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Cookbook Reviews

Gourmet French Macarons

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Reviewed by Sandielee of Crumbs of Love
If you thought the french macaron trend was over, think again. You ain't seen nothin' yet!
This creative book will surely get people to see these delicate cookies in a whole new light.

When I was asked to review this book, I had to laugh a little since macarons have never been my forte. I don't know why, but for some reason I have never been able to really get these down. Sometimes they come out (rarely), and sometimes they don't (mostly). Maybe that makes this the perfect book for me. I know for sure that anyone who loves making macarons will go crazy for this book. Author Mindy Cone has raised the bar when it comes to macarons, creating some of the cutest cookies out there. She takes your basic macaron batter and pipes them into every shape you can think of. Going to a baby shower? How about bringing some little yellow “duckies” along. What about that Halloween party? You will find the cutest Frankenstein and bats that will never have you fear this spooky holiday again.

Couture Chocolate: A Masterclass in Chocolate

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Reviewed by Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes

I was very excited to get Couture Chocolate, A Masterclass in Chocolate by William Curley to review. The book’s cover immediately grabbed my attention with it’s beautiful picture of a fancy looking chocolate dessert. I was happy to see that the book didn’t have a dust jacket, just a heavy stock soft cover with a satiny finish.

I quickly flipped through the pages, starting from the back, and was drawn in by the beautifully styled and photographs of various pastries.

The pictures in this book are absolutely gorgeous. You’d think one would get tired of looking at yet another chocolate or truffle, but the lighting and food styling makes everything pop right off the page. A picture of the final product of every single recipe is included in the book, and some of the recipes have pictures of the process guiding you along.

Le Livre Blanc

Written by Hannah of Rise and Shine.
Imagine coming off a slow cooker recipe book review, which inspired a batch of old fashioned rice pudding baked in mason jars. Right up my alley with the way I’ve been cooking these days, it being fall and all, and a busy one at that. Then this book arrives in the mail; Le Livre Blanc (translation “white paper”) by Anne-Sophie Pic. It is stunning before you even crack the spine… the weight of it in your hands, in its crisp white box and hard cover, with its gold lined pages and silver page marking ribbons. A quick flip through the interior and you can see this book is ethereal, sophisticated, modern and innovative. You are immediately befuddled and amazed by the gorgeous photos of ingredients and dishes that you possibly can’t correctly identify and almost certainly have never and may never eat in your lifetime. If you’re looking for a traditional recipe book to inspire dinner ideas, even if you are a foodie, this book is probably not what you have in mind. If you are a collector of fine things and you love food, especially modern foods such as those you’d make a date to eat at some far away restaurant a year in advance, this book might deserve a place on your shelf.

Great Homemade Soups: A Cook's Collection

This cookbook was reviewed by Todd of A Cooking Dad.


Here in Minnesota we just had our first snow of the season. I am not a big fan of the snow, but it did signal that it was the perfect time for this cookbook to arrive in my mailbox. Great Homemade Soups – A Cooks Collection, by Paul Gayler is full of soups, soups, and more soups. Actually it is not just soups; the cookbook starts out with a handful of recipes for garnishes, accompaniments, and toppings for soups. Most of them were very simple ideas, some did not even need recipes, but they were a nice unexpected addition which definitely gave some ideas to dress up a soup dinner.

After the garnishes, accompaniments, and toppings Gayler goes into recipes for several different stocks: white chicken, brown chicken, beef or game, vegetable, and fish. Starting right away with the stocks there are several of the recipes written as a “Masterclass” recipe. The recipes are great but the “Masterclass” items step it up a notch with step by step photographs to help explain the process. I really think this was a great idea, especially with some of the more complicated soups.

101 Gourmet Desserts for the Holidays

This cookbook was reviewed by Shelley of C Mom Cook.

What is your favorite part of Fall? For some it is the cooling of the weather. For some it is the changing of the leaves. For me, it's the food. There are certain flavors that are classic Fall flavors and, while you can find and enjoy them year round, they taste the best in the Fall.

The only way to make Fall flavors even tastier is to blend them right in with the upcoming holidays. Which is what is so exciting about 101 Gourmet Desserts for the Holidays. In this fun collection from Wendy Paul, each page brings a new way to deliciously celebrate the Fall and the holidays that are right around the corner.

This book has something for everyone, at every baking skill level and for every taste preference. With sections devoted to fruity desserts, chocolate sweets, nutty treats and more, this book is fun to flip through and easy to follow. And with so many amazing looking treats to choose from, it was hard to decide where to begin!

Slow Cooking For Two

Written by Hannah of Rise and Shine.

It seems I’ve been deeply entrenched in making overly complicated food lately! Imagine my amazement when I pick up this cookbook and find that not one of the recipes requires four skillets, browning veggies before whisking up a roux or hovering over the stove for 47 minutes while some kind of creamy liquid threatens to burn. Every recipe in Slow Cooking for Two, by Cynthia Graubart, is written for the crock pot, and in its simplest form. None of the book’s recipes require a stove, oven or microwave for prep work. The author describes the book as not only for empty nesters and newlyweds, but also those living out of an RV, cabin or boat; in a situation where multi-tasking, consumption of counter space and loads of dishes are a major hindrance. I don’t live in an RV, but I do work a full time job and raise two daughters who have now entered the age of needing a steady taxi but are nowhere close to self-reliance in that department. Now there’s another daughter on the way…I needed this book!

Mighty Spice Express Cookbook

This cookbook was reviewed by Carol a staff member of The Daring Kitchen.

One of the most important “must have” ingredients in any cook’s pantry is spice. At a minimum, most kitchen spice racks have salt and pepper and perhaps some dried herbs of some variety. Indeed, I would imagine that the spice rack’s of Daring Kitchen members is very indicative of cultural backgrounds. A glance in my pantry has a large variety of French and Italian herbs, followed by a sprinkling of Mexican chili powders, Indian curries, and a variety of odds and ends from different countries. As I create and cook different dishes, I rely on my experience with the flavors and tastes of these different spices to assist me in taking a dish from mediocre to spectacular. However, I will confess that my comfort zone is with traditional “western” spices and my lack of experience with decidedly Asian flavors has an influence on the extent to which I make such dishes.

As a result, John Gregory-Smith’s new cookbook - Mighty Spice Express Cookbook - Fast, Fresh and Full-On Flavors from Street Foods to the Spectacular (Published by Duncan Baird Publishers on August 1, 2013) was an ideal way for me to try new spices and new recipes without a lot of work and expense. Smith says that his publisher’s asked him to write this follow up to his first book, The Mighty Spice. In his first book, he sought to show people how simple it was to incorporate spices into their cooking. He believes that the next step for him is to demonstrate to people that you can use spices for any cooking occasion and you can do it fast too!

50 Shades of Kale

This cookbook was reviewed by Olga of Effortnesslessly.

The opportunity to review “50 Shades of Kale” has come to me just in time when my obsession with kale as a newly discovered ingredient has not calmed down just yet. And what an interesting and unique cookbook I was given to review! No doubt, kale is a great vegetable that deserves to have a book entirely dedicated to it. I admit that I was skeptical after reading the title of this cookbook. Surprisingly, my perception has changed as I was going through the book, reading and experimenting with the recipes. I came to embrace the inspiring, creative and delicious culinary ideas presented by authors Drew Ramsey, psychiatrist and farmer, and Jennifer Iserloh, chef and recipe developer. So, please don’t take too seriously spoofy, “50 grey-ish” way authors have chosen to communicate to us about “muse and mistress Kale”. The subtle erotic undertones and tongue-in-cheek innuendo throughout the entire book should be taken with a grain of salt, and require a certain sense of humor. After all, who said that cookbooks have to be dry and boring? As cheesy as the title “50 Shades of Kale” sounds, this has become the most playful and fun cookbook I've ever read. But most importantly, this book opens doors, pushes boundaries and stretches the imagination by creatively and deliciously utilizing one of the healthiest vegetables around, kale, in all types of meals - breakfasts, appetizers, entrees and even desserts and drinks!

Recipe Rehab

Written by Hannah of Rise and Shine.

I have been given the awesome opportunity to review a cookbook...from an actual TV show...this week! As someone with no TV, I'd never seen the show Recipe Rehab, so I really went into this with no preconceived notions. I quickly gathered that the premise of the show is to take not-so-healthy family style recipes and "rehab" them to be a healthier meal option. The show started on YouTube, and is now showing on most ABC stations on Saturday mornings. On each episode, they take one family recipe submitted by an audience member and two accomplished chefs compete in an effort to recreate the best healthier version of the dish. Recipe Rehab (the book) is the first book that has been written in conjunction with the show. The 175-page cookbook includes 80 recipes and lots of color photos. There are recipes for every meal of the day and at first glance the book includes no recipes that sound unappetizing (I don't always feel this way when scanning a cookbook) though I wasn't drooling over it either. Until I got to the Creamy Kale and Artichoke Dip with Garlic Toasts, but I'll get to that. Most of the book's recipes are about a page long and while they're family-style dishes that you may serve at home, some are also kind of fancied up for foodies. The book also includes text boxes of "chef tips," which are always nice in a cookbook.

An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair

This cookbook was reviewed by Shelley C of C Mom Cook.

If you want to learn about a culture, if you want to really get to know about and bond with the people, learn about the food. This is the lesson that was learned by Faith Gorsky when she married into a traditional Middle Eastern family. Living in Syria for the first six months of her marriage, Ms. Gorsky learned directly from a true expert on Middle Eastern food - her new mother-in-law. Speaking the language of food, they grew to understand one another, and from this understanding, a passion was sparked and An Edible Mosaic was born.

In this beautifully presented and thoughtfully arranged cookbook, Ms. Gorsky shares the results of her new-found passion. Between the stunning photography, the clear explanations of the different tools and ingredients, and the delicious recipes, An Edible Mosaic is a wonderful resource for anyone looking to learn about the culture, traditions and food of the Middle East.

When I received the cookbook, I had no idea where to start. With only the barest of experience with true Middle Eastern cuisine, everything looked absolutely delicious, but just exotic enough to make me nervous. But I trusted the author and decided to jump right in, and I am so pleased that I did.