Cookbook 131: Pasta

I found this in a box of stuff Scott’s parents had given him, which had been sitting in the garage for some time.  Hamlyn’s CookSmart, Easy Cooking Great Eating, Pasta, seems to be out of print in the edition I have (here), but I believe the first one I linked to is more or less the same.

Ok, a bit about the hiatus on this blog.  I’ve finally finished studying a Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies and then travelling and then all the stress that Christmas and New Year brings into my life.  Studying ate up so much of my time over the last two years, so very little cooking was done.  There is a small pile of cookbooks on the floor next to my desk from the cooking I did do, and I have to struggle to remember what I did and did not like about the recipes, but at least I can write those up and then move to returning to my old habit of cooking interesting and tasty food each weekend until I run out of cookbooks (this is unlikely to ever happen).

So this book is a weird rectangular thing that is bound in one corner, really like a collection of paint swatches.  It makes it annoying to use in the kitchen because the ingredients are on one side and the method for the recipe on the other side of the same “page”.  When you’re cooking more than one pasta dish, that makes the whole thing more annoying.  Though the recipes were tasty (I’ve made one again already), so I’m going to give this 3 out of 5 (would score higher if the format wasn’t so annoying).

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Cookbook 130: Garlic Feast

Garlic Feast by Janice Sutton was gifted to us by Scott’s parents, who had it autographed by Janice Sutton.  It won Australian Cookbook of the year last year (I think) and is full of recipes using garlic.  Some of the recipes are easier than others, paticularly in relation to accessing certain types of garlic.  I learnt, thanks to this book, that black garlic is a thing, and then I discovered that you can buy it at Coles Supermarkets.  So I made my Macaroni and Cheese dish (after reading through and disregarding the one in this cookbook) with mushrooms and liquid smoke instead of bacon, and added black garlic.  It was good.

I only ended up making one recipe from this dish because slow roasting a lamb is a time intensive process and because it was only the three omnivores at home for the weekend.  I served the roast lamb with roast potatoes that were beautifully cooked by Scott, and kept the leftover lamb, sauce and garlic to use at a later date (it ended up in a risotto).  So far I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 129: The Complete Asian Cookbook: indonesia malaysia & singapore

I have problems with a book styling itself as The Complete Asian Cookbook: indonesia malaysia & singapore (by Charmaine Solomon) because that’s not all of Asia, even if it is a part of Asia whose food I really enjoy.  Oddly enough there are twice as many recipes for Indonesia than there are for Malaysia and Singapore, not quite sure whether Charmaine just couldn’t be bothered by the time she got to the Malaysian and Singaporean recipes, or whether given their geographical closeness and many common dishes, she just only included the dishes from Malaysia and Singapore that were unique.  I could probably read the introduction to figure this out, but I’m not here for that, I’m here for the food.

(By the way, as of posting this, the book is very cheap on Booktopia (link above) and I do recommend buying it).

The recipes are mostly good, there were a few I didn’t cook because they didn’t make sense to me, nor to anyone else I cook with, and they need a complete rewrite.  The recipes I did choose to cook though were amazing.  An important note about chillies – some chillies are hotter than others, and when you buy chillies that are not even remotely hot, the dishes are delicious and you can eat more of them.  (Ability to tolerate chilli is an individual thing).  Overall I give this 4 out of 5.

(All photos taken with my phone, some of them are rubbish, sorry)

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Cookbook 128: BBQ Secrets – Summer BBQ Guide

I backed Rich Evans’s BBQ Secrets: Summer BBQ Guide on Kickstarter because it’s always great to have new ideas for making BBQs more interesting, and we’ve already incorporated one of the recipes (the corn below) into how we cook BBQs permanently.  There are more recipes in here I want to try (except for the seafood, because that’s not for me).  If you want a copy yourself, I note that there appear to be several sites where you can download the book, and as I don’t know whether they are with or without Rich’s permission, I haven’t linked to any of them.  The link above is the to the Kindle edition at Amazon.

This is a good book with helpful suggestions as to what type of BBQs the recipes work best on (wood, gas, electric), a great range of meat, seafood and vegetarian recipes, some side dishes, and marinades and sauces.  I enjoyed cooking from it, and will go back for more.  Overall 4.5 stars out of 5.

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Cookbook 127: The International Garlic Cookbook

So I’ve been busy, too busy to cook regularly and too busy to blog about what I have cooked.  My new years resolution for 2017 is to cook more and to blog about it quicker, though this might require me to be less busy.  We’ll see how it goes.  And Happy New Year for 2017.  May your cakes cook evenly, your roasts be golden, and your kitchen full of the smell of tasty and delicious food.

I cooked from The International Garlic Cookbook, which is a bit of a stretch in my opinion as to the name at least.  I cooked three dishes, and well… it could have done with more garlic. Even though all the recipes had garlic in them, some of them needed more.  The instructions were good (probably it’s been ages since I cooked from this book), though all the measurements are imperial (eugh), and it’s a nice small compact book.  I do remember saying that we’d cook the chicken again because it was quite tasty.  Overall 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Cookbook 126: The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook

I ended up with The Crazy Dumplings Cookbook by Amanda Roberts when I backed her second volume of dumpling recipes on Kickstarter.  I like dumplings a lot, and I was intrigued by the idea that you really can fill dumplings with almost everything and they still taste amazing.  Naturally I went with the non-standard dumpling fillers to see what they were like.  I’m incredibly grateful to my sister, Jacinta, without whom we wouldn’t’ve had a full meal of dumplings as it really is a team effort to produce this many.  We also gave up on making the dessert dumplings, though there are a lot of them in the book, because we were in pain from standing and bending over a bench (and being full of dumplings).

This book is in imperial measurements, and I’ve converted the recipes to metric, because that’s how I cook.  The only exception to this was that I used a US tablespoon measure, which is 15ml.  Where you see tablespoon measures below, if you don’t have a 15ml tablespoon handy (you probably shouldn’t) then use 3 teaspoons.  I will share the recipe that Amanda provided (modified by me) of making your own dumpling pastry, but it’s probably easier and quicker to buy your own pre-made dumpling rounds, if you have access to a Chinese grocer.  All the recipes claim to make 12 dumplings worth of filler.  In my kitchen, the recipes tended to make between 18 and 24 dumplings, so make or buy more pastry than you expect.  Also some of the recipes seem to have been rewritten part way through, so ingredients don’t always match the method.  This was most obvious in the Roast Vegetable dumplings, and the recipe below is rewritten for consistency here.  Overall I give this 4 out of 5 stars.  (There are no photos below, because really dumplings all look the same)

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A birthday feast in two courses

So I promised my sister that I’d make her a birthday feast at a time that worked for both of us, as a gift to her.  This weekend was the weekend in which we did it.  Jacinta’s (my sister) task was to select recipes that she wanted from my cookbooks.  As you can guess, this wasn’t an easy task because I have many good cookbooks and it takes a while to get through them.  Jacinta ended up choosing 4 dishes (there was to be a dessert, but we were defeated by all the food prior to getting around to making dessert) and I thought I’d write them up here.

All these recipes are from books that I have already cooked from, so I will link back to the original post, so you can see any additional criticisms, or find the link to get a copy of the book if it is available.  Given I was cooking from 4 different recipe books, I think that we managed the timing of these dishes really well.  Go us.

Oh and even though I’m going to include the recipe for Chicken Kiev that I made, I seriously recommend you don’t make it.  It’s no better than chicken kiev bought from a shop or butcher, in fact it’s more annoying and fiddly.  Pay someone else to do the hard and dirty work, and you just have to deep fry or roast the chicken for all the garlicky goodness.

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Cookbook 125: middle eastern

The Australian Women’s Weekly middle eastern (not sure why they went with lower case for a place name, but who am I to ask such questions) was the book I cooked for when I had a friend visiting and the vegetarian who lives with us was away for the weekend.  I was going to cook a dessert, but we filled up on the two dishes I made, and dessert was not something we could manage, so we skipped it.

This book doesn’t have a lot in the range of vegetarian dishes that aren’t salads, and as I was cooking dishes in winter, salad was not very appealing.   Being a relatively recent AWW book, it’s triple tested, with clear instructions, and the dishes I made were tasty.  Overall I give this 3 out of 5 stars (I wanted to be more inspired).

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Cookbook 124: The Working Cook: Quick recipes for busy people

I found The Working Cook: Quick recipes for busy people, by Carina Cooper, in Coburg’s Little Free Library.  I was lucky, because after I found this book and took it home, someone set the Little Free Library on fire, and everything was destroyed.  It’s since been restored, and I need to drop by again and find out what is there now.

This book is quite British, but the ingredients aren’t hard to find in Australia, and the recipes aren’t too complex, some of them are quick as advertised, and there are sections for slower dishes such as those you might want to cook on a weekend for friends – even those dishes are not particularly difficult to prepare. The dishes we prepared were very tasty and successful, and this will be a book I enjoy coming back to.  Overall 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Cookbook 123: The Spice Routes: More stories and recipes from the World Food Cafe

So it’s been AGES since I’ve last cooked something for this blog, mostly because I’ve been incredibly wrapped up in studies and attempting to have a life while studying (which I think was a silly idea).  I’m in my mid year break now, so I plan to cook and enjoy the food.  This book, The Spice Routes: More stories and recipes from the World Food Cafe by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott (that’s a lot of Cs) tells the stories of spice trade around the world and then offers some signature dishes (apparently) to showcase those spice.

It’s ok.  The information about the spice routes and who traded what with whom and when is quite interesting.  The recipes leave a bit to be desired.  The instructions aren’t as good as they could be (insufficient temperature guides, insufficient detail about ingredients) and well two of the recipes didn’t really work that well.  I’d completely rework two of the recipes if I was ever going to cook them again (unlikely) and they’d be slightly different dishes.

I’m giving this book 2.5 stars out of 5.

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