Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Cookbooks: 150 Best Desserts in A Jar by Andrea Jourdan and 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury

When it comes to esoteric cookbooks, there aren’t a lot of outfits who can beat Robert Rose. It’s not that the company produces weird cookbooks. And they’re mostly pretty good. What gets me is that, on the surface at least, some of these books would seem to have a pretty limited market.

Take for example a recent title: 150 Best Ebelskiver Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. Now, it’s possible that ebelskiver information is available outside of exclusive cooking supply store Williams-Sonoma, but I’ve never heard these mentioned anyplace else. And they look delicious. Sure they do. Saulsbury tells us that they’re “traditional Danish pancakes served as a sweet treat on special occasions. About the size of a racquetball, they taste like a hybrid of a doughnut, a popover and a pancake.” Sounds delicious, right? But it gets better: the dough completely surrounds the filling, which is what makes just the right pan absolutely essential.

So if ebelskiver is on your to-do list, Saulsbury’s book is the absolute bomb. It covers every imaginable aspect of ebelskiver and it does it in an entirely lucid fashion. We have here history, equipment (it’s a short list but, as I said, essential) and then on to the 150 glorious recipes: Cornmeal Ebelskiver with Cherry Jam; Praline Ebelskivers and even an Italian version called Canoli Puffs, the details of which I feel comfortable leaving to your imagination.

Esoteric? Yes. But if, as I said, if you’ve had a hankering to do ebelskivers, look no further.

Ebelskivers aside, if I were asked to identify my favorite of recent esoteric Robert Rose titles, it would have to be 150 Best Desserts in a Jar by Andrea Jourdan. Though the title can’t help make you smirk (It implies the answer to a question, after all. And who has ever asked that question?) there are some absolutely awesome desserts in this book, and you don’t even necessarily have to make all of them in a jar!

“I have always loved jars,” Jourdan begins. “There are so many sizes and shapes and they sparkle so beautifully when freshly washed.”

While all of that is true, it’s not my favorite part. What I love: I never seem to have enough ramekins around when I want them in order to do crème brûlée for a crowd. But widemouth Mason jars? I always have plenty of those. With one fell swoop, Jourdan has solved one of my personal kitchen challenges. But in the 149 other recipes included in the book, she offers to widen all of our repertoires in several directions. Pear and Almond Crumble. Apricot and Chocolate Chip Pudding. Chocolate Gingerbread. Cherry Jubilee with Wine Jelly. Lemon Trifle. Peach and Mango Parfait. Obviously, I could go on, but you see where this is going: a wonderful, wide array of sweet tooth possibilities, and all of it either prepared or served in some sort of jar.

There are others: all just as solid. 175 Best Mini-Pie Recipes. The 8 - Week Healthy Skin Diet. 200 Best Ice Pop Recipes and others. Esoteric slices for your kitchen, covering only a single aspect of possibility, but covering it very, very well. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.



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