The Future of Cookbooks

9 Nov

I’m off and running this morning to an early presentation on the future of cookbook publishing.  Oy! According to Publishers Weekly, millions of home cooks to go FoodNetwork.com, AllRecipes.com and Epicurious.com every day to access free recipes from a variety of credible (and not so credible) sources.  Where does that leave cookbook publishers, many of whom are sitting on vast troves of recipes that have never been published online?  This morning, a panel of experts will illuminate the various ways publishers will begin to use the Web and apps to monetize their cookbook content. As someone who has created thousands of recipes over the years — for magazines, newspapers, 12 cookbooks, as well as multi-starred restaurants, it will be fascinating to learn their fate…not to mention mine!

But cookbooks, or at least some of them, contain far more than recipes.  Great cookbooks are much more than the sum of their parts.  Too often they are merely judged on a single recipe’s outcome rather than the philosophy behind the approach or the connective tissue that makes a book whole — and not just a collection.  You may even be surprised to know that many of my cookbooks contain touch points of real literature — poetry,memoir, fictional essays, historical non-fiction, and theory.

So here’s a poem from Desserts 1-2-3.

Desserts 1-2-3

Pablo Neruda wrote odes to life;
To nature, to love, to the sun,

I prefer writing odes to sweets,
and worship them one by one.

Crème brûlée takes your breath away
when it shatters the quiet below,

And chocolate soufflé topped with chocolate sorbet
can sweeten most any woe.

In happier days, à la mode was the vogue
and crowned many an apple pie.

But today it is sleek, and undoubtedly chic,
to find them side by side.

For some of you chocolate gives meaning to life,
for others it merely suffices.

Whether a pro or a rookie, in a truffle or cookie,
chocolate is great in a crisis.

“Simple pleasures are life’s greatest treasures,”
Neruda once whispered to me.

He then kissed my hand and gave me a pan,
and slowly counted to three.
by Rozanne Gold

And here’s a recipe to celebrate the day.

All-Chocolate Velvet Tart
(from Radically Simple)
This extremely elegant dessert can be assembled in less than 20 minutes.  Let it sit in the fridge until just firm, and serve with crème fraiche.

5 ounces chocolate graham crackers
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon crème de cassis or 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup crème fraiche

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9-inch fluted removable-bottom tart pan.  Combine the graham crackers and 4 tablespoons butter in a food processor.  Pulverize until finely ground.  Pack the crumbs into the pan to form an even bottom crust.  Bake 10 minutes.  Bring the cream just to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce the heat and simmer 5 minutes.  Add the chocolate and stir constantly over low heat until melted.  Stir in the cocoa, cassis, and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter.  Pour into the crumb crust; refrigerate 45 minutes or until just firm.   Serve with crème fraiche.  Serves 10 or more.

** Be sure to leave a comment below to be entered to win an autographed copy of Radically Simple! One winner will be chosen at random. Increase your chances to win by commenting here and on my facebook fan page wall. Good luck!**

2 Responses to “The Future of Cookbooks”

  1. Gerd Stern November 9, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

    how wonder full to quote Neruda!!!

  2. Barn November 9, 2010 at 3:14 pm #

    There isn’t anything I enjoyed more after a long day than a cookbook on my lap and a cup of tea by my side. As I flipped through the pages carefully considering each recipe, not only did I visualize myself cooking the dish when I would eventually get time, but as I read the list of ingredients I could taste it. When I stumbled on the Cooking 123 – it blew my mind and changed my life. Food AND life is better when it’s uncomplicated.

    My husband and I quickly took a whole food approach to eating and cooking and saw an immediate improvement in our health. I became the “minamal gourmet”. I never enjoyed reading a cookbook more – instead of visualizing and tasting, it was like an intriguing science project I had to try immediately.

    Then, because of my husbands job, we found ourselves moving from a large home in the suburbs of Michigan to a small apartment in Chicago. We had to radically downsize, which meant giving away much of what we had. Including my huge cookbook collection! The furniture was easy to part with, the loss on our property will even lose it’s sting after awhile, but my cookbooks represented comfort and joy. Giving all if those stained and floured pages made me sadder than moving away from my children. The few cookbooks I kept were, of course, all of my “123” books and a handful of “coffeetable” cookbooks.

    Radically downsizing has made us utilize technology like never before. Put the CDs on iTunes and get rid of them, don’t buy a tv unless you can hang it on the wall, and put as much on my iPhone and iPad as possible.

    With the iPad, books are in color, take up very little room so I can put hundreds of books on mine, I can make notes, highlight, search and most important have all my comfort and joy back!

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