Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bake: The Essential Companioin by Alison Thompson

Bake: The Essential Companion
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I love baking! There's just something so satisfying abut making yummy, from-scratch baked goods for my family--like the Savory Scones (Cheese & Mustard version) I just took from the oven. Personally, I think the oven should be hotter. It says 15-20 min at 340F, but I cooked them over 25 min--the last 5 min bumped up to 350F--and they're still a tad doughy in the middle. The flavor is amazing, though!! I made the Cornish Pasties for my daughters for a picnic and they absolutely LOVED them...and so did I!

This cookbook is filled with scrumptious recipes and lovely photos. It's broken into sections from Breads to Cakes, Pastries, Cookies, Croissants and even a gluten-free section! There's lots more recipes I can't wait to try. I hope the flavors stay up the high standard these have set!  I did drop the rating a bit due to the uncertainty that all the temperatures/times will be accurate.

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

World Class Cakes by Roger Pizey

World Class Cakes: 250 Classic Recipes from Boston Cream Pie to Madeleines and Muffins
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons

A feast for the eyes and the palette!! While definitely not for the beginning baker, this is a great cookbook full of recipes for amazing cakes. The book is divided into sections that start with Sponges & Layer Cakes and end with Celebration Cakes. Each recipe starts with a small blurb about the cake and its history. Several of the recipes have a page beside it titled "Where to Eat Cake..." and a location that gives multiple great places to find local baking. There are lots of pictures throughout the book, which is a big plus. It's always nice to know what the finished product is supposed to look like when you're making something completely new.

When I first get a cookbook, I usually flip through it and find a couple of recipes that I want to try the most. That was not possible with this book. If I had marked every recipe I couldn't wait to try, the book would look like a porcupine with markers sticking out all over! I started with Sonhos, Portugese "dreams" doughnuts. Oh, my! These were a HUGE hit with my girls!! I didn't use the optional 4th egg, and I'm really glad I didn't. I think these would have been to eggy tasting if I'd used the 4th. Make sure and cook them plenty long enough--they'll split slightly and puff up much larger than expected when they're done. My first batch I didn't leave long enough and they were slightly doughy inside, but all the rest were amazing!! Definitely try the Turkish Lemon Cake, Tippaleipa (Finnish Funnel Cakes), and the Devil's Food Cake!

One downside to this book is quite a few ingredients may be semi to very hard to find. If you live in an area with many specialty shops or are comfortable buying online, that may not be a big issue to me, but it was fairly frustrating to me.

If you are a beginning baker, you might have some trouble with some of these recipes, but if you're at least somewhat experienced I recommend this book! I gave it 4 out of 5 because of the more advanced nature, and the fact that there are many harder-to-find ingredients.

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Kitchen Things by Richard Snodgrass

Kitchen Things: An Album of Vintage Utensils and Farm-Kitchen Recipes
My rating: 5 of 5 spoons

This is part art/coffee table book and part cookbook, but completely fun!! Great black & white photos of old kitchen utensils scattered with old farm-style recipes that can take you back to your childhood and beyond!

I've used many of the items in this book, saw my grandparents use others and there's even a few I've never seen before! The photos are great and it's a joy just to slowly look through this book.

Ummmm! Butterscotch cookies, cornmeal mush, baked beans, scalloped oysters, creamed potatoes, lemon pie.....need I go on?

If you're looking for a book filled to the brim with recipes, this is not for you. If you, like me, love all things kitchen & cooking and like vintage things, you'll love this book!!

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Good Stock: Life on a Low Simmer by Sanford D'Amato

Good Stock: Life on a Low Simmer
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book!! Such a great balance of story and recipes-and what stories and recipes!! Unlike some chef memoirs I've ready, this chef/author is very down to earth and even quite humble at times making for a very enjoyable read. As for the recipes--oh, my! Lemon Curd Meringue, Navarin of Lamb, Sicilian Burger with Marinated Olive Schiacciate (and the recipe for Semolina Olive Buns is included!) and so many more!! I have to say, I could have done without the photo that went with the recipe for "Rhubarb-Glazed Squab on Candied Radish and Scallions, Rhubarb Essence" as well as the profane comment at the head of the recipe. The leg with the foot attached sticking up in the air is not very appetizing to me, and I hate profanity in a cookbook. It definitely dropped my review a bit.

If you want a combination of good storytelling and great recipes, I would recommend this book to you. The author is pleasantly down to earth instead of the typical arrogance I've found in other memoirs, and the food is amazing! Do yourself a favor and check it out!

I received a copy of this book from Midway, an Agate Publishing imprint through the Lisa Ekus Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Everyday Thai Cooking by Katie Chin

Everyday Thai Cooking: Quick & Easy Family Style Recipes
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons

This is a gorgeous cookbook!! My sister spent some time in Thailand several years ago and fell in love with their cuisine. I'll be honest, I've not had much Thai food, but I've thoroughly enjoyed what I have eaten. I've always felt a little overwhelmed at the thought of cooking Thai food for myself, though. This is a great book for overcoming those fears and diving into a new cuisine! I don't know if I fully agree with the "quick and easy" part of the title as a good many of these seem to be fairly optimistic on the prep time listed, but the recipes are laid out in a way that's easy to follow and understand. There are tons of great color photos, which is a definite plus.

I have a great Asian grocery store in my city (though it's a bit of a drive for me), but even then I'm not sure if I could find all of the ingredients. Sometimes I just have to substitute something else, or be content with not having every single ingredient for that particular recipe. I did drop the review a touch for that reason. Otherwise, this is a great cookbook for anyone interesting in cooking Thai cuisine.

I received a copy of this book from Tuttle Publishing through the Lisa Ekus Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One Souffle at a Time by Anne Willan

One Soufflé at a Time: A Memoir of Food and France
My rating: 3 of 5 spoons

I've always been interested in international cuisines, and French cuisine fascinates me. I was definitely looking forward to a great book on life and food in France. The first "issue" came up just 4 pages into the book. The author is talking about technique and how it's important to do things the way the French do them if you're cooking French cuisine. In talking about different techniques used in "Fillets of Sole Provençale", she states that tomatoes must be peeled and seeded. However, the actual recipe only tells you to core, seed and chop the tomatoes. If you're an experienced cook, this won't be an issue, but for many people, they may not have had the experience to just know what to do. If technique is so important, include it in the actual recipe!

The recipes in this book are great. It's as much or more memoir than cookbook, but there are still some great, classic recipes here that are well worth your time. The memoir portion—well, you’ll have to decide for yourself. The author was very big on her privileged childhood, and lots of name-dropping as time went on. The writing came across as though the author feels very superior to whoever might be reading this book. That was a real down side for me. It all depends on what you're looking for in a book.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press through the Lisa Ekus Group for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Franny's: Simple Seasonal Italian by Andrew Feinberg

Franny's: Simple Seasonal Italian
My rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I am addicted to Italian cookbooks. I fell in love with the food on a visit Sicily, and have cooked more Italian than anything every since. "Franny's Simple, Seasonal, Italian" sucked me in immediately. This book is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Lovely recipes such as "Warm Controne Bean Salad with Radicchio and Pancetta" (lets face it--if it has pancetta in it, it HAS to be good!!), "Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Almonds and Pecorino", (my FAVORITE cheese of all time!), "Spaghetti with Herbs and Ricotta" (classic Italian simplicity) and "Pistachio Cake" fill this book. The photos are lovely, though I wish there were more of them, and just reading the recipes starts my gastric juices flowing! I highly recommend other Italian food lovers to try out this book.

My biggest issue was with the xantham gum in all the gelatos and sorbettos. I make gelato fairly regularly, and never have to resort to xanthum gum to get good results. I could have done without the chapter on cocktails, but that's pretty easy to ignore.

Over all, this is a great cookbook to fill those Italian cravings, and would be a great addition to anyone's collection of cookbooks.

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