Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques Hardcover – Illustrated, 6 Nov 2012
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Pure Vanilla is an attractive volume full of things that you will want to prepare right away. There are plenty of recipes that you will adapt and make your own. This is a gift-quality cookbook that will be enjoyed by any baker, whether novice or confident. --MostlyFood, September, 2012----As well as a wide range of recipes covering everything from breakfast to evening cocktails, this book covers the history and production of vanilla, and looks at the characteristics of vanilla pods grown in various regions around the world. It was fascinating reading and sent me to the kitchen to discover the origins of my vanilla products. My pods, produced by Ndali, come from Uganda, so have a 'sweet, winey, raisinlike fragrance and flavour ..... perfect for rich desserts, especially ones containing chocolate' (so that's OK then!). The organic vanilla bean paste was from an Australian company, so may have been produced in Papua New Guinea from Tahitian Vanilla. The bottle of vanilla extract, from one of the leading brands, doesn't state the origins of the beans at all. Reading about how difficult it is to produce a vanilla bean, and how long the subsequent processing takes, makes it easier to understand why vanilla is one of the most expensive spices on the market, second only to saffron. After the comprehensive introduction to all aspects of vanilla we come to the recipes. They are not all illustrated, which is always a disappointment, but those that are have beautiful photographs by Leigh Beisch. It can't have been easy to photograph food which is mostly in shades of white, but Leigh has produced some stunning photographs which make all the dishes look very appetising. In many of the recipes, Shauna uses more than one form of vanilla to produce layers of flavour which are not in competition with other strong flavours. This will probably surprise most cooks, who tend to use vanilla as a background note to other flavours and not as the main feature. As the author is American, the recipes are written in cup measurements, which can be off putting to UK cooks, although cup measures are widely available. I was interested to see that white chocolate is often used to add a vanilla flavour, as I've often said that this is about the only real use for white chocolate! Most of the recipes are for sweet dishes, although some savoury uses for vanilla are mentioned, including the vanilla salt you can see in my photographs. I intend to use it to top some salted vanilla chip oatmeal cookies, but it can be used to season meat, vegetables or salads too. It's going to take a week for my vanilla salt (a mix of the seeds(caviar) of half a vanilla pod with half a cup of sea salt) to mature, so I'll be writing a review of that recipe separately! I was surprised that it was initially quite difficult to actually find recipes which I wanted to make straight away. I wasn't really interested in either breakfast foods (although many could double as desserts), drinks or candies and confections which ruled out three of the six recipe chapters. In the other chapters, covering cakes and pies, cookies and bars, and custards and creams, some of the recipes seemed quite complicated, expensive (16 egg whites!) or used ingredients not easily obtained in the UK (marshmallow creme!). Some of the recipes just weren't suitable for the sort of cooking I'm doing at the moment, needing the right occasion to serve them up to a crowd. However, there are enough recipes which I would like to make, when the time is right, to keep me interested in the book, and any cook past the beginnners stage would find some of the more difficult recipes appealing and challenging. All in all, this is a book which would be a good addition to any cook's library and which challenges our perception that vanilla is synonymous with plain and ordinary! - -- -- -- --Mainlybaking, October, 2012
gives the UK some wonderful snacks and meals that they may not normally bake. One favourite example is the twinkie bundt cake which is a giant sized cream filled moist sponge. Biscuits include Gramma's heirloom vanilla sugar cookies from an old family recipe and biscotti which are perfect with a cup of coffee. --Recipebookreviews, Feb, 2012
This is the one-stop cookbook and practical reference book on vanilla --Four Shires magazine, December, 2012 …a wide range of tempting recipes for cakes, cookies, confections, and custards, all with the delicious vanilla flavour -- --Cakes & Sugercraft, Feb, 2013
About the Author
Shauna Sever is the author of Marshmallow Madness! (Quirk, 2011). She writes the popular dessert blog Piece of Cake and is a host and reporter for food-related television, including The Best of the Bay for KRON4 in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Huffington Post Food, Working Mother, Food52, and more. She also runs Bake Sale Bakery, a dessert catering business in San Francisco, where she lives with her husband and daughter.
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Top Customer Reviews
Didn't realize that there's so much you can do with vanilla.:-)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Before launching into her original recipes, Shauna encapsulates an almost 400-year history of the vanilla bean into nine points, taking the reader from the Aztecs conquering the Totonac Indians of Mexico in 1519 to Thomas Jefferson, then the U.S. ambassador to France, carrying a bundle of beans home to Monticello in 1789. In 1841 the 12-year-old son of a slave devised a way of hand-pollinating vanilla orchids; his process is still employed today.
She details the various forms of vanilla - yes, you can get it in more than just beans and extracts - provides tasting notes, and fields FAQs: Why is vanilla so expensive? How do I store vanilla? And what is French vanilla?
Her writing is accessible, her directions clear, and her recipes inspiring. I find this book to be pure inspiration. I'm looking forward to trying her Tangy Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta and will certainly be toasting with a Vanilla Martini at some time in the near future.
If you want to learn more about vanilla and get inspired in the kitchen, check out Shauna Sever's Pure Vanilla. It's truly delicious!
For bakers that don't have a ready supply of beans on hand there is a conversion chart so you can still indulge in the delicious recipes using pure vanilla extract which is readily available in stores. Please, PLEASE use PURE extract. The artificial stuff will just ruin a good recipe and when your treat is all about the vanilla you want the flavor to be true. It is worth the money to buy as good as you can afford so that your baked goods sing with real vanilla flavor.
The book is broken down into sensible chapters with recipes therein using all of the vanilla products. Ms. Sever first explains vanilla, its origins and the reasonings behind using each vanilla enhancement. The recipes are well thought out and easy to follow. I can see myself turning to this book over and over again for baked goods to complement chocolate offerings on dessert buffets. It's a great book to add to a baker's cookbook library.
Thank you Matt from Baked Bakery for the recommendation.