December 16, 2013

Balaboosta by Einat Admony

BalaboostaMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

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.

December 15, 2013

Dos Camino's Mexican Street Food by Ivy Stark

Dos Caminos' Mexican Street Food: 120 Authentic Recipes to Make At Home
My rating: 3 of 5 spoons

I was excited to receive this book and dove right in only to come up with mixed feelings. I was looking for a cookbook filled with authentic street food from Mexico. There are definitely a lot of those recipes in this book, but some fell woefully short such as the Cornmeal Biscuits with Cheddar and Chipotle that the author clearly states were based on biscuits she loved growing up so she made a "Mexican" version. There are many dishes in here that are definitely NOT street food, and that made this book a little disappointing.

The other issue I had with this book is some of the ingredients it calls for. Sea urchin roe, epazote (I had to look this one up. It's a hard to find spice.), huitlacoche (a corn fungus--seriously!) and goat meat are definitely not readily available in most of the United States, so that dropped my rating a bit, too.

There are some lovely recipes in here that are great. I'm a sucker for the Mexico City-Style Street Corn and I love the Jicama, Orange and Apple Salad and Roasted Chicken Flautas.

Go into this book with your eyes open, and I'll think you'll find lots to enjoy. This book is full of lovely photographs and interesting information and some great recipes--just not all of them are actually "Mexican Street Food".

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

Prep School by James P. DeWan

Prep School: How to Improve Your Kitchen Skills and Cooking Techniques
My rating: 5 of 5 spoons

This is such a great resource for cooks!! From bare beginners to confident cooks, all can glean from this reference book for cooks. From chopping onions, to cleaning mussels, corning beef, poaching an egg, making homemade ricotta cheese (something I LOVE to do, but I know many cooks who didn't even realize you could easily make your own at home), carving a turkey or cooking in parchment paper, this book covers it all. It's not just a "how-to" book, but after teaching you the technique then gives you at least one recipe to use that technique. While most cooks can glean something from this book, I especially recommend it to beginner cooks. There is so much they can learn out of this book. I highly recommend it!

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

November 8, 2013

Inside the Jewish Bakery by Stanley Ginsberg

Inside the Jewish Bakery: Recipes and Memories from the Golden Age of Jewish BakingMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

Bread is one of my biggest weaknesses. Other than a cheese shop, a bakery can draw me in quicker than anything. I love baking my own bread and filling the house with the wonderful smells and then sitting down to the amazing flavors. I expected this book to be right up my alley. Make no mistake; there are some great recipes in this book. I was very disappointed with the number of errors. I actually received the second edition, so I expected the errors to be fixed. There's only half a dozen or so on the errata page, but those were noted to be mistakes in the first edition so I was really surprised that ALL the mistakes weren't corrected for the second edition. I also had to laugh out loud at the recipe for Bakery Challah which calls for 7 1/2 egg yolks. Really?! I've never seen a recipe call for you to split an egg yolk before!

This book is filled with wonderful recipes that call you in and cry out to be made. I can imagine that this would be a jewel for someone who grew up in New York or somewhere with Jewish bakeries and now has moved away and can't get all the lovely baked goods they grew up with. I hear people talk about the different breads, rolls or pastries that were their favorites, and chances are they're in this book! I just have to caution you to print out the errata page for any corrections first.

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

Salt Block Cooking by Mark Bitterman

Salt Block Cooking: 70 Recipes for Grilling, Chilling, Searing, and Serving on Himalayan Salt BlocksMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

I have a guilty pleasure: I love cooking shows! It was while watching one of my favorite ones that I first saw someone use a salt block to cook and I was immediately fascinated. I was very excited to get this book and check it out. I did NOT realize how expensive the salt blocks can be!  Definitely be ready to make an investment if you want a good salt block of a decent size.

The recipes in here range from super simple to slightly more complicated, but definitely intriguing. You have to try the "Salt Brick Grilled Chicken"!! There's a great section in the beginning filled with history, how to shop for a salt block, sizing guide, handling and more. This is definitely the quintessential book on salt block cooking, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to foray into this area of cooking.

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

Pretzel Making at Home by Andrea Slonecker

Pretzel Making at HomeMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I'm not a fan of the hard pretzels you buy in bags, but I love a good soft pretzel every now and then, so I was really interested in getting into this book and trying my hand at it.

The book itself is a nice layout. More photos would have been nice, but the photos they have used are great. There is lots of good information in the front of the book with history, whys and wherefores. I haven't really gotten to cook much out of this book, though. As a Christian and non-drinker, I will not buy beer--even to cook with and a good portion of the recipes call for beer. I also have a tiny kitchen and 4 little kids, so I don't really have a good set up to use the lye solution. However, there is some great information in this book, lovely dips/toppings and a few recipes I can cook now and with some more research maybe I can find a good substitute for the beer and cook some more of these recipes.

I did drop the rating to a four due to the beer and lye as not everyone can/will use these, but for someone with no problems with beer and a good setup to be able to use the lye, this is definitely the book to go for!

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

November 7, 2013

Small, Sweet and Italian by Maria Bruscino Sanchez

Small, Sweet, and Italian: Tiny, Tasty Treats from Sweet Maria's BakeryMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

"Small, Sweet and Italian-ish" might be a better title for this cookbook. A good portion of the recipes seem to be more derivative than actual Italian recipes, which made it somewhat of a disappointment to me. I can create Italian-ish recipes on my own. I was looking for authentic Italian desserts, and so this cookbook didn't quite cut it for me.

On the other hand, if you just want some delicious dessert recipes, or if you are a die-hard Sweet Maria's Bakery fan, this would definitely be a great cookbook for you! There are some amazing recipes in here (including some that are authentic Italian desserts) that would make a perfect finishing touch for any meal. Definitely try out the Godfather Cupcakes, Chocolate Cookie Cannoli with Whipped Cream and Pistachio Chocolate Cupcakes to name a few.

The only other issue with this cookbook is that the author assumes you have a stand mixer, so most if not all of the instructions are for a stand mixer. If you don't have one, you just have to figure out the best way to do it yourself.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Press for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

November 4, 2013

The Sardinian Cookbook by Viktorija Todorovska

The Sardinian Cookbook: The Cooking and Culture of a Mediterranean IslandMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

Sardinia is the lesser known of Italy's two main islands. Sicily, the more well-known island, is very dear to my heart, and I think that made me even a little more excited to check out the similarities and differences between cooking and culture of the two islands.

This was such a great book, both to read and to cook out of! There is a lovely section on the island itself as well as bits and pieces scattered throughout the book. The recipes are a fascinating array. I have oven roasted potatoes for years, and almost didn't make the recipe for "Potatoes with Mediterranean Herbs" for that reason, but I would have really missed out! I've always roasted my potatoes from a raw state, and I wasn't sure about baking the potatoes for at least 45 minutes AFTER boiling them to a fork tender state. Wow! They were amazing!! Like silk or velvet on the inside with a luscious crust on the outside, they became an instant favorite in my house! I'll be honest; the "Endive with Extra Virgin Olive Oil" was a bust. Even my husband who loves all cooked greens couldn't eat them. The uber-simple "Chicken with Capers" more than made up for the endive. Such a few ingredients, and a simple preparation, but what a flavor!! We had company over and they raved over the chicken as well!

This is a great cookbook to dip into the waters of Sardinian cooking. I'm far from finished with this book as there is so many more recipes that make my mouth water just reading them! I did drop my rating to 4 stars due to the amount of hard-to-find ingredients. Items like myrtle (dried and/or crushed leaves and branches), bottarga, fregola and more may be available in some specialty stores, but most will probably have to order them off the internet.

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

October 23, 2013

Summerland by Anne Quatrano

 My rating: 2 of 5 spoons

My roots are in the South, and I was raised on Southern cooking. I was excited to see a book on Southern cooking, but refined. I was not expecting a book that was so "refined" in most places it in no way resembled any Southern cooking I've ever known! "Kumamoto Oysters with Caviar and Champagne Gelée", "Broccoli Soup with Sabayon and Shaved Perigord Truffle", "Potted Quail Livers", "Caramelized Onions, Olive Soil, and White Anchovies on Dark Bread" (No, that is not a typo, it's actually "olive soil"). Where are these people from? Well, they may have moved to the South, but he's from Hawaii and she's from Connecticut. I think a lot of that shines through in these recipes.

There are some good, basic recipes that are very Southern in here that are worth cooking, like "Shirred Farm Eggs", "Summerland Farm Egg Custard", and "Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon" to name a few. There are even a few authentic dishes that I WOULDN'T recommend--can you say "Head Cheese"?!? Seriously, though, if you are looking for true Southern cooking that's just a little healthier or a little more upscale, I don't know if this is for you. If you're looking to impress someone with fancy food which may or may not resemble Southern cooking at all, this is probably the book for you.

I received a copy of this book from Rizzoli International Publications through The Lisa Eskus Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Callie's Biscuits and Southern Traditions by Carrie Morey

Callie's Biscuits and Southern Traditions: Heirloom Recipes from Our Family KitchenMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I have lived all over the US, but I am a Southern girl at heart. My parents were both born and raised in the South, and I grew up on good, Southern cooking. I couldn't wait to start cooking from this book. I'll be honest, I'm something of a biscuit snob. To me, biscuits should be simple and so I haven't made Callie's biscuits yet (I've never HEARD of putting cream cheese into biscuits!), but will probably give them a go sometime in the future. I do heartily agree with her preference for White Lily flour for your biscuits, though. It's the best brand I've found for great biscuits.
A Cup A Cup A Cobbler
This is definitely a book on Southern cooking and, as such, Callie loves her butter!! Now I love butter as much as the next person (I refuse to even have margarine in my house!), but 1 stick of butter for the "A Cup A Cup A Cobbler" recipe was definitely too much. I took it to church for our potluck, and the ladies there agreed that the cobbler taste was good, but it was way too much butter. I would recommend dropping it to no more than 1/2 stick, and possibly less. On the same vein, I was going to whip up the "Christmas Cast-Iron Apple" which looks like a cross between an apple pie and an apple crumble today, but between the pie crust recipe and the pie recipe, it calls for a grand total of 2 1/4 sticks of butter! I decided to hold this recipe until Thanksgiving when I can just indulge and not worry about it!

Mrs. Em's Bread
Mrs. Em's Bread has a wonderful flavor. It's quick and easy to whip up and the results were great. I will say that the inside of mine was slightly doughy even though by her guidelines it should have been done, but that could be partly due to my new loaf pan. Next time I'll let it cook about 5 minutes more than she says.
This book has a great basic roasted chicken recipe with instructions for several varieties. I made the Greek Chicken, and it came out wonderful!! It is very easy to make and has a luscious flavor to it.

If you're into eating healthy, be careful with this book!! It is truly Southern in many ways. However, if you just love to eat Southern and hang the calories, or if you want that splurge ever so often, this would be a great cookbook for you! I definitely plan to keep it around, and there are lots of recipes I can't wait to try. (The "Lighter Low Country Tomato Pie" is absolutely calling my name!) Grab yourself a copy and let's get cooking!!

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

October 6, 2013

Mary Berry at Home by Mary Berry

Mary Berry at HomeMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

Mary Berry is just a queen of British cooking and this is a great addition to her large collection of cookbooks. There seems to be something for everyone. You will have to convert the oven temperatures to Fahrenheit, but that's not a very big deal. There is a conversion table in the front of the book, Fahrenheit temps just aren't listed on the individual recipes. Some of it isn't really suitable to most Americans; for instance, unless you live where you can hunt pheasant, it's not likely you're going to be able to just buy some at the store, and I don't know if I've ever seen smoked haddock in a store over here. However, there are many, many recipes that are wonderful that we can cook here in the US with no problem. The "Chicken with Vermouth & Sage" is a nice play on the Italian "Chicken Saltimbocca". It's very quick and easy, and white cooking wine substituted for the vermouth still worked fine. The "Chocolate Obsession" cake is definitely on my list to make when I can cheat on my diet a little later! It looks AMAZING!! The "West Country Gratin"--oh, my! "Maple-spiced Chicken" is definitely on my to do list as well. I really like the "Time for Tea" section in the back. My daughters love having tea parties, and these are great recipes for simple tea parties at home as well as larger, grander tea parties to entertain.

This book is a joy just to read through, not to mention cook out of! There's not a photo for every recipe, but there are plenty of photos scattered throughout. "Mary Berry at Home" is a cookbook that I highly recommend and hope to enjoy for years to come.

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

The Working Class Foodies Cookbook by Rebecca Lando

The Working Class Foodies Cookbook: 100 Delicious Seasonal and Organic Recipes for Under $8 per PersonMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

There is some good information in this book, but also some bad or mis-information. The author seems to promote farm-raised fish, but never mentions that farm-raised fish have higher fat content, many have antibiotics and who knows what else in them, higher PCB's and toxin levels as well as less Omega 3's than wild caught fish. As far as "cheap" goes, I had to laugh when I saw the pantry section. It says "How to Stock a Pantry for $60 to $80), but the very first item is olive oil with the price listed as '$6.00 to $24.00'. Now, I know for a fact that organic extra virgin olive oil is very expensive. Taking that into account and looking at the rest of the pantry "staples", unless you're buying small quantities and for only one or two people, you are NOT going to stock your pantry and come in at $60-$80. There-in lies the rub in this book: this book seems to be written with single people, or couples at most in mind. A good portion of the recipes seem to serve 2-4. There are six in my family, so I will constantly be having to double or triple recipes.

As far as the recipes themselves go, many are just basic, simple recipes that many of us have cooked for years. There's some pantry staples (making your own ketchup, mayonnaise, and so forth), basic sauces, roasted veggies and the like. There are, however, some lovely recipes in this book that call to be tried out such as "Green Beans and Hazelnuts with Tarragon-Cider Vinaigrette", "Pancetta, Squash and Shallot Risotto", "Jumble-Berry Pie" and "Sea Salt-Honey Caramels".

This book would be better with more photos. Four pages of photos stuck in the middle of the book with pictures of less than 20 recipes is a big turn off for a lot of people when buying a cookbook.

I would recommend this book for singles or couples that have enough money to play around with the pricier produce and meats. For families like mine, however, it probably won't be used a lot.

I received a copy of this book from Gotham Books (via Penguin Group) for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

October 2, 2013

Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis

Breakfast for Dinner: Recipes for Frittata Florentine, Huevos Rancheros, Sunny-Side-Up Burgers, and More!My rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I really enjoyed this cookbook! We do breakfast for dinner probably at least once a month, and this gives me so many more great ideas! I realize it's just meant to go over the Italian-Style French Toast, but the Easy Marinara turned out beautifully! I wouldn't have thought to put broccoli and cauliflower in an omelet. The Mini BLT Biscuits are adorable. There are many "standards" in here, but most have some sort of twist on them that keep them interesting. I love that there is a photo of the finished product for most of the recipes. I could do a lot of cooking out of this book!

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

Moosewood Restaurant Favorites by Moosewood Collective

Moosewood Restaurant Favorites: The 250 Most-Requested, Naturally Delicious Recipes from One of America's Best-Loved RestaurantsMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I'm going to begin with a caveat--I did not request this cookbook. The publisher sent me this cookbook unsolicited for my review. I don't have any problem with them doing that, just want to be up front that this is not a cookbook I would normally request. I am not a vegetarian or vegan and I don't eat soy products (I don't think they're good for you, but I'm not going to start that argument here). There is a LOT of tofu in this book! There are some interesting recipes and even some things I do myself already (Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Broccoli, etc), but over all, this really isn't my cup of tea.

The book itself is lovely with its colorful, padded cover, nice photos and heavy duty pages. For someone who loves Moosewood recipes, this book would be a must. I'm giving it four stars based on the quality of the book, and the fact that it would be a great cookbook for a Moosewood Restaurant fan.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin's Griffin Press for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Duke's Table by Enrico Alliata di Salaparuta

The Duke's Table: The Complete Book of Vegetarian Italian CookingMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

This book was a bit of a surprise for me. I'm NOT a vegetarian, but we are trying to eat healthy so I'm always on the hunt for good, tasty vegetable dishes that my family will enjoy. I absolutely LOVE cooking Italian, and I was expecting exactly what the title said--vegetarian ITALIAN cooking. I was a little surprised when I started seeing all of these recipes like "British Rice", "English Style Vegetarian Meatballs" and "German Cake", but I actually laughed out loud when I kept finding dishes from Australia, Holland, Chili, Russia and more! There are lots of Italian recipes, and they're very good--at least the ones I've cooked so far. There are classics intermixed with recipes I've never heard of. This book is so much fun just to read through!

There is one caveat for this book. If you are not at least somewhat comfortable with cooking, this would not be the book for you. For example, Bocconcini di Sostanza (Tasty Tidbits) has an ingredient list of 3 ingredients (though you'll find at least one more in the directions), but NO measurements. This is very common throughout the book. Some have amounts, some do not. The directions can be as bad. The Milk and Egg Soufflé simply tells you to "pour into a greased mold and steam cook."

Everything I have cooked out of it so far has turned out great, and I love the funny little gems I keep stumbling across. If you're a comfortable to expert cook, you might really enjoy this book. I know I did!

I was sent a copy of this book by Melville House Publishing for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti

One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious DessertsMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

I love to bake, but as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom of four, sometimes the time just isn't there for more than something super quick. That's where "One Bowl Baking" comes in. Mostly quick, easy recipes for scrumptious desserts, this is definitely a go to cookbook for when you need a dessert fast! There's a great range as well with everything from Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, to Peaches and Cream Streusel Muffins, Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Brownie Cupcakes and Triple Chocolate Blackout Cake with Espresso Ganache (okay, I just put on 5 lbs TYPING that!). Most of the recipes are super easy to follow. My 13-year-old daughter made the Chunky Peanut Butter Jar Shortbread Cookies and they turned out amazing!!

I think the author really hit the mark with this cookbook. Great recipes, good photos (though not for every single recipe) and a nice sized book that works well in the kitchen.

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

September 21, 2013

The Clean Plates Cookbook by Jaren Koch

The Clean Plates Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Healthy, Sustainable, and Delicious EatingMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

Who doesn't want good tasting, healthy food? That is what this book is all about. Now, I will be honest here, I'm not a huge all-organic, gluten free, healthy only type of cook. I do, however, try to cook healthier versions of whatever I cook when I can. My passion is Sicilian cooking, which does fall into healthier eating with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and seafood. I have always been against your average soy products, and it was nice to see a mainstream, healthy cookbook that isn't full of soy products.

This book is so full of good information. It really breaks down what is good, what is not and why. It is not a vegetarian or vegan cookbook as it does have a few beef, chicken and fish--and even pork!!--recipes. I like that. I'm an omnivore, and the chances of me giving up meat are pretty slim. Cut down, maybe, but definitely not give up!

The recipes are mostly quite simple. That simplicity coupled with good quality ingredients is what makes the dish. The Garlic Mashed Butternut Squash was so simple to make, but really delicious. It would make a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving. I was thrilled to find a recipe for granola using steel cut oats. I had been wondering how to use them in my granola, but hadn't found a recipe for it. I can't wait to try the Sauteed Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Almonds. I like them roasted, and this recipe sounds particularly good!

If you are already cooking healthy and looking for more recipes, or if you are looking to change to a healthier lifestyle, then this cookbook is for you. I highly recommend it.

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

The Fresh Honey Cookbook by Laurey Masterton

The Fresh Honey Cookbook: 84 Recipes from a Beekeeper's KitchenMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

I love the idea of this cookbook; information about honey and bees along with recipes celebrating all the different kinds of honey. There's just one problem--I was really surprised at the number of recipes that didn't use honey! (Though, the Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic are REALLY good!) There's only 84 recipes in the whole book, so for around a dozen or so recipes to not include honey really brought this book down for me. I kind of felt cheated. That being said, most of the recipes that DO include honey look luscious. Definitely try the Wild Salmon with a Smoky Onion Crust! There is a nice selection of photos showing some of the finished dishes, though it would have been nice to have more photos of finished dishes and less of flowers, honeycombs and things like that.

Each of the 12 chapters is for one month of the year and features a certain flavor honey, though that doesn't mean you have to use that particular flavor in those recipes. The beginning of each chapter tells you about that particular honey--where it's made and flavor notes including color, smell, taste and aftertaste. There are also a few pages scattered throughout the book telling about the bee colonies.

All-in-all, this is a very interesting book with great recipes.

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

September 9, 2013

The Adobo Road by Marvin Gapultos

The Adobo Road Cookbook: A Filipino Food Journey-From Food Blog, to Food Truck, and BeyondMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I had to call my sister when I got this cookbook as she spent a couple of years in the Philippines and fell in love with their food. She still cooks their food often even though it's been years since she lived there, and many of the recipes in this book are ones she makes often. The Green Beans With Shallots and Garlic as well as the Fast and Simple Garlic Fried Rice are delicious (and very authentic, according to her!). I first had adobo when she made it for us on a visit home and, while I wouldn't want a steady diet of it, these are great recipes for times I want that flavor. I do love Lumpia and Spring Rolls, so I'm delighted to find the recipes here. The Leche Flan is definitely on my "to make" list as well.

Most of the recipes here are fairly simple to make, but some of the ingredients will be very hard to find unless you live in an area with a large Filipino population that has specialized stores that carry products such as cassava, fresh pig's ears, fresh taro root and so on. There is a listing in the back of the book for a few online sources, but this can get pricey. That dropped my rating a bit. Other than that, this is a great book for lovers of Filipino food or food explorers looking to try something new.

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

September 5, 2013

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti

The Glorious Vegetables of ItalyMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

This is an incredible cookbook! A friend was over for a visit when this book came in and we oohed and aahed and salivated over the entire thing!! My "to make" list is a mile long with "Capricci with Slow-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Cream" at the top of the list. My husband saw the picture and all of us immediately said, "Ooooh! I want to try that!!". The only reason I haven't made it yet is that I haven't found the capricci pasta yet. I know I can make it with something else, but I'd really like to make it exactly as it's listed first. The "Slow-Roasted Tomatoes" are incredible as are the "Baked Delicata Squash with Cream and Parmigiano". Some of these dishes look incredible, but I'm waiting on the autumn veggies to come into season before I dip into those recipes.

The "Gallery of Vegetables" in this book is wonderful. Each vegetable is listed with "Season", "To Clean" and "To Prepare" with all the basic information needed. That alone is great, especially for the vegetables I don't prepare often. Also included is a short section on different herbs, basic ingredients and basic equipment. This is especially helpful for more beginner cooks.

This is a wonderful cookbook that is definitely going on my "favorites" shelf to be used for a long, long time.

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

The No Recipe Cookbook by Susan Crowther

The No Recipe Cookbook: A Guide to Culinary IntelligenceMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

This is a nice book for those who don't know much about cooking. There's some great information in here and loads of tips. I cooked for years with many failures as I had not learned the basic philosphy of "Mise en place"--"Everything in its place". Cooking is so much easier (and more fun!) if you prepare properly. That and other good, basic cooking philosophies are covered nicely in this book.

There are some issues, however. When discussing sauteing and stir-frying, on the chart is says garlic can be sauted at any time, but never mentions that garlic burns easily when sauteing and how to combat that. The author clearly states that she likes and eats meat, but gives no information on actually cooking meat. That seems kind of weird as this is not a "vegetarian" cookbook per se. There are lots of "Top Ten" lists that just seem to take up space and not be very helpful.

Like I said, there's some great information in here, but you have to dig to find it. I don't know that I would recommend this to a friend trying to learn how to cook.

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

August 26, 2013

Just a Little Preview!

Just thought I'd give you a small preview of  reviews to come! :-)   Some I'm already cooking out of (Yummy!!!), others are new arrivals, and I'm expecting a minimum of four more in the mail any time. 
Let's get cooking!! :-)

August 20, 2013

What a compliment!!

I had a nice surprise waiting for me this morning!  I checked my email as normal and found an email from Amazon stating that my review of "The Silver Spoon Cookbook" had helped someone, and a second email with a comment on my review.  It stated, "SandrasBookNook--You're making me so hungry, I'm ordering this book right NOW thanks to your wonderfully well-written review!"  Definitely started my day with a smile!

I love reviewing cookbooks, and have no plans to stop whether I know people are enjoying them or not (much of the time there is no feedback, so it can make you start to wonder if people are that interested), but it was such an encouragement that I actually influenced someone with my passion for cooking and cookbooks!! 

Happy Cooking!!

August 19, 2013

Mug Cakes by Leslie Bilderback

Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet ToothMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I am much more of a salty/carbs type of girl, but sometimes you just want something SWEET!! I don't like to make big cakes and desserts very often as we usually don't end up finishing them (I hate throwing half a cake away!), and we don't like for any of us--including our kids--to have a lot of sugar. These are perfect. Super quick and easy, and just the right amount to give everyone a little something sweet. Lots of great combinations. I tried the yellow cake first as I figured if the very basic of basics didn't come out right, it probably wasn't going to go well on the fancier ones! The whole family loved it! Most recipes make enough for two mug cakes which split nicely between the 6 of us. The cake was moist and had a great flavor. It's probably a tad heavier than a regular cake, but not by much. The chocolate mayonnaise cake was everything it should have been. I'm ready to branch out now. I just made the Nutella Cake. Oh my, my my!! A MUST for anyone that likes Nutella! I'm thinking of trying the lemon thyme cake next.

This is such a fun book! Lots of lovely flavors with something for everyone. Many recipes for toppings and garnishes, and a section of "not exactly cakes" that includes Lindy's-Style Mug Cheesecake (can't wait to try that one!), Pumpkin Mug Pie, Lemon Bar Mug and more. Definitely a sweet little book to add to my favorites shelf!

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

View all my reviews

August 15, 2013

All You Knead is Bread by Jane Mason

All You Knead Is Bread: 50 Recipes from Around the World to Bake & ShareMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

I love bread. So many people are addicted to sweets, chocolate (ok, I do love chocolate), etc, but give me a nice, crusty loaf of bread and I am one happy lady!! I think the favorite meal I've ever had was the first evening of my first trip to Sicily when I was given a couple of thick slices of good Italian bread, three kinds of cheese and a big glass of ice water. I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven! My love for bread actually borders on addiction, so I couldn't WAIT to dive into this cookbook. I've been making bread for years, so I'm no novice, but I wouldn't necessarily call myself an expert, either.

I started with the Olive Oil Rolls. I love, love, LOVE Italian breads, so this was an easy choice. Oh, my! These were so easy to make, and a huge hit with my family. Next I went for the Bridge Rolls. Eh. Not so great. They were okay, but definitely not on my "Make these again!" list. I just made the Biovette. Yes, back to Italian breads. Unfortunately, they were another "Eh". I thought I might have made a mistake with the Bridge Rolls and accidentally added too much salt, but these were too salty as well. I did NOT like the method of looking at the dough like a clock and pulling pieces out until they were thin and gently lay them back on the main portion of dough. It seemed more work than necessary, and I didn't like they way the Biovette turned out doing that (I didn't bother with it on the first two breads). I've never heard of doing the dough that way, and don't plan on doing it that way ever again as I certainly didn't like the results.

I love the information given in the first part of the book; really breaking down all the ingredients and aspects of bread making. Unfortunately two of the first three recipes I made, I really wasn't impressed with the results. That coupled with so many of the breads needing special ingredients dropped my rating for it. This is not a book to go on my favorites shelf.

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

August 10, 2013

Homemade with Love by Jennifer Perillo

Homemade with Love: Simple Scratch Cooking from In Jennie's KitchenMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I love cooking from scratch. As a stay-at-home-mom, you could say it's my normal. Yes, it's nice to be able to grab a mix or something sometimes when you're in a hurry or something unexpected happens, but I love making a good home-cooked meal. This book is right up my alley as it's not only about cooking from scratch, but cooking healthy as well. This is not a vegetarian cookbook as some have stated, but there are great notations at the bottom of each recipe for 30 minutes or less, egg-free, vegetarian, vegan friendly, make ahead, dairy free, gluten free, under 1 hour, etc. I love the fact that it uses fresh, healthy ingredients, whole grains and more. I am trying to cook healthier for my family as my husband and I try to lose weight--not so easy when you review cookbooks!! He is doing great, I am slowly moving along. Cookbooks like this are so much fun for me, though. There's some great, healthy ideas for vegetables to go so nicely with the light, healthy proteins I've been cooking. You MUST try the slow-roasted tomatoes and easy roasted vegetables. I would never have thought of "Rosemary & Pecorino Popcorn", but it was quite yummy! I'm dying to make the Roasted Tomato Soup and Beef Spezzatino as well as many, many others. I'll be going back to this cookbook time and again!

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

July 11, 2013

"Cape Cod and the Islands" by Kathryn Kleekamp

Cape Cod and the Islands: Where Beauty and History MeetMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

What a beautiful, intriguing book! Filled with photos, sketches, and paintings to go along with history and some recipes scattered throughout. This is much more about the beauty and history of the Cape than about the food, but there is a nice scattering of recipes to tempt you. As a history and art book, this would be five stars easily--as a cookbook, not so much. There isn't an index or anything to help you find what you want recipe-wise. You just have to flip through the book to find them. This book is well worth it, though, for everything else that is included. This is a thoroughly fascinating book!!

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

"The Great Taste of Virginia Seafood" by Mary Reid Barrow

The Great Taste of Virginia Seafood: A Cookbook and Guide to Virginia WatersMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

If you love all things seafood, then this just might be the book for you. If you're looking for lots of glorious photos of the food, then this might not be the book for you. A few color photos in the front of the book, and a very few black and white photos scattered throughout the book is all there is. There is a nice section in the back on buying, cleaning and cooking seafood as well as a glossary of terms and a good index.

As far as the recipes themselves, there is a huge variety. There is everything from classic recipes like "Coquille St. Jacque" and good chowders to southern gumbo and creole style dishes. There are over 100 recipes for hard-shell crab alone! Scallops, shrimp, oysters, blue-fish, flounder....the list goes on and on! None of the recipes seem overly complex or difficult, so this cookbook is good for all cooks.

This is a great cookbook to return to over and over throughout the years. Grab a copy and start cooking!

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

"Cooking in Alaska" by Pat Babcock

Cooking in Alaska, the Land of the Midnight SunMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

I lived in Alaska for a total of 10 years scattered from when I was 13 to age 26, so I was excited to get a copy of this book to review. If you're a stickler for photos of finished dishes, this is not the book for you. Sketches and photos (all black and white) are scattered throughout the book, but focus on Alaska and its cultures--not the food. There are bits and pieces of the history of Alaska as well as the Alaskan people from the pioneers to the different Native groups scattered throughout the book as well.

As far as the food goes, there's everything from Crab Dip to Moose Pot Roast to Eskimo Ice Cream (trust me, don't ask!). Some are definitely from the native culture (Jellied Moose Nose, for instance), but many are just good, basic dishes using local produce and meats. One of my favorite dishes when I was young was Deep Fried Halibut. They have a version with sweet and sour sauce, but I recommend you try it with Malibu Sauce (not in the cookbook. Just mix mustard and mayonnaise together. I know that may not sound appetizing, but it's really good!) as well.

Alaska is a melting pot of people from all over the world, and that is well reflected in this book. Everything from Italian Pot Roast to Norwegian Fiske Pudding and Russian Moose-Cabbage Soup is included. If you want a nice reflection of the diversity of Alaska, this would be a good cookbook for you.

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

July 10, 2013

"Patisserie at Home" by Will Torrent

Patisserie at Home: Step-By-Step Recipes to Help You Master the Art of French PastryMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

Wow! What a mouth-wateringly gorgeous book! I admit, the photo of Tarte éxotique made me laugh. Dried leaves and berries still on the stem?!? Too funny. However, this book makes you want to just dive in. I have made some basic French pastries in the past, "Paris Brest", basic cream puffs, etc, so this really doesn't feel like it's too far above my reach to even try. Yes, some of the recipes are a little more intense than others, but there are great recipes in here for everyone. I love how the book starts with the absolute basics of the different pastry doughs and basic creams and ganache and builds from there. Tarte au citron--really what is there more to say? I'm pretty sure I put on 5 lbs just LOOKING at the Tarte au chocolat, and the Mango and passionfruit mini éclairs are seriously calling my name.

If you want to get into French pastries, I would recommend this book. Just start at the front and work your way through. Lovely, lovely book that I would definitely recommend.

I received a copy of this book from Ryland, Peters & Small for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

"Open Range" by Jay Bentley

Open Range: Steaks, Chops, and More from Big Sky CountryMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

This is a beautiful book!! Before you ever get to the recipes it is a feast for the eyes. Gorgeous photos of one of this nation's beautiful states and glorious food tempt you immediately. There is a history of the author's restaurant as well as a brief history of meat in Montana and an "Equipment and Essentials" section before diving into the food--and what food!! Everything from your basic comfort foods of Salisbury Steak and Meatloaf to the more interesting Bison Carpaccio (okay, let's be honest here. This is a dish I'm sure to avoid as I don't like raw or even rare meat, but some would love it!), Pan-Roasted Halibut with Beurre Blanc and Fresh Chanterelles, Plancha-Grilled Flank Steak, Argentine Style, and Dearborn Ranch Pheasant Wrapped in Bacon and Grape Leaves. There are plenty of great sides and starters as well. There isn't a photo for every dish, but a good portion of them are illustrated.

There are so many lovely recipes in this book. Truly, there's something for just about everyone. The Mint-Style Barbeque Shrimp is seriously calling my name!! The Polenta and Grilled Sausage is destined for my family's "please make this again!" pile, and the Butte Pasties as well as the Natchitoches Meat Pies are sure to be made often. I love that the Butte Pasties are baked making them a little healthier, and can be made ahead and frozen for months at a time.

I knew I would enjoy this book the moment I saw it, but honestly wasn't sure how many recipes I'd actually cook out of it. I was so pleasantly surprised! Many cookbooks like this use hard to find ingredients or mostly expensive cuts of meat that don't fit into our budget, or have such off the wall ingredient combinations that it doesn't even sound appealing. "Open Range", however, caught my interest from the get go and didn't let go. This is sure to go on my favorites shelf and I highly recommend it!

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

View all my reviews

June 25, 2013

"The Perfect Sausage" by Karsten 'Ted' Aschenbrandt

The Perfect Sausage: Making and Preparing Homemade SausageMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

The title of this book should be "The Perfect Bratwurst" as that is the only kind of sausage made and/or used in this book. That was something of a disappointment to me as I was hoping to learn to make different kinds of sausage, not just different kinds of bratwurst. The information is very thorough with step-by-step photos throughout, which is very nice. Information is given on equipment, cuts of meat to use, recipes for many kinds of brats (I had no idea there were so many different kinds!!), and recipes for using the finished product. Many sounded great, a few made me turn the page quickly, such as the Shrimp Bratwurst--just a bit much for me.

If you love brats and would like to learn how to make them yourself, or just want the history of bratwursts and some recipes using them, this would be the book for you. Since I was hoping to learn how to make all kinds of sausages (bangers, chorizo, Italian....), it was somewhat of a disappointment for me. I don' know that we eat enough brats to make this a good cookbook for my family, but I'm sure it will be perfect for many.

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

"Viva Italia" by Tomas Tengby

Viva Italia: 180 Classic RecipesMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

Anyone who knows me or has read my blog very long knows I love Italian cooking, so this book was right up my alley. Classic Italian recipes from all over Italy. So many good recipes in here, its hard to go wrong.

The book itself is gorgeous, with beautiful photos of both the food and the country. It's a joy to just curl up and flip through it, enjoying the sights as your mouth waters reading the recipes. The recipes are classic Italian--simple food prepared simply. From classic Bruschetta to a lovely Pana Cotta, start cooking Italian tonight!

I only gave this book 4 stars as the recipes--though lovely--are pretty much what you'd find in any Italian cookbook. There was just something missing that you can't even quite put your finger on. This is a gorgeous and useful cookbook, make no mistake about that. However, if I had to trim down the number of my Italian cookbooks tomorrow, I don't know that I'd hang on to this one as there isn't anything particularly special about the recipes themselves. It's a beautiful book, though, that many would love.

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

June 14, 2013

"The Silver Spoon" by Phaidon Press

The Silver Spoon  (new edition)My rating: 5 of 5 spoons

First of all, I want to be clear that this review is for the new, 2011 edition. This book has been updated and includes 400 new photographs. I was blown away by the size of this cookbook, and things just kept getting better from there. The quality of the book is outstanding with nice quality paper, sewn binding and a ribbon bookmark. I was a little surprised that there was only one bookmark as another cookbook from the same publisher that is much thinner has two bookmarks. This book could really use at least two, but that's a minor detail and does not detract from the overall book quality. The sewn binding gives it a sturdy feel that gives you the comfort that this book isn't going to fall apart if you use it very often--which I fully plan to do!

First, I have to address complaints I saw in other reviews (I'm assuming they are for the older edition). Some complained that even though they were well versed in making "Panna Cotta", this recipe didn't work. I know it's shocking that as much as I love Italian food I had never made "Panna Cotta" before! (I know, I know. I feel mortified to even admit it!) However, using the recipe from this book I was able to create a truly lovely "Panna Cotta" even tweaking the recipe a bit! I have to make another confession; I started the recipe before pulling out all of the ingredients--something I rarely do--only to discover my daughter had used the last of the sugar making sweet tea. I ended up substituting confectioner's sugar and held my breath. Wow!! Pretty sure I'll be making this often as it was a huge hit with my family. The consistency was so silky and smooth. It was a joy to eat. If there were problems with this recipe, they have obviously been fixed.

Last night we had the "Patate in Terracotta con Cipolle" (Potatoes and Onions Baked in an Earthenware Dish) and "Pollo Impanato E Fritto" (Fried Chicken in Breadcrumbs). My husband has nearly threatened me with bodily harm if I don't make it again! Even though I've lived all over the US, I consider myself a Southern girl and let me just say that the fried chicken is the best I've ever had! (Trust me, that's saying a lot!) I would never have thought to marinate my chicken in olive oil and lemon juice, but it was amazing! The very slight citrus background flavor and fork-tender chicken made it a sure winner. Recipe after recipe calls out to be made, and I know I'll be cooking out of this book for a very long time.

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

June 8, 2013

"The Perfect Peach" by David Masumoto

The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family FarmMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

A cookbook showcasing the luscious flavor of peaches in 50 sweet and savory dishes, drawing on the life stories and experiences of America's foremost peach farming family, the Masumotos of California's central valley.

Everything you need to know about peaches, and then some!! Partly the story of the Masumoto Farm, and partly a cookbook, this book is a gem. I had no idea you could do so much with a peach! I will be honest and say that some of the recipes did not remotely appeal to me, but most looked and sounded amazing. I am itching for summer and its peach bounty to arrive to try out some of the luscious recipes.

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

June 7, 2013

"The National Trust Simply Baking" by Sybil Kapoor

The National Trust Book of BakingMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

This is a gorgeous book that draws you in and makes you want to hit the kitchen immediately! Everything from simple scones to fancy tarts, cookies to amazing cakes and wonderful bread--it's all here in a nicely put together cookbook with beautiful photos.

There is a conversion chart in the front, which is handy as I live in the US, not England. Measuring the ingredients isn't so much of an issue, but the oven temperatures I needed a little help with. Many ingredients are fully explained, and there is a section for needed equipment as well as desirable equipment that is very nice.

The first night after I received this I made the Chocolate Chip Cookies. I didn't have the white chocolate, so I substituted some brown and pink chocolate chips instead. Lets just say, after tasting the cookies I wished I had some better quality chocolate to go with these amazing cookies! I made the Walnut Banana Bread and it turned out excellent. It cooked quicker than the book said, and almost got over done, but that could be my oven. We moved a few months ago, and I'm still getting used to my rather odd oven. Oh, there's so many more recipes I want to try! I love this book!

I received a copy of this book from Trafalgar Square Publishing thrugh Independent Publishers Group for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.