Speed-dating 2007 cookbooks

Los Angeles Times/Christmas 2007

WALK into the cookbook section of a good bookstore these days and it’s what you don’t see that’s the biggest gift of the season. Instead of the miles of aisles of Food Network-packaged slickness, the interchangeable Paula/Rachael/Giadas that have been so inescapable all year, there are small piles of serious recipe collections from serious cooks. And some big piles, too.

There are so many tantalizing cookbooks out there that I resorted to speed dating — dipping in and out of the most immediately appealing — to see which would work as presents. I soon learned that counterintuitive bits — a promise of foolproof focaccia, say, or a demand to boil oranges for an hour and a half before starting a cake — are likely to lead straight to heartbreak. But I also learned new tricks with a favorite vegetable (squash), found some wild combinations (Brussels sprouts, chestnuts and smoked salmon rock together) and came away with a really nice pile of books to settle down with. Continue reading

Top crap

Media Dish: Reality Bites/LATimes/September 2007

“Top Chef” is the jackhammer of the food world. Even with earplugs, it is impossible to tune out.

The reality show in which cooks compete in various staged challenges is already in its third season on the Bravo channel. But even for someone who might be fortunate enough not to know a remote from a microwave, there is no escape: “Top Chef” is also covered relentlessly — exhaustively, even — on blogs and websites and online discussion boards.

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