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Henrietta Green of FoodLoversBritain.com

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Beaneaters & Bread Soup
Beaneaters & Bread Soup
by Lori de Mori
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploring a rich and varied food culture..., 1 Feb. 2008
Beaneaters & Bread Soup by Lori De Mori and Jason Lowe brings Tuscany to life. Known for its luscious landscapes, powerful paintings and holiday hideaways, Tuscany maintains a rich and varied food culture. Here you'll discover it.

Through essays on the food craftsmen (and sorry girls, they are all men), each accompanied by gutsy, authentic recipes, you'll meet the beekeeper with his wealth of mono-floral honeys, the chestnut grower, potter and many more. All share an integrity, passion and belief in excellence.

But why Beaneaters & Bread Soup? As the authors explain, beans are a staple and such a fixture "in the Tuscan kitchen that the toscani are nicknamed mangiafagioli (beaneaters) by fellow Italians." As for bread, anyone who's visited is bound to remember `proper' Tuscan bread. It's dense, chewy, and salt-free - apparently a protest against a tax - and ends up in such soups and salads as pappa del pomodoro or panzanella.

Jason's photographs capture the region and food. I was lucky to work with him on (my) Farmers' Market Cookbook and fell in love with his vision and ability to pinpoint the essence of a story or a dish. Flick through the pages and you'll see for yourself. But the recipes mustn't be forgotten.....apart from the bread & beans aplenty, there's Polenta with Cuttlefish or Upside-down Apricot Cake (roll on summer) as well as our FoodLovers featured recipes opposite. Authentic and easy to follow, they're ideal for any Food Lover hankering for those rolling hills and stone farmhouses shining in the Mediterranean sun.

The River Cottage Fish Book
The River Cottage Fish Book
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Edition: Hardcover

75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thorough trawl, 21 Dec. 2007
The first thing I couldn't help noticing about The River Cottage FISH book is how big and heavy it is - definitely not a book to take on a fishing trip but then that was probably never its intention.

Written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the appropriately-named Nick Fisher, they have a clear view of its "nitty gritty". Apart from the "delightful activity of cooking and eating fish", FISH is about understanding the business of catching and preparing them. Once we readers achieve this we will, perforce, get even more pleasure.

Golly, FISH is comprehensive. One of its three sections, Understanding Fish, is divided into Fish as food; Sourcing fish; Fish skills; Shellfish skills. Within these, the authors deal with such diverse topics as Fish as brain food; Five rules for sustainable fish shopping; Fish to find; Fish to avoid; Fish prep kit...... and so on. A thorough trawl.

Recipes are a real catch. Helpfully grouped under such headings as Raw, salted and marinated; Baked and grilled; Fish thrift and standbys (for maximising ingredients and minimising waste) they cleverly organise you into deciding what - and how - you might want to cook. They're also extremely alluring - Simon Wheeler's photos see to that - and make you want to rush out, buy (from a sustainable source naturally) and cook. Roll on summer for a burst of Roasted whole plaice with cherry tomatoes. Meanwhile let's be content with FoodLovers featured recipes Crab Bread & Butter Pudding or Drunken Smollack Toasts - a fishy version of Welsh rarebit.

Moro East
Moro East
by Samuel Clark
Edition: Hardcover

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A great Christmas present written by the husband and wife team of Moro"., 4 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Moro East (Hardcover)
Famous for Spanish- and North African-style food, the couple have gone East - literally and metaphorically. A few years ago they `acquired' an allotment in London's East End and found, amongst fellow growers, Turks, Greeks and Cypriots. The two Sams swiftly became part of the allotment community even if there's little detail of any actual digging in the book. Rather it marks the passage of the seasons and the breadth of the crops with rich and alluring recipes - some their own, others weeded from neighbours.

Not that you have to grow-your-own to enjoy or cook them. They concentrate, not surprisingly, on vegetables and are cool about using up "all the bits" or eating weeds or young leaves - I'd never imagined young poppy leaves had anything to offer; now I can't wait to try them next spring. Recipes highlight Moro's approach to cooking of "three simple flavours jostling in the mouth to create something exciting". Strong on soups, there's a buxom leek and rosemary soup with blue cheese (great for any leftover Stilton over Christmas) or a heavenly almond and fennel with scallops. Bitter leaves with tahini and caramelised onions, one of FoodLovers featured recipes, is a bitter-sweet sensation and pumpkin pisto is fast becoming my favourite way of cooking pumpkins this autumn.

Now Moro East the allotment is sadly gone. The fertile land has been swallowed up by bulldozers, concreted over and incorporated in the Olympic site. For a mere four weeks, the two Sams write poignantly "it will be used as a pathway between stadiums". Luckily for us, the book remains.

Week in Week Out: 52 Seasonal Stories
Week in Week Out: 52 Seasonal Stories
by Simon Hopkinson
Edition: Hardcover

52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simon Hopkinson - one-time chef appeals equally to professional and home cooks., 23 Oct. 2007
His new book, Week In Week Out is a collection of 52 `seasonal stories'. It kicks off in winter with such dishes as Devilled Whitebait and Grilled Veal Kidneys with Creamed Onions and Sage. Spring offers Tomatoes stuffed with Crab & Basil, Summer makes the most of Broad Beans with Cream & Mint while for autumn he suggests Scallops with Verjuice & Chives. These recipes echo Simon's philosophy of `cooking for pleasure, rather than slavishness towards fashion'.

This book is not just for the complicated. Check out what he says about something as simple and foolproof as boiling new potatoes. Apparently it's just not good enough to plop them into boiling water, skin intact, as I always do. Oh no, you should take the trouble to scrape them all over which results in potatoes "of another texture". And do you know - he's right.

Simon is dismissive of modern food fads. A lot of restaurants, he feels, serve food to please the chef's ego rather than the customer. His `classic' recipes will stand the test of time simply because they make good - even the best - eating. It's worth remembering that his Roast Chicken and Other Stories, published in 1994, was recently voted the most useful cookery book of all time by Waitrose Food Illustrated.

Good cooking, clear concise recipes and strong flavours will out. And what makes Simon one of the greats is his attention to detail, his loving and understanding approach and, above all, the fantastic food that every home cook can create simply by following his instructions.

A Tale of 12 Kitchens: Family Cooking in Four Countries
A Tale of 12 Kitchens: Family Cooking in Four Countries
by Jake Tilson
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A personal memoir of food and family, 31 May 2007
Jake Tilson's A Tale of 12 Kitchens is a personal memoir that traces his experiences of food as the binding element of family life. As Jake is the author, cook, designer and photographer - not the usual state of affairs I assure you - this is a particularly intimate account that explores his gastronomic roots and influences.

The book reads like a diary-cum-holiday scrapbook, it is accentuated with family photos, hand-written recipes, and images of products and places that may evoke similar jolts of memory in the reader. His travels through, and life in, four different countries - England, Scotland, Italy and America - inspire his collection of recipes, be it Blizzard Duck in Scotland or Thanksgiving Water Tower Stack from New York.

The recipes originate from a variety of sources - his parents' early attempts at self-sufficiency in Wiltshire, family friends in Tuscany, his Scottish parents-in-law and his own time spent in New York and California. They feel like familiar and much-cherished friends and relations with the photos adding texture and context. Jake's descriptions of gargantuan breakfasts in New York, or assembling burritos in hotel bathrooms in LA are vivid enough to make you long to buy a camper van and head for the hills.

Runner up for Food Book in the 2007 Glenfiddich Food & Drink Awards, Jake also tackles such thought-provoking questions such as `Why do we cook what we cook? What has the deepest effect on our culinary habits - is it childhood, marriage, the neighbourhood or what we saw on television last night?'

I defy anyone not to fall a tiny bit in love with Jake. How can you resist anyone who issues instructions on how to build a tortilla press, should you find yourself without one in the California desert?

Henrietta Green

How to Cook the Perfect...
How to Cook the Perfect...
by Marcus Wareing
Edition: Hardcover

80 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Foolproof recipes, 3 May 2007
Surviving training under Gordon Ramsay is no mean feat, but Marcus Wareing proved more than capable of holding his own. With a clutch of Michelin stars, now he has his first cookery book to add to his parade.

In `How to Cook the Perfect...' Marcus has assembled a collection of recipes that cover a wide range of homely favourites with a focus on his `Keys to Perfection'. These pinpoint the whys and wherefores of each dish and help you achieve the highest standards, as well as show you how to avoid culinary disasters.

Marcus, you may remember, won the pudding round of the Great British Menu 2006 with his Custard Tart. Now, armed with his recipe, you can make it, as well as such delights as Shallot Tatins, Fried Eggs `Banjo', and Couscous with Candied Lemon with utter confidence.

Despite his background, this isn't a book full of tricksy recipes that look gorgeous but are far too daunting to attempt yourself. Mum's Pork Chops, or a simple, but heavenly-looking Tomato Salad hark back to Marcus' Northern childhood. Not only are they completely family- but also user-friendly.

A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School
A Year at Ballymaloe Cookery School
by Darina Allen
Edition: Paperback

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seasonal and traditional cooking from County Cork, 2 April 2007
Review by Henrietta Green April 2007

Darina Allen has a deserved reputation as an ambassador for Irish food, champion of Irish farmers markets and a great teacher and communicator.

In her latest book, she returns to her much-loved cookery school at Ballymaloe, near Cork in Ireland. Set in organic gardens and with its own farm, the Ballymaloe Cookery School uses much of its own produce in the classroom that provides the base for seasonal recipes throughout the year. Other ingredients are sourced locally from surrounding producers, many of whom we meet throughout the book.

Darina's style is to use these quality ingredients to create dishes with flair. The recipes have been tried and tested at the school and enjoyed and devoured by eager students. In fact, many are expanded with extra notes including what makes them special to teach to the class. There's also a good `Basics' section that guides you on pastry, stocks and sauces, the special Ballymaloe salad dressing and flavoured oils and jellies.

She also shares her wide knowledge of Irish history and folklore. In the bread chapter, you'll find recipes for Irish wheaten and soda bread with the advice to never forget to cross the top of the loaf, `to let the faeries out' or the loaf will be jinxed.

So even if you don't have access to the bountiful harvests at Ballymaloe, you can easily recreate the recipes using the best of the season from your own garden or farmers market.

A Year in My Kitchen
A Year in My Kitchen
by Skye Gyngell
Edition: Hardcover

49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple and exquisite food, 9 Feb. 2007
This review is from: A Year in My Kitchen (Hardcover)
Skye Gyngell is the chef at Petersham Café, a heavenly café-restaurant in the middle of Petersham Nurseries. In the old greenhouses, surrounded by plants, flowers and many a ravishing household accessory, you will eat simple but exquisitely prepared food.

`A year in my kitchen', Skye's first book, is a real labour of love written with great warmth, thoughtfulness and a serious concern for the seasons. Feeding friends - or customers - is in part about the right attitude; a `generosity of spirit', so she positively encourages us to put our hearts and souls into our cooking.

The basis of her recipes is her `culinary toolbox', a range of flavours that are the starting point for her dishes. The toolbox is based on `sky and earth' flavours that range from leafy green herbs, citrus zest and vinaigrettes (sky) to the earth-bound, woody herbs, toasted nuts or roast spices that add depth to winter meals. Trust me, it does make sense once you have read her explanation and it is far less airy-fairy than it sounds.

Truly a treasure to be absorbed and used throughout the year, "A year in my kitchen" focuses on choosing fresh seasonal produce and preparing it with flair and individuality. It will excite and inspire you and - should you feel the need - put the passion back into your cooking. It will also leave you itching to get in the kitchen to try Skye's ideas.

The Complete Superfoods Cookbook: Dishes and Drinks for Energy, Detoxing and Healing
The Complete Superfoods Cookbook: Dishes and Drinks for Energy, Detoxing and Healing
by Michael van Straten
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winning recipes to make you feel a whole lot better, 23 Jan. 2007
Michael van Straten is a practitioner of complementary medicine and a practising naturopath - but he is also wise and eminently sensible. In his latest book, Michael sets out his premise. He wants us all to feel good and sets about encouraging us how to go about it, so it contains plenty for everybody whether you want to step up your immunity, boost your energy, detox after the Christmas excesses, loose a few pounds or just sleep more soundly.

Written with clearness and precision it is divided into chapters on energy, immunity and protection, cleansing, supplements and so on. Each chapter follows a similar format of an introduction that is helpful and enlightening with plenty of background information about how to help yourself in modern life, a check list of foods that you should concentrate to aid recovery followed by recipes that focus on that area. There is an A-Z of raw ingredients and what they are a source of, that actually focuses on such down to earth foods as lettuce or grapefruit and an equally helpful A-Z of vitamins and minerals with equally helpful information.

The recipes are real winners - colourful, cheery and full of flavour and, in case you are worried - much, much more than just salads. At this time of year when so many of us lack energy, you'll be relieved to find warming soups and stews as well as winter fruit punches that not only taste good but are guaranteed to perk us up at the same time.

A real winner that is satisfying to cook from that will also make you a whole lot better at the same time.

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