Tuesday 24 April 2012

Sweet Paris

Sweet Paris A Love Affair with Parisian Pastries, Chocolates and Desserts by Michael Paul published byHardie Grant 2012. With thanks to the Publisher for my review copy.

Be still my beating heart! I’m a card carrying Francophile, well if there were such a thing I would be. I LOVE Paris, have done since the first time I went there 20 years ago. Since we had our little one we have only been back once, and it felt like I had reclaimed a bit of myself from ‘before children’.
We stayed at Euro Disney or Disneyland Paris as it is now known, but I was overjoyed when we went for a bus day trip into Paris itself. It was just as I remembered it, a huge bustling yet laid back city. Where life is being lived everywhere you look – and yet it is timeless too. I’m not saying Paris is perfect but it has left such an imprint on me that I need to live life knowing I will be going back again someday.

Now you are probably thinking what has this to do with Sweet Paris the book? Well, I’m coming to that bit! Michael Paul the author and photographer, is a very talented man. His pictures are fantastic, the scene setting ones in Paris, the pictures of sweet things from famous eating establishments and his recipes pictures too.
Chapters are: *The Chocolate Capital of the World* Paris – A Taste for Fashion* Patisserie and Salon de The Classics* Traditional Viennoiserie* Decadent Desserts* Ice Cream, Gelato and Sorbets* Confiserie – Favourite Parisian Confectionery* - there are also a couple of extras at the back - * How to Make Perfect Pastry the French Way* and * Bonnes Adresses a Paris*. There are more than 20 recipes, so not an A-Z of Paris desserts, but I think the recipes here have all been done really well – and they all have lovely photographs. Next on my list to try is Meringues Modernes, which are meringues filled with raspberry and white chocolate cream, French Style Chocolate Chip Brownies, Classic French Chocolate Eclairs and Traditional Madelines with Orange Glaze.
Picture from P116 posted here with permission from the publishers, thank you. I thought this page was just beautiful.
I’ve bought a number of English language French cookbooks on trips to Paris over the years, this one is a winner. One to buy if you are planning a trip, or if you are home again and would like a taste of Paris at home. Something to tide you over until next time…
Old Fashioned French Chocolat Chaud
When I first read this book I was overcome with a longing to go back to Paris, preferably now. Right this minute, if I leave now I thought, well I could be having hot chocolate and a Mont Blanc in Angelina’s by the afternoon! There is a picture of their Mont Blanc in its paper case on the Angelina’s plates. A Mont Blanc is a disc of meringue with whipped cream and piped sweetened chestnut puree covering the cream. There isn’t a recipe for this in the book, and I’m actually glad, for my waistline could not cope with being able to conjure up a batch of them at any time – and who would eat most of them (maybe all) that would be moi. So for my first recipe I made Michael’s Hot Chocolate. Oh my! It was just glorious, a perfect blend of sugar, chocolate milk and cream. Hats off to Michael he really gave me a taste of Paris in my own kitchen. Yum.

Next Up: Biscuit by Miranda Gore Browne

Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Whole Hog Cookbook

The Whole Hog Cookbook Chops, Loin, Shoulder, Bacon and All That Good Stuff by Libbie Summers published by Rizzoli in 2011. Thanks to the publishers for my review copy.

Libbie Summers has loved pigs, pork, ham and bacon since she was a young child on her Grandparent’s pig (hog) farm. There she learned a great respect and appreciation for pigs that they raised. Professionally Libbie now works in the kitchens of Paula Deen (and indeed Paula herself writes a foreword for this book). She has a history of food and cooking though, and has many other clients too.

I love the artwork of the hog on the front of the book, and the photography by Chia Chong is also good – styled and pretty, but most definitely real.

We as a family like pork. If I want to get my little one to eat her vegetables adding a little bacon is a winner. Hubby loves pork too. Libbie gives an interesting and wide ranging selection of recipes in the book. There would be something to suit most people I think. Chapters are: *Loin,* Boston Shoulder,* Bacon,* Spare Ribs, *Picnic Shoulder, *Leg, *Offal* and finally *Slices.* This is an American cookbook, and thus some of the cuts are American by name, but it’s easy enough to work out the British equivalents on the web.

Some of the recipes I’ve marked to try are Apple Orchard Stew (with smoked sausages), Sweet Potato Pork Pie, Setsuko’s Ham Fried Rice, Quick Ham Bread with Two Colour Olive Butter, Rosemary Bacon Scones, Sweet Indian Pork Roti, a lovely sounding Clementine Prosecco Marmalade to go with Biscuits and Country Ham and finally there are also some sweet dishes like Bacon, Banana Cookies and Best Ever Family Reunion Chocolate Sheet Cake. I’m not quite ready to try bacon in sweet dishes…. Well not yet anyway!

I would have to say that I think you would know from the title of this book if you’d like it or not, I did and we really enjoyed the dish I tried from it.

Sweet and Sour Pork Loin

Libbie gives this recipe for chops, but says it’s also good with ribs and tenderloin. I love tender loin of pork, it is a bit more expensive, but there is no waste and it cooks like a dream. The sauce that accompanies it has sweetness from honey and sourness from balsamic vinegar. I really thought the sauce was fabulous, a great balance of flavours. I served this with cauliflower cheese, and the pork and sauce went with that very well too. A yummy supper treat indeed.

Next Up: Sweet Paris by Michael Paul

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Quadrille’s New Voices in Food Series

Image courtesy of the publisher.
New Voices in Food is a series published by Quadrille to give some very passionate foodies a voice in the cookbook foray. I have all four out so far, I bought three myself and thank you to the publishers for my copy of Real Food From Near and Far. I tend to think of them as a set of books, so I thought it’d be good to review them altogether. Though that said they would each stand alone, as they are all very different. The first two here were published in 2010 and the last two in 2011. They all have their own individuality and personality.

Alice’s Cook Book by Alice Hart.
Nicely done, clean layout, and done in an easy going calm way. Some pictures but not one of every dish by any means. Chapters are *Breakfast and Brunch,* Picnics, *Camper Vans and Happy Camping,* Seasonal Sunday Lunch* Supper and Munch to Share* and *Party*. I like how the chapters are done, for example the Seasonal Sunday Lunch chapter has four Sunday lunch menus to cook. Even if I don’t cook a whole menu together I like to see what an author would cook in real time for their family. The whole book feels like food Alice would make for her friends and family.

Some of the recipes I have earmarked to try are Oven Hash Browns (with bacon and egg), Caramelised Roots with Feta and Lemon Dressing to go with Slow Roasted Redcurrant Lamb, Chocolate and Salted Caramel Cups (oh my!), Very Garlicky Roast Chicken with Barley (pea and Mint) pilaf, Cherry Tart with Almond Pastry and a delicious sounding Melting Chocolate Cake.

I’ve cooked three from this one: Pomegranate Jelly, Dahl Soup and Vietnamese Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry – no picture of the last one. All good, the jelly was my favourite, it you have this book do give it a go. Alice has a third cookbook out in May, her second with Quadrille, which I am very much anticipating and can’t wait to see! (between these she also had a vegetarian cook book out from a different publisher, which I plan to blog, so more about that one another time).

Real Food From Near and Far by Stevie Parle
Stevie’s background in food is as a chef. His food in the book is eclectic and far ranging. Not much in the way of British cooking, but some interesting food and cooking nonetheless. Stevie comes across as quite eccentric in his writing and choice of recipes – well I think so anyhow! Not that that is a criticism, I might be a little bit that way myself!!

There are some pictures here hidden in the front and back flaps, also some artful line drawings. I do tend to think of this one as a single person or couples cook book, simply because mostly the food is not something you could serve up to a child in a family dinner situation. There are not very many meat recipes here, plenty of veggie ones though. There are 12 chapters, one for each month of the year.

The recipe I chose to make here is one of the most pleasing in the book to me, a brown soda bread. I’m yeast free, so I’m always on the lookout for interesting soda breads, and this one is just a little out of the ordinary and well worth a go. Other recipes I like here are: Chocolate, Hazelnut, Brandy and Espresso Cake, Torta Della Nonna, Morel and Black Cumin Biriani and Klaicha an unusual but delicious sounding Iraqi pastry. Stevie has a second cook book out this year also from Quadrille.

Small Adventures in Cooking by James Ramsden

James is a food writer and blogger. He has a straightforward attitude to food, and if there is a message to take from his book I think it would be a warm hearted and encouraging ‘Give it a go!!’ Not every dish is pictured, but nicely done. Chapters are: *Va va Voyages *Exploring the Cheaper Cuts * Corner Shop Capers * Morning Missions *Formal Forays *Feeding the Flocks * Preserves for the Pantry * and * Surfing the Stumbling Blocks*.

The recipe I made from this one was chicken and Coconut Noodle Soup, which was bright, fresh and delicious. Others I would like to try are: Roast Butternut Squash with Tallegio, walnuts and Honey, Smoked Sausage with Apples and Cream, Kedgeree, Potato Cakes with Black Pudding and A fried Egg, Roast Cod with Warm Russian Salad and Aioli, Pea Pilaf with Spiced Crispy Shallots and Almonds, Chocolate and Fennel Brownies plus finally a fab sounding Pork Wellington.

Comfort and Spice Recipes for Modern Living by Niamh Sheilds

This is the last of the four already published. Niamh is a blogger. It is really well named, her recipes are indeed comforting with plenty of spices throughout the book. They also have a real modern day edge to them. For example we all know and love chicken pie, Niamh’s one is Chicken and Chorizo Pie with tomatoes and a spicing of paprika with puff pastry, so a nice little modern spin of a pie we love. A more feminine book with patterns and materials here and there, again not every dish is pictured. Chapters are: *Brunch * Speedy Suppers* Long Weekend* Sugar and Spice * and *Drinks*.

The recipe I tried was Halloumi and Pomegranate Salad. A warm fried halloumi cheese salad with onions, tomatoes pomegranate seeds and a punchy sweet / sour pomegranate molasses dressing that went with the cheese terrifically well. We had this as a light main course, but it would make a very nice first course too. Other recipes I’ve marked to try are: Lentil Soup with Harissa Croutons, Spiced Lamb Samosas, Beetroot Latkes and carrot and Beetroot Salad with Sesame Orange Dressing.

There is a fifth volume due out this year in May, it’s about wine - Drink Me How to Choose, taste and enjoy Wine.

Next Up: The Whole Hog

Winner of What’s for Dinner?

Well, 12 noon today has beeen and gone, so I'm pleased to announce the winner drawn at random of the What’s For Dinner by Fay Ripley giveaway is commenter number 4 Pipsqueak! Well done Pipsqueak and do get in touch with me and I’ll get the book sent to you.

Next Up: Quadrille’s New Voices in Food – the first four books.