Salt To Taste is an Italian cookbook by chef/restaurateur Marco Canora, and there are a lot of things to celebrate here as well. The book is beautifully designed, and John Kernick's photos strike right at your salivary glands. One of the main things that sets this book apart is the writing style of the recipes. Canora bucks the concise/bare-bones recipe trend in a good way. Many of his recipes take you through step-by-step, encouraging you to listen, smell, taste, and look as you go. In the risotto recipes, you are told to stir the rice with onion and fat until the rice no longer looks chalky and the grains begin to crackle or pop. And when stewing cannellini beans with sage we are instructed to cook them at the gentlest simmer possible, striving for beans that are still whole, but soft and creamy throughout. This might take thirty minutes, or up to an hour and a half, it depends, and he guides us through the variables, cues, and considerations thoughtfully.
The book opens with a hearty skillet recipe -- eggs with tomatoes on toast. Both satisfying and flavorful, it sets the tone for the book nicely. I should also say that unlike many chefs, Canora isn't afraid to keep it simple if need be. The number of component-style recipes he includes is comparatively minimal. In one instance he shares a preparation of penne, butter, sage, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and cracked black pepper. That's it. And it works. The recipes come from a number of Italian regions, which is great for cooks who are looking for a survey of Italian inspiration before diving more deeply into one region or another.
Without taking anything away from Salt to Taste, I'm going to advance Canal House Cooking. Hirsheimer and Hamilton have done a great job of capturing a theme that resonates with many right now -- living, cooking, eating, and finding inspiration close to home. They focus on telling their story through wonderful imagery and a tightly edited collection of personal recipes, and in doing so they've created a lovely little book that I suspect will make itself a favorite in many kitchens.
San Francisco-based photographer and cookbook author Heidi Swanson is the creator of the award-winning blog 101 Cookbooks. She is the author of Super Natural Cooking a James Beard Award-nominated cookbook focused on natural foods. She is a contributor to Saveur.com and has also been featured in a wide range of national and international publications including Food & Wine, Fast Company, Glamour, Vegetarian Times, and the Washington Post.
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer keep it simple, and I think that's what makes Canal House so successful. They select a few ingredients that truly embody the essence of summer and then provide thoughtful but uncomplicated ways to prepare them: for example, melon water with lime, mint and white rum; potato salad "buttered" and lemoned; and grilled steak with green sauce.
Fans of Marco Canora's first restaurant Hearth will find the same warmth and comforting food in the pages of his cookbook. They'll also get a healthy dose of his childhood and family history. John Kernick is one of my favorite photographers and his images perfectly match Canora's cooking.
Inspired by The Morning News' Tournament of Books, we got together with
our friend Charlotte Druckman and created the Tournament of Cookbooks.
Here on Food52, you can watch the action and weigh in on the results as
the 16 most notable cookbooks of the year vie for the coveted Piglet
trophy. The tournament features top food writers and chefs as judges.
Play will take place over the course of 3 weeks, with a decision
published each weekday.
The 2010 Judges