Monday, November 25, 2013

Bites Book Club: Specialty Cookbooks

Posted By on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 7:49 AM

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Not every book that I receive from publishers fits into a nice neat category, so call this the potpourri edition of Bites Book Club. While these three titles might not necessarily fit together on the same shelf of your cookbook library, any of them might be a nice addition to your collection.

Talk about specialization: Robert Rose recently sent me a book specializing on a type of cooking device I didn't even know existed, a guide to Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining. But just because I've never seen the use for a triple slow cooker doesn't mean that there aren't 130 of them for sale on Amazon, so I guess they are a thing now.

Apparently these three-pot vessels are the perfect device for making stews, soups, dips and slow-cooked meats for entertaining, and browsing through the 100-plus recipes and the 30 different party ideas and menus, it looks like I need to pick one up before Thanksgiving. The recipes are designed to be very simple and no-fuss so that you can spend your time worrying about other details of your soiree.

Each party plan includes a countdown of what you should be doing 5-7 hours from the first guest arriving up until 30 minutes before the doorbell rings. For a party planner who wants help with the details, this is an inexpensive handy guide book.

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The second specialty cookbook I want to share with y'all concentrates on one of my favorite foods to eat, but least favorite to cook: seafood. It's not that I hate to cook fish, I usually find the selection of seafood here in our landlocked state to be a bit lacking, and dealing with cleaning whole fish is more than I usually want to mess with for a dinner for two.

But Seafood: Spectacular Recipes for Every Season is written by two chefs from Sweden, where the availability of good fish is not nearly the issue that it is here. Chefs Par-Anders Bergqvist and Anders Engvall (go ahead and make your Swedish chef joke, now. I'll wait. Bork, bork, bork.) take an artist's approach to their cooking, and not just a culinary artist's.

In addition to cleverly dividing their book into 52 sections based on which particular week of the year should represent the absolutely most appropriate time for a specific recipe, but they also suggest a song, album or musical artist to listen to while preparing and eating each dish.

The recipes are not overly technical, so if you can get past the ingredient sourcing issues, most of the meals in the book should be achievable by a competent home chef. If nothing else, the food photography and witty musical asides make this a fun book to put on the coffee table.

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The last random cookbook topic for this roundup is aimed at folks looking for healthier desserts, specifically those readers who have gluten issues. Baked Doughnuts for Everyone! by Ashley McLaughlin is a baking book based on a very specific topic, not unlike local foodblogger Lindsay Landis' successful first book.

This book is full of creative sweet and savory recipes that all have the benefit of being safe for those with gluten issues. Due to this constraint, though, many of the recipes depend on ingredients that can be a little hard to find at your neighborhood grocery, like oat flour, sweet rice flour and almond meal, which serve as the base for just about every doughnut in the book. Because you're baking the treats, you'll probably have to purchase some special ring, twist or doughnut hole pans, but luckily all the aforementioned items are readily available online if you can't source them locally.

Since I haven't picked up any almond meal yet, I haven't actually tried any of the recipes yet. But I'd be interested to hear if any of our baking Bitesters have experimented with baked doughnut, gluten-free or gluten-full. How do they compare to the good old fried version? Will I be disappointed if I'm a Krispy Kreme guy from way back?

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