Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Stevie Parle's Dock Kitchen Cookbook

This is a gorgeously sumptuous looking book. It has a padded cover which begs to be held and have time spent with it.  The cover wrap has quotes from both Yotam Ottolenghi & Jay Rayner, both of who I respect greatly for their food wisdom, which gets the book off to a great start.

The book highly promotes seasonal cookery. Recipes are featured in the season when the ingredients are at their best. The treat of having one recipe per page with a colour photograph of the finished product on the opposite page is a real luxury. The result of the presentation of the recipes means that the book easy to read, and refer to.

The book is for those who are passionate about cooking and eating.  I think they are perfect for a special occasion meal.

Many of the recipes sound  really decadent:

Chicken roasted in mastic and pomegranate molasses with braised broad beans,

Cuttlefish Tagine  and

Mexican Octopus and pork crackling with tomato salsa

I love the idea of cooking all these at home, and this book has given me the opportunity to recreate restaurant dining at home in my country kitchen.

This is a unique book, with unusual recipes and flavours which is great if you're looking for something a little different from the norm.

Full of inspirational recipes the book would be perfect for the kitchen, or the coffee table. Either way it's a must read for all foodies.

This book was kindly sent to me to review by Quadrille Publishing.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Eat Your Veg - Arthur Potts Dawson

I love growing my own vegetables. There's nothing quite like the thrill of wandering down to the veg plot with a garden fork and digging up half a dozen potatoes for tea. In the winter and early spring the veg patch pickings are a little meagre, and at the moment I am enjoying the contents of a weekly veg box delivery.  This means that each week I have no excuse for getting my 5 a day BUT have to find yummy recipes to make the most of the box.

I was lucky enough to be sent Arthur Potts Dawson's book Eat Your Veg by Octopus Publishing to review and I was immediately struck with how bright and colourful the cover looks.

The book is split into five sections:  Roots & Tubers, Bulbs & Stems, Leaves & Flowers, Fruits and Fungi & Beans & Pods.  Each of these sections includes various skills and feasts such as Mash, Gratin & Pickle - all of which are very useful core skills to have. At the rear of the book is the obligatory index which is equally useful if you know exactly what vegetable you wish to use and just want a relevant recipe.

The introduction also has a handy section detailing What's Best When.  I try to eat as seasonally as I can, and try to grow as much as I can. It's so useful to have a quick reference guide for the vegetables that I either don't or can't grow, or for a special recipe

In this weeks veg box we received some celeriac and had no idea what to do with it.  The index gave me six options, and we decided to try celeriac remoulade.

The book says:
Remoulade is a classic salad that's absolutely lovely. Serve it with a ploughman's lunch or a piece of fish, or as a light snack with toast and cornichons. It's also great  in a sandwich with a slice of ham.

The recipe serves 4-6. We scaled the recipe down by half and ended up with a large portion each:

50g of salted capers
25g of horseradish root
3tbsp of homemade mayonnaise
500g celeriac
2tbsp of finely chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper

We found the recipe easy to make:

1:  Drain and chop the capers. Peel and grate the horseradish. Mix with the mayonnaise and capers in a  bowl.

Then cut the celeriac in half and and slice as thin as possible

3:  Add the celeriac matchsticks to the mayonnaise and chopped parsley mixture, season lightly

Towards the back of the book there is a brilliant Basics section which contains recipes for pastry, stocks, sauces and dressings. To test these out we decided to use the Homemade mayonnaise recipe which makes about 1 pint. Again we halved it to make 1/2 pint, but here is the recipe in full:

3 free range egg yolks
1tbsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp white wine vinegar
1tsp caster sugar
2tsp salt
pinch of pepper
500ml vegetable oil
2tbsp lemon juice

We found the mayonnaise recipe slightly harder to follow - but it was well worth it in the end.

We teamed our Remoulade with some cheese, boiled eggs and salad

There are so many recipes in the book which I am looking forward to trying- some more unusual than others. My book keeps falling open at the recipe for Iced pea and mint lollipops which sound very interesting.

This book is a very useable resource and one which will be my first port of call for vegetable main courses or sides. It is easy to read, has bright clear pictures and gives inspiration for even the most unusual vegetable.

Definately a book for everyone who enjoys a good meal.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Butlers Almond & Orange Dark Chocolate

When eating dark chocolate I like to ration myself and this 100g bar from Butlers of Ireland is marked into ten pieces making it easy to savour over a number of days. The chocolate itself is 58% cocoa solids which is good if you don't like a strong dark flavour, for me though I would prefer a deeper taste. The bar contains 6% roasted almond pieces which is enough to get a mild crunch in each bite, and the almonds are finely chopped so a subtle nutty flavour lingers on the palate. The candied orange pieces were a lovely addition giving the bar a hint of luxury, but the orange left me wanting more, perhaps a hint of orange oil would be nice, or more peel.

Overall this bar was nicely presented, and encased in a gold inner wrapping. It would be pleasant as an after dinner treat if you wanted to try something a little different.

As a chocoholic it's great to try brands I haven't tried before, and Butlers is certainly one I'll be looking out for next time I'm looking for an indulgent treat.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Yesterday's Sun - Amanda Brooke - Book Review

Holly & Tom move to a rural English village to begin their new life together. Holly's unhappy childhood haunts her, but with Tom's family background she believes she can move on with her life. Her job as a sculpter allows her to spend time getting to know her new environment and make friends with a past occupant of her house. Tom is a journalist whose job takes him away from Holly for long periods of time, leaving her to make the biggest decision of her life without him.

Holly discovers a moondial half buried at the bottom of her garden which takes her into a future where Tom and their beautiful baby daughter live, but where she is absent. Holly has a choice to make - does she save herself, or the life of the baby she has already fallen in love with.

This novel is the debut from the author and is inspired by her own personal torment when her son died prematurely. It is written with great feeling and emotion from the author, that left me feeling very sad in places for all the characters, as it is not just Holly who has demons to battle with.  This book does not have a happy ending, nor a conclusive one. It is a sad ending, but satisfying to the reader.

The thing that sets it apart from so many other books in the  "tragedy/drama" genre is the use of the moondial. The supernatural element describes the future/and the past excellently and works well in this context.

This book is featured as one of the eight books selected in Richard and Judy's Spring Book Club 2012. I enjoy looking at the books featured in this list as it rarely disappoints.  The choices they make encourage me to try authors and books I would not normally read, and this book falls into this category. I usually prefer my books to be less emotional, however I'm pleased to say I was glad I didn't judge this book by its cover as it was well worth the read.

The  whsmith edition features bonus material which includes notes from the author and a Q&A with the author and Richard and Judy

I was sent a copy of this book to review by WHsmith