More from Ace Bakery: Recipes For and With Bread
by Linda Haynes
Published by Whitecap Books
298 pages, 2006
Reviewed by Adrian Marks
In the special and somewhat exclusive world of cookbooks, there is no shortage of books on bread. The topics of selecting flours, perfect rising times and places, how to knead and even how to knead with emotional profit have been covered time and again. You wonder what might be left to say, yet every season, like so much wild yeast, new titles pop up. And while they are numerous, few of them are fresh and exciting. How could they be? It's all been done before. That's how I felt when More from Ace Bakery showed up. Even that word -- More -- seemed somewhat ominous. "Here," thought I, "we go again." And then you open the book and realize, it's a very different type of ride.
In the first place, More from Ace Bakery isn't a book about baking bread. Creating bread is a component, but not the significant one. The breads that are included are anything but every day. Flax Bread With Honey and Oats. Challah, Rosemary Olive Oil Grissini. A few others. And then, aside from some quick breads and muffins, as well as some very interesting bread philosophy and a "glossary and baker's lingo" that's it. The rest of the book -- which is to say most of the book -- is devoted to other things.
The subtitle says it (and it's easy to miss the subtitle on this book at first glance) "Recipes For and With Bread." And the "With" in this instance is really what gets things going here and sets the book apart.
Think about it: what goes with bread? In the eyes of author Linda Haynes, owner of Ace Bakery, it's clear that the answer is "Everything." And she's pretty close to right.
A glance at the contents page sets things up. We start with breakfast -- Jamaican Banana Fritters; Stilton and Leek Flans; Corn, Chili and Cheese Strata with Avocado Salsa -- then move to appetizers -- Liptauer Cheese Spread; Red Pepper Butter; Roman Artichoke Crostini -- then soups, salads, sandwiches, dinner and sides, and desserts. In short, anything you might expect to find in any other logically laid out cookbook might show up here, as well.
The emphasis on More from Ace Bakery is on beautiful, modern casual food. Much of it is truly innovative, all of the recipes are simply stated and the food is easily prepared. This is the kind of food you want to share with friends or that you'd expect would make any family meal warmer.
Special favorites for me in this book were the Polenta Fries (just as they sound, but who would have thought of it?), Winter Cauliflower and Broccoli Salad, Bangers and Potato-Apple Mash with Onion Red Wine Gravy (an uptown twist on an old world classic) and Coffee Créme Anglaise, which seems likely to become an entertaining staple at my house. (So easy, so elegant and I just love to say it.)
Aside from being packed with great recipes that really work, More from Ace Bakery is an entirely lovely book. Food styling -- by Claire Stubbs -- and photography -- by Douglas Bradshaw -- are among the best I've seen and the book is beautifully laid out and flawlessly produced.
I find myself here about as close as I get to a rave review, but I can't help myself. More from Ace Bakery appealed to me on every level and seems to me to be quite everything a cookbook should be. And more: the author's bio advises that "All royalties from More from Ace Bakery will be donated to organizations that work with women and children in crisis." A wonderfully inviting cookbook with a side of philanthropy? What more can I say? Pass me the eggplant, there's a Greek Lamb Charlotte with Lemon-Mint Hollandaise I need to make. | November 2006
Adrian Marks is a January Magazine contributing editor.