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Easy-To-Make Doughnuts: 50 Delectable Recipes for Plain, Glazed, Sugar-dusted and Filled Delights, in 200 Step-by-step Photographs
Easy-To-Make Doughnuts: 50 Delectable Recipes for Plain, Glazed, Sugar-dusted and Filled Delights, in 200 Step-by-step Photographs
by Mowie Kay
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant photos and delicious recipes, 6 July 2014
Mowie Kay is a professional food photographer, but unlike a lot of his contemporaries, he is also an accomplished baker. Speaking as someone who is still finding her feet and learning about food photography, his work is quite inspirational.

First impressions of the book were just how beautiful all the pictures were, and how the order of the recipes were entirely logical and easy to follow.

There are 50 recipes to choose from and as you would expect in a book about doughnuts, all the recipes are sweet, although many contain savoury ingredients. One recipe includes bacon (whimpers) and another is a potato doughnut (popular in New England I believe). Amusingly, there is a recipe for what to do with any leftover doughnuts… ha! Like, that’s ever going to happen in my house.

The book starts off with an introduction from the author on the history and worldwide appeal of doughnuts. This is followed by a few very useful chapters covering ingredients, equipment and techniques. The recipes themselves are divided into 3 main chapters: Classic Doughnuts, Doughnuts Around The World, and Modern Twists. The book closes with a comprehensive index.

The photos within are glorious, as I would expect from someone in Kay’s profession. Not only are you treated to beautiful well-staged completed recipe photos, but extremely useful step by step photos.

The steps are clearly laid out, and the instructions easy to follow. I would say this book is suitable for bakers of all skill levels, as any unfamiliar techniques are demonstrated in the introductory chapters. I only attempted the baked doughnuts, as I have doughnut pans and they are marginally healthier than their fried cousins. I do have a doughnut cutter, however, so will attempt the fried ones at a later date. There are so many flavour combinations with room for customisation, filled or glazed, so this book will keep a baker, and their family, happy for ages.

The Taco Bible: Over 100 Delicious Recipes for Stuffings, Seasonings, Sauces, Shells, and Sides!
The Taco Bible: Over 100 Delicious Recipes for Stuffings, Seasonings, Sauces, Shells, and Sides!
by Brandon Schultz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.78

2.0 out of 5 stars A failed revolution, 19 Jun 2014
I have to confess, tacos are not something I eat a lot of. I think it's because I don’t like hot spicy foods and I have this impression that tacos usually come with a kick. I will say though, after flicking through the recipes in this book, that impression is incorrect. A lot don't contain any chilli or heat at all.

Taco Revolution may or may not be revolutionary, I don't feel I have enough experience to comment. It does, however, contain many recipes of various meats and combinations of toppings, so there is plenty of choice.

The book is broke down into sections based on the main ingredient, such as pork, chicken, fish etc. There is about a half dozen or more recipes in each section.

Anyone that has read my reviews before knows that one thing that I find to be integral to a good recipe book, regardless of the topic, is a quality photo for every recipe. A good looking picture can entice you to look deeper into a recipe. We eat with our eyes first. A large portion of the recipes do contain a photo, but not all. My problem with them is that the pictures are dreadful. The colours are flat and often too samey. The images need a contrast boost. The dishes aren't dressed very well at all. Part of that problem is due to the fact they are taken at too close range. The point of focus on many of the images is often not where you would expect it to be, or not there at all making the entire image blurred. They look extremely amateurish and really affect the look of the entire book.

I also have to comment on the typography. Each recipe is split into two columns, a column for the ingredients and one for the instructions. This is quite normal. However, the introductory text tends to span the entire page. Not in this book. The squashed blocks of copy have justified text which really gets my goat. It not only looks unprofessional and dated, but creates rivers of white space and some awkward hyphenation.

I would say that the recipes are fairly easy to follow. Tacos are not exactly complicated, and most recipes use ready-made sauces, although there is a section of sauces near the rear of the book should you wish to make your own. I think the only recipes that may cause an average home cook any difficulty are the tortillas themselves, as the availability of masa harina is limited in the UK, but you can buy ready-made ones easily enough.

Overall, I find it difficult to recommend anything in this book. I guess if you are a taco fiend, then give it a shot, but I feel for the almost twenty pound cover price, this book is not worth it.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the publishers.

Petit Four Cookbook
Petit Four Cookbook
by Brooks Nguyen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The petit book of petit cakes, 8 April 2014
This review is from: Petit Four Cookbook (Hardcover)
This book is a petit square book, which is highly appropriate considering the content.

If you have ever considered making petit Four (which apparently means ‘little oven’ in French), then this book is a good place to start. After a small intro from the author, there are a couple of chapters on equipment and techniques. These are well worth reading if you are new to petit fours. There then follows a very useful directory, split into four sections; cakes, syrups, fillings, and decorations.

The recipes themselves however, are separated into sections based on various holidays or events such as All Occasions, Elegant, Children’s Party, Weddings etc with appropriate flavours for each theme. I actually found this a little confusing.

As you delve into the first section (All Occasions) the picture offers some decorating suggestions, then you get the recipes for vanilla sponge, vanilla syrup, and the vanilla buttercream, but then you are sent towards the end of the book to find the recipe for the marzipan, then back to the All Occasions section for the dipping chocolate, then off towards the back of the book again for the decorating chocolate. There seems a lot of unnecessary and frustrating flipping backwards and forwards.

Once you have read through several of the recipes, you quickly discover that the recipes are quite similar with a slight variation. For instance, do the white, yellow, and orange modelling chocolate all need a recipe page when the only variation is a different food colouring? Also, the recipes for the fillings and syrups don’t match volume wise, to the sponge recipes. I followed the recipes for the lemon cake petit fours, and only used half of the syrup and less than half of the lemon cream cheese filling which is annoyingly wasteful. The recipes do say the yield, but not how much you will need for the cake recipe.

The photos that are there are pretty and colourful, but I would have liked a few more. I would have liked to have seen some more examples of piped designs for the tops of the petit fours – even if it had just been a page of designs to follow.

The recipes themselves have clear step by step instructions. Each individual step is fairly straight forward, but each small cake is a complex process of several steps. The measurements are in US cups, and I am always a little disappointed when a publishers doesn’t include metric weights as well, or reprint when they decide to release a recipe book outside the US. There is a conversion list at the back, but I am not sure of its accuracy. For instance, it lists a US cup as equivalent to 3 fluid ounces, where as I understand it is 8. It also lists a tablespoon as 60 millilitres, where it is actually only 15ml. It lists ‘pound’ under volume, which is a weight. Every cook or baker knows you can’t do a straight conversion between weight and volume.

These issues aside, I think that anyone with a reasonable level of cake decorating should be able to cope with making these decadent treats. My attempts were not quite as neat as the author’s, but sadly I don’t have special petit four cutters, so tried to cut the cake into small squares with a knife which proved messy to say the least.

The end results were indeed delicious, and quite pretty. I think you could do a lot worse whiling away a wet and rainy spring weekend making these treats for your friends or family. There are many varieties of petit four, but while this book is not comprehensive, it is a good introduction into a basic form of this style of cake.

The Little Book of Chocolat
The Little Book of Chocolat
by Joanne Harris
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 7.00

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Chocolate, all the time., 13 Mar 2014
Joanne Harris is an award-winning best-selling British fiction author, so I have to confess, I was surprised when I received a recipe book in the mail with her name on. Famous for the Chocolat trilogy, Harris has also written fantasy, but I was unaware she had written recipe books, but this is in fact her third collaboration with Fran Warde.

The recipes in this book obviously put chocolate in the fore, and celebrate the ingredient in the same way the book (and movie) of the same name do. Most of the recipes are little twists on dishes you are probably familiar with, but endearingly, a lot of the recipes have been named after characters in the novels. Roux’s Ginger Crumble and Vianne’s Hot Chocolate being named after two key characters. The recipes are of course sweet, however, you will find a little spice here and there in the tradition of the Aztecs.

After a brief intro from Fran, including some excellent tips on tempering chocolate, the book is straight into the almost 50 recipes. There are a range of dishes, from truffles to cookies, grand gateaux to dainty macarons. Those who have read any of my recipe book reviews before will know that one of my bugbears is that too often recipe books list the French macaron as a macaroon. Thankfully, not in this case, which is what I would expect from someone like Harris who has French family. Another bugbear of mine is when a recipe book fails to display a photo for each and every recipe. You will be pleased to note that this is not a concern here. Not only does this petite book contain a photo with each recipe, but they are so delightfully and beautiful shot, I was enchanted by every single one.

The recipes themselves are easy to follow. The instructions are straight forward and not overly wordy. I would say that majority of the dishes can be accomplished with average experience. My favourite recipes were the Pistachio and Chocolate Shortbread, Chocolate Heart Muffins and Reynaud’s Black & White Layer Cake.

Definitely recommended if you are a fan of chocolate.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 15, 2014 5:38 PM GMT

Pie: Delicious sweet and savoury Pies and Pastries from steak and onion to pecan tart
Pie: Delicious sweet and savoury Pies and Pastries from steak and onion to pecan tart
by Dean Brettschneider
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightfully comprehensive collection, 28 Oct 2013
As a gale rages outside, and winter firmly ousts autumn, nothing is more comforting than a warm pie for dinner. It really is one of the best and simplest of pleasures. Pie contains a delightfully comprehensive collection of pies and pastries, both sweet and savoury, so you are bound to find something you like.

After a brief introduction from the author, there is a small chapter on the history of pie, which is an interesting read if you are not already familiar. This is followed by a few chapters on ingredients and equipment that a would-be pie maker would need to have to hand.

The 80+ recipes are broken down into 5 chapters: Meat, Seafood, Vegetarian, Not-quite-a-pie, and finally Sweet Pies. Just about all the recipes are accompanied by a beautiful photo of the finished dish, and for me this is a key component to entice me to try a recipe. Some of the more complex techniques even contain very useful step-by-step photos.

I have baked for years, but am always still a little nervous around pastry as it can be a tricksy thing to manage sometimes. This book lays things out in a way that makes dealing with pastry much more achievable. The recipes themselves are clear and easy to follow, but some involve quite a few stages, so I would advise some experience is required.

My favourite recipes Spanish Chicken Pie, Tomato and Thyme Tarte Tatin, and Caramel Macadamia Oaty Tart. There are still loads of mouth-watering looking recipes in this book I am to try, much to the chagrin of my waistline.

The book closes with a chapter of basic recipes and techniques which are referenced throughout the book. This is a great book to encourage you to produce tasty pies and improve your pastry techniques.

World's Best Cakes: 250 great cakes from Raspberry Genoise to Chocolate Kugelhopf
World's Best Cakes: 250 great cakes from Raspberry Genoise to Chocolate Kugelhopf
by Marco Pierre White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.40

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous collection, 1 Oct 2013
There is no denying Roger Pizey's experience. He has worked with luminaries such as Albert Roux and Marco Pierre White, as well as several stints as head chef in some of the top restaurants in London. In this book, he has collected 250 of some of the greatest cakes in the world, and they are indeed from all around the world

Flicking through the pages of this book, you immediately get a sense that Pizey has collected recipes from the four corners of the globe. There are recipes from every continent. This truly is a collection of the world's best cakes. Each recipe also includes a small introduction giving details of the recipes origin, and I am happy to note that they all feature some of the most beautiful and tantalizing pictures I have seen.

The book starts with an introduction from Pizey, followed by a useful chapter on techniques that are used throughout. The recipes themselves are grouped into 10 chapters of similar types such as Sponges & Layer cakes, Traybakes, and Pastries.

The last few chapters consist of Baking Basics which has essential recipes for Crèmes, Ganaches and Icing that you will need to decorate or fill your lovely creations. There is then a section discussing essential equipment for any budding pastry chef. The book closes with a comprehensive A-Z index which in a book this large, is essential.

The recipes themselves are clear and detailed, yet not overly wordy or as complicated as some of the cakes may suggest. Pizey expertly guides you through each stage. The level of difficulty I would say varies drastically. There are some well-known family favourites among unusual and regional cakes that most of the readers may not have heard of. One of the most wonderful things about this book is the scope of the collection.

Another highlight is the handful of mini travel guides detailing the best places to eat cake in a host of international cities across the globe.

My favourite recipes were Coffee and Walnut Cake, Bee Sting Cake, and the Tippaleipä. I have to say, this is by far the best collection of cakes I have seen. If you have this book, you can throw away all your other books of cake recipes. This is the only one you will need.

Rachel's Everyday Kitchen: Simple, delicious family food
Rachel's Everyday Kitchen: Simple, delicious family food
by Rachel Allen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 9.00

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A comprehensive collection of recipes, 17 Sep 2013
Rachel Allen is a well-known TV chef hailing from Dublin. She has released many recipe books throughout her career, and this most recent one is based around one of her shows, and is described on the cover as a collection of everyday simple meals.

My first impression was of a comprehensive collection of recipes, and unlike some books, there were a large number of them that caught my eye. Being someone who is quite a picky eater, this is a rarity.

Following the obligatory introduction, there is some instruction about preparing ahead, freezing, and making your own stock. Some useful tips in there, so don't skip it. The recipes themselves are broken into useful chapters such pizza, fish, and poultry etc.

The recipes are largely savoury, being only the final chapter that covers sweet things. As I have a sweet tooth, I would have liked to have seen a few more dessert recipes, but Rachel has dedicated whole books to this topic, so I am not too disappointed. My favourite recipes were Easy Arancini, Caramelised Onion and Rosemary Bread, and Slow Roasted Pork Belly.

There are plenty of delightful photos, all of which seem to have a summery tone, saturated with colours and light. There were only a few recipes that didn't appear to have a picture. For me, a recipe book that is light on pictures is a deal breaker.

The cover describes the recipes within as simple. While I wouldn't say this book would suit a complete novice, anyone with some experience will easily follow the straight forward instructions.

Overall, it is a good collection of recipes, but I must be honest and say that some of the ingredients, I have a hard time believing could be considered `everyday'. Some of the ingredients such as saffron or clams, are decidedly not everyday in my opinion.

The Hedgerow Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes for Wild Food (Wild at Heart)
The Hedgerow Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes for Wild Food (Wild at Heart)
by Ginny Knox
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect book for this time of year, 2 Sep 2013
Wild At Heart is a company that was formed by Caro Willson and Ginny Knox after giving up their corporate careers. Their company provides a range of jams, jellies and chutneys inspired by ingredients that grows wild in our British hedgerows.

The subject matter of this recipe book really appealed to me. I have recently developed an interest in foraging, so it seemed fortuitous that there was a recipe book that contained recipes for my scavenged goodies. I am following in my ancestors footsteps and seeking food that nature gives up freely, with just a little effort required on my part.

The book starts with an introduction from the authors on why they started up their business. The next section is a useful note on the legality of foraging. In the UK, you have a common law right to forage for fruit, flowers, funghi and foliage as long as it is for personal use, not for re-sale and providing it has not been planted as a crop. There is also a very useful seasonal chart showing the availability of the ingredients covered.

The recipes are structured into chapters, each one focusing on a type of foraged ingredient, such as berries, leaves, or fruit. They are a variety of sweet and savoury, from main courses to side dishes.

The pictures are beautifully staged and photographed, and all the dishes look incredibly appealing. The recipes I tried were very easy to follow. I am pleased to note that the measurements are in grams, ounces and cups which I like to see as it makes the book try. My favourite recipes were the Sloe Vodka, Crab Apple Butter and Blackberry and Apple Crumble Cake.

This is the perfect book for this time of year when the trees and hedgerows are bulging with produce. Do yourself a favour and pick up a copy, then head out into the countryside. It has inspired me to open my eyes, and broaden my tastes from the usual blackberries, and seek out foraged foods I would normally walk by.

Stacie Bakes: Classic cakes and bakes for the thoroughly modern cook
Stacie Bakes: Classic cakes and bakes for the thoroughly modern cook
by Stacie Stewart
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.19

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I had hoped for, 18 Aug 2013
Unless you are an avid viewer of Masterchef, you are probably wondering who Stacie Stewart is. I confess, even though I watch Masterchef, I found myself struggling to recall Stacie until I got to the recipe in her book that she spectacularly goofed, and then I remembered.

I had high hopes when I first picked up the book, as I am any book on my favourite topic - baking. After flicking through the book, my first impressions were that the collection of recipes was somewhat uninspired. If you have several baking recipes books, and anyone that is seriously into baking will do, you will find the majority of the recipes you will have a dozen times in the books you already own. Other recipes are familiar staples that have been given a modern make-over. To be fair, the tag line on the front of the book does state `classic cakes', so I suppose that should have been a clue. It is a shame though, because the few that are more original are great, and the ones I tried were perfectly delicious.

The book opens with the usual twee `when I learned to bake' story that you often find at the front of a recipe book, and the author seems desperate to shout of her working class origins. This is followed by a few baking tips, some of which I actually disagreed with, others are obvious and common sense, but I guess useful if you are a complete novice.

The recipes themselves are separated into sections that are not consistent in theme. Some are occasions such as Easter, or Valentine's, but there are also sections for the seasons, and meal times. There is a mixture of sweet and savoury, with a leaning towards the sweet.

The recipes themselves are full of clear instructions, and even include little tips and pointers along the way which is helpful. The measurements are in grams, ounces and cups which is always a plus point for me, as it means this book can be used by bakers all over the world, with which ever method they prefer.

The photos of the food are pleasant and appetising enough. I will say that there are not enough of them. Only one in every three or four has a photo included, yet the book has several full pages dedicated to pictures of the author either on a scooter or just posing with big hair. I found myself starting to wonder if this was a recipe book or a fashion shoot.

The author has a retro style of dress, and there is even a couple of pages at the back of the book dedicated to her explaining that she is a Mod. I am happy that she has this strong sense of identity, but this is straying a little too much into biography territory for me, and I just don't think it has any place in a recipe book.

The final nail in the coffin for me was that once again, we have a recipe book from a professional baker that does not know the difference between a macaroon, and a macaron. The recipe included in this book is clearly a macaron, yet falling into the general ignorance trap, it is listed as a macaroon.

This recipe book is probably more suited to a novice baker, someone who doesn't already have a comprehensive collection.

Complete Traditional Recipe Book
Complete Traditional Recipe Book
by Sarah Edington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only recipe book you will ever need, 10 Aug 2013
In this book, Sarah Edington has collected, on behalf of the National Trust, the best of British cuisine. There is a delightful mix of national treasures and local specialities of sweet and savoury dishes alike. When you mention British cuisine to people outside the UK, the first thing they often think of is Spotted Dick, which coincidentally, does not make an appearance in this book. Instead, you have a rich collection of dishes from all over Great Britain, some dating back to 17th an 18th century.

I have to say, when I first picked up this book and flicked through its pages, I was barely past the soups and I was already in love with it.

The book is divided into chapters, each one covering a different food type, such as fish, meat, soups etc. There is a comprehensive collection, with chapters even covering drinks and sauces.

As you would expect from the National Trust, they never miss an opportunity to educate. Each section has a detailed history of that type of dish or main ingredient, as well as a little note on each individual dish.

As the recipes are British in origin, none of the ingredients are particularly hard to get hold of. There are a few ingredients that may have fallen out of favour such as quince that you may find a little difficult, but if you have a good local grocer they should be able to get them for you.

One of the features in the book I rather liked, although not much use to me, is that for each recipe there are instructions how to cook it on an Aga. If you know anyone with an Aga style cooker, then this could be a Godsend to them.

The recipes are a mixture of complexities, although even the most complicated should be achievable by anyone with a modicum of experience. The instructions are fairly straight forward; no fuss, no frills, just the facts.

The photos that accompany the majority of the recipes are delightful and really do work well to tempt you to try recipe after recipe. My favourite recipes were Lardy Cake, Sausage and Apple Plait, and Honey Oatcakes

I think that every kitchen should have a copy of this book. If you are like me, you have a large collection of cookery books but there is always one or two that you keep going back to, that you trust to deliver. This is that book.

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