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Pam "Crazy about cook books!" (London, UK)

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Cooking: 600 Recipes, 1500 Photographs, One Kitchen Education
Cooking: 600 Recipes, 1500 Photographs, One Kitchen Education
by James Peterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 26.23

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly terrific kitchen bible!, 21 May 2009
Ok, so where do I begin?! I think that I'll start off by saying that this is simply a GREAT book! It does what it says in the title - "Cooking". There're over 500 pages worth of recipes, step-by-step techniques, over 1,500 pictures for those of you who are visual learners, and more! How do I emphasize this enough.. The table of contents are 6 large pages long and consist of:

1. Techniques - e.g. roasting, braising, poaching, smoking, steaming, sauteing, barbecuing, boiling.

2. Starters - e.g. cheese puffs, canapes, tartlets, foie gras terrine, chicken liver mousse, fried squid, crab cakes.

3. Broths and soups - e.g. brown chicken broth, fish broth,, beef consomme, mushroom soup, miso soup, tomato soup, french onion soup, gazpacho, Thai hot-and-spicy shrimp soup, Chinese hot-and-sour soup, oxtail soup.

4. Salads - e.g. vinaigretter, caesar salad, mushroom and duck confit salad, salad nicoise, japanese cucumber sald, pasta or rice salad.

5. Eggs and cheese - e.g. cheese souffles, quiche, cheese fondue.

6. Shellfish - e.g. mussels steamed in white wine, clam chowder, oyster on the half shell, sauteed scallops, shrimp tagine, boiled lobster, blue crab soup, braised squid.

7. Fish - e.g. Salmon teriyaki, red wine fish stew, skates with caper and lemon, grilled tuna, Indian style braised fillet of stiped bass.

8. Beef - e.g. grilled/broiled steak, tenderloin sandwich, the best burgers, beef stew, boeuf a la bourguignonne.

9. Veal - e.g. roasted veal, veal pot roast, veal piccata, sauteed calf's liver, braised sweetbreads with root vegetable mecedoine.

10. Lamb - e.g. braised lamb shank with garlic, roast lamb, lab stew, lamb korma, lamb pot roast.

11. Pork - e.g. roast country ham, pork loin roast, pork tenderloin with apples, barbecued pork spareribs, sweet and sour pork.

12. Chicken and turkey - e.g. roast chicken, provencal chicken with aioli, tomatoes and basil; chicken fricassee with morels, Thai chicken curry, Fried chicken, roast turkey and gravy.

13. Duck and small birds - e.g. sauteed duck breasts, slow roasted duck with red cabbage and apples, duck confit, sauteed whole quail.

14. Vegetables, beans, and herbs - e.g. boiled/steamed vegetables, basic spinach, glazed baby carrots, roast vegetables, baked potatoes, french fries, grilled zucchini, bell peppers with herbs and anchovies, cauliflower gratin, cassoulet.

15. Sauces, salsas, and chutneys - e.g. bechamel sauce, creme anglaise, beurre blanc, bordelaise sauce, brown sauce, bolognese sauce, mayonnaise, tartar sauce, pesto, yakitori sauce, guacamole, Vietnamese basic fish dipping sauce, herb chutney.

16. Pasta, rice, and polenta - e.g. fresh egg pasta noodles, raviolo, aioli, linquine, lasagne, risotto, couscous, rice pilaf, polenta.

17. Quick breads and flat cakes - e.g. blueberry muffins, scones, pancakes, waffles, french toast.

18. Breads - e.g. basic white bread, baguettes, ciabatta, sourdough bread, rye bread, pizza dough, pita bread, focaccia, brioche, cinnamon rolls.

19. Cakes - e.g. classic sponge cakes, pound cakes, angel food cake, Devil's food cake, cheesecake, strawberry shortcake, meringue.

20. Pies and tarts - e.g. apple pie, pecan pie, banana cream pie, cherry cobblers, lemon curd, brown butter.

21. Pastries - e.g. puff pastry, napolens, croissants, danish pastries, eclairs.

22. Custards, souffles, and mousses - e.g. cremem brulee, ginger pots de creme, zabaglione, panna cotta, souffles, narquise, chocolate mousse.

23. Cookies - e.g. butter cookies, shortbread, madeleines, almond tuiles, macaroons, biscotti, brownies, lemon bars.



The recipes are very straightforward and clearly written, making it extremely easy to follow. The book doesn't call for too many hard-to-find ingredients, which is always a bonus! I've tried several recipes already and they've all worked wonderfully and are fail-proof! I cannot recommend this book enough. It'll be suitable for all levels, but especially good for beginners and casual cooks who wants to learn new and correct skills and techniques - as this book has sooooo many pictures showing you how to do things. For those who are experienced cooks, you'll also benefit from this book as it gives you plenty of ideas on what you can do with different cuts of meat, etc.

Overall, a must-buy, a kitchen bible, a good reference. Buy it! You will not be disappointed!

Buttercup Bakes at Home: More Than 75 New Recipes from Manhattan's Premier Bake Shop for Tempting Homemade Sweets
Buttercup Bakes at Home: More Than 75 New Recipes from Manhattan's Premier Bake Shop for Tempting Homemade Sweets
by Jennifer Appel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old-fashioned style bakery: lots of ideas but results not spectacular, 20 May 2009
I love baking and am rather obsessed with cook books - hence why I own over 80! I'm always on the look out for great books and the reason why I bought this one was because I know that the author was once a co-owner of the famous Magnolia Bakery in New York and thought that this book may contain their secret recipes..

But after reading through it and attempted several cake and cookie recipes, I must admit that I feel rather disappointed with this book. Firstly, a lot of the recipes contained within this book (and the original Buttercup Bakeshop cook book) are, or almost, IDENTICAL to the ones found in the 2 Magnolia Cook books! I mean, no wonder.. if they both came up with the winning recipes together, why wouldn't Jennifer Appel (the author) use the recipes in her books too? So if you already own Magnolia cook books, I'd say don't bother buying this one because they're almost inter-changeable.

Secondly, although there're some very interesting recipes in this book, I don't think that there're that many that I'd really like to try at home. And the ones that I have didn't really turn out that great. Don't get me wrong, the recipes DID work and the results looked good and they were all edible and ok, but it really didn't live up to my high expectation. To be honest, I don't think that their cupcakes or other yummy goodies are that amazing, I've tried other recipes from other books and they produced much more mouth-watering results.

Also, note that all the measurements are American (US cups) but you can easily convert them into metric measurements by using the charts provided at the back of the book.

In conclusion, this book will give you some good ideas and produce good (but not great!) results. The recipes are relatively easy to follow (if you stick CLOSELY to the book!) and doesn't call for many hard-to-find ingredients - although beware of the amount of sugar and butter that they ask for! It may not help you to produce the best cakes and desserts, but will surely keep you entertained if you want to bake but don't have too much time. A good addition to your cook book collection.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
by Tarek Malouf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 5.60

144 of 153 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book with decent recipes, 13 May 2009

There have been a number of mixed reviews about this book - in fact, there're quite a few negative ones that almost put me off trying to make anything from the recipes. I really wanted to know if this book was worth anything so I decided to prove it to myself. I am a decent baker; that is to say, I taught myself to cook and bake on a regular basis (often with good success!) but have no real culinary skills or knowledge. However, I do spend enough time in the kitchen to notice that the methods for doing various things in this book is quite different from most recipes that are commonly used. For example, the methods for mixing the cake mixture in Vanilla Cupcakes provide that you first combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and a bit of milk in one bowl; and some eggs, milk and vanilla extract in the other. Once thoroughly incorporated, the book tells you to mix the two together. Now, most recipes would ask you to first beat the egg and sugar in one bowl, add the milk and vanilla, follow by the dry ingredients. But I decided to stick closely to the recipes provided - using whatever amount of ingredients (which may seem "ridiculous" to many people) that the book suggests, and have my fingers crossed. The results? Well, the cupcake recipes (vanilla, chocolate and the velvet cupcakes) that I've attempted so far have turned out pretty good! They're all very tasty and do not appear to be "dry" or "inedible" in any way. My guess is that for those of you who are rather experienced would question the validity of the recipes and so instead of sticking to the book, would be tempted to do "what they think is best" - which is probably why there're more experienced bakers complaining about their various failures, etc. So my advice is for you to turn blind eyes and ears and just follow the recipes to the letter, even though your experience and "instinct" are telling you otherwise!

***The book itself is simply beautiful. It is well laid-out, divided into several sections like cakes, pies, tarts, cookies, etc. The recipes include: the basic vanilla/chocolate cupcakes, lemon cupcakes, red velvet cupcakes, strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, lavender cupcakes, hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes, coconut and pineapple cupcakes, banana and chocolate cupcakes, pumpkin cupcakes, marshmallow cupcakes, ginger cupcakes, hummingbird cake, carrot cake, brooklyn blackout cake, coffee cake, blueberry cake, spiced pound cake, banana bread, nutty apple loaf lemon loaf, New York cheesecake, icebox banana cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, mississippi mud pie, apple pie, brownies, muesli bars, rocky road bars, ham and mushroom muffins, spinach and cheese muffins, blueberry muffins, banana and cinnamon muffins, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, white chocolate and pecan cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and gingerbread men. The photographs are all stunning, you get to see exactly what your cakes should look like.***

However, I must say that since I own over 80 books on cakes, cookies, ice cream and desserts, this book doesn't give you a very wide range of recipes - hence why I've given it 4 stars. The book is quite thin and it does have "enough" to keep you entertained for a while, but I prefer to have more choices so I usually have several books on very specific subjects. For example, if you're looking for a good book on cookies, I'd recommend "Martha Steward's Cookies", "The Good Cookie" and "Great Cookies"; for cakes, I'd recommend "Mary Berry's Ultimate Cake Book" and "Southern Cakes"; for cupcakes, I'd recommend "Cupcake Heaven", "The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake" and "Cupcakes: Luscious Bakeshop Favorites"; for general baking/desserts "Desserts by the Yard", "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts", "Jim Fobel's Old-fashioned Baking Book"; for ice cream "Ices", "The Ultimate Book of Ice Cream", "The Perfect Scoops"; and for chocolate, I'd recommend "The Essence of Chocolate" and "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts".

N.B. Many of the suggested books require US measuring cups - which can be bought at various online stores or decent bakery shops. A lot of people complain about the "inaccuracy" and "complexity" of using US cups. I personally don't understand why anyone would make such a big deal out of it, as not only is it SO EASY to use (just put it in the cups and start mixing! MUCH easier than having to accurately weigh everything!) but it also produces great stuff! If the whole US population can produce successful goodies using these "not so accurate" instruments, so can we! Invest in a set - it won't fail you. Trust me, many great baking books are from/for/published in America. You'll find that once you start exploring, you'll find plenty of amazing books/recipes to make the most wonderful goodies and not be restricted to European-style of baking only.

Overall, if you're truly passionate about cakes and are NOT looking for "healthy" cakes (whatever that means!), you'll love this book. It'll be a great addition to your cook book collection, although I wouldn't say that this will be the ONLY book you'll need, because the book just simply doesn't offer enough varieties in the long-run. I've also been to the bakeries in London and I am happy to announce that my most recent batch did taste rather closely similar to the "real" things! I can assure you that this book will give you some great ideas and the pictures will be able to keep you coming back to the book time and time again!


P.S. I've also noticed that a few people have been comparing this book with Magnolia Bakery Book. I own all of them (2 by Magnolia, 2 by Buttercup Bakeshop and The Hummingbird Bakery) - and I'd NEVER pick the Buttercup Bakeshop over the other two. In fact, The Hummingbird bakery book actually contains MORE cupcakes recipes than those Magnolia books! It should also be noted that none of these books offer "healthy" goodies! Have fun baking!
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