Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Cookbooks III

Here are more cookbook reviews (these seem to be the most popular of all my posts).

A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson
★ ★ ★ ★

 This BOCD is comprised of 6 cds... which I actually listened to!

I ♥ Marianne and her teachings & books. I liked the lessons & teachings, but the thing you have to remember when you listen or read "A Course in Miracles" is there is talk about jesus, but not in a religious manner.... more as he is the "messenger".

These lessons are easy to listen to and because they do include meditations you can not listen to the entire set while you drive or are otherwise engaged. These lessons are for the most part for people who: have a love/hate relationship w/ food; see food as the "enemy"; are compulsive eaters; or are a food addict.

This book is not intended for those of us who only need to shed a few extra pounds, but it is still interesting.

I did not like the fact that Marianne" read" the book because it sounded like she was reading aloud..... I prefer when she is lecturing/talking as her flow is better. But she does have a good voice and is easy to listen to.

Mexico's Feasts of Life,  Patricia Quintana
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Although this is an older book it is by no means outdated. It is large with many nice colored photographs with an interesting mix of old B&W family photographs as well.

The ingredients are few to many (and might be difficult to find), the recipes are broken down into preparation stages and for the most part are easy to follow.

What I really liked about this cookbook, in comparison to the "Jerusalem Cookbook", is the fact that there are many, many more recipes per chapter. What I didn't like is there are more than 1 recipe per page and it was difficult for me to see where one ended & the other began.

Contents include:
Making of a Mexican Feast, methods & materials: Spices for dry roasting; preparation of chilies, salsas, & sauces; types of chilies; herbs; & Mexican cream.

Introduction, the four generations: a not-so-brief history of her family and their cookery.

Entering the world, The Christening Feast: Cake bread; Meringue filled pastry shells, Yemitas (little egg yolks); Coconut Charles cookies; Lime crepes; Tamales; Chicken w/ almond mole; Chile Poblano soup; and many more.

Celebrations of Childhood, Christmas & All Kings Day: Bu├▒elos; Quesadillas (w/ 7 different fillings); Roast crown of pork; Steamed turkey in Adobo sauce; Oaxacan meatballs in chile tomato sauce; & Almond pumpkin seed candy.

Circling w/ family, Weddings & Birthdays; Almond wedding cake; Stuffed c ornish hens in orange sauce; Lime soup; White cheviche; Squash blossom soup; 8 different salsas; Tournedeau w/ morels in a chile-cream sauce; & Cold pickled veal rump.

The Ordering of life, Breakfast, portable feasts, Independence; Chilaquiles w/ chicken, sausage, & cheese; Sieved black beans w/ chilie & epazote; Chorizo sausage, pitic style; Royal mountain turnovers; Meat & vegetable stew w/ chiles, saffron, & chorizo; and Rice & chile casserole.

The Altar of Sorrows, foods (Lent): Seafood soup w/ chiles & tomatoes; Shrimp pie; Capriotada (Bread pudding); Lenten turnovers (sweet egg yolk filling); 5 different preserves; Corn soup w/ chiles chipotles; and Red snapper w/ parsley.

Re-entering the world, Day of the Dead: Candied fruit bread; Flan; Pork & chicken tamales; Corn tamales; Chicken & vegetables w/ yellow mole; Pork w/ green mole (one of 6 different moles); Black beans w/ pork; Spiced lentil stew w/ plantains & pineapple; and Candied pumpkin.

Wonderful, now I need someone who is willing to prepare these foods for me!

Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food, Gordon Ramsay
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

I'm pretty sure this is that really obnoxious, overbearing, screaming, hissy-fit, chef... I've not watched his show because I've only seen clips where he is screaming insults at someone "beneath" him. But this did not stop me from reading the cookbook.

From the inside front flap:
"Chuck out the frozen food and the take-out menus. Who better to show you how to cook real food, real fast and make it really tasty than Gordon Ramsay, three star chef and t.v. celebrity? Taking its inspiration from his popular tv shows, 'Gordon Ramsay's Fast Food' includes over 100 delicious recipes that are super-fast and easy to prepare.
The book is divided into short sections: 15 fearless of fast recipes such as starters, soups, fish, meat, pasta, working lunches, desserts etc., and 15 great menus for everyday entertaining. Many of the dishes can be prepared and cooked in 15 minutes (none take longer than half an hour), and the menus take 30-40 minutes from start to finish; each, with a timing plan. 
There's also advice on ingredients to keep in stock that will make your cooking really speedy, plus lots of ideas for short cuts.
All in all, this is a stunning successor to Gordon's fabulously successful library of cookbooks."

I ♥ this description, it is such a great explanation of the book that all I can add is: the book is printed on mat finish paper and contains lovely photographs on nearly every page. His ego does not come through in the book and his writing & explanations are sincere and down to earth.

Recipes include but are not limited: Quail w/ kohlrabi & butternut squash; grilled pineapple w/ mint & toasted coconut; lamb w/ crushed peas; Crayfish, avocado & mayo toasties; Bacon, pea & goat cheese frittata; Leftover roast chicken salad; Melon w/ tequila & lime; Pasta w/ pancetta, leek, & mushrooms; No bake berry cheesecake; Crab spring rolls; Easy lobster thermidor; Carmelized shallot & mushroom toasts; Grilled eggplant w/ sesame seed dressing; & Salad of grilled asparagus & spinach.
Eat St.: Recipes from the Tastiest, Messiest, and Most Irresistible Food Trucks, James Cunningham
★ ★ ★ ★ 

This book contains a plethora of mouth-watering offerings of food trucks ranging All over North America to the U.K. Savory, sweet, fried, sandwiches, desserts, pasta, seafood, Mexican, Korean, Italian, Indian, & American... This book has it all.

Color photos, recipes galore, and where to find the truck!

Mobile Snacks: Saigon shrimp chevice, Kalbi chunk'd tots, Chilie fries, & Trashy chorizo & chips w/ foie gras.
Burgers, Dogs, & Slices: Latin macho burger, Terimayo dog, Nut buger, Mighty masala fish burger, Bianca pizza, Pesto chicken pizza & Hawaiian bulgogi burger.

Ultimate Street Sandwiches: Avocado melt, Triple cream brie melt, Chickpea sandwich, Main lobster roll, Catfish po' boy, Porchetta sandwich, Bourbon-mango pulled pork sandwich, & Pork meatball bahn mi
Tacos, Wraps, & Cones: Rajas con queso, Mahi mahi fish tacos, Drunken shrimp tacos, Thai pork tacos, Chiptole chuck steak burritos, Smoked salmon crepes, Beef shawarma w/ chimichurri sauce, & Hot & crunchy chicken cones
Soups, Noodles, & Saucy Things: Pacific rim chowder, Pad Kee Mao, Yellow cashew curry, Cold cucumber soup, Seared sea scallops, Chicken & andouille gumbo, & Cuban bowl w/ tostones

Curbside Meals: Late summer harvest salad, Potato & cheese pierogies, Butternut squash ravioli, Coconut halibut cheeks, Lobster risotto, Sizzling pork sisig, Lamb sausage & arugula salad, Chicken tikka, & Codfish fritters.

Sweet Wheels: Apple pie kool-aid, Orange cream dream cupcakes, Mission St French toast, Hawaiian French toast, Zeppole, S'mores waffles.

Each recipe contains a brief explanation/history of the food. Recipes range from easy to difficult depending of the preparation time, many of the meats need to be prepared ahead of time.

I'd rather travel & eat from the trucks than cook the food myself!
Easy Fast Food, Marks & Spencer
★ ★ ★ ★

I love little, simple, easy to use (make), cookbooks with lots of nice photographs! This book in one in a series, of which I now have three. Don't you love Library book sales?

The introduction is only two (2) pages and is written in a very clear & concise manner.

The recipes are broken down into 4 categories: Meat & Poultry; Fish & Seafood; Vegetarian; and Desserts. There is also an index.

Recipes include: Steak in orange sauce; Roast beef & coleslaw (the coleslaw is a part of the sandwich); Pork w/ mixed green beans; Pepperoni pasta; Minced chicken skewers; Turkey ciabatta w/ walnuts; Prawn & mango salad; Pancetta wrapped scallops; Cheese & sun-dried tomato toasts; Raspberry & feta salad w/ couscous; Tofu stir fry; Filo wrapped asparagus w/ a dip; Quick tiramisu; White chocolate (chunk) brownies; Sponge cake w/ custard; and Sweet & spicy wraps (mango, pineapple, Greek yogurt & honey).

Lovely little book, easy to follow recipes, although some recipes are easier to make than others they all still seem to be delightful dishes.

Easy Healthy, Marks & Spencer
★ ★ ★ ★

Easy Healthy Cooking BookAnother lovely little cook book in the Marks & Spencer series.... Here's the thing, I can not locate these on the internet. They are U.K. books and the one I did find is no longer available, via Abe Books.

The book is divided into six parts: Introduction; Soups & Salads; Meat & Fish Mains; Vegetarian Mains; Desserts; and Index. The Introduction contains information on Carbohydrates, sugars, fats, proteins, fibres, vitamins & minerals, salt, & guideline daily amounts, which I found helpful and easy to understand.

Recipes include: Roast mushroom & garlic soup w/ wholemeal croutons; Spiced lentil & vegetable soup; Lentil & goats cheese salad; Warm duck salad; Beef en daube w/ mustard mash (potatoes); Plaice parcels w/ fresh herbs; Chinese lemon chicken; Seared duck w/ onion relish; Moroccan style turkey w/ apricots; Seared scallops; Pasta w/ leek, butternut squash, & cherry tomatoes; Sweet potato curry w/ lentils; Mushroom stroganoff; Blueberry fool; Ruby fruits w/ baby meringues; Orange cups (filled w/ low-fat yogurt & honey); Coffee ice cream; and Chocolate Swiss rolls.

Lovely photographs, easy to follow recipes, some a bit more time consuming than others, but overall a nice little cookbook.

Easy Vegetarian, Marks & Spencer
★ ★ ★ ★

Another is the "Easy" series by Marks & Spencer and another Four ★, I like these very much. Can you tell?

Like the other two "Easy" cookbooks this one has lovely photographs, delightful sounding recipes, clear & easy preparation instructions.
Contents: Introduction; Soups & Starters; Snacks & Light Meals; Main Dishes; Side Dishes; and Index
The introduction talks about different types of vegetarian diets, health & cooking.

Recipes include: Vegetable & corn chowder; Beet borscht; Mushroom pate; Creamed mushrooms; Spicy stuffed peppers; French bean & walnut salad; Goats cheese tarts; Nachos w/ chilies & olives; Moroccan tomato & red pepper salad; Mushroom & cauliflower cheese crumble; Carmelized onion tart; Leek egg mornay; Bubble & squeak (I finally know what this is); Creamy ricotta, mint (I'd use basil) & garlic pasta; Pasta w/ olive sauce; vegetarian lasagne; Lemon garlic spinach; Chinese style gingered vegetables; Spiced lentils w/ spinach; Colcannon (I make this as a soup w/ sausage); and garlic mash.

Easy to follow recipes, some more time consuming to prepare, some duplicates from other books in the series, but a nice book!

Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Reicpes From Market to Table, Suzanne Goin
★ ★ ★
There is a lot of text here, so much so, I skipped over most of it: the Forward, Acknowledgements, & Introduction alone were 12 pages of not very large print. The recipes are in menu form and broken down in to sections by season and each season has 1 1/2 pages of print. Each season also has a list of vegetables & fruits that you can get from the local Farmers' market, what they are, taste, texture, how to sue & prepare them.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, & Winter all contain 8 different menus w/ four dishes each. Each recipe has a list of ingredients, a short to long paragraph about the dish, notes/tips on preparation, and instructions for preparation which can be quite long.

The photographs were lovely, but most of the dishes do not have photographs.

What sounded good to me:
Saffron risotto; Sweet cherry compote;
Wold striped bass w/ faro, black rice, green garlic & tangerine;
Sautee of white asparagus, morels & ramps over polenta;
Glazed duck confit w/ black rice, mizuna & cherries;
Ricotta gnocchi w/ chanterelles, sweet corn, & sage brown butter;
Grilled pork burgers w/ Rob's coleslaw;
Green Goddess salad w/ romaine, cucumbers, & avocado;
Mussels & clams w/ vermouth, cannellini beans & cavolo nero;
grilled Quail w/ pancetta, ricotta pudding & Sicilian breadcrumbs;
Warm squid salad w/ spinach, chorizo, & black olives;
Jessica's favorite Meyer lemon tart w/ a layer of chocolate;
Taylor Bay scallops w/ chanterelles, sherry & parsley breadcrumbs;
Blood oranges, dates, parmesan & almonds
Wild mushroom tart w/ Gruyere, young onions & herb salad......

I'd like someone to cook for me from this cookbook, but it is not one I would cook from, unless I was able to take short-cuts.
the new persian kitchen (the title was non-capitalized), Louisa Shafia
★ ★ ★

The book is printed on plain paper, clearly visible print and many (in my opinion not enough) color photos of many of the dishes. A few of the dishes come w/ a "vegetarian" option, the titles are printed in English in red with the Farsi below in a smaller brown script. There is a small explanation of the dish w/ optional variations & serving suggestions & the number of servings. 

The recipes & ingredients are clear easy to read & follow... but Middle Eastern cooking takes a bit of time when it comes to preparation, so these are not quick & easy meals.

I really enjoy the discussion of spices, many of which I often use, and I found a better way to prepare my saffron before adding it to my dishes.

The book is broken down to the following sections: Introduction; Overview; Guide to Persian Ingredients; ten (10) sections of Recipe; Menus; Resources; Acknowledgements; About the Author; and Index.

The recipes for the most part are gluten free, use minimal of oil & fat, and call for alternatives to white sugar. There are several Jewish/Kosher recipes, which in my mind do not mix with the other dishes.

Starters & Snacks: As the authors states Iranians really do not serve "appetizers" but a series of small plates to awaken the the palate & appetite.... Whole grilled fava beans; Winter squash fritters w/ rose petals; New potatoes w/ dill & lemon; Turkish roasted tomato & red pepper dip (Armenians serve this too); Garlicky eggplant & tomato spread; Passover Charoset (see...Kosher).

Soups: Cold pistachio w/ mint & leeks; Saffron corn soup (this sounded really good); "Persian 'Matzoh Balls' w/ chickpeas & chicken (Riiiight); Savory amaranth & turkey porridge; Cleansing spring nettle soup; and one of My Favorites Ash-e Reshteh (Bean, herb & noodle soup).

Salads: Chicken w/ potatoes & olives (Salad Olivie); Tomato & Cucumber; Vinegar carrots w/ toasted sesame seeds; & Radish, rhubarb & strawberry.
Vegetable & Egg Entrees: Herb frittata w/ walnuts & rose petals (Kuku sabzi, very often served during lent & easter w/ fish); Roasted stuffed artichokes w/ mint oil (this sounded good); Stuffed tomatoes w/ pistachio pesto; and Tempeh kebabs w/ minty cilantro-lime sauce.

Meat & Fish Entrees: Chilie-saffron fish kebabs; Parvin's tamarind stuffed fish; Lamb kebabs in pomegranate-walnut marinade (fesenjan sauce); Grilled liver w/ cumin, garlic, & fresh basil; and Turmeric chicken w/ sumac & lime.

Main Dish Stews & casseroles: Pomegranate walnut stew (fesenjan); Barley stew w/ lamb & rhubarb; Seared chicken & peaches; Green herb & kidney bean stew w/ dried lemons (Gormeh sabzi, my favorite); and Persian gulf style spicy tamarind fish stew.

Rice & Grains: Saffron rice (my favorite); Sweet rice w/ carrots & nuts; Rice w/ rose petals & barberries (sour); Quinoa w/ french lentils, wild rice & golden raisins; and Rice w/ favas (or limas) & fresh dill (another of my favorites & easy to make).

Sweets: Chickpea & almond flour icebox cookies (yum); Rhubarb & rose water sorbet w/ rice noodles; pomegranate semifreddo w/ blood orange compote; Amaranth rice pudding w/ rose water; and No-bake persimmon & goat cheese cheesecake.

Beverages: Salty mint yogurt soda; Sour cherry spritzer (so refreshing in summer); Cardomon coffee; Naturally sweet dried lime tea; and Winter orchard tea.

Pickles and Preserves: Sour plum pickle; Mixed vegetable pickle; Fig mustard; Tamarind date chutney; and Sour cherry & rose preserves.

Barefoot Contessa Parties, Ina Garten
★ ★ ★
Oh my, I open to the Contents and what do I see? I see three margaritas staring at me!

The book is easy to read, the recipes for the most part are simple to prepare, the ingredients are easy to find, the photographs are large and appetizing in appearance. Each menu title page give the number of people to be fed as well as dishes that will be served. 

I was unimpressed w/ her Fireside Dinner for two, there were two dishes.... For something so "cozy" I'd not have chosen Vegetable pot pie & double chocolate pudding.....

Introduction: "I've always wanted to give great parties....."
Spring: Sunday Breakfast; Pizza Party; Jewish Holiday; & Academy Awards
Summer: Canoe Trip; Lunch in the Garden; Happy Birthday; & Outdoor Grill
Autumn: Football Party; Autumn Dinner; Not Thanksgiving; & Afternoon Tea
Winter: New Year's Day; snow Day; Valentine's Dinner; & Fireside Dinner

Recipes include, but are not limited to:
Roasted Asparagus w/ scrambled eggs; sour cream coffee cake; tropical smoothies; Eli's Health bread; & two types of "butter"
California pizzas & Ice cream sodas
Chopped liver (what would the holiday be without?)
Chicken soup w/ matzo balls Brisket w/ carrots & onions; & Noodle kugel
Smoked salmon w/ mesclun (greens); 
Filet of beef w/ Gorgonzola sauce; & Garlic roasted potatoes
Oven roasted fruit; Sauteed asparagus & snap peas; Grilled leg of lamb; & Tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip)
Real margaritas (no sweet & sour just lemon & lime juice); Spaghettoni al pesto; Grilled shrimp w/ mango salsa; & peach raspberry shortcakes
Potato pancakes w/ caviar; Salad w/ warm goat cheese; & Orzo w/ roasted vegetables
Spinach gratin; Perfect roast turkey; & Plum tart
Lemon bars; Orange chocolate chunk cake; Herbed goat cheese sandwiches; Lime curd; & shortbread cookies w/ dragees (them hard sweet little silver balls)
Seafood chowder; Fennel soup gratin; Chicken chili; & Hot mulled cider
Sauteed cabbage (Martha Stewart taught her this, don't you know); Roast loin pork w/ fennel; Vegetable pot pie; & Double chocolate pudding

Feast for Life: a Benefit Cookbook: Over 100 Celebrities & Chefs Share Their Favorite Recipes,
Linda Provus Bartlett

How clever & artistic but @ $35 you can do a whole lot better with something else..... A whole lot of photos and photo collages of the chefs, but not of the prepared dishes.

The names of the dishes are not on the top of the page, rather in a separate frame on either side of a page with the ingredients listed below. The main focus of the page is the Chef's Name & "preparation" which is not only difficult to read on a white background, but even impossible to read on a photo collage background, which most are!

Celebrities & recipes include: Alec Baldwin (Vegetarian enchiladas); Steven Spielberg & Kate Capshaw (Matzo brie); Randy Travis (Mexican corn bread); Mario Andretti (Nonna Rina's lamb roast); Elizabeth Taylor (Neil's caramel ice cream & hot fudge sauce); Sonia Rykiel (Chocolate mousse); Calvin & Kelly Klein (Grilled jumbo shrimp & grilled vegetables); Alain Ducasse (Roasted pineapple w/ crisp pastry & creamed rum); Jean Claude Parachini (Chicken mold w/ sauteed artichokes & potatoes); Margaret Thatcher (Pasta w/ pork & basil); Mike Myers (Kraft dinner w/ wieners); Stephen King (Lunchtime gloop); General Schwartkopf (Brenda's seafood lasagna) & Gregory Peck (Spaghettini w/ seafood).

Many sounding delicious, some weird (but you have to consider the source)..... So if you want to add this to a large collection you'll need to remember that this is an art book first, a cookbook second.
Hungry Girl Happy Hour, Lisa Lillien   
This is a freakin' DIET Book..... Diet Happy Hour (Diet anything) makes me VERY Unhappy..... So I will not partake. I do/will NOT consume Splenda, Cool Whip, Sugar Free (chemical laden) anything, Lite soy, or any type of Diet drink. So with this being said, I'm cutting this book down stars.
Although I do not like gin (except on a rare occasion w/ tonic), I KNOW that Traditional Martinis are made w/ Gin, Not Wodka.....

Is a small paperback format w/ drawings and 4 double pages of photos in the center of the book... another minus!

Things to have on hand (as a bartender) is very handy: a variety of glasses (I am surprised she actually uses glass, not plastic); a shaker (these are good, here's my tip use metal, they chill your drinks better & quicker); a blender; measuring cups & spoons; a muddler & a corkscrew; straws; sword shaped toothpicks; little paper umbrellas; and A TIP JAR "you never know"!

Drink recipes include: Kickin' key lime pie martini (cool whip); Mounds bar martinis (all chemical ingredients); Low calorie margarita (powdered sugar free lemonade); Cran-tastic margarita (1 packet Splenda); and (this is where I stop) Lava smash (fat free ice cream, sugar free syrup, & 2 packets Splenda).

I stopped at page 42, I never got to the Diet Munchies...... I'd rather die from real food & real drinks than Chemical concoctions..... Besides SPLENDA mixed w/ alcohol? OH HAIL NO!

I will re-title this to: "The Hungry Girl UN-Happy Hour"

If you like these you can also read them @ Shelfari: Books 4 Cooks group  

or on my Shelfari shelf...