Shelf Life: 15 Food Books of 2015

For years, I've been threatening to start a podcast. In October, I attended an inspiring weekend hosted by Feet in Two Worlds and promptly went and bought a Zoom H5, a mic and started contacting food writers I admired to come sit in my kitchen and chat. I'm launching the podcast in January, but I decided I couldn't wait to share the books crafted by some of the lovely folks who I've talked to already for the audio show, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Popovers from ‘The Homemade Kitchen’

 I've long been fascinated by popovers and for this, I blame Dorothy Parker. For those unfamiliar, Dorothy was a fabulously wry writer who was among the founding members of "the vicious circle" of writers who made up The Algonquin Roundtable in New York. Starting in 1919, the group of thirty newspaper and magazine writers met almost daily for lunch over the course of about ten years to share gossip, jokes and … [Read more...]

How to Write a Book Proposal in Four Weeks

This summer, I'll be teaching a four-week Master Class at the Richard Hugo House. Normally, I focus on food writing but so much of what can be said about food writing and the process of story and book development applies to general non-fiction as well. When trying to sell fiction, the industry expects a completed manuscript. With non-fiction, about 95% of titles are sold via a book proposal. A good proposal is part … [Read more...]

Friday Reads: How to Cook Everything plus win tickets to Mark Bittman in Seattle

Here's the trouble with artichokes. No one knows what to do with them. Eggplants suffer a similar dilemma. When I've interviewed home cooks about why they end up relying on processed foods, it's not necessarily because they are short of  time or lured in the theory of convenience. More often than not, lack of knowledge of what do with something such as an artichoke or an eggplant or a whole chicken undermines their … [Read more...]

IACP Book Awards finalists announced

The finalists for the International Association of Culinary Professionals were announced this week. The contest includes two divisions, one for cookbooks and another for culinary journalism known as the Bert Greene Awards. I don't think that I'm disclosing anything that I shouldn't by publicly acknowledging that I'm a judge for Bert Greene awards, since that's part of my job as the chair of the Food Writers, Editors & … [Read more...]

Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

The more that I study why and how people cook at home, the more that I understand the importance of a book such as Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking (Scribner, 2009). Noted food writer Michael Ruhlman lays out a simple premise: If you understand the fundamental ratios for some basic culinary tasks ranging from biscuits to stock to vinaigrette, the less a cook has to rely on recipes. After all, … [Read more...]

How to Cook Without a Book

Along the same lines of Ratio, there’s How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart (Broadway, 2000) by Pam Anderson, author of The Perfect Recipe series. Each chapter focuses on a classic technique. Each includes a step-by-step narrative on the method, offers a recipe to demonstrate the technique and then provides multiple, yet simple variations. An unusual twist is that each chapter … [Read more...]

Kitchen Shelf: No Knead Bread Books

We rarely buy bread anymore. As I write this, a vat of whole wheat bread dough languishes in our fridge. Mike made the dough over the weekend and has since fashioned four loaves for various holiday eating events. All of this is possible due to the no knead artisan bread phenomenon. Most people credit the whole thing to Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. Food writer Mark Bittman documented Lahey's method … [Read more...]