2004 Holiday Gift Guide








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The Big Book of Bread: 365 Recipes for Bread Machine Home Baking
by Anne Sheasby
Published by Blue Heron
240 pages, 2004

The Big Book of Bread is the bread cookbook to end all bread cookbooks. And beyond. As the title tells us, author Sheasby has included a recipe for every single day of the year. In doing so, she runs the gamut of bread and bread-like foods with recipes for different types of scones, chocolate bread (bring it on!), pest whirl bread, bannocks, oatcakes, baps, pretzels, various types of coffee loafs, naan, chapatis, Greek Easter bread, panettone as well as lots of versions of what westerners think of as plain old bread. Not only is there an almost mind-numbing amount of stuff in The Big Book of Bread, many of the recipes are beautifully illustrated with tempting color photos. The spiral binding makes it a very good book to work with in the kitchen. A lovely -- and yummy -- package suitable for those who work with bread machines and those who don't.

Book of Coffee
by Anne Vantal
Published by Hachette Illustrated
126 pages, 2004

The mandate of Anne Vantal's Book of Coffee might have been: keep it simple and lovely. Because it is. The profile of the book is small, but the pages are as thick and rich as a mocha espresso. With just a very few recipes (one might call them select), Book of Coffee is not a cookbook, but a virtual tour of all things to do with coffee from the history of the bean and its popularity as a beverage throughout the world, through vintages, growing seasons, pricing and -- yes -- even how to make a good cup of joe. Book of Coffee is an elegant little gift for the aficionado.

The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook
by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne
Published by Sasquatch Books
163 pages, 2004

In a world of high technology nonstick skillets, a lot of people have gotten to be afraid of their good ol' cast iron pan. Though heavier than modern pans and more difficult to maintain, "Cast iron pans heat quickly and evenly and maintain their heat. They provide an even exchange of heat with the food, thus allowing meats to brown and caramelize, staying tender. The high heat of the pan forms golden crusts on baked goods and acts just like a wood-fired oven for pizzas and breads." And, properly cared for, a good cast iron skillet will not only last a lifetime, but for generations. Appropriately, The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook not only discusses care and use of cast iron, but provides a myriad of tasty recipes to try. From the expected to the exceptional and from breakfast through dinner and dessert, The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook offers tasty options for almost every type of food.

Cooking New American
by the editors of Fine Cooking
Published by The Taunton Press
234 pages, 2004

In the decade that the magazine has been publishing, Fine Cooking has become one of the leading food-related resources in North America. Fine Cooking has a clear, direct approach to dealing with good food. It is an unpretentious magazine that takes readers concisely through the steps needed to prepare meals that are elegant and practical in their own home. This first cookbook collection, distilled from the pages of the magazine, focuses on "new" American cooking. "By 'new,' we don't mean trendy," writes editor-in-chief Martha Holmberg. "but rather fresh and contemporary, recipes for the kind of food you enjoy cooking and serving your family and friends." Those new to the kitchen as well as more proficient home chefs will appreciate the clean layout, sharply illustrative photos and sensible and accessible ingredients lists. -- Aaron Blanton

Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
Published by Broadway Books
309 pages, 2004

It is startling that though there are many Master Sommeliers in the world, there are only around a dozen that are women. Andrea Immer, one of this elite group, is about to get a lot more exposure. Immer, the dean of wine studies at the French Culinary Institute in New York and the author of Great Wine Made Simple, is now the host of Simply Wine with Andrea Immer. Immer's most recent book, Everyday Dining with Wine makes the argument for wine as part of the North American daily diet. Wine, says Immer, can make well-prepared food taste better. "The French, and Europeans in general, have known this seemingly forever," writes Immer. "But there's no reason that Americans can't improve their dinners by adding wine, too." Immer's approach is straightforward and will be accessible to most readers. Not only does Immer theorize and discuss, she takes us by the hand, tells us how to prepare a wide variety of interesting meals (the book includes 125 recipes), then instructs us on which inexpensive wines to pair it with. A wonderful book for those who love both food and wine. -- Monica Stark

Love and Sweet Food: A Culinary Memoir
by Austin Clarke
Published by Thomas Allen Publishers
333 pages, 2004

If you live in a place where these is a cold season -- a season without much light and with a lot of rain or endless snow -- there is a fast cure. Though all of us who live in northern climes long for a midwinter vacation to someplace warm, just to relieve those winter blues, if the vacation is not forthcoming, I would recommend Austin Clarke's Love and Sweet Food: A Culinary Memory. Originally published in 1999 as Pig Tails 'n Breadfruit (though this new edition adds 15 recipes, a new introduction and an infinitely better title), Clarke shares his Barbadian upbringing in a way that is mouthwatering and, ultimately, warming. While he instructs us -- often in the cadences of the islands -- on the correct making of Bakes and Meal-Corn Cou Cou and Pelau, he tours us through his life on Barbados in the 1930s and 1940s and gives us a primer on life in the "wesindies." Clarke is the author of six short story collections and nine novels, among them the Giller Award-winning The Polished Hoe. -- Aaron Blanton

The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life
by Pat Conroy with Suzanne Williamson Pollak
Published by Doubleday
283 pages, 2004

When you think of Pat Conroy, you might think of many things. The Prince of Tides always jumps to mind. And The Great Santini: both books by Conroy that sold incredibly well that were made into equally successful films. The Lords of Discipline, Beach Music, My Losing Season: These novels are what author Pat Conroy's name brings to mind. But food? Not so much. The Pat Conroy Cookbook brings us a whole new aspect of this well-loved writer: Pat Conroy the foodie and great lover of life. As the title and subtitle suggest, this is slightly more than a cookbook. In fact, one might almost think it's an autobiography disguised as a cookbook because, in between recipes, he manages to squeeze in a lot of vignettes from his life. And these, like the recipes themselves, are compellingly, engagingly shared. The openness one suspects when they read a Conroy novel is here in spades when we encounter him, as it were, face-to-face. -- Aaron Blanton

The South Beach Diet Cookbook
by Arthur Agatston
Published by Rodale
344 pages, 2004

Followers of the New York Times bestseller The South Beach Diet will be clamoring for the accompanying cookbook this holiday season. While the original South Beach Diet included recipes, author Agatston has outdone himself here, including more than 200 recipes based on the principle of the diet, without asking adherents to compromise on flavor. Though the book is organized by meal -- soups, salads, entrées and so on -- each recipe indicates which phase of the South Beach diet it is suitable for. The recipes are easy to follow and largely rely on readily available ingredients. The South Beach Diet Cookbook is a worthwhile follow-up to Agatston's original book. Even those that don't follow the South Beach Diet will find interesting and tempting recipes in these pages. -- Monica Stark


A Taste of Tofu: Quick & Easy
by Yukiko Moriyama
Published by Japan Publications
104 pages, 2004

Tofu and the West got off to a shaky start. Shades of VW buses and Birkenstocks, tofu got tarred with the same brush that got to granola and whole wheat pancakes. I've met too many people who should know better -- i.e., adults with otherwise worldly tastes -- who wrinkle up their noses and avert their faces at the very mention of tofu. And it's an undesevered reputation. Tofu is a nearly perfect food: high in protein, low in fat, growable without devastating the environment: tofu is good stuff. The challenge, of course, is in knowing what to do with it. Author Yukiko Moriyama has this all worked out. In A Taste of Tofu, Moriyama takes us on a whirlwind tour of this magical food. Seriously. Moriyama here brings quick and easy recipes to add tofu to every part of your diet: from salads through entrées and right through to dessert. While not all of Moriyama's recipes will suit the western palate, there's enough of a selection of recipes in A Taste of Tofu that you're sure to find many that will appeal.

Vancouver Cooks
by the Chef's Table Society of British Columbia
Published by Douglas & McIntyre
218 pages, 2004

Cookbooks with city-focus aren't always the best. Too often, they provide little more than a showcase for the restaurants of the included chefs; a sales brochure paid for by the unwitting consumer. Vancouver Cooks, however, is not like that. At the same time, though, it's not a book for every day. Fifty award-winning chefs participated in Vancouver Cooks, all of them members of the Chef's Table Society. And so we're treated to the opportunity to make Duck Breast with Beet and Morel Salad; Citrus-cured Wild Salmon with Blood Orange Vodka; Smoked Tuna Broth with Seared Tuna; Cucumber and Winter Melon Salad; Risotto Porcini; Braised Rabbit and Saffron Cannelloni; Créme Caramel au Chocolat and a good many more: over 100 in all. Stunning photos and food styling provide a perfect finish. A lovely book that's impossible to read while hungry.

Wine Label Language
by Peter Saunders
Published by Firefly
365 pages, 2004

Have you ever wondered exactly what is meant by all those words on a wine label? Some of the words make sense instantly: "white," "red," "table." We know what those things are. But what about everything else? "Wine fanciers now want to understand more than the distinction between a Chambertin and a Paulliac;" writes Peter Saunders, author of Wine Label Language, "they also wish to grasp the more subtle differences between the fine names of the world and find out where each fits into the international spectrum." Saunders covers all of that and more, teaching the wannabe oenophile what affects a wine's quality and its price, how to tell the difference between "wine of the grape" and "wine of the land" and a whole lot more. Saunders uses simple language to explain even complex ideas, making this an ideal book for both the novice and more experienced wine-lover just wanting to add an extra layer to their expertise.


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2004 Holiday Gift Guide