Category Archives: Cookbooks and Books

Jerusalem, Cookbook Review

jerusalem

I am in love with this book beyond words. I love anything that has to do with Yotam Ottolenghi. A year ago, I wrote a review of Plenty, the vegetable cookbook by the same chef.
Plenty is my favorite cookbook. Everyone knows that bloggers should never say they have a favorite anything. I mean, we are supposed to not be able to choose, just like we can’t choose a favorite restaurant because it really depends on the mood but I can clearly say and yell to the top of my lungs. I love “Plenty” so friggin much.

I was incredibly excited when Yotam Ottolenghi came out with his second cookbook ” Jerusalem”. This time, in collaboration with Sami Tamimi. The story is sweet: an Israeli chef opens a restaurant in London with a Palestinian Chef. Together they collaborate, work beautifully together, feed hungry hearts and souls- a symbiose that can only be found over food. They end up opening more restaurants together and coming out with a cookbook that presents recipes from both backgrounds, colliding, high fiving each other with Mediterranean elements and every vegetable you can think of.

I have been to Jerusalem quite a few times but have never connected with the place. Mind you, I haven’t explored Jerusalem food in the last decade, my only memories of the place is that The Wailing Wall is beautiful and that it gets really really cold. I know I am totally wrong and I will take the time to explore soon but to me Telaviv is the place to go in Israel. Give me action. I like busy life, gay friendly, lots of colors, bicycles, markets and I am a happy camper. I could eat somewhere different every night in Tel Aviv and never get bored (post on Tel Aviv is coming soon).

The book, though called Jerusalem shows foods that will you find all over Tel aviv and all over Israel.

What to expect:

-In true Ottolenghi style, the recipes have a long list of ingredients. If you want your food to have all the flavor profiles of an Ottolenghi dish then you probably need to get most of them, if not all. His stuff is always worth it, every time.

-Lots of vegetables. He uses eggplants, tomatoes, fennel and lots of fresh herbs.

-Home Cooking. Culturally, home cooking is everywhere in Israel. Kids finish school early every day. They eat lunch at home. You walk into a house and you will always find pots on the stove. Lunch is usually some kind of meat dish and evenings are salad, eggs and cottage cheese or creamy cheese and bread. Even with people working many hours and having very busy lives, home cooking is everywhere. Grandparents are always bringing boxes of food over for their kids. Even if you go to the park in the afternoon, you will see parents with containers full of food, feeding their kids.

- Stories of what every food means to the authors and cultural backgrounds. This is the best part for me, learning about the foods and their stories. That is what cookbooks are for.

Some of my favorite recipes are the Marinated Sweet and Sour Fish, Mejadra (lentils with rice), the Musabaha (warm chickpeas with hummus) and the roasted butternut squash with red onion, tahini and za’atar.

If you like your recipes exotic with interesting herbs and spices, then you will love this book.

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River Cottage Handbook Book Review

Today’s post is by guest blogger Marisa Ingram.

Have you ever fallen head-over-heels in love with a cookbook? I’ve had just that experience with Pam Corbin’s Cakes (River Cottage Handbook.) From the moment I cracked it open and landed on the recipe for “Cornish Fairings, a close cousin of the gingernut” it was love. It is such a lovely and charming little recipe book (and it is little, part of a series of small handbooks from the UK’s River Cottage http://www.rivercottage.net) that I took it to bed with me the first night in favor of the novel in which I was currently engrossed. I read of such things as Welsh Cakes, Jammy Dodgers, and Golden Syrup Cake. And as a lover of all things British, this book stoked my Anglophile (is Britophile a word?) fires right along with my palate. This is a good time to note that this book is imported from the UK and so it follows that the recipes in this book are in the metric system and use some seemingly (to my American ears) unusual ingredients. But I was in luck as I took an extremely useful class last year at Book Larder http://www.booklarder.com called “Baking in Translation – How to Bake British Without Freaking Out” taught by Paola Thomas who blogs at mirrormirror.typepad.com. One of the key takeaways from that class (that will undoubtedly help you with any British baking book) was that the “self-raising flour” called for in British recipe books is NOT the same thing we see on American shelves called “self-rising flour.” Fortunately, for us Paola has spent some time perfecting a substitute that you can make right at home – 1tsp baking powder to one cup or 150g all-purpose flour. If you are unfamiliar with British cooking terms and metric measures, the plethora of information on the internet will be your guide.

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Here are some of my top picks from Cakes:

- Flapjacks are an altogether different entity in Great Britain than they are in the US. A British flapjack is more closely related to a granola bar – a softer, chewier and much more indulgent version (although the instructions do note you may cook them longer for a crisper flapjack.) Do make sure you aren’t greedy and impatient like me though. Make sure to let these cool in the pan completely, otherwise they may fall to pieces.

- Rhubarb Pudding Cake with Custard is possibly my favorite recipe in the book. Served warm from the oven and drenched in a pool of custard (I made mine from scratch but feel free to cheat with Bird’s tinned custard powder) this is all that a cake should be. Not too rich, yet warm, cozy, and comforting. And the distinct taste of rhubarb added that extra oomph to brighten this up into a lovely springtime dessert. This is one that I will return to again.

- I’ve long been a lover of scones but was almost entirely unfamiliar with their Welsh cousin, so I was quite intrigued to try my hand at Welsh Cakes. The ingredients are very similar as is the preparation of the dough, however a Welsh cake is fried up in a griddle – just a few minutes per side until it is a warm golden color. It is also much thinner than a scone and surprisingly tastes almost like a scone crossed with a pancake. Quick and easy to prepare, I have no doubt I will be making these lovely little cakes again soon. Corbin suggests these may be eaten with a bit of butter or some jam but they were so tasty just as they were.

- Cardamom Cake, redolent with a warm, cozy spice, this doesn’t sound like a springtime cake. However the spice in this cake is so light and bright that I was proved wrong. The cake may sink a bit in the middle, but as Corbin says, “don’t worry, just think of this as another of its charms.” And let me tell you, it has many. One being this is an understated cake, in the very best sort of way. While it is a spice cake, the flavor is perfectly balanced – leaving a subtle spicy aftertaste on your tongue after the last bite has been (sadly) consumed. Secondly, this cake has a delightfully crusty exterior that gives way to a wonderfully moist and delicate crumb.

If you can’t tell – I absolutely adore this baking book. I have baked quite a few of its other treats and none have disappointed, and I have an ever growing list of not-yet-trieds. This book is filled with simple yet supremely tasty baked goods. If you are looking for something fancy, you will need to look elsewhere for it does not put on any airs. It is a book to turn to when you are looking for a slice of comfort – something that can be made quickly and with relatively few ingredients on those days when you are craving a homey treat. This book and its recipes will warm you up from the inside out and have you dreaming of a cozy English kitchen with an Aga in the corner and a cup of tea.

rhubarbcake

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About the author of this post:

Marisa has been an indispensable part of the Foodportunity team for the last two years.
She has a lifelong passion for home baking and a growing interest in all things fresh, local, organic, and seasonal. Though a native Washingtonian, a love for history took her to Charleston, SC where she obtained her degree in English from the College of Charleston. She works in human resources by day, but would love to give it all up for a life of travel.

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Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk

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Every once in a while I get a book from publisher that makes me want to run to my computer and type a review immediately so I can share the great news. This is the case with this book, Real Snacks: Make your favorite childhood treats without all the junk. This book is all about recreating childhood favorites in a healthier way with wholesome flours like spelt flour , buckwheat flour and whole wheat flour. No worries if you are not into whole wheat flour, I am not that into either (have you been reading ” Wheat Belly?”). All the recipes have a vegan and gluten-free version. I want to shout this part at the top of my lungs as this is all around awesome.

If you are eating gluten-free, you will want to check out Aran Goyoaga’s new book too as well as Gluten Free-Baking for Dummies by Dr.Jean and Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays by Jeanne Sauvage.

I am talking about making Twinkies, Goldfish crackers, toaster tarts, animal crackers and so much more.

I know the author Lara Ferroni. I will also put this out there for once and for all, I know just about every author coming out with a book in town but you can rest assured that if I am talking about a book, it is because I genuinely want to talk about (I don’t have much free time on my hands as you might imagine with 3 tiny kids.)

Lara is a pioneer in the food photographer world, she started taking photos with natural light and building an online community many years ago. The photos are beautiful and it is the kind of book that you will want to read on the couch or in bed or wherever you read your cookbooks. A great gift for moms or just food- conscious people who like to bake. It is also a handy conversation starter; people are always willing to talk about the snacks that remind them of their childhood.

The book is not out yet but you can get it on pre-order.

What is your favorite childhood snack?

Mine is definitely Pop Tarts. I really want to introduce them to my son but I know once I do, there will be no turning back. I think I will make him the version in this book first.

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Foodportunity, a Giveaway and an Announcement.

I just recently announced that Foodportunity is coming up and that there is an awesome line up. What I didn’t mention yet is that we will have a surprise guest flying in for the event.

We have featured authors and chefs at Foodportunity. This idea came out of my own personal need to connect with these people. When I started blogging, I wanted to meet chefs and cookbook authors but I was always intimidated. The first time I had to interview a chef, I was sick to my stomach, like literally so nervous I couldn’t sleep the night before (including sweaty palms and everything).

Fast forward five years later and I don’t get nervous anymore, I have met so many of the people I admire. Yes, practice makes perfect with everything in life. Even meeting new people.

Every Foodportunity we have featured authors and chefs. They hang out in the front room (a.k.a the lounge) between 6:30 and 7:30. And they are there just to talk to you. You can ask questions, beg for recipes if you want, get books signed (bring your books) or just say hi. On October 22, be there. You can meet Brian McCracken and Dana Tough (Spur, Tavern Law, The Coterie Room), Jill Lightner (Edible Seattle: The Cookbook), Leora Bloom (Washington Food Artisans, Cookbook) and Judith Dern (A Taste of Scandinavia, Cookbook).

And now for the surprise. Aran Goyoaga of Cannelle et Vanille is coming to visit. Her photography is gorgeous, like heart pitter-pattering beautiful. Her recipes are delicious and inspiring. Little tarts, cakes and just so many desserts and dishes that are all gluten-free. You might have seen her on Oprah, Martha Stewart or when she was mentioned in Times Magazine, as one of their favorite bloggers. Just look at her blog and you will understand, her photography will make you swoon. She is coming out with her new cookbook the week of Foodportunity.

You get to meet her, talk to her and even win a book here.

The giveaway. Win the book. I have 2 copies!: Just leave a comment to enter the contest, share on Facebook (5 entries) or twitter for an extra entry. Just remember to comment and let me know. The contest is open to anyone in the U.S. but if you can make it to Foodportunity, you can get it signed. Winner will be chosen on Sept 20.
Update: The winners are Tamiko and Helen Anne.

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Savory Sweet Life Cookbook

I have this friend, Alice. She is the friend that came to my house when I was on bedrest and ordered me not to move so she could cook dinner for my family. She walked into my house with a bag chock-full of groceries and cooked up a stew and some greens and then she walked out. Just like that. To do this, she left her 3 kids, her work and everything because she wanted to make sure that we were not hungry. I know everybody is busy but Alice Currah will always make time for her friends even when she is writing books, managing her incredibly popular and award -winning blog and juggling her family. Alice has so many life lessons to share, a conversation on the phone with her will leave me grateful and full of ideas. She always reminds me to take a step back and savor the moments.

She recently came out with a book called “Savory Sweet Life, 100 Simply Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion” named after her blog. I love this book for many reasons but the number one reason is because her food is impressive for the eyes but really easy to make. Every time I make something, people think I have been slaving for hours but in reality, everything is quick and easy. I also love that the book is organized by life experiences with chapter headers like “Snow Day”, “Welcome Home” and “Lunch Between Friends” so you don’t have to start pasting together recipes but you can choose a section and just go for it. It helps that all the ingredients are easy to find and many times already in my pantry so all I have to do is pick a recipe and go. We have made everything in the Father’s day chapter numerous times because we are kind of obsessed in this house with the peanut coconut sauce and the coconut rice. The photos are gorgeous and she took them all herself. The book is a great gift to give to a mom or anybody looking to cook impressive but not having the time to slave over the stove. Her photography is beautiful and the photos of her family are inspiring. She is a super mom and it is nice to see that if you work hard, you can have a nice balance of family and work.

Of all the things that I love about Alice is the fact that she is always ” Keeping it Real”. She is an honest person, who worked hard to get where she is; a talented photographer, cake decorator and cook. And she is always there to give good advice. Pick up her book at any bookstore and enjoy a Savory Sweet Life.

Here we are signing books together at Barnes and Noble. This was fun.

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Katie Workman, author of The Mom 100 Cookbook Comes to Foodportunity, Alice Currah and More

I am starting to feel the Foodportunity vibe, partly because there are some things left to finish up but also because I can hear people saying things like “I will see you at Foodportunity” or “I will see you on June 25″. I am a proud mama and Foodportunity is my baby (well one of them) so I love hearing these things.

This is also your reminder to buy the books in advance to be signed at the event by your favorite authors.

This time you will have the chance to meet Katie Workman, the author of the “Mom 100 Cookbook”. She is visiting Seattle and will be available to meet you and chat with you at the event.

Mom 100 Cookbook

Katie Workman is the founding editor-in-chief of Cookstr.com. She writes about food and cooking for The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, AOL Food, KitchenDaily.com, AARP.com, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, and more. Katie previously was at Clarkson Potter for more than 12 years, where she worked on high-profile cookbooks connected to brands such as Pillsbury and the American Heart Association. The book has become a favorite of mine already with so many ideas for putting together quick dinners including many different spins on chicken, Asian recipes, Mexican recipes and food your kids will eat. I also found myself chuckling while reading it because Katie has a funny way of describing the chaos in our every day lives. It is a great book if you need to learn how to make some new basics, get lots of inspiration and especially if you are in that mode where you are too busy to think about what to make and need some inspiration for dinner.

This week, Alice Currah, of the Savory Sweet Life website released her first cookbook “Savory Sweet Life”. Alice was named on Forbes’ list of ” Eight of the Very Best Food Bloggers“. The book features her gorgeous photography with recipes set up by life events; birthdays, Christmas etc. The recipes are easy to make, crowd pleaser recipes that will make you look like you have been working for hours in the kitchen. If you follow Alice’s blog or have ever seen her in action, then you will know that this is the real deal. This lady knows how to test recipes and make them taste really great, she knows how to have fun and it will make you want to be a part of her family. Alice will be at Foodportunity to answer your cooking questions.

Alice’s new book “Savory Sweet Life”

You will get to meet some more fabulously talented authors such as Cynthia Nims, Gourmet Game Night, Thierry Rautureau’s Rover’s Coobook, Jess Thomson, Pike Place Market Recipes and Michael Natkin of the Herbivoracious Cookbook. They will all be available for conversation between 6:30-7:30 pm in the lounge.

So here is your reminder, bring your cookbooks to be signed and come ready for food and inspiration because this is going to be a great opportunity.

Here they are again…

To cook with all the ingredients in Pike Place Market, you can get this.

Eat more vegetables and cook from all over the world with this.

Invite your friends over for a party using these recipes.

Learn from Seattle’s most famous French Chef and artist.

Amy Pennington, the author of “Urban Pantry” and TV show host on Check Please Northwest will be there. She is a master gardener and her recent book, “Apartment Gardening” assures you that you can grow plants in small spaces.

And with summer coming, the “Food Lovers’ Guide to Seattle” is the perfect way to discover Seattle! A perfect gift for locals and visitors alike. This is my book.

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Day 3 Foodportunity Giveaway, Networking Tips and Gourmet Game Night

One of the best parts about the Foodportunity networking event is bringing people who I admire together.

When I just began writing about food, all I wanted was to do was connect with people who inspire me and that is when I met Cynthia Nims.
She has written many books including authoring a book with Thierry Rautureau from Rover’s and Luc (the funniest chef in town). And she is incredibly down to earth and inspiring. It is such a pleasure to have them together at http://www.foodportunity. Thierry is hilarious and so incredibly talented and Cynthia has written many cookbooks including a must-have if you like to entertain called. “Gourmet Game Night” and “Salty Snacks” which has not been released yet. Here is my review of it. This one has been on my living room table for a while and even more lately since board games have been a way of bringing my family together after dinner. Today’s giveaway is a copy of Gourmet Game Night.

You can meet both Cynthia Nims and Chef Thierry Rautureau at Foodportunity. They will be available to meet guests and answer questions. Foodportunity is a food networking event that connects Seattle’s food industry. Come and eat from the best restaurants in town and taste from many local companies. Tickets on sale at Brown Paper Tickets for the June 25 event. More information here

Networking Tip of the Day: Talk to the person in the corner. At every event, there is a person standing in the corner of the room that might be having trouble talking to people. Go talk to that person. if You see someone alone, that is your chance to start up a conversation.

The giveaway!

How do you win? (Winner chosen tomorrow morning)

1) Comment on this post for one entry
2) Tweet about this for one entry and tag @foodportunityse (the more tweets, the more entries!)
3) Facebook share information about our event http://franticfoodie.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/foodportunity-june-25-you-are-invited/ (5 entries)
4) Pinterest: Repin 2 things from our Foodportunity board for an entry

Good Luck

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