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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.

The Frog Commissary Cookbook by Steven Poses

The Frog Commissary Cookbook
My rating: 5 of 5 spoons
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I was asked if I'd be interested in reviewing this cookbook and, while I had to laugh at the name, I was more than willing to give it a shot. I had never heard of "The Frog Commissary Cookbook", though I see now that many consider it a classic. I have to say, I have really enjoyed it! I received it during the holiday season and since I couldn't find my old stand-by pecan pie recipe, I decided to use the recipe from this book. Wow! I'm so glad I did!! I have to say, this is one of the best pecan pie recipes I've ever used. I HIGHLY recommend it along with the Phyllo Packets with Spinach, Feta & Pine Nuts. Yum!! Make sure to try out the Mixed Vegetable Slaw and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon, Roasted Peppers & Balsamic Vinegar as well. I have to admit, I have not yet tried the Carrot Cake recipe, which I'm told is the best there is, but it is definitely on my "to-cook" list.

This is a great cookbook. Many recipes are unique and the layout is pretty nice. There are line drawing illustrations scattered throughout the book that add to the vintage cookbook look. I have to admit, some photos would be really nice. All-in-all, this is a really nice cookbook with interesting recipes, and I would definitely recommend to anyone to check it out.

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Balaboosta by Einat Admony

BalaboostaMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons
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I couldn't wait to get into this book, but the author turned me off before I ever got to the recipes. She comes across as very arrogant and boastful to the point I quit reading anything but the recipes. The recipes are varied and fascinating, but not enough for me to keep this book around.

UPDATE**  I first reviewed this book on my own just because I was interested in it.  A couple of months later I received an unsolicited copy from the publisher (which, I might say, I do not have an issue with receiving unsolicited cookbooks to review!), so I thought I'd go back and re-examine this book and see if I missed anything. 

On the positive side, because I was reviewing for a publisher, I did look at the actual recipes more, and found many great recipes.  The book is well laid out and the photos are great.

On the negative side, I still have several issues with this book.  I realize many would not be bothered by this and think I'm being picky, but I didn't appreciate her referring to God as "She".  The biggest thing that struck me going through the book this time was on page 47 in the section on cooking for kids she makes this statement: "Allow them (kids) to knead raw beef and stretch dough between their fingers--but be sure they don't swallow uncooked dough."  So, let me get this straight.  She's very concerned about your child's safety so doesn't want them to eat raw dough, but has nothing to say about raw meat?!  I found that very strange.

The quality of many of the recipes and the actual quality of the book pushed my rating up slightly, but definitely not going on my favorites list. 

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