Today's special: Cookbook reviews from Bartleby's

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"Flavor Flours" by Alice Medrich

I love this cookbook! What originally caught my eye about this book was Alice Medrich's approach to using different types of flavorful flours instead of wheat flour. It does happen to be gluten free (although not marketed that way in its first edition), but it will delight all bakers. The flavors are much more interesting than when using premixed "gluten-free" flours. The results are always delicious and get rave reviews. Recipes are clear and easy to follow and the photographs are beautiful. Some of my favorites are the carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, Maya's chocolate cake and oat sables. It has become one of my "go-to" cookbooks for baking. It will surely please the baker in your life and all the taste testers/food critics as well.

— Betty Hillman

"The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story with Intensely Good Flavors" by Mandy Lee

When Mandy Lee moved from New York to Beijing in 2012, it was not her intent to becoming a writer, let alone the author of a cookbook. Rather, fighting a bitter malaise which set in when she found the free-world ideals she had grown up with as a Taiwanese citizen buckling under the weight of mainland China's authoritarian rule, Lee began seeking solace in cooking as a process. Soon after she started her food blog called, and what was meant as a simple and very personal chronicle of her cooking experience quickly evolved into a website with a growing readership, and a growing voice.

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Lee's recipes, which are have both eastern and western influences, range from days long pursuits to quickie meals for one, and all are shared in her clear and engaging style. Ingredients are easily obtained at Asian markets or online, and all the recipes are worth exploring, as is the beautiful photography which accompanies them. But the real heart of this cookbook is Lee's unsentimental but passionate story of how she learned to lose herself in the drama of creation. The book is about the chase, of a beautiful meal, of finding purpose in process, and of freedom in personal expression.

Lee's creation is uniquely charged, and well worth exploring.

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— Ana McDaniel

"South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations" by Sean Brock

Sean Brock is a chef who seeks to explore and discover new territory in Southern cuisine. For twelve years he was chef at McCrady's in Charleston, South Carolina, and is now opening two new restaurant in Nashville called Audrey (after his grandmother) and Red Bird. These restaurants will delve into his Appalachian heritage. South is Brock's follow-up to Heritage, which won the James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook. South recipes include delights such as Southern Clams Casino, fried catfish with green tomato tartar sauce and spring lamb with rhubarb butter. He is also not afraid to feature less-celebrated foods including recipes for fried bologna with pickled peach mustard, crispy pig's ears with pimento ranch, and low country fish head stew. The recipes are inspiring and the photographs throughout the book are so tempting. Brock is a master of his craft. I once lived in the South, and this cookbook has inspired me to explore new Southern recipes at home, and maybe plan a trip to his new restaurants.

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— Lisa Sullivan

"Binging with Babish: 100 Recipes Recreated from Your Favorite Movies and TV Shows" by Andrew Rea

As entertaining as the concept of a YouTube series, in which the host recreates the dishes from our favorite movies and TV shows is, it'd be pretty useless if there wasn't something to learn from them. Andrew Rea, in creating the series Binging with Babish, has captivated our household. The focus is literally on the food, filmed chest down at his work bench, which he painstaking prepares (with plenty of trial and error caught on tape) according to the recipes provided through dialogue, fan sites, or his best approximation. The dishes range from everyday to absurd but Rea typically recreates the original recipe and then does his own spin to try to improve on the the original. However in the case of something like Buddy's Spaghetti from the movie "Elf" it proves near impossible to create something edible. His new cookbook showcases 100 recreated recipes and he includes introductions detailing the filming, selection, or sourcing of ingredients for the show and his verdict on whether the dish is worth the effort of preparing and more importantly worth eating. As a fan of the show, I particularly enjoy these parts of the cookbook. His style of writing is so similar to how he narrates the show, witty, thoughtful, and self deprecating. And now, if I ever want to make the timpano from "Big Night," I know how...who am I kidding?! I'm never making that beast!

— Maria Cunningham

Bartleby's Books, celebrating 30 years in business in 2019, is at 17 West Main St. in historic downtown Wilmington and is open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. year-round. For more, call 802-464-5425 or visit


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