Pocket-size miniatures of how-to food fun

Food / Good things come in threes, and in this case, cookbooks are no exception. Mutual Publishing has put out a trio of tiny cookbooks devoted to local favorites, divided by food specialty–rice, bento box and lilikoi. At first glance, the books look too petite to be taken seriously, somewhat akin to children’s books, but upon opening them, it becomes clear with the crisp color photos and easy to follow cooking steps, that “The Little Cookbook” Series has the potential to become a kitchen staple.

The Little Hawaiian Lilikoi Cookbook by Gail Hercher combines an uncommonly consumed fruit with familiar dishes, drinks and desserts. Lilikoi, which was actually brought over from Australia, is locally known for flavoring little more than juice and shave ice. But Hercher shares surprisingly appealing and easy ways to incorporate the tropical fruit into both sweet and savory dishes like cheesecake, baked beans or curry.

And who knew how ridiculously cute bento boxes could be? The Little Hawaiian Bento Box Cookbook by Susan Yuen transforms playing with food into artistry, but does so with a kid-friendly disposition. Mandoo mice, corndog people, ladybug hamburger and dragonfly saimin are just a few of Yuen’s almost-too-cute-to-eat creations. There are also closing pages that explain how to prepare tasty local favorites like kalua pork or kabocha with mushrooms for a sans-playtime meal.

Last, but certainly not least, the Little Hawaiian Rice Cookbook is a solid collection of grainy dishes that span multiple cultures, covering soups, entrees and an impressive array of desserts. Never before did I realize how rice is so deeply incorporated into … well, everything. Some unique dishes featured in this cookbook are ginger pesto rice with macadamia nut mahimahi, lentil and brown rice soup, three topping rice and biko, a coconut and brown sugar mochi. Rice is indeed a comfort food for locals, and this book cleverly communicates how to cook and prepare it as a versatile ingredient.

Little Hawaiian Lilikoi Cookbook, Little Hawaiian Bento Box Cookbook, Little Hawaiian Rice Cookbook

Author name: Gail Hercher (lilikoi) and Susan Yuen (bento box), no author cited for the rice cookbook

(Mutual Publishing, 2012)

Format: Hard cover

80-96 pages; $7.95 each