Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A Year in Cheese

A Year in Cheese book review

Tartiflette with Reblochon
Who knew cheeses are seasonal?  Brothers Alex and Leo Guarneri licensed Androuet Fromagerie in London in Spitafields Market, have now published an 189-page book of pure dairy delight.  Very simple melting in the mouth dishes and pleasurable recipes by Alessandro Grano. Kim Lightbody beautifully photographed the book. 

What makes a seasonal cheese? 

Some cheeses come to their own during designated seasons.
It's about animal grazing and birth cycles of the animals, milking, maturing and ageing times. The recognition of  when the cheeses are at their optimal state.

Cornish Blue Ice Cream with caramelised walnuts

This book is divided into the four climate seasons

The beginning of the cheese cycle.
The season for fresh and renewal starts, very much like the weather spring bring new, young and fresher and bursting with flavours cheeses. Expect dishes with spring greens, berries, courgette flowers, spring lamb,  and fresh herbs. 

The time of the year for making cheese. The best time for all year-around cheeses.  Expect recipes with lots of leaves, earthy vegetables and seasonal fruit tarts.

Time for the matured cheeses made in the spring, full of character and earthy tones. Recipes with meat, bread-crumbed fried foods, bread, and toasties.

Comfort food at its best with baked vacherin and Camembert, medium hard Swiss cheeses, earthy mushrooms, and beautiful aligot.
Mont D'Or Vacherim Melt

Every single chapter finishes with a suggested seasonal cheeseboard.
All recipes have a caveat with a description of the cheese featured in the recipe and possible substitution.

I cooked a few recipes from the book, and I was thrilled by the easiness and simplicity of the dishes and some really fantastic ideas to use cheese in cooking. This book makes an excellent present any time of the year.

Highly recommended.  Buy here

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book for review purposes.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Book review: Nikkei food by Luiz Hara

I've read many  '10 best cookbooks that every cook should have on their shelves,' and everyone has different books on their must-have list.  I think just by the nature of the subject — Nikkei food — this book should have a place on anyone's top 10 list.

The marriage of different food cultures to Japanese cuisine is very exciting, with endless possibilities. This book highlights Luiz's creativity in the kitchen by using Japanese, Peruvian, and Brazilian elements and serving delicious dishes with flair  on every single page. This book really makes the reader understand the care, love, and attention that the author puts on his table.  I know as I have been to his supper clubs numerous times read more about his Nikkei supper club here 

The book has beautiful pictures, and it's printed on a good-quality paper that makes the colours jump out of the page. There are about 100 recipes some are simple to follow, whereas others are a bit more involved. There are some
exhilarating guest recipes from the best Nikkei chefs from around the world.

Nikkei, Japanese food the South American Way

The book starts with the best short one-liner dedication ever. Then it moves on to measurements and conversions, making it simple for anyone anywhere to make the recipes.
Tuna, aji rocoto, grapefruit leche de tigre on palm hearts

chestnut rice and pan fried steak marinated in miso and aji panca - that aji panca cream is delectable!

There is an explanation of Nikkei cuisine and a bit of the history of how it came about in South America. Following this are lovely photos and the history of Luiz's family and colourful Brazil. Next is the section on how to use the book.

Small eats
This section is about nibbles, starters, and street bar and party food. One of the recipes that caught my attention was the beloved Brazilian recipe, pasteis. Oh, my! how good they are; you must make them.

Tuna, aji rocoto, grapefruit leche de tigre on palm hearts

Sushi, tiraditos & ceviches
This part of the book is mainly a celebration of fresh and good quality fish and seafood. It showcases some original and innovative recipes. Again, I want try them all.


Miso & Mandioquinha cream - what a fabulous recipe - taste of my childhood!
Rice & noodles
In my view, this is the most inspirational part of the book. Your imagination will fly away with so many ideas. I tried the chestnut rice. On my list of things to cook next is the Nikkei lobster rice - I've been dreaming about this dish for a long time....

Soups and hotpots
Nikkei hotpots are delicious! I learned with Luiz how to make and prepare them; they are such show-stoppers! There are also a couple of very famous Brazilian-themed soups.

chestnut rice and pan fried steak marinated in miso and aji panca - that aji panca cream is delectable!

A festival of fish, meat and even foie gras, a nod to his French cooking education, are included in these sumptuous dishes. Also on my to-make list is the Moqueca de camarao (a Brazilian dish) served with coriander rice donburi – this rice reminds me of Peruvian coriander rice served with chicken.

Vegetables, salads, & tofu
There is such a great variety of colourful and inventive plates. Palm heart and tomato salad are perhaps one of the best-loved Brazilian salads, and here Luiz puts his individual Nikkei stamp on it – delightful.

Caju Sorbet - I made this recipe numerous times over the years and it's always a delight. Luiz's version has  touch of cognac
The first recipe is not Nikkei, but if you have ever been to Luiz's supper club, you have certainly tried his flourless chocolate cake with Armagnac prunes a light and rich chocolate recipe that shows Luiz's French cook side; after all Luiz is a Le Cordon Bleu alumni. There is also a delightful array of ice creams, sorbets, and other sweet treats.

There's also a selection of delightful sauces - above is truffle ponzu sauce I've been eating this sauce with everything!

Mastering the basics
This part of the book shows the reader 'how to' make a list of sauces, marinades, and condiments. It also gets up close and personal with some of the Japanese, Asian, Peruvian, and Brazilian ingredients used in the book.

The book ends with a list of acknowledgements of directory suppliers in the UK, USA, and Australia – it's quite international!

As you can see, I have tried and tested some recipes from the book. I can only tell you about my experience that I found easy to find most of the some of the Asian ingredients in my local supermarket and local market of Brixton, London. Graded sushi fish can be found online or search for it at your best local fishmonger.

I still haven't recovered from the long hours in bed devouring this cookbook. Sad? Perhaps, but I absolutely LOVED this book. I secretly wish it were the first of many books by Luiz on this subject.

Luiz hosts regular Japanese, Nikkei and sporadically French supper clubs and classes at his fantastic location in North London.
Book is out tomorrow!!!!  the  22nd October 2015. buy here

Until next time why not join me on  InstagramTwitter and Facebook…X
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book for review purposes.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Hundred Foot Journey, Hassan's dry chicken

a good book, cup tea and cake - perfect!
I've never been to India, but it's on my bucket list. I love Indian food in all its colourful glory and aromas. The textures and combinations are a delight for the taste buds. What I really like is the small explosions of spices, one by one, it's a surprise party in the mouth.  When I  received  The Hundred Foot Journey to review a few months ago, I was intrigued. But life took over, and I only read it last week. Once I started, I couldn't put the book down.
Interesting journey of Hassan Haji, from the slums of Bombay, now known as Mumbai.  Leaving for London after the tragic  death of his mother. Family life in Southall and having to leave abruptly after an indiscretion to crossing Europe back and forth, a family trying to find themselves in a long period of mourning. Finally find themselves in a small village in France and the hilarity of customs and discovery of new plates.  I won't tell you the end!  But I will tell you how one dish got me wondering and guessing the recipe. It was mentioned in the middle of the book was Hassan's dry chicken.  A dish that changed from oily and heavy to a dry fried chicken to became a bestseller at Hassan's grandfathers restaurant in Mumbai in the book. Not having the recipe detailed has driven me mad!  So with only a vague description I tried to make my version of it. 

Hassan's dry chicken by Hot&Chilli

spices : Hassan's dry chicken - my version

Ingredients for the Homemade masala, based on a generic recipe:
Cumin Seeds- 1 Tbsp
Dry Red Chilli - 8
Turmeric Powder - 1 Tsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Dry Ginger - 2 pieces [I used  Ginger Powder - 1/2 Tbsp
Black Peppercorns- 1/2 Tbsp
Cloves - 8
Whole black Mustard Seeds- 1/2 Tbsp
Green Cardamom - 8
Fenugreek Seeds - 2 Tsp
Black Gram - 2 Tbsp
Fennel Seeds- 1 Tbsp
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Star Anise - 1
Nutmeg - 2 Tsp grated/powder
Mace- 1 Tbsp (I used powder)
Poppy Seeds- 1 Tbsp
Rock Salt - 1/2 Tbsp 

500g Chicken pieces
Yogurt, black onions seeds and  chopped coriander mix

Hassan's dry chicken - my version

1. In a pan, I used a wok, dry roast all ingredients together for about 2 minutes in medium-low heat,  set aside and allow to cool.
2. Once cooled, grind all ingredients into a smooth powder using mixer or coffee/spice grinder or pestle and mortar. 
3. Sieve the grinded powder through a  sieve,  discard any large pieces of spices. Store in an airtight container. When ready to use:
4. in a bowl, add the masala powder, half of yogurt and small chicken pieces, let it marinade for 2 hours.
5. dry fry in a pan until completely cook thoroughly.
6. Serve with yogurt & black onion dip and sprinkled with coriander.

Is that the recipe for Hassan's dry chicken?  Who knows? The film will be released to the general public this Friday in the UK, can we find out the recipe for Hassan's dry chicken? or has it been errased from the feature film? Is the book better than the film? Only way to find out:

You can buy the book at Amazon
Hassan's dry chicken - my version

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book free of charge from the publisher.  

Monday, 26 November 2012

Mugaritz, a natural science of cooking

Mugaritz is located  near San Sebastian and it is one of many Michelin star restaurants in my bucket list. This highly acclaimed establishment  won the 3rd best restaurant in the world in 2012, at the The 50 Best Restaurants Award. I haven't realised this dream yet.  I was pleasantly surprised to receive Mugaritz a natural science of cooking, the book from Phaidon to be reviewed.  It's Mugaritz first cookbook in English. This big, heavy and beautifully presented book contains about 250 pages. Introduction is by award winners Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, and John Lanchester,  author and journalist.  The photographs by Pers-Anders Jorgensen and Jose Luis Lopes (recipes) capture the essence of the place, the commitment, the enthusiasm of the people and the highly scientifically crafted dishes.  
I devoured the book in one afternoon. Every page is a learning curve with interesting facts, science, local geography, elaborate techniques and very particular ingredients and equipments. It's a delightful and eye-catching coffee table book. However, I really like to try recipes from cookbooks.  I like the experience, the strange interaction with a book and to understand what the author is trying to achieve even before finishing reading the page.   Once you read the recipes, the approach, and specially the equipment list involved your  mind boggles. The lack of very expensive facilities in domestic kitchens is a real problem. Compounded with the unique ingredients its a real challenge!   Here are two recipes that caught my eyes and my embarrassing results.

Cheese Gnocchi soaked in Salted Iberico Pork Bouillon

This recipe calls for a Thermomix, instead I used a blender and hot water to blitz  the cheese. I used semi cured manchego cheese instead of Idiazabal as I couldn't find this cheese in the UK. I couldn't find the shisho shoots instead I used fully grown green Shisho, not the same result!
I learnt how to use kuzu and as you can see from the pictures I need to practise the pipping
technique. The cheese balls are so light and the salty and smooth texture works so well with the very slow cooking Iberico pork bouillon.  I was shocked it wasn't too fatty considering that Iberico pork is about 75 to 80% fat.
Violet Ice Cream, Hot Almond Marzipan, Shavings of spiced bread and green tea

This recipe in the book looks so pretty. The special equipment required is the dehydrator, I used the oven to dehydrate the cake/bread.  I particularly liked tempering the chocolate for the chocolate rolls and making rubble out of the bread/cake.

This dish is a combination of different textures, temperatures and cultures. Every mouthful is a hit of contrasting flavours and it brings elements of surprise. I learnt  about new techniques, new ingredients and their uses.

This is one of the most stunning cookbooks I've ever seen to date.  I can't wait to go to Mugaritz and taste the real thing. In the meantime, I can always flick throught the recipes. 
Available on Amazon

Friday, 22 June 2012

Wahaca Mexican Food at Home by Thomasina Miers

Last week a very lucky group of bloggers and journalists were invited to take part of a Mexican workshop with Thomasina Miers at Wahaca Westfield Stratford, one of six branches in London. Thomasina is a cook, food writer, and the winner of MasterChef 2005. Tommi, as she likes to be called, has written four books and has contributed for many high profile British newspapers and magazines.  She has also co-presented two C4 cooking series and her latest show, Mexican Food Made Simple, was on air last summer throughout July and August in the UK.

left: Thomasina working her magic
Our finished dishes left: Guacamole, right: Cucumber and Beet salad, sea bass, ceviche and guacamole recipes in the new book
We tried our hands at three recipes ceviche, classic guacamole and my new favourite salad cucumber, chilli, beetroot and ricotta salad. We prepared the dishes in pairs, I was paired  with a rather nice food & fashion blogger Clare from Humbugs and Handbags . All recipes came with a very pleasing and descriptive intro.  Tommi's enthused the room with her energy and knowledge about all things Mexican.  We were also given a copy of her new book  Wahaca Mexican food at home, a collection of 130 recipes based on cantinas, street food, markets and parties collected by Tommi's over the last 5 years. 

This colourful book has just over 250 pages full of  pictures  and it contains breakfast, robust lunches and dinners to glorious cocktails ideas. The book has easy to follow steps to make a wonderful Mexican inspired meals at home.  When I opened the book for the first time I wanted to try all recipes!  The book starts with breakfast, one meal of the day that I think is overlooked but majority of us. So far,  I have tried one recipe from this book at home, the banana pecan and chocolate bread. It is heaven!  Instructions are very clear and ingredients can be easily found in your cupboard. What a treat!   
The book  is divided in a lovely intro, Mexican store cupboard must-haves, a charter about Mexican chillies, market food, cantina, fiestas (parties) and very useful chapter: suppliers. Majority of the recipes will need one or more Mexican ingredients that can be found either at local supermarkets or/and some specialised shops. 
Banana, Pecan and Chocolate bread
Video ‘Westfield Stratford City Restaurants’

Thanks to Tommi, Wahaca and Propellernet for a very educational and delicious evening.
For more about our workshop evening:  

Monday, 9 April 2012

Review - Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy

Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy is another cracker from Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.  Having already review Two Greedy Italians in 2011 I was looking forward to the follow up book. In this publication both chefs embark on a journey through Italy delving into traditions, geography and the contrast of climate which define the agriculture of this amazing country. The book contains 80 recipes and it is divided in four parts:
.Introduction- a snapshot of the lives of Contaldo and Carluccio, together with a brief Italian history and geography.
.Comfort food from the mountains - the Lakes, packed with heart-warming dishes.
.Fresh flavour from the coast - Islands,  delicious fresh seafood from Italy's coastline as well as it's islands.
.The larder of the river and plains - Rome. 

The photography, by David Loftus,  is rustic and breathtaking. I tried the simple recipes that stand the test of time. The focus is on flavours and quality ingredients where only the best will do. 

Gnocchi di Castagne

I tried the gnocchi di Castagne  which was delicious and light, I never heard of chestnut flour before so it was another new discovery for me. Dried chestnuts are milled into a very light brown and gluten free flour with a distinctive aroma and pleasing sweet and nutty taste. I found this flour at my local whole food shop in Brixton.

Warm fresh tuna salad with red onions - lovely citrous and sweet red onions and fresh tuna makes a delicious light lunch,  pumpkin risotto has a chilli background to it and the baked apples with walnuts, raisins and honey made a fantastic textured and crunchy finale! 

Highly recommended! 
I was sent Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy to be reviewed by Quadrille Publishing.   The book will be published on the 12th April and the second major 4-part TV series on BBC2 to follow.   You can buy it on Amazon.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Christmas with Gordon - Book review

Quadrille books have released  a very festive Christmas book by celebrity chef and TV presenter Gordon Ramsey. Deep red with white letters, the hardcover is glossy, and the book itself contains 141 pages filled with colour photographs by London based photographer Chris Terry. The book jacket  has a portrait of Gordon Ramsey carving a turkey.


The book  was written with the help of food stylist Emily Quah and is divided by chapters:


The recipes are not overly complicated, I tried some of the recipes specially the side dishes. Easy to find ingredients, even though some ingredients are a bit expensive. However, it's Christmas time so let's indulge a bit.   A good variety and modern take on the traditional dishes.  This book is great addition to a food lovers book collection. I am looking forward to try the puddings recipes.

Pear and saffron chutney, truffle mash and creamed cabbage with thyme
I made the creamed cabbage at least three times in the last two weeks - simple and tasty. I love the piquancy and texture of the pear and saffron chutney so much, that I have made some to give as Christmas presents. It's delicious - what a treat!  Another good suggestion for a Christmas present too. This book was sent to me by Quadrille books to be reviewed.  Thanks Quadrille!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Love Music Love Food - Rock'n Roll Cookbook

The concept of this book was born out of love of music and food to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust.  The artists featured in the book have all supported the teen charity, some over the years, some are new comers.  The cover jacket is a very strong image of Juliet Lewis sitting on a purple setting, with her long wind-swept hair, wearing a black and silver sequined figure hugging outfit, squashing a hand full of berries with her one of her bare hands and a upright guitar placed in between her legs. Take that away and it's a plain, mat black hardcover. The book contains 235 pages full of recipes, foreworded by Heston Blumental. The rock stars quotes and  suggestions of  their favorite restaurant hangouts, loves and hates from childhood. The photography in this cookbook differ from the others cookbooks, because the images are not of the finished dishes or ingredients by themselves, they are pictures of the musicians with their favorite food or ingredient in a very rock'n roll way. All images in the book is by the London food photographer Patricie de Villiers. 

The recipes were devised by Sarah Muir, who has been cooking for rocks stars on the road for many years.  I tried one recipe of this book, the Gringo Bandito Sauce Buffalo chicken. The sauce is hot with a subtle sweetness that works well with the crispy chicken skin. I read the other recipes and they seen to be easy to follow and they use ingredients that are easy to find in supermarkets. This is a stunning tabletop book for a worthy cause. At £30, it makes lovely present for a foodie and/or music lover.
Back in August,  Charles and I went to the launch of Love Music Love Food, we really enjoyed it. Some Love Music Love Food the book launch photos here

Tried and tested recipe
 Gringo Bandito Sauce Buffalo chicken

Thanks Quadrille for sending this beautiful Rock'n Roll book

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Theo Randall at The InterContinental Hotel

My life seems to be filled with very special and unplanned moments.  This post is about one of them. After waking up early on a Saturday,  traveling to the other side of town and spending the whole day at a conference, I was tired and fancied going home in the evening. But, it wasn't to be... we met up with the lovely Jen and her husband, my companion's friends from L.A.; who were staying at one of my favorite places in town, the InterContinental Hotel.  First, we went to The Arch bar, also located at the hotel, for some awesome cocktails.
Our friends left to enjoy their last night around town. My companion and I decided to pay a impromptu visit to Theo Randall at The InterContinental Hotel triggered by my hunger and crave for proper cooked meal, the first of that day. The entrance to the restaurant is on the left-hand side of the grand hotel lobby. The luminous modern and clean lines entrance is very inviting and the front of the house staff was very welcoming and accommodating as we didn't have a reservation that Saturday night.
To  my surprise my companion,  who had consumed a few too many cocktails, told one of the staff about my blog and we were invited to the kitchen so I could meet the chef. The first OMG moment of the evening!
        Theo Randall                              preparing bruschetta  freshly made bread
Theo's kitchen
 The Restaurant
 The deco is neutral with muted colored walls and furniture. Strategic lighting showcase the bright colored vases. The atmosphere was elegantly vibrant. When we arrived some tables 
were taken but soon the restaurant was packed.
Glass of bubbly, Zucchini Fritti and bruschetta alla Romana freshly made - I saw it being prepared! -

Insalata Mista with goats cheese and bursting with flavor Italian tomatoes, simple and rustic
Insalata di granchio - Devon crab with fennel, dandelion, celery, radicchio and Sardinia Bottarga - very fresh and  citrosy dish. The Bottarga adds an extra dimension to this dish.
We had our antipasti (Insalata & crab) with a very light, fresh  glass of white wine, which was recommend by the sommelier.  Unfortunately I didn't get the name of the wine.
Capelletti di Vitello - pasta filled with slow cooked veal, pancetta and porccini  - we shared this dish - it's huge and robust dish made with fresh pasta.
Agnello - roast rack of Somerset lamb (pink) with wood roasted carrots, artichoke, zucchini, fennel, beets and salsa d'erbe

Capetino di Cape Sante e Coda di Rospo- monkfish and scallops with red chilli, parsley, aubergine, yellow zucchini - very light and flavorsome dish, the chillies were not overpowering, just adding taste and a bit of heat - perfect!

plate of pasta  - huge portions
It would be rude to have one desert each so we opted for  a selection of deserts to share: panacotta raspberries and grappa, soft chocolate cake, vanilla ice-cream with chilled espresso, Amalfi lemon tart, a glass of Port and espresso.  Another OMG moment of the evening : Chef Randall handed me over himself, at our table, a copy of his book signed : Pasta
My companion bought a copy of Theo Randall's book for our friend's forthcoming birthday.
The Bill - worth every penny! Theo Randall serves seasonal, fine and yet rustic food with flare! The service was amicable and cordial. The suggestion of wine was spot on, even though it was on the expensive side @ £14/glass. However, I appreciate that matching wine and food is quite important and part of fine dining experience. Verdict: I will be back on a special occasion!
Theo Randall's restaurant bar

Theo Randall on Urbanspoon

I made pasta using recipe from Theo's book
at home   -successful and delicious!
Theo Randall's cooking classes : cooking class

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