Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Perfect Pantry

I'm a fan of Geoffrey Zakarian.  I love his first book Town /Country and have an autographed copy. 

His newest release My Perfect Pantry is the perfect book for a new bride or someone who is just getting the cooking bug.

Zakarian starts off with a section on foundation items that you need in your pantry.  He then proceeds to write about the 50 Essential Pantry Ingredients and Recipes --- almonds, anchovies -- all the way through to recipes including Worcestershire sauce and yeast.  I am especially excited to make the chicken vinegar with cinnamon candy.  I make a chicken vinegar dish that is so delicious - and I'm excited to make Zakarian's version.

This book is packed with great recipes and information -- grilled salmon with almond tarragon romesco, almond crusted pork chops -- Park's ham and biscuits, all purpose fritter recipe, ricotta gnudi, jams, apple cider doughtnuts -- the whole spectrum of cooking from pantry ingredients.

I tried the apple cider doughnuts and they were delicious - but how can a doughnut not be? I didn't make the glaze with this doughnut but will this weekend when I make them again got to use up the apple cider!

Great book for your kitchen and as a gift for those who like to cook and especially are just starting.

Thank you Blogging for Books for this opportunity.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence

From the overview:
Joy Wilson believes that everything is better with pie. And caramel. And definitely ice cream. Her world is pretty sweet: she dabbles daily in butter and sugar as her blogging alter ego, Joy the Baker. Her new book, Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence, is packed with 125 of Joy’s favorite, supereasy, most over-the-top, totally delicious treats, such as Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, and Smoked Sea Salt Cookies; Butterscotch Cream Pie with Thyme-Marshmallow Meringue; Mint Chocolate Chip Cake; and Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream. After all, every day is an opportunity for sweets.


Most people in the blogging world know Joy the Baker  -- her first book published in 2012 to wide acclaim from her fans and friends.  I tried a few recipes - they were good  but nothing that were spectacular. 

Joy's new book seems more promising Chocolate, Pistachio, and Smoked Sea Salt Cookies; Butterscotch Cream Pie with Thyme-Marshmallow Meringue; Mint Chocolate Chip Cake; and Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream all sound wonderful. 
The photos are beautiful and there are some interesting flavor profiles.

The book is broken down into --

Cookies, Brownies and Bars
Pies, Crumbles and Cobblers
Layer Cakes, Cupcakes and Skillet Cakes
Ice Cream Social

The brunch section looks delicious and is the section that interested me the most --   lemon poppy seed pancakes, whole wheat, peach and fresh sage scones, French onion quiche!  Some other recipes that stood out -- chocolate dipped banana bread biscotti, chocolate dipped cookie dough balls, pear, cranberry and pecan crumble and a huge ice cream section. 

Overall, I'm not as wowed by this cookbook as I am with Sugar Rush, Ovenly, The Messy Baker and/or Huckleberry.  It's just "okay".  It's a pretty book with some good recipes - nothing screams make every recipe like these other books have.   
Thanks Blogging for Books for the opportunity to review this book.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Slanted Door - Charles Phan

I love all types of ethnic foods -- I think I prefer it because we never had any as children.  Pretty bland food in our home --and a big outing was McDonalds -- hopefully back in the dark ages when I was a child - the burgers and chicken nuggets really had beef and chicken as the ingredients.

Charles Phan's new book - The Slanted Door - has the perfect mix of Vietnamese food mixed with American favorites.  The Slanted Door is Phan's famous restaurant in San Francisco - another one I wish we would have visited back in July. 

Of course, the book is beautiful - the photographs just pull you in.

The recipes that stood out for me --

Pork and shrimp wontons with spicy chile oil
Crispy green beans (these are not your TGIF fried green beans)
Vietnamese chicken salad
Spicy lemongrass soup (I love lemongrass)
Dungeness crab with cellophane noodles
Ginger beef vermicelli 
Phan's fried chicken looks amazing
Corn and mushroom side dish
Cashew chicken

Phan even includes some desserts --

No bake cheese cake with walnut cookie brown butter crust
Crème brulee
Chocolate soufflé cake
Spiced beignets (hello fried dough!)
Lemon meringue tarts look killer

I made the ginger beef vermicelli - it was relatively simple, quick and so intensely flavorful and I'm not a huge fan of beef.  I used spaghetti because I didn't want to run back out for vermicelli or rice noodles in the rain.  Big hit here tonight.  Pictures aren't the greatest - stormy and dark but this dish is killer.

I'm really looking forward to diving into this book and the world of modern Vietnamese food.

Blogging for Books provided me with this wonderful book for an honest review.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts by Aglaia Kremezi

Aglaia Kremezi introduced Greek cooking to the United States.  I'm just sorry I didn't get introduced to her books until now.  Her new book, Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts, contains 150 simple but flavorful dishes that would satisfy anyone. 

Aglaia is the ultimate teacher and her instructions and narrative are perfect. The photographs are beautiful and jump off the page.  I have been wowed by a few vegetarian cookbooks this Fall and this one is right up there. 

Aglaia starts off with chapters on essential ingredients and seasonal menu suggestions.  I was pleased to see a recipe for phyllo pastry -- I've always wanted to try to make my own - and I'm excited to try with Aglaia's detailed instructions.  The recipes are labeled gluten free, vegan, vegetarian to make them easily identifiable for those of us with certain restrictions and lifestyles.

Some of the recipes I have marked are:

Pink fermented cabbage
Concentrated vegetable broth
Pepper, onion and turmeric paste
Vegetable fritto miso in tipsy batter with garlic sauce
Garlic and bread soup with sage and bay
Summer tomato and bread soup (one of these soups will be made this week)
Red lentil soup with spicy aromatic basil oil
Cauliflower gratin with garlic and feta
Roasted potatoes with garlic, orange and mustard
Crispy cheese pie
Linguine with spicy lentils and caramelized onion
Green risotto with garlic, herbs and lime
Pumpkin, tangerine and marmalade bread and
Orange and crumbled phyllo cake

Tonight I made the roasted potatoes with garlic, orange and mustard as well as the crispy cheese pie to accompany my husband's pork chops.  Andrew actually rolled his eyes back into his head when he ate both.  I had pointed out the two recipes to him earlier in the day and he said, "I thought about those potatoes all day."  After the piece of the pie - he declared it was one of the best things he ever ate.

Edited on Friday -- made the garlic with sage and bay soup tonight - it is so delicious! 

I strongly recommend this book for vegetarian and carnivores alike! 

Thank you, Aglaia, for the opportunity to review your book.  It will be a favorite in my collection.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sugar Rush

Johnny Iuzzini does it again. 

While his first book, Dessert FourPlay, was an incredible work in itself but advanced -- this book is geared more toward the home baker with an edge.   Any of these desserts would be show stoppers and I plan on making them all.

The book is broken down into chapters:

1.  Custards and Creamy Desserts
2.  Eggs and Meringue
3.  Caramel
4.  Cakes, Cupcakes, Brownies and Muffins
5.  Cookies, Tea Cakes and Biscuits
6.  Tarts, Cobblers and Crisps
7.  Yeast Doughs
8.  Glazes, Frostings, Fillings and Sauces
9. Building a Balanced Dessert.

The book is beautiful and has gorgeous photography. 

Some of the recipes that stand out - banana pastry cream, pina colada pastry cream, pineapple coconut meringue torte, honey roasted plum mousse, banana fritters with tahini caramel, butternut-maple blondies, no-tella cashew crepe cake...and there are just too many to name.

Johnny touches on every dessert, sugar rush possibility...marshmallows, caramels, creams, garnishes --- it's stunning.

It's a step by step walk through the sugar world and would be a great gift for someone that wants to start out baking and exploring or someone who is accomplished - the instructions and photos and information is fantastic.

I received this book through Blogging for Books. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


FLOUR + WATER PASTA by Thomas McNaughton -- is in one word stunning.

The pastas, the instruction, the step by step photographs...the overall feel of the book -  stunning.

The book starts out with Part One --- How to Make Pasta Dough and How to Cook the Pasta, Part Two The Recipes which are broken down by season. I have three pages of notes of recipes that I want to try - truthfully all the recipes are going to be attempted by me. 

I have been on a real Italian kick lately - not the tomato, cheese and pasta Italian dishes that all the American Italian restaurants provide - but the more rustic true Italian dishes that you find in Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcas and Debi Mazar or in this wonderful book.

With this book - I know I can make show stopping pasta dishes - or least that is my goal soon. Some of the recipes include -- tomato farfalle with chicken polpettine with roasted peppers and basil, black pepper tagliatelle with mussels, lardo and corn, ricotta and tomato tortelletti in brodo, corn and crescenza cappelltti with bitter honey, pumpkin tortelloni with sage and pumpkin seeds, celery root tortelli with brown butter balsamico and walnuts (this photo WOW), pici with vin santo-braised squab pancetta and cabbage, toasted faro garganelli with short ribs, hazelnuts and radicchio, tagliarini with braised hen, lime and pistachio, oxtail and rosemary lasagna with spigarello and fresh horseradish, corzetti with sausage clams and fennel, whole wheat campanelle with anise braised pork and chard...goat's milk ricotta, stradette with leeks and fava beans, lemon farfalle with spring pea ragu, garganelli with prosciutto and peas (another WOW photo).

I was really blown away by this book.

I'm editing this post to include that I made the egg dough pasta (so easy and delicious) and the Heirloom Tomato Sauce (with tomatoes from my garden) on page 52 last evening - my husband and son were raving.  So proud of myself.

Blogging for Books provided this book to me for review.  All opinions are my own.  I'm giving away a copy of this book over at The Cookbook Junkies here.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ooey Gooey Brownie Salted Caramel Cake

I'm originally from the St. Louis area -- I miss the Midwest - it will always be home.  That being said, I desperately miss New York but what I miss the most is the ocean.  Colorado is beautiful -- but there is no water - no water from the sky, no water to sit by and dream what is on the other side, no shores to walk along and let your mind wander.  Oh yeah....we have a reservoir -- woweeeeee....teasing I tease.  We do have the glorious mountains.

One day, our dream is to live in California - I adore the Pacific Ocean - I love California and have been so lucky to have traveled there several times.  The Pacific Coast Highway one of the most beautiful drives ever.

Back to St. Louis -- St. Louis is home to many culinary treats - ice cream cones...Italian food "on the hill" including toasted ravioli which I made for my New York family and they were wowed... and ooey gooey butter cake to name a few. 

This morning I decided I wanted to play with the ooey gooey butter cake - so I thought --- brownies....salted caramel -- and the ooey gooey butter cake topping...I wanted to add some candied pecans to the mix - but time slipped away.

Ooey Gooey Brownie Salted Caramel Cake

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 fudge brownie mix (don't report me to the food police)

1 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup salted caramel (purchased from store or make your own)
1 teaspoon of vanilla

In a bowl - stir together the one egg and 1/2 cup of melted butter.  Stir in brownie mix until combined.   It will be thick -- press evenly into the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.  Bake in 350 degrees oven for 20 minutes.  (I had to go 20 minutes -- mountains -- but check at 15 -- should be still soft but not runny).

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, two eggs, two cups of powdered sugar, vanilla, melted butter, the salted caramel until it is combined.  Pour over baked brownie crust. 

I took a few dollops of salted caramel and made a beautiful design on top which disappeared in the baking - so don't waste your time. 

Ok, not so beautiful but art is subjective.  It was a little Pollocky.

Bake for 35 minutes -- center will not appear totally completely (that's nuts -we had a warm gooey piece right after we took it out of the oven and it was glorious) in pan on wire rack before cutting into bars - you can sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like but why gild the lily?