Savory Dinner Pies by Ken Haedrich


Author and savory pie expert Ken Haedrich takes you on a global tour of dinner pies from food cultures across the world.

Dinner pies have become a favorite go-to for one-dish recipes. Perfect your own crust or, dare we say, buy a pre-made crust and the variations are endless. Learn how to make Classic Americana Chicken Pot Pie, British Steak and Ale Pies, Swedish Meat Pies, Italian Easter Pie, and many more crust and no-crust versions of one of the world’s most prolific go-to dinners. Recipes for a range of crusts and make-ahead ideas are included along with how to use the almighty leftover to create pie masterpieces that are all your own!

With 75 recipes and amazing four-color photography, this is both a cookbook and an around-the-world tour of culinary traditions that can be incorporated into your own home kitchen weekly menu. Great for parties, families, Sunday night dinners, neighborly welcomes, holidays, and any-old-night-of-the-week dinners, and breakfasts and lunches—Savory Pies from Around the Globe offer something for every kitchen.

My Thoughts

Pies seem to be the trendy form of baking these days, and Ken Haedrich offers dozens of recipes for a savory version of pie that will turn heads at dinner parties. His recipes for savory pies are mostly delicious (there are some odd ones, but I’m sure they are just odd for me). The traditional Steak and Ale pies, pot pies, Easter pies, and my personal favorite – hand pies – are nicely balanced and accompanied by generally clear instructions.

The basic recipes for pastry dough are fairly simple even for beginning cooks and the ones I tried were quite tasty. This will make a solid addition to library shelves everywhere.

Published By: Quarto Publishing/Harvard Common Press
Publication Date: 1/18/2022

Thanks to Edelweiss & Netgalley for the review copy


Baking with Dorie by Dorie Greenspan


From James Beard Award-winning and NYT best-selling author Dorie Greenspan, a baking book of more than 150 exciting recipes

Say “Dorie Greenspan” and think baking. The renowned author of thirteen cookbooks and winner of five James Beard and two IACP awards offers a collection that celebrates the sweet, the savory, and the simple. Every recipe is signature Dorie: easy—beginners can ace every technique in this book—and accessible, made with everyday ingredients. Are there surprises? Of course! You’ll find ingenious twists like Berry Biscuits. Footlong cheese sticks made with cream puff dough. Apple pie with browned butter spiced like warm mulled cider. A s’mores ice cream cake with velvety chocolate sauce, salty peanuts, and toasted marshmallows. It’s a book of simple yet sophisticated baking. The chapters are classic: Breakfast Stuff • Cakes • Cookies • Pies, Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps • Two Perfect Little Pastries • Salty Side Up. The recipes are unexpected. And there are “Sweethearts” throughout, mini collections of Dorie’s all-time favorites. Don’t miss the meringue Little Marvels or the Double-Decker Caramel Cake. Like all of Dorie’s recipes, they lend themselves to being remade, refashioned, and riffed on.

My Thoughts

There seem to be a lot of baking books coming out this year. Fortunately, Dorie Greenspan never disappoints. My kids gave me one of her baking books for Christmas a few years ago and it’s one of the first books I turn to when I need a solid, reliable recipe for a delicious treat.

I enjoy Greenspan’s books because she writes in a way that gives the reader confidence to try these recipes. She includes all the information you need to replicate the luscious treats pictured throughout the book so even beginning bakers can be successful. Little touches like “don’t worry of the batter looks curdled – it will even out” lend a certain sense of comfort to bakers following her recipes. Her descriptions of what the dough or batter is supposed to look like provides a sense of safety and calm for less experienced bakers.

Here, Greenspan offers fresh takes on some familiar recipes, as well as plenty of new and creative baking ideas. I’ve stopped using Pinterest and food blogs for recipes because they invariably suck. We are lucky that bakers like Greenspan, her peers, and her publishers continue to provide cookbooks full of well-tested recipes that you pretty much can’t screw up as long as you follow the instructions. Any baker worth her rolling pin will want to take a look at this.


Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Published By: Mariner Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy


Treasures of the Mexican Table by Pati Jinich


The “buoyant and brainy Mexican cooking authority” (New York Times) and star of the three-time James Beard Award-winning PBS series Pati’s Mexican Table brings together more than 150 iconic dishes that define the country’s cuisine.

Although many of us can rattle off our favorite authentic Mexican dishes, we might be hard pressed to name more than ten. Which is preposterous, given that Mexico has a rich culinary history stretching back thousands of years. For the last decade, Pati Jinich has sought out the culinary treasures of her home country, from birria, to salsa macha, to coyotas, to carne asada. 

Many of these dishes are local specialties, heirlooms passed down through generations, unknown outside of their original regions. Others have become national sensations. Each recipe is a classic. Each one comes with a story told in Pati’s warm, relatable style. And each has been tested in Pati’s American kitchen to ensure it is the best of its kind. Together, these essential recipes paint a vivid picture of the richness of Mexico


It’s a rare cookbook that I recommend for LibraryReads, but Treasures of the Mexican Table is so charming, chatty, and informative that I had to do so.

Pati Jinich writes to you as though you are her best friend and she’s teaching you how to make Mole or Carne Asada or any one of the delicioso recipes in this comprehensive book. For the first time ever, I feel like I am beginning to understand the subtle but powerful differences among chiles. Jinich also clearly demonstrates and communicates the depths and differences in cooking throughout the Mexican states. Her stories, included with every recipe, add a delightful charm to this book, making it very readable as well as utilitarian.

Some of the recipes use ingredients that are not readily available in my little corner of the world, so some cooks may be disappointed, but Jinich often offers alternatives that will give a similar flavor. Many recipes are also somewhat complicated, making this a book for the experienced cook. The variety of recipes is outstanding, with some of the most intriguing being Grilled Oaxacan Air-Dried Beef, Carne Con Chile, Wedding Stew (Asado De Boda), and Mole Poblano with Chicken (which has a whopping 26 ingredients just for the Mole sauce) which looks and sounds amazing.

If you watch Jinich on PBS, you will hear her voice in your head as you read. She wraps you in her enthusiasm and joy in her cooking and sharing her Mexican heritage with the world.

Highly recommended.

Publication Date: November 2, 2021
Published By: Mariner Books
Thanks to *Netgalley for the review copy


Baking for the Holidays by Sarah Kieffer


A charming holiday baking book brimming with delicious, indulgent recipes, cozy winter photography, and lots of holiday cheer from Sarah Kieffer, author of 100 Cookies, beloved baker behind The Vanilla Bean Blog, and creator of the “bang-the-pan” method.

Delight family and friends with edible gifts and whip up some delicious baked goods to treat yourself through the long winter months after the holidays have ended. Recipes include: Triple Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Meyer Lemon-White Chocolate Scones, Pear-Almond Danish Bread, Hot Chocolate Cake, and Pumpkin Pie with Candied Pepita Streusel. With happy, festive photography and anyone-can-do-it recipes, this is a perfect holiday gift sure to please anyone in your life who loves to while away the winter months in their warm and cozy kitchen.

Sarah Kieffer is quickly finding a place on my cookbook shelves. While many of the recipes in Baking for the Holidays are familiar to me, Kieffer has included plenty of suggestions for twists on originals – unusual thing you can add to cakes, breads, and pastries – that add new life to old classics.

Every recipe I tried resulted in delicious, well-baked goodies, due to Kieffer’s careful and detailed instructions. She’s a good writer, and very attentive to detail, which makes her a great writer of cookbooks! The photography is full of luscious images of cakes, cookies, pastries and other delectable items.

My favorite “new” recipe is the one for Morning Buns, which I will be adding to my rotation of special items to bake for holidays.

Buy this for the baker in your life!

Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Published By: Chronicle Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy


Kevin Belton’s Cookin’ Louisiana by Kevin Belton


Kevin Belton’s fourth cookbook and television series focuses on the amazing food found throughout Louisiana. The star of New Orleans Cooking with Kevin Belton heads to multiple parishes found across Louisiana to explore dishes and unique flavor profiles associated with each area of the state. Kevin Belton’s Cookin’ Louisiana has 78 recipes (3 from each episode of the coordinating TV series) along with a generous helping of Kevin’s captivating stories and humor. Recipes include Smoked Meat Loaf with Sweet Glaze, Louisiana Fish on the Half Shell, Cane Syrup Cake, Pumpkin Soup, Fried Alligator Bites, and Shrimp Scampi Risotto.

The thing I enjoy the most about Kevin Belton is his down-to-earth authenticity, and that shines through every page of this delightful book.

The book is a wonderful blend of Belton’s storytelling about his home state of Louisiana and a collection of delicious recipes. Heavy on seafood, but including plenty of meat for the carnivores, Belton serves up stews, gumbos, stuffed veggies, and even some desserts.

I was happy to find a recipe for his Creole seasoning, too, and made that straightaway. I’ll be trying out a few of the recipes and expect that my Great Lakes born & bred husband will devour every one.

ARCs of cookbooks are often difficult to follow because the formatting and photos often aren’t fully correct, so there were a few recipes jumbled together, but I was able to figure them out.

Belton’s stories about the different parishes in Louisiana are charming and informative, but sometimes did not really connect with recipes offered in the chapter. I’m guessing that may be an editing issue that will be corrected prior to publication.

Overall, an excellent cookbook from a guy who cooks real food with history and meaning and who, like all excellent cooks, has a story for everything!

Published By: Gibbs-Smith
Publication Date: August 31, 2021
Thanks to *Edelweiss.Plus for the review copy


Big Love Cooking by Joey Campanaro

1AEEABAF-4322-47F8-B1A5-DEE8076B56CBFrom Netgalley & the Publisher:

What is Big Love Cooking? For Joey Campanaro, Italian-American chef and owner of venerated Greenwich Village restaurant Little Owl, big love cooking is his mother and grandmother hovering over the stove every Sunday, nursing a bubbling pot of red sauce, and filling the house with the familiar, irresistible scent of garlic, tomatoes, and carne.

This cookbook is an ode to the generous, comforting dishes of that big love cooking. With helpful, conversational advice and 75 crowd-pleasing recipes, this cookbook is a return to hearty platters and comfort food. Welcome home.

Recipes include Gravy Meatball Slider Buns, Pork Chop with Parmesan Butter Beans, Ricotta Cavatelli with Tomato Broth, Bacon, and Fava Beans—accessible, delicious meals to make at home and serve to loved ones.

About the Author:

Joey Campanaro is the owner/chef of Little Owl Restaurant, and co-owner of Market Table and The Clam in New York. He is the winner of the Food Network Ultimate Thanksgiving Challenge, and has appeared on The Today Show, Iron Chef, Vice Munchies, Chopped and many more. He has also contributed to Bon Appetit, Esquire, Slate, and the New York Times, among others.

Joey was raised in an Italian-American household in South Philadelphia where the food of his childhood inspired him to make cooking his vocation. With a culinary approach firmly rooted in his Italian grandmother’s kitchen and honed in a range of America’s top restaurants, he brings a lifelong affinity for Mediterranean cuisine to every dish he creates.

Little Owl is a corner gem with a big porkchop and an even bigger heart. Celebrating 13 years in Greenwich Village (New York City), Little Owl offers bold Mediterranean cuisine with friendly yet professional service that captures neighborhood dining in NYC. Understated yet elegant, an intimate room, it’s your home away from home.

I don’t often recommend cookbooks for Reader’s Advisory or Library Reads lists because, well, they’re cookbooks and usually not all that interesting to fully read.

Big Love Cooking is different.

Joey Campanaro has produced a cookbook that is fun to read as well as full of delicious recipes. Reading this is like being invited to the warmth, noise, and chaotic love of the Campanaro Sunday table. I married into a family much like Campanaro’s where food traditions reign supreme. The family has changed in the 35 years I’ve been with my husband, but the food remains the same.

There is a great balance of story and instruction here, with many of the recipes containing little asides from Campanaro regarding how to prepare the food. It makes you feel as though he’s right there next to you and encouraging you to try a little of this, or taste a little of that. This approach is entertaining for the experienced cook, but also very helpful for the new cook who may not have the confidence to deviate from the recipe. Campanaro “Big Love” approach just might help that new cook become more confident.

The personal stories of Campanaro’s family are entertaining and endearing. I think every Italian family has a set of “Uncle Frankie’s wine glasses” (and an Uncle Frankie!). For my family, they were individual hourglass-shaped glasses that originally held little shrimp cocktails. My father-in-law would fill them with his homemade wine and pass them out every holiday. And the “Old-School Salit” is my mother-in-law 100% – I *still* haven’t mastered the ratio of oil and vinegar poured directly on the “salit.”

The recipes, though, are the stars here. The “Little Owl Gravy Meatball Sliders” and “Sesame Seed Breadsticks” are amazing, and the directions for the “Sunday Gravy” are authentic and easy to follow. What really makes this book shine, though, are the recipes from Campanaro’s Little Owl restaurant. Horseradish Crusted Cod, Asparagus Homefries, Crab Cakes with Beefsteak Tomatoes, Little Owl Pork Chop, and so many more.

This will make a lovely gift for the cook in your life. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: September 8, 2020
Published By: Chronicle Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy


100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer

cover190286-medium100 recipes for all types of cookies–chocolatey, fruity, crispy, chewy, classic, inventive—there’s a foolproof recipe for the perfect treat for everyone in this book.

Sarah Kieffer writes The Vanilla Bean Baking Blog and introduces a whole new technique for baking cookies that ensures crisp edges and soft centers for the most delicious cookies.

Recipes range from the Classic Chocolate Chip made three different ways, to bars, brownies, and blondies that reflect a wide range of flavors and global inspiration. 

As an avid cookie baker, I am always on the lookout for new cookie cookbooks. I am not, however, a fan of Instagram or food blogs, so I was unfamiliar with the author. I am very glad that she has made the transition from online to print, because this book is a delight!

Filled with luscious recipes that range from old favorites to brand new flavor combinations and techniques, there is something here for the novice to the experienced baker. Kieffer comes across as chatty, witty, authentic, and just plain fun. She doesn’t take herself super-seriously, which is a flaw in most food bloggers and Instagrammers, and she approaches baking with precision blended with a heady dose of risk-taking.

I always appreciate a book that blends sumptuous recipes with an intelligent introduction and commentary that carries throughout the book. Kieffer’s fondness for Shakespeare is apparent in the generous sprinkling of quotes throughout, making the book fun to read.

I don’t buy many cookbooks in print anymore, but I will be buying this one, along with a couple copies for family & friend bakers.

Publication Date: October 20, 2020 (just in time for holiday baking!)
Published By: Chronicle Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy


Heirloom by Sarah Owens

HeirloomIn Heirloom, Sarah Owens’ efforts to introduce cooks to using locally grown, “heirloom” food is commendable, and she writes eloquently and passionately about the benefits of doing so. A lengthy introduction leaves the reader fully informed as to why Owens prefers this kind of food and cookery, despite the sometimes  overblown descriptions and statements describing the relationship between humans and food consumption.

The recipes here are organized in two parts – by type such as fruits & vegetables, meats, and grains, then by season, which is helpful and supports the narrative style of the text.

There’s some definite “Earth Mothering” here, with recipes and instructions for making your own vinegar from carefully selected plants, and fermenting food which, let’s be real, regular people are probably not going to work into their busy lives, even though the recipes are totally fascinating!

And that leads me to my main criticism of this book – it is definitely written from a place of privilege. There’s little to no understanding by the author that many Americans live in food deserts, where they can’t easily access fresh food, and certainly can’t afford to pay for some of the ingredients used here. That said, this will find an audience with the semi-affluent to affluent Moms who are trying to get their families to eat healthy.

Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Published By: Roost Books
Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy

Cookbooks, Magical, Micro Reviews, Mystery, Uncategorized


Philosophers FlightThe Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller – Imagine a world where the patriarchy is flipped. Where women who have unusual skills (think those traditionally associated with “witches” like flying, healing, and magic) have shaped the world and women have the power. Now imagine that the son of one of the most decorated “Philosophers” wants to join what seems to be the equivalent of the Air Force, but to do so he must graduate from the Philosopher program at Radcliffe, where he one of only 3 men. At the same time, the Philosophers are threatened by the “Trenchers” who believe the skills possessed by the Philosophers are evil.

And that’s only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Miller has built a world that is at once familiar and topsy-turvy, and made that world a whole lot of fun. There’s unbounded humor and imagination here along with plenty of breathtaking excitement. Highly recommended.

Edna LewisEdna Lewis: At the Table with an American Original – If you pick up this book expecting it to be a cookbook, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re looking for a highly readable collection of essays about a remarkable woman, this is your book.

Yes, there are some recipes, but they are superfluous to the story told here. Edna Lewis is the star, and food her supporting actors. This collection of essays and reminiscences about Lewis, who passed away in 2006 after decades of holding court as the Queen of Southern Cooking, is a beautiful testament to a woman who successfully introduced real Southern Cooking to the masses. Cooking in a time when food was “complicated,” Lewis made her mark and built her audience by staying true to simple recipes using the freshest ingredients. Along the way, she influenced countless chefs and cooks. This book collects their stories, each one unique and interesting. Recommended for curious cooks.

Well Timed MurderA Well-Timed Murder by Tracee de Hahn – I stumbled upon de Hahn’s first Agnes Luthi book, Swiss Vendetta, quite by accident while browsing in a book store one day. I took it over to a comfortable chair to read a few pages and was hooked after the first chapter. I’ve waited for this, her second in the series, with much anticipation and I was not disappointed.

Agnes returns with the same quiet, sturdy, wry spirit, despite the injuries she sustained at the end of Swiss Vendetta. We learn more about Agnes and her family here, as well as about Julian Vallotton, as the two investigate the death of a master watchmaker. I have a fondness for mysteries that include well-researched information about unusual topics; in this case, de Hahn delivers some fascinating information about the Swiss and international watch industry.

The author skillfully develops key characters, and crafts a tricky and surprising plot which fully engages the reader. Tracee de Hahn is quickly becoming a new favorite author and Agnes Luthi a favorite character. Highly recommended.

Cookbooks, Uncategorized

Foodimentary by John-Bryan Hopkins

1577151534I am a cookbook reader and collector, and the concept behind Foodimentary intrigued me. Every day a Food Holiday? Hell, yes!

I was not familiar with the author’s blog so opened the book to a cold read through. I found the introduction, where he describes the “a-ha” moment when he discovered the word “foodimentary” and how he built his blog just a little too precious and uninteresting, but I am *not* an “Introduction” reader and usually skip them, so no matter.

What does matter is the content of this marvelous book! Hopkins has produced a readable, fun book filled with interesting facts about food and 365 reasons to celebrate it.

Every. Single. Day.

I’m not entirely clear on how he selected the Food Holidays, but I do like his flexibility in changing them up and his encouragement to readers to decide on their own food holidays. The food holidays described in the book are fascinating to read and will be a blast to celebrate. Since reading this book, I have celebrated Stuffed Mushroom Day (Feb 4), Oreo Cookie Day (March 6), and Potato Chip Day (March 14). There are so many possible uses here – in classrooms, libraries, and most certainly bars & restaurants.

The book itself is big and chunky, and filled with retro illustrations that remind me of old cookbooks. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but am looking forward to testing a few. This would make a wonderful gift for the foodie in your life, and there is tremendous potential to connect with the author through social media and share your pics of how you’ve celebrated his Food Holidays. Recommended.