An amazing variety of cookbooks to choose from and a vegetarian recipe you can whip up in minutes

Welcome to the last day of our two week look at some of the amazing cookbooks and food books out this season.

Last week, I looked at French cookbooks, including a very unique and somewhat controversial book from a Québécois chef, and included two decadent (would you expect anything less from the French, I ask you?) vegetarian recipes: A boozy chocolate mousse and a Canadian maple tart.

In my last post, I looked at a cookbook from an incredible chef and an extraordinary book on cooking techniques. And, of course, there was the incredibly delicious vegetarian recipe for a fast and easy and wonderfully unique salad.

Today, I want to do a whirlwind tour of five more books. And, of course, I’ll include yet another vegetarian recipe.

The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food
If you don’t know Judith Jones, author of The Tenth Muse, then you might know a famous associate of hers: Julia Child. Yep, she was the editor for Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. But Julia is not the only person she discovered. Judith, who was a senior vice-president at Knopf, introduced talents as diverse as Madhur Jaffrey and Edna Lewis. Now, this is a nice read and that would be good enough. But, to sweeten the pot, the author has also included fifty of her favorite recipes including some vegetarian recipes: Gooseberry fool, Sorrel and leek pancakes, and (and this is good to have if you have extra maple syrup from the pie recipe last week) Frozen maple mousse.

The Home Creamery
A long, long time ago, I read somewhere that you could make your own butter with cream. I was quite captivated by the idea, so I bought a small container of heavy cream, chilled it, and poured it into a clean mason jar. Then I shook and shook and shook some more and, don’t you know, that cream turned into butter. Amazing! (Okay, don’t snicker, I was your classic city kid.) And ever since then, I have always wanted to try my hand at making my own cheese. Fast forward to today and we have a book that shows you how to make everything from yogurt and ricotta to mozzarella, crème fraîche, and even mascarpone. Good part 1: You don’t need any hard-to-find ingredients or equipment. Good part 2: The book includes recipes (many of which are vegetarian) so you can turn your amazing cheeses into delicious treats such as Sour cream raisin pie and Poached pears and ricotta. And, yes, the instructions are almost as simple as pour into a jar and shake!

Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
There are some publishers that are known for really beautiful books. Stewart, Tabori & Chang, publishers of Baked, are one of those publishers. Which makes this book as much a treat for the eyes as it is for the palette (the German chocolate cake alone makes me want to lick the page). Here’s what you can expect to find here: Recipes you’ve never seen before. Recipes such as the Baked sweet and salty cake and Root beer bundt cake. And recipes such as Sour lemon scones, Malt ball cake, and even an amazing brownie (Oprah said it was her favorite). If you like to bake, or if you need a unique dessert this holiday, then pick up a copy of this and a few pounds of butter (at least!) for some of the most amazing treats you have ever sunk your teeth into.

Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know about Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Now, this actually isn’t a new book, but I only got my hands on it now and, hey, vegetables never go out of style. Loaded with very clear photographs (now I know exactly what a gobo root looks like, thank heavens!), this book talks about an insane variety of fruits and vegetables, from yuzu and artichokes to rambutan, beets, and jicama (erm but some items seem to be missing, such as asparagus). Even better, each section talks about how to buy, store, prepare, and use fruits and vegetables, including recipes to help you enjoy your newfound treasure. Clear and helpful.

Real Fast Food: 350 Recipes Ready-to-Eat in 30 Minutes
Oh, how I adore British author Nigel Slater. I love the way he writes (whimsey with a dash of down-home honesty and a light touch of English sensibility) and I love the way he cooks (he is the only cookbook author I know to ever admit he screwed up). Alas, most of his books are not available in the U.S. (believe me I know; I’ve looked to no avail), with the notable exception being his biography, Toast (an excellent read).

But, as luck would have it, a new version of his book, Real Fast Food, has hit our shores. Unfortunately, the luck is both good and bad: Good in that we have many more of his wonderful recipes. But, bad, in that this paperback version has none of his traditionally delightful photographs (if you want to see the sort of photos we are missing out on, go here).

How good are his recipes? Well, why don’t you try one for yourself:
Nigel Slater adapted vegetarian recipe for Baked Onions with Goat's Cheese
banana or torpedo shallots – 6
a few branches of thyme
bay leaves – 2
a log or pyramid of goat’s cheese such as Golden Cross or Tymsboro

Put the onions, still in their skins, in a baking dish or roasting tin and put them in a hot oven till the skins are dark brown and the flesh inside is soft and melting. I have found the elegant, torpedo onions to be baked within 45 minutes. Fatter, jollier onions can take an hour or longer. The point to watch is that the flesh must be absolutely soft.

Split each onion in half along its length, then pour in a spoonful of olive oil, a knob of butter and a slice of goat’s cheese, squeeze the onion together so that the cheese softens somewhat in the heat.