2013 was a great year for cookbooks. As we Americans get “foodier,” the cookbooks just keep comin’ and East Enders are putting out their fair share. This is a splendid time of year to try some new recipes—especially if it heats up the whole house!
Hands down 2013’s most beautiful East End cookbook is Earthguide to Wellbeing by Maggie Harrsen and Good Water Farms. This East Hampton farm is all about organic microgreens and this book is all about celebrating the health-giving power of eating microgreens. The photographs and recipes are equally arresting and simple. Maggieharrsen.com
Ambassador International released Christmas Flavors of Ireland, Celebrating the Festive Season. It’s local cookbook author Margaret M. Johnson’s 10th—earlier titles include The Irish Pub Cookbook and The New Irish Table. Johnson lives in Westhampton Beach and often travels to her ancestral home in Ireland. In fact, 2014 will mark 20 years of Johnson’s sojourns to the motherland. Her next cookbook, Favorite Flavors of Ireland, will be something of a retrospective of her previous books.
When I chatted with Johnson about Christmas Flavors, she suggested that her recipes for Christmas pudding and gingerbread bars are particularly good choices to make with children (in the kitchen, not in the batter). Her Christmas pudding happens to be her favorite holiday recipe and it involves a lot of easy measuring of ingredients—kids love to help with that. Don’t limit your consumption of this treat to the holiday season. Her gingerbread bars with cream cheese frosting are a favorite for all ages.
The La Parmigiana Cookbook (Peconic Bay Consulting) is big and straightforward, like the Southampton eatery it’s named after. The Gambino family pictured on its cover looks oddly uncomfortable, but don’t let that stop you from taking a peek inside. The recipes are no-nonsense and they use a lot of good, canned tomatoes.
Italian-American cuisine is hot right now—so this book could be a hip hostess gift stuffed in a basket with a load of goodies from La Parm’s deli on Hampton Road. My favorite part of this cookbook was its lengthy introduction, which tells the story of Gambino patriarch Celestino AKA “Papa.” He was tough but fair, a hard-working man who is very much missed by his family and community. This is a good story to read aloud to young children—and then put them to work in the kitchen! Written by Phil Keith and the Gambino family with photographs by Lindsay Morris.
And last but never least, it ain’t local, it’s not even a book—but it’s fabu: Meredith launched the new magazine, allrecipes. The premiere issue had me at melted snowman cookie. I heart that little marshmallow-headed guy and will make him for my young (and young-at-heart) friends’ delight throughout the winter months.