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.