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Posts Tagged ‘blogging for books’

I love the sub-title for The Basque Book, by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero.  It says, “a love letter in recipes from the kitchen of Txikito.”  It’s a bit poetic, yes?  I guess it fits my mood these days.  That and some part of me wanted to expand my culinary horizons.

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Do I need another cookbook?  No, but we’ve had this discussion before.  I had the chance to pick up The Basque Book or The Wurst of Lucky Peach.  I waffled between the two books for a few days before settling for the former.  Eventually, I decided to pick the one that felt more out of my comfort zone.

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Luckily, I’m pretty happy with this book.  The pictures are has romantic as the sub-title.  It’s also definitely filled with recipes that are generally unfamiliar to me.  Unfamiliar doesn’t have to mean complex though.  All the recipes have a very un-intimidating ingredient list.  That doesn’t mean that I have easy access to all the ingredients but means that the ingredients list isn’t an entire page long.

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And for the things that I don’t have easy access to, the book provides a DIY recipe most of the time.  The recipe for quick salt-cured cod is a perfect example of this.  A couple of the recipes were a surprise, because they were not Spanish styled at all: Chinatown-style periwinkles, and tempura-fried soft-shell crabs.  (Granted, the crab recipe requires making escabeche first, which is a technique for flavoring and preserving seafood/meat by poaching it in a vinaigrette.)

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But there are recipes that are on the to-do list.  For me, the lentils with chorizo stew recipe has massive appeal.  I don’t have any cured chorizo in my house right now, but I do have cured loukaniko that I’ve been desperately thinking of ways to use.  So, a version of the lentil stew is likely happening this weekend.  And if it doesn’t disappoint, I’ll try my best to post it.

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The book is split up into sections by main ingredient/type of dish.  They are: basic recipes, tapas/bar type food, vegetables, egg, seafood, soups/stews, Basque recipes for gatherings*, sweets, and then drinks.

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* = I am having trouble summarizing the Txokos, Asadores, Sagardotegis, and Ferias chapter.  It doesn’t help that it’s a relatively small chapter.

But I’m glad I made a leap of faith on this cookbook.  There’s a good handful of recipes that I think I want to try.  It also makes a lovely coffee table book if you prefer your cookbooks to be visually stunning.

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(If it matters to you, I ended up checking out The Wurst of Lucky Peach from the library.  Half of the book is more like a reference book, so there weren’t nearly as many recipes as I had hoped.  So, I think I chose wisely.  There’s nothing wrong with the new Lucky Peach book.  It just didn’t appeal to me, personally.)

Reference Links:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/243474/the-basque-book-by-alexandra-raij-with-eder-montero-and-rebecca-flint-marx/

http://www.bloggingforbooks.com/

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

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In hindsight, I think I wanted to peruse Home Cooked by Anya Fernald for mildly silly reasons.  Don’t get me wrong, the Blogging for Books description sounded enticing enough:

Anya Fernald’s approach to cooking is anything but timid; rich sauces, meaty ragus, perfectly charred vegetables. And her execution is unfussy, with the singular goal of making delicious, exuberantly flavored, unpretentious food with the best ingredients. Inspired by the humble traditions of cucina povera, the frugal cooking of Italian peasants, Anya brings a forgotten pragmatism to home cooking; making use of seasonal bounty by canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, salt curing fish, simmering flavorful broths with leftover bones, and transforming tough cuts of meat into supple stews and sauces with long cooking. These building blocks become the basis for a kitchen repertoire that is inspired, thrifty, environmentally sound, and most importantly, bursting with flavor.

Still… I think I mostly got the book because I liked the cover.

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Anyway!  The rational comments first:

This book is fairly gorgeous.  I loved the photo for the blood orange salad.  It was vivid and delicious looking.  There’s a series of photos for the toma cheese  with green herbs that I think is inspiring.  The pictures for salmon confit are lovely and bright, contrasting the red-orange meat of the fish against the grey-ish countertop and Fernald’s blue-white striped apron.  For people who want lots of pictures in their cookbooks, this one fits the bill.

The recipes themselves are varied.  The chapters of the books are: building blocks, snacks/starters/cocktails, pasta/ragu/risotto/eggs, vegetables, fish/meat, and desserts.  There’s a recipe for liver pate, a savory pie with lots of greens in the filling, cracked crabs with lemon-chile vinaigrette, and twice cooked orange duck.  Each recipe is fairly striped down to the essential ingredients.  The list length of ingredients isn’t intimidating.  If anything is intimidating, it might be some of the ingredients themselves.  Rendered pork fat, trotter broth, and bone broth are examples of ingredients that most people don’t keep around.  (Well, urban dwellers like me anyhow.)  They might get turned off from a recipe for that reason.  From Fernald’s perspective, these ingredients are nothing exotic.  She’s the co-founder of Belcampo, a farm/butcher shop/restaurant.  Belcampo even has a meat camp!

Objectively, I would give this book four out of five stars.

From a more personal perspective, I’m not sure how much use I’ll get out of this book.  At the moment, I’m mesmerized by the cheese-making recipes and the anise seed breakfast cookies.  I haven’t given up on this book yet, but realistically it might not live on my bookshelf for too long.  I guess it’s more of a three star book for me personally.

Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  I’m not getting paid for this post.

Reference Links:

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/248626/home-cooked-by-anya-fernald-with-jessica-battilana/

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P.S.  Random comment – the amazake turned out well.  I just kept forgetting to take photos of it.  So I’ll have to make a second batch just to show it off.  (^_^)

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Happiness is… getting a copy of Alana Chernila’s The Homemade Kitchen before it was officially released.  (^_^)

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I’ve read through Chernila’s first cookbook, The Homemade Pantry, a few times because it really appeals to the part of me that wants less processed foods in my life.  (It’s probably a pipe dream of mine.  Work lunches are my downfall, and I’m never going to give up frozen pre-made Chinese dumplings.)  So when I found out that I could get my grabby hands on her new book, I didn’t even hesitate.

Overall impression?  I love it.

More detailed impressions and a recipe?  Keep reading.

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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.

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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/

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