After a decade of co-authoring and recipe developing for some of the most successful and meaningful cookbooks on the market, Julia decided to write her very first solo cookbook. That book, Small Victories, is the sort of book you can only write once: a book that combines all 31 of her years of life experience and passion for cooking at home into one giant love letter to all that she believes in. Small Victories celebrates the way so many of us cook: one step (or “small victory”) at a time. Each recipe of her book (which contains over 100 recipes and hundreds more spin-offs) starts with a tip, trick or technique that you can use to create something delicious, and then offers how to alter or expand on that dish to make something new and different. There are recipes for everything from delicious chocolate cake with raspberry jam and morning muffins to Julia’s beloved Caesar dressing and a Korean clambake.
Spending my time with someone who works in cookbook writing and testing has made me look at books in a whole new way. My own experience with books made me appreciate the hard work that goes into the organization, but to see first-hand how much testing and skill goes into each recipe makes me have a whole new level of respect for cookbook authors. We’ve been so fortunate to see some gorgeous books come across our desk at work lately, so I thought I’d share some of my personal favorites that I plan to be cooking from over the holiday break. I tend to lean heavily on sweets, so many of these are dessert books (not sure if I should apologize or celebrate that fact) which I hope will still work for everyone. If not, we’ve got an in-depth post coming up tomorrow about a great new recipe book that celebrates the savory as much as the sweet. Happy cooking!
All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray (Chronicle Books). For one year, the author (a producer at National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered) brought in a cake to work every Monday, and this book is the result. It is a fantastically entertaining book. The recipes are a mix between previously published recipes, and the author’s own (bequeathed by friends and family, or tweaked and ‘co-opted’ for personal use from other sources), so of course they have been tested and retested. What I love about the book is the author’s voice, the way the instructions are written, the stories, all of the written text. What I do not like about the book– you need a 10″ tube pan to make the majority of the recipes, or you need shortening. If you live in a place where it’s difficult to find either (especially the latter), you’re out of luck. Comb the internet to find a shortening alternative. If you can get over those two things (I’m still smarting), then this book is a winner. There’s even a chapter on non-cakes (cookies etc)!