CLEVELAND, Ohio – Books published in 2020 in the culinary and drink world cover a range of topics, from time and techniques and much more. (OK, we made an exception or two this year, with a few older publications that landed on our desk.) A couple of Cleveland authors are featured in this year’s roundup, along with books focusing on everything from Indonesian cuisine, all things chocolate, Disney park food, booze-infused sweets and, yes, even meals with Mountain Dew soda. Bon appetit and cheers!
FOOD: Quick and Delicious
By Gordon Ramsay, Grand Central Publishing, 250 pages, $32
The television chef targets the value of time in the pages of this book, which focuses on tasty meals that can be made within half an hour. Ramsay checks his patented curses at the kitchen door and lays out tempting dishes, from Calvados candy apple pancakes to lentil burgers to Vietnamese meatball noodle salad. Chef’s and time-saving tips are included when appropriate. Speed is imperative in a restaurant, but also helpful in your kitchen.
By Sam Dillard, Adams Media, 223 pages, $16.99
Air Fryers and Keto diets are still hot, so out comes this book focusing on simple dishes with nutritional info (calories, carbs, protein, fiber, fat, etc.) for each one. After the basics on both air fryers and keto, you’ll jump into manageable recipes – dinner rolls and onion rings to maple butter salmon and crispy butter lobster tails. The 175 recipes fall into eight types of dishes, from breakfast to snacks, assorted mains, desserts and more.
FOOD: A Table for Friends
By Skye McAlpine, Bloomsbury Publishing, 314 pages, $28
Focusing on “the art of cooking for two or 20,” the book is broken into four sections – stars, sides, sweets and extras. Interestingly, hands-on and hands-off (setting, chilling, roasting) times are included with recipes. Cooking by season, numbers and timing also are covered. Space, time and planning are practical considerations for the author, whose appreciation for the enjoyable communal nature of cooking and meals comes through.
DRINKS: Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book
By Hugh Johnson, Octopus Books, 336 pages, $16.99
The book – a sleek 3.75 by 8 inches – is a concise and condensed glossary-primer-atlas all packed into one vertical package. Tips: Read the ‘how to use this book’ section and get out a magnifying glass or your cheaters.
FOOD: Bread Illustrated
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 422 pages, $32.99
Step-by-step incremental photos enhance the recipes and processes here. ATK lays out knowledge and instruction starting with the bread baker’s pantry to what to know about kneading, learning about the science of gluten and yeast and much more. A dozen staple breads start the baker off before the book gets into kolaches to kugelhopf. (Note: The book came out in 2016, but the publisher is touting it again because so many people gravitated to baking during the coronavirus pandemic.)
By Ashley Strickland Freeman, Grand Central Publishing, 237 pages, $28
The Southern writer’s focus keys in on dishes with Duke’s Real Mayonnaise – a 100-plus year-old company whose product is found in most of the United States but a staple in South Carolina. If you think a book with mayonnaise-included recipes will simply describe a few creative sandwiches you will be surprised. Bourride (fish stew) with aioli, cottage pie and marinated steak salad with creamy buttermilk ranch dressing show a bit of the savory diversity of the recipes involved.
FOOD: Coconut & Sambal
By Lara Lee, Bloomsbury Publishing, 285 pages, $35
You learn right away that sambal is a “chilli” pepper sauce, as common as salt on a table throughout Indonesian cultures. You’ll also read that rice is more diverse than you might have realized. Origin and chili-heat levels are included with each recipe, which cover soups to sweets. It’s the first cookbook from the Indonesian and Australian chef and food writer.
DRINKS: Gold in the Vineyards
By Laura Catena, Catapulta, 177 pages, $14.99
The author is a vintner, physician, biologist, and is known as the “face of Argentine wine.” Her book takes an illustrated, global tour of known vineyards and regions throughout the world. Get ready for a lot of point-size changes and various fonts. The book almost takes a graphic-novel approach in its pages.
FOOD: The Perfect Persimmon
By Michelle Medlock Adams, Red Lightning Books, 124 pages, $17
In recent years cookbooks have taken on more of a myopic focus than ever. Case in point: An entire, though concise, book on persimmons. The author’s passion for the puckery fruit comes out as she delves into its history, uses, varietals and more. Sometimes cookbooks take an overarching, macro approach to a well-known subject; other times it’s nice to read about the simple pleasures of persimmon pudding.
FOOD: Prohibition Bakery
By Leslie Feinberg and Brooke Siem, Sterling Epicure, 309 pages, $19.95
If you like booze and sweets you’ll enjoy this recipe book. The duo behind the book’s New York namesake bakery lays out how to create frostings and fillings for these alcoholic treats made with wine, beer, tequila, mezcal – you name it. Usually our end-of-year books roundup covers publication only in the current calendar year, but we’re making an exception here. This one came out five years ago, but it keeps the recipes alive; the bakery closed last Christmas.
FOOD: Eat Well Be Well
By Jana Cristofano, Sterling Epicure, 250 pages, $24.95
Guiding principles arm you with what-to-know info. Definitions of “whole-food plant-based,” “refined sugar free” and other terms are covered. Recipes include apple-pie quinoa breakfast bowl to zucchini bread, with prep and cooking times and helpful notes/tips sections.
DRINKS: Gin: How to Drink It
By Dave Broom, Mitchell Beazley, 224 pages, $19.99
From the vision of juniper as a cure for ailments to recipes with gin from around the world and classic cocktails, the author covers quite a bit here. History, legal definitions (Gin vs. London Dry Gin vs distilled, etc.) and production techniques precede recipes that are ranked in a scoring system he lays out. As the author says: “The challenge when writing this book wasn’t so much where to start but where to stop.”
By Ashley Craft, Adams Media, 238 pages, $21.99
The author – who grew up close to Disneyland – helps re-create munchies and drinks from Disney parks. After a brief Disney Cook’s essentials section, she jumps right in with manageable recipes, from Peter Pan Floats (Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom) to the ethnic creations of EPCOT and others.
FOOD: My First Cookbook
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 192 pages, $19.99
Every profession, activity and interest needs to have a farm system of sorts to establish its next group of followers or participants. ATK has put together a step-by-step, visually oriented cookbook for chefs ages 5-8. Fun facts are dropped in throughout (did you know the world’s largest meatball weighed 1,707 pounds?) Frozen banana bites anyone?
FOOD: Canning and Preserving
Adams Media, 240 pages, $17.99
Learn how to create a shelf-stable pantry with this comprehensive primer that covers all aspects of canning, from jams and jellies but much more. Fish, stews, sauces, pickling – you name it. Helpful tip boxes – “preservation pointers” – are included along with 150 recipes.
DRINKS: The Cocktail Dictionary
By Henry Jeffreys, Mitchell Beazley, 224 pages, $20
A straightforward A-to-Z approach of drinks, with a bit of history preceding the recipe. More than 100 recipes are included.
FOOD: Koji Alchemy
By Rich Shih and Jeremy Umansky, Chelsea Green Publishing, 335 pages, $34.95
Umansky is a Clevelander who runs the well-regarded Larder in Cleveland’s Hingetown neighborhood. At first glance, “mold-based fermentation” might not seem sexy or interesting. But oh what flavors it yields. The comprehensive, readable book will break down everything to know about what the authors deem a “magical ingredient.” Umami heaven. Related coverage: We spoke with Jeremy Umansky about this book.
FOOD: Easy Everyday Keto
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 246 pages, $24.99
ATK’s focus here is on high-fat, low-carb meals equally great for a dinner party but easy enough to produce daily. Nutritional info is given for each recipe as is a smart and helpful “Why This Recipe Works” section, offerings tips, suggestions and what the chefs learned as they created the dish.
By Brittany Angell, Page Street Publishing Co., 512 pages, $32.99
The Cleveland chef-writer’s comprehensive book includes 270-plus recipes (pumpkin spice rum granola!). Dishes also have recipe notes from Angell’s perspective as well as substitution notes. The author embraced keto long before it jumped into the trendiness section of diets, and she did so out of her personal health concerns, which she details briefly. Recipes are clearly written; accompanying photographs are beautiful.
DRINKS: The Story of Wine
By Hugh Johnson, Academie du Vin Library, 495 pages, $N/A
The wine writer-guru is out with an updated version of this book – sans photos – for serious oenophiles. Johnson, with more than 60 years of wine sipping-writing-researching under his belt, is the perfect person to encapsulate the romance and history of wines. The venerable Johnson guides the reader through wine’s rich journeys over centuries.
By Kelly Jaggers, Adams Media, 304 pages, $18.99
A Mediterranean-focused diet can result in weight-control and increased energy. The book lays out 300 Instant Pot recipes emphasizing a Mediterranean diet, with its tasty base of olive oil, vegetables, fruit and grains. Nutritional info is included with the recipes. Red pepper and feta egg bites anyone?
By Varu Chilakamarri, Fenugreek Press (busyvegetariankitchen.com), 148 pages, $24.99
A rare self-published title in this year’s collection, the book focuses on offering tasty recipes for folks pressed for time. Time-saving supplies, quick cooking tips and vegan recipes are included. Many of the dishes in these pages – one chapter is called “Curries in a Hurry” – can be made in less than 30 minutes, according to the author. Bon appetit.
FOOD: Canning Essentials
By Jackie Callahan Parente, Fox Chapel Publishing, 192 pages, $15.99
This initiation into home-food preservation is very comprehensive, with recipes interspersed between information and tips covering required utensils to freezing facts and more. As the author says, while “food preservation is as old as civilization,” canning is seeing a renaissance.
DRINKS: Keto Drinks
By Faith Gorsky and Lara Clevenger, Adams Media, 175 pages, $17.99
Keto has spawned a variety of books breaking down the diet. An intro lays out a primer on keto, then launches into more than 100 drink recipes – smoothies, juices, coffees, teas, milkshakes, broths and others with a careful eye on carbohydrates. Tantalizing and mouth-watering photos included.
FOOD: Second Helpings Please!
By Norene Gilletz, editor; B’Nai Brith Canada / Whitecap Books, 256 pages, $34.95
After a brief helpful hints/cooking terms sections, you’ll jump right into recipes in this book, whose subtitle is “The Iconic Jewish Cookbook.” It’s one of Canada’s best-selling cookbooks, covering entrees and much more. Desserts is an especially extensive section, with cakes, icings, cookies and more. No photos.
FOOD: 100 Techniques
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 432 pages, $40
This is more of a “how” book than other cookbooks, concentrating on ways to approach food preparation. What’s the difference between sauteing, braising or grilling vegetables? Learn to toast spice, find out what an aqufaba is, and see why brining isn’t just for meat. More than 200 recipes are included in this comprehensive reference book.
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 278 pages, $29.99
The turn of the 19th century brought an influx of Italian immigrants to the United States, and that wave gave way to culinary favorites now common on American tables and in restaurants. While the pasta and pizza recipes are mouth-watering, a section on entrees includes a variety of standard chicken, pork and shrimp dishes. The section on pizza is especially interesting since it covers pies famous in assorted cities.
By Travis Robert Alexander and Brianna L. Ewing Valliere, CABI, 87 pages, $N/A
A quick look at cider, from aroma to mouthfeel to summaries of the many types available, food pairings and more. Includes glossary and varietals list.
FOOD: Everything Chocolate
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 366 pages, $35
With by far the most decadent cover of any of the titles we received, this book extensively covers the sweet treat – dipped, filled, chipped, melted and more. Recipes range from cupcakes to cannoli. Great photography accompanies the step-by-step tested recipes along with the always-helpful “Why This Recipe Works” section.
By Michelle Fagone, Adams Media, 222 pages, $16.99
Air fryers use very hot circulating air to cook food evenly. Billed as a deep fryer, dehydrator and microwave rolled into one, they can be used on a range of foods. Following an AF essentials section, this book focuses on low-carbohydrate dishes for all meals: Scotch eggs, maple sage breakfast links, pepperoni pizza bread, yogurt curry chicken legs and others are among 175 recipes featured. Hands-on and cooking times, along with nutritional info, are included.
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 182 pages, $24.99
ATK tackles IP recipes with a Mediterranean diet. Tips for success and troubleshooting suggestions in a preliminary section are helpful. Recipes – with vegetable and whole-grains focus – include total time, nutritional info and the ever helpful “why this recipe works” section. Expect to find dishes like braised whole cauliflower with North African spices, Greek chickpeas with coriander and sage and beef stew with eggplant and potatoes.
By Vincent Obsopoeus, Princeton University Press, 285 pages, $16.95
This how-to-drink guide is a translation of writing from a 16th century poet who witnessed all sorts of imbibing in Germany. He extoled moderation – not abstinence – and discusses everything from being drunk to proper toasts. Includes original Latin. A gift for the philosopher friends in your circle.
FOOD: Cooking for One
By America’s Test Kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen, 342 pages, $29.99
Learning to cook for several people differs from solo endeavors in the kitchen. This book follows a “cook what you have” theme while instructing you how to make good one-portion meals with limited waste. ATK editors also point out it’s not just for people living alone; maybe your spouse or roommate works different hours, for instance. Whatever the reason, it’s a good source of info, covering equipment for the solo chef, smart shopping and “kitchen improv” – a section on suggested additions. Recipes also note whether they yield leftovers. You don’t need to sit around and munch on chips as a snack; consider roasted sweet potato wedges.
By Carole Jones, Adams Media, 191 pages, $17.99
Frozen foods might be the stepchild of the culinary world these days, with the attention paid to a farm-fresh approach. The author champions the nutritional value as well as the time- and money-saving impact of cooking with frozen foods – many of which do not require thawing, she writes. Prep, cooking and total time involved is given for each of 100 recipes.
By Sandra K. Nissenberg, Adams Media, 167 pages, $14.99
This updated book reads like a fun textbook/workbook for young kids. A “cooking tools” sections is well done with sketches and brief accompanying descriptions. The more than 90 recipes include difficulty levels. Graphics include how to read a nutritional label to measurement charts. Games, puzzles and a ‘my recipes’ section are included.
DRINKS: Whiskey Master Class
By Lew Bryson, Harvard Common Press, 256 pages, $26.99
The author, who has written quite a bit on both beer and spirits for 25-plus years, offers a full view of whisky – or whiskey, if you prefer. His contention is that whiskey drinkers are more inquisitive than ever, so timing seems right for this book. He offers mostly one-page breakdowns on everything from the differences between Irish and Scotch whiskey to much more. Pour yourself a snifter and ponder the Angel’s Share as you learn about the drink.
By Steve and Kathy Doocy, William Morrow, 303 pages, $29.99
The couple who worked in television – he with “Fox & Friends,” she with ESPN and NBC – offers fast, easy recipes for families on the go. They intersperse breezy, personal moments in this book, which includes a helpful “happy in a hurry” hacks section about the value of being prepared. More than 100 recipes cover an American cosmopolitan smorgasbord, including Buffalo chicken tacodillas, Jim’s dandy maple bacon acorn squash, chicken curry in a hurry, six-minute strawberry pie and many others.
FOOD: Beer Bread
By Lori Rice, The Countryman Press, 208 pages, $24.95
The author writes early on the book’s goal is not to instruct you how to bake but rather how to be creative with beer. The recipes explain why certain beers work with certain recipes, which range from Jalapeno cheddar Mexican Lager bread to Pale Ale sandwich loaf, Dubbel caramelized onion bread, seven nut and seed Scotch Ale bread and others. The 75 recipes follow a baking bread 101 primer.
FOOD: Epic Air Fryer Cookbook
By Emily Paster, Harvard Common Press, 150 pages, $19.99
For air-fryer aficionados who want to up their game. Usage and care tips precede recipes that cover a range of ethnic flavors – from shakshuka to Israeli chicken schnitzel to Argentinian beef empanadas and more. Clear, straightforward recipes cover breakfast, appetizers, main and vegetarian dishes and dessert.
DRINKS: In Praise of Beer
By Charles Bamforth, Oxford University Press, 165 pages, $24.95
If there’s a pre-eminent scholar of beer, the author is it. This succinctly written book doesn’t overload the technical jargon, includes a solid glossary, and does a nice job of explaining styles. A lot of this is old hat for brewers, but it’s a very readable reference for the rest of us.
FOOD: Macronutrient Basics
By Matt Dustin, Adams Media, 222 pages, $14.99
The book lays out the foundation of a diet focusing on macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fats – in an extremely readable form; each page is one brief, focused topic, sometimes only a few sentences long. It makes for a digestible book, so to speak. Fifty recipes are included.
By Stephen Heyman, W.W. Norton & Co., 340 pages, $26.95
The author’s bio dives into the life of Louis Bromfield, a native Ohioan who embraced the land with a heartfelt affinity in the first half of the 20th century. The writer-agrarian-soil conservationist founded Malabar Farm in Mansfield. OK, not a typical food book in our annual roundup, but farming is food, and Heyman gives Bromfield the relevant touch he deserves.
DRINKS: The Wine Bible
By Karen MacNeil, Workman Publishing, 996 pages, $24.95
Extraordinary comprehensive updated go-to reference book for wine. It explains every wine term imaginable with clear prose. This is one of my regular reference books throughout the year especially when I am researching varietals.
FOOD AND DRINK: The Big Bold Book of Mtn Dew Recipes
Hemlock Printers, 96 pages, $30
Yes, this is a thing. Mountain Dew apparently isn’t just a caffeinated soda alternative to coffee. It can be used to make citrus garlic chicken, toaster pastries, brined turkey and stuffing and many others – not to mention mixed drinks.
FOOD: Plant-Based Gourmet
By Suzi Gerber, Apollo Publishers, 384 pages, $19.49
The vegan author lays out how far a plant-based diet has evolved from the days of tofu and not much more. The author covers ingredient sourcing, spices, slow cooks to sauces and more. She sprinkles inspirational and classic quotes throughout the book, whose emphasis focuses on showing how flavorful plant-based dishes can be.
Here’s our past annual cookbooks and drink books reviews:
2018: 59 food and drink books
2016: 13 beer books
2015: 18 beer books
Note to readers
Publishers send advance review copies of books to us for coverage consideration. We compile summaries of the year’s titles and then donate the books to places like Edwins Second Chance Life Skills Center in Cleveland and public libraries. If you pare your cookbook collection from time to time, consider donating to libraries or the non-profit of your choice like hospices, independent-living facilities and other places.
I am on cleveland.com’s life and culture team and cover food, beer, wine and sports-related topics. If you want to see my stories, here’s a directory on cleveland.com. On the air: Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I talk food and drink usually at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. And tune in at 8:05 a.m. Fridays for “Beer with Bona and Much, Much More” with Munch Bishop on 1350-AM The Gambler.
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