Saturday, May 03, 2008
Cookbook Watch: Singular Cookbooks
I love well-written cookbooks that capture all sorts of food, but there's also something to be said for very singular books that just deal with one, narrow subject. I've ended up with plenty of those lately, and here are some of them...
"Västerbottensost" - Västerbotten Cheese - is one of my favorite cheeses. It's very sharp, and with a lovely nutty flavor. (I've written about it before.) There's now a book, by Susanne Jonsson, with the same name. And it's all about the cheese, I'm happy to say! It's only available in Swedish - but then again, the cheese itself is pretty hard to get outside of Sweden. You might get lucky at IKEA though, or in some special cheese stores. It's produced on such a small scale that the dairy runs out, every year, and most of the cheese isn't exported. It's extremely suitable for cooking, and I love making pie with it. The book has several varieties on pies, but also recipes for everything from bread (a gorgeous cheese-filled bread with walnuts and basil) to desserts (hazelnut-crusted cheese with cloudberries) and not forgetting salads, soups, pancakes or anything else in between. So - singular cookbook as for the subject, but certainly still with a very wide variety of dishes. If you read Swedish, you can go on to the website.
Then, we have.. "Chocolate Epiphany". This is just completely amazing. I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. The cover alone made me drool. And it is *so* well-written! Francois Payard comes from a line of chocolatiers and he's sharing many of his "secrets" in this book - recipes that it's clear that he makes himself, and has made for many years. The book is surprisingly undaunting and accessible - I haven't tried anything yet, but he explains everything so well (yet without being overly detailed like some cookbooks authors I might mention can be) that I feel well-equipped to take on anything. Well, maybe not the chocolate crepe cake with matcha pastry cream - while it looks breathtaking, it also looks majorly difficult. I think I'll begin with his chocolate Tiramisu though! This book has desserts, cakes, cookies and chocolate confections, but also a few brunch items which I found very interesting. Chocolate granola, anyone? If you love chocolate as much as I do, well, then this is definitely the book for you.
What goes well with chocolate? Coffee? Yes, indeed. Coffee. And I have two books about coffee! One is called "Svensk Kaffebok" (Swedish Coffee book) and it's not really a cookbook so I won't say all that much about it, but it does talk about coffee (production, history, brands, different types, etc) in very much detail. It's written by journalist Anne Nilsson who I met at Barista Cup, and she says that the book might be translated into English sometime soon-ish. Coffee fans - I'll let you know when that happens.
The other one - which you see above - isn't available in English either, and it's even more particular, subject-wise. It's about coffee - Italian coffee. And Italien coffee bars! It's written by Tomas Tengy (journalist) and Matts Johansson (who owns Da Matteo in Gothenburg, where I was fortunate enough to have coffee a few weeks ago) It's not just about the coffee, but also about the sandwiches or sweets you might encounter at such a bar. It has sections on pasta - of course! - and ice creams and cheeses, too. And, as a bonus towards the end: addresses to great coffee bars in Italy. Very handy.
I've mentioned GI - Glycemic Index - on the blog before, and it's very popular in Sweden. It's not a diet - but it is, of course, but more of a lifestyle. According to the followers. And well, if a diet is just something short-lived, then no, this is not a diet. If you choose to eat according to GI, it's something you do for life, more or less. And if you do, you're definitely going to need some inspiration for cookbooks, at leats to get you started! Klara Desser has written several books about this, and her husband Hans Desser has taken all the beautiful, beautiful photographs. I really like Klara's writing - even though GI is not particularly interesting to me, she makes it much more accessible than most writers. And her recipes are well thought-out, clear and fun. Her latest book - "Klaras GI-desserter" is as you might deduce from the name all about desserts. As GI means you avoid sugar, you'd think it's pretty hard to make dessert, but here are no less than 70 recipes. And many of them sound very appealing - or how about warm mango with lime yogurt? Phyllo pie with pears and ginger? Chocolate cheesecake with a nutty crust? It all sounds very good to me - low GI or not.
Pies aren't particularly GI-friendly, so this book is for someone else: "Pajer" by Caroline Hofberg is all about pies. Hofberg is extremely productive - she seems to get at least one book out every year, and has done so for several years now. This is the first one that I really like - and I'm not even a big fan of pies! This book though, is just so inventive... how about a chicken pie with chorizo and saffron? Cheese pie with fig- and pear salsa? Broccoli pie with mushrooms and blue cheese? Yummy! Half the book has dessert pies, half savory pies. I have to say that the savory section is more appealing to me - probaby because I'd rarely choose to make a pie for dessert.