Jun 28

Cookbook 111: a Nonya Inheritance

I was in Penang for a week recently, and one of the things I did in order to prepare for the holiday (and survive a really stressful week) was book a cooking course.  Penang food, to me, is the essence of Malaysian cuisine, and I wanted to learn all I could about it. I researched the various cooking class offerings and settled on Pearly Kee’s classes thanks to both the high rating on Trip Advisor, and because she’s published a cookbook, a Nonya Inheritance.

The cooking class was really great.  Pearly is very knowledgeable about Nonya food, traditional medicine in Penang, and why fresh food is good for you.  She clearly loves sharing her extensive knowledge of cooking with her students, and I highly recommend going to a class if you can manage it.  While cooking three of the recipes in this book (one modified with instruction from Pearly), I remembered the experience of cooking in Penang, the freshness of the ingredients and how good it tasted at the end.  I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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Jun 28

Cookbook 110: Vegie Food: from vegies on the side to the main event

My sister kindly gave me this book recently, she found it at a second-hand shop going cheaply and she thought I’d like the recipes in it.  She wasn’t wrong, Vegie Food: from vegies on the side to the main event, is full of great recipes.  It’s also out of print so probably generally hard to find.  It’s from the Murdoch Books publishing house, and is in a compact (and heavy) form, containing around 380 recipes.  Lots of great vegetarian and vegan recipes in this book.

I decided as I was making 3 dishes, that I’d try and have a simliar taste and feel to them all, so that they wouldn’t clash.  Though the fritters really didn’t go with anything else, they were too tasty looking for me to pass by.  I’d recommend this book, and give it a 4 out of 5.

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Jun 16

Cookbook 109: The Edible Garden cookbook

I bought The Australian Women’s Weekly, The Edible Garden Cookbook: Growing and cooking vegetables and herbs online from a discount store so there weren’t any reviews and I didn’t really know what I was getting. It wasn’t what I expected.  I was expecting more of a book covering the preservation of produce with the occasional recipe for using some produce fresh.  I also expected a LOT more recipes.  This book doesn’t even cover a lot about growing the produce they want you to cook with.  Overall, I’m really disappointed with the wasted potential in this book.  The recipes though are pretty good, but you’d expect that with anything written by AWW.  Overall I give this 2.5 stars out of 5 because of the wasted potential.

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Jun 08

Cookbook 108: Crafternoon Tea recipe book

I supported this project on Pozible, and received a copy of Crafternoon Tea recipe book: a patchwork of delightful teatime treats, by Fossick Handmade.  Sadly it doesn’t look like this book is actually available for purchase online, you might want to check Fossick Handmade’s Facebook page and ask them if you want a copy.

The book covers hints on how to host a crafternoon tea, and then provides recipes for sandwiches, scones, pastries, cakes, slices, jams, mocktails, and crafty projects.  I made a cake and a slice from this book, and was very happy with both.  I look forward to making more of these recipes.  Overall I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

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Jun 08

Cookbook 107: Cheese

Apologies for the hiatus, I’ve been busy (mostly job hunting) and then away overseas on holiday.  I am three books behind and hope to get up to date with those asap, and to resume cooking regularly.

This tiny cookbook was purchased second hand as a joke, because Scott likes cheese, and liked to answer “cheese” when I’d ask him semi-serious questions.  A Pocket Book on Cheese: A natural food and a versatile ingredient by Shirly Gill as is stated on the cover, a book about cheese, and some recipes about cheese.  There were only a couple of us around for dinner the evening we cooked from this book so I only made two dishes. I did consider making some more, but many of them required the oven and I only have one of those.

The instructions are straight forward, the recipes were tasty and overall not a bad book to have.  All of the recipes are done somewhere else though, so not one you need to rush out and find.  Overall, 3 out of 5 stars.

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Apr 26

Cookbook 106: Mexican: Authentic recipes from south of the border

So when it was my birthday, and there was a cookbook sale, and I indulged (because birthday), I was very excited to see Mexican: Authentic recipes from south of the border by the Australian Women’s Weekly, because my previous Mexican cookbook left me uninspired and wanting a book that was far better.  The AWW does great cookbooks, triple tests the recipes and so I knew that provided I could get the ingredients required, this book would be awesome.

I wasn’t disappointed, the food was amazing.  The menu I chose was rather ambitious, but we pulled it off perfectly (pretty much everything ready at the same time), but I didn’t cook a desert.  You’ll see why, we had a lot of food.  I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I’d give it more stars, but I know that some of these ingredients are hard to find.  I do recommend buying this if you do have access to Mexican cooking ingredients though.

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Apr 26

Cookbook 105: Paella! Spectacular Rice Dishes from Spain

I bought Paella! Spectacular Rice Dishes from Spain by Penelope Casas some years ago when I thought it’d be nice to learn how to cook Spanish food.  I didn’t have a paella pan at the time so this book sat on my shelf waiting for the moment when I got one. That happened to be this year thanks to my lovely husband who bought me one for my birthday.

Overall, however, this book is a bit of a problem.  Most of the recipes in this book call for a 17 – 18 inch pan (yes it is USian, how could you tell?), and only a handfull for a 13 inch pan (the one I got).  All the recipes require that the paella finishes in the oven, so you have to have an oven big enough to fit the pan into.  The recipes are also really verbose, so it’s hard to read in the kitchen and remember what you’re up to.  The one dish I made from this book made a significant amount of paella (probably enough to feed 6-8), and was a little dry, but tasty.  I give this 3 stars out of 5, and I won’t be keeping the book.

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Apr 19

Cookbook 104: The Australian Women’s Weekly One Pot: Low-fuss food for busy people

One Pot: Low-fuss food for busy people was a birthday gift to myself, because AWW cookbooks are good, and one pot recipes in the colder months are the best invention ever.  Scott wanted to make a bourguignon recipe, and I remembered that this book had one with lamb shanks, so we went with that.  It was amazing.  The instructions were clear, the dish so incredibly tasty that we didn’t want to stop eating it, and it was really photogenic too (see below).

The dessert was less successful.  I thought a raspberry and chocolate bread and butter pudding would be good – the results were less than stellar.  Clearly the photo in the book is taken before the dish is put into the oven, because the raspberries carbonised, even though the oven was at a low temperature.  The pudding tasted nice, but it wasn’t as good as some other bread and butter puddings I have made.

Overall I’d give his book 4 out of 5 stars. I’d’ve ranked it higher if the dessert worked.

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Apr 07

Cookbook 103: Sensational Salad Recipes

This was Scott’s book.  Yes, there is that tricky past tense.  I cannot recommend this book to anyone.  I mean, salads are nice, but these salads are boring for the most part, and I’ve found much better salads in other recipe books.  Anyway, at some point Family Circle released Sensational Salad Recipes, and with a title like that, you’d think that they’d be amazing.  Let me give you an example of the lack of amazing I found in this book. One recipe was a baby octopus salad.  Now, I’m never going to eat octopus, but I’m a curious person and wondered what you’d put in a salad with baby octopus… it turns out nothing.  That’s right, this “salad” was just baby octopus (dead, not climbing all over the salad bowl).  Also many of these salads were with meat in them, which made it difficult to cater to vegetarians.

The instructions in the recipe book, if you’re still interested after I’ve just panned it, are clear, the ingredients not too hard to find, and the end result of the two interesting (as far as I am concerned) salads was tasty.  I’ll give this 2 out of 5 for the instructions, and nothing else.

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Mar 22

Cookbook 102: Best of Vegetarian

I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted, but February and March have been really busy for me – too busy to even cook from cookbooks.  There has been a big birthday party to organise, an international guest visiting, my wedding anniversary, illness, going away, and lots of other things cropping up on the weekend so cooking, and blogging about cooking has been near impossible.  I think, with the exception of Easter, that things have returned more or less to normal, so blogging and cooking should be back to a relatively normal schedule.

So, once upon a time I cooked from Sanitarium’s Best of Vegetarian: month-by-month recipes.  This book was published by Murdoch Books in 1993 and appears to be out of print, I cannot find a copy of it anywhere (sorry).  I wasn’t expecting a lot from this book.  For reasons (not sure which ones) I thought the recipes would be bland and uninteresting, and was expecting that at the end of the meal I’d be adding this book to the pile of books that I’d be finding new homes for.

I was surprised. The recipes I made from this book were incredible, and I am really sorry I cannot point you towards a second hand copy so you can find out more yourself.  I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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