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Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Featured

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence by Claire Saffitz

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Claire Saffitz is a baking hero for a new generation.

In Dessert Person, fans will find Claire’s signature spin on sweet and savory recipes like Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, Crispy Mushroom Galette, and Malted Forever Brownies.

She outlines the problems and solutions for each recipe–like what to do if your pie dough for Sour Cherry Pie cracks (patch it with dough or a quiche flour paste!)–as well as practical do’s and don’ts, skill level, prep and bake time, and foundational know-how. With Claire at your side, everyone can be a dessert person.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence by Claire Saffitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really enjoying this cookbook.

It features beautiful, almost retro style photos. Thumbing through the book is like having a peak at yummy pastries behind the glass at a local bakery or donut shop and having a hard time choosing from all your favorites.

I like the informational tidbits at the beginning and reading the backstory behind each recipe.

The recipes overall are quite unique, well-thought out in proportion, and so far very yummy. Contains not only desserts, but a few savory ones as well which was a nice surprise.

I’m still working my way through it, mostly starting with cookies, and had a make a few ingredient substitutions which turned out lovely. But that has made it all that much more fun, especially after following along with the accompanying Claire Saffitz x Dessert Person YouTube videos where Saffitz even modifies her own recipes, which I find quite enduring as it has brought out a certain improvisational creativity that I’m quite drawn to.

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ARCs Biography Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Featured Nonfiction

Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream by Tung Nguyen, Katherine Manning, Lyn Nguyen, Elisa Ung

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A powerful memoir of resilience, friendship, family, and food from the acclaimed chefs behind the award-winning Hy Vong Vietnamese restaurant in Miami.

Through powerful narrative, archival imagery, and 20 Vietnamese recipes that mirror their story, Mango & Peppercorns is a unique contribution to culinary literature.

In 1975, after narrowly escaping the fall of Saigon, pregnant refugee and gifted cook Tung Nguyen ended up in the Miami home of Kathy Manning, a graduate student and waitress who was taking in displaced Vietnamese refugees. This serendipitous meeting evolved into a decades-long partnership, one that eventually turned strangers into family and a tiny, no-frills eatery into one of the most lauded restaurants in the country.

Tung’s fierce practicality often clashed with Kathy’s free-spirited nature, but over time, they found a harmony in their contrasts—a harmony embodied in the restaurant’s signature mango and peppercorns sauce.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream by Tung Nguyen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness I loved this so much! I would like to thank Chronicle Books for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program. I’d recommend it to everyone. One that I think everyone would love to have in their cookbook library and it would be a great book club pick.

It’s really a special book, unique with the merging of memoir and cookbook, done excellently.

When reading it I felt like a special friend was sharing a piece of their heart with me, something deep, almost sacred, along recipes that most restaurants hold tightly, and to share them at this point in time made me feel all that more fortunate to have them.

The Story
Depicting life journeys, business journeys, so honest in every which way. From fleeing Saigon as a refugee as the Vietnam War came to an end in 1975 to interpersonal relationships, struggles and celebrations.

It’s very personal as it depicts themes of cultural assimilation, customs, social class, restauranteurship, personal relationships, child-rearing, and everything along the way.

It evoked this strong sense of community, belonging, all while detailing what it also feels like to be an imposter, foreigner, lonely, lost, undeserving, all while having hope and living the best way you know how.

I loved the bluntness, newness, and vulnerability, bringing me in perspective not only as it was and but also how it was perceived.

The Writing
Incredibly well-written and well-organized. I loved how the stories were told in parallel, multiple POVs done really well.

I loved the photos.

The Recipes
I’m excited to try them all. So far I’ve tried two, absolutely delicious so far! Keep an eye on my website as I work my way through them.

A book that made me laugh, made me cry, I felt it to be very touching and I’m looking forward to getting a final copy for myself and for my sister.

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Mangoes and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry Oven | Erica Robbin
Mango and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry Oven | Erica Robbin
Mangoes and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry | Erica Robbin
Mango and Peppercorns Chicken in Pastry | Erica Robbin
Mangoes and Peppercorns Watercress Salad with Hy Vong's Signature Dressing | Erica Robbin
Mango and Peppercorns Watercress Salad with Hy Vong’s Signature Dressing | Erica Robbin
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Categories
ARCs Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Featured Nonfiction

Brunch the Sunday Way by Alan Turner; Terence Williamson

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For the first time London’s legendary champions of brunch share the recipes that have made Islington’s Sunday Café a runaway success. Covering everything from quick and easy staples to fabulous feasts, and taking inspiration from a global list of ingredients, this book will take you all the way from cracking an egg to flipping pancakes and roasting pork – all with spectacularly Instagrammable results!

Brunch the Sunday WayBrunch the Sunday Way by Alan Turner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Quarto Publishing Group – White Lion Publishing for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

The recipes in this cookbook were just superb! Whether you are cooking for yourself, a duet, or entertaining for a crowd, beginner or chef, I think you’ll be inspired and satisfied.

I have yet to try every single one of the recipes, but I started with the ones leaning more toward the later brunch hours and they were so delicious! Be sure to check back on this post for continual updates as I continue to embark on the others I have yet to try out.

Many of the components of the meals worked like what I akin to a capsule wardrobe, being very versatile within a collection of recipes. The elements in each dish were easily carried over to other dishes, lending to a lot of additional flavor or varietal change.

I liked the spin on tradition and the decadence in each dish because they were layered in flexibility, making it easy to substitute an ingredient or pair down and still ending great final result.

With that said, it was somewhat challenging to gauge the quantity of both the components and the final dishes themselves. The elements and serving size results varied between each recipe as well, ranging from 2-12, which I wasn’t sure were always accurate either. I bake/cook a lot so it wasn’t horribly out of the way for me to figure out, but glancing ahead required additional planning/shopping/prepping as I found myself doubling and halving to meet the final specificity. Conversions were okay though because the balance of the flavor profiles were spot on, so even multiplying the recipes by a factor of 10 would still maintain the desired achievement in taste. And it all worked out fine though, because again, any leftovers and even the remnants themselves were easily repurposed in another dish, ie… the Mustard Aioli (my most favorite and latest sauce to put on everything so far!) goes well on anything and the whey for another recipe was specified for use in the Lacto-fermented Raspberry Soda so I liked that there was attention to minimizing waste.

I was so grateful to see that metric and imperial measurements were provided. Instructions were easy to follow. Photos were great with a moody, bistro type vibe. I really have enjoyed the selection of recipes and I enjoyed reading about the story behind the restaurant which inspired this cookbook. I must say I would have liked a little backstory of some of the recipes just to add a little more personality and to convey inspiration and additional interest.

Everything that I have tried so far has turned out with stellar results, whether original or with the substitutions I had to make. I’d highly recommend this cookbook for anyone. It would make a great gift!

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The best carrot cake! I got so many kudos for this cake! Gluten-free and doesn’t call for much sugar, in fact, I think if you even left sugar out it would still be just as spectacular. I’d recommend the cookbook just for this recipe!

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Categories
Book Reviews Cookbooks Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

American Cookery

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This facsimile of the first American-written cookbook published in the United States is not only a first in cookbook literature, but a historic document. It reveals the rich variety of food Colonial Americans enjoyed, their tastes, cooking and eating habits, even their colorful language.

American CookeryAmerican Cookery by Amelia Simmons

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fact that this is a “facsimile of the first American-written cookbook published in the United States is not only a first in cookbook literature, but a historic document” says it all. It’s a small little booklet, but quite insightful, and I’d recommend it to anyone especially those who are collectors of cookbooks and like the looks of having antique items around the kitchen.

I originally found interest in this cookbooks through watching Townsends on YouTube And this particular copy features a hand stitched spine and printing on laid paper, a neat touch, really adding to the character consistent with the time frame in which it was initially published in.

The content of this cookbook was incredibly interesting and insightful. The measurements for the recipes were often in large quantity and some don’t appear to be in quite in perfect ratio for the end dish they were trying to achieve, but I did make a version of the apple cake which turned out to be delicious.

There are also references to meat and vegetable preparation as well as preservation methods.

All in all a cute little glimpse into 18th century cooking!

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Categories
Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Featured Mystery Nonfiction

The Cozy Cookbook by Julie Hyzy

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Great meals don’t have to be a mystery—but they can come from a mystery. Selecting the most delicious recipes from some of the most popular names in crime solving, The Cozy Cookbook serves up mouth-watering appetizers, entrèes, and desserts that will leave your family or book club group asking, “Whodunit?”

In addition to recipes, choose a sleuth du jour from our menu of mystery series and get a taste of each of our authors’ bread and butter—page-turning puzzles and stay-up-all-night suspense in excerpts from their bestselling works.

The Cozy CookbookThe Cozy Cookbook by Julie Hyzy, Laura ChildsCleo CoyleJenn McKinlayB.B. HaywoodAvery AamesDaryl Wood GerberConnie ArcherVictoria HamiltonPaige Shelton, and Leslie Budewitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you love reading the cozy mystery series and love the recipes inside, you will definitely want this for your cookbook collection! I had no idea this existed until recently and I was so happy to come across it. It includes a lovely curation of recipes, savory to sweet, each with a play on word title that these cozy mysteries are known for.

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Categories
Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Featured Nonfiction

Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart, Wendy Kromer

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A treasury of inspiration, Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes will ensure that your cake, whether homemade or professionally baked, triple-tiered or a tower of cupcakes, embellished with fresh fruit or elaborate sugar roses, is every bit as magical as your big day.

Martha Stewart's Wedding CakesMartha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book so much! I’d highly recommend it to anyone and this book is a must have for any baker’s cookbook collection. I’ve made just about every recipe from it, for several occasions including weddings, and it has been wonderful to work from. The directions are clear and recipes can be doubled and halved easily. The photos are also outstanding. My favorite recipe is the lemon curd, it’s so yummy I could eat it with a spoon!

It contains many cake and icing combination ideas, inspirational cake decor with gorgeous photos, and easy to read how to instructions including piping and troubleshooting techniques for professional baking and is also well-suited for beginners to learn as well.

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Categories
Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

French Cooking in Early America by Patricia B. Mitchell

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Influences of early French settlers on American cooking. Brief review of French cuisine in the 1500’s and 1600’s, and numerous accounts of adaptations to the New World. Author Patricia B. Mitchell utilizes primary source materials to explain the dietary habits and cooking techniques of Gallic immigrants. Generous endnotes detail sources of information for scholars, and actual old recipes and modernized recipes illustrate principles discussed in the text. Quotations from the time period help the reader feel connected to these early colonists. Huguenots, Cajuns, Creoles, French Canadians, and others with French ancestry, plus all who appreciate food of merit will want to try such dishes as “Pain Perdu,” “Chicken-Andouille Gumbo,” and “French Biscuits.” 21 authentic and commemorative recipes; 117 research notes; 12,050 words.

“French Cooking in Early America” is also available in French translation as “La Cuisine Française des Premières Années de l’Amérique du Nord.”

French Cooking in Early AmericaFrench Cooking in Early America by Patricia B. Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this little cookery booklet! I would recommend it to anyone.

It has a good selection of recipes and interesting tidbits of historical information woven throughout that made for good reference as well as an intriguing read. I was unaware of the level of French influence and distinction for certain adaption and origination of many of the recipes in Early America so this was incredibly insightful for me. The recipes have proven measurements and directions are complete, which was very helpful.

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Categories
Book Reviews Books Cookbooks Educational Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

Victorian Parlors & Tea Parties by Patricia B. Mitchell

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“Victorian Parlors and Tea Parties” describes “the tea meal,” especially as practiced in the American home during the Victorian period. Just as the stereotypical Victorian room was deliciously stuffed with furniture and bric-à-brac, so is “Victorian Parlors and Tea Parties,” brimming with engaging information. Researcher/author Patricia B. Mitchell’s descriptions of the decor of the opulent Victorian house with its lustrous wallpaper and rococo furnishings, its beautifully over-adorned exterior, and the well-regulated activities of the mistress are most enjoyable to read.

Victorian Parlors & Tea PartiesVictorian Parlors & Tea Parties by Patricia B. Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this! I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to cook, enjoys hosting tea parties, and appreciates learning about history, particularly that of the Victorian era.

The booklet was short and sweet. I liked the way it was organized and incorporated lines of poetry and quotes from the Victorian age. The old-fashioned recipes were wonderful and were often paired with insight about them, as well as norms and etiquette that were quite interesting to read about.

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