Thursday, January 1, 2009

Boiling hot toffee of doom

Well, the blondies weren't worth writing home about but the homemade toffee sauce for pouring over--man, was that ever good. It's all I can do not to sneak a spoonful or so every time I go into the fridge. It's a cross between butterscotch and caramel, a bit sweeter than either, I guess because it has that gorgeous Lyle's Golden Syrup as a primary ingredient. (And is that stuff ever good on its own!) It's one of those delicious concoctions that you don't want to wait for: You're actually willing to sear your tongue to the roof of you mouth in order to taste it, screechingly hot yet oh-so-tempting, direct from the boiling saucepan. I used the recipe from "Rachel's Favorite Food at Home" by Rachel Allen, a book that also contains an awesome whole wheat seedy bread that rocks beyond belief and is easier than any yeast bread I've ever made. I ordered it off Amazon UK and it ranks quite high on my 2008 list of fave cookbooks. Yes, that was a segue.

I admit to being a bit of a whore for British chefs, in particular Nigella. I have all her books and they are among some of my favorites. This year, however, the queen is definitely Tana Ramsay. Yes, she's the wife of Gordon and no, I really don't give a fig if he had any part in helping with her recipes: The books are utterly fantastic and worthy additions to any cookbook collection. The titles are as follows: Family Kitchen; Real Family Food; and Home Made. The last--Home Made--is a recent addition and one I'm still perusing though eager to experiment with. Her first two books had enough recipes to make my kitchen a much more interesting place--and it's already quite interesting with me in it, thank you very much. She has an amazing recipe for blueberry muffins, which creates light, fluffy muffins of the non-cakey variety, studded with berries, dusted with oat flakes, and actually quite healthy to enjoy. Even though they freeze beautifully, I must admit that I could never eat just one in a sitting so it almost wasn't worth the effort. Mango chicken salad became quite the favorite during the summer when I didn't feel like expending any effort, and I enjoy her version of minestrone at least once a month. What's nice about each of these books is that they have numerous meat-free mains and sides, none of which are complicated or make you feel at all deprived. Whilst we're not a vegetarian family, there are times when a fatted calf or plump chicken is just not what's for dinner and I want something easy and different. I got these off Amazon UK and though it may seem spendy, the exchange rate is not too diabolical and I usually get my orders within two weeks. Then again, to me, worth every penny.

Rachel Allen's book gets a nod because it's gorgeous, with family snaps and excellent recipes. I enjoy fuzzywarm cookboks sometimes, especially if the author precedes the recipe with a little anecdote or some advice. I haven't ventured much beyond the toffee and wheat bread; however, there is a sour cream cardamom cake I'm seriously considering making this weekend and she has several very enticing soups. Yes, I'm all about the soups these days. It's a paperback, which I actually prefer as I have find dust jackets on hardbacks extremely irritating (I just do) and usually toss them; this way, I get to enjoy the cover without the hassle. I'm hoping to pick up another of her titles this month as I'm on a mission.

Oh, I can also recommend her 2009 Diary. It's a kitchen diary, with very little space for daily notes but some really nice recipes and just all kinds of pink and pretty. It's a hardback and I've decided to note what I made for dinner each day, just to see if I can do it. Granted, tonight's tacos may not seem thrilling but it's something I'd like to challenge myself to do. Make sure I don't get into any cooking ruts.

I got Gordon's "Three Star Chef" for a gift and, though it's too soon to give it a nod, it's gorgeous. And quite hefty. Although I don't see me making too many of the recipes (I'm too damn lazy for cooking of his caliber), it's a huge treat to read and it's just a true pleasure to enjoy the photography.

I draw the line at the Ramsay children, though. If they come out with cookbooks, well, no. I'm not going there.


Bridget said...

See, this is great - I love cookbook reviews, especially since I don't get the Food Network, so I don't always know who the people are ...

I made a Cabbage and White Bean Stew yesterday, which is supposed to sit for 24 hours before you serve it, and I can't wait to see what it's like. It sure made the house smell good!

kee kee said...

love the cookbook recommendations and I love noting down what you made for dinner each night- fabulous! I have made a new resolution for myself to make 100 new recipes this year! Your biscotti and tomatoish soup are at the top of my to do list!!!