Tag Archives: books about food

Lomelino’s Pies: A Celebration of Pies, Galettes, and Tarts, by Linda Lomelino

10 Aug

32964138Format: e-ARC, 144 pages

Publisher: Roost Books

To Be Published: 7 November, 2017

ISBN: 9781611804560

Genre: Arts & Photography, Cooking, Food & Wine

Back cover blurb: Perennially popular pies get a fresh and indulgent twist by social media superstar and cook, food stylist, and photographer Linda Lomelino.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

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Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season, by Elisabet Der Nederlanden

9 Aug

33516768

Format: e-ARC, 168 pages

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

To Be Published: September 5, 2017

ISBN: 9780399580253

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Back cover blurb: From Icebox Pinwheel Cookies to Red-and-White Meringue Kisses to Apple Cider Caramels, find new inspiration for the best of seasonal baking with Holiday Cookies.

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other. Because the recipes are easy to scale up or down, Holiday Cookies is perfect for cookie exchanges, gift-giving, and just enjoying throughout the season. From a veteran baker and recipe developer, each cookie in this collection is guaranteed to be a stand-out, and destined to become your new Christmas classic.

My review: This is an absolutely gorgeous little book full of cookies and other sweet treats that I will definitely be trying out. It begins with handy tips and tricks, including packaging ideas for baked gifts and the concept of a cookie exchange. The author’s Swedish heritage appealed to me, as that is where my husband’s family is from, so those recipes were automatically bookmarked, but I also fancy trying the chocolate-peanut butter brownie sandwiches, red velvet crackle cookies, apple cider caramels, and dark chocolate-hazelnut fudge, just for starters. Everything is photographed beautifully, full of colour and festive spirit.

This book, and all its treats, would make a wonderful gift, and would certainly put you in the holiday spirit at any time of year.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

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Toast and Jam: Modern Recipes for Rustic Baked Goods and Sweet and Savory Spreads, by Sarah Owens

27 Jul

33215775Format: e-ARC, 256 pages

Publisher: Roost Books

To Be Published: August 15, 2017

ISBN: 9781611803570

Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine

Back cover blurb: Rustic breads, scones, and biscuits paired with fruit-jams, jellies, nut butters, savory spreads, pickles, and more–from the James Beard award-winning author of Sourdough.
Bread and butter, toast and jam, scones and clotted cream–baked goods have a long tradition of being paired with spreads to make their flavors and textures sing. As a baker with a passion for plants, Sarah Owens, author of the James Beard award-winning Sourdough, takes these simple pairings in fresh new directions. Spread some Strawberry & Meyer Lemon Preserves on a piece of Buckwheat Milk Bread for a special springtime treat. Top a slice of Pain de Mie with Watermelon Jelly for a bright taste of summer. Lather some Gingered Sweet Potato Butter on a piece of Spiced Carrot Levain for a warming fall breakfast. Make a batch of Dipping Chips to serve with Preserved Lemon and Fava Bean Hummus for an inspired snack. Wow brunch guests with a spread of Sourdough Whole-Grain Bagels, Lemony Herb Chevre, and Beet-Cured Gravlax. The recipes here offer a thoroughly fresh sensibility for the comfort found in a simple slice of toast spread with jam.

My review: The simple title is deceiving, because this is book is far more than just one about toast and spreads. The breads are fancy, and the spreads include not only jam but also butters, pickles, and other preserves, plus how to make your own ricotta and creme fraiche. Every photograph is stunning, almost as if you could reach out and touch the grain of the bread or the sticky gloss of its topping.

I’d like to try the chocolate and orange sourdough, the peach and tea preserves, and the roasted banana and chocolate nut butter, but I’ll admit I’d never heard of some of the other ingredients. It’s definitely not a book for a beginner; more for the gourmets among us.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, by Elizabeth LaBan

22 May

26065581Format: e-ARC, 316 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Published: January 5, 2016

ISBN: 9781477817766

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: Lila Soto has a master’s degree that’s gathering dust, a work-obsessed husband, two kids, and lots of questions about how exactly she ended up here.

In their new city of Philadelphia, Lila’s husband, Sam, takes his job as a restaurant critic a little too seriously. To protect his professional credibility, he’s determined to remain anonymous. Soon his preoccupation with anonymity takes over their lives as he tries to limit the family’s contact with anyone who might have ties to the foodie world. Meanwhile, Lila craves adult conversation and some relief from the constraints of her homemaker role. With her patience wearing thin, she begins to question everything: her decision to get pregnant again, her break from her career, her marriage—even if leaving her ex-boyfriend was the right thing to do. As Sam becomes more and more fixated on keeping his identity secret, Lila begins to wonder if her own identity has completely disappeared—and what it will take to get it back.

My review: This is a very hard book to rate. I enjoyed the writing style – and absolutely love the cover – but the characters were very unlikeable, especially the husband. Sam was just odious, dictating that his wife couldn’t have a life, couldn’t make friends without checking if they owned a restaurant first, couldn’t even leave the house when she was going stir-crazy at home with a toddler and newborn. Lila wasn’t much better, though, biting her tongue instead of speaking up, and making some pretty irresponsible choices regarding friends and her secret job. Hazel, the three-year-old, was very obnoxious – but dare I say realistic? – as well. I found I had to keep reading to see if the whole family imploded.

It worried me that Elizabeth LaBan’s real husband was like Sam, so was glad to read in the acknowledgements that he is not. I would pity her greatly if he was, but I suspect there is a ring of truth about some of what she wrote, given the consequences some restaurants suffer from a bad review.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3.5/5

3halfcupcakes

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Sneak Peak: Heart-Shaped Hack, by Tracey Garvis Graves

17 Jun
 Today I am so happy to be sharing a sneak peak and cover reveal for Tracey Garvis Graves’ Heart-Shaped Hack. I absolutely love this gorgeous cover, and the blurb and first few chapters really have me keen to read more.
Below you’ll find Chapter One of the book, with a link to Goodreads where there are a further four chapters available to read for free. While there, you can also enter a giveaway for the book.
So happy reading and good luck!
Back cover blurb: When Kate Watts abandoned her law career to open a food pantry in Northeast Minneapolis, she never dreamed it would be this difficult. Facing the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away, she is grateful for the anonymous donations that begin appearing at the end of each month. Determined to identify and thank her secret benefactor, she launches a plan and catches Ian —a charismatic hacker with a Robin Hood complex—in the act.
Ian intrigues Kate in a way no man ever has. But after learning he’s snooped around on her personal computer, she demands retribution. Impressed with her tolerance and captivated by her spirit, he complies and begins to slowly charm his way past her defenses. Time spent with Ian is never boring, and Kate soon finds herself falling for the mysterious hacker.
But Ian has enemies and they’re growing restless. In the hacking world, exploiting a target’s weakness is paramount, and no price is too high to stop an attack. And when Kate learns exactly how much Ian has paid, she’ll discover just how strong her love is for the man who has hacked his way into her heart.
 
Read on for a sneak peak at Chapter One:
© 2015 Tracey Garvis Graves
Heart-Shaped Hack
CHAPTER ONE
“The babies are going to starve,” Helena said.
“Don’t be so dramatic,” Kate replied. “No one is going to starve, least of all the babies.” But her pinched expression and the way she was jabbing at the keyboard as she refreshed the donations page on their website said otherwise. For the first time in the sixteen months since Kate had left her position as a corporate attorney to open the food pantry, she faced the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away. She couldn’t stand the thought of letting down her regulars, especially the young mother of three who relied on the pantry to feed them.
The problem was that Kate’s nonprofit organization was not the only one in Minneapolis that needed help. Tomorrow was the first of September, and everyone was trying to stockpile whatever resources they could before they headed into the colder months.
“Let’s see,” Helena said. “We could rob a bank. We could pawn our valuables. You could sell your body on a street corner.”
Despite their dire circumstances, Kate cracked a smile. Helena had walked through the front door of the food pantry shortly after Kate opened and said, “I’m sixty-five, and they’re forcing me to retire from my job at the insurance company. My husband retired two years ago, and now he’s home all day. That’s too much togetherness for us. I have to find something to do outside the house, and you wouldn’t have to pay me much.” Kate hired her on the spot and had never regretted it.
She swiveled her chair toward Helena. “Why am I always the one who has to sell her body? Why can’t you sell yours?”
“Who do you think is going to bring in more money? A gray-haired grandmother of seven, or a willowy twenty-nine-year-old beauty? It’s a no-brainer.”
It was hard to argue with logic like that.
Kate had been so determined not to let down their clients that she’d resorted to begging her ex-boyfriend Stuart—who worked as the executive producer on an hour-long talk show on the local ABC station—to let her appeal to the public during the afternoon broadcast.
“Do you know how hard it is for me to be around you, Kate?” Stuart said when he received her call. “Do you ever think of that?”
“Of course I do. But this is really important to me.”
“I used to be really important to you.”
Kate remained silent. They’d been through this before.
He sighed in defeat. “Come in tomorrow. I’ll squeeze you in after the cooking segment.”
“Thanks, Stuart.”
The skirt had been Helena’s idea. “We need to do whatever we can to grab viewers’ attention.”
“You mean I need to do whatever I can.”
“Of course I mean you. You have great legs.”On the day of the broadcast when Helena arrived at the food pantry, Kate said, “I don’t remember this skirt being quite so short. I’m actually a little worried about the type of viewer I might attract with it.” She tugged on the hem, pulled out her desk chair, sat down, and crossed her legs. “Can you see anything?”
“You’ll be fine unless you decide to recross your legs in the middle of the segment like Sharon Stone did in that one movie.”
“I can assure you I will not be doing that. The skirt is as far as I’m willing to go. I draw the line at flashing people, not even for the babies.”
Kate had paired the black-and-white houndstooth skirt with a black short-sleeve top and her favorite black heels. When she arrived at the TV studio, she ducked into the bathroom to check her teeth for wandering lipstick. Before she left the food pantry she’d applied a raspberry lip stain that Helena claimed looked stunning on her. That morning she’d curled her long dark hair and then brushed through the curls with her fingers so they draped across her shoulders and down her back in loose waves. She’d used plenty of mascara to play up her brown eyes. The extra primping made her feel a little like she was standing on a street corner, but she banished those thoughts. At this point, they needed all the help they could get.
After Stuart snaked the mic up the back of her top, his hands lingering on her skin in a way that made Kate feel sad, he positioned her on a stool and told her to wait for his signal. She kept her legs tightly crossed, and when the light on the camera turned red, he pointed at her and she began to speak.
“Good afternoon. My name is Kate Watts, and I’m the executive director of the Main Street Food Pantry. As we head into the winter months, our needs—and those of all local food pantries—will be greater than ever.” Kate stared into the camera, imagining she was speaking directly to anyone who might have the means to help them.
“No child should ever have to go hungry, and many of our local residents depend on the food pantry to feed their families. I’m here today to personally appeal to you should you have the ability to help us in any way. The families we assist, and especially the children, depend on your generosity more than you could ever imagine. Thank you.” She ended the short segment with the food pantry’s telephone number and street address, and when Stuart gave her the all clear, she reached under her shirt for the microphone and handed it back to him.
“Thanks, Stuart,” she said, giving him a quick hug. “I really appreciate this.”
“Sure,” he said, looking over her shoulder as if there was something very interesting across the room. “Take care, Kate.”That was yesterday, and so far only a few additional donations had trickled in. She and Helena spent the rest of the afternoon making calls to local churches and schools to set up additional food drives while continuing to monitor the donations page. Finally, at a little before three, Kate went into the back room to recount their inventory. It was the end of the month and they were down to their last cases of infant formula and baby food. Almost all of the canned vegetables had been depleted, and they were completely out of peanut butter and soup. If it was this bad now, Kate didn’t want to think about what might happen when budgets were stretched even thinner by holiday spending. Dejected, she was sitting on the floor, clipboard in hand, when Helena burst into the back room.
“I ran after him,” she said, gasping for breath. “But he was too fast. Boy am I out of shape.”
“Who did you run after?”
Helena tossed a brown paper bag to Kate and leaned over, resting her hands on her knees as she took in giant gulps of air.
“The man who dropped off the money. Seriously, I may need supplemental oxygen over here.”
Money?
Kate looked into the bag and blinked several times. “Did you lock the front door?”
“Yes.”
She turned the bag upside down and watched in disbelief as hundred-dollar bills rained down on the concrete floor. She counted it quickly. “There’s a thousand dollars here.”
Their website listed four levels for donations with amounts ranging from ten to one hundred dollars. There were higher amounts for corporations, but this was the largest donation they’d ever received from one person, and it was more than enough to replenish their shelves. Kate was already picturing herself pushing a giant cart through Costco. “Did he leave his name?”
“No. He walked up to my desk and said, “Give this to Katie. He must have seen you on TV yesterday.”
“Young? Old?” Rich?
“Young. Early thirties, maybe? Tall. Blondish-brown hair. He was in a real hurry to leave. I chased him out the door, but he jumped into the driver’s seat of an old blue car.”
“An old car? Are you sure?”
“I think it was old. It didn’t look like any car I’ve ever seen. It had stripes on the hood. And then he burned rubber.”
“Why would someone who drives an old car drop off a bag full of money?”
“I have no idea. But whatever the reason, he just saved us.”
Tracey Garvis Graves is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, and Cherish.
Tracey loves to interact with her readers and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
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The Confectioner’s Tale, by Laura Madeleine

3 Jun

confectionerFormat: e-ARC, 336 pages

Publisher: Black Swan

Published: May 21, 2015

ISBN: 9781784160722

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.

But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.

Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Take a moment to savour an evocative, bittersweet love story that echoes through the decades – perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore and Victoria Hislop.

My review: When I reached the end of this book, I couldn’t help but think that Jim Stevenson deserved his years of guilt and regret for what he did to Gui and Jeanne. The details of his misdeed form the basis of this fantastic debut novel, which tells the story of Gui and Jeanne’s love in Paris in 1910, alternating with investigations into the tale in 1988 by Stevenson’s granddaughter, Petra. Petra finds an old photo and a note expressing her journalist grandfather’s apologies, and must battle the clock and his nasty biographer to solve the mystery behind them. Her chapters alternate with the story of provincial Gui du Frere, who comes to Paris to work for the railway and ends up an apprentice pastry chef at the city’s top patisserie. He falls in love with the owner’s daughter, Jeanne Clermont, but their love is a huge scandal in those class-divided times.

I absolutely loved this story and was gripped by Petra’s search to uncover the truth. She loses a lot when she devotes herself to the search, but gains a love interest and there are a quite few laughs along the way. Gui’s story is heartbreaking and I’m not sure if Petra fully uncovers the horrifying details of Jim’s betrayal, as that chapter is told from Gui’s POV. The author describes the grimy backstreets of Paris in fetid detail, and captures the delicate confections of the patisserie with the knowledge of an expert baker. I was initially attracted to this book by the deliciously beautiful cover, and the content matched it perfectly. This is a great debut and I look forward to whatever Laura Madeleine writes next. Highly recommended.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 5/5

5cupcakes

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Mug Meals, by Dina Cheney

30 Mar

mug meals

Format: e-book, 160 pages

Publisher: Taunton Press

To be published: March 31, 2015

ISBN: 9781627109161

Genre: Cooking, Food, and Wine

Back cover blurb: The secret to fast and easy meals cooked from scratch is hiding in plain sight in your kitchen. The microwave oven is not just for reheating leftovers and making popcorn anymore. With pantry ingredients, a mug and a microwave, you can create a meal in minutes that rivals those cooked in the oven or on the stovetop. Mug MEALS! is the perfect solution for new cooks, busy families, singles, college students, teens, seniors or anyone who just wants a hot meal without all the cleanup.

Make a meal for any time of day. Breakfast options include Lox and Bagel Strata, Double Berry French Toast; for lunch try Moroccan Pumpkin and Chickpea Stew, White Bean Gratin with Olives and Lemon or Double Carrot Soup. Dinner entrees include Chinese Chicken with Noodles and Black Bean Sauce, Classic Shepherd’s Pie and Lasagna; dessert selections feature Mango Coconut Crumble, Molten Chocolate Cake with Truffle Filling, Peach and Cornbread Stuffing and more.

My review: Meals you can make in a mug in the microwave are such a great idea for so many people, from students to people living alone, to those – like me – who often need inspiration for a quick and easy lunch. This book is crammed with a variety of ideas for all meals of the day, and I will definitely be trying some of them out. The recipes were clearly laid out and easy to follow, and the photographs made everything look divine. There is a handy equipment and pantry list, and for American readers a list of preferred brands for best results.

Some of the savoury recipes struck me as more of a reheating effort, consisting of things such as leftover cooked rice and meat which one wouldn’t necessarily have on hand or be bothered cooking in order to then transfer to a mug – if you’re going to that trouble you might as well cook something on the stove or in the oven. However, a lot of the sweeter ideas really appealed, and I will certainly be making the Nutella cake and some of the other desserts and muffins.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3.5/5

3halfcupcakes

 

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Stacking the Shelves #2

27 Mar

Stacking The Shelvesl_thumb2Hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Welcome back to Stacking the Shelves, a regular meme hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews. Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the latest books you have added to your shelves, physical or virtual.  This means you can include books you buy in store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course e-books! Here is my haul from this week – oooh, and I can’t wait to get started on some of them!

stackingtheshelves2

Netgalley e-ARC requests

As I mentioned last week, I have just joined Netgalley, and this week I was granted access to a surprising number of my requests. I’m clearly going to have to pace myself! So far I have already read Sea of Stars (Kricket, book 2) by Amy A. Bartol and the sneak peek of Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen and absolutely loved them. You can read my reviews here and here. Also in my Netgalley haul were Lone Star by Paullina Simons, In the Shadow of Winter by Lorna Gray, The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine, The Blondes by Emily Schultz, 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton, and Techbitch by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. Such pretty covers, don’t you think?

stackingtheshelves2a

Bought by me this week

New Zealand iBooks had a promotion this week on New Adult series, with the first in several series free. I can’t resist a freebie, and managed to pick up I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre, After by Anna Todd, All Lined Up by Cora Carmack, and White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout. There was also a sale at Audible, through which I managed to pick up Snow Falling on Bluegrass by Molly Harper, and Red Rising by Pierce Brown.

Not bad for one week, eh? I’d better get reading! Keep an eye out for my reviews of these in coming weeks. So what new books did you pick up this week? Let me know in the comments.

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Writing for the Pop Culture Literate.

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