Home Made Christmas, a cookbook review

If you haven’t noticed, I love cookbooks.  Sometimes I like them to be cute like Cook Korean!  Sometimes I like them to give me warm and fuzzy feelings of yum like Martha Stewart’s Cookies.  So I got really exciting when Abrams was kind enough to send me a copy of Yvette Van Boven’s Home Made Christmas.  Van Boven is an acclaimed cookbook author and host of Holland’s cooking show Koken Met van Boven.  In the US, her previous books are Home Made, Home Made Winter, Home Made Summer, and Home Baked. 

I remember Home Made and Home Made Winter when they were first released, but I never really got around to doing a deep dive into either of them.  Probably because I wasn’t cooking as regularly as I do now.  I certainly wasn’t doing cookbook reviews back then.  I forgot how whimsical some of Van Boten’s illustrations are.  It reminds me a little of doodling in the margins of a notebook.

Home Made Christmas is divided into these sections:

Christmas Stress-Relief Tips

  • The Morning **
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Soups
  • Small Plates
  • Main Courses
  • Side Dishes **
  • Desserts **
  • Pantry
  • Menus

** = the chapters I’m personally most interested in.

And these are definitely holiday recipes, meant for celebration.  I wouldn’t say any of them are intimidating, but a lot of them are a little too decadent for everyday eating.

Here’s a sample of the recipes I’m most interested in trying out:

  • Brioche and Red Fruit Swirls with Ricotta Glaze
  • Savory French Toast
  • Squash, Feta, and Sage Pull Apart Bread
  • Cauliflower Creme with Coconut, Cumin, and Pine Nuts
  • Mincemeat Fudge
  • Blood Orange-Meringue Tartlets

The recipes that I am not interested in but you, dear reader, might be:

  • Spicy Goat Cheese Spread with Home Made Melba Toast
  • Cream of Gorgonzola and Poached Pears on Toast
  • Terrine of Tender Leek with Smoked Salmon and Mascarpone
  • Mackerel TartletRum-cured and Smoked Wild Salmon

For my first recipe from the book, I chose apple cranberry Christmas rolls.  It was pretty easy to put together that I was willing to do this at 8pm on a Thursday night even though I had work the next day.  As I was making it, I kept thinking that I was doing something wrong.  There’s no leavening agent!  But I carried on and put my faith in Van Boven.  She wrote that “the dough should be nice and soft, not too dry.”  I ended up with something that was extremely sticky.  Was that the same as nice and soft?  Can I blame this on a translation issue?    I had so many questions.

Once put together, it reminded me a lot of Amazing Raisin Cake which is a mayo based cake with apples and raisins.  (It’s one of the few things my mother would bake during my childhood but that’s a different story.)  I chose to scoop them onto a parchment line baking sheet, and made eight rolls.

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waiting to be baked #food

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I feel like calling them rolls is bad representation, but I’m not sure what a better description would be.  They are substantial and denser than a typical yeasted roll.  But I still really liked them!  Even though there’s applesauce, sugar, diced apples, and dried cranberries, it’s not too sweet.  My only disappointment was that my rolls didn’t brown prettily.  They don’t look like the book photo.  (Granted, I feel like the book photos have an intentional brown tone to them overall.)

I enjoyed the book, and I’m happy to put it on my bookshelf.  I think others will too.

Disclaimer – I received this book from Abrams for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Reference Links:

https://www.abramsbooks.com/product/home-made-christmas_9781419732386/

https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/dessert/cake/amazin-raisin-cake-1974.html

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The Kitchen Ecosystem, a cookbook review

Happy Holidays!

Am I really blogging on Christmas Day?  Yes.  Consider this my present to you.  (^_^)

My semester at night school is over and done with.  I am signed up for more night classes next semester, but I’ve decided to go off track and just take the classes that are of interest to me.  This means that I’m taking my next class at noncredit and hopefully that will afford me more mental space to do things I like, like blogging.

Anyway, I’ve had a cookbook sitting on my table that was sent to me by Blogging For Books.  I’ve been meaning to write about it for what feels like forever.  I just didn’t have the time until now.  Note – I’m not getting compensated for this beyond getting a cookbook for free.  This is my first time using Blogging For Books, and I think I could really like it.  When I logged in, there were about five or so cookbooks that I could chose from to review.  However, only one of them really caught my eye.

About week later, The Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone landed in my mailbox.

First impressions?  I love the layout, the look, and the concept of this book.  In general, Eugenia gives you some recipes using a fresh ingredient, like fennel.  Then, she’ll provide a recipe to preserve said ingredient.  For our example, fennel becomes fennel-pistachio compote.  To round out the group of recipes for the ingredient, there are recipes on how to use the preserved product.  So in turn, fennel-pistachio compote becomes paired with egg salad or striped bass.

IMG_20141108_122710~2The chapters are centered around each ingredient.  They are in alphabetical order, starting from apples and finishing with zucchini.  There is also a small chapter on condiments, and a small chapter on how to preserve.  The pictures really complement the book.  The food styling is done so that the dishes look delicious and comforting.   Nothing looks intimidating.

IMG_20141108_122733~2
The only downside to this book is that I don’t think I’ll get to use it very often.  Several of the preservation recipes require pressure canning which I don’t have the equipment for.  Meanwhile, there are some recipes that just aren’t my thing.  There’s a recipe for Fried Ravioli with Grape Must Concentrate.  It’s a traditional Italian Christmas dessert, according to the description.  I’m sure it’s delicious, and I’d be happy to eat it if someone made it for me.  I just don’t see myself ever making it.
IMG_20141108_122750~2Overall, I like this cookbook and plan to use it.  (Hopefully, sooner rather than later.  Cranberry juice recipe, I’m looking at you.)  I will have to do some tweaking for those recipes where I won’t have the preserved components prepared in advanced, but I think that’s ok.

Eugenia Bone has a website that is, I think, a fair representation of her style.  Feel free to check it out, if the book is of any interest to you.

Reference Links:
http://www.bloggingforbooks.org/
http://www.kitchenecosystem.com/