24 October 2020

Weekend Cooking: 5 New Cookbooks

Fall 2020 Cookbook Round-Up at Beth Fish ReadsHappy Saturday! Today's Weekend Cooking is an attempt to catch you up with just some of this season's great cookbooks. I'm overwhelmed with the number of super titles coming out this year, and I don't have enough Saturdays to give each one a full review of its own.

My current solution is to include a mini-review roundup every few weeks. You can also see photos on my Instagram stories as I cook my way through the season. Who knows, I may get daring and publish more than one cooking post a week!

Thanks to the individual publishers for the review copies of the following cookbooks; all thoughts are my honest opinion.

Fall 2020 Cookbook Round-Up at Beth Fish ReadsFirst up is Matty Matheson's Home Style Cookery (Abrams; Sept. 29). You may remember I reviewed his first cookbook, which was also published by Abrams. Matheson's second book, which was given to me as part of the Abrams Dinner Party, lives up to its title; the recipes are truly meant for home cooking, and many are just fancy enough to make you feel good about what you're serving while remaining down to earth and easy to make. One of my favorite chapters is all about broths or stocks, and I love that Matheson included several vegetarian versions. The sesame seed rolls from the bread section is a Dinner Party favorite, as is the chocolate zucchini cake, which I'm planning to bake this weekend. I tried and liked the green olive tapenade and the one-hour bolognese. Pictured are the Hello Dollies (see recipe below). I gave half the pan to one of my neighbors, and everyone raved about how good they are. I have the Italian beef (braised roast with pickled veggies served as a sandwich) marked to try soon. Recommendation: Matty Matheson is a well-known Canadian chef who tells it like it is, which makes Home Style Cookery fun to read and easy to cook from. Even if Matheson's style doesn't match yours, the broth chapter is not to be missed. Oh and that zucchini chocolate cake recipe too!

Fall 2020 Cookbook Round-Up at Beth Fish ReadsIt seems that cocktails are making a comeback, and I can see why. What else is there to do to pass the time as we enter week whatever it is of quarantine? I received J. M. Hirsch's Shake Strain Done: Craft Cocktails at Home (Voracious, Nov. 3) as part of the Voracious Ambassador Program. More than just a collection of recipes for delicious drinks (see my photo of the Cardamomattan), this book includes interesting and valuable information about the different types of cocktails, advice on expanding one's drink repertoire, basic techniques and equipment, how to garnish, and how to stock your home bar. Don't forget to read the introduction to each cocktail you decide to make; there you'll find tips on mixing, what to expect flavor-wise, suggested variations, and more. As I've mentioned often, wine is our daily drink of choice, but sometimes it's fun to try something new, and I always enjoy serving--and drinking--a well-made, well-balanced cocktail. Recommendation: Pick up J. M. Hirsch's Shake Strain Done to discover what's happening in the world of cocktails. I bet you'll find a few new favorite drink recipes within its pages.

Fall 2020 Cookbook Round-Up at Beth Fish ReadsWhether you use an official sheet pan or just a regular baking pan, one-dish dinners that you can slip into the oven and forget about for a while make dinner a breeze. Sheet Pan Chicken by Cathy Erway (Ten Speed Press; Sept. 29) is full of great ideas for chicken lovers. Besides the recipes, Erway includes tips on equipment, oven temperatures, and spice blends as well as advice for using various cuts of chicken and spatchcocked chicken. The recipes are flavorful (including Mideast, Asian, European, and New World spices) and doable for any level cook. Your main kitchen job is cutting veggies. I made the roasted romaine chicken Caesar, mustard chicken, curried thighs, and several others. Everything came out great, and I have several more dinners to try, including wings with eggplant and basil and the soy sauce chicken with pineapple and bok choy. Recommendation: Cathy Erway's Sheet Pan Chicken is a welcome addition to my bookshelf and would make a good gift for inexperienced or young cooks. Veteran home cooks who are familiar with the sheet pan method should probably check this cookbook out from the library. You'll use the recipes as is and will be inspired to come up with new combos to perk up your weeknight dinners.

The last two cookbooks will help you make pie baking part of your everyday life. Yes, I've already reviewed one super pie book this month and I'm still going pie crazy. I received digital review copies of the following pie books but love them so much I bought hard copies of both!

Fall 2020 Cookbook Round-Up at Beth Fish ReadsI've been a fan of Ken Haedrich for years and years (does anyone else remember his cooking column from Country Journal magazine?). In fact, it was one of his recipes that inspired me to bake my first batch of homemade crackers. The subtitle of his new cookbook, Pie Academy (Storey; Oct. 27), says it all: "Master the Perfect Crust and 255 Amazing Fillings, with Fruits, Nuts, Creams, Custards, Ice Cream, and More; Expert Techniques for Making Fabulous Pies from Scratch." How do I love thee cookbook? Let me count the ways. The first thing you'll notice when you start flipping through is the fabulous photos that detail every aspect of basic pie baking, from measuring to mixing to rolling. Next is the incredible wealth of information; Haedrich doesn't just tell you to roll out a pie crust, he tells you how hard to press on the rolling pin! Ever want to mail a pie? Haedrich tells you how. I learned all about the different fats to use in my crusts and the different thickeners to mix with my fruit, I discovered how to crimp, how to transfer the top crust to the pie, how to vent, and more. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of pie crusts (including gluten free!) and toppings. I can't wait to learn them all. The pie photo above is my rendition of the pear pie with a coffeecake-like topping. I'm not sure I've ever made a pear pie before, but now that I have, you can bet my fall baking will include pears as often as apples. Throughout the cookbook, Haedrich includes tips and tricks, tells stories, and shows hands-on photos. The recipes themselves cover the range from fruit to custard, deep-dish to slab, and everything in between. Recommendation: You need Ken Haedrich's Pie Academy in your kitchen. If you've ever been a little unsure about pie, fret no more! If you're an old hand at pies, here's where to find new combos and be inspired. Buy this one.

Fall 2020 Cookbook Round-Up at Beth Fish ReadsSo, you might ask, if I already have two new pie books, why would I need a third. Well, let me tell you what puts Kate McDermott's Pie Camp (Countryman Press; Oct. 6) on my buy list. McDermott starts out as you might expect, with solid tips on equipment, ingredients, and techniques. She fills the middle of her cookbook with reliable, easy to follow pie recipes for fruit, custard, chiffon, nuts, and more. But here's the genius: she shares a number of "master recipes," which give you the skills and foundations to make your own signature pies. You'll find master recipes for crusts (including gluten free), fillings, toppings, and types of pies (layered, mousse, cream, etc.), along with handy charts of flavor combos and ratios of ingredients. Throughout you'll find lovely photos, pie facts and history, and tips and tricks. The cookbook also contains recipes for crisps and crumbles, heirloom pies, and even muffin tin pies and mini tarts. McDermott also provides directions for all kinds of toppings and extras, like roasting nuts and making the perfect meringue. Recommendation: If you're ready to take your pie baking to the next stage, Kate McDermott's Pie Camp is your perfect guide. Beginners to experts will find a lot to love in this cookbook. I'm looking forward to mastering the master recipes.

And here is the promised recipe. Note that I didn't have butterscotch chips in the house, so I used white chocolate chips and subbed dark chocolate chips for the semisweet. You really do need two different kinds; pick whichever flavors call to you.

Hello Dollies
From Matty Matheson's Home Style Cookery

  • 1 cup (225 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (14.4 oz/408 g) box of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 (12 oz/326 g) bag butterscotch chips
  • 1 (12 oz/326 g) bag semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (8 oz/227 g) unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 (14 oz/397 g) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Line a 8 x 12-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the butter and graham cracker crumbs and mix until the crumbs are soft and pliable.

Pack the wet graham crumble mixture into the lined pan. Layer three-quarters of the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and coconut over the graham mixture. Pour the can of condensed milk over the mixture and top with the remaining butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and coconut. Top with the walnuts.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the condensed milk starts to bubble. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Slice into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. To serve cold, cool completely, place in the fridge and allow to set, then slice into squares.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)


gluten Free A_Z Blog 10/24/20, 6:56 AM  

I 'm always impressed that you actually try so many of the cookbooks that you receive and find some really good recipes to share. the Hello Dollies look really easy and delicious. Thanks for all the reviews.

Mae Travels 10/24/20, 7:13 AM  

Your energy trying all these new recipes from so many cookbooks is just amazing!

be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

rhapsodyinbooks 10/24/20, 7:34 AM  

Sounds like I definitely need to buy the Pie Academy book! It sounds great!

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/24/20, 10:31 AM  

I happen to have a box of graham crackers in my pantry, I’m going to make the Hello Dollies. All of these books sound wonderful, I don’t know where to start.

Jackie McGuinness 10/24/20, 11:19 AM  

I thought of you this week when I read this Matty Matheson!
I love making broths so I will check his book out.

I have never eaten a Hello Dollies and they sound a little too sweet for me.

Claudia 10/24/20, 12:14 PM  

I really don't know how you keep up with all the cookbooks! I barely make a dent in the ones I have. However those Hello Dollies sound pretty good.

Melynda@Scratch Made Food! 10/24/20, 12:27 PM  

Hello! Sheet Pan Chicken looks like a good one! And of course, I am all over anything pie!

Deb in Hawaii 10/24/20, 12:39 PM  

It looks like plenty of good food will be coming out of your kitchen this fall/winter! My mom used to make Hello Dollies--I might have to make some for nostalgia's sake (and because they are so good too)!

Katherine P 10/24/20, 4:26 PM  

These all look good! Especially Pie Academy. I haven't been cooking very much lately but I'm missing it and even more I'm missing cookbooks!

Marg 10/25/20, 1:24 AM  

I love the idea of master recipes! Opens up so many options for you.

Greg 10/25/20, 6:34 AM  

That chicken one looks like it has my name on it ha!

Peaceful Reader 10/25/20, 10:21 PM  

Chocolate zucchini bread sounds perfect for this time of year and who doesn't love a multitude of pies to try! Thanks for all the holiday cookbook ideas.

Les in Oregon 10/26/20, 6:20 PM  

I used to have a recipe for zucchini chocolate cake, but couldn't locate it a few months ago when I was eager to bake. Maybe you'll share Matheson's, if it's a winner? :) My husband was recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, so I'm not going to do much in the way of baking until we know what he can safely eat. I'm interested in the sheet pan cookbook, but will see if I can get it at the library.

Laurie C 11/2/20, 10:15 PM  

Thank you for the cookbook reviews! I didn't get a Weekend Cooking post up this week (again!) but The Harvest Baker by Ken Haedrich is one of the alternate selections for my library cookbook club this week. I had never heard of him before, and here you mention him in your post! The recipes in The Harvest Baker look amazing, but are mostly not for gluten-free kitchens, sadly.
Cocktails have been an interest of mine for the last couple of years, so I guess I'm a trendsetter! haha I was planning a Weekend Cooking post about cocktails actually. Maybe next weekend...

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