24 Booklist September 1, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
and déclassé, and fast food and frozen entrées
made them slightly irrelevant. So it’s refreshing to see one of these comprehensive books
back in fashion, all gussied up with color photographs and distinctly contemporary recipes.
This one has British roots, but it has so much
mass appeal that U.S. cooks can profit handsomely from its 500-plus pages. Open it,
and two pages of soups appear: minestrone,
New England clam chowder, French onion,
and cock-a-leekie—definitely a multicultural
soup experience. Other sections include tacos, moussaka, Thai curries, couscous, and
coq au vin. Each recipe states approximate
preparation time, and instructions are generally easy to follow, requiring little specialized
technique and rarely unfamiliar ingredients.
Desserts and other sweets abound. The index lists dishes by prominent ingredients for
fast and easy access to the 1,000 recipes. A
definite purchase for most public libraries.
Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics
3 Ways: Traditional, Contemporary,
By Jennifer Brulé.
Sept. 2016. 256p. illus. Univ. of North Carolina, $30
(9781469629124); e-book, $29.99 (9781469629131).
Everyone knows the timeless dishes that
practically define the cooking of America’s
South: fried chicken, pimento cheese, grits, fried
okra. Here, Brulé provides
faithful recipes for each of
these southern standards.
Then, in a burst of creative imagination, she goes
a step further by bringing them up-to-date for
modern tastes by offering a trimmed-down
version of every recipe that decreases calorie
content without sacrificing the flavors that
make them so beloved. This often means
an oven-fried version that substantially cuts
back on oil, not to mention making for easier
cleanup. That done, Brulé boldly takes another step and presents the classic in guise of
an exotic makeover. Thus, fried fish become
Thai fish cakes. Grits gain an Italian accent
as polenta with Gorgonzola. Macaroni and
cheese translate into a Swiss dish of pasta,
onions, and Gruyère. An ingenious cookbook that will appeal to cooks of all stripes.
Marbled, Swirled, and Layered: 150
Recipes and Variations for Artful Bars,
Cookies, Pies, Cakes, and More.
By Irvin Lin.
Nov. 2016. 352p. illus. Houghton, $30 (9780544453739).
The pastry chef’s skills range wide, calling
upon training in physics, chemistry, and cu-
linary technique to produce artful and tasty
desserts appealing to the widest possible au-
dience. San Franciscan Lin has mastered his
craft, and he shares his deep knowledge to
educate others. The cookies and cakes Lin
has imagined here go far beyond the com-
monplace. Some of the recipes will challenge
even the chef’s professional peers, but a few
will prove attractive and intriguing to the
everyday home baker. The sharply defined
pinwheel effect of his cinnamon honey bun
cookies can be duplicated with some practice
and patience. Lin’s sense of humor extends
to a cake that duplicates commercial cream-
filled chocolate cupcakes. Every recipe has
one or two variations that transform flavors
from the basic version. For those who need
to avoid gluten, Lin has developed wheat
flour substitutions that perform perfectly.
Culinary students can glean much from Lin.
Sweet! Celebrations: The Ultimate
Dessert & Party Planning Companion.
By Elise Strachan.
Oct. 2016. 240p. illus. Atria, $35 (9781501142222);
e-book, $16.99 (9781501142246). 641.8.
Could baking for a party be any easier?
Australian-based professional pastry maker
Strachan presents 14 recipes that form the
center of her sixtysomething ideas for holidays and other occasions. Everything for
cakes, cupcakes, and pop dough revolves
around chocolate, vanilla, white chocolate,
rich chocolate, and red-velvet flavors—with
a number being offered in microwave formats. All coalesce in the eight holidays, from
a general celebration to winter festivals. Each
idea features full-page photographs, recipes,
frequent tips in the form of time and money
savers, at least two “no-bake” desserts, and
quick how-to’s for decorating, from easy-to-do cake standards (flip the traditional stance
of flower pot and saucer) to place cards.
Among the droolworthies: chocolate-filled
pumpkins, mini-cookie birthday cakes, chocolate mug brownies, lemon-curd cheesecake
eggs. Remember: reading recipes is not caloric. —Barbara Jacobs
Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life.
By Peter Ackroyd.
Oct. 2016. 288p. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $26.95
There are a handful of good biographies of
famed film director Hitchcock, McGilligan’s
Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light
(2003) and Spoto’s The Life of Alfred Hitchcock
(1983), among them. What Ackroyd offers
here is not a radically new take on Hitchcock’s
life but, rather, a stylish but straightforward
biography for those who haven’t read the
other ones. He takes us through the direc-
tor’s life, portraying a greengrocer’s son whose
early interests in travel, crime, offbeat humor,
and people-watching would manifest them-
selves on-screen. There is some film criticism
and analysis here—it would be tough to write
a book about Hitchcock’s life without at least
briefly mentioning the content and themes
of his movies—but, in general, the author
eschews highfalutin analysis in favor of a
well-rounded, sometimes surprising portrait
of a unique man. Not a replacement for ear-
lier Hitch bios; more like a companion piece.
Still, Ackroyd is such a graceful, compelling
writer that he can take a familiar story and
make it feel fresh all over again. —David Pitt
Angelic Music: The Story of Ben
Franklin’s Glass Armonica.
By Corey Mead.
Oct. 2016. 243p. illus. Simon & Schuster, $28
Intrigued by earlier techniques and contraptions that use glass to make music,
all-around achiever Benjamin Franklin
mounted a set of glass bowls, sized to produce a couple of chromatic scales when set
vibrating, on a spindle turned by a treadle.
Revolved and rhythmically touched by wet
fingers, the bowls emitted tones universally
dubbed ethereal. Perhaps surprisingly, Franklin’s handsome contraption became a craze
for which Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven
composed. That it became the means for female virtuosos to pursue careers (at least until
marriage; see Anna Beers, Sounds and Sweet
Airs, 2016) and the ideal accompanist to
group treatments of physical ills by enterprising physician Franz Mesmer are more than
surprising; they’re highly and pleasantly interesting, thanks to Mead’s clear, friendly prose.
The limited volume of the glass armonica (no
h; that was added later) led to its eclipse as
orchestral concerts replaced chamber recitals
in public favor; meanwhile, Mesmer’s jealous professional peers smeared it as a cause
of, not a cure for, ill health. Lately, however,
it’s been enjoying a renaissance. Marvelously
ingratiating music history. —Ray Olson
Around the Way Girl.
By Taraji P. Henson.
Oct. 2016. 256p. Atria/37INK, $26 (9781501125997).
Henson, who currently stars as the music
family matriarch, Cookie Lyon, on the hit TV
drama, Empire, credits her upbringing for her
success as an actress. Henson’s parents split
when she was young but worked hard to provide for her, support her acting dreams, and
give her the courage to follow them. With
a flair for the dramatic from a young age,
Henson grew up adoring funny women like
Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, idolizes fellow
Howard alum Debbie Allen, and considers
Richard Pryor a “master teacher” of the art
of storytelling. Now in her mid-forties, she’s
grateful to be cast in amazing parts, with an
Oscar nomination under her belt, at an age
past which many actresses fear irrelevance. In
an authentic, conspiratorial voice, Henson
shares behind-the-scenes looks at many of her
roles—single mom to her son being the one
she’s proudest of. She also addresses the typecasting of black actresses and how hard she’s
worked to overcome it, Hollywood pay gaps,
and presuppositions about single mothers