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.

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