Thursday 27 February 2014

February Edition of Books are Amazing featuring Laura

Hello! Welcome to my Books Are Amazing series for February. This month's contributor is the lovely Laura from Kneadwhine! I met Laura at university, although technically we met on LiveJournal as the only two users who lived in tiny little Exmouth. We got each other through our English degrees, and now Laura teaches English to the youth of today while I ponce about in a marketing job. But we're still friends, and we both have blogs. NOW THAT'S A HAPPY ENDING.

Anyway, that's enough of me. Take it away, Laura!

I like to throw a random twist in the works, so I decided to opt for cookbooks, rather than just standard fiction. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE fiction but I've seen quite a few of the books I would have nominated already on Books are Amazing and as my blog, Kneadwhine is food orientated, cookbooks seemed like the perfect option. To restrict things further, I should point out that I'm a vegetarian - so four of the five are vegetarian cookbooks but I still strongly recommend them.

So, here goes, my top five cookbooks. I'm surprised to relate, despite the stacks of Jamie Oliver cookbooks that I have, none of his are in there. There are a few celebrity ones though.

Check them all out - Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg, Simon Rimmer's Seasoned Vegetarian, Covent Garden's Every Day Soup, The Baby-led Weaning cookbook and my own cookbook.

1. First up, we have the River Cottage Veg book. I convinced my Dad to get hold of this for me for my birthday a year or so ago and it's one of the books that I keep dipping into to try new things. I have to admit to being a bit of a Whittingstall fan - he totally understands that vegetarian meals are not just about 'missing out' on meat and he has a huge variety of ideas. I've loved working my way through a selection of the recipes on offer, including Porotos Granados...

...and this extremely tasty chickpea ketchup curry - quick to make, short on ingredients and huge on taste. I haven't made it in ages - definitely one to add to the meal plan soon. There's a good range of quick meals and trickier meals, meals with not many ingredients (such as chickpea pasta) and those slightly more flashy options.

2. Secondly, Simon Rimmer's Seasoned Vegetarian. This one was a surprise present from my Mum. It's sent me in new directions with my cooking. Top right of the pictures below is beetroot gnocchi with smoked almond pesto. The photo here makes it look amazing and it is - in taste - but the real-life version is a bit less vivid in the reds. On the left are cumin potatoes with creamy chickpeas (it's suddenly becoming clear to me that I tend towards the chickpea recipes in cookbooks...!) a wonderfully filling meal that I haven't made in far too long.

3. The third book for consideration is the Covent Garden A soup for Every day. It's really what kicked off Sunday Soup. Mr Kneadwhine bought it for me for my birthday a year and a half ago and since then, I've been making a new soup most weeks. I've moved a bit beyond my initial love of this book but it's definitely a great starter. This is one of those books that isn't entirely vegetarian but largely is - there are enough new ideas in here to last a long time. The soups are in line with the seasons or events - there are special soups for Valentine's and Christmas. Here's today's idea, if you're curious:-

There are no pictures at all of any of the soups but actually, it feels like a book that has been handed on from a friend, with it's handwriting-style font. It's straightforward - with very clear instructions and you couldn't go far wrong with it. If you're interested in soup recipes (and all of them are pro pointed) - here's 31 of them! A couple of them have taken the ideas from the book and adapted them.

4. One of my most battered cookbooks is the Baby-Led Weaning cookbook. I decided fairly early on that my son, D, was going to do baby-led. No pureés - possibly the lazy person's way to do it but it worked well for us. D eats a pretty wide range of food and I never had to use a blender - only for soup rather than baby-led. Should you want to go down this route, I'd suggest only buying the cookbook - the guide to how to do it is pretty much entirely contained here and it's not really all that complex anyway. The only things to be aware of are cutting down the salt and avoiding anything too spicy.

Three of my favourite recipes from the book are the dahl (although now I make a slightly more complicated version this was a great start), a lentil and vegetable curry and tuna croquettes. Although I'm a vegetarian, my son isn't and these are extremely popular - both with him and his Dad. Like I say though - battered the pages. Turns out that cooking when you have a seven month old doesn't lend itself to tidy cooking.

5. Finally, my cookbook. I found that I had an awful lot of cookbooks where I only liked one recipe, or I had the odd bit of paper here and there where I'd taken recipes from friends including the recipe for Quorn passanda below, shared by my godmother. I find this a great way to rationalise the cookbooks that I don't really want and I also make notes on any recipes as I go if there are changes I want to make, like the one below.

I'm always looking for new cookbooks - what's your favourite? I'm just about to delve into The World Food Café's Vegetarian Bible. Mr K is keen to try out a recipe with an extremely high number of ingredients that I wouldn't normally put together!

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