Cookbooks for the New Year

9781452104683_normA few weeks before the holidays I was browsing through the cookbook section of the Strand (as I am want to do) and saw three books I lusted after, but realized would put too much of a dent in my budget to splurge on.  So, and don’t tell anyone this, I did something I almost never do: I went to Amazon.  Of course I found all three for much cheaper and in a tipsy moment of gay abandon I bought them. The fourth cookbook I bought was weeks later at the Brooklyn Kitchen where I had gone to by Pretzel Salt, which they didn’t have so I consoled myself by buying Humphry Slocumbe‘s Ice Cream book.  It had me laughing out loud at the store and was only $19.95!

Does it sound like I need to join Cookbooks anonymous?

Humphry Slocumbe is an ice cream shop in the Mission district of San Francisco – my favorite place to hang out when I am visiting (just search Mission or San Francisco on this here blog and you will see just how much I love it).  So it is kind of strange that I have never been to Humphry Slocumbe – just goes to show you that even the most dedicated exploring can miss some gems.

Here is what the boys who opened the Humphry Slocumbe have to say about the Mission:

There was really never any thought of opening Humphry Slocumbe in any neighborhood in San Francisco other than the Mission District.  For both of us, this is our home.  It’s our little Bay Area version of New York’s East Village. (While we’re on the subject of the New York and San Francisco comparison: we’re happy to go to Brooklyn when in New Yrok, but give it up, people the East Bay is not Brooklyn.) 

As a New Yorker who has spent most of his 26 years in the East Village, who now spends a lot of time in Brooklyn and love SF I thought this was very funny.  The book is full of things like this,  like the story about an ice cream flavor called Fetal Kitten – too funny.

So if you only buy this book to read the narrative it’s well worth it.  I’m trying to figure out which Ice Cream recipe I want to make first, right now it’s Guinness and Gingerbread but I may make Harvey Milk and Honey though I am really tempted by Malted Dulce de Leche.

The last thing I will say about this book is that I find it mind bogglingly perplexing that a place with such a committment to quality ingredients has a cookbook filled with recipes calling for tons of corn syrup.  Of course any one who knows me knows that I have a thing about corn syrup which is to say that I have thing about Monsanto and GMO’s and High Fructose Corn Syrup (which is what most corn syrup is unless it is labeled non GMO Organic*) and I don’t really think any cookbook should be hawking the stuff so Monsanto can dominate our food supply any more then they already do.  So do yourself a favor if you want to make a recipe from this cookbook or any other cookbook that asks you to use corn syrup think about making it with something else like sugar or maple syrup or Lyle’s Golden Syrup or Agava or search the web and see if you can’t find a recipe for the same thing (chocolate sauce, caramel sauce etc) that doesn’t call for it. If all else fails spend the extra coin and buy Organic Non GMO corn syrup which is sold at Whole Foods.

Moving on…

9781617690044_p0_v1_s260x420Yes I admit it I totally bought Yvette Van Boven’s second book because of the picture on the front cover.  Not only is it gorgeous, the cake surrounding the pear is a cardamon cake (my favorite spice) and it’s glazed with white chocolate.  What I am wondering now that I have looked at the recipe is how do you deal with the Pear seeds? Given the recipe calls for the entire Pear.  I’ll get back to you on that one.


Yottam Ottolenghi is one of the hottest chefs cooking in London right now, his book Plenty was a big hit and I gave it to my brother David and his significant other Kim for Christmas last year.  This year I figured it was my turn.  The book is filled with lots of simple tasty and often, vegetarian recipes.  It’s also a wonderfully evocative tour of the fascinating city it is named for.


This one is a no brainer, I love Nigel Slater and both volumes of Tender I have are the British editions so I have to constantly figure out the American measurements for each recipe – this is the American edition and it’s so much easier!

I figure these should keep me busy until Spring and something tells me you’ll me hearing a lot more as I cook my way through them.

* I figured you needed a break from my rant, I just in the name of thoroughness that I saw a bottle of Karo corn syrups that advertised on the label 0% high fructose corn syrup….it’s still GMO but this seems like progress….

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note:
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1 Response to Cookbooks for the New Year

  1. Pingback: You Say Krankz I Say Babka | Urbanfoodguy

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