Archive for the ‘Cookbooks’ Category

A Lost Southern Cookbook, Rediscovered

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

9780847858422_c9ab1Princess Pamela’s Soul Food Cookbook: A Mouth-Watering Treasury of Afro-American Recipes by Pamela Strobel, Matt Lee, Ted Lee (Rizzoli) is rising on Amazon’s sales rankings after NPR’s All Things Considered featured the newly rediscovered cookbook. It jumped from #6,945 to #94.

In the 1960s Pamela Strobel was an early version of a celebrity chef. Her NYC restaurant, Little Kitchen, was a such a hit she was featured on TV and published a cookbook. NPR reports the restaurant “was basically a speakeasy. You had to know to ring the bell to be let in.” She did not let just anyone in.

Between then and now, the restaurant closed, Strobel’s fame faded, and the cookbook went out of print.

Now it is back, because Ted and Matt Lee “found a ragged copy at a vintage booksellers.” The Lee brothers are the force behind several cookbooks, including the 2007 James Beard Cook Book of the Year, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners.

They met Strobel long ago when they were starting up their business selling Southern food via mail order. Matt Lee tells NPR:

“we knocked on her door. It said please knock. It was always locked, and she peeled back the curtain and sized us up, cracked the door open. And we gave our pitch, and she was like no, thanks and closed the door. And that was our one experience with the great Princess Pamela.”

After they found her book they spent years working on her story. Where she is now and what happened to her is a mystery. Even a private detective has been unable to locate her or determine what became of her.

She is no mystery to the cooking world, however. Confirming her star power, Carla Hall, Ruth Reichl, and Marcus Samuellson offer blurbs.

The cookbook is the first of a new imprint, the Lee Brothers Library Series, and is published complete with the poetry Strobel included with nearly every recipe.

Finding Pho

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

9781607749585_fca3dA favorite dish from Vietnam has found wide press coverage in the US thanks to The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodle by Andrea Nguyen (PRH/Ten Speed Press; OverDrive Sample).

The NYT highlights the book in Florence Fabricant’s “Front Burner” column, WSJ runs a piece by Nguyen exploring its many variations, and foodie sites such as Lucky Peach, Epicurious, and Chowhound have also featured it.

Nguyen is considered one of the foremost experts on Vietnamese cookery. In a recent interview on San Francisco’s public radio station she shared her philosophy about teaching others to cook, “There’s so much intimidation about this. I try to take a certain Home Depot approach, like ‘You can do it, and I can help!’ As a cookbook author, you’re really just there to coach people along. If they’re happy, I’m thrilled.”

Her book is getting stellar reviews. Food & Wine writes “Nguyen is a master teacher when it comes to Vietnam’s national dish, and in her new book she provides meticulously clear instructions for every imaginable variety—we recommend you cook through every chapter.”

Proving Pho’s entry into the wider foodie culture, Target carries the book.

Oprah’s Cookbook is a Bestseller

Friday, January 13th, 2017

9781250126535_8f394Oprah’s first cookbook and the first book under her new imprint with Flatiron, Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life (Macmillan/Flatiron; OverDrive Sampledebuts on the new USA Today best seller list at #4.

USA Today says it is “not an official Weight Watchers cookbook” although Winfrey is “a Weight Watchers investor and spokesperson who has been appearing in the program’s commercials.”

Winfrey has been made appearances on several shows to promote the book, including CBS This Morning, Rachel Ray, Dr. Oz, and Stephen Colbert. Many media outlets, such as Parade, are featuring recipes. Eater features it as well, linking it to other celebrity cookbooks.

UPDATE: Oprah is featured on the cover of the new issue of People magazine. The story (not currently available online) focuses on Weight Watchers, but also features her cookbook.

Libraries generally bought in large numbers and holds are hovering at 3:1 ratios or below.

Librarians might remember that the first cookbook associated with Oprah did very well. USA Today points out that In the Kitchen with Rosie: Oprah’s Favorite Recipes, by her personal chef Rosie Daley, “was No. 1 on USA TODAY’s list for a remarkable 16 straight weeks.”

Feed The World

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

soup-for-syria-coverSoup for Syria: Recipes to Celebrate Our Shared Humanity, collected and photographed by Barbara Abdeni Massed, published last year by indie press, Interlink, is soaring on Amazon’s sales rankings. The jump, from #7,866 to a well-placed #45, coincides with a feature on NPR’s All Things Considered.

An effort by celebrity chefs to help relieve some of the Syrian refugee’s suffering, it’s a foodie version of Live Aid.

Barbara Massaad, a cookbook writer living in Beirut, visited one of the refugee camps and decided she had to help. Along with a friend who runs a farmers market, they started making soups to give away to those in need. “Soup is universal comfort food,” says Massad, “It’s special, soup.”

Deciding to take the project further, she reached out to colleagues around the world, asking for recipes for a fundraiser. Alice Waters sent in one for carrot soup. Anthony Bourdain offers soup au pistou, “with white beans, leeks, fennel and zucchini.” The team behind the popular Jerusalem cookbook, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, submitted one as well. Claudia Rodan and Mark Bittman also pitched in.

In addition to the recipes, the book is full of photos of the Syrians living in the camps.

The collection has raised more than $300,000 for food relief programs, “with very little attention or publicity.”

The lack of PR seems to have changed now that NPR has spread the word. The book is temporarily out of stock on Amazon and B&N and is on back order through wholesalers. It is currently shown as available for purchase directly from publisher Interlink.

Libraries have generally bought few, if any copies. Those that did are showing a mix of available copies and moderate holds.

Oprah Names Her Imprint

Thursday, December 15th, 2016

“An Oprah Book” will be the name of Oprah Winfrey’s new imprint with Macmillan/Flatiron Books (not to be confused with an “Oprah’s Book Club Selection,” as she styles her sporadic personal selections of books to recommend).

9781250126535_8f394Oprah will select nonfiction titles for the new line with the first to be one of her own, a cookbook entitled Food, Health and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life (Macmillan/Flatiron Books; Jan. 3).

As we wrote in June, it is connected to her role as a Weight Watchers spokesperson as well as her investment in the company.

Oprah picked the cookbook as one of her Favorite Things for gift giving this year, even though it won’t be available until after the holidays (those who preorder it will get “a special note and gift … while supplies last” to wrap). 

The second book will be The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Maria Smilios (as yet no cover, pub. date, or ISBN is available).

According to Bustle, “the microhistory tells the story of 300 black nurses who worked in the tuberculosis ward at Staten Island’s Sea View Hospital, caring for patients few would dare to be around.”

According to the New York Daily News, “Fear of TB was so rampant at the time that the city had trouble hiring nurses for Sea View and ultimately recruited hundreds of black women, many from the South, to fill the ranks.” Oprah says it is a story that needs “to be shared.”

Bustle reports the account will be Smilios’ first book and will release in 2018.

The Associated Press picked up the story, and as the AP is widely syndicated, it is appearing in national as well as local outlets.

Thus far, however, word has not spread that far. A check of holds across the country shows only moderate demand on strong orders for the new cookbook.

Voting for Cake

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

9781623365431_3656aWhat is the perfect election night dessert? NPR’s The Salt suggests it could be American cake, rather than the more expected American pie.

The foodie site focuses on Anne Byrn’s American Cake: From Colonial Gingerbread to Classic Layer, the Stories and Recipes Behind More Than 125 of Our Best-Loved Cakes (Macmillan/Rodale; OverDrive Sample).

Byrn is best known for her Cake Mix Doctor baking books but here turns her attention to the history of American cakes and the way their flavors and ingredients reflect the changes in our history.

The Salt turns that culinary history lesson into a moment to celebrate not just cakes, but their presidential role and the way they reflect our immigrant foundations.

Calling the book a “a coast-to-coast trail of crumbs,” the site says “American Cake takes the reader on a flour-dusted, chronological journey from the era of colonial gingerbread to today’s over-frosted towers. Byrn makes for an expert guide, deftly folding history, literary trivia, Americana and origin stories for 125 iconic cakes, while providing modernized recipes for each of them.”

Byrn says “Cake is an icon of American culture,” and The Salt ends the story with a listing of favorite presidential treats. Bill Clinton loves carrot cake while Andrew Jackson favored Blackberry jam cake (Byrn has recipes for both).

Some presidents liked pie best. Abraham Lincoln enjoyed peach while Barack Obama turns to nectarine (sadly, Byrn follows the current political divide and provides no recipes for pie).

Readers are voting with holds. At every library we checked, all copies are in circulation and reserve lists are present, some topping 3:1 ratios.

Vegging Out

Friday, October 14th, 2016

9780062438485_a1d19  9781615192830_eafd2

Vegan cooking got a huge boost yesterday from NPR’s Fresh Air.

The lauded chefs and owners of Philadelphia’s Vedge and V Street restaurants, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, join host Terry Gross in a lengthy interview that sent both of their books, each named after their eateries, soaring up the Amazon rankings.

Their newest book, V Street: 100 Globe-Hopping Plates on the Cutting Edge of Vegetable Cooking (HarperCollins/Morrow Cookbooks) rose from #1,703 to #12 while their 2013 title, Vedge: 100 Plates Large and Small That Redefine Vegetable Cooking (Workman/The Experiment), rose from #56,116 to #334.

Gross opens the show by introducing the married couple as “two vegan chefs who are working to redefine cooking with vegetables to make the food exciting and satisfying, even for meat eaters.”

Landau says, “I’ve told people for years it’s not really meat that tastes so good. It’s what chefs do to it that tastes so good. And we’re trying to put that same attention into vegetables.”

Asked about the story behind V Street,”inspired by street food from around the world” Jacoby says they have found “really interesting cultural food experiences that complemented the fine dining” they experienced while travelling. The couple has been drawn to Japanese food, finding it the most seasonal, and also to Moroccan dishes.

Landau says “The flavors were just so amazing. It was kind of like Indian food in the sense that they used all these spices, and yet, you never really tasted one spice in the final dish. You tasted this kind of … great symbiosis of all these spices working together to make one final beautiful flavor.”

The entire conversation ranges from eating vegan on the road, to allergies, to food porn, to the value of creating food you believe in.

Eater gives a sense of the foodie world’s reception to the couple’s approach.

Cook and Tell

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

9781101885710_dcf1eAlton Brown is still remembered by fans for Good Eats, a cult hit from the early days of the Food Network, currently available for binge watching on Netflix. Now best known for the culinary contest show, Cutthroat Kitchen, he has just published his next book, Alton Brown: EveryDayCook PRH/Ballantine Books).

The tag on the cover, “This time, it’s personal,” is proving a focus for media coverage. Written after his divorce from his second wife, the NYT calls it “a midlife-crisis book.”  In a profile in the WSJ Brown provides a short, sorrowful, summary of his childhood and career.

Described by the NYT as “an eclectic and appealing collection of 70 recipes in Mr. Brown’s regular rotation and another 30 he created to bring the book to a respectable size,” it is on the first two previews of best cookbooks of season, leading the NYT‘s list and also one of  People‘s “25 New Fall Cookbooks That Deserve a Spot in Your Kitchen”

In systems we checked, holds are topping 10:1 ratios where libraries have bought very low and are exceeding orders where libraries bought multiple copies.

Oprah Memoir:
How About A Cookbook Instead?

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Oprah Winfrey’s memoir, The Life You Want, has been postponed indefinitely according to the LA Times. We wrote about the deal, worth eight figures, last December.

The memoir was intended to launch Oprah’s new imprint with Flatiron Books, a division of Macmillan, a line of nonfiction titles hand picked by Oprah herself. Instead, it will launch with Oprah’s new cookbook, Food, Health and Happiness: ‘On Point’ Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life. It is planned for Jan. 3, 2017 (as yet no cover or ISBN is available).

As the AP reports, Oprah, who is not only the latest Weight Watchers spokesperson, but also an investor, owning an estimated 10% of Weight Watchers stock, said of her new effort:

“In the past several months on Weight Watchers, I have worked with wonderful chefs to make healthier versions of my favorite meals. When people come to my house for lunch or dinner, the number one thing they ask is, ‘How is this so delicious and still healthy?’ So I decided to answer that question with recipes everyone can enjoy.”

519JES09H3L._SX305_BO1,204,203,200_If this sounds familiar, back in the late ’90’s, Oprah co-authored a book with her trainer, Bob Greene, Make the Connection: Ten Steps To A Better Body — And A Better Life.

An instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller, it launched Greene’s weight-loss empire. But in January 2009, a much heavier Oprah was featured on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine with the headline, “How did I let this happen again?”

James Beard 2016 Award Winners

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

9780544373280_b69fcZahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook (HMH/Rux Martin), has won the 2016 James Beard Book of the Year award.

Chef Solomonov is no stranger to the Beard honors. In 2011 he won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Now his debut cookbook, which highlights the pleasures of Israeli food and profiles his restaurant and life journey, gets similar accolades.

The James Beard Awards, billed as the Oscars of the food world, are given for 14 book categories (as well as for chefs, journalists, TV shows and more). Zahav also took home the International book award.

9781607745532_35ad0Deborah Madison won the Cookbook Hall of Fame category. Her most recent title is The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (RH/Ten Speed).

The very timely Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) by Marion Nestle (Oxford UP) won for Writing and Literature while The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook by Chris Fischer with Catherine Young (Hachette/Little, Brown) took the prize for American Cooking. V Is for Vegetables: Inspired Recipes & Techniques for Home Cooks — from Artichokes to Zucchini by  Michael Anthony with Dorothy Kalins (Hachette/Little, Brown) won for Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian.

Best seller 9780393081084_5fb39The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (Norton) topped the General Cooking category. It won the IACP Cookbook of the Year award earlier this month (see our coverage here).

Other than The Food Lab there are no overlapping winners between the two highly regarded food awards.

The full list of James Beard winners is available online.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

9780393081084_5fb39The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has announced their awards for 2016 and the big winner is The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (Norton), which took home honors as both Cookbook of the Year and winner in the American category.

The book is already a hitl. It is a NYT Best Seller, entering the list at #4 in October and currently at #10 after 10 weeks.

9780316329514_088c59781101874868_41e4fFamiliar names Madhur Jaffrey and Andrew Weil also took home prizes. Jaffrey for Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking (PRH/Knopf), which won the Single Subject category and Weil for Fast Food, Good Food: More Than 150 Quick and Easy Ways to Put Healthy, Delicious Food on the Table (Hachette/Little, Brown), which won the Health & Special Diet category.

9780553447293_3cb3b9780714870472_106e5Tacos were big winners with Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman winning the Chefs and Restaurants category for Tacos: Recipes and Provocations (PRH/Clarkson Potter) and Deborah Holtz and Juan Carlos Mena winning the Reference & Technical category for Tacopedia (Phaidon).

The winners in all the book categories are listed with ordering information and alternate formats, on our downloadable spreadsheet, IACP 2016 Cookbook Awards.

COOKED Airs on Friday

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Michael Pollan’s fame is about to spread to Netflix with the series Cooked set to debut this coming Friday, Jan 19.

Directed by Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief), it explores how human developed their relationship to food, a subject Pollan wrote about in his 2013 book Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Penguin; OverDrive Sample). The four-episode YV series will be a mix of culinary travelogue, anthropology lessons, and sessions in Pollan’s home kitchen.

No tie-in is planned but the book is available in various print editions and in eBook.

The stirring trailer was released recently and showcases Pollan’s approach to the powerful emotions surrounding food, the connections food has to tradition and family, and the ways the modern food industry has separated us from the real heart of cooking, which, says Pollan works to “undermine cooking as an everyday practice.”

THE FOOD LAB On The Rise – Again

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

9780393081084_5fb39The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt (W. W. Norton, 2015; OverDrive Sample) was a New York Times bestseller when it came out last year. It was also considered one of the best cookbooks of the year by both LJ and Amazon.

Gaining renewed attention, it moved up Amazon’s sales ranking from just outside the top 100 to #4.

The author tweeted he would be on The Chew yesterday:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.42.22 PM

The show did not post the video, but they did post his recipe.

Holds are still strong in libraries we checked.

Chuck Williams Dies at 100

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

9781616289621_35d60When asked the secret of her long and active career, Julia Child replied, “Well, I have been known to eat well.”

The same could be said of her friend, Chuck Williams, the founder of Williams-Sonoma and prolific cookbook author who died in his sleep on Saturday in his San Francisco home. He was 100 years old.

As the New York Times obituary puts it, before Williams discovered the amazing range of cookware available in France, inspiring him to open his first store in Sonoma, California, in 1956, U.S. kitchens were drab affairs, stocked with “pots, pans and knives from a department store.”

The obituary also credits him with writing over 200 cookbooks, the latest of which is Cooking at Home, (Weldon Owen, dist. by S&S) re-released in September to celebrate Williams’ 100th birthday. It was originally published in 2010 when Williams was  a mere 95.

Jail Cookery

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

9780761185529_743d6Step aside, Thug Kitchen, here’s the real deal.

In an affecting interview on NPR’s The Salt, Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez talks about his new cookbook Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars (Workman; OverDrive Sample).

Alvarez spent over a decade behind bars and explains that those cheap packs of dehydrated noodles are everything to prisoners seeking some control over their meals, “maybe a guy has a bag of chips — that’s all he has to his name. And this other guy is blessed to have a couple of soups. Well, they get together, they make an interesting meal.”

His book is a mix of recipes and stories. It begins with the basic instructions for cooking the noodles without a pot or open flame. It goes on to offer advice for surviving hard time.

When asked who might use his book, Alvarez replies:

“I know some college kids might attempt to cook some of these. And quite frankly, I’ve had a few of them direct message me and say that they were awesome. They’ll go, ‘Man, these are great. I saved some money. It only cost me a couple dollars.’ Cool. And then I’d like others to read it and be humbled by the stories. And maybe, you know, they’ll have a friend of a friend or a family member — somebody that’s made a mistake and is doing some time. And they can probably share the stories with them, and hope it can teach them something. Maybe learn from my mistakes and others not to make these stupid decisions.”