Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Books – Cookbooks for Christmas

One can never have enough cookbooks. I myself have lost count how many I have, and many a times I come across books still untouched which I didn’t know I owned. Still, one can never have enough cookbooks. And I dare say, fellow foodies will say the same. Afterall, cookbooks are no longer merely instructional; it is bedtime reading, sources of fantasizing. The word had been coined about ten years ago – gastroporn. Madam is sure you are all familiar with how one can vacariously live out one’s gastronomic fantasies just by looking at those larger than life, glossier and juicier than reality pictures of dishes we so long to do, but probably don’t have the time to. See the parallel?

So the point is, if you’re going to give a book for Christmas, cookbooks are always a winner. Madam has come across a few luscious tomes perfect for fabulicious ladies and for their men. Here goes:

Simply Samia – Essential Dining
By Samia Ahad

I am not expounding this book just because Samia Ahad, the author, is my friend. This is a genuinely lovely book put together by someone who obviously understands the constraints and concerns of a home cook when she entertains – for that is when she becomes the hostess with the mostest.

I adore this book, filled with drippingly delectable menus conveniently set out in menus according to themes and cuisines, from Mediterranean, Middle East, Indian cuisines to themes such as Father’s Day barbecue, dinner for six, and New Year’s Day brunch. The recipes – all accompanied with colour photos - are familiar but all ingeniously infused with a twist or two, making them very modern, easy to make and light. For instance, a calamari and fennel salad with chilli lime dressing, roasted rack of lamb (pictured below) with pomegranate glaze and herb rice, lemongrass vichyssoise. There are also recipes for drinks like sangria (very potent – I tried!), golden sangria, chilled mulled wine and kir royal. I tried a few from this book and they all turned out perfect.

What’s best is that they are easy to make, successful every time and doesn’t call for lengthy prep time or lists of ingredients. This is just genious : a refreshingly useful book that turns out simple but fabulously ingenious dishes too. In other words, Simply Samia is Simply Fabulicious!  By the way, Samia is a professional chef and the owner of Coriander Leaf and The Screening Room. ($38 at all good bookstores)

Asian Cocktails
By Holling Jennings and Christine Leblond
Tuttle Publishing

Now I am not putting down the ever glamorous bellini nor the essential lychee martini, etc….but it is nice to see cocktails – predominantly a western drink – done the Asian way. For there is so much wonderful ingredients and flavours here in the exotic east! That’s why I like this book too. Ninety recipes of gorgeous Asian inspired cocktails that aren’t too difficult to make, using plenty of Japanese sake and shochu, asian fruits, herbs and flavourings, all contributed by 15 mixologists from five countries. Consider Sake Sangria made with Japanese plum wine and asian pears, a Ginger Basil Margarita, or Grand Pagoda, made with sake, crème de cassis, pineapple and lime juice and coconut shavings. While most recipes are simple, there are some ingredients that call for prepping – like flavoured syrups and infused vodkas. The great thing is, a chapter is dedicated to super simple recipes for infused vodkas and gin – eg lychee vodka, berry infused gin, even homemade grenadine – so next time, you don’t even have to buy them! There are also some non-alcoholic drinks recipes at the back so even your kiddie can join in the aperitif! ($26 w/out GST, Available in all good bookstores)

- Ee Waun


jennytan said...

asian cocktails - it's abot time! JT

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