First, I believe an introduction is in order. I'm Brian Yarvin and I've been a Chowhound since the late nineties. Most of the time, you'll find me on the New Jersey board, offering comments on where to buy ingredients, find one global cuisine or another and trying to gently suggest that readers shop in local specialty stores instead of the big chains that dominate the Garden State.
I don't just haunt food markets: for the past nine years, I've been writing and photographing cookbooks. Actually, this is the reason I've stayed away from the home cooking board – it seemed a wee bit too commercial. Now though, a change in Chowhound policy and a great post by Andrea Nguyen have given me a bit of a poke – I want to share a bit about my books too. Since it's summer, I keep going back to my Too Many Tomatoes Cookbook from Countryman Press. I wrote it back in 2008 and it remains a favorite of mine. Most of the book was written after visits to farms, farmer's markets and ethnic restaurants in Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – a story I've hinted at on the Chowhound boards.
Some people write cookbooks because they know a cuisine or ingredient inside and out. I write them because I don't know anything and need a journey of discovery. American Chop Suey is there representing my memories of small-town restaurants in Northern New England decades ago, and Burgoo made it in … well … because I always wanted to know what it tasted like. Even though many of us won't admit it, cookbooks can harbor our dirty secrets. I put a recipe for Menudo in because I'm a big tripe fan, and there's a Mexican meatball soup too – I have long harbored the irrational belief that the best Mexican dishes are served in big bowls.
For some reason, people expect a book about tomatoes to focus on Italian recipes. I have a few of those including Bruschetta With Tomato, Chicken Cacciatore and Caponata. But tomatoes do so much more than this. For example, I wanted to make ketchup from scratch. Not just make it, but come up with a good recipe for it. My book has that recipe and ones for Tomato Butter, Tomato Chutney and a sauce called “Train Smash” too.
So that's it … some summer recipes, hopefully good photos, and dishes from every continent. A book from a fellow Chowhound that I hope you'll find useful.