Category Archives: Cookbook review

Kristina Stosek – Small Bites the Gluten-Free Way.


Small Bites The Gluten-Free Way  – Kristina Stosek (2015 Blue Cap Books, Vancouver)

It doesn’t matter if you’re required to adhere to a gluten-free diet or not, this cookbook has your snacks and appies covered with simple and appealing recipes that (for the most part) don’t require anything other than what you already have on hand in your pantry or fridge.  Gorgeous photography and a clean, easy-to-read layout make Small Bites a standout.  I can see many revisits of these recipes in my future!

Small Bites I am going to try very soon:  Authentic Schnitzel Bites, Baked Lemon Chicken Fingers (on the menu this week!), Skinny Crema Catalana, Rustic Bacon and Cheese Scones (is there a better combination than bacon and cheese?)

Laurence and Gilles Laurendon et al. – From Scratch.


From Scratch:  An Introduction to French Breads, Cheeses, Preserves, Pickles, Charcuterie, Condiments, Yogurts, Sweets, and More – Laurence and Gilles Laurendon, Catherine Quevremont, and Cathy Ytak (2014, Lark, Sterling Publishing, New York)

This is one of those cookbooks that I knew I must have as soon as I cracked it open.  It’s beautiful, for one, but it’s not just the photographs – it’s also in the way the recipes are presented, even right down to the fonts, which are fancy but easy on the eyes.  Of course, it’s all about the recipes, however – and these are right up my alley.  I’ve wanted to try making my own soft cheeses for some time now, and the mascarpone recipe is first up for me.  I can’t believe how easy this looks!  And forget how intimidating making brioche seems – it IS possible with the recipes in From Scratch.  You want to make beef, vegetable, or chicken bouillon?  Can do.  What about grow your own sprouts?  Yep.  Make the perfect lemon curd?  Infused butters, compound oils?  Fresh pasta?  Garlic bread?  It’s all here, and more.   A must-have compilation for the home cook.

Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol – Under the Shade of Olive Trees.

Olive Trees Shade

Under the Shade of Olive Trees:  Recipes from Jerusalem to Marrakech and Beyond – Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol (2014, Steward, Tabori & Chang, New  York)

This sumptuous celebration of Arabic food is a delight for the confident cook and anyone interested in international flavours.  Part of the fun would be to source the ingredients from Middle Eastern grocers or online, and the authors thoughtfully provide descriptions of what they mean by “white” tahini or savoury yogourts, the difference between Morrocan and Middle Eastern olives, how to whip up a batch of salt-preserved lemons, and successfully navigating through the huge amount of spices featured in these recipes.  There are even tips on how to set the perfect buffet table and the etiquette involved in serving your dishes.

Pure eye-candy:  Moghrabieh, Cinnamon-Star Anise Quinces, Grape-Leaf Rolls, Hearty Freekeh Soup, and Sumac Chicken.  Ones I’m Going To Try:  Watermelon Granita, Tahini-Halva Ice Cream, Cumin Fennel Fries, and Bulgar Salad (with pomegranate arils and toasted pistachios).

Karen Solomon – Asian Pickles.


Asian Pickles:  Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves – Karen Solomon (2014, Ten Speed Press, California)

The first thing you notice about this collection of recipes is the stellar photography, which guarantees this book’s eye candy status for anyone interested in Asian cuisine and any form of pickling.  Divided into sections based on Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian styles and traditions, Solomon offers up a huge selection of delectable stand-alones or accompaniments to rice, noodles, sushi, soup, and other mains.  Standouts include:  Pickled Shiso Leaves and Shiso Vinegar (you should see the colour of this one!), Pickled Asian Pear with Lemon, South Indian Coconut and Cilantro Chutney, Pickled Chiles with Lime, and Green Mango Pickle, as well as the expected kimchi, of which there are some interesting variations.  Ones I’m Going to Try:  Pickled Garlic (Manul Changachi), and Congee, which Solomon recommends as the “perfect pickle vehicle.”

Greg Henry – Savory Cocktails.


Savory Cocktails – Greg Henry (2013, Ulysses Press, California)

Who says cocktails need to be sweet?  I recently started making drinking vinegars at home, and boy, has that ever opened my eyes to the wide range of tasty combinations you can create…and not all of them are fruit-based.  (And yes, Savory Cocktails does feature some drinks with shrub syrups like the ones I’ve been concocting).  Author Greg Henry divides the book into the categories Sour, Spicy, Herbal, Umami, Bitter, Smoky, Rich, and Strong – that should give you an idea of the range of recipes he’s either created himself or obtained from mixologists from around the world.  ONES TO TRY (IMO):  Rhubarb Rosemary Flip, Green Tea Gimlet.  SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING:  Better with Bacon, Pickleback, Bullshot (with beef bouillon) and the Dog’s Nose (with porcini mushroom powder).  Put that in your shaker!

Jennifer Lindner McGlinn – Gingerbread.


Gingerbread:  Timeless Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Desserts, Ice Cream, and Candy – Jennifer Lindner McGlinn (2009, Chronicle Books, San Francisco)

A whole book dedicated to gingerbread recipes?!?

Someone had better give me the gift of a treadmill for Christmas.

RECIPES TO TRY YESTERDAY:  Five Spice Gingersnaps, Gingerbread Shortbread Cookies, Pumpkin Gingerbread Cake, Gingerbread Blondies, and Gingerbread Pancakes.

The only drawback with this book is that there isn’t a photo to accompany every recipe…but maybe that’s just as well.  I think I may be gaining weight just reading the Table of Contents.

Linda Collister – Holiday Cookies and Other Festive Treats.



Holiday Cookies and Other Festive Treats – Linda Collister (2008, Ryland Peters & Small, London, New York)

If you’re planning to give cookies or other treats as gifts this holiday season (or hogging them all to yourself), this is the book for you.   The photographs are beautiful, the layout is organized and clean, and the recipes are designed for home bakers and seem very accessible.  Of course, I may not DECORATE the cookies as wonderfully as the photos show…I mean, if you get a box of cookies from me that look like they have big, strangely coloured icing blobs on them instead of delicate filigree stars or snowflakes, please don’t be offended – it’s not the fault of the author.  It’s all me.  But I’m sure they’ll still taste pretty darn good.

RECIPES I’M MAKING PRONTO:  Swedish Pepper Cookies, Gingerbread Mini-Muffins, Chocolate Brioches, and Pistachio Sables.  There’s also a recipe for a Cranberry and Basil Relish that looks like an absolute must-try.

Have fun baking!