, I am the main proponent of, "who needs cookbooks when you have the web" and "too many cookbooks = too much cobwebs" but I was definitely seduced by this promising selection and hope you will like them too.

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, by the International Culinary Center and Judith Choate ($27.75USD)

This sounds like something I could really learn from, a wealth of insider tricks and an indispensable addition to any serious home baker’s library, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts covers the many skills an aspiring pastry chef must master. Based on the internationally lauded curriculum developed by master p√Ętissier Jacques Torres for New York’s French Culinary Institute, the book presents chapters on every classic category of confection: tarts, cream puffs, puff pastry, creams and custards, breads and pastries, cakes, and petits fours. Each chapter begins with an overview of the required techniques, followed by dozens of recipes—many the original creations of distinguished FCI graduates.

The Patisseries of Paris: Chocolatiers, Tea Salons, Ice Cream Parlors, and more, by
Jamie Cahill (USD$11.53)

This charming book profiles almost 100 of the best patisseries, chocolate shops, tea salons, ice cream parlors and other sweet spots in Paris. Author Jamie Cahill also includes the best picnic spots and offers several lovely sidebars: a profile of a chocolate buyer for a fashionable gourmet store, a behind-the-scenes look at the daily goings-on in a patisserie kitchen and the history of three crucial items in the French kitchen. Cahill also mentions other useful tips, including brief descriptions of the various types of creams and cream fillings that form the foundation of French pastries.

If you're planning to go to Paris anytime, it would be great to read this book and if you're not, then you have to get it, it looks so beautiful you could read it anytime of the year!

Momofuko, David Chang and Peter Meehan ($26.29USD)

You would think it's funny to buy an Asian cookbook but if the breathless hype is true and his food is as good and as exciting as everyone says it is, it would be worth it. We might not be able to eat at his restaurant but from what I've read, I'm already a fan of scary-smart, funny, and ambitious, the wildly creative Chang.

The reviews do say that the recipes are impractically long and complex, though the ginger-scallion ramen recipe I read on the net sounded absolutely delicious.

Organic and Chic: Cakes, Cookies, and Other Sweets That Taste as Good as They Look, by Sarah Magid ($18.47USD)

In 60 recipes, Magid offers up specific, easy to follow recipes for crowd-pleasers like oatmeal raisin cookies and flourless chocolate almond cake, as well as homemade variations on childhood all-stars like Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies and Hostess Sno-balls. Grown-ups will swoon over her Lovely Lemon Cake with marshmallow frosting, Minty Strawberry Shortcakes and her Chocolate Love Blossom-a multilayer chocolate cake filled with vanilla whipped cream and/or a red currant curd, and covered with a rich ganache. Though the titles may sound ambitious, most recipes are more than manageable.

The photos from this book look gorgeous and I like the idea of making good-for-you also good-to-look-at and good-to-eat. I also definitely think organic, high-quality baking is where the future of dessert lies.

I love Macarons, by Hisako Ogita ($10.08USD)

Cute-as-can-be, buttery macarons capture the whimsy and elegance of Paris, where they're traditionally served with tea or wrapped up in ribbon to give as a gift. But the secrets of making perfect macarons have long eluded home bakers until now, in I Love Macarons, renowned Japanese pastry-maker Hisako Ogita brings her extensive experience to the art of baking macarons with fully illustrated foolproof step-by-step instructions. This book looks really charming, I'm not sure anyone can fully explain macarons, nor that you can learn it out of a book, nor even that I have the patience to try new and possibly unsuccessful variations of recipes but I would sure like to have a look!

The Fat Duck Cookbook, Heston Blumenthal ($31.50USD)

The cookbook was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “showstopper” and by Jeffrey Steingarten of Vogue as “the most glorious spectacle of the season…like no other book I have seen in the past twenty years”. This lavishly illustrated, stunningly designed, and gorgeously photographed masterpiece takes you inside the head of maverick restaurateur Heston Blumenthal. Separated into three sections (History; Recipes; Science), the book chronicles Blumenthal’s improbable rise to fame and, for the first time, offers a mouth-watering and eye-popping selection of recipes from his award-winning restaurant. He also explains the science behind his culinary masterpieces, the technology and implements that make his alchemical dishes come to life. I don't suppose any of these recipes would be easy to recreate but maybe one could learn a trick or two from the master.

Rose's Heavenly Cakes, by Rose Levy Beranbaum ($26.37USD)

From the author of the standard classic, the Cake Bible, this is a large, heavy, detailed book of cakes, cupcakes, bars, baby-size cakes with excellent photography, all printed on heavy, high-end paper and with volumes listed next to it, then the weights of each ingredient, in both American and Metric form. Almost every cake is photographed, which I know many people find important in choosing a cook book. It sounds accessible, useful and delicious.

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