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.