November 21, 2015

Foster's Market Favorites by Sara Foster

My rating: 4 of 5 spoons


A sumptuous feast for the eyes and palate, Foster's Market Favorites is a delightful cookbook sure to become a favorite. From old favorites done right such as roasted vegetables, Tortillas and Simple Herb Spaghetti with Greens, Pesto and Parmesan, to new, bold flavors such as Roasted Chicken and Bread Salad with Pan Juice Vinaigrette or Thai-Style Pot Roast with Fat Noodles, there is so much to choose from.

The Potato Leek Soup was a touch on the bland side for me, but that's easily fixed. On the other hand, the Lemon Bars are divine! Herb Cheddar Biscuits are sure to become a guilty pleasure (2 sticks of butter in the dough as well as the cheese!), and Savory Cheese Crisps just made it on my Christmas Eve Snacks for Supper list.

The book is great quality, and the photographs are superb. Holidays are coming...this could be just what that Southern food loving person on your list needs! I highly recommend it.

I received a copy of this book from Story Farm, LLC for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

So Jane by Hollie Keith

So Jane: Crafts and Recipes for an Austen-Inspired Life: Crafts and Recipes for an Austen-Inspired Life
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons


My daughters and I love Jane Austen, so this book is perfect for us. From cute crafts to yummy recipes, it's all things Austen. The book is divided into sections. Each section is based on one of Austen's novels. The Patchwork Fabric Bowl (Northanger Abbey) is adorable, and the Key to My Heart Children's Apron (Persuasion) is to cute for words as is the "I ♥ Mr. Darcy Pillow"...and I'm sure we all know that novel! Patterns are included in the back of the book.

The recipes range from the simple Assortment of Cheeses to the more complex Cheesecake, though none are particularly complicated. I like that as my mid-teen girls can easily make about anything in this book without my help. They love having tea parties, so they can easily get in the kitchen and make their own fancy sandwiches, Scones, Cakes, Baked Apples and more.

This is a darling book for any Austen lover. It would make a great Christmas gift for the Austenite in your life! I definitely recommend it!

I received a copy of this book from Gibbs Smith for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Making Dough by Russell van Kraayenburg

Making Dough: Recipes and Ratios for Perfect Pastries
My rating: 5 of 5 spoons


Let me just start by saying this book is worth every penny if just for the Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie recipe. Oh, my!! I substituted wheat flour for the crust and accidentally added too much liquid which meant I had to add more flour, work it more and that left me with a somewhat tough crust and it was STILL amazing! I didn't use the bourbon,! I'll be making it again in a few days for Thanksgiving!!

I would love to get each of my girls a copy of "Making Dough" before they leave home. It's just that good. All the classic pastry doughs you could ever need are covered in this book along with delectable recipes using them. From a simple Biscuit or Scone, to Shortcrust, Sweetcrust, Pate a Choux (Lemon Curd Eclairs are amazing!!), Brioche, Puff Pastry, Rough Puff Pastry, Croissant, Danish and Phyllo are all covered with a handful of recipes using each.

Charts, diagrams, ratios and photos abound along with clear, easy to follow instructions make this a great book for anyone from a very new beginner to someone who is used to making easier doughs and are ready to move on to the more complex such as Croissant, Puff Pastry and Phyllo doughs. This is a great quality book that I am happy to highly recommend to anyone interested in baking. Holidays are just around the corner, so it's time to get baking!!

I received a copy of this book from Quirk Books for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

November 20, 2015

Puglia by Tara Russell

My rating: 5 of 5 spoons


Phaidon has one again shown it's commitment to high quality in this gorgeous cookbook. Good quality paper, sewn binding, double ribbon bookmarks and the lovely cover and dustjacket come together for a heirloom quality book. This is a book I would be happy to pass down to my children and grandchildren. As they share my love for Italy and its cuisine, I know they would delight in it.

Puglia and it's sister region Basilicata (which is also covered in the book) is a lovely section of Italy--tucked into the heel and instep of the book--whose land and cuisine is somewhat overlooked. That is a pity as you will see soon after opening this book. History and food go hand in hand in this gorgeous book. I love Sicily (and Phaidon's book on it!), but this book makes me want to visit Puglia as well. Between the beauty shown in the photos and the delectable recipes, this is not a region that should be overlooked!

Most if not all of the recipes include a gorgeous color photo of the dish. While there are always at least a few recipes that don't interest me (I'm not much on octopus or squid. I have tried it, but just don't care for it), most of these had me drooling over them. Agnello con Finocchietti (Lamb with Wild Fennel) looks amazing. The fennel is just starting to show up in the grocery store here, so I'll have to try it soon. Polo Ripieno (Stuffed Chicken) is absolutely delicious. Try a different version of gnocchi with Gnocchi di Ricotta con Pesto di Zucchini e Tartufo (Ricotta gnocchi with courgette pesto and truffle) which makes the gnocchi with ricotta cheese. In the mood for fresh pasta? Try the Strascinati con Pomodoro e Basilico, a simple Puglian pasta with tomatoes and basil or mix it up with Lagana Chiapputa, a pasta and almond dessert! Fusilli con la Mollica (Fusilli with Bread) may have become my new favorite quick pasta dish.

There is so much to love about this cookbook. It has definitely earned it's way on to my favorites shelf. Give it a try, I think you'll love it!

I received a copy of this book from Phaidon for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Maggie Beer's Winter Harvest by Maggie Beer

Maggie Beer's Winter Harvest
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons


I'm in love. I don't know why, but this cookbook drew me in from the first moment. From the delight of the author's writing to the delectable recipes, this is a lovely book. The ONLY thing that could improve it would be more photos of the dishes, but it is still a wonderful cookbook. The author is from Australia, so be aware if you're from a different hemisphere that her "winter harvest" would be more like our summer.

The book is not divided by course, but by ingredients in alphabetical order. You start with Cavolo Nero (Italian black cabbage) and end with Witlof (a form of chicory) and a small section on Basics--recipes for stocks, spice mixtures and sauces. Some of the ingredients are by type more than one ingredient such as Offal or Root Vegetables, but there is a good index if you're looking for something in particular.

Some ingredients might be harder to find, but many are well worth the effort. The recipes range from the simple such as Carmelized Onion Salad, Leek Frittata (lovely!) and Pears, Parmigiano and Green Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the more complex or harder to find Kangaroo Tail Pie, Braised Pork Belly, Cotechino and Green Lentils or Seared Duck Breasts with Chestnuts, Bacon and Vino Cotto-Glazed Radicchio.

This is the second of four cookbooks from Ms. Beer, one for each season. I can't wait to check out the others!

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books Australia through Independent Publisher's Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

How to Cook a Moose by Kate Christensen

How To Cook A Moose
My rating: 3 of 5 spoons


The title alone made me want to read this book. I lived in Alaska for ten years and have eaten moose more times that I can count in many, many different ways. Add the fact that the book is all about Maine, one of my very favorite states, I couldn't wait to begin!

This is definitely more of a memoir than cookbook, which is what I normally review, but fun all the same. However, the liberal sprinkling of vulgarity kind of put me off the book for awhile, and dropped my rating.

As I mainly review actual cookbooks, I do want to focus somewhat on the recipes. Barbara Damrosch's Chicken Stew with Horseradish Cream is excellent even without the cream. This is the kind of rich soup you want to make when the family is sick, or it's cold outside and you want that warming, comfort food. It calls for the solids and the broth to be served separately, but it was easier with my family dynamic just to keep them combined. As we're finally (here in Tennessee) moving into colder weather, New England Fish Soup is on my "to make" list. It's hard to see where this recipe could go wrong!

Now I really enjoy moose meat, but I'm going to give the Jellied Moose Nose a pass. Some recipes are historical and can be very interesting (see the Mock Turtle Soup recipe that involves boiling a calf's head!), but some make you want to try them such as the Brown Bread recipe that's from the Old Yankee Cookbook.

The book itself is interesting, showing a slice of Maine life. I absolutely busted up laughing out loud at the author's description of her reaction the first time she saw a moose. Anyone who has seen a moose up close and personal (trust me, I have!) will get a good laugh out of the way she described it. I love the bits of history both of the food and the state itself.

If you don't mind sprinkles of profanity, this is a great book. The writing is good, the history fascinating and the recipes mostly delicious. If scattered F words ruin it for you, then you might want to give this one a pass.

I received a copy of this book from Islandport Press for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Fresh Tastes from a Well-Seasoned Kitchen by Lee Clayton Roper

Fresh Tastes from a Well-Seasoned Kitchen: Over 170 Flavorful Recipes, Essential Cooking Tips & Delightful Stories to Spark Inspiration in Your Kitchen
My rating: 5 of 5 spoons


Delicious, fresh, healthy dishes--what's not to like about this cookbook?! Mushroom, Spinach and Onion Frittata with Goat Cheese uses egg whites instead of whole eggs to lighten the dish. The salad section includes delicious side salads as well as salads to use as a main dish such as Grilled Steak, Roasted Potatoes and Tomato Salad or Chicken, Blueberry and Mango Salad.

I like that there is a nice mixture of light dishes and heartier, comfort food (though usually with a healthy twist) suchc as Coq au Vin, Chicken Pot Pie, Beef Stew with Caramelized Root Vegetables (oh, my!) and more. In the fish section you can find a light and delicious Lemon-Rosemary Swordfish en Papillote or a more robust Ham and Shrimp Jambalaya. There's even a lovely pasta section. There's such a nice selection of healthier pastas these days that it's nice to include a delicious pasta dish in your weekly menu without feeling guilty about it. Vegetarians will be happy to find a section of main dishes just for them.

Side dishes run the gamut from Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, a personal favorite, to Cheese Grits Souffle and Italian Popovers. Dessert lovers, don't despair! You're covered with a delectable selection of pies, tarts, mousses, cakes, fruit & ice cream, cookies and brownies. May I just say that the Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies are to die for?!? We've made them twice already and I'm ready for another batch!

Fresh Tastes from a Well-Season Kitchen is a well rounded, delightful cookbook with something for everyone. I highly recommend it!

I received a galley proof from MLC Publishing through the Nagler Agency and Lisa Ekus Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.