Saturday, 5 December 2015

My Favourite Cookbooks of 2015 plus Christmas Giveaway #4

This is a post that I have been looking forward to for many months. In fact, it's my first post where I am sharing my favourite cookbooks in a year. Cookbooks are very close to my heart, not least because it really opened my eyes to the diversity of cooking when I was a student, but also with every dish created, a memory of your own is created. It seems that almost everyone has wrote a cookbook  this year from celebrity chefs, bloggers and TV presenters. But, what makes a good cookbook for me is not just one which the recipes work (this is of course incredibly important), but also where there is real passion shown across each page and a story. I love a good food story, I want to know why you have decided to include this recipe in your cook book, what makes it work and whats the history behind this. There has been a bumper collection of cookery books this year, one of the perks of being a blogger is that I am often sent cookbooks to review. I also treat myself every pay day to a cookbook or three. Oh and when I go abroad, I always have to buy a cookbook from that country. Needless to say, I have a ridiculously growing collection of cookbooks. But this year there has been some gems, beautiful food writing, inventive and colourful recipes and most importantly dishes that taste sublime. So without further ado, here are my favourite cookbooks of 2015 (in no particular order).

The Picnic Cookbook
I love the idea (and in a ideal world I would spend my spare time) of having a picnic, but this something I rarely do. But why is this one of my favourite cookbooks of the year, entitled The Picnic Cookbook, considering I don't really do picnics: I love how Laura Mason has revolutionised the concept of picnic, of which many think involves sandwiches. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history of picnics from the Victorian era to today. For every occasion, there is a picnic dish to prepare and eat with loved ones. I also loved the recipes which incorporated world foods such as the delicious Cypriot feast and also Koftas and Naans. The photographs are simply stunning and the food looks mouthwatering. 

A Lot on Her Plate
Rosie Birkett is one of the UK most exciting voices in food. I knew that she would be releasing a book as I follow Rosie on social media. There was extensive of media coverage upon her book release back in April. What makes this cookbook and become one of my favourite this year, is that her recipes are incredibly inventive, versatile and comforting. In an era were a lot are focusing on "clean eating", Rosie shows the reader how to make wholesome, fulfilling and inspiring dishes. I also like her frugal/flush approach, showing that good food can be eaten whatever your budget may be. Rosie's book also shares her story and her food experiences from a child up until now. As shared in my review post, this a cookery book for the seasoned cook and one to stretch your imagination. Of all the books in this round up, this is the one that I have cooked the most from.

Vanilla Table
Perhaps it's my naivety or not really understanding the power of vanilla, but I was positively astounded with the versatility of vanilla. It helps that this cookery book is elegant in design and the photographs are stunning. Prior to this book, I have primarily used vanilla in sweet baking. However, with 9 chapters from starters to drinks, to brunch and to snacks, vanilla can be included in every meal, any time of the day. I love reading Natasha' love affair of Vanilla, alongside the chefs contributions to this cookbook manual. The Spiced Lime Smoothie that I made is one which I have revisited on many occasions, alongside many of the brunch recipes. 

I'm sure the debut book for Olia Hercules will be featured on many cook book round up posts this month. Olia has shared the cuisine of her culture and heritage which is shared through her evocative food writing. Ukranian food is not something that is, well, exactly popular in the UK, but in Mamushka, the diversity of recipes eaten across the Ukraine and beyond are beautifully shared. I love the vibrant and exotic recipes and you will be pleased to know that the majority of the ingredients can be found in supermarkets. From the Georgian Garlicky Poussins to the Prague Cake or the Pork Ribs and Dumplings, I wanted to bookmark every recipe and I'm sure you will too.

Caribbean Modern
A round up would not be complete without a Carribean cookbook, I always like to read recipes from other Caribbean islands. This one, by Shivi Ramoutar showcasing lighter, brighter and colourful recipes. I loved the inclusion of many Trinidadian recipes, the accessible recipes, the easy to follow recipes. Above all, I've made a number of recipes, all of which tasted delicious. I loved the bag baked sea bass with black bean salsa. 

The lovely people at Octopus Books and Pavillion books are giving one reader a copy of Mamushka and a copy of The Picnic Cookbook. Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below.
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Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Vanilla Table and Great British Cooking, Review & Giveaway.

I've had couple of cook books sent to me in the last couple of months and I've been meaning to get round to posting this review post, but for one reason or another I have not got round to doing this until now. Vanilla Table: The essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs by Natasha MacAller and Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott are two cookery books that I have been sent to review by the lovely people at Jacqui Small Publishing and Frances Lincoln Publishing.

First up to review is Vanilla Table: The essence of exquisite cooking from the world's best chefs by Natasha MacAller. This cookery book is a beautiful collection of Vanilla recipes from around the world, inspired by world renowned chefs and enlightens the reader the diversity that vanilla has to offer. Many of us, in particular me, use vanilla when baking, but this wonderful ingredient can be in-cooperated in so much more than a cake as Vanilla Table demonstrates. I found this cookery book, insightful and educating, alongside inspiring particularly to the more experienced cook. The photographs are also beautiful and mouthwatering.
Vanilla Table is divided into a number of chapters, firstly starting with a comprehensive view on the history of Vanilla.

  • Starter Plates - recipes to try include Smoked Trout Johnnycake Stacks, Caramelised Garlic and Ricotta Custard and Fennel Flan with Orange Gele.
  •  Main Plates - Stand out recipes include Lobster, Pineapple Marinated Fish and New Zealand Cassoulet.
  • Blue Plates and Brunch Plates -Mouthwatering recipes to try include Monte Cristo Tropicana, Crunchy Cornflake Chicken and Roasted Stone Fruit.
  • Sharing Plates - Stand out recipes include The Tonga Trifle, Rum and Vanilla Cured Salmon and Saturn Peach, Onion and Blue Cheese.
  • Dessert Plates - Recipes to try include Mayan Chocolate Mouse, Creamy Butterscotch Pudding with Tash's English Toffee and The Anna Pavlova.
  • Cake Plates - Perhaps my favourite chapter, stand out recipes include Vanilla, Vanilla, Vanilla!, Two-Tone Chocolate Malt Cake and Bittersweet Chocolate Torte.
  • The Cookie Plate - Mouthwatering recipes to try include Chocoalte Sticky Bits, Espresso Brownie Bits and Ginger Fruit Squares.
  • Bevvies & Bar Snacks - recipes to try include Toasty Coconut Chips and Nuts, Vanilla Passion Martini and Spiced Lime Smoothie. 
Spiced Lime Smoothie.

Overall a wonderful book to have on your cookery shelf: get lost in the world of vanilla.

Great British Cooking by Carolyn Caldicott explores British cooking, with some traditional recipes being given a modern twist. This is the third book that I have from Carolyn Caldicott after Bombay Lunchbox and Comfort and I must say this is probably my least favourite. Great British Cooking is not a bad recipe book, but because I am comparing this to her previous works where, in my opinion, the food was more exotic, adventurous, colourful and vibrant. Perhaps I am a British food snob or overlook traditional British foods, but only a handful of foods popped out to me such as Game Pie, Roast Lamb and Apricot Stuffing and Gingery Treacle Tart. There are recipes which I do not think need a recipe and I would presume everyone would know how to make, such as a Bacon Butty and a Full English.
On a more positive note, there is a thorough Introduction and history of English Cooking which helped to set the tone of how we have loved the recipes that we eat on a regular basis. The photographs are beautiful and the recipes appear easy to make. The chapters are split into the following:

  • The Full English, recipes of interest include Cornish Potato Cakes, Marmalade and Coddled Eggs.
  • The Pub Lunch, stand out recipes include Game Pie, Bedfordshire Clanger and Oysters and Stout.
  • The Sunday Roast, The Roast Lamb, Apricot Stuffing and Mint Sauce was the stand out recipe for me.
  • The Nations Favourites, mouthwatering recipes include Oyster and Mushroom Stew, Chicken and Mushroom Pie and Fish and Chips.
  • The Queen of Pudding, recipes I would try include Gingery Treacle Tart, Queen of Pudding and Lemony Syllabub.
Lamb with apricot stuffing pre bake. 

Overall, I think this cookery book would appeal to the beginner cook or for those who adore British cooking.

The lovely people at Jacqui Small Publishing and Frances Lincoln are offering 1 copy of each book to giveaway. To be in with a chance to win a copy of these books follow the instructions below:

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