New Books: Nik Sharma, James Beard Bio, More!

Plus: cauliflower gratin. Doesn't that sound nice?

Howdy cookbook fans!

Some good news! Substack selected this newsletter as the recipient of one of their Independent Writer Grants! WHAT?! It’s one of 44 grants Substack gave out, and I encourage you to go poke through the list and see if there’s anything else that catches your interest. It is frankly wild to me that anyone is out here financially supporting independent writers right now let alone 44 of them. Thanks y’all, it means a lot to me.

If you’re new here: Hi! Welcome! My name is Paula Forbes, and I have been reviewing and covering cookbooks for a variety of outlets (Eater, Epicurious, Lucky Peach) since 2008. I launched this newsletter—well, the first time I launched this newsletter was in 2018. I brought it out of hiatus in November, though, because I missed blogging cookbook news. You can expect to find book deals, cookbook news, links to fun stuff to read, and recipes from new releases in each issue.

Speaking of which! Next week we’re going back to two issues a week. Wednesday issues will be free. Friday (eh, sometimes Saturday) issues will be for paid subscribers only. There isn’t a huge difference between the issues, it’s just twice the content. Sometimes I save the truly nerdy stuff for Fridays. Subscribe if you want!

Gosh that was boring! Now - serious voice - on to the news. Oh, and a recipe for cauliflower gratin from Charlotte Druckman’s new cookbook, Kitchen Remix! That’s not boring, make it for dinner.

Book #2 for Nik Sharma: The Flavor Equation

For the past couple of years, I’ve been working on a new cookbook and today I am very happy and excited to share the name. My new book is called “The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking” (Oct 2020). Over the next few days I will tell you more about my book and take you behind the scenes of what went into making it. To be the first to see my book’s cover please take a moment to sign up for my newsletter (link in my profile) where I will reveal the cover. Thank you , xx #FlavorEquationBook
April 20, 2020

Food writer and photographer Nik Sharma’s first book, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food was a big hit in 2018, so of course it was very exciting to see this book announce for #2 pop up on his Instagram. According to publisher’s copy on Amazon, The Flavor Equation: The Science of Great Cooking in 114 Essential Recipes will be “an accessible guide to elevating elemental ingredients to make delicious dishes that hit all the right notes, every time.” Kind of in a Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat vein, specifically about building flavor.

A sampling of recipes hints they may be divided by flavor profile: “Brightness: Lemon-Lime Mintade, Saltiness: Roasted Tomato and Tamarind Soup, Sweetness: Honey Turmeric Chicken Kebabs with Pineapple, Savoriness: Soba Noodles with Mushrooms and Walnut Sauce, and Richness: Coconut Milk Cake.” Chronicle, October 2020.

Cover for Anticipated James Beard Bio Revealed

Well, isn’t that nice! A nod to mid-century cookbook covers (that doesn’t go over the top) is perfect for this biography of legendary cookbook author and food writer James Beard. The font! The illustrations! The COLORS!! I’ve been following author John Birdsall’s tweets about his research on this for years, can’t wait to read the finished work. Norton, October 2020.

Branding Company Sues Cookbook Author Ayesha Curry

The AP reports celebrity cookbook author Ayesha Curry is being sued by branding company Flutie Entertainment for $10 million for breach of contract. Flutie claims Curry cut them out of proceeds despite producing her bestselling cookbook, in addition to having a hand in other aspects of her culinary business. Curry’s lawyer says the claims are baseless.

All-Star E-Book Coming from Random House

On May 5, Penguin Random House will publish Family Meal, a digital-only collection featuring more than 40 recipes from our roster of chefs and home cooks. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the Restaurant Workers’ Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which supports on-the-ground efforts in the restaurant community during this challenging time.
From Ligurian Focaccia to Shrimp and Chorizo White Bean Stew to Miso Milk Bar Pie and quarantine-worthy wine pairings, you’ll get an exclusive look at what Samin Nosrat, Alison Roman, Dan Barber, Kwame Onwuachi, Bobby Flay, and more are cooking at home right now. Pre-order here: .
April 16, 2020

I’m not gonna lie: I have been getting many, many, many emails about cookbooks put together for charity purposes during quarantine and I haven’t written up any of them until now. This e-book, from Random House (Clarkson Potter and Ten Speed), features many of your faves: Samin Nosrat! Alison Roman! Hugh Acheson! Danny Trejo? Danny Trejo! Proceeds go to the Restaurant Workers’ Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund, which you can donate directly to here. Available May 5, pre-order here.

Check this out!

  • Writer/actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge zoomed into Stephen Colbert’s show to reveal that the cookbook getting her through this crisis is (drumroll please) Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple. [YouTube]

  • Celia Sack, owner of San Francisco cookbook shop Omnivore Books, was the guest on Andrew Friedman’s podcast. [Andrew Talks to Chefs]

  • Pantera fans excuse me for not being aware of this already, but apparently drummer/co-founder Vinnie Paul had a much-anticipated cookbook in the works when he died in 2018. Well, it seems Drumming Up an Appetite with Vinnie Paul will be published…at some point. Pub date TBD. [Metal Pulp and Paper]

  • “Dear Robert, Here are the instructions for your cake and I’m sending you some cake too. Your Irish potatoes have come up.” Grandma’s Heavenly Hash Cake. [MyNewOrleans]

  • I wrote about the best FOOD BOOKS (ie not-cookbooks but books about food) out this spring. [Plate]

  • Appreciating the iconic recipes of the one-and-only Marcella Hazan. [F&W]

  • The quarantine recipes of 1918. [Smithsonian]

  • The way I used to read recipes. [The Cut]

    Cauliflower Gratin

    Reprinted with permission from Kitchen Remix by Charlotte Druckman, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Aubrie Pick. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. 

    True or false: People will eat anything if you give it a bubbling crust of breadcrumbs and cheese. I’m going with true. Generations of cooks have relied on this scheme to get their kids—and spouses—to eat their veggies. For me, cauliflower doesn’t need to be incentivized, but it happens to do especially well in casseroles because it holds its structure beneath all their weighty lures. This casserole has its fair share of them: salty pork fat; a creamy, flour-thickened béchamel sauce; and the requisite blanketing of cheese and bread crumbs. Because this vegetable takes to assertive flavors so well, you can put a few zingers in there, like orange zest, thyme, and—the best surprise of all—those capers.

    Serves 4.

    1 medium head cauliflower (about 1½ pounds), cut into 1-inch florets

    4½ tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing

    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

    1½ cups whole milk

    ½ teaspoon salt,plus more to taste

    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    ½ teaspoon ground allspice

    8 ounces bacon, sliced crosswise into ½-inch-wide strips

    3½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    ¼ cup bread crumbs

    1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

    ½ teaspoon orange zest

    ¼ pound halloumi cheese, coarsely grated

    2tablespoons Dijon mustard

    ¼ cup drained brined capers

    Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Salt the water as you would for pasta. Add the cauliflower and cook for 2 minutes, then drain it and place it in the ice bath. Once the cauliflower has cooled, drain it again and transfer to a large bowl.

    Make the béchamel sauce. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a small heavy-bottomed sauce-pan over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and cook, stirring continuously, until it begins to take on some color, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and when the bubbles have subsided, whisk in the milk until combined. Return to medium heat and continue whisking, scraping up the sauce from the bottom of the pan. As it begins to thicken, after about 3 minutes, whisk in ½ teaspoon salt, the pepper, and allspice. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl, placing plastic wrap on its surface.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8-inch casserole dish. Heat a large cast-iron skillet on the stove, gradually increasing the heat from low to medium. Add the bacon and cook, stirring a few times, until it’s crisp and the fat has been rendered, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to cool. Drain the skillet, rinse, and dry.

    Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons butter and 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the bread crumbs and cook until brown and crispy, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer the bread crumbs to a medium bowl. Toss through the thyme, orange zest, and halloumi. Season the cauliflower with a pinch of salt. Pour the béchamel over it and stir to coat. Stir in the Dijon mustard, bacon, and capers.

    Transfer the cauliflower mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumb–halloumi topping. Drizzle up to 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top. Bake until the top is golden brown and the gratin is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve hot.

    Okay that’s it! If you’re new here, I hope you enjoyed. If you’re old here, I’ve missed you. I hope everyone is safe and doing as well as can be expected. See you soon. Happy cooking.