April 30, 2013

"As American as Shoofly Pie" by William Woys Weaver

My rating: 3 of 5 spoons

I have to admit, this book was not really what I expected. I thought it was going to be a cookbook covering Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine with history scattered throughout. It is more like a history book with lots of recipes in the back half of the book. Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about the history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine is covered in this book. The origins are traced back as far as the first German settlements in America, and then followed forward as it evolves throughout American history. This book covers the roots, regional characteristics, communities and class divisions of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine.

The recipes are in alphabetical order, which felt very odd to me. You go from Almond Fingers to Amish Roast to Apple Schnitz and Dumplings. There is an index that lists the recipes by category on pg 276. The recipe themselves are very interesting. Some of them made me want to get into the kitchen and start cooking them immediately, while others made me want to turn the page as quickly as possible--Stuffed Pig Stomach, anyone? If you're looking for an actual cookbook of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes, you might want to look elsewhere as this is a pretty thick book, but if you want the history of Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine, this is the book for you.

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

Congratulations to our winner!!!

Congratulations, Debbie C.!!  You are the winner of the giveaway!  Send me your mailing information and I'll get it in the mail to you.  Enjoy!!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered.  I apologize to those who tried to enter, but the site was not allowing you to "follow" the blog.  I'm still trying to get the issues taken care of.  When I do, I'll run another giveaway.

Happy Cooking!!

April 26, 2013

"Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining" by Kathy Moore

Triple Slow Cooker Entertaining: 100 Plus Recipes and 30 Party PlansMy rating: 3 of 5 spoons

Let's have a party! In the past, those simle words might have invoked anxiety, but no more. Thanks to the innovative triple slow cookers now available--one slow cooker with three stoneware vessels--throwing a terrific party just got much easier.

This cookbook contains over 100 recipes along with 30 party plans including menus and planning tips. I'll be honest; I don't own a triple slow cooker, just a normal one crock slow cooker. I was still interested to see what kind of recipes it contained. It is an interesting mix. There are party plans/menus for everything from Overnight Guests to Baby Showers, Mother's Day, Italian Dinner, Christmas Evening and many more. Many of the recipes sound scrumptious, and I can't wait to start cooking! Vidalia Onion Dip (only 4 ingredients and still sounds heavenly!), Cuban Pork with Cilantro Mayonnaise, Chicken con Queso and many, many more.

Some of the other recipes--well, not so much. I made the Overnight Fruited Oatmeal last night, and it was really bland. It definitely needed something else added to it. The recipe for Queso Dip calls for pepper jack and white american or other processed white cheese, which seems odd considering that actual queso cheese is so widely available nowadays, and is very affordable. Family Mac 'N Cheese actually calls for cheez whiz. Seriously?!? My kids won't even eat that stuff. The Chicken and Mushroom Alfredo Sauce calls for 2 jars of store bought alfredo which seems a shame when it is so quick and easy to whip up a true alfredo. It would have been nice to maybe add the recipe for real alfredo sauce underneath to allow people the choice. Many dishes call for barbecue sauce, but there isn't a single recipe for barbecue sauce in the book--you're just expected to use store-bought. Yes, I realize this is a book to help you throw a party with less work, but it would be nice to have the option of spending 2-5 minutes more and making a better dish if you wanted to. Those issues dropped the rating for this cookbook somewhat.

I received a copy of this cookbook from Robert Ross Inc. for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

April 25, 2013

"Dolci: Italy's Sweets" by Francine Segan

Dolci: Italy's SweetsMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

Mama Mia!! I ordered this book after my second trip to Sicily. I fell in love with the food over there, and couldn't wait to start making it for my family! This book covers sweets of all kinds from all over Italy, so there were some I'd never heard of as well as some old friends. Includes:

Cookies and Bite-Sized Sweets
Cakes and Sweet Breads, Refrigerator Cakes
Freezer Desserts
Spoon Sweets
Weird and Wonderful Unique and Unusual Desserts
Holiday Traditions
After-Dinner Beverages

This book really showcases over and over the fundamental rule of Italian cooking--less is more! Many have only a few ingredients, but oh the flavor you get from those few ingredients!! From the highly addictive honey cookies to the ultimate moist and tender (and flourless!) chocolate cake, tiramisu and Tuscan apple cake, you'll fall in love with these amazing dishes and cry for more! I have lemon granita working its magic in my freezer as I type.

Gorgeous photos, historical notes, fabulous recipes and a very nice, easily read layout make for a marvelous cookbook that I'll return to again and again.

Buon Appetito!!

April 23, 2013

"Cooking With Chocolate" by Magnus Johansson

Cooking with Chocolate: The Best Recipes and Tips from a Master Pastry ChefMy rating: 4 of 5 spoons

Even experienced bakers can be intimidated by the demands of successfully working with chocolate, which requires an experienced touch and careful handling to achieve great results. You can teach yourself this complex and delicate art through hours of painful trial and error . . . or you can master the skills of cooking with chocolate with help from one of the greatest pastry chefs in Europe!

What a gorgeous cookbook! The hardcover matches the glossy dust jacket with beautifully photographed chocolate dishes. The cook itself is full of more gorgeous photos showing not only the finished dish, but many have step-by-step photos as well.

Now, the important part—the recipes!! It’s hard to miss with chocolate! These are fantastic recipes from a master pastry chef. So many recipes, so little time! I made the brownies tonight. That sounds so much plainer than it is. The BEST brownies I’ve ever had, bar none. So incredibly rich and moist, they are magic in your mouth! My husband is trying to eat healthy and only has a small portion (if he has any at all) if we have a dessert, but these sent him back for more! The chocolate spritz cookies are next on my list to cook with my daughters and the spicy chocolate coated hazelnuts. After that…wow! So many great recipes to choose from!

I only have two caveats with this book. Some ingredients may be harder to find, especially for a home cook like me (Bergamot orange oil, pickled red cherries, etc). Also, on a few recipes the pan size is not specified. On the brownies I made tonight it said you could use 20 muffin cups or “one baking pan” with no mention of what size. I eyeballed it and used a 9 x 13 which worked fine, but these issues did drop my review down one star.

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



April 21, 2013

"America's Best BBQ - Homestyle" by Ardie A. Davis

America's Best BBQ - Homestyle: What the Champions Cook in Their Own BackyardsMy rating: 2 of 5 spoons

Ever wonder what professional cooks make in their own kitchens and backyards? Find out in America's Best BBQ--Homestyle, with more than 100 recipes for the no-holds-barred breakfasts, amazing appetizers, sensational salads and sides, pull-off-the-bone poultry and meat, succulent seafood, and delicious desserts.

I was really excited to get this book for review. I love to cook out, and was looking forward to some great recipes, and there are some great recipes. There are also some odd recipes (fruit salad that comes mostly from cans--seriously?!?), and then there's the dip that its name is a swear word. I don't swear, I don't like being around people that swear and I CERTAINLY don't like swear words in a cookbook of all things! There are more swear words than just in the title of the dip, as well. That totally turned me off and ruined this cookbook for me.

I received a digital copy of this book from Andrews McMeel Publishing through NetGalley.com for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

"Paris to Provence" by Ethel Brennan

Paris to Provence: Childhood Memories of Food & FranceMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

Paris to Provence is partly a travelogue of two different trips to France, and part cookbook. It is a beautifully photographed book, though I would have appreciated more photos of the dishes and not quite so many fancily photographed food items. The stories are fun, and the recipes are mostly fairly simple yet sophisticated and delicious. A helpful metric conversion chart is included in the back. I found myself dreaming of visiting the places talked about and eating this delightful food in the place that birthed it. A gem of a book that I would love to add to my personal collection!

I received a digital copy of this book from Andrew McMeel Publishing through NetGalley.com for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

April 1, 2013

Win a copy of "French Classics Made Easy"!!

It's giveaway time!!  I'm giving away a beautiful copy of "French Classics Made Easy" by Richard Grausman.  Enter using the rafflecopter above.  This giveaway starts at midnight tonight, and ends on April 30th.  Let your friends know and let's get this started!

Good Luck!!

"Real Irish Food" by David Bowers -- Updated

Real Irish Food: 150 Classic Recipes from the Old CountryMy rating: 5 of 5 spoons

Knowing I had friend coming for an extended visit who had visited Ireland and was actually getting ready to move over there, I bought this book to cook some real Irish food for them. I've always been interested in British cooking anyway, so I couldn't wait to dig into this cookbook. I nearly had to physically restrain her from stealing this book from me! Recipe after recipe was pointed out that they had enjoyed in Ireland, and the wonderful photos were nearly cried over. This book is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach! We made Champ (Cally), a lovely mashed potato dish for potluck at church the following Sunday, and it was a huge hit. We bought some Irish Bangers to enjoy, but I can't wait to try the homemade Irish Sausages on pg. 34. Cauliflower Cheese in on my menu for later this week as well as are Roasties and Cottage Pie.

This is a wonderful cookbook that is as much fun to read and browse leisurely through the photos as it is to cook from! An added bonus is having the measurements in the English system rather than metric. I don't mind converting from metric, but it's nice not to have to.

Happy Cooking!

Love, love, LOVE the Cauliflower Cheese!!  It was a big hit with my family.  I will definitely be making this again!