Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tamales Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals

Tamales Fast and Delicious Mexican Meals -- is written by Alice Guadalupe Tapp - who is a West Coast restaurateur.  Alice wrote  “Tamales 101” in 2002 and has expanded and shared with us her knowledge of tamales in this cookbook.

Tamales includes from scratch recipes and also recipes using masa that you can purchase from your local market.  Her instructions are easy to follow and straightforward. 

She provides us with dough, salsa and filling recipes as well as the full spectrum of tamales including a Nose to Tail Tamale chapter as well as vegetarian and vegan tamales.  She has a chapter on inside out tamales -- or tontos -- which I found interesting as well as dessert tamales!  Oreo tamales yes!

I am totally unexperienced in the world of tamales and this book will help me remedy that.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sunday Suppers -- Karen Mordechai

"Sunday Suppers is a collection of small gatherings and meals across the country".



Family meal time is important.  We are almost always around the table at the same time since we've moved to Colorado.  In New York, Jim did not return from work until approximately 9:30 p.m. - Andrew had been asleep for two about two hours by that time.  Weekend meals were all important - those weekends that Jim wasn't working that is.  New York was hell.  I miss the location - do not miss the lifestyle.

Karen Mordechai's new book, Sunday Suppers, is a gorgeous look at family food.  The photography of the book as well as the binding and cover are luscious.

The recipes appear simple and meals can easily be reproduced at home.  I love how the recipes are broken down into Morning, Noon, Afternoon and Evening - I don't believe I've ever seen a book sectioned out like that before. 

Some of the recipes I'm interested in tackling are everything bagels, Naan with rosemary and thyme, brioche rolls, butter milk fried chicken, apple cider cakes, Nigella chicken pies with baby carrots, and sesame salt pretzels with brown beer mustard.

The fig tart with honey is gorgeous.  The lemon hummus looks so interesting as I am a huge fan of lemon.  The burrata salad with spicy cauliflower relish looks incredible.  The whiskey meal - yum -- whiskey glazed ribs and thick cut fries with pink peppercorn aioli.  The Thanksgiving feast beautiful! 

I have the apple and olive oil cake on the agenda this week - it looks great!

Thank you Blogging for Books for this opportunity. 



Sunday, November 30, 2014

BEST COOKBOOKS OF 2014 - CHRISTMAS ROUND UP

There have certainly been a large number of fantastic cookbooks released in 2014.  It would be too difficult to pick out my favorite book -- there are so many that are tops for me.  If you put a cookbook to my head and made me choose one -- it would be Flour + Water Pasta. 


FLOUR + WATER PASTA by Thomas McNaughton  is stunning. The pastas, the instruction, the step by step photographs.  The book starts out with Part One --- How to Make Pasta Dough and How to Cook the Pasta, Part Two The Recipes which are broken down by season. I have three pages of notes. With this book - I know I can make show stopping pasta dishes - or least that is my goal this weekend. Some of the recipes include -- tomato farfalle with chicken polpettine with roasted peppers and basil, black pepper tagliatelle with mussels, lardo and corn, ricotta and tomato tortelletti in brodo, corn and crescenza cappelltti with bitter honey, pumpkin tortelloni with sage and pumpkin seeds, celery root tortelli with brown butter balsamico and walnuts (this photo WOW), pici with vin santo-braised squab pancetta and cabbage, toasted faro garganelli with short ribs, hazelnuts and radicchio, tagliarini with braised hen, lime and pistachio, oxtail and rosemary lasagna with spigarello and fresh horseradish, corzetti with sausage clams and fennel, whole wheat campanelle with anise braised pork and chard...goat's milk ricotta, stradette with leeks and fava beans, lemon farfalle with spring pea ragu, garganelli with prosciutto and peas. I was really blown away by this book and the photographs are beautiful.  I love this book so much - it's one of the ones we are cooking through here.
 
That being said I'm going to touch on my absolute favorites of 2014in no particular order -- these titles are must haves for the true collector.

Huckleberry  -- I love this book - yes there are some issues with weights versus volumes -- but overall this is a stunning book that I have conquered my fear of brioche and bread baking here in Colorado.  I've made several recipes and they all were fantastic -- and only one so far has needed some tweaking (even though the first result was not bad just too chocolate and butter--as if there is such a thing).  (See next book for link to review post with photos).

Brown Sugar Kitchen  -- other favorite - the macaroni and cheese was delicious and there are so many more recipes I have on my list to make.  Comfort Food at its finest.  More on Huckleberry, Brown Sugar Kitchen here.

Bar Tartine --- I love and have all the Tartine books - they are must haves (in my opinion). Bar Tartine is glorious. Part One (about a fourth of the book) is techniques --- description of spices and detailed instructions on how to make -- charred green onion powder, green garlic powder, sauerkraut powder, parsnip powder -- and so on, I love this so much - pages and pages of how to make these unique wonderful powders, spices and mixes...how to dry fruits, meats and fish....the dairy section how to make goat cheese, cottage cheese -- nut milk and butters, infusing oils, vinegars, pickling vegetables and mushrooms, pepper pastes, creamed honey -- rice koji, stocks -- etc. Part One is worth the cost of the book in itself.

Part Two -- recipes -- soups -- chilled sour cherry soup, warm beet soup with smoked brisket and Brussels kraut, fisherman's stew with paprika and egg noodles (with the egg noodle recipe), the salad section - kale salad with rye bread, seeds and yogurt, cauliflower salad with yogurt and chickpeas, grilled potato salad with bacon, shared plates: pistachio dip with flax seed crackers, English pea and goat cheese dip, slow roasted carrots with burnt bread and almond milk, farmer's cheese dumplings with mushroom broth, lentil croquettes with watercress and kefir, beef tartare toast with bottarga, seafood dishes..so many more..the desserts - crepe cake with apple butter, farmer's cheese and pecans, hazelnut butter and strawberry jam cookies.

This book is incredible --stunning photos and many of them, the content is so unique, so informative.

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry - THE canning and preserving encyclopedia with over 400 pages of Cathy's knowledge and stunning photos.  It is not only a wealth of information and instruction in the preserving field but also includes recipes in which to use those preserved foods that you will create

The Slanted Door  - has the perfect mix of Vietnamese food mixed with American favorites.  The Slanted Door is Phan's famous restaurant in San Francisco -- The recipes that stood out for me --  Pork and shrimp wontons with spicy chile oil, Crispy green beans (these are not your TGIF fried green beans), Vietnamese chicken salad, Spicy lemongrass soup (I love lemongrass), Dungeness crab with cellophane noodles, Ginger beef vermicelli, Phan's fried chicken looks amazing, Corn and mushroom side dish, and cashew chicken.  Phan even includes some desserts -- No bake cheese cake with walnut cookie brown butter crust, Crème brulee, Chocolate soufflé cake, Spiced beignets (hello fried dough!), Lemon meringue tarts look killer.  I made the ginger beef vermicelli - it was relatively simple, quick and so intensely flavorful and I'm not a huge fan of beef. 

Sugar Rush  Johnny Iuzzini does it again.  While his first book, Dessert FourPlay, was an incredible work in itself but advanced -- this book is geared more toward the home baker with an edge.   Any of these desserts would be show stoppers and I plan on making them all.

The book is broken down into chapters:

1.  Custards and Creamy Desserts
2.  Eggs and Meringue
3.  Caramel
4.  Cakes, Cupcakes, Brownies and Muffins
5.  Cookies, Tea Cakes and Biscuits
6.  Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps
7.  Yeast Doughs
8.  Glazes, Frostings, Fillings and Sauces and
9. Building a Balanced Dessert.

The book is beautiful and has gorgeous photography. 

Some of the recipes that stand out - banana pastry cream, pina colada pastry cream, pineapple coconut meringue torte, honey roasted plum mousse, banana fritters with tahini caramel, butternut-maple blondies, no-tella cashew crepe cake...and there are just too many to name.

Johnny touches on every dessert, sugar rush possibility...marshmallows, caramels, creams, garnishes --- it's stunning.

It's a step by step walk through the sugar world and would be a great gift for someone that wants to start out baking and exploring or someone who is accomplished - the instructions and photos and information is fantastic.  Another book I am working my way through here.

America:  Farm to Table  I enjoy Mario Batali's recipes and books. In his new book he travels the United States focusing on the farm to table movement with the help of  his co-author, Jim Webster.  It contains wonderful personal stories and recipes from farmers and chefs across the US. The appetizer section is worth the price of the book and sucked me in. I love a fritter and the first recipe -carrot fritttelle with feta made me want to grab a carrot and my grater. The potato and salami cheesecake and sweet corn and parmigiano budino -- the pictures and recipes - stunning. There is a chapter on oysters. The soup chapter has recipes for chilled sweet corn soup with horseradish crème fraiche, tomato soup with goat cheese dumplings and many more. Almond crusted grouper piccata and chicken kiev with goat cheese and chopped greens looked great. The stuffed turkey with apples and walnuts - is going to be on my Thanksgiving table this year. There is a tart cherry crumb pie with bacon crust -- yes bacon crust. Every recipe appealed to me.  I have made the carrot frittelle and they were delicious and gobbled up by my family.

How to Eataly -- Gorgeous book - part encyclopedia and part cookbook - it's a wealth of information.  Since I'm not in New York anymore - this book will do when I need an Eataly fix.

Das Cookbook is a beautiful book.  There is a pretzel section which gives detailed instruction in pretzel making and forming.  Other recipes that caught my attention were a whole grain sunflower rye, buchteln which is an Austrian pull apart roll filled with jam, California hash with carrots, sunchokes and kale, pretzel knodel, apple walnut strudel, schnitzel, macaroni and cheese soufflé, spatzle, short rib goulash, Korean flank steak with daikon kimchee and German potato salad, an orzo "risotto" and potato almond croquettes.  There is a lovely chapter on Holiday baking as well as a chapter on desserts - the dark chocolate hazelnut cake and Hans' version of cheesecake looked lovely. Hans' finishes off with a pantry section covering basics.   Das Cookbook is a beautiful book that has a little something for everyone. I made the bacon and rosemary gugelhopf -- and it was well received.

Chez Moi -- Dorie Greenspan  -- everybody loves Dorie.  Beautiful book - beautiful recipes.  Period.

The Baking Bible -- Rose Levy Beranbaum (see Chez Moi comment - everyone loves Rose too -- see my review post here).  Please note contest is over. 

Ovenly  Ovenly is full of sweet and salty recipes. I love how they provide you with a base recipe for certain baked goods - i.e., scones and then give you sweet/savory variations --... they give you base recipes for quick breads and coffee cakes as well then include variations or recipes to change them up.  Some of the unique recipes -- Bloody Mary scones, cheddar mustard scones, blueberry cornflake muffins, feta, basil and scallion muffins, mustard spice cookies, bourbon chocolate chip cookies with tarragon, shortbread recipes including one for espresso burnt sugar shortbread, pies and tart recipes - include caramel bacon hot tarts, cherry almond with lemon glaze, goat cheese, spring onion and chive quiche, gooey honey blondies, Brooklyn blackout cake, black chocolate stout cake with salted caramel cream cheese buttercream (from the cover), pistachio cake with lemon curd (gluten free), as well as a holiday chapter that includes eggnog sandwich cookies, boozy fig blondies and paczki with prune butter. There are so many wonderful looking creations and recipes in the book -- there is a chapter on frostings, fillings and sauces as well as a bar snacks chapter - with such treats as maple thyme pecans and peppery pistachio brittle. The photographs are beautiful as well as step by step photographs of certain techniques! Love this book.

The Messy Baker   Lots of great information on working with pastry and phyllo dough and full of sweet and savory recipes. Recipes that stood out -- Mushroom, Leek and Gruyere Tart, Moroccan Lamb (or Beef) Bundles, Cherry and Lemon Macaroon Meringues, Basil and Aged Cheddar Scones, Herb, Olive and Parmesan Biscotti, Rosemary and Black Olive Grissini, Smoky Mushroom Crepes, Chicken, Corn and Cilantro Empanadas, Bacon, Cheddar and Thyme Wa...ffles, Peppery Pear and Smoked Gouda Dutch Baby, Dill Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Tzatziki, Orange Walnut Blondies with Maple Caramel Sauce, Burnt Caramel and Sea Salt Sticky Buns, Many Seed Lavash Bread, Rosemary Apricot and Pistachio Crisps, Citrus Topped Poppy Seed Bars, a chapter on sauces and caramels.  This is not your red velvet cupcake and basic baking book. If you are looking to jazz up your savory and sweet baking - this is the book for you

The Cuban Table -- My Cuban cookbook numbers are lacking as well - and this is a beautiful book.  The author, Ana Sofia Pelaez, and  her photographer traveled through Cuba, Miami and New York to share with us about traditional Cuban cooking from a variety of sources.  The recipes are varied and the photographs are stunning.

The Bread Exchange   I love how this book was born --  the author started a bartering system because she had so much bread - and traveled the world to give us great recipes and stories  -- in pat it reminds me a little of the Sugared Orange and Rose Petal Jam books which I love.  A beautiful book!

Bread by Dean Brettschneider by Jacqui Small LLP is perfect for the bread baker this Christmas. It starts with a history of bread making, basic recipes, weights, measures and temperatures, formulas, details about ingredients and equipment and a chapter on sourdough alone.  I love the step by step photos to help you with the trickier foldings and pastries.

The chapters are broken down into Savoury Breads and Sourdoughs, Grainy & Healthy Breads, Quick Breads and Scones, Festive Breads, Not Quite Bread and Sweet Breads.
There are beautiful photographs and great detail. Some of the recipes that I have marked to attempt - Panettone, Panforte, Banana Bread (yes, his banada bread looks amazing), Danish Pastries, Apple and Custard Brioche Tarts, Chocolate Kugelhopf (I made a bacon and rosemary Kugelhopf from Das Cookbook that was fantastic), Walnut Crown Bread, Beetroot and Thyme Baguetttes, Polenta Petite Boules, Cheese, Bacon and Onion Paves, Blue Cheese and Walnut Paves, Carrot and Coriander Ciabatta and the Brie & Carmelised Garlic Pain Miche - looks incredible for a Christmas gathering. There are dozens of other recipes crackers, stollens, loaves -- a must have for the bread enthusiast.

Shrubs by Michael Dietsch -- I have not given this book the attention it deserves.  I had never heard of shrubs until Michael Dietsch -- and now everyone is talking about them -- they are showing up in magazines and cooking shows and I hope to prepare some of these shrubs to give as holiday gifts.  This book would be a great hostess gift as well as that hard to buy for cookbook lover in your life.  The photographs are gorgeous and taken by Michael's beautiful wife Jennifer. 

In the Test Kitchen by Tyler Florence --- love Tyler Florence and his recipe and they haven't failed me in the past -- this book covers all the comfort foods -- Stretchy macaroni and cheese, perfect fast roasted turkey, herb fried chicken and so much more.  120 recipes...all perfected. 

The Big Book of Sides -- by Rick Rodgers -- Rick Rodgers does it again.  450 recipes --it's the encyclopedia of sides.  I'm all about the side dishes myself!  Everyone needs this book.

Kitchen Notebook - Harold Dieterle (Hundreds of Recipes, Tips and Techniques for Cooking Like a Chef at Home) is great. Harold breaks down ingredients and their uses...and then provides you with recipes to use those ingredients. The book is a wealth of information.  Some of the recipes --Spicy duck meatballs, steamed pork meatball soup, grilled Vidalia onion soup, German style chicken noodle soup with pretzel dumplings, kale and mushrooms, asparagus gnudi, black trumpet and ricotta cannelloni, turducken lasagna (3 meats), Thai style fried chicken, braised rabbit leg with nutmeg, mustard greens, and pickled mustard seeds and grilled shrimp with sticky rice and Phuket-Style Black Pepper Sauce...there is a dessert chapter as well --- the photos are gorgeous.

Extra Virgin  -- Italian comfort food from Debi Mazar and Gabrielle Corcas -- you can read more about it and how to join our cooking group here.  I've made many recipes from this book - and they all have been stellar.

Heritage -- Sean Brock's debut cookbook - love everything about it.  Southern comfort food with fresh ingredients.  Folks have complained about specific ingredients that Brock suggests - but substitute for corn meal's sake.  This book should not be passed up because a few recipes call for a sous vide machine...improvise.

Buvette  is charming and brilliant.  I am a sucker for a restaurant cookbook - and everything in this book can be recreated at home. 

Shroom  Becky Selengut's wonderful book dedicated to the mushroom.  I was fortunate enough to be a recipe tester for this book -- and Becky's recipes are top notch.

Creamery Kitchen I love books that can help me to explore and expand my cooking game. I was first struck by the beautiful photographs and over all look of the book. As I went through the pages, I was drawn to many recipes that I wanted to make right NOW. I picked one recipe to make today (I have never received a book and had to make a recipe the same day) - the lemon thyme feta loaf was my choice. I made a few minor changes - adding lemon zest and not topping with some of the reserved cheese and it was truly delicious. I had to hide it - I ate three slices (and I'm not a bread lover). My son had a huge slice and asked for more of that delicious special bread. Truth be told, it is a cross between a bread and cake. It would be just as delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This book covers several soft cheeses and includes recipes to use the finished cheese/dairy type product. There are compound butters, buttermilk, cream cheeses, ricotta (as mentioned), cottage cheese and others. Recipes to use some of these delicious creations- buttermilk fried chicken, sour cream raisin pie; raspberry Cranachan cheesecakes, spaghetti with Gorgonzola, pecan and mascapone sauce. These are just a few of the recipes included. Jenny tackles some Middle Eastern dishes too - spinach and cheese burek, Serbian burek, saffron and cardamom labneh with mango, lamb skewers with za'atar labneh...and more.

Highly recommend this beautiful book - if you are interested in making and experimenting with some basic soft cheeses and dairy products along with international inspired finished entrees and desserts

French Comfort Food  -- Wonderful book by my friend Hillary Davis -- I have spread the love about this book far and wide -- my full review here

A Boat, a Whale and a Walrus  -- just a gorgeous book with refined comfort food.

Marc Forgione:  Recipes and Strories from the Acclaimed Chef -- I love this book -- it's a kick ass restaurant book by an Iron Chef. 

Mexico (Phaidon) Phaidon is forever the producer of beautiful cookery books -- this one is no exception.   The shocking pink cover - and photographs are killer.  The book covers all things Mexican.

Thailand (Phaidon)  and it is gorgeous as most of Phaidon's books are. The author spent years traveling Thailand to compile this tome of authentic recipes from Thai cooks. I love how the book is broken down - Pastes & Sauces, Snacks & Drinks, Salads, Soups, Curries, Grilled, Boiled & Fried, Stir Fries, Rice & Noodles, Desserts and Guest Chefs. If you are looking for a Thai dish - it is here. There are hundreds of recipes that I can recreate at home - and of course, there are those that would be hard for me to recreate such as Stir Fried Silkworm Pupae. We love Thai food and I recommend this encyclopedia of Thai cooking for any seasoned cook. The photographs are stunning and the detail given for each recipe is lovely.

Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts -- one of my favorite vegetarian books of the year.  Read more here.

Vegetarian Dinner Parties  My friends Mark and Bruce did it again with Vegetarian Dinner Parties.  I'm surprised at my excitement for a vegetarian cookbook (and half of the recipes are vegan). This book not only is packed with elegant and comforting recipes but has tips on how to plan and throw a dinner party. The book starts ...with a cocktail section - got to have a cocktail for a good party.
I'm only going to share a few recipes I have written down to try - gouda gougeres with smoked paprika and thyme, green bean spring rolls with honey mustard dipping sauce, squash noodles with almond chimichurri (from the cover), Jerusalem artichoke fritters with cranberries and almonds, the pulled vegetable sliders (the photo could fool a carnivore), pear risotto with gorgonzola and dill, ginger falafel with wasabi cream and Asiago cookies with tahini/lentil cream.

Blue Chair Cooks with Jam and Marmalade  -- Both Blue Chair cookbooks are must haves if you enjoy preserves and just plain cooking!  Read more here

Extreme Brownies    I am known in my circles (small as they are) as the brownie queen, the cheesecake queen and the macaroni and cheese queen. Extreme Brownies has recipes for Kitty Kat Krunch Brownies, Crunchy Candied Pecan Brownies, Mega Mallo Coconut Brownies, Peanut Butter Buttercream Brownies, Raspberry Rapture, Coo Coo for Coconut Marshmallow Brownies, Snickering Brownies (which I'm making on Saturday for company and will r...eport back). Then there is a blondie section - Caramel Crispie Blondies, Roasted Apple Walnut Blondies and the White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies look incredible. There are many, many more. There are photos of each creation and they are gorgeous. I love when someone can introduce new brownie and blondie recipes that I haven't seen before - AND look like an elegant dessert to boot.  I've made the snickering brownies and they are to die for!   Yes, I know Extreme Brownies wouldn't be on most of your "must have" cookbook lists - but if you are a baker -- you like brownies - you love someone who loves brownies - get this book!

Tacolicious is another favorite and must have.  I wrote about the book here but what makes it even better is how much it is loved by my friends  Marc and Katie - it's a wonderful book!

The Italian Vegetable Cookbook -- Gorgeous book and chock full of incredible Italian vegetarian dishes -- I wrote a full review here.

My Paris Kitchen David Lebovitz -- another gem -- my review is here.

Ceviche -- Peruvian cooking --my review here

Ina Garten - Make it Ahead  It's Ina - enough said. 

Cocina Tropical  Absolutely stunningly beautiful book. The photos are gorgeous, the recipes are exotic and a taste of Puerto Rico. With more than a hundred recipes - including dumplings of mashed plantains and crab, fried whole snapper with pineapple and cilantro salsa, ham and cilantro béchamel croquettes, cassava fritters with pork sausage, codfish fritters, marinated mussels, beef stew with pork rind rice, pork and sweet potato gratin -- you can take a trip to Puerto Rico by going into your kitchen. The desserts --- Mallorca bread, doughnuts, flan....just jump off the page. 

Dumpings All Day Wong  I fear this book isn't getting the credit it deserves due to the quirky title and the cover look -- "the dumpling for dummies" look -- the recipes are outstanding, the details and photographs incredibly helpful to work the folds of the dumplings and it is another must have if you love dumplings! 

Prune   This book -- the photos -- the fresh style --- the breakdown --- just wow. There aren't any fancy ten dollar words to describe it better than that -- just freaking wow.  I love the handwritten notes from Gabrielle -- hints as well as little messages on how to convert the measurements for more servings.   GH has sections broken down into appetizers..., small plates, dinner menu, dinner desserts, vegetable sides (huge), lunch, lunch desserts - and it goes on - 576 pages in this beauty.
I wanted to note every recipe -- but just a tasting --- parmesan dumplings in Capon broth, pastrami duck breast with rye omelette, the toasted manti (gorgeous little wontons that look like art) with garlic yogurt and cayenne pepper broth ---(making this really soon - the photo was outstanding), braised rabbit legs in vinegar sauce -- will sub chicken because rabbits - cute... but vinegar sauce!!!, beef short ribs braised in pho broth, celery hearts Victor (anchovies, garlic and more), pumpkin in ginger beer with Brewer's yeast, ricotta ice cream with dark caramel croutons, calvados omelette --- Lord there is just too many.

Olives, Lemons & Za'atar  and Smashing Plates -- both great titles and are covered in this review  here.

Dominique Ansel - Secret Recipes -- this book is not for the baker that whips up a cupcake now and again -- this is a challenge -- an inspirational book that I had to have.   Caneles and cronuts are in our future (and so funny while typing this I wrote "caneles and cronuts are in our figures" - that too).

Baked Occasions   I'd buy a book on the 100 ways to boil water if these boys were selling it.  When I got it, I posted "Aww, I can breathe now -- the Baked books are all together....right next to their half brother - Chocolate Bar."  Brown Sugar Praline Ice Cream Cake, Pistachio White Chocolate Cheesecake.. twelve months of special desserts -- and I love the back page a page of photos and thanks to their recipe testers. 

The Pizza Bible -- if you love pizza or cook for someone that loves pizza - you need this book!  Must have.

Pizza: Recipes from Naples' Finest Pizza Chefs   -- again -- if you love pizza and authentic Italian pizza -- this is a stunner.                               

Make Ahead Bread  Donna Currie's new book -- a must have for the bread baker.  There are recipes for breads, rolls, croissants, pizza dough, butters and even recipes for what we can do with leftover bread. Some of the standouts -...- sauerkraut rye, savory monkey bread, maple, bacon and onion loaf, stuffing bread with dried cranberries, blueberry and cream cheese buns with lemon zest, almond sweet bread, peanut butter bread with raspberry swirl, almond sweet bread and dozens more

Plenty More -- one word Ottolenghi -- people have mixed feelings about this book - I think when you put out genius -  people keep expecting more and more.  I love the book and will be cooking a great deal from it.

Bread Revolution -- Peter Reinhardt -- is bread -- if you are a bread baker - you must have his books.

In Her Kitchen  Gabriele set off around the world to take photographs of grandmothers in their kitchens (for the most part there are occasional photographs of grandmothers in their living or dining rooms) along with a recipe to honor their heritage.   I love the photographs and stories of these wonderful strong women who have continued traditions with food to nourish and love their families.
 There are many recipes that interest me (double cooked pork with vegetables, short ribs, spatzle, chocolate toffee trifle, tiramisu, apple and chocolate pizza) and a few that don't (primarily caterpillars in tomato sauce) - but this book isn't about the recipes - it's about the grandmothers and their love of cooking and food.   I love this book and will turn to again and again to connect with grandmothers from around the world. 


A Kitchen in France  The photographs are gorgeous in this book that contains recipes that run the gamut of simple French fare.    The book is broken down by seasons and the recipes that intrigued me the most were the onion tart, roast chicken with crème fraiche and herbs, bugnes with orange flower water, sugar almond tart, mustard roasted poussins, Lyonnaise sausage roll, Lyonnaise potatoes and pork cheek ravioli with cepes look great.  The garden cake, caneles and Kouign Amann look great.  Truthfully, this is one stunning book that can keep us cooking as if we too lived in a small French town. 

Other books I love this year:  Marcus Off Duty, The Fat Radish Cookbook, Movida Solera, Saveur New Classics, Mastering my Mistakes, Brooks Headley's Fancy Desserts -- all great books - need to review further and will update.  One of my most favorite books (although it is from 2013 is Amy Thielen's The New Midwestern Table everything I've made from this book has been incredible.

Books that would make great stocking stuffers:  Super Cute Macarons, Party Perfect Bites, Don't Judge a Cookie by it's Cutter, Mug Cakes -- all great little books.  Another one from 2013 for a great hostess or stocking stuffer - Great Balls of Cheese.

Books worth looking into for specific types - Portlandia The Cookbook -- if  you love the show - this one is for you - another friend posted that she tried a few recipes and loved it.  A Year in the Life of  Downton Abbey:  Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions and Recipes might be perfect for a Downton Abbey fan. 


If you are looking for a gift or a cookbook lover or thinking about a title and wanted a little more information, I hope this helps you.  I know I've forgotten a book or two - and I will edit this post.

Mary's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone has a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  Everyone thinks their cookie is the best.  Everyone is an expert in everything.  It's exhausting. 

I've tried more chocolate chip cookies than I care to admit --- even though I'm not a fan of chocolate -- I am a fan of the chocolate chip cookie -- homemade only or a piece of a cookie from Levain - will get me every time.  Who can really eat a whole one?  Oh yeah, Andrew can. 

The  recipe I'm sharing today is one of our favorites.  To us, it's the perfect size, texture and taste.  I've made thin and crispy, thick and chewy, thin and chewy, thick and crispy, chewy and crispy combined, Levain knock offs, the New York Times cookie, Tollhouse and on and on - and this recipe is our favorite.  If I can't get a Levain cookie fresh from the bakery - which is impossible now that we have moved to Colorado -- I make these.  It's my go to recipe.

This recipe comes from my friend, Mary.  Mary is someone we have grown to love from our church back home in New York.  She is married to Tom --- and we love him too -- even though we tease that we love Mary the best.  They have become such an important part of our lives -- we shared a wonderful weekend with them in their home in the Poconos and had the best time.  Andrew adores them--and would sit next to them at church instead of us.   We wish we could see them more often. 

I don't have any hand me down recipes from family - so when someone hand writes a recipe for me -- it is very special.  I will always keep Mary's handwritten recipe in my family cookbook that will someday go to Andrew.  Thank you Mary, we love you (Tom, we're fond of you).

Mary's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dry ingredients:

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Wet ingredients:

2 sticks butter (softened)
2 eggs (room temp)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of cold water

12 ounces (or more if you prefer) of chocolate chips  (use the best quality you can find)

Mix all the wet ingredients well.

Combine dry ingredients into wet being careful not to over mix.   Fold in chocolate chips. 

Refrigerate overnight.  (To be honest -- I don't do that -- I try to refrigerate for a bit -- or I'll roll into the one inch balls -- and place the tray in the fridge or freezer for a bit before baking.)  We just can't seem to wait.  I do refrigerate the dough that I don't use -- I bake a tray or two and save the rest to bake fresh when those disappear.

Roll into one inch balls - and bake at 350 or 10 to 12 minutes.





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Her Kitchen Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World

While browsing through Amazon - In Her Kitchen Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Calimberti tugged at my heart strings.  I posted immediately in The Cookbook Junkies, my group of cookbook lovers, that I had to have it. 



Gabriele set off around the world to take photographs of grandmothers in their kitchens (for the most part there are occasional photographs of grandmothers in their living or dining rooms) along with a recipe to honor their heritage.

I love the photographs and stories of these wonderful strong women who have continued traditions with food to nourish and love their families.

There are many recipes that interest me (double cooked pork with vegetables, short ribs, spatzle, chocolate toffee trifle, tiramisu, apple and chocolate pizza) and a few that don't (primarily caterpillars in tomato sauce) - but this book isn't about the recipes - it's about the grandmothers and their love of cooking and food. 

I love this book and will turn to again and again to connect with grandmothers from around the world.

Thank you Blogging for Books for this review copy. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook and Blue Chair Cooks with Jam & Marmalade

For many years, I was fearful of canning or even making small batch jam to eat on the spot.  As profound a baker and cook as I am, I was positive that I would surely kill someone or land them in the hospital.   Jennifer Perillo's postings on Facebook of her jams and marmalades finally pushed me to pull out all my jam related cookbooks and give it a go.


 
In 2010, Rachel Saunders published her first book The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, a stunning book jam packed (pun intended) with jams, jellies, marmalades and more and I had to have it.  370 plus pages of gorgeous photos and recipes.  Rachel owns The Blue Chair Fruit in San Francisco -- she named it blue chair to represent an old timely kitchen feel - a trip back in time when our grandmothers and mothers made preserves and canned.  This has become one of my favorite go to jam books.

Rachel's recipes combine unique flavors such as pear-lemon marmalade with cardamom, which happens to be one of my favorite spices and meyer lemon marmalade with mandarin and lavender.  You could make a different recipe a week for two years and not have a repeat -- so many wonderful ideas.

I did make the pear-lemon marmalade with cardamom right after I got the book and it was delicious.   At that time I wasn't taking so many photos of everything I made -- it was tangy, sweet and had a warmth from the cardamom.  I had given a jar to a neighbor and the jar was returned in hopes for a refill.

In October, I was thrilled to learn that Rachel recently published Blue Chair Cooks with Jams and Marmalade

 
 
Rachel has produced yet another stunning must have cookbook this time including recipes to incorporate her jams and other creations as key ingredients in every meal.  Recipes that scream make me include coconut pain de mie, chocolate-orange babka, marmalade kugelhopf, black walnut and caraway scones, jamlettes (an egg crepe like omelette with jam - oh my),  coconut jam, tomato-coconut soup, chickpea-carrot soup with turmeric and lamb, faro tagliatelle with mushrooms, radicchio and speck.  There are drinks, jams, breads, soups, vegetables, meats and desserts and so much more.  I am a huge fan of jams and fruits combined with savory items such as proteins --- and cannot wait to try some of these recipes.  Goat's milk caramel and apple crostata  and Swedish cheesecake with almond and orange notes were two that stood out to me in the dessert section.
 
I cannot express how much I love these two books -- not only gorgeous but a wealth of information and recipes that will become favorites in your home.
 
In the next weeks, I have a few things planned to try out and I'll edit this post and share those  photos and results.  I wanted to post this today because I was reading the book the last few days and just fell in love and wanted you to check it out for yourselves - sooner rather than later.
 
 
 


Eat by Nigel Slater


Nigel Slater -- Britian's foremost food writer (actually I think Nigella should have that title because ...Nigella!) threw together this little book of 600 meal ideas to get food on the table fast. 

I'm not a fan of fast food -- or books with "easy" in the title - but I have to admit like anyone else - some days you just want to put food on the table.  When those days come around, this book will give you plenty of ammunition. 

I have to admit nothing in the book overwhelmed me as innovative -- chorizo burgers, bagel sandwiches, crab mac and cheese, stir fried chicken with cashews and broccoli are some samples.  A friend stated that gingersnaps for banana cheesecake was genius - then I'm a genius because I've been doing that for decades.  :-) 

I didn't try any dishes yet because nothing screamed make me.  When I do, I'll edit this post with photos. 

It's a great book if you are just getting started and want some ideas for fast meals...a nice gift for a college student, new bride, someone new to cooking or a mom returning to the work force and needs a boost.

Thanks Blogging for Books for this opportunity.