Cookbook 184: Miguel Maestre’s Feast: 100 Generous Recipes to Share

Who doesn’t like the idea of cooking for a stack of people (most people, I know)? I like the idea of cooking for a stack of people, and cooking interesting recipes that are specifically to share with other people sounded like a great idea, so I picked up Miguel Maestre’s Feast: 100 Generous Recipes to Share in the hope that it’d have some amazing recipes and I was not disappointed.

It wasn’t easy selecting which recipes to make, and I know that there will be readers out there who will roll their eyes at the “hummus”, I did too, but overall I liked this book and want to come back to it and try some more things. 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Cookbook 183: La Paella

I wanted a good paella cookbook, one that wasn’t from the US, and it turns out that they’re not that easy to find. Eventually I settled on La Paella by Louise Pickford, an author who was born in the UK, lived in Australia and now has moved to France. I thought she’d probably be able to provide recipes that will work for my availability of ingredients and preferred style of cooking.

And the book isn’t just paella recipes, there are rice puddings, rice heavy stews and some Spanish style pasta dishes. Because cooking paella is a big job, I only ended up cooking two vegetarian ones from the book so far, and a rice pudding. I definitely want to come back and cook more because so many of the recipes look amazing. I’ve already cooked one dish from this multiple times because it is tasty and easy to make. 5 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 182: Epic Meatballs

Yeah, brace yourselves because this is not going to be a good ride. I bought Epic Meatballs: 120 next-level meatball recipes including recipes for sides, sauces and garnishes by Matteo Bruno because I love meatballs. What a great concept, a whole lot of stuff, meat or veg, in a ball, with a sauce. You may remember The Bowlers Meatball which I cooked from ages ago, and which I’ve gone back to. Great book, highly recommended. This book by Bruno? Terrible book, don’t recommend. In fact, if someone gives you this cookbook as a gift, they probably don’t like you.

So what is wrong with this book? I’d suggest that Bruno didn’t actually test any of the recipes, and wrote down what he thought he did, versus what he actually does. There are other things, the Chunky Italian Red Sauce is measured in weight (kilograms/pounds) and the meatball recipe that calls for that sauce asks for it in volume (litres/ounces). The vegetarian meatball I cooked (there are very few vegetarian recipes in this book), completely failed, actually being too liquid to cook. The meat meatball had little structural integrity. I give this book 1 star out of 5. Stay clear.

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Cookbook 181: Nat’s What I Reckon: Death to Jar Sauce

Nat’s What I Reckon was one of the bright spots in the pandemic. His (very sweary) videos on cooking tasty food with love were incredibly uplifting and brilliant. There was a point during the early days of the pandemic when each new video filled me with joy, and I’d make time in my day to see what was on the menu. Of course he was pressured into writing a cookbook, and my lovely friends Nadia and Ameel bought it for me. Nat’s What I Reckon: Death to Jar Sauce is an amazing cookbook. Click through on that link and see the gorgeous artwork that graces the pages, because this isn’t a traditional cookbook, this is a cookbook in illustrated form. Tri-colour comic (pink, black and white) demonstrating the steps of the recipe, including the swearing and other commentary that Nat usually makes.

I’ve made two recipes out of this book, and I’ve made them twice because they really are that good. I’ll provide links to Nat’s videos where I can find them, so you can see the steps if my translation of the words to page, without the beautiful graphics, doesn’t make as much sense as you’d hope. Overall 5 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 180: Florentine

I saw Florentine by Emiko Davies while killing time in a bookshop a long while ago, and I flipped through it, partly because I love Florence and partly because I really liked the look of the cover. I loved the recipes inside, the photos of food and Florence, and the fact that there were vegetarian recipes inside as well, so I put it on my wishlist to buy. And then I eventually bought it.

I cooked two pasta dishes from the book, though the gnocchi and the sugo di pomodoro are separate recipes. I even got out my pasta maker and bought duck for the pappardelle all’Anatra, which was absolutely amazing. Highly recommend this book, 5 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 179 – To Asia with Love

After hearing many people rave about Hetty McKinnon and her cookbooks, I bought To Asia with Love hoping it would be a great addition to my collection. It is an interesting cookbook, with some things I want to still try and one recipe that I don’t think I’ll ever eat again, though Nigel wants to make it himself as he loved it.

The instructions are clear, the ideas solid, and the book is entirely vegetarian, so an easy one to cook from in my household which has one vegetarian. Overall 3 out of 5 stars.

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Cookbook 178: Chocolate

So I bought this Chocolate by Olga Jones from the amazing Karen Wyld who had closed her bookshop and was selling all her remaining stock. It’s a very pretty book and on one of my favourite topics, so of course I bought it. The two recipes I made were perfect, and the double choc biscuits are incredibly simple and amazingly delicious. Can’t recommend this book highly enough, I’m looking forward to trying more recipes when the weather is more suitable for baking. 5 out of 5 stars.

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Photos broken

Sorry for a lot of the photos being broken. I had to delete most of my photos off Flickr because the price for Flickr has become prohibitive, and I moved all my photos to Google Photos. This means I now need to go back and update all the photos in the broken posts, and I will do that when I am up to date with my blogging AND I have capacity.

So please imagine beautiful food in the interim, and over time these will be fixed.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Cookbook 177: Asian After Work

I love Adam Liaw, he has such a beautiful voice, is so passionate about food and the cultures of food, about making food accessible, and sharing in the joy of food. I’d been deciding what book of his to buy for a while, and settled on Asian After Work as something that would be accessible, easy to cook from, and could add some dishes to my repertoire.

This is a good book, particularly if you are not a vegetarian. If you are a vegetarian don’t bother with this book, there are insufficient vegetarian recipes to make it worth your while. I struggled to find recipes that I could make for my vegetarian house mate who is also allergic to capsicum, but we got two in the end.

Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 stars out of 5. The instructions are good, the recipe ideas are not too complicated, and the way the book is broken up into proposed meal plans is a nice touch, for example dishes to cook on Sunday when you might have more time to cook, dishes to cook on a Tuesday when you may not.

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Cookbook 176: The Violet Bakery Cookbook

The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak was one of those books that I lost the photos of cooking from a couple of years ago, and a gift from my sister. I remember cooking ginger snap biscuits and corn and chilli muffins from the first time I baked, with the biscuits turning out great and the corn and chilli muffins being both the driest and oiliest muffins I’d ever eaten – flavour good, texture bad.

This time I decided to bake some other recipes and it was ok, but nothing amazing. None of the recipes were better than the recipes for similar things in other cookbooks, and this won’t be one I keep. Overall I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

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