Newest Cookery Reviews

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This Cookbook is Gross by Susanna Tee and Santy Gutierrez

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The misuse of language is a modern disease. Too many times something is described as awesome or stupendous, but were you truly awed by it? Or stupefied? People just seem to pluck words out of the ether and pretend that they are the correct ones. Are the recipes in Susanna Tee and Santy Gutierrez's 'This Cookbook is Gross' truly gross? For once the language is not overplayed. These recipes may taste nice, but in appearance they are absolutely vile. Full review...

Vintage Kitchenalia by Emma Kay

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Over the half century and more that I've been preparing meals on a regular basis I've seen food preparation move from being just something you did, to an obsession akin to a religion. My first kitchen had nothing in the way of luxury - it was there to make meals as nutritiously and economically as possible: my current kitchen is not quite state of the art, but it's equipped to a high standard and is a pleasure to work in. But what of all the equipment which went before, which paved the way to what we have now? Emma Kay is going to give you a quick trip through the history. Full review...

The Science of Food: An exploration of what we eat and how we cook by Marty Jopson

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I've always believed that if you understood why something worked in a particular way it was very easy to remember how it worked and what you needed to do. The food we eat is no exception to this rule and The One Show resident scientist Marty Jopson has undertaken to explain how things work in the kitchen - and he covers everything from the type of knives we use through to the food of the future. Best of all, he does it in language that even a science illiterate like me can understand. Full review...

Juan Altamiras' New Art of Cookery: A Spanish Friar's Kitchen Notebook by Vicky Hayward

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In 1745 a Spanish friary cook, Juan Altamiras, published the first edition of his New Art of Cookery, Drawn From the School of Economic Experience. It contained more than two hundred recipes for meat, poultry, game, salted and fresh fish, vegetables and desserts. The style was informal, chatty and humorous on occasions and it was aimed, not at those who could afford to cook on a grand scale, but at those with more modest budgets, who sometimes needed to cook for large numbers. Whilst the ingredients were - for the most part - modestly priced there is a stress on the careful combination of flavours and aromas. Spices are used conservatively and the bluntness of some Moorish cooking is eschewed in favour of something much more subtle and we see influences from Altamiras' own region, Aragon, the Iberian court and the New World. Full review...

Fasting and Feasting - The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray by Adam Federman

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For more than thirty years, Patience Gray--author of the celebrated cookbook Honey from a Weed--lived in a remote area of Puglia in southernmost Italy. She lived without electricity, modern plumbing, or a telephone, grew much of her own food, and gathered and ate wild plants alongside her neighbours in this economically impoverished region. She was fond of saying that she wrote only for herself and her friends, yet her growing reputation brought a steady stream of international visitors to her door. This simple and isolated life she chose for herself may help explain her relative obscurity when compared to the other great food writers of her time: M. F. K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Julia Child. So it is not surprising that when Gray died in 2005, the BBC described her as an almost forgotten culinary star. Yet her influence, particularly among chefs and other food writers, has had a lasting and profound effect on the way we view and celebrate good food and regional cuisines. Gray's prescience was unrivalled: She wrote about what today we would call the Slow Food movement--from foraging to eating locally--long before it became part of the cultural mainstream. Full review...

Simple Fare: Spring and Summer by Karen Mordechai

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Karen Mordechai's family history has its roots in the Jerusalem of the 1950s, when people from around the globe were coming together in a young country and forming their own way of living. When the family then emigrated to the United States they brought this way of cooking with them, along with the tradition of sharing and enjoying food. Mordechai believes that food's ability to bring people together is unparalleled and that the food you make is a compilation of the way you have lived. Thinking back over the food we eat, that is so true and for the first time I looked on a recipe book as an elegant way of seeing someone else's history. Full review...

Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes): the Art and Practice of Making Dinner by Peter Miller

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When you've been producing meals for around about half a century the chances are that, like me, you have a fairly regular set of menus which you produce. Hopefully it's not quite in the 'fishcakes! Goodness is it Friday already?' realm but you probably have something in your culinary locker for every occasion. It takes a very good book to make you settle down and actually read what it has to offer and it's an exceptional one where you end up with lots of dog-eared pages for recipes which you're going to try. The inspiration to read Five Ways to Cook Asparagus was simple and serendipitous - I'd just come home with the first of the season's English asparagus when the book arrived in the post. I couldn't not have a look, now could I? Full review...

Good Clean Food: Plant-Based Recipes That Will Help You Look and Feel Your Best by Lily Kunin

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Lily Kunin is a health coach and creator of clean food dirty city site and instagram account. She'd always been a food lover but her attitude to the food she was eating changed when she began to suffer from migraines. A long (and bad) time later she tried avoiding gluten and her symptoms were alleviated within 48 hours. From this she developed her food philosophy of seeing an intolerance to gluten as a creative opportunity. I liked that she has a constant dialogue with her body rather than sticking to a restrictive regime. That I can empathise with. Full review...

A Food Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure: 6 Simple Steps by Yuchi Yang

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Yuchi Yang has been a registered dietitian for over twenty years and she's allowing us the benefit of her knowledge to help us to reduce our blood pressure without taking medication, although she does stress that if you are taking medication you shouldn't stop doing so without consulting your doctor. You can reduce your BP in six steps, which are actually a lot simpler than they sound. Does it work? Yes, it does: I've been eating this way for more than two years and I've gone from having 'very worrying' blood pressure readings to getting a smile when they're taken and being told that my BP is perfectly normal - and that's without taking medication of any sort. Full review...

Italian Street Food by Paola Bacchia

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Books about Italian food are everywhere, with recipes for pizza, pasta dishes and all the usual suspects. In a winter which seems to be starting hard all too early what I wanted was sunshine - and the sort of food which you find on the Italian streets and in those bars which only the locals know about. It's the sort of food which you eat on the move, or leaning against the bar - tables and chairs don't usually come into the equation. For the most part it doesn't aspire to being healthy - frying plays a larger part than it does in a virtuous diet and it is a little short on fruit and veg - but we can all be a bit naughty on occasions, can't we? Full review...

Gruffalo Crumble and Other Recipes by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

It is hard to imagine, but the original Gruffalo book came out almost twenty years ago. This is a franchise that just keeps rolling on. Certainly, you can buy the book or the sequel, but if you visit a shop you will find Gruffalo toys, cards, even egg cups. Each year brings with it a new idea of how to push the Gruf and pals. 2016 is the year of the recipe book, but will it live up to the quality of the original? Full review...

The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook: Plant, Cook, Eat by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I grew up in the immediate post war period. Growing your own vegetables had been a necessity in the war and it was still a habit for those who had a bit of garden, so The Kew Gardens Children's Cookbook was a real pleasure for me, as well as a touch of nostalgia. The principle is very simple: show children how to grow their own vegetables and then how to transform them into delicious food. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, it might come as a surprise, but it is! Full review...

Cook. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer

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It's just about a year since I read Amelia Freer's Eat. Nourish. Glow., a book which quietly impressed me and which I hung on to (not something I do regularly) and have referred back to many times for inspiration and a quick boost to the spirit. Most of the principles behind the book seemed sound, although I wasn't prepared to go down the wheat-free road as I've no reason to think that I'm sensitive to gluten - and I do wonder how most of the world would be fed if we all gave up eating wheat - but if I felt the book had a shortcoming, it was the lack of recipes. Well, that's now been remedied. Full review...

Eating Well Made Easy: Deliciously healthy recipes for everyone, every day by Lorraine Pascal

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Lorraine Pascal specialises in no-nonsense, simple recipes that provide delicious results; a speciality that has afforded her a deserved space in today's crowded celeb chef culture. Lorrain's ethos in Eating Well Made Easy is to provide recipes for everyone, encompassing vegetarians, allergy sufferers and those who just want something delicious, all with a healthy spin. Full review...

The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi

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Author Marlena de Blasi lives in the (as far as I can tell from having a quick google), beautiful small Italian city of Orvieto – deep in the beautiful Umbrian countryside. Having lived there for some time, she gradually becomes aware of the Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club – a group of Italian ladies who meet once a week for supper, and to talk. Whilst it takes her some time, Marlena eventually manages to be accepted into the group, and begins to cook and eat with these unique and fascinating ladies, sharing both tales of life, love, and death, and taking part in delicious home cooked meals. Full review...

Wheat Belly: The effortless health and weight-loss solution - no exercise, no calorie counting, no denial by Dr William Davis

4star.jpg Lifestyle

Dr William Davis poses an interesting question: why is it that people who are leading an active life and eating a healthy diet are putting on weight despite all their best efforts? He has a simple and worrying answer: wheat, which he argues increases blood sugar more than table sugar. The problem isn't restricted to weight gain, either: there's evidence to suggest that wheat affects psychosis and autism too. In fact - the more that you read, the more you'll wonder if there's an organ in the body which isn't adversely affected by wheat. Full review...

Rose Water and Orange Blossoms by Maureen Abood

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Rose Water and Orange Blossoms began life as a blog. Maureen Abood grew up with flavours of the Lebanon around her - the scent of floral waters and cinnamon, lentils, bulgur wheat and yoghurt, but most of all, the succulence of lamb. She revisits the recipes which nourished her childhood, sometimes remaining faithful to the original, but occasionally giving them her personal twist. The whole family has contributed (even if not directly) to the food which she produces and sometimes the recipes have been handed down for generations, but it's not just the food which comes alive in her hands, but the people who come alive as you read. Full review...

Eat. Nourish. Glow.: 10 easy steps for losing weight, looking younger and feeling healthier by Amelia Freer

4star.jpg Lifestyle

Amelia Freer had struggled with her own health for a while and it reached a stage where she was waking up feeling tired and groggy, relying on ten cups a day of sugary tea to perk her up and her food was mainly processed convenience foods. At the time she was working as a PA to Prince Charles and loved the job but her busy life meant that she made automatic food choices without consideration of what they were doing to her health. It wasn't until she went to see a nutritionist that she realised what she had been doing and made the decision not only to change her diet, but to train to be a nutritionist. The result is a busy practice - and this book. Full review...

How to Make Coffee: The Science Behind the Bean by Lani Kingston

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Have you ever caught the aroma of coffee brewing but when it came to that first sip the taste has been, well, distinctly underwhelming - and you might actually have preferred a glass of water? Well, Lani Kingston has written 'How to Make Coffee' which takes you from plant to cup, tells you how to make the perfect drink and explains the science behind it. It's a comprehensive book which gives you an overview of the history of coffee, the areas in which it originated and how it spread before moving on to an explanation of the chemistry behind what is probably the world's favourite drink. Full review...

Deliciously Ella: Awesome Ingredients, Incredible Food That You and Your Body Will Love by Ella Woodward

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Last year I had some health problems which caused me to take a hard look at the way that I was eating: within a month or so I was feeling a lot better as a result of the changes and six months on I can't imagine going back to the way that I used to eat. But there was one snag: we seemed to be eating the same few dishes most of the time and I needed fresh inspiration. Deliciously Ella was the book everyone seemed to be talking about and with a few clicks it was on its way to me from Amazon. Full review...

The Temporary Bride: A Memoir of Love and Food in Iran by Jennifer Klinec

3.5star.jpg Autobiography

Jennifer Klinec is the daughter of Hungarian immigrant parents who ran an automotive factory in southwest Ontario. She learned early on to be self-sufficient, even enrolling herself in boarding schools in Switzerland and Dublin. After graduation she moved to London, made a pile as an investment banker, and opened her own cookery school. At age 31, though, she decided to travel to the Iranian city of Yazd to learn Persian dishes. She met Vahid, 25, a military veteran with an engineering background, in a park and he introduced her to his mother for cooking lessons. Full review...

Treat Petite: 42 Sweet and Savoury Miniature Bakes by Fiona Pearce

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I know that they're not good for me, but I do love cakes. There's always so much of them though - and I'm not going to let them go to waste, am I? I love making them too, but no matter how hard I try they always seem to end up more Little Chef than Masterchef. When I found Treat Petite it seemed that I just might have found the answer to my prayers. It's a book of forty two recipes for tiny petit fours, little sponge cakes, jewel-like macaroons and gorgeous savouries. They're all mere morsels - just big enough to pop into your mouth. Full review...

The Bluffer's Guide to Chocolate (Bluffer's Guides) by Neil Davey

4star.jpg Cookery

I've always been a little bit nervous about the Bluffer series, on the basis that I would be sure to come out with a clever-sounding phrase, only to be found out when someone asked the follow-up question. Better, I thought to stay silent and appear ignorant than to open my mouth and prove myself a fool. But then The Bluffer's Guide to Chocolate came my way and I couldn't resist - any more than I've ever been able to resist chocolate. Full review...

My Little French Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

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France is Rachel Khoo's adopted country. She lives in Paris and to write this book she travelled to the four corners of the country to sample the local dishes and special ingredients to be found there. It's a look at local markets, shops, villages and towns, farms and homes - and the local customs and quirks to be found in each area. You get over a hundred recipes and plenty of images which set the scene or illustrate the finished dish. In more complicated dishes you even get a series of pictures to help you understand what you're doing - and all the pictures are of excellent quality. It's not just a coffee table book - if you've an interest in French cooking then you're going to get it sauce splattered. Full review...

Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers

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A friend had taken his granddaughter for a picnic and he'd gone to town on the food. The pudding was decorated but the child seemed distracted:

Child: Grandad, there's an insect in my pudding.

Grandad: No, darling - they're called 'hundreds and thousands' and they're there to make your pudding look pretty.

Child: Grandad, one of my hundreds and thousands is climbing up the side of the bowl... Full review...

Winter Cocktails: Mulled Ciders, Hot Toddies, Punches, Pitchers, and Cocktail Party Snacks by Maria Del Mar Sacasa and Tara Striano

3.5star.jpg Cookery

I nearly didn't read this book - cocktails are not something which appear in our house - but fortunately I had a look at the subtitle and realised that mulled ciders, hot toddies, punches and pitchers appealed a great deal more. I'm never averse to something warm and reviving after being out in the winter cold. Even better is the fact that it all comes in a well-presented, hardback book which will stand a lot of duty in the kitchen. Full review...

Eat - The Little Book of Fast Food by Nigel Slater

4.5star.jpg Cookery

In my kitchen there's a battered (in both senses of the word) copy of Real Fast Food, Nigel Slater's first book. Twenty one years later he's revisited the idea and given us Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food. Now it's 'small' as any book containing over six hundred ideas for dinners (complete with lots of excellent photographs by Jonathan Lovekin) can be small - and the food is fast in the sense that you're talking about a maximum of an hour, although occasionally the cooking takes longer. I'm glad that we're moving away from the idea of getting food on the table as quickly as possible - it's not a race - as cooking can be a real pleasure and eating it an even bigger one. Full review...

Paul Hollywood's Bread: How to make great breads into even greater meals by Paul Hollywood

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It was a happy accident which started me watching Paul Hollywood's television series about bread and baking - and it quickly became compulsive viewing. We were predisposed to the basic idea as it's many years since we last bought a loaf, but we've always used a bread-maker. The results have been good and far better than anything you could buy anywhere but an artisan bakery, but there are limitations as to what you can make. I was tempted to see what else we could achieve and whilst the television series didn't promise that it would be easy it did leave me with confidence that we could do better. Buying the book was the next step. Full review...