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Poroto (Tokyo, Japan)

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At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist
At Large and at Small: Confessions of a Literary Hedonist
by Anne Fadiman
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The art of essay writing at its finest, 19 Aug 2008
This is an adorable little book. It is a book to relish slowly, not devour. I wished it had 500 more pages so I could have devoured it. I learned a lot of trivial yet fascinating facts about other writers, about butterflies and insects in general, about letter-writing and mail, among others. Ann Fadiman writes in a manner that really involves the reader, i.e. she makes you think that your attention to the topic is valuable, through careful selection of words, personal reflection, and poignant revelations of her family life. It's the sort of book that makes you think "I'm so glad I found it and read it". I wish there were more writers like her.

How to Feed Your Friends with Relish
How to Feed Your Friends with Relish
by Joanna Weinberg
Edition: Hardcover

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, cozy and fun...but erroneous recipes, 18 May 2008
This book has lots of great recipes and it's a pleasure looking through it. It would also make a nice present for those living away from home for the first time and have not had that much experience in the kitchen. I loved the idea of cooking for friends, as so few seem to do that these days, preferring always to go to the nearest restaurant.

But Publisher please take note: A minus is that the book has been very poorly edited, and some recipes definitely have not been tested. 1) In the Pommes dauphinoise recipe it says "..picking out the bayleaf, onion and thyme..." but there is no onion listed in the list of ingredients! She can't have meant the garlic because it would be impossible to pick out the garlic (which has to be finely chopped). Would like to know when, how and how much onion you have to add. 2) The "Chocolate raspberry meringue sandwich" does not list chocolate in any part of the recipe or the list of ingredients. I would like to know how it should be incorporated. 3)The lemon drizzle cake is way too sour. It requires juice of 2 large lemons for the batter and a further juice of 2-3 lemons for the drizzle. Even though the drizzle also requires a whopping 120g sugar (in addition to the 150g required for the batter), I couldn't eat it as it was so sour. I am wondering if it's another typo - or maybe lemons in the UK are not as sour as they are here? These should be corrected and the edited version sent to customers who bought the first edition, or at least Bloomsbury should publish an erratum. It's unacceptable for a publisher of their reputation and I feel slightly short-changed.

I heard the other day that the more cookbooks people buy, the less they cook - perhaps I am of the minority as I actually use the cookbooks I buy, and to me a book that has errors like these is a faulty item as I cannot use it for the original purpose intended by its author.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 25, 2010 2:08 PM GMT

Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook
Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook
by Sarah Raven
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.50

66 of 74 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing cookbook, but frustrating at times, 12 Feb 2008
I have resisted writing a review until now, as by and large I think this is a wonderful book and I am in agreement with many of the positive reviews. However, I have experienced my fourth "disaster" using recipes from this book today and I really had to say something. I am a fairly experienced cook but this book really does not explain things as well as it should / could. I made the "Mushrooms with polenta" which says that you need to allow the polenta to "cool completely" before cutting it into wedges to fry. However, given the quantities of water required in the recipe in proportion to the polenta (1.5L water to 140g polenta), there is NO WAY you are ever going to "cool completely" enough to be able to cut it into wedges from just cooking it a "few minutes" as Ms Raven suggests, unless you subsequently put it in the deep freeze overnight. This I knew from experience, but I gave Ms. Raven the benefit of the doubt. The result: completely liquidy polenta and hours wasted boiling down and a ruined saucepan. I have had other similar episodes: The "Meringue roulade with raspberries", delicious though it was, was not deemed a success due to the recipe's direction: "Place the tin fairly near the top of the preheated oven" - now, my oven is not a very expensive one - it has, as its heat source at the top, an electric grill even in an oven setting. This means that if you put things too close it will inevitably brown quicker than normal ovens. Which is exactly what happened to my meringue, browning the top and the almonds but not cooking the inside, leading to a mushy meringue. I would have appreciated an explanatory note for different kinds of ovens. The "Mint and apple compote" was another one. As the recipe does not specify what kind of apple, I presumed unwisely that it must be cooking apples. How wrong I was. Cooking apples do not disintegrate adequately for you to be able to push it successfully through any "coarse sieve". As a result my husband spent the better part of half an hour pushing the stuff through the sieve, which probably would have been done quicker in a mouli which is another implement Ms. Raven suggests apart from a coarse sieve but unfortunately we don't possess. Yes I know, I should have read the recipe properly where I would have learned that you need to push it through a sieve i.e. cannot use cooking apples, but we don't always have time for that. Sometimes all you have time for is a quick 5 minutes scanning through cookery books and writing a shopping list from the recipes. The same with the "Courgette souffle tart", which sounds delicious but was a watery mess, completely inedible, because nowhere in the recipe does Ms Raven explain that one needs to salt and squeeze the water out of the courgettes beforehand. Normally I never salt courgettes / aubergines etc and they turn out fine but admittedly I had never cooked courgettes in a tart before. Again, this is explained at the beginning of the courgette chapter, but I had not read this - and I would have thought it essential advice to give in the recipe itself, as one doesn't always have time to leisurely read recipe books from cover to cover. Having said all of this, I have made lots of other delicious and wonderful meals from this book, and it is packed with information on sowing, harvesting and cooking methods. You will not regret buying it but read each recipe carefully and if you are not sure about something, ask an expert.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2012 9:31 PM BST

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