Ms Marmite Lover’s Secret Tea Party by Kerstin Rodgers
Afternoon tea has to be one of my favourite meals – dress it up, or dress it down, savoury or sweet – it is endlessly variable and can easily be a main meal in its self. Ms Marmite Lover’s second book covers everything that yo need to know about hosting a stunning afternoon party and being the hostess with the mostess. Not just a cookbook, it also covers the history of afternoon tea and how to set a scene with instructions for making a cake stand, and pretty embellished tea towels.
The recipes are innovative and interesting – tea cup soups and savoury tartlets are delicious served before the more traditional sweeter treats, biscuits, cakes large and small, meringues and ice cream cakes. New techniques are clearly explained and showstopper recipes seem very attainable. I love suggestions for themed afternoon teas, with a menu and styling tips. Woodland apple pie and magic mushroom meringues are served at a Midwinter Night’s Afternoon Tea, or how about a Marie Antoinette afternoon tea with Madeleines, French Fancies and a delicate pastel croquembouche.
If you are in a tea rut, the chapter on proper tea will provide you with the inspiration to branch out and to try something different and be able to serve it perfectly, for those wanting something a little stronger there is a good selection of suitable cocktails.
Written, styled and photographed by Kerstin, and accompanied with delightful illustrations by her mother, the book is packed with her warm and exuberant personality enticing you to host your own secret tea parties this year!
Ms Marmite Lover’s Secret Tea Party published by Square Peg, cover price £20
Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient by Michael Ruhlman
Review by Ed
We went to see the film The 100 Foot Journey when it was showing in cinemas a few months ago. One of the plot MacGuffins was the (semi-apocryphal?) test given to prospective restaurant sous-chefs of cooking an omelette – the theory being that if you can cook a good omelette, then you can cook and can learn everything else, and if you can’t, then you lack the essential feel for food. I’m not so much of a frequent omeletteer myself, but I am a fan of poached eggs when in the country at my parents and have access to really fresh eggs, or gently scrambling them possibly with some smoked salmon for a breakfast treat.
If your egg repertoire is limited like mine, then Egg, A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient by Michael Ruhlman is the book for you. In its 235 pages, he covers nearly every conceivable method of cooking: boiling (hard and soft), fried, deep fried, coddled, shirred, poached, poached in sauce, poached in a bag, omelettes, baked, as an ingredient custards, brioche, pasta, pancakes and crepes. Moving on to separating yolk and white, he covers sauces such as mayonnaise, hollandaise and béarnaise, then meringues, marshmallows, isle flottants before finishing with egg nog. The book also comes with a separate flow chart at the back showing where in the range of techniques each recipe stands.
There are plenty of recipes illustrating each method. I thought that the pork ramen with soft boiled egg and spring onion, shirred eggs Florentine, eggs Benedict, bacon and sausage breakfast strata, chawanmushi, ale and rum flip, sweetcorn and sweet pepper fritters with Chipotle-lime mayonnaise, lemon shallot mayonnaise, and Poire Williams sabayon all looked interestin. I was quite surprised to see that the only soufflé recipe was for a sweet chocolate espresso and Kahula one, but the book is exhaustive otherwise. Most recipes are illustrated with single page pictures and some but not all recipes have photos illustrating technique.
It is a specialised book, but not so esoteric that it doesn’t contain useful recipes and helpful tips (for instance, draining eggs with a slotted spoon before poaching so that the thinner white runs off). If you feel that your omelette or scrambling technique could do with a fillip, or that you’re looking to expand your range of egg-based dishes, then this is the book for you.
Egg is published by Jacqui Small, cover price £19.99
French Regional Food by Joel Robuchon and Loic Bienassis
A guest review by Jude
When I was asked to review this book I expected a cookery book with a simple round up of French Regional Recipes, but this is far more.
This learned tome is beautifully illustrated and does feature a handful of recipes. More importantly, it discusses the local specialties found within each area of France. Working it’s way from the coast, (starting with my favourite Region Brittany) to Provence and the Alps, it takes the reader on a tour of French gastronomy. The book looks at each region and highlights products that have been “handed down through generations and (are) rooted in local custom.”
The recipes themselves are classic, they are marked with stars in terms of difficulty, many are not too complicated, but call for time and patience, as well as the correct ingredients. Perhaps better for cooking at the weekend, rather than in the evening after work.
This is a book for the winter, to be relished sitting beside a fire, sipping a glass of brandy and planning a foray into France next summer. I will keep my copy in Brittany, there for visitors, passing a day or two with us, at the beginning of their holidays, to dip into and anticipate new and exciting foodie experiences as they explore France.
It’s certainly a book worth giving to a Francophile, or a cook who is interested in the sourcing of both recipes and ingredients.
Let’s Eat Meat by Tom Parker Bowles
A guest post by Eileen from ET Speaks from Home
Let’s Eat Meat is a cookbook all about meat, of course! It offers over 120 exciting recipes for prime cuts, cheap bits and glorious scraps of meats. The meat recipes are from all over the world from the US and Mexico, Japan and Britain, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, India and China.
The book was written by Tom Parker Bowles and was released on 23rd October 2014. It was published by Pavilion. The book is Hardcover containing 240 pages. It comes with six chapters: Meat; Less Meat; Meat as Seasoning; Wild Meat & Offal; No Meat and Basics. There is no overview of each individual recipe on each chapter page which I find makes it hard to navigate through the book for recipe ideas. Most of the recipe comes with straightforward instructions, beautiful photos and information on Tom’s food experience.
The cookbook is also very informative. On each recipe, he explains what he thinks about the ingredients, where the recipe came from and in addition to his food experience while travelling around the world. It has certainly enlightened me with a few facts. I am always very curious to learn about other countries ways of cooking meats.
I chose to cook the Fried Aubergine with Pork recipe as aubergines are one of my favourite vegetables and also I have a bag of sticky/glutinous rice left which I had no idea what to do with it. This is recipe from Laos.
This is not a quick recipe as it takes a long time to cook sticky rice. In Tom’s recipe, he didn’t mention how to cook the sticky rice. So I am going to explain how I cook sticky rice. You can get a small packet (1 kg) of sticky rice from any Chinese/Thai supermarkets. One cup for one person serving. Soak the rice for at least 8 to 10 hours in water before you steam the rice in the bamboo basket. Make sure you lay a banana leaf/cloth/greaseproof paper on the bamboo basket before you steam it. Before adding the sticky rice into the bamboo basket, I added 3 tablespoons of dark soya sauce, 3 tablespoons of light soya sauce and two tablespoons of sesame oil into the rice. Otherwise the sticky rice will be quite tasteless. Steam for 15 – 20 minutes.
Decorated by April Carter
If you have ever wanted to make immaculate show stopper layer cakes then Decorated by April Carter is for you. Following a comprehensive introduction the book contains a recipe chapter, ideas for flavouring, a chapter on construction, working with buttercream and then finally some ideas for those finishing touches.
Recipes and flavours are modern and broad in style, chocolate, orange and cardamom; toasted porter peanut and chocolate or apple parsnip and rosemary syrup stand out. The construction and buttercream chapters are is packed with clear step by step photos and make the techniques within seem attainable by a keen amateur.
Beautifully, and simply, photographed throughout the book is the inspiration I need to finally get to grips with these types of show stopper cakes.
Decorated is published by Hardy Grant, cover price £20