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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.

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!

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.

Budget Meals (4 of 6 in the Hamlyn Quick Cook Series)

This cookbook was reviewed by Ruth of Makey-Cakey.

This is the part four of six part review of the Hamlyn Quick Cook series which I have been lucky enough to be sent to review for the Daring Kitchen. I started off by reviewing the Desserts book then moved on to the Low Fat book, followed by the Family Meals. This time I'm reviewing "Budget Meals" leaving me "Vegetarian", and "Pasta" still to go.

Before I get to the recipes, I should quickly explain the concept behind the series. The tag line on the front of each book is “Every dish, three ways - you choose! 30 minutes | 20 minutes | 10 minutes” and for each recipe there are three options depending how quickly you need to get dinner on the table. They all explore the same flavours or concept, and vary ingredients, techniques and time saving short-cuts depending on which you choose. Although small format, the book squeezes in a lot of content and diversity - with 360 recipes covering Soups and Snacks, Veggie Delights, Meat and Poultry, Fish and Seafood and Something Sweet. There is a full page colour photograph for each trio of recipes, making it colourful and appetising to browse through too.

Family Meals (3 of 6 in the Hamlyn Quick Cook Series)

This cookbook was reviewed by Ruth of Makey-Cakey.

This is the part three of a whopping six part review series - yep you read that correctly! I have been lucky enough to be sent all six titles in the Hamlyn Quick Cook series to review for the Daring Kitchen. I started off by reviewing the Desserts book then moved on to the Low Fat book. This time I've tackled "Family Meals" leaving me "Vegetarian", "Budget Meals" and "Pasta" still to go.

Before I get to the recipes, I should quickly explain the concept behind the series. The tag line on the front of each book is “Every dish, three ways - you choose! 30 minutes | 20 minutes | 10 minutes” and for each recipe there are three options depending how quickly you need to get dinner on the table. They all explore the same flavours or concept, and vary ingredients, techniques and time saving short-cuts depending on which you choose. Although small format, the book squeezes in a lot of content and diversity - with 360 recipes covering Snacks Starters and Light Bites, Meaty Suppers, Fab Fish, Fast and Veggie and Fuss-Free Family Desserts. There is a full page colour photograph for each trio of recipes, making it colourful and appetising to browse through too.

How To Cook Like a Man

This book was reviewed by Todd of A Cooking Dad.

I love cookbooks so I might have been a little disappointed when I was asked to review a non-cookbook. I mean this was like actual homework and I didn't get to cook anything. When I saw the title "How to Cook like a Man" I think I know why I was asked to review this book, a little gender-profiling maybe?

Daniel Duane was a journalist, surfer, and rock climber. Everything he did he went all in. When he faced fatherhood he decided to learn to cook. His wife's great-grandfather built four top hotels and restaurants across the country when he immigrated to the United States and her family was full of gourmands and foodies. His family was the opposite. He knew how to cook pasta, stir-fry, and burritos and that was about it.

Daniel did have one food relation. He grew up in Berkeley and his pre-school teacher was Alice Waters, now Executive Chef and owner of Chez Panisse. The first thing Daniel decides to do to get into cooking is to go head first into the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. And he doesn't just wade in, he dives right in. At one point he has a dinner party where he serves potato pasta, potato gratin, sautéed potato slices, and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Low Fat (2 of 6 in the Hamlyn Quick Cook Series)

This cookbook was reviewed by Ruth of Makey-Cakey.

This is the second installment of a six part review series - yep you read that correctly! I have been lucky enough to be sent all six titles in the Hamlyn Quick Cook series to review for the Daring Kitchen. I started off by reviewing the Desserts book and despite promises of Family Meals next, I ended up having a last minute switch to 'Low Fat' thanks to a proliferation of courgette and peppers in the fridge which lent themselves well to a particular dish.

I'm getting ahead of myself with talk of courgettes and peppers - before I get to the recipes, I’d better explain the concept behind the series. The tag line on the front of each book is “Every dish, three ways - you choose! 30 minutes | 20 minutes | 10 minutes” For each recipe there are three options, depending on how much time you have available. They all capture the same concept or flavours, and make use of different ingredients, cooking techniques and short-cuts depending on which you choose. The book certainly packs a punch in terms of volume and diversity of recipes - there are 360 recipes covering starters, mains, desserts, snacks, meat, fish, vegetarian and whole host of world cuisines, and there's also a full page colour photograph for one of each trio of recipes, making it easy on the eye for armchair cooking too!

Ruhlman's Twenty

This cookbook was reviewed by Carol – a non-blogging member from Canada.

I love reading cookbooks! Reading recipes can transport me on an armchair food journey ending in salivating taste buds and is often punctuated with a resounding “YUM.” My tastes have evolved and changed in many facets of my life including cookbook styles. Thankfully, this has been aptly matched by a growing trend in cookbook publishing. No longer are cookbooks simply volumes of recipes interspersed with close-ups of food and a few glossy pictures.

Today’s modern cookbook is evolving into more prose-like missive, complete with explanations as to why the recipe is important to the author or what technique can be honed from a particular preparation. This is one reason why I enjoyed Michael Ruhlman’s Twenty so much as he takes this one step further. In Twenty, Ruhlman puts forth a manifesto of the most essential twenty techniques needed in the kitchen to make you a better cook. This is an educational experience indeed! Even the look and feel of Twenty mimics the size and page weight of scores of textbooks familiar to students all around the world.

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