Newest Cookery Reviews

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...

The Vegetarian Pantry by Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery

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Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery aren't strict vegetarians, but they are passionate about fresh, healthy, seasonal, meat-free cooking. A shared frustration about being unable to find the inspiration and ideas they wanted led to this book, with its recipes which will appeal to everyone from strict vegetarians to meat eaters. Reassuringly they're not out to convert anyone - just to give some inspiration, particularly to people who haven't tried this type of food before. Some recipes are suitable for vegans (or can be easily adapted) and they're clearly marked, as are those suitable for people with a gluten intolerance. Full review...

Patisserie at Home by Will Torrent

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I've always been in awe of people who can make great desserts - the ones which taste amazing AND look stunning on the plate. I have used The Roux Brothers on Patisserie by Michel and Albert Roux (that's Michel Roux senior, by the way and not his son) but I found the book almost pernickety in some of its requirements and I've long wished for a book which was rather more relaxed and aimed at the home cook rather than someone who aspired to be a professional chef. Patisserie at Home seemed to fit the bill. Full review...

Cheesecake by Hannah Miles

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I have a weakness for cheesecake, the genuine item rather than the over-sweet lookalikes found in some supermarkets. I love that unctuous richness and the slightly tart taste on the tongue. I'm less keen on what they deliver in terms of calories, but that simply means that cheesecake has to be an occasional treat - and the best that there is around. So, Cheesecake by Hannah Miles was going to press all the right buttons. Hannah reached the final of Masterchef in 2007, so she knows a thing or two about food. Full review...

A Perfect Day for a Picnic by Tori Finch

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There are strange reasons why books appeal to you. With A Perfect Day for a Picnic my immediate reaction was it would be lovely to have the weather, never mind the food. Then I had a look at the spine of the book (I know - I'm sad) and it looked just like one of those expensive linen glass cloths - you know, the ones you have to iron and it brought back such memories of childhood picnics that I had to see what was on offer. Full review...

Andy Bates: Modern Twists on Classic Dishes by Andy Bates

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I do tire of cook books which regurgitate what are essentially the same recipes time after time. Sometimes food writers rework their own recipes - a tweak here, a change of emphasis there and you can have the same dish many times over, so it's a real breath of fresh air when you find a book which seems to have new ideas, or genuinely new approaches to classic dishes. Andy Bates has a classical background (working in a Michelin starred restaurant by the time he was seventeen and time in France to hone his skills) but his business is a stall in London's Whitecross street market. So - a perfect combination of technical knowledge, experience and knowing what people really want to eat. Full review...

The Downstairs Cookbook: Recipes From A 1920s Household Cook by Margaret Powell

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Margaret Powell began her life in service as a housemaid, but she had an interest in cooking (her mother wouldn't allow her to learn at home as food was too precious to waste) and by talking to cooks, watching what they did and making notes she eventually rose to be cook in the grand houses on the nineteen twenties. The Downstairs Cookbook is her collection of the recipes which she used, or which were current at the time. But it's more than that. Think of it as being rather like a visit to a good cookery school where you'd collect all those hints and tips which make recipes work and the anecdotes about life in a professional kitchen. Full review...

The Magic Book of Cookery by Danaan Elderhill

3.5star.jpg Spirituality and Religion

Back in the seventeenth century in what was then the Kingdom of Bohemia there was a coven of witches. As was common at that time witches were hunted and they had to hide their beliefs. The Friends of Euphrosyne, as they called themselves, turned to this deity (she's one of the three graces and there to remind us to have fun) in their time of need and developed rituals which could be assimilated into social gatherings, allowing them to hide in plain sight. Their book - The Magic Book of Cookery - vanished along with the coven when they were discovered but Danaan Elderhill wants us to benefit from its ancient wisdom - and its fun. Full review...

A Recipe for Life by Antonio Carluccio

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Antonio Carluccio is a name you know well if you've any interest in food and particularly Italian food. He's well known as a cook, restaurateur, deli owner, television personality and author. In everything he's done he's concentrated on the flavour of the food - this isn't the man to turn to if you're interested in fine dining as there's a lack of frills and ostentation - and he has his own phrase to describe his vision. 'Mof mof' stands for 'maximum of flavour and minimum of fuss'. He's a man after my own heart but when I thought about it I realised that I knew little, beyond the occasional news item, of Carluccio the man. His autobiography came at just the right time. Full review...

Relish: My Life on a Plate by Prue Leith

4.5star.jpg Autobiography

Prue Leith was born in South Africa, the daughter of a prominent actress who was considered 'dangerously liberal' in her views on race. Prue was largely unaware of the horrors of apartheid and had a privileged lifestyle. She came to London in the early sixties but still retains an awareness of colour as a legacy of her childhood. What didn't come from her childhood was her love of cooking - she drifted into catering almost accidentally but went on to set up a very successful catering company and then to open Leith's Restaurant . Her cookery school and regular food columns in national newspapers followed soon after. Full review...

What Einstein Kept Under His Hat: Secrets of Science in the Kitchen by Robert L Wolke and Marlene Parrish

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Everyone knows that when you chop onions, you cry, but have you ever wondered exactly why this happens? More to the point have you ever considered what you might be able to do so that you don't need to look like a snivelling wreck every time you make kedgeree? Life is littered with such conundrums (along with the old-wives'-tale solutions) but there seem to be more of them in the kitchen than elsewhere. Robert L Wolke has a column in the Washington Post in which he debunks misconceptions and answers questions with logic, science and a healthy dose of common sense. Full review...

Food Britannia by Andrew Webb

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I've always suspected that British food gained its dreadful reputation after the end of World War II. Rationing lasted for many years and the sort of food which you could buy in the average hotel or restaurant was pretty poor. An image like that sticks: we might have Stilton cheese, Scottish raspberries, Welsh lamb and a host of other wonderful foodstuffs but still we are thought of as the people who eat the food of a post-war boarding house. Andrew Webb is a food journalist and photographer - and he's set out to prove that there's a wealth of regional food, traditional recipes and passionate producers just waiting to be found. Full review...

Fairytale Food by Lucie Cash

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Are you looking for a gift for someone who enjoys cooking and who has an interest in fairy tales? If so, this book could well be your perfect answer. It has over sixty recipes - none of them at all complex - and they're all associated with favourite fairy tales. Instead of the usual carefully-primped pictures of the finished dishes there are lavish illustrations by Yelena Bryksenkova of scenes from the tales and I didn't find a double page spread which didn't have some entertaining embellishment. It's also a bonus that there's a gentle humour in the illustrations, as in this note from Goldilocks: Full review...

Saved by Cake: Over 80 Ways to Bake Yourself Happy by Marian Keyes

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Right now you are probably thinking 'Marian Keyes? She writes chick-lit doesn't she? What's she doing writing a cookbook?' You'll quite probably also be looking at her and thinking that she doesn't look as though she eats a lot of the output either. Well, there's a bit of a story behind this book... Full review...