When I was asked to participate in the Cooking Around the World Blog Tour, I was absolutely thrilled! I love culture and food and the two together and I love experiencing new and different things. My husband and I used to be avid travelers until we became parents 2 years ago. The most adventure we have now is once a month, heading out to a local Toronto restaurant and experiencing local food. I mean, its not terribly bad but nothing beats getting on a plane of course. Cooking from these wonderful cookbooks gave me the opportunity to bring the countries to us. Read on as I reviewed 3 beautiful cookbooks and traveled to France, The Caribbean and Croatia right from my home and filled my kitchen with the smells of authentic food from these great countries!
“The South of France Cookbook” by Nina Parker
Author Nina Parker takes us to the beautiful beaches of St. Tropez and all the local wonderful food it has to offer. With strong, fresh flavors of Provencal cuisine, Nina shows us her take on classic recipes from the South of France.
The pictures in this cookbook are just beautiful. With a mix of local pictures around St.Tropez and the beautiful food photography by Paul Winch-Furness, I truly felt like I was right there in St. Tropez feeling the warm sun on my back, munching on some tasty food at a local restaurant.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
- Drinks & Canapés
Each chapter begins with a chat of Nina’s adventures in St. Tropez and how it relates to the coming chapter. Each recipe also begins with a fun little description of the origins of the particular recipe. Ingredients are listed in order of use and directions are simple to follow. Most ingredients are readily available at your local supermarket.
I recreated the Ramatuelle Bioche and boy was I ever impressed! It was perfectly flakey and oh so buttery and the smell in my house was incredible once I removed it from the oven! This is a perfect recipe to make if you don’t have the time or patience to make homemade croissants with a very similar taste. Find the recipe below along with pictures of my creation. Please don’t let all the proofing times turn you off from trying it out. It takes nothing to leave dough on its own to rise and hands on time was fairly minimal.
Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves
- 5 tsp whole milk
- 2 tsp fresh yeast or 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast (* I used instant)
- 1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz/200g) bread flour
- 2 free-range large eggs, plus 2 yolks, lightly beaten (*I used regular large eggs)
- 2 tbsp unrefined superfine sugar (*I used regular granulated sugar)
- 1/2 cup (4oz/125g) soft unsalted butter
- sea salt
Heat the milk until lukewarm and add the yeast and 1 heaped teaspoon of the flour. Set aside for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat three-quarters of the eggs, the sugar, and a pinch of salt together. Add the yeast mixture, and after a minute, gradually spoon the rest of the flour. Mix until everything is just combined, then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes. Now, set the mixer to a slow speed and begin spooning in the soft butter, letting each addition combine with the dough before adding the next. Once everything is incorporated, increase the speed and mix until the dough looks elastic and shiny. Scrape into a clean, dry bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in the fridge overnight.
(* Upon opening my fridge in the morning to check on my lovely dough, I noticed it hardly rised at all. The dough in general seems to be a very heavy, dense dough and not a typical dough I am used to. I am not sure if this is normal or if this was a result of making a couple substitutions. I was ready to start the recipe all over again but then decided to just bake it after the second rising and it came out perfect.)
The next day, line a slightly larger-than-standard loaf pan or two standard 8 x 4 x 2 1/2-inch (17 x 1 1 x 9-cm) pans, with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and pit it in the pan(s). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and leave to proof for 2-3 hours in a warm, dry place. Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Once the dough has doubled in size, brush it with the remaining beaten egg and bake it for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is gorgeous and golden. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve warm.
This brioche is at its best in flavour and texture on the same day it is made. It should be moist, flakey and buttery. I did keep it for a couple days and as the days went by it got drier and therefore not as tasty.
Some other recipes you can expect to find: Sticky Buns, Coconut and Wild Honey Bread, Sea-Salted Caramel from Grimaud, La Mole-Inspired Omelet with Chanterelles, Gruyere and Thyme, The Feline Onion Tart, Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Tarragon Pizza, Roasted Butternut Squash with Wild Fennel Seeds, Graniers Spring Rolls, Bun Man Chicken, Vanilla and Orange Blossom Marshmallows, St.Tropez Tart, Buttermilk Scones with Raspberry Jam and Rosewater Cream, Tarragon Chicken with Mushrooms and Chickpeas, Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream and so so many more!!
You may purchase “The South of France Cookbook” By Nina Parker on Amazon.ca for $42.29 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.
“Creole Kitchen: Sunshine Flavors from the Caribbean” by Vanessa Bolosier
With recipes based on classic dishes from Guadeloupe and Martinique, Vanessa Bolosier takes us to the islands with her new cookbook “Creole Kitchen”. Vanessa, a self-taught cook has learned all she knows about island cooking from mother and from her late father who was her food mentor. Food has been and always will be a huge part of her life and you can feel the passion she has as you read each recipe and how it remains special to her. Vanessa goes on to discuss the history of Creole food, what it is and how it came about. She chats about local restaurant and street food and most importantly homemade food.
Included at the beginning of the cookbook is a section on what ingredients you may expect to find in a Creole kitchen. To name a few: coconut vinegar, white vinegar, allspice, cloves, fresh ginger, chilies, mangos, pineapples, a variety of beans, plantains and bananas, breadfruit, cassava, Giraumon (a squash that grows in the Caribbean) and many more. Some ingredients included may not be familiar and may also be difficult to find locally however she give alternatives at the beginning of the book. Also included are some key elements of Creole food and techniques.
Chapters are divided into the following:
- Drinks (Bwoisson)
- Starters (Komanseman)
- Fish & Seafood (Pwasson e fwidme)
- Meat & Poultry (Viann e poul)
- Sides (Akonpayman)
- Soups (Soup’)
- Sauces & Condiments (Soss e kondiman)
- Syrups (Siwo)
- Desserts (Desse)
I chose to recreate the Mont Blanc Coconut Cake. A genoise sponge cake with coconut frosting. This cake was supposed to be light and airy that “makes it taste like a coconut cloud”. I am sad to say that mine came out very dense. I am not sure exactly what went wrong but it still tasted great. I loved the flavours of rum and coconut together, it reminded me of something I would eat on vacation.
You may purchase “Creole Kitchen: Sunshine Flavors from the Caribbean” by Vanessa Bolosier on Amazon.ca for $43.65 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.
“Mamushka: A Cookbook” by Olia Hercules
Author Olia Hercules, a native of Ukraine takes us back to her hometown where she grew up eating seasonally. This is a truly authentic Cookbook with a collection of recipes from Ukraine & Eastern Europe. My husband was thrilled when he saw me flipping through this book as his father is from Hungary and many of the recipes he saw took him back to his childhood.
Some useful ingredients are included at the beginning of the book. These include some that may not be familiar to the average home cook. I certainitely did not recognize a few. There are about a handful of ingredients used in the book that would have you traveling to a local Eastern European grocery store (Gherkins, dill heads, sour cherry leaves, Smetana, syr)
If you are looking for a healthy range of recipes, look elsewhere. These recipes are all definitely very indulgent and hearty. Many of the recipes in this book have a lengthy list of ingredients. The directions are not terribly hard but you do need to make sure you have the time to recreate it, as some of the directions are also lengthy. I found the recipes quite unique and in my opinion daring. Many of which I would be a little hesitant to try but perhaps I am not as adventurous as I thought! That being said, the pictures are fantastic and the food does look scrumptious. Each recipe begins with a description and mini history/importance of the forthcoming recipe which I always love reading before deciding to make a particular dish.
Chapters are divided into the following:
- Broths & Soups
- Breads & Pastries
- Vegetables & Salads
- Dumplings & Noodles
- Meat & Fish
- Fermented Pickles & Preserves
- Sweet Conserves
I managed to recreate the Zucchini & Potato Stew (Coyc/Sous) I had thought that it would have been super quick and easy but it did take longer than I expected. I was standing at the stove for a good hour or more just frying (not including prep time). The upside: it was super tasty. The downside: time consuming and every single ingredient was fried. I can’t say that it was very picturesque but it sure tasted better than it looked! (promise!)
Some of my favourites that I would love to recreate: Ukrainian Garlic Bread (this recipe looks phenomenal!), Greek breads with green onions, Moldovan giant cheese twist, Stuffed Ukrainian pasta, Ukrainian gnocchi, Garlicky Georgian poussins, Apple sponge, Poppy seed roll.
You may purchase “Mamushka: A Cookbook” by Olia Hercules on Amazon.ca for $39.92 CAN or wherever books are sold. Price is subject to change.
* A big thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for sending over all three copies of these beautiful cookbooks in exchange for an honest review. All opinions and thoughts in this blog post are 100% my own.
Simon & Schuster Canada: