Tuesday, 11 October 2016

"The London Cookbook" by Aleksandra Crapanzano | Cookbook Review

The London Cookbook
by Aleksandra Crapanzano
Publishing Date: October 11, 2016
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 304
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

This cookbook promises you all the best of London's cuisine...but does it deliver?

If you've ever wanted to take a trip to London, you might know that it has a great culinary culture - a drastic change from the bland way we thought of England's food not too long ago.

The London Cookbook contains recipes from all over London, but it seems to be mostly posh recipes. I had a really hard time finding any recipes that I either had the ingredients for, or could afford the ingredients for.

In fact, in keeping with my rule of three when I review cookbooks, I managed to make the only three recipes that I found to be affordable in this entire book.

Because my phone is currently malfunctioning, I've lost the pictures I took of the food I made (with the exception of one from my Snapchat), but I'll do my best to briefly tell you about each dish anyhow.

The first things I made were the Chocolate Squares (p.218). These were pretty simple to make, and they're basically delicious brownies. They're really rich in flavour, and are great with a dollop of ice cream on top. They were a hit with my family and I'd definitely make them again!

Next up, I made the Summer Pasta with Crème Fraîche, Arugula, and Lemon (p.52). As the title suggests, this is a great dish for summer. It was fairly straightforward to make this, with the exception of the cème faîche. I couldn't find any at the store, so I attempted to make some at home, which didn't work out exactly as I'd hoped, though that part of the sauce did taste great. Not being a big arugula fan, this wasn't my favourite meal, but I think anyone who likes arugula would love this.

Finally, I made the Shrimp Aguachili Ceviche with Jalapeño and Citrus (p.11). I was so excited to make this because I don't generally make many fancy things and this one sounded like an interesting concept. You marinade raw shrimp in a brine of citrus juices, and the citrus is supposed to essentially cook the shrimp. I had a lot of problems cooking the shrimp. When I realized the shrimp was still mostly raw after the allotted sitting time, I left it for longer. Eventually, I gave up on the citrus process and boiled the shrimp. This dish is absolutely delicious - it's a great appetizer (it would be so refreshing during summer!) and I'd definitely make it again, minus the whole citrus-cooking process.

This book gives you a feeling for the upper-class, stylish vibe in London, but to the average people like me - good luck affording any of the recipes. This cookbook would be best suited to someone with deep pockets who's interested in great-sounding dishes!

*I received a NetGalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

"101 One-Dish Dinners" by Andrea Chesman | Cookbook Review

101 One-Dish Dinners by Andrea Chesman
Publishing Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Pages: 192
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo

We all love comfort food. Whether, to you, that means soup or mac and cheese or ice cream, there's always a place for comfort food at the table. 101 One-Dish Dinners aims to put these recipes into our hands - and stomachs - by showing us that they can be pretty simple to make.

The book starts with a brief history of one-dish dinners, as well as some tips and advice for cooking and cookware.

Full of recipes both familiar and new to me, I would definitely say this cookbook is accessible to a wide range of people. Whether you want to learn recipes from other cultures or you just want to make a simple meal, or whether you're skilled in the kitchen or...just want to make a simple meal, there's something in here for you.

When I was looking through the recipes, I noticed that most of the ingredients are pretty standard and easy to find at a local grocery store. To me, that's important in a cookbook because it's nice to be able to make delicious food without breaking the bank or going on a trek to find obscure ingredients.

My one criticism of the book is that 2 of the 3 recipes I tried were not one-dish dinners. The soup used a couple of pans (which I'm not complaining about, just, it's not one dish) and the casserole required several pots and pans. I wouldn't quite call them one-dish dinners, even though they were fairly straightforward to make - I was expecting something simpler based on the title of the book.

Clockwise from left: Stovetop Mac 'n' Cheese with Ham
 & Peas (p.116); Caldo Verde (p.50); Pastitsio (p.145)
On to the food!

The first thing I made from this book was the Stovetop Mac 'n' Cheese with Ham & Peas (p.116). It was super simple and easy to make, and it's a good way of getting some greens and protein into you. I didn't have any ham at home, so it ended up being a vegetarian version of the recipe, but ham could only make it tastier. I also tossed in some leftover broccoli, which was delish. The mac 'n' cheese is a little dry, so I'd suggest using a little more milk and cheese.

The second recipe I made was Caldo Verde (p.50), which is literally "green soup" in Portuguese. Being a half-Portuguese family, everyone in my house was super excited about this one, given that we love my grandma's version. There were a couple of things I did wrong, so I endured some light ribbing (all in good fun) from my Portuguese mother and the rest of my family ("What happened?"), but overall, I'd say it's a great recipe. It ain't pretty, but it's so incredibly tasty. Everyone who tried it absolutely loves it, and I'd say it's a big success in my house!

The last thing I made was Pastitsio (p.145), which is described as a Greek mac and cheese. This was probably the most popular thing I made from the book, as I made it late last night and it's nearly 2/3 of the way gone already. It was also the most complicated - this is the recipe that used multiple pots and pans, and it was also time-consuming. I won't be making it for a while because it was a lot of work, but I do think it's worth the effort!

All in all, this is a great cookbook if you're looking for some fairly easy, very delicious recipes.

*I received a NetGalley copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review