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 NetGalley.com 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.

June 4, 2013

Pure BBQ by Steffan Eichhorn

Pure BBQMy rating: 2 of 5 spoons

I love to barbecue and/or grill out during the summer, so I was very excited to get this book. The cover is beautiful, and just made me want to dive in all the more. It starts with selecting your meat. I'm not talking what cuts you want, or is it organic or not--it literally starts with "The Biological Prerequisites" and then moves on to "Fodder", "Butchering Age", "Maturing" "Origin" and "Breeding". Wow! I simply wanted a good bbq book! There's a decent little 3 page section on bbq preparation--direct grilling, indirect grilling and smoking--and then it's on to the recipes. I started to perk back up right about now.  Unfortunately, it was still a disappointment.

The recipe pages are done in a "artful" way which does nothing for ease of reading the recipes. Ingredients over a busy photo background, preparation in circles around the page. Right about now I'm thinking they should have remembered the golden rule--Keep It Simple! Instead of double spread pages with very little writing, more of the book could have been used for recipes. I kid you not, there are exactly TWO recipes for Poultry!! There are nine beef recipes, seven pork, five lamb, two poultry, five fish and shellfish, six sides and five rubs, glazes and marinades. Many of those I will never use whether it just doesn't appeal to me or lack of sources for ingredients.

Final thoughts: this is a beautiful book, but not a useful book for me. Many people may love it, but I will probably never use it.

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