An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky
This cookbook was a labor of love for me. I learned to cook Middle Eastern cuisine mainly from watching my Syrian mother-in-law in her small Damascene kitchen.
An Edible Mosaic has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine, as well as a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. Recipes are authentic Middle Eastern, but streamlined just a bit for the way we cook today, with unique ingredients demystified and cooking techniques anyone can follow.
It’s always a challenge for me to pick favorites out of my own recipes, but a few of the dishes from this book that are regularly made in my kitchen are Creamy Garlic Sauce (basically homemade mayo, which I cannot live without), Apple Vinegar, Nine Spice Mix, Spinach Turnovers (Fatayer bil Sabahekh), Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Fried Eggplant with Garlic and Parsley Dressing (you can read more about this recipe in this post), Foul Mudammas, Lentil and Bulgur Pilaf with Caramelized Onion (Mujaddara Burghul – which Mike asks for at least every other week!), Chicken Shawarma, Sumac-Spiced Roasted Chicken (M’sakhkhan), Upside-Down Rice Casserole (Maqluba), and Date-Filled Cookies (Ma’amoul).
(Side Note: If you’re hungry for more Middle Eastern sweets, take a look at my e-cookbook 10 Mid-East Inspired Sweets: Contemporary Twists on Classic Treats. The book is only $4 and I’m donating 100% of the profits from the first year of sales to UNICEF for Syrian relief; here’s the purchase link and here’s the post talking more about this project.)
The Grain-Free Family Table by Carrie Vitt
In this full-color cookbook, Carrie Vitt, the blogger behind Deliciously Organic, shares a beautiful collection of family-friendly, crowd-pleasing, grain-free recipes. The book is full of delicious dishes for any meal and any occasion, such as Grain-Free Biscuits, Fluffy Pancakes, Creamed Kale and Eggs, Hot Bacon and Mushroom Dip, Antipasti Bites, Roasted Red Onions (I mean, yum), Eggplant and Zucchini Lasagna, General Tso’s Chicken, Sunday Slow Cooker Roast, Honey-Sweetened Cheesecake, Doughnut Holes with Maple Glaze (these sound delicious!), and Classic Yellow Cake with Buttermilk Frosting. The great thing about Carrie’s recipes is that they are as nourishing as they are approachable, and I love that she includes paleo adaptations.
There’s also a full chapter devoted to kids’ favorites (which I’ll admit are some of my favs too…give me one of Carrie’s Grilled Cheese sandwiches with a cup of her Tomato Soup any day and I’d be a happy girl). What I think I love most though is her helpful chapter on Basics, where she makes the things that most of us have been wanting to make homemade for forever, like Sauerkraut, Thick Homemade Yogurt, and Pure Vanilla Extract.
Carrie shares the incredible recovery story of how she reversed her autoimmune disease in her cookbook, but you can also read it on her blog here.
Cooking Light Global Kitchen: The World’s Most Delicious Food Made Easy by David Joachim
This cookbook has what I love about so many Cooking Light cookbooks: gorgeous, vibrant pictures, easy-to-follow instructions, and useful ingredient and technique explanations.
But what really makes this particular cookbook one of my top favs from Cooking Light is the taste of culture it brings – literally. There are sections called “A Taste of Culture” peppered throughout the book that integrate culture and cuisine, giving the reader a deeper look at the food of a region and really making this book come alive. Now, you guys know that I’m big into travel and culture, and especially using cuisine to dive head-first into culture. If you’re the same way, I think you’ll probably end up reading this cookbook like a novel.
Global Kitchen features a broad range of recipes from the following regions: East Asia and India; Southeast Asia and Australia; The Middle East and Africa; Europe and Eurasia; South America; and North and Central America. Which recipes stuck out to me? A better question is probably which didn’t?, but since I can’t make them all, I have to narrow it down. Let’s start with Korean-Style Beef Tacos; Raw Summer Kimchi; Miso Soup with Tofu; Lamingtons; Senegalese Lemon Chicken; Polish Cabbage Rolls; Champagne-Browned Butter Chicken; Colombian Turkey Flatbread Sandwiches; and Canadian Meat Pie. I guess my list isn’t so narrow after all, but that is the best I can do.
You can check out must-have ingredients for a global kitchen on Cooking Light here.
50 Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D. and Jennifer Iserloh
This book is so much fun. From the gorgeous pictures, to the recipes, to the innuendos…keep a sense of humor and you’re sure to get a kick out of it all.
We all know that kale is something we should be eating more of, but sometimes thinking of new ways to get it into our diet can be a challenge. Drew Ramsey, M.D. and Jennifer Iserloh are brilliant in their use of kale with recipes like Kale-onaise (yup, that would be kale mayonnaise); Goddess Guacamole (I can’t believe I never added kale to guac before – I need to try this); Grilled Cheese ‘n Kale; Chipotle Flank Steak with Lime, Black Beans, and Kale; Kalejito; Chocolate Chip Kale Cookies (which I’m dying to make for Mike to see what he thinks!); and Kale and Black Cherry Sorbet.
What caught my eye first was The Lacchiato, which is a coffee drink brewed with roasted kale chips and cacao nibs. It sounded unlike any coffee drink I’ve ever had, so I immediately knew I had to try it (check out my picture of it here). I absolutely loved it. It had a great roasted, almost nutty flavor, with a complexity and slight bitterness from the kale that the milk balanced perfectly. The cacao nibs were a nice addition, adding a bit of richness and depth. There’s no doubt I’ll be making this one again.
Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight From the Oven by Molly Gilbert
Molly, who blogs at Dunk and Crumble, has beautifully reinvented one-pot meals by cooking an entire dish on a sheet pan in the oven (way to simplify, right?!).
My absolute favorite way to cook most veggies is to roast them, so I immediately knew I’d love this cookbook; Molly’s book goes way beyond just that though, with recipes from brunch to dessert and everything in between, including both weeknight-friendly dinners and special-occasion meals. The recipes here are fresh and innovative, and take full advantage of what we love most about cooking in the oven: juicy, tender meat, caramelized vegetables, and perfect desserts.
Looking through her book, so many things immediately caught my eye; Curried Chicken with Cauliflower, Apricots, and Olives; Fancy Tuna Melts (that took me right back to one of my lunchtime favs as a kid, except this version is all spiffied up); Beef Tenderloin with Frizzled Leeks and Fennel (I have no idea what frizzled leeks are but I sure want to find out!); and Smoked Salmon Egg Boats. Plus I think I need Roasted Sausage and Red Grapes with Polenta and Gorgonzola in my life ASAP, and I know Lasagna’d Hasselback Potatoes will be making an appearance in my kitchen soon.
And I had to briefly mention her sweets, which nearly blew my mind. Cinnamon Sugar Cro-Nots, Cannoli Roulade (yes!!), and Salted Rosemary Toffee Crunch? The only problem is deciding which recipe to make first.
Easy Everyday Lighter Dinners by Woman’s Day
If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you know I have to keep it real here. Total honesty: I wasn’t overly excited about this book because I was expecting it to be a recycled version of about 20 cookbooks I already have. I was 100% wrong. I fell in love with this book the second I opened it.
First things first, it’s stunning. There is a beautiful color photo of each recipe, and the different chapters are color-coded for easy organization. Recipes are directed at “busy, budget-conscious women who enjoy eating well”, and since that pretty much sums up every woman I know (and most men too!), I think this cookbook should be a staple in everyone’s cookbook collection (even if you’re downsizing your collection).
Looking through this cookbook I must have jotted down at least 15 meals I want to make for weeknight family dinners. Things like Quick Braised Red Cabbage and Lentils with Seared Cod; Chicken Cutlets with Apple and Celery Slaw; Steak with Chickpea, Pomegranate, and Arugala Salad; Slow Cooker Chicken and Barley Stew; Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions; and Orange-Ginger Turkey Meatloaf. Plus there’s a chapter on side dishes, which is full of innovative ideas for veggies, and a chapter on desserts (their Chocolate-Dipped Coffee Meringues are calling my name!).
Eat the Year: 366 Fun and Fabulous Food Holidays to Celebrate Every Day by Steff Deschenes
Based on the Almanac of Eats blog, this is a fun calendar cookbook that introduces a national food or drink holiday for every day of the year. (Think National Bagelfest Day (which I have never heard of, but definitely need to get in on), National Eat Your Noodles Day (with an adorable quote from Kung Fu Panda), National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day, National Gummi Worm Day, and National Peppermint Latte Day.) The book features a food-related quote for each day, fun food facts and trivia, cute commentary, a little bit of food history, 50 recipes, and whimsical drawings.
Because it sounds pretty fabulous, I have to call attention to Steff’s recipe for Cheese Ballin’ Spumoni-Style (celebrating national Cheese Ball Day on April 17). It features a sharp cheddar cheese base and is flavored with pistachio, dried cherries, and dark chocolate chips. OMG.
Steff’s conversational writing style will draw you in and make it so you don’t want to put this one down.
Fish Market: A Cookbook for Selecting and Preparing Seafood by Kathy Hunt
If you’re a seafood lover and want to start preparing more of it at home, but you’re a little intimidated and don’t really know much about it, Kathy’s book is the place to start.
Kathy guides you through choosing, cleaning, skinning, and cutting or filleting fish, making each task seem approachable and uncomplicated. I found the Eco-Rating Chart at the back of the book very useful and perfect for quick reference. I loved reading Kathy’s commentary; she gives everything from personal stories about a type of seafood, to a bit of history on it, to information on how it’s used in other areas of the world.
And the recipes…wow! I love that Kathy includes a few American favorites, European classics, as well as recipes inspired by other, more exotic parts of the world. Vietnamese Scallop Boat Salad; Open-Faced Lobster-Avocado Roll; Sesame-Crusted Salmon with Sweet Tamarind Sauce; Pearl Onion, Orange, and Thyme-Stuffed Striped Bass; Tagine of Cod; Parmesan-Coated Sole; Tilapia Patties with Dijon-Caper Mayo; and Charred Octopus Salad all sound pretty fabulous. As a total bonus, there’s an entire chapter devoted to side dishes to pair with seafood.
You can read more about this book here.
Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 16th Edition
This cookbook is so much more than a cookbook; it’s also a handy guide reference tool for basic kitchen skills like mixing methods for cake and pie crust; using herbs and spices; freezing and thawing foods; menu planning; buying, storing, and cooking fish, poultry, and meat; and making veggies on the quick, to name just a few.
The recipes are a fun combination of classics (such as Homemade Green Bean Casserole; Red Velvet Cake; Homemade Egg Noodles; Oven-Fried Chicken; Salad Nicoise; Four Cheese Mac and Cheese; and Beef Stroganoff) and fresh inspirations (like Balsamic-Glazed Flank Steak with Fall Fruit Salsa; Quinoa Caprese Casserole; Salted Caramel-Ginger Macarons; Coconut Chicken with Pineapple-Mango Salsa; Roasted Root Vegetable and Wilted Romaine Salad; Chipotle-Coffee Pot Roast; Blue Cheese Broccoli au Gratin; and Hot Cocoa Brownie Cake with Marshmallow Frosting).
A couple innovative features of this book are “8 to Try”, which is eight variations on one recipe, such as Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce or Shortbread Cookies. There is a “Make it Mine” feature that gives ideas on how to make changes to a recipe using ingredients you have on-hand or prefer. Also, certain recipes list “Cooks Secrets”, which gives pointers on techniques to help you perfect a recipe.
Delicious Probiotic Drinks: 75 Recipes for Kombucha, Kefir, Ginger Beer, and Other Naturally-Fermented Drinks by Julia Mueller
Julia Mueller, the blogger behind The Roasted Root, has outdone herself with this lovely cookbook.
Fermented drinks have become so hip lately and making them at home has become increasingly popular. Julia walks us through the health benefits of probiotics and breaks down the process of fermentation at home, with info on everything from equipment needed, brewing to perfection, and sanitation. And then she gets into those gorgeous recipes.
There are recipes for things like Pineapple Kombucha; Blueberry Basil Jun (thanks to Julia, I can tell you that Jun is similar to Kombucha, but is fermented using honey and green tea instead of sugar and black tea); Blood Orange Ginger Beer; Mango Kefir; Caramelized Pear and Cardamom Yogurt; and Turmeric Kefir Lassi.
Paleo Ice Cream by Ben Hirshberg
This is such a fun little cookbook! For anyone following a paleo or primal lifestyle who still enjoys a treat, this book is perfect.
Ben includes three main types of ice cream recipes: traditional (which can have a base of coconut milk, almond milk, or if you want to keep it primal without worrying about paleo, heavy cream or half and half), banana-based, and cashew-based. He talks about the sweeteners he recommends for various recipes, and he even gives options on how to make these recipes if you don’t have an ice cream maker.
I can’t wait to try the Chocolate Ice Cream (which is my long-standing favorite flavor), and the Butter Pecan, Mocha Chip, Chocolate Raspberry Swirl, Chai Tea, Eggnog, and Mango Sorbet (which is Mike’s favorite). Yup, I pretty much want all the flavors.
:: GIVEAWAY ::
I’m thrilled to be giving away one copy of each of the books listed above! There will be 11 different winners and each will get a copy of one of the cookbooks featured in this post.
To participate in this giveaway, just leave a comment on this post telling me your go-to cookbook (or recipe website) when you need recipe inspiration.
You do not need to have a blog to enter this giveaway. For shipping purposes, this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. This giveaway ends on December 12, 2014 at 11:59 PM EST. Once the giveaway ends, the winners will be randomly chosen and notified via email. The winners will have three business days to respond with his or her mailing information, otherwise a new winner will be randomly chosen. Good luck to all!
Disclosure: I received free review copies of some of the cookbooks mentioned in this post, and some of the giveaway copies of these cookbooks are being provided by and shipped from the publishers; I did not receive compensation for this post. As always, opinions stated are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items, which helps me keep this site alive – thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!