… Julie Andrews sings hers, Oprah broadcasts hers, so I figure I get to blog about a few of my favorite things.
I recently considered getting therapy when I realized that I had made friends with my FedEx delivery buddy. u.e. got online order-happy and had purchased nearly thirtyfood-related books, mostly cookbooks, in the course of one week. Every other day for a nearly a month, Rick has faithfully delivered to me – rain, snow, sleet or shine – the sleeved, bound, and glossy-print recipes, stories, photographs and writings of everyone from the mother of slow foods, Alice Waters, to Suzanne Sebaste of Lake Wylie, South Carolina, the woman who submitted the “Orange Kiss-Me Cake” for publication in America’s Best Lost Recipes” Cookbook.
Some of these books, like bad boy Tony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook and Paula Wolfert’s legendary Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco are long over-due must-haves that have escaped me until now. Others, like Jamie Oliver’s Cook With Jamie are hot off the presses.
In case you’re looking for a last minute gift in these last few days before the HOLIDAY – for that foodie friend or culinary family member – consider one of these great finds which have made it on to my list of favorite things:
1. My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea. Stunning portraiture meets glorious food in large format glossy-print magnificence. Dunea, a talented photographer with a knack extracting the essence of personality, edits together 50 great chef’s “ideal last supper.” Food, music and even a guest list is provided by each chef – as well as a recipe of one of the items from this meal. The photography is quite stunning, and at times, shocking: from a breast-feeding Gabrielle Hamilton to a (nearly) full-frontal Tony Bourdain – tatooes, cigarette and… marrow bone, it is a spectacular fusion of two of my greatest passions: potraiture and food.
2. America’s Lost Recipes by the editors of Cook’s Country Magazine. Ever wonder what a Tipsy Squire is? Well, the editors of Cook’s Country Magazine can tell you. They’ve compiled this fun and interesting cookbook of some of America’s hidden hand-me-down treasures. If nothing else, it’s a great anthropological study of humble American baking and cookery. It includes everything from the Southern syrupy-sweet breakfast item, “Bop,” to a “Peach Puzzle Pie” that is – well, quite puzzling. If you’ve ever doubted the creativity (or strangeness) of Americans, just take a look at this book, and you’ll never doubt again! Don’t let the cute names deceived you – these foods are tried and true gems.
3. How I Learned To Cook by Kimberly Witherspoon and Peter Meehan. This compact book has now released on paperback and is filled with funny and heart-filled stories by chefs and how they developed their skills, patience, and success as chefs. One of my favorites essays is by Gabrielle Hamilton, chef of Prune in NYC, who talks about how her sous chef taught her the art of practicality.
4. Dolce Italiano by Gina DePalma. Since visiting Babbo earlier this year, I have been smitten by all things Italian. DePalma is not only a consummate pastry chef, but an articulate and funny writer. Her recipes are at once straightforward and entertaining to read. I’ve already made two of the recipes out of this book, and they turned out wonderfully – the honey and pine nut tart is not to be missed.
5. The Sweet Spot by Pichet Ong. A former Jean Georges Vongerichten pastry chef (66 and Spice Market), Ong has now opened his own restaurant in New York – P*Ong – and published this gorgeous book filled with some of the most approachable and do-able Asian fusion desserts. I’m breaking into it this weekend and going to try my hand a number of his recipes, including rose scented fingerprint cookie and possibly the matcha layer cake.
6. A Geography of Oysters: A Connoisseurs Guide to Oyster Eating in North America by Rowan Jacobsen. Don’t ever be intimidated by the strange names and provenances of the bi-valve ever again. Confidently slurp down aphrodisiacs on a half-shell the next time you saddle up to an oyster bar after reading this great little guide to oysters.