Tag Archives: cooking

Kristina Stosek – Small Bites the Gluten-Free Way.

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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?)

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Laurence and Gilles Laurendon et al. – From Scratch.

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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.

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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).

Richard C. Morais – The Hundred-Foot Journey.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey – Richard C. Morais – 2010 Scribner New York

Okay, so if you’ve seen the absolutely delightful movie, know that the book and the film are not the same. Not that the book isn’t wonderful in its own right – because it is. Just understand that the story of Hassan Haji, the massively talented chef and restauranteur from Mumbai who takes French cuisine to a whole new level, takes two distinctly different pathways depending on which form you indulge in. My advice? Do both – and don’t worry about the calories.

Cookbook briefs.

Yep, I’ve been into the cookbooks again…here are a few I really, REALLY like:

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The Sprouted Kitchen:  A Tastier Take on Whole Foods by Sara Forte, photographed by Hugh Forte (2012, Ten Speed Press, U.S.A.)

All I can say is YUM – everything in this cookbook looks delicious.  (As I write this, I haven’t eaten breakfast yet, but trust me, it’s true).  Fabulous photos and lots of clearly-written recipes, with an easy-on-the-eyes layout AND some interesting personal anecdotes…what more can you ask for in a cookbook?  While it’s not vegetarian or vegan, Forte goes heavy on the veggies, and that’s just perfect for me.  I’ve already selected some must-trys for the week’s menu (Fennel Slaw, Mashies and Greens, Tangled Carrot and Broccoli Sprout Salad with Tahini Dressing, and Multigrain Carrot-Date Muffins), and I think this will be a new go-to cookbook.   Preview the goodness by checking out Forte’s blog at  http://www.sproutedkitchen.com/.

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Canning and Preserving Without Sugar by Norma M. MacRae, R.D.  (4th Edition, The Globe Pequot Press, Connecticut, 1997)

Sugar is the preservative in most canning recipes – the ingredient that makes it possible for you to store your jams, jellies, chutneys, veggies, fruits etc. for long periods of time (the processing methods are important as well, of course).  As anyone who cans knows, the amount of sugar in a batch of jam or jelly is often staggering, and you cannot alter the quantity in the recipe without spoiling it.  What to do if you’re on a low sugar diet – or just want to substitute something a little healthier, such as honey?  Well, MacRae’s book will tell you!  There are variations for canning using unsweetened fruit juice and plain water, as well as honey (artificial sweeteners are not recommended as they cannot properly preserve food and some may even pose a health risk if used in canning).  Of course, not adding sugar means you have to adjust pectin types to allow for set, so MacRae covers all of the essentials you need to know about whether to use pectin or not (in which case you might use agar-agar or unflavoured gelatin), or regular pectin versus low-methoxy pectin solution.  Sound a bit like playing with a chemistry set?  It is, rather – but the recipes are no more difficult than those for regular canning using sugar.  This book is all business (there are no photos), but it’s valuable for anyone wanting to safely and properly can without sugar.  I’ve bookmarked several recipes I’m going to give a go this summer!

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The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook :  More Than 100 Retro Recipes for the Modern Cook by Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean (2012, Running Press, Philadelphia)

You can gather from the title that this cookbook is a ton of fun, and it is.  From the spiffy layout and retro fonts to the selection of tried and true classics (meatloaf, pan-fried steak, roast beef, fried chicken, Sloppy Joes, creamed corn, buttermilk rolls, cream of tomato soup, mac and cheese, Swedish meatballs, baked Alaskan…egad, now I’m STARVING), and pop culture/history bites from the period, it’s a delight to pore through.  Best of all, the recipes all seem to be completely accessible – there isn’t one in here that has a ton of hard-to-find ingredients or complicated procedures to follow…plus they’ve been updated slightly so they’re a bit healthier than the originals.  No matter how kitchen-centric you are, this is a cookbook for everyone!

And, yes, in case you’re wondering, there is a recipe for aspic, and SPAM shows up for a visit in one as well.  They had to, you know.  There’s a law or something.

Book review: Les petits macarons.

Les petits macarons – Kathryn Gordon & Anne E. McBride (2011, Running Press Book Publishers, PA)

It’s been a dream of mine to turn out cute and perfect French macarons with yummy fillings.  So when I saw this adorable book with its mouth-watering photos, pretty fonts, and step-by-step instructions, I had to get my hands on it.  Continue reading

Kitchen scraps.

Kitchen Scraps:  A Humorous Illustrated Cookbook  – Pierre A. Lamielle (2009, Whitecap Books, Vancouver)

Who ever heard of a cookbook that makes you repeatedly laugh out loud, with the sort of whole-hearted guffaws that come from deep within the belly?  Continue reading