Friday, June 8, 2018

Savor You

This is not the usual sort of book I read, but it landed with a thump on my doorstep, so I brought it in and gave it a go.

The cover says it's a fusion novel - but fusing what? The people on the cover say it's probably a romance novel. The background is a kitchen. The title is Savor You.

The plot thickens. Or maybe it's just the lemon curd.

Did I mention that I don't usually read romance novels? I think the last one I read was when I found out that a grade school classmate had written a few of them, and I figured I'd check them out. That was ... a loooong time ago.

The fusion here seems to be lots of romance with a smattering of food. There's no murder, so it's not a murder mystery. No aliens, so it's not sci-fi. Lots of talk about restaurants, food, cooking shows, and more food.

The plot revolves around Mia, a restaurant owner and chef, who agrees to do a cooking show with Camden, a guy she was married to for a couple days when she was in her 20's. He's a celebrity chef. She's overweight (although that's not how she's depicted on the cover). And there's tension. Lots of tension.

The book's point of view shifts from Mia to Camden and back again with each chapter. That could be problematic, but author Kristen Proby handled pretty well. There are a couple of sex scenes, so maybe don't hand this to your youngest kids. And at the back of the book are recipes for apple pie and cheesecake that are mentioned in the book.

Since I don't read a lot of romances, I have no idea how this stacks up against others of this genre. But overall, it was a light read on a summer day.

I received this book at no cost to me.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Death al Fresco

No, this isn't a dangerous cookbook - it's a mystery novel. The plot involves not one, but two restaurants, but even without that food tie-in, I would have enjoyed the book.

This is one of a series, so it left me wondering about a few things. Like, Sally owns a restaurant of her own, but she seems to spend more time at the "family" restaurant that her dad runs. I have a feeling that previous books explained this quirk, but I kept wanting to nudge her over to her own restaurant to do more than act as a line cook once in a while.

Aside from that little oddity, the book was pretty engaging. Being a murder mystery, someone died, and Sally managed to insert herself into the investigation. Of course she did. And of course she found a major clue. And of course she got into trouble.

This was a fun, easy read, and to be honest it made me want to go find the previous books in the series to find out more about the back story.

Did I mention the recipes? The back of the book (where they're easy to find, all in one place!) are recipes for some of the dishes mentioned in the book. I haven't tried any of them, but I do appreciate that they're included.

Overall, a nice read.

I received this from the publisher at no cost to me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How to Taste

I have to say that this was one of the most informative books I've read in a while, and at the same time it was pretty engaging. And it comes in a compact size that's easy to travel with.

Yes, there were a few recipes, but that's totally not the point. The point is to learn how to taste things so you can adjust your cooking for the best result. Which is maybe why Becky Selengut named it How to Taste.

Of course, "best" can be a bit subjective. But even so, when you taste your soup and you know there's something missing, this book can help you unravel the problem so you can add that pinch of salt or splash of lemon juice that takes it from "Okay for lunch" to "Yeah, I'd serve this to company. Fancy company."

The book starts with salt and explains things like where on your tongue you should taste things when the salt amount is correct, and it wends its way through acids and texture and pretty much everything that goes into making a dish the best it can be.

While the recipes here are designed to illustrate particular points about cooking and eating, there is one recipe I've bookmarked to make later, because it sounds so interesting: Mustard Caviar.

If you're interested in learning how to use your senses to improve your cooking and adjust recipes that are a little out of whack, this is the book for you.

I received this from the publisher at no cost to me.

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Cook's Atelier

Hey, look! I'm catching up on the books that I've gotten for participating in the Abrams Dinner Party. I get free cookbooks, I post about them, and then I try to find room on my bookshelves (AKA those piles of books in every corner) where I can keep the safe from harm.

This one is a monster. The Cook's Atelier by Marjorie Taylor and Kendall Smith Franchini isn't just a cookbook. As the tagline says, it's Recipes, Techniques, and Stories from Our French Cooking School.

If you like some reading matter along with your recipes, this is definitely the book for you. The first 60ish pages are about techniques, tools, and all sorts of kitchen wisdom. Even when the recipes start in earnest, there are stories interspersed, so you'll have plenty of prose to curl up with as you search for recipes to make.

The book is arranged by season, which makes sense for this sort of book. And it makes browsing a little more productive, since you won't be looking at heavy stews when summer is beating down on your head.

The recipe that I have bookmarked for a definite yes is the Almond-Cherry Galette, It's a simple thing, really. Just the galette dough (we're sent to another page for that), plus sugar, vanilla bean, lemon juice, cherries, butter, egg, and cream. If you've noticed that there is no almond, that's because it's in the galette dough. And that's one of the reasons I'm smitten with this right now. I usually make galettes with a basic pie dough, but that almond flour is intriguing. I must make it.

Of course, it's noted that any seasonal fruit can be used, but the combination of cherries and almond is one of my all-time favorites, so I'll be waiting for cherries to come into season.

As I mentioned, this book is big (about 400 pages), and it's heavy. This isn't something that you'll tuck into your bag for some reading on the train. Well, maybe you will, but I don't take a train to work, and I'm not fond of carrying heavy books to and fro.

But it's packed with information. And recipes. Lots of recipes. While it's doubtful I'll be making the roasted pheasant any time soon, I just might use the same recipe for the next chicken I find that needs roasting. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other recipes, from simple to not-so-simple to keep me out of trouble.

As I mentioned at the top, I got this book at no cost to me as part of the Abrams Dinner Party. They still haven't sent me dinner, but I'm having fun with the books.