Tag Archives: baking

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).

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!

Rebecca Woods, ed. – Cinnamon, Spice and Warm Apple Pie.


Cinnamon, Spice and Warm Apple Pie: Comforting Baked Fruit Desserts for Chilly Days – Rebecca Woods, ed. (2013, Ryland Peters & Small, London)

All the fruit you can eat, in crumbles, streusels, cobblers, bettys, crisps, clafoutis, slumps, puddings, pies, tarts, strudels and cakes…and I’d argue that you could make these desserts any time of the year, not just during the blustery days of autumn and winter. This is genuine comfort food and sometimes you need comfort food during the summer, right?  Or is it just me?

Besides the uncomplicated, mouth-watering recipes, this book appeals to me in a big way with its conversions between metric and Imperial and its listing of ingredients with a nod to an international readership (ie: caster/granulated sugar, plain/all-purpose flour).  Even the temperatures for gas ovens are listed.  It’s so nice not to have to do all the conversions before baking, to just grab the book and the measuring cups and go.

Standouts (IMHO) include: Pear and Chocolate Crumble, Toffee Banana Crumbles, Cherry Clafoutis, and Mango and Coconut Macaroon Crisp. Oh, and that Dutch Apple Pie that might just rival the recipe I’ve already been using (certainly, it LOOKS more beautiful and scrumptious).    Ones I’m going to try:  Pear Slump, and Nectarine and Pistachio Crumble.  I’d better hurry up and get into the kitchen, because the photographs in this book make me want to eat the pages.

Fiona Pearce – Treat Petites.




Treat Petites: Tiny Sweets and Savory Pleasures – Fiona Pearce (2014, Sterling Epicure, New York)
Treat Petites is indeed a treat! Tiny sweet and savoury bites are the feature in this gorgeous cookbook – you’ll find everything from miniature madeleines, sponges, meringues, and cookies, to cupcakes and eclairs and a whole chapter using puff pastry to make the most amazing appies. Although nearly all of the recipes in this book require more skill in the decorating department than I’ll ever have, Pearce at least makes the baking part seem easy. She begins each chapter with a couple of base recipes (ie: sugar cookie dough, chocolate ganache, choux pastry), then offers beautiful variations using the primary recipes. The idea is that if you can master the base recipe, the others are a breeze. I am daunted by the decorating, however – I suspect any Rose Religieuses I make will come out looking like nothing more than lumpy pink blobs, rather than the floral masterpieces Pearce displays.

The Most Outstanding: Chocolate Cups with Mango Mousse, Mini Mille-Feuilles with Elderflower Cream, Gilded Caramel Shortbread Squares (with edible gold dust!), and Lemon Domes with Pink Grapefruit Syrup. Ones I Am Going to Try: Coffee Bean Cookies (these are amazing – they are the exact size of real coffee beans and look just like them) and Pesto Pinwheels.

Carey Jones and Robyn Lenzi – Chocolate Chip Cookies.


Chocolate Chip Cookies:  Dozens of Recipes for Reinterpreted Favorites – Carey Jones and Robyn Lenzi (2013, Chronicle Books, San Francisco)

Is there anything better than a chocolate chip cookie?  Besides more chocolate chip cookies?

I thought not.  If you agree with me (and I suspect you do), then this cook book is for you.  Jones and Lenzi offer 41 variations on the quintessential cookie, including gluten free versions made from almond flour, quinoa and millet, one spiked with bourbon, a salted caramel delight, and a coffee-flavoured treat.  There is a coconut-sesame version, one with macadamia nuts, another with walnuts, and a novelty made with chai tea.  There is even one which substitutes trendy duck fat for butter and another that includes maple syrup and bacon in the ingredients list.

There aren’t many photographs, but there are the cutest little doodles of adorable chocolate chip cookie characters doing goofy things throughout the book – even if I wasn’t already a huge fan of the subject matter, I’d be sold on the cartoons.