Books

Friday Favourites: Cookbooks

Regular readers of The Amazing Blog will know that when it comes to cooking, we’re almost a perfect split. Half of us are foodies, while the rest would rather exhaust a basic recipe, than slave away in the kitchen. That said, it is universally agreed that a good cookbook can make all the difference, encouraging even the most unenthusiastic amongst us to don an apron and wooden spoon. Luckily for you, we’ve taken one for the team, correlating four new recipe books worth a try. We’re sure you’ll find one just for you!

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Firstly, many of us are trying to introduce meat-free meals into our weekly diets, meaning a good cookbook can prevent the need to exist solely on a nut roast or vegetable curry. Our cookbook of choice is The Modern Vegetarian, designed to inspire even the most uninspired, encouraging delicious vegetable-based meals packed full of exotic flavours and textures.

Written by world-renowned chef, Maria Elia, this cookbook aims to prove that cutting meat out of a meal doesn’t cut out the flavour; instead, it is a gateway to try new flavour combinations and techniques. Elia’s experience is reputable; she has a Michelin recommendation and has earned 2 AA rosettes. Viewers of Sunday Brunch and Saturday Kitchen may also recognise her, having appeared as a guest chef on both. We don’t know about you, but we feel at ease knowing that recipes have been tried and tested by an expert – because whether an avid chef or not, few have the patience for a disastrous result! The book itself covers everything from ‘Sophisticated Starters’ to ‘Sofa Suppers’, but we were most pleased by the ‘Stylish Sides’ section. All too often, we’re faced with plain boiled rice or pasta to accompany dishes – something Elia has challenged and avoided. Instead, you can transport yourself to India with a Red Lentil Dhal (page 114) or try your hand at an Aubergine Houmous (page 113). Whichever recipe takes your fancy most, you’ll be sure to enjoy the conversational element of the book, with personal notes written by Elia, substantiating the authenticity of the dishes and making for an enjoyable evening read.

To explore innovative vegetable based dishes for yourself, then The Modern Vegetarian can be purchased here for £16.99.

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There's no doubt that the smell of food entices you into the kitchen, but what about our other senses? This is something we hadn't contemplated, so we were intrigued by Sybil Kapoor's Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, Sound cookbook. This book recognises the combined importance of all five senses, dedicating a chapter to each, filled with delicious recipes, and reliable advice, from layering flavours, to using temperature and sound.

Kapoor has a wealth of knowledge in the realms of cooking; as the author of eight books, she is one of the most respected food writers in Britain and continues to propel her knowledge through a variety of publications. Each chapter is based around one of the five senses: Taste, Flavour (smell), Texture (touch and sound), Temperature (touch) and Appearance; however, our favourie part of the book, is the integrated feel. Each chapter is intertwined, with theory and advice allowing the reader to establish the links between senses. Kapoor aims to prove that by using a little theory and practical testing, you will be able to produce simple, yet delicious dishes. Now this all may sound a little complex to a less than enthusiastic chef, however, even ready meal lovers in the office were taken by the carefully designed recipes, especially the Stir-fried Squid with Chilli and Black Bean Sauce (page 144) and the Sticky Asian Beef Kebab with Cucumber Dip (page 92). For those with a sweet tooth, the Sticky Spiced Lemon Gin Cake (page 75) also proved to be a big hit - so whether you're interested in the links between the senses or not, you'll be sure to learn new tips and tricks to create delicious dinner party worthy meals.

To tempt your own senses, Sight, Smell, Touch, Taste, Sound is available here for £24.00.

If you're looking to be transported to more exotic lands this Friday, then Baladi Palestine - A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea by Joudie Kalla is just the cookbook for you! Taking equal inspiration from her historical background and personal experience of Palestine, we were struck by how little we knew about this exotic and varying landscapes. These conditions create diverse and new flavours, all of which are included in Kalla's recipes. With twists on traditional dishes, this book has an authentic yet innovative feel to it. Better still, it is jam-packed with stunning photography, from food images to landscapes and the people of Palestine. We were sold before even trying the recipes - quite an accolade!

With over 250 pages, this visually interesting book is equally colourful in terms of culinary delights. Flicking through the pages, you're met with everything from spiced lamb, to filled speciality pastries and watermelon juice. One of our favourite elements of this book is the splitting of chapters, not merely by dish, but by the areas in which the ingredients are sourced. Varying from Markets and Village Life to The Bakery and The Farm, a quick flick through this cookbook tempts the senses, but equally gives a quick snapshot of the Palestine lifestyle. We recommend the chapter: From The River To The Sea, in particular, the Saffron Monkfish and Vegetable Skewers (page 177), delicious as the weather picks up.

To inject a little bit of culture into your cooking, you can purchase Baladi Palestine - A Celebration of Food from Land and Sea here for £26.

Last but by no means least, we discovered The RAF 100 Cookbook. Created to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Air Force, this cookbook contains 100 recipes from 100 countries, split by chapter, into monumental moments of RAF history. We love the concept behind this cookbook, drawing inspiration from the saying that "an army marches on its stomach" and taking the research from acting and former servicemen and servicewomen to create authentic and delicious recipes from around the world. Additionally, this cookbook contains the recipes of top household chefs such as James Martin, Tom Kerridge and Cyprus Todiwala, emerging a plethora of knowledge to inspire your weekly menu.

We often find that cookbooks are very niche in their flavour combinations, and while this is certainly no bad thing, we like the variety of this cookbook. Each of the 100 countries are covered in a sensitive and informative manner, with a detailed explanation of the RAF's involvement alongside each recipe. It is clear just how much time and effort has gone into this book, spreading as far as to include eye-catching photographs of the dishes, alongside black and white images of the RAF in past years. The way in which the chapters are segregated stays true to the inspiration behind the book, from The Early Years to The Modern Age, conflicts are addressed through the medium of cultural dishes. Additionally, a percentage of each sale is donated to one of five RAF charities, directly supporting the inspiration of the cookbook. It is very difficult to pinpoint certain dishes here; however, the likes of the Ascension Island's Saint Helenian Fishcakes (page 300) and Maldivian Fish Curry (page 288) stand out for their exotic nature. The point here though, is that this is a cookbook for all occasions - whether you're looking for a local dish or one from further afield, you need only flick through to the country of your choice for an authentic and delicious recipe.

To inject 100 new recipes into your repertoire, you can purchase The RAF 100 Cookbook here for £25.

Friday Favourites: Cookbooks

Cooking is something we're divided on at The Amazing Blog. Half of us are avid chefs, and the rest, well they would prefer never to turn an oven on again. What we do agree on though, is that a good cookbook can ease the battle of turning everyday ingredients into delicious meals, helping even the most unenthusiastic of cooks to rustle up a tasty dish. We have discovered the following cookbooks, each one guaranteed to contain a vast amount of recipes that will make your cooking restaurant worthy in no time!

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Firstly, we came across Eating Well Everyday, the brainchild of chef Peter Gordon. Originally from New Zealand, Gordon's extensive knowledge of cooking has stemmed from numerous culinary travels, through which he has gained inspiration to use Asian, Indonesian and Indian flavours. His passions have also led him to receive an ONZM (the equivalent of an OBE), notably awarded as a result of having organised a "Who's Cooking Dinner" event, which raised over £6.3 million for leukaemia research. We are therefore safe in the knowledge that this cookbook has been written by someone who truly knows how to cook (and has a passion for it).

Written for "home cooks everywhere", this book contains 170 recipes, covering everything from breakfast to dinner party meals. Self-proclaimed to contain “tasty and daring, yet simple and straightforward" dishes, this is something we can vouch for. Even the most inexperienced of chefs amongst us were able to follow these recipes with ease (and perhaps even enjoyment). Our favourite dishes? The Chicken and Peanut Coconut Curry (page 166) and Pumpkin, Ginger, Chickpea and Cheese Soup (page 50) - both guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter's evening. We also love the Peanut, Pecan and Chocolate Cookie recipe for a sweet after-dinner treat. To purchase Eating Well Everyday for £22, then click here.

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Secondly, we came across The Lazy Weekend Cookbook, a firm favourite amongst the less enthusiastic cooks of the office. Written by chef Matt Williamson, this book contains over 150 pages of delicious recipes for weekend cooking. Williamson explains that the goal of the book is to provide recipes that can be cooked leisurely, as opposed to the usual mid-week rush to get anything on the table. His advice is to choose a particular few meals to focus on, meaning you can rustle up some exceptional dishes, without spending all weekend in the kitchen.

The book is structured into mealtimes and moments, ranging from breakfasts and brunches, to easy dinner party meals, and bakes. Each meal is designed for 4 people; however, we found it easy to scale this up or down, dependant on the situation. There are too many favourites to share, but the Quick Sesame Flatbreads with Honey Butter (page 29) and Moroccan Spiced Chicken Pie (page 54) are two stand out recipes that we couldn't not mention. We also like the weight and temperature conversions at the back of the book, meaning we have less chance of cremating our newfound recipes! To ramp up your weekend cooking, then you can purchase a copy of Williamson's The Lazy Weekend Cookbook here for £20.

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Finally, we discovered MOB Kitchen by Ben Lebus. Known for his online presence, Lebus' YouTube channel has grown a strong following, with an empire of over 250,000 social media followers in just 18 months. His niche? Providing meals for four people that are under £10. More recently, Lebus has extended this knowledge into a cookbook, aiming to encourage people to cook delicious and nutritious meals, that are still affordable. This concept is particularly popular among students and young professionals, proving that delicious meals don't need to cost a small fortune. By creating a cookbook, Lebus' new mission is to educate all ages, whether that be people who choose not to use social media, or those of us who simply like to have a physical copy at hand.

The cookbook is segmented by time and goal, ranging from Brunch MOB to Speedy MOB and Flashy MOB. These contain over ten different recipes, amounting to 140 pages of recipes and visual guidelines. Each page has key symbols, with Spotify Codes on each recipe page, allowing readers to listen to the corresponding playlist/song. This is something we found interesting, tapping into the active social media tie Lebus has. We particularly enjoyed making the Chocolate Chilli Con Carne (page 94), and the Crunchy Vegan Aubergine Katsu (page 122) both of which stopped us from shelling out on unnecessary and expensive takeaways. To purchase your own copy of MOB Kitchen, click here, where you can find ideas to get the mob fed for £14.99.

These cookbooks have certainly helped us to eat better this November, with warming and comforting dishes that are easy to make, and reasonable to rustle up. Try them for yourself or we think these cookbooks would make a great Christmas gift for someone in need of spicing up their mealtimes. Happy cooking!

Dogs' Dinners Cookbook

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Times, they are a-changin’…when once the saying “I’ve made a right dog’s dinner of that” would mean a less than appealing result, along comes Debora Robertson to firmly turn all such notions inside out. Even if you don’t have a pet pooch, we urge you to pick up her glorious book ‘Dogs’ Dinners’ and indulge yourself in some seriously compelling page turning. Not only has Debora brought a whole host of delicious recipes for our canine friends together, but she also gives us the option of how to tailor these taste bud tinglers to suit our humanoid palate too.

First and foremost though, her book is written very much with our four-legged family members in mind - which is why our favourite fluffy English Show Cocker Spaniel Tilly was so happy to sit lapping up every page while we made our more leaden way through the Sunday papers over the weekend! And why not …? With recipes like ‘Turkey and Quinoa Meatballs’, ‘Liver Brownies’, and ‘Summer Pupsicles’ to ponder, there is much for Tilly to salivate over - as you can see, she has been thoroughly engrossed! 

Included are tips on how to deal with specific food intolerances; what to serve up should there be signs of a sensitive mouth or gums, and of course, like us, doggies can suffer from the occasional off day, but guess what - chicken broth works wonders for them too! It appears that when all is said and done, apart from some levels of seasoning, nosh-wise there isn’t much to divide us.

To view this only as a collection of recipes, however, would be a mistake - there is a great deal more information contained within it’s covers, as to the healthiest way to feed your dog from their earliest puphood, through to the various stages of growing up. With advice on the ingredients which will keep teeth as healthy as possible, the ways to encourage fresh breath, and the more basic functions at the other end, Debora Robertson covers it all. She especially explore the essential knowledge of what NOT to offer up - we all know that chocolate and cooked bones are a total no-no, but avocados, unripe tomatoes and caffeine of any kind are also on the hazardous list. Fortunately for Tilly and her pals, there is a larder full of delicious goodies to make extensive use of, and Ms Robertson expertly shows us the way.

‘Dog’s Dinners’ is a fascinating mix of informed nutritional advice, intriguing anecdotes - check out “the bone about which we do not speak” on page 26 - and beautifully observed illustrations by Cinzia Zenocchini, which will sit perfectly alongside Delia and Nigella’s finest on the kitchen shelf.

‘Dogs’ Dinners’ by Debora Robertson is priced at £9.99 and is available here.

Friday Favourites - Cookbooks

After a busy workday, cooking can be put on the back burner of our to-do list. We gravitate toward meals that are most easy and convenient, often eating the same foods over again. That’s why we have made it our mission to revitalize the way we perceive cooking by searching for cookbooks that are equally as unique as they are healthy. Say goodbye to monotonous cooking with the help of these four books, handpicked by The Amazing Blog.

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Plant-based cooking has gained its popularity, but have you ever thought of incorporating flowers into your recipes? The Fragrant Pantry by Frances Bissell uses flowers as its main ingredient. While flowers are commonly featured as decoration in cookery, Bissell shows how its delicate scent and flavour can take the place of herbs or spices. Although this seems like an unconventional approach, don’t mistake it as a fad or fashion. Instead, Bissell pays homage to English culinary traditions through her use of flowers. Her recipes include jams, spreads and pickled foods with easy-to-follow instructions. You can purchase The Fragrant Pantry here for £11.99. To get a 20% discount use the discount code FRAGRANTP at purchase on the Serif Books website. 

Interested in more of Bissell’s recipes? Check out the other two volumes in her acclaimed trilogy: The Scented Kitchen and The Floral Baker.

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Calling all Mediterranean lovers! Get prepared to transport yourself to Greece with Mazi Modern Greek Food’s vivid imagery and authentic dishes. Co-authors, Christina Mouratoglou and Adrien Carré’s goal are to revolutionise Greek cuisine by combining genuine flavours with a modern twist. The recipes are ingrained with a trendy tapas vibe and cover cocktails, hot plates, signature dishes and desserts. You can purchase the book here for £17.99.

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The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks by Michael Isted offers non-alcoholic plant-based drinks. Isted offers careful alchemy with each recipe that acts as cleansers, restorers, energisers, brain boosters and more.  The cookbook includes step-by-step directions in processes like hot & cold brewing, fermentation, distillation, juicing and tincturing. The first section provides a brief informational introduction to the plants used throughout the book and the second section includes 58 different recipes serving different functions for the body.   Isted uses ancient practices as the foundation of his creations. This guide brings purpose and intention to the kitchen by uniting intuitive and healthy eating. You can purchase The Herball’s Guide to Botanical Drinks here for £12.90.

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Whenever starting a new diet, snacking is an inevitable part of the process. Gracie and Sophie Tyrrell, founders of Squirrel Sisters, have created a range of all-natural bars that will satisfy your cravings. In their book, Naturally Snacks & Treats: Over 100 Healthy Recipes, the sister duo has formed over 70 recipes using ingredients found at your local supermarket. The on-the-go snack is easy, convenient, and accessible. The Tyrrell sisters reassure their readers that eating healthily can be fun! Recipes range from sweet roasted almond and cinnamon butter to sushi rolls.The beautifully illustrated book is separated into four chapters where you will find breakfast recipes, snacks and lunches for on-the-go, sharing plates and, our favourite, sweet treats. Cocktail-lovers will even find low-calorie options. We can’t wait to try more recipes. You can purchase your own book here for £9.99.  

 

Let us know what your favourite recipes are!

 

Vbites Vegan Food and Cookbook

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Vegan food has had a bit of a bad reputation in the past. When people think of vegan food, they only think of salads and tasteless fake meats, but bland vegan food is a thing of the past. Due to the bountiful health and environmental benefits of veganism, we here at The Amazing Blog have put a lot of thought into the idea of starting a vegan diet. When we learned the story behind Vbites founder, Heather Mills, we were inspired to try out veganism for ourselves. After enduring a devastating motorcycle accident, Heather discovered that the best way to heal her body was from the inside out. Which meant using a holistic approach rooted in a vegan diet. This story helps to explain why she was determined to create delicious foods that satisfy every craving, while nourishing the body. After learning her story, we were even more thrilled to receive a sampling of the Meat-Free products from this pioneering and award-winning plant-based brand at Vbites.  


Eating less meat or cutting it out completely can be daunting for many individuals, which is why Vbites products are perfect for anyone who needs a little help getting their foot in the door when it comes to becoming a vegan. Vbites offers a wide array of vegan products including meat-free, dairy-free, and fish-free products. To help with meal preparations, we would suggest using The LoveBites recipe book. This cookbook from Vbites comes with each of their Plant-Based Kits, which offers 60 new easy-to-follow recipes to try out and fall in love with. You can whip up delicious alternatives to some of your favourite meals like shepherd’s pie or asparagus quiche that are all completely vegan. From starters to soups, salads and main dishes, these recipes have definitely inspired us to cook more hearty meals that make us feel good from the inside out.

Our personal favourite of the Vbites selection that we tried was the Meat-Free Duck Hoisin (£2.99 for 150g). We added it to a veggie stir-fry and were licking our plates clean. We had some friends over to it try out and they were amazed to learn what they thought was a duck hoisin stir fry was in fact 100% vegan! Coming in a close second was the Meat-Free Lincolnshire Style Sausages (£2.69 for 295g) which we plated up as Bangers 'n Mash for a quick Sunday night supper (with a dollop of baked beans). They truly did taste like savoury sausages and certainly satisfied one very hungry male guest! 


So whether you are already practising a vegan lifestyle or you are considering starting, these Vbites will help you to incorporate some seriously tasty and healthy meals into your diet. You can check out the wide array of Vbites vegan products on their website here