I came across a mention of this book in an article in the Fall 2014 Oxford American: Cooking with Chris: CIA CAKE & JEFF DAVIS PIE by Chris Offutt...moreI came across a mention of this book in an article in the Fall 2014 Oxford American: Cooking with Chris: CIA CAKE & JEFF DAVIS PIE by Chris Offutt. Of course I had to track down a copy!
Even though it was published in the 1990s, it feels like it is from a much earlier time, with home cooks heavily influenced by the convenience food recipes of the 70s. Most of the recipes use canned and instant food, but from my experience with missionaries on the field, I suppose that is simultaneously what will last overseas, what might be purchased, and what seems most "American" (a tragedy, really.) There is also a lot of alcohol included, particularly whiskey!
I was hoping for more recipes that CIA agents and their families discovered while they lived abroad. There are some of those in here, like the "spicy fish" from an unnamed Asian country, which the recipe contributor learned from her housekeeper and successfully served to a CIA administrator on an area visit.
I've never seen so many disclaimers in a cookbook, and there is even a note in the front that the editors worked to remove confidential information, and most contributors are also anonymous. Funny.
The recipes are almost always preceded with a story, and I laughed at the one about the butler window, and wondered why the woman serving food to the head of the secret police in pre-revolution Iran would have put bacon on the salad....(less)
This book was nominated for my international book club for the next year, but not selected. I got a copy anyway, because the person who put it forward...moreThis book was nominated for my international book club for the next year, but not selected. I got a copy anyway, because the person who put it forward made it sound better than it is.
What is it? Basically a cheesy barely-strung-together erotic novel that was more embarrassing than anything else. Also I would not be eating off of that table!!
It did entertain me for the last part of a late-night plane ride, but I kept checking to make sure my seat mate wasn't reading over my shoulder. Just not my kind of thing, and we wouldn't have had anything to talk about at book club, so I'm glad it wasn't a selection!(less)
This is a much-needed cookbook in the vegan world, particularly since "holiday" is not just the four usual American Christian holidays. The definition...moreThis is a much-needed cookbook in the vegan world, particularly since "holiday" is not just the four usual American Christian holidays. The definition expands to sports events, other cultures, and other religious observances. Each chapter is just begging for a party, and I got excited.
Recipes I'm most excited about: Grilled Box Choy with Sesame-Ginger Sauce (Lunar New Year) Steamed Vegetable Dumplings (Lunar New Year) Miso-Ginger Braised Tofu over Bamboo Rice Pilaf (Lunar New Year) Sweet Fried Dumplings with Blood Orange-Ginger Sauce (Lunar New Year) Passion Fruit Creme Brulee (Valentine's Day) Chopped "Liver" (Passover Seder) Joy's Grandma's Seitan Brisket with Roasted Carrots, Shallots, & Turnips (Passover Seder) Chickpea Crepes with Berries & Vanilla-Lavender Cream (Passover Seder) Spring Vegetable Salad with Fava Beans, Peas, Asparagus, & Lemon-Chive Dressing (Easter Brunch) Stuffed Avocado Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette (Cinco de Mayo) Chile-Crusted Grilled Corn (4th of July Backyard Barbecue) Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad with Apples, Cranberries, & Maple-Cayenne Dressing (Thanksgiving) Roasted Cauliflower & Fennel Soup with Truffle Oil (Christmas)(less)
Sean Brock is making quite a name for himself, one of the younger southern chefs who are true to their roots but also commit to using local ingredient...moreSean Brock is making quite a name for himself, one of the younger southern chefs who are true to their roots but also commit to using local ingredients and local farmers. He has also done considerable research about what used to grow in the south, specifically in the low country surrounding Charleston, and has made great efforts to bring those ingredients into his restaurant(s). I knew a bit about him but was really impressed by the recipes and the ingredients he is using in his restaurants. It explains a little why they are so expensive (the reason I haven't yet gone when I visit Charleston, although I suspect I've had some of the food from its place of origin - shrimp from Shem Creek, gold rice grown the old way, etc.)
The cookbook includes creative recipes using ingredients specific to the low country, but he does allow that you may not have access to those heirloom and local items. When he claims they will be best using those ingredients, I believe him. I happen to have some Carolina Gold rice at home from Anson Mills, so you'd better believe I will be using it in the recipes in which he specifies that ingredient. One is "Charleston Ice Cream" which is just a creamy preparation of the rice, hardly altered from just using that ingredient. Another is "Squash Seed Risotto."
Full disclosure - I am a pescatarian, meaning I am a vegetarian who also eats fish. While I am intrigued by Brock's exploration of local poultry, pork, and lamb, and greatly admire his efforts to only buy from humane, organic growers, I can't really weigh in on those recipes. That also has kept me from eating at his restaurant, but now that I know his personal cooking goals include frequently making entirely vegetarian meals, I know he has the ability to cook without a meat-centric dish. You would be surprised at how many chefs freeze up at this idea! It's just a fact of living in South Carolina that a farm-to-table restaurant will be very pork-centric. We have some great local growers, I just don't eat it.
To that end, there are other recipes I am eager to try (half baked goods, what can I say, I'm a baker): -Corn-Goat Cheese Soup with Shrimp and Brown Butter Chanterelles (I can get low country shrimp, local goat cheese, fresh corn, and local mushrooms at my downtown farmers market and this recipe would be a good reason to splurge) -Salad of Plums and Tomatoes with Raspberry Vinegar, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Pesto (plums and tomatoes together?) -Creamed Corn (his grandma's recipe) -Pickled Shrimp with Cilantro and Fennel (a southern staple) -Audrey Morgan's Apple-Sorghum Stack Cake -Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake (love the story with this one) -Rhubarb Buckle with Poppy Seed-Buttermilk Ice Cream -Carolina Gold Rice Pudding with Candied Kumquats (less)
I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
I consider it a happystance that I got a review copy of this cookbook, because I just came...moreI received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
I consider it a happystance that I got a review copy of this cookbook, because I just came across Juli's website PaleOMG.com and made one of her muffin recipes this past weekend! I'm always looking for new Paleo/low-carb recipes that I can adapt to my low-sugar lifestyle.
Juli is completely herself, on her blog and in this cookbook. If you don't like her one place you won't like her the other, but I found her approach refreshing in a world of diet-following sticklers who can get pretty tedious. She has adapted Paleo eating to work for her, with a few fudges here and a few sacrifices there. I appreciated her openness.
Since I don't eat meat, there weren't a lot of the main dishes I could try, but I think the recipes seem approachable for people who cook all the time and for people who are new to figuring it all out. She even has some five-ingredient recipes for Paleo bachelors. Some of the breakfasts and desserts look great. Paleo breakfast is hard, so having new ideas is helpful. First up will be the pumpkin blueberry loaf!(less)
I received an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review. The publisher contacted me directly but I'd already downloaded it in NetGalley!
Leah Eskin...moreI received an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review. The publisher contacted me directly but I'd already downloaded it in NetGalley!
Leah Eskin has written the "Home on the Range" column for the Chicago Tribune since 2004, and this book is a compilation of those columns. Each tends to include a personal story and a recipe, very similar to what most bloggers are doing. I found myself reading it the same way I read most of those blogs that are heavy in unrelated personal story - skipping the story, skimming to the recipe, and then if I like the looks of the recipe, maybe going back and reading the story. Within the context of the Tribune, the columns are very seasonal in nature. I think this book might be good to dip into throughout the year to allow for a similar experience.
The recipes are not sophisticated (one is a recipe for using a rice cooker) or very original (with a lot of pork and pasta), but they have a lot of heart. The stories combine with them to create a very personal narrative from parenting to cancer. I suspect it is more targeted at the busy mom type person, whether they "stay at home" or "work." It isn't really targeted at someone like me who is willing to spend more time to try something new or complicated.
Still, I found plenty of recipes that sounded good that I would want to try in this book. I appreciate that she always gives credit to the original source of the recipe, which so many people fail to do:
Drinks Molten Chocolate Fair Lassie
Main Dishes or Sides Greens and Beans Tumbled Corn Salad Tortilla Española End of Summer Ratatouille Kik (Peas Porridge)
Desserts Butterscotch Pudding Apricot Pie Thick and Thin Mints Sour Cream Doughnuts Standoffish Cinnamon Loaf (a one-person, one-time Amish Friendship bread, without the friends or days needed!) Upright Pear Pies Intensive German Chocolate Cake Peach Ice Cream
"Even if you didn't work with them you'd be able to tell. It's a certain way of carrying oneself that secretly helps any cook recognize one of his own...more"Even if you didn't work with them you'd be able to tell. It's a certain way of carrying oneself that secretly helps any cook recognize one of his own. An outward air of strength and mental toughness, tempered by some undeniable tinge of anxiety."
The second person narrative is a bit grating in this book, but if you can get past it, this is a great capture of what the kitchen of a busy fine-dining restaurant is like. Not just the kitchen but the culture of the people working in it, inside and out.
I've worked in restaurants. I think it is incredibly difficult to communicate the stress, the rush, the sheer amount of exhausting work, the creative energy, the smoking breaks, the energized exhaustion, the passion, the alcohol... unless you have lived it, it would just be too unbelievable. Gibney is smart to focus on one 24-hour period in the life of a sous chef (somehow played by "you") because summarizing it doesn't get at how it feels and how much goes by in a single day. I felt like I was back in it, like on the night where we had 250 graduation reservations and our head cook dumped boiling water over his head and we had to figure out a way to make it work. Or when everyone got drunk during Mother's Day brunch.
"It might bring you joy to think that these guests are happy because of something you've provided them, but sheer exhaustion prevents your thoughts from wending that way."
Gibney has memories like this and more, and this is a reflection of his experience. As one-time executive sous chef of Tavern on the Green, he has worked in some big places. There are moments where he waxes poetically about the call of the kitchen, the service, the joy, and it may read as false. It's important to understand that there is a deep-seated reason cooks and chefs end up where they are. It really isn't just a job, not for people who are willing to put the time and effort in to making it to positions of significance like "Chef." Sous Chef is an accurate reflection of just how long and hard that path will be, even for a talented and well-trained cook.
For people who haven't worked in restaurants, there is a very helpful "Selected Kitchen Terminology" at the end of the book. Scanning through it, I realized that in my year and a half in the culinary world, I learned a new language. Readers coming from the dining room of restaurants and not the back of the house may need to refer to this list to have some terms explained. (less)
I would probably not have picked this book to read if it were up to me, because I tend to prefer books that go a bit more in-depth on a topic. After a...moreI would probably not have picked this book to read if it were up to me, because I tend to prefer books that go a bit more in-depth on a topic. After all, I read an entire book about one kind of fish (Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World). This was the holiday read for my in-person international book club, so I was able to breeze through it over the holidays.
The author gives a brief overview of the history of six beverages - beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and... Coca-Cola. Yeah, the last one was a surprise to me too. I would have expected chocolate or water. He includes a bit about water in the wrap-up, but not really what you would expect.
I did learn some surprising things. Beer and the discovery of fermented grains may have been a driving force behind moving away from hunter-gatherer society and toward cultivation. They know exactly what kind of wine Julius Caesar drank, and what type would have been on the sponge raised up to Jesus during the crucifixion (those Romans and their records!).
The author does a decent job of research although every once in a while he surprises the reader with an overly strong opinion about something. He does NOT APPRECIATE drug addiction or using drugs to control people, and said so in situations about the opium trade (related to tea). I remember that moment because it didn't match the tone of the rest of the book, which I would call popular scholarship.(less)
Ann Mah ended up in Paris when her husband was placed there in a diplomatic role. During that time, he was sent to Baghdad on a year-long assignment,...moreAnn Mah ended up in Paris when her husband was placed there in a diplomatic role. During that time, he was sent to Baghdad on a year-long assignment, leaving her in Paris by herself. I wish that had been more of a back story than central to this book, because her complaints almost ruined this book for me. Mah is an aspiring publisher and journalist, and she writes extensively about missing her husband? I couldn't decide if she was including it to try to make her more human, more approachable, but I really didn't want to read about it.
I did want to read about the food.
The food parts of the book were very well researched, fascinating, and she clearly has a talent for combining in-person experience with historical research. She made me want to be in Brittany for crêpes and attempting soupe au pistou amongst the grimaces of the older French women at the market. I would have traded the sections about talking to her husband in Skype for a nice chapter on croissants or breads, which only get mentioned in the context of her husband chomping into one.
Call me a purist. One of the best books I've read lately about French food is The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese, a book where devoid of personal story, I was able as a reader to delve deeper into the topic of interest. That's my preference! I know some people really enjoy the Elizabeth Gilbert flavor of travel writing, and this would be a good book for people who really liked Eat, Pray, Love.
I listened to the audio, read by Mozhan Marno. Mozhan does a great job pronouncing the French in the book (which there is a lot of, and sometimes not translated, the reader being left to read between the lines). She also does a decent French-accent-in-English to distinguish between Mah and the people she encounters. It brought the book to life.
I received a copy of this from Random House Audio in exchange for an honest review.(less)
If Marisa McClellan wanted to consider another profession, I think she would take easily to perfumer. Her flavor combination ideas just in this book a...moreIf Marisa McClellan wanted to consider another profession, I think she would take easily to perfumer. Her flavor combination ideas just in this book alone make me want to try every recipe and stock my pantry with little batches of goodness.
The recipes catching my eye the first time through: -Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam with Earl Grey -Chunky Fig Jam -Apple Pumpkin Butter -Orange Vanilla Curd
You get the idea. I've had some of these recipes marked for a year and finally had a chance to make the Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam, and instead of Earl Grey I used my Reading Envy tea which is part Earl Grey, part coconut. This is a lovely light but intricately flavored jam! I've been putting it on toast this week but will bring it to work in the form of oatmeal jam bars.
The recipes in this book include directions for small batch canning, but the recipes aren't in great quantities, so it is just as easy to consume what is made. The idea behind small-batch preserving is to eat some, save some. Many of the recipes could also be frozen. If canning intimidates you, you could either simply not do those steps or allow McClellan to instruct you in your first attempts.
She also has a fabulous blog, Food in Jars, with additional instructions (I went to it to find out how to substitute powdered pectin for liquid in the recipe I was trying, to great success.)
Just a personal note: Marisa McClellan is the sister of Raina Rose, a singer-songwriter from Portland who I first encountered on the streets of Memphis (during an art walk) and lives in Texas. It's a small world out there in internet land, and I had followed both before knowing they were connected.(less)
This is a beautiful cookbook with beautiful photography, and probably my favorite of 2013. The idea of building a cookbook around winter ingredients f...moreThis is a beautiful cookbook with beautiful photography, and probably my favorite of 2013. The idea of building a cookbook around winter ingredients for baked goods is brilliant and much appreciated. There are chapters on nuts and squashes and citrus, to name a few.
Both recipes I tried were not dishes I had seen in other cookbooks, and had interesting flavor profiles. I made the butternut squash cake twice!
Butternut squash cake:
Cocoa Pomegranate Pavlova (I couldn't resist the striking color in this dish and the added ingredients of balsamic and cardamom made for a very sophisticated bite.) (less)
I made the gingerbread loaf but because of user error had to throw it away (too much salt!). I made the Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Cake for New Year's Eve, so here are two pictures of it (apologies to David Sven who does not want to see any cake!)
The other recipes that caught my attention in particular:
Gingerbread Cheesecake Cranberry Upside Down Cake Black Forest Cake
Hmm, must be the season. The nice thing is, there are recipes for every season. There is even a cake for when gardeners have an abundance of summer squash!
The one omission I am really surprised about is that the recipe for the best cake ever, the Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart Living, would be left out of her first cake cookbook. It is a recipe I recommend to everyone and always hear rave reviews when I make it. I was sad not to see it here, but since the rest of these recipes come from the same editorial crew, this is a solid cookbook. (less)
The gorgeous photography in this cookbook made me long for a neighborhood bakery like Butter Baked Goods. Since I don't live anywhere near Vancouver,...moreThe gorgeous photography in this cookbook made me long for a neighborhood bakery like Butter Baked Goods. Since I don't live anywhere near Vancouver, BC, I am very lucky to have the cookbook to help me recreate their treats.
The recipes reflect what is served in the bakery and cafe - muffins and scones, cookies, bars, cakes, cupcakes, pies and tarts, and then there are the marshmallows. Butter is famous for its marshmallows, in all flavors, and also a component in several of the recipes. Several variations are contained in this cookbook, and that is what I'm looking forward to trying the most. I'm thinking of coffee flavor! I also have my eye on the Smores Bars, which look incredibly decadent, and utilize the handmade marshmallow.
Since I bake so often for other people, and bring things to work, I like recipes that are simple. I'm particularly enamored with the bar cookie chapter, which includes the very Canadian Nanaimo bar that is a must-try when baking Canadian!
Since I received a copy of this in the fall, I immediately made the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Blondies, which were a huge hit!
This is a very quick read since each chapter ends with a significant recipe section. Nina Mukerjee Furstenau tells the story of growing up in Kansas i...moreThis is a very quick read since each chapter ends with a significant recipe section. Nina Mukerjee Furstenau tells the story of growing up in Kansas in the 60s-70s, the child of Bengali parents, living in a very unBengali place. The book starts with a description of the traditional Durga Puja holiday, a week long celebration after the monsoon season, a holiday that can't possibly be fully experienced in Kansas no matter what a community might do.
The entire book has an element of sadness and loss to it - the author has a connection to her background through the food she learns to cook, but she never learns the language fully, only gets to visit Bengal on a rare occasion, and even getting to know her cousins' names is difficult. Still, the descriptions of food and the dichotomy of home life (with Bengali elements) vs. public life (as Americanized as possible) bring her experience very vividly into the mind. One chapter is named, "All Our Tupperware is Stained with Turmeric," which to me was the best example of the combination of East and West!
Also included are recipes from when her parents lived in Thailand, and when she and her husband worked for the Peace Corps in Tunisia.
"It is not as easy to shape a life that includes all the important bits from the past as it is to follow a recipe, especially when you leave your homeland."
I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for nothing other than the opportunity to read it. I am always honest in my review.(less)
I got a copy of this cookbook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't keen on reviewing a one bowl baking cookbook at first, bec...moreI got a copy of this cookbook from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't keen on reviewing a one bowl baking cookbook at first, because I feel like it's been done and I'm not that interested in trying to make something in one bowl. When I saw the author had spent several years on America's Test Kitchen, I was more interested, thinking her recipes would probably be from scratch and a higher caliber than your typical time-saving baking cookbook.
First, I made the Apple Crisp Mix-In-the-Pan Bars, because I had an abundance of apples. They were okay. I felt the bottom crust baked too quickly and mixing in a shallow 9x13 pan wasn't as easy as it would have been just to do it in a bowl. I did save a bowl.
The recipe that made me the most excited? Mocha Valencia Cupcakes, which the author developed after Starbucks discontinued their very delicious orange mocha of the same name. These were a huge hit, with the mocha-orange moist cupcake and the very rich mocha-orange ganache to top.
I'm not done trying recipes from this book, but I've sampled enough to recommend it as a solid cookbook spanning a lot of different types of recipes. The other pages I've marked to try:
Chocolate Monkey Banana Cupcakes with Malted Milk Ganache Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Ganache Gingerbread Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting Warm Mix-in-a-Mug Chocolate Chip Cookie Tropical Coconut Macadamia Banana Bread (sounds so good for summer!) Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Ganache Orange Ricotta Cheesecake Mocaholic Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
I received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
As someone who frequents an amazing Jewish deli in my city,...moreI received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
As someone who frequents an amazing Jewish deli in my city, yet has only had partial success in making my own bagels, I thumbed through this book with awe and trepidation. The author makes it LOOK easy, but many of these recipes take quite a bit of finesse - babka, rugelach, bagels. Most of the recipes in here are very traditional, but that's completely the point.
I'm happy to keep trying to perfect these recipes, and this book makes me want to try again. Many of the recipes have seasonal variations, which I thought was a nice touch. I've had dreams of the chocolate babka french toast since I saw the picture. That may be our holiday breakfast this year!
I did adapt one recipe to a lower sugar macaroon, and although they got a bit toasty, they were still tasty!
Other recipes I want to try:
Open-faced Potato Knishes Hungarian Mushroom Soup Chocolate Babka (and Chocolate Babka French Toast!) Cheese Blintzes (seasonal toppings include blackberry lavender for summer and spiced pumpkin for fall) Classic Brown Sugar & Cinnamon Rugelach (for winter - chocolate and fig!) Three-Strand Braided Challah (with really great picture directions)(less)
I received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Kinfolk Table comes from the folks (haha) at Kinfolk Mag...moreI received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
The Kinfolk Table comes from the folks (haha) at Kinfolk Magazine, a cozy, back-to-roots, folksy magazine that I might be tempted to label as unironic hipster. It reminds me of the aesthetic of the Quaker communities I went to college with, or even my own upbringing with everything homemade, nothing processed. Simple but beautiful living, focusing on getting people together.
The unique angle in this cookbook is its division between four geographical regions, where they focus on individuals living in Brooklyn, Portland (OR), the English countryside, and Copenhagen, Denmark. The people featured are not professional cooks most of the time, and they contribute recipes from their bounty or their own upbringing. One section is called The Wandering Table and has a bunch of international recipes.
The photography is stunning, with a very simple, naturally-lit style. It's hard to explain how these are my people, but I want to live inside this cookbook. Not to mention that I'm 1/4 Danish, and feel disconnected from that part of my heritage.
Recipes I've marked to try, to give you an idea of the contents:
I received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Einat Admony is the chef-owner of two NYC restaurants - Bala...moreI received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Einat Admony is the chef-owner of two NYC restaurants - Balaboosta and Taïm (a falafel/smoothie vegetarian place!). While you might expect this cookbook to be a companion book to the restaurant of the same name, it really isn't, except for one chapter called "Fancy-Schmancy," which features recipes from the restaurant.
Balaboosta is a Yiddish term meaning "the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook & gracious hostess. She does it all and she does it well!" (definition taken from restaurant website). The idea is that Einat Admony is the embodiment of a balaboosta, and she includes recipes that span her own heritage as well as the broader scope of Mediterranean cuisine. If that sounds a bit far-reaching, well, it is, but there are traditional recipes alongside modern takes on dishes in this book that I really appreciated.
The sections are not divided by type of dish, but rather by theme. There are chapters such as "Grown-Up Table," "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry," and "Backyard Barbecue." This makes for a more difficult quick reference, but aids in meal planning for entertaining or just making dinner.
From the "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry" section, I made shakshuka, a spicy egg-tomato dish. I've made varieties of this dish before from other cultures, but this one is more of an Israeli focus. It was good, a nice balance of vegetables and spices, although I did instinctively cut back on the salt called for (and wished I'd cut back more!)
I had also marked the Casablanca Catch and Challah from the "Grown-Up Table" section, Moroccan Carrots and Eighteen-Minute Rice from the "Hurry, Hurry, Hurry" section, and Sabich (an Iraqi eggplant sandwich), baklava, and Sambusak (Israeli empanada-ish dish) from "Thinking About Home." The "cook/bake the book" people over at Serious Eats recently made the baklava, and the recipe is available over there if you want to take a peek.
The last recipe I had a chance to try were the Space Cookies. The recipe calls for tahini and poppy seeds, and I had always wanted to try tahini in a cookie after seeing it all over Turkish baking blogs. I'm not sure what I personally thought of the recipe - there were no eggs in it so the texture was more like shortbread, very crumbly, and I thought the tahini was pretty savory for a cookie. I brought them to work and my student workers were equally torn, until two guys came in and ate the rest between the two of them. Although the verdict was mixed, I think they were definitely appreciated by those two.
The one recipe I will most definitely still make because I can't get it out of my head is the Turkish Coffee Brownies. I had to track down cardamom at the spice store downtown because none of the local grocery stores seem to be stocking it these days, and then there is the challenge of keeping chocolate in the house... but someday, it will happen. Someday soon. And that recipe is a great example of the combination of traditional ingredients presented in a new way - Turkish coffee in brownie form.
Hmm. I did make the Turkish Coffee Brownie but it was more like a lightly spiced lightly chocolate cake. So don't buy the cookbook for that recipe! Next time I'll just add cardamom to my favorite brownies to get the taste that I had in my head. (less)
I received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This cookbook is very specific, focusing solely on the desse...moreI received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This cookbook is very specific, focusing solely on the desserts of Southern Italy. No breads, no main dishes, no cheeses, just desserts. As a baker, I thought this was a wonderful concept for a cookbook. What usually happens is that I will go looking for Italian desserts and I'll come across gelato, ricotta cheesecake, and those fried honey balls that are from several Meditteranean cultures. The specificity of this cookbook allows for a much deeper exploration of a regional cuisine that needs more attention!
The recipes I've marked as most likely to try are a good representation of the contents:
from Sicilia: Biscotti Eureka (almond filled spiral cookies) Cuccia di Santa Lucia (wheat berry pudding served on St. Lucia day)
from Campania: Pere Mast 'Antuono Imbottite (ricotta-filled baked pears) La Coviglia al Caffe (frozen espresso mousse)
from Calabria Torta di Melee Ricotta (apple and ricotta cake, going to try this next weekend!)
from Puglia & Basilicata Dolci di Noci (walnut cookies)
The only recipe I could not even fathom is the Crostata al Gelo di Mellone, which is a watermelon pudding cake. But it sounds so strange, and looks so interesting, that I just know I'll end up making it. I'm always the most interested in the recipes I can't imagine.
The cookbook is saturated with historical context, in fact more of the pictures are of scenery than of the recipes. For me, I would have liked more pictures of the finished product, but the contextual information is fascinating and makes the cookbook very readable. (less)
I've always said you should read mysteries that are set in a place you love, and I have been reading these Charleston-based Tea Shop mysteries since I...moreI've always said you should read mysteries that are set in a place you love, and I have been reading these Charleston-based Tea Shop mysteries since I moved to South Carolina. Compared to what I'm reading most of the time, they are a bit lighter, but I love sticking my nose into their world. It is very southern, very Charleston, and the details of the place surround me like a comfortable sweater. I try to go to Charleston at least once a year, but it's never enough.
In Sweet Tea Revenge, a groom is killed right before he is supposed to get married. Theodosia, owner of the Indigo Tea Shop, tries to help get more information for her friend Delaine while running a busy shop.
The funny thing about these books is that you will get hungry reading them. I had to go make myself darjeeling tea as the characters had some. I will write a bit more once I have tried out a few of the recipes in the back. I have my eye on some of the scone recipes!
Slight disclaimer - ever since I featured some foodie lit in my baking blog in 2007, the author has listed me in the back of her books as a tea time resource. This book came in the mail with a hand-written note. So nice! So southern!
Moosewood cookbooks are one of the central experiences of vegetarian cooking. The recipes in this volume are typical Moosewood fare, the dishes that c...moreMoosewood cookbooks are one of the central experiences of vegetarian cooking. The recipes in this volume are typical Moosewood fare, the dishes that created loyal customers and fans. I call the food old school hippie, with sunflower seeds and cottage cheese and sprouts. Before you think that is a criticism, I happen to really love sprouts, deep down to my toes.
The first dish I had to try was sichuan noodles
It was delicious - so much flavor, and simple to make. That's about what I expect from the authors of such cookbooks as The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest, a wedding gift I got from my step-motherinlaw in 2000. I was marrying a vegetarian, and had no idea what I was getting myself into. Mollie Katzen made vegetarian cooking accessible and a little whimsical, and held my hand through my own conversion to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle. I feel more of the same from this book. It isn't trendy, and you won't see a lot of raw food or hard to find ingredients, just solid, time-tested vegetarian cuisine.
Other recipes I have marked to try, to give you a sense of more of the book: -Creamy Hungarian Mushroom Soup -Mulligatawny -Tempeh Reuben -Classic Tofu Burgers -Gado gado -Navajo Stew -Andean Stew on Quinoa -Ghanaian White Beans and Vegetables with Fiery Pepper Sauce -Country Moussaka -Thai Baked Tofu -Chocolate Ricotta Moose (haha get it?)
By the way, it would be a mistake to present this cookbook as completely vegetarian. It has a fish chapter, because the Moosewood Restaurant serves fish. (I had to double check what I was seeing too!) This cookbook was provided to me by NetGalley for an honest review.(less)
I received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'm always interested to see cookbooks from bloggers, and Be...moreI received a review copy of this cookbook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I'm always interested to see cookbooks from bloggers, and Bethany Kehdy was known to me from her Dirty Kitchen Secrets blog. The photography alone in this cookbook makes it a worthwhile purchase, truly vibrant and enticing photos.
The cookbook is divided into very practical sections, by meal type, making it simple to use. There is a regional but varied collection of Lebanese, Moroccan, and Persian recipes, with a nice combination of basics and new spins on traditional recipes. I particularly appreciated the vegetarian section, since this area of the world has great vegetarian cuisine! The basics section in the back has a wealth of recipes that would be an asset to any kitchen, including spice mixes, bread recipes, and other staples.
What I've marked to try:
Meze Dynamite Chili Cigars ("briwat") Pomegranate and Cucumber Salad Moroccan Citrus Salad
Vegetarian Pan-fried Squares Slow-cooked fava bean and tomato stew
Desserts Semolina pancakes (called "beghrir" which means "1,000 holes," and ever since seeing a picture I'm so intrigued!) Turkish Delight (the real kind, with actual flavors!)
Basic Recipes Arabic bread Thin Flatbread
ETA: Here's my first attempt at the arabic bread from the basics section (less)
I jumped at the chance to review this from NetGalley (this is my disclaimer... I got to see it for free, now I give my honest opinion....)
I have been...moreI jumped at the chance to review this from NetGalley (this is my disclaimer... I got to see it for free, now I give my honest opinion....)
I have been impressed by Isa Chandra Moskowitz before, in her blog and previous cookbooks which I also own. There is something special about this one - the recipes are intended to be easy, weeknight fare, which is what I need most often. To really test it out, I picked recipes to try and did so on two normal busy days after work. Both recipes were tremendous. Both of us went back for seconds, and actually we ate the soup two days in a row because we couldn't stand that it was still in the fridge.
The soup is Shroomy Hot & Sour Soup:
Because the first taste I took didn't seem spicy enough, I added two more big squirts of sriracha... that ended up making it pretty spicy! Phew. Still good.
The only slightly complaint I have about the book is that the recipes seem pretty carb-heavy overall. This is a complaint I have with most vegan cuisine. Luckily I am experienced in adapting recipes to a lower carb way of eating like we do in my house. Take, for example, the Goddess Noodles. The recipe asks for whole-wheat linguine, but I just replaced it with spiralized zucchini (raw, never cooked), and suddenly you have a super tasty low-carb vegan meal. And we loved it! Okay, I also added sesame seeds, leftover mushrooms, and peanuts, but it seemed clear that she intended it to be a simple pantry dish anyway.
This cookbook would be a great addition to old jaded vegans who need new spins on recipes but would also be accessible to new vegans or people who would like to incorporate vegan meals into their repertoire. The illustrations are beautiful and the whimsical drawings add a "you can do it" feeling.
Isa's personality comes through the entire cookbook. Chapter 2 tells you, "Don't roll your eyes at salad!" and goes on to talk about how even though every generation finds a way to destroy salad, it can be a delicious meal.
Other recipes that caught my eye in the first read: -Pureed Split Pea & Rutabaga Soup -Chunky Miso Vegetable Soup -Babushka Borscht -Sesame Slaw with Warm Garlicky Seitan -Roasted Yellow Beet Salad -Dragon Noodle Salad (again, probably will make with zucchini) -Kale Salad with Butternut Squash and Lentils -Chicky Tuna Salad Sandwiches (not tuna) -Coconut Chana Saag -Mushroom Hot Pot -Roasty Soba Bowl (another candidate for veg substitution) -Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl -Steamed Chicky Seitan (I've made her recipe for regular seitan, can't wait to try this one!) (less)