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The Year in Cookbooks: Our Favorite Reads of 2014

It's a great time to be a cookbook collector. In the face of a dwindling print industry, publishers have only stepped up their game, producing more beautiful, innovative, and fun cookbooks with each passing year. 2014 has, in particular, been a year of immense variety. Here are the highlights of the year. More

Salmon Baked in Cream With Sweet Bay, Thyme, and Dill From 'The Nourished Kitchen'

It's wild salmon season here in California, so I try to snag some great filets while they're available. I usually roast my fish with just a little salt and pepper, but there's nothing wrong with changing things up every once in awhile. Jennifer McGruther's salmon baked in cream from her new book, The Nourished Kitchen, was just the ticket. More

Frito Salad From 'The Homesick Texan's Family Table'

While I'd never eaten a Frito salad before this week, I am very familiar with bean-heavy taco salads. These I'd eat as a teenager, convinced that they were healthier than tacos themselves, even when decorated with several handfuls of tortilla chips. Lisa Fain's Frito salad in her new cookbook, The Homesick Texan's Family Table, is much better than those salads I ate as a kid. More

Shredded Beef Enchiladas With Three-Chile Sauce From 'The Homesick Texan's Family Table'

I didn't grow up in Texas, but I did eat my fair share of Tex-Mex as a kid. Saucy burritos, sizzling fajitas, and giant bowls of cheese dip all hold fond places in my heart, even as I have grown to love a two-bite chorizo taco much. One of my favorite dishes to order at these restaurants was the enchilada platter, drenched in red sauce and smothered in melty Mexican blend cheese. More

Pork, Asparagus, and Soba From 'The VB6 Cookbook'

Despite his dinnertime freedom, Mark Bittman doesn't launch into a carnivorous feast come six o'clock. Instead, he incorporates meat into meals that are equally heavy in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. Take this soba noodle dish for example. While it doesn't shy away from meat (hello, pork shoulder), it does incorporate a generous amount of asparagus in addition to whole grain soba noodles. More

"Chorizo" Tacos From 'The VB6 Cookbook'

When it comes to vegan recipes, I usually stay far, far away from anything that uses quotation marks in its name. I'm happy to eat a plate of vegan food—rice, beans, and vegetables are some of my favorite things to eat. Once "meat" and "cheese" get involved, meals tend to get a little weird. So I approached Mark Bittman's "chorizo" tacos in his new VB6 Cookbook with some trepidation. More

Cook the Book: 'The VB6 Cookbook' by Mark Bittman

There was a time in my life when I relied almost exclusively on Mark Bittman. At the beginning of my sophomore year of college, I had moved off campus and was cooking completely on my own for the first time in my life. I had found a copy of How to Cook Everything (the yellow first edition) at a used bookstore and began using it as a guide for just about every meal. I doubt I am the only one of my generation to do so. More

Oakland's Best Cheap Eats: 18 Great Bites Under $5

@kenji El Gordo (42nd and International) has a pastor spit on the weekends. Or at least they used to... haven't been in a while.

Parmesan Bacon Gougères From 'Down South'

@tamidon and @yaya41: It's best to freeze the shaped dough before cooking. You can bake them without defrosting. Just add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

@whiskey boy, @Jonathan King, and @Tipskykit37: Since this photo was from the book, and didn't have a caption, I can only venture to guess what the sauce is that they're using on the gougeres. There's a recipe in the same chapter for hot mustard sauce that looks like it could match up. Sounds like it'd be tasty to me!

Grilled Chicken on a Stick with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce From 'Down South'

@Tbird: You could substitute pretty much any liquid sweetener. Corn syrup will be the most neutral, but I could imagine that honey would taste pretty good as well. Stick to milder flavors though. Maple syrup will have a strong presence, so I wouldn't use it unless you're really into maple flavor!

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder With Kumquats and Chilies, From 'Down South'

@Agnes and MBH12: I used a skinless cut of pork, but I'm sure you could use skin-on if you'd like. The skin will be soft and slightly chewy, not crisp.

@oren and Amandarama: I'm not sure that a full 6-pound shoulder will fit in a slower cooker; if not you can certainly cut it down to fit. Since you won't be browning the roast in the first portion of cooking, you may want to sear it in a pan first before adding it to the slow cooker. I'd also cut back on the amount of water called for (maybe by half?). I'd definitely cook this on the low setting, probably for 8 to 10 hours.

Chicken Croquettes (Croquetas de Pollo) From 'Spain'

@tragre: I'm not sure if baking will work because the croquettes need to cook quickly so that the outside browns before the inside liquifies. (There's a lot of butter in there!)

Speckenwolf Pizza With Mozzarella, Oregano, Onion, Mushroom, and Speck From 'Roberta's'

@Andrew Cates: 00 flour is a finely milled Italian flour.

Empanada with Marinated Pork and Roasted Red Peppers (Empanada de Lomo) From 'Spain'

@autumn produce: Yeah, I WISH I was that good of a crimper! Mine turned out much more "rustic."

Southwest Cowboy Chili From 'Nom Nom Paleo'

@xatrak and sbcali52: Thanks for pointing out the typo. Fixing it now!

Chicken and Dumplings From 'Lighten Up, America!'

@malyna: Should say that you reserve 8 cups broth, AND all of the chicken. I'll go back and fix it for clarity. Thanks!

Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche Tart With a Cornmeal Millet Crust From 'Whole-Grain Mornings'

@jgomoll: Add the millet to the dough using a fork after the water has been added.

Fragrant Sea Scallop Cakes From 'One Good Dish'

@lovemcm, jonnybeatzu, and CanYouSayYum?: Great idea on the bay scallops. How did the reheating work out?

@Glows: You can use lime zest and jalapenos instead of the kaffir lime leaves and Thai chiles

Polenta With Winter Salad, Poached Egg, and Blue Cheese From 'Feast'

@kevinm: The polenta does thicken up quickly when cooking it in this method. Keep the heat low and stir frequently. The final addition of milk should thin it out to a spoonable consistency. As far as the water added to the greens is concerned, I liked that it made the vegetables saucy. There's no reason why you couldn't skip it next time, though.

Meat Loaf From 'Lighten Up, America!'

@bubblerich: You just need to cook the meatloaf until the ground pork is safe to eat, so 160 degrees.

@miss_striker: You could increase the amount of ground beef in the recipe, but you may want to use a blend with a little bit more fat to make up for the loss in fat from cutting out the pork.

@in2puck: You can use more pork and beef instead of the veal.

Split Pea Soup With Ham From 'Lighten Up, America!'

@Ravenous!: The link is at the bottom of the post.

Old-Fashioned Pounded Cheese With Walnuts and Port Syrup From 'The New Midwestern Table'

@Zach A.: Get the butter out of the fridge before you start making the syrup. It should be at the right temperature once you've finished prepping the rest of the ingredients.

Classic Chicken and Wild Rice Hotdish From 'The New Midwestern Table'

@davidd2308: I think the sauce might get too thick if you cook the chicken in it. I'd poach the chicken in the stock before step 3, remove the chicken, and then use the enriched stock in the rest of the dish.

Spaghetti Junction: The $4 Spaghetti That Tastes Almost as Good as the $24 Spaghetti From Roy Choi's 'L.A. Son'

@Flagg: The garlic is left whole so that it maintains a softer sweetness instead of the sharper bite that comes from mincing or pressing it. It also wouldn't confit as effectively in smaller pieces as it would turn dark brown or even burn after only a short time in the hot oil.

Oyakodon (Chicken and Egg Rice Bowl) from 'Japanese Soul Cooking'

@BostonAdam: Wow, thanks for all of these tips! I didn't find the sauce too salty, but I also have a high tolerance :)

Vegetable Tempura From 'Japanese Soul Cooking'

@ErrantBaritone: They prefer not to use a wok because they find it harder to maintain a consistent temperature. I'm sure they could argue with Kenji about that though!

Gift Guide: Our Favorite Cookbooks of 2013

@plazmaorb: We included Smoke and Pickles in Bake the Book this year, so it was out of my purview. I do agree that it is a great book, though!

Spaghetti Junction: The $4 Spaghetti That Tastes Almost as Good as the $24 Spaghetti From Roy Choi's 'L.A. Son'

@unixrab: Ha, I WISH I had some white lily flour! Makes the best biscuits ever! Thanks for the reminder to stash some when I go back to GA for the holidays...

Spaghetti Junction: The $4 Spaghetti That Tastes Almost as Good as the $24 Spaghetti From Roy Choi's 'L.A. Son'

@unixrab: So glad you enjoyed the sauce! My sauce also turned out a shade of orange; I think you're right that the color is due to the garlic oil-tomato sauce emulsion.

Classic Chicken Salad from 'The Artisan Jewish Deli at Home'

@CLcooks: My mistake in the description! There's no sour cream. Fixing it now.

Korean-Style Chicken Wings From 'Maximum Flavor'

@LaurieWendy: Sorry this is late, but you could probably skip the juice and substitute water with a little extra honey instead.

Andy Ricker's Kaeng Khiaw Waan Luuk Chin Plaa (Green Curry With Fish Balls and Eggplant) From 'Pok Pok'

@Sweetie: The noodles in the picture are rice vermicelli. You can also serve the curry over rice.

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