Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Deeply Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel by Dean Koontz

Deeply Odd
An Odd Thomas Novel
by Dean Koontz

Hardcover, 352 pages

Another fun thriller by the master of spooky, Dean Koontz! I love the Odd Thomas series for thier quirky characters and the way Koontz fuses humour with the supernatural and mundane in his tales of horror.

The pistol appeared in his hand the way a dove appears in the hand of a good magician, as if it materialized out of thin air. “You think I won’t do it right here in the open. But you’d be surprised. . . . You’ll drop before you get the breath to scream.”

The truck driver is decked out like a rhinestone cowboy, only instead of a guitar he’s slinging a gun—and Odd Thomas is on the wrong end of the barrel. Though he narrowly dodges a bullet, Odd can’t outrun the shocking vision burned into his mind . . . or the destiny that will drive him into a harrowing showdown with absolute evil.

Odd Thomas has met his match with the truck driver, who has powers much like his own but perhaps even more. Odd's insight into the horrific crimes the rhinestone cowboy trucker may be about to commit has him chasing him across the state, accompanied by a fascinating old woman in a stretch limo. A character I hope will be in more of the Odd Thomas series.

Odd needs all the help he can get to deal with the nightmare situation ahead and save the innocents. He has pledged his very life in this epic good vs. evil struggle. 

This is the perfect book to take with you to the cottage, light and gripping at the same time.

Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives with his wife, Gerda, and the enduring spirit of their golden retriever, Trixie, in southern California.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Grills gone Vegan! by Tamasin Noyes

Grills Gone Vegan
by Tamasin Noyes

Softcover, 192 pages

Why should carnivores have all the fun?

If you are vegan or have invited a vegan or two to your cookout - Grills Gone Vegan will show you how to grill up a storm - the vegan way! There are 125 recipes to delight and inspire the vegan or even part-time vegan cook - with delicious rubs, marinades, sauces and dressings to give authentic grill flavour to your meat-free dishes.

Grill season is the best time of all - and everyone should be included!

Harissa Seitan Burgers, p. 68

Chapters include:
Getting Started
Scrumptious Starters and Small Plates
Sensational Soups and Sandwiches
Mouthwatering Main Dishes
Super Side Dishes
Delectable Desserts
Remarkable Rubs, Marinades, and Sauces

Grilled Baby Artichokes, p. 22

Tamasin Noyes is a blogger and veteran cookbook author. She spent several years as a recipe tester for a number of leading vegan chefs. She is the author of American Vegan Kitchen and the coauthor of Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day. She lives in the Midwest.

Skillet-Grilled Mango-Blueberry Cobbler, p. 147

Friday, 24 May 2013

À La Grecque: Our Greek Table by Pam Talimanidis

À La Grecque 
Our Greek Table
by Pam Talimanidis

Hardcover, 240 pages

Pam Talimanidis is one of the masters of simple and delicious Greek cooking. Inspired by her husband’s Greek heritage and his home village of Polypetron, Pam has gathered an array of recipes, both traditional and modern, which showcase the incredible flavours of the cuisine. This is Greek food at its best.

This is another one of those marvelous cookbooks that is part recipe collection and part love story to the featured country. Pam met and fell in love with a "mad Greek" when she was still in school. He, and her beloved mother in law, taught her the beauty and simplicity of Greek cooking. They ran one Greek restaurant for 30 years, then opened up another. In the off season they travel to Greece to live simply. Greece and Greek foods are Pam's passions and her love for both of them come through on every page.

Contents Include:
Yiayia Soups
A Greek Wedding: Mezze
Village Life: Salads and Vegetables
Kosta: Fish and Seafood
Connected to the Land: Meat and Poultry
The Little Extras: Sauces and Accompaniments
Easter: Breads and Pastries
Our Parallel Lives: Desserts
A Piece of Paradise: Afternoon Tea
Eating the Greek Way
The Greek Pantry

The recipes are simple and elegant without being too cheffy and the photos of both the food and the country are stunning. 

Long yellow peppers stuffed with feta
originally published by
This tasty lunch dish is very easy to prepare. The sauce that forms in the pan from the cooking juices and feta is delicious mopped up with some bread. Choose large, mild Hungarian peppers about 20 centimetres long.

12 yellow or red peppers
1kg feta cheese
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
freshly ground black pepper
190ml extra virgin
olive oil


Preheat the oven to 180C and lightly oil a baking tray.

Slice the stem ends off the peppers and use the point of a sharp knife to scrape out the seeds inside, keeping the peppers whole.

Cut the feta into pieces about two centimetres by two centimetres by eight centimetres. Don't worry if it crumbles. Push a piece of feta inside each pepper, inserting it as far as you can.

Lay the peppers flat on the baking tray so they fit snugly together. Top with slices of tomato and pepper.

Drizzle with oil and bake for 50 minutes or until the peppers are lightly coloured.

Serves 4

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Easy Indian Cooking by Suneeta Vaswani

Easy Indian Cooking
Second Edition
by Suneeta Vaswani
Paperback, 264 pages

Indian cooking is an exciting cuisine, 
and now it's easier to make than ever!

It can be intimidating, taking on a new cuisine. So many new flavours and new ingredients... but you don't have to rely on restaurants for real Indian flavour - Suneeta Vaswani has put together a simple instructional cookbook that will have you serving up authentic Indian dishes at home in a snap.

She gently teaches about common Indian spices and techniques and each recipe comes with tips to help you get the best flavour possible from your dish.

From snacks and street foods to entire dinners, you'll have all the tools you need to wow your friends and family with this new cuisine.

Contents Include:
General Guidelines
Common Ingredients
Spices, Spice Blends and Herbs
Hints and Tips
Basic Techniques
Chaat and Street Foods
Snacks and Appetizers
Rice, Cereal and Breads
Beans and Lentils
Poultry and Meat
Fish and Seafood
Vegetarian Entrées
Raitas and Chutneys
Sweets and Beverages

Easy Indian Cooking contains 150 recipes. Try one of these sample ones at home, and see how easy it can be to cook Indian food! 

Yellow Lentil Soup with Vegetables (Toor Dal) page 72

Here’s a soul-satisfying soup packed with vitamins and the goodness of vegetables. Plus the dal makes it high in protein and fiber as well.

1 cup    yellow lentils (toor dal)    250 mL
1 tsp    turmeric    5 mL
1 cup    chopped tomato    250 mL
1 cup    cubed potato    250 mL
1 cup    sliced carrot, 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) thick slices    250 mL
 8    green beans, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces     8
1⁄4 tsp    cayenne pepper    1 mL
1 tsp    salt or to taste    5 mL
2 tbsp    oil    30 mL
1 tsp    cumin seeds    5 mL
1 tbsp    chopped garlic    15 mL
1⁄2 cup    chopped onion    125 mL
11⁄2 cups    steamed rice    375 mL
1⁄3 cup    cilantro, chopped    75 mL
    Lemon wedges  

1.    Clean and pick through lentils for any small stones and grit. Rinse several times in cold water until water is fairly clear.
2.    Drain and transfer lentils to a large saucepan. Add
3 cups (750 mL) water and soak for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium heat, skimming froth off surface. Cook, partially covered, until dal is soft and mushy, about 30 minutes. Purée in blender or using immersion blender, or whisk vigorously to batter-like consistency.

Serves 8

Excerpted from Easy Indian Cooking, 2nd Ed. by Suneeta Vaswani © 2013 Robert Rose Inc. May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Coconut Chutney–Coated Fish Parcels page 147

A classic dish of the Parsis of Mumbai (Bombay), this is a showstopping entrée.
I like to serve it with a spicy dal and steamed rice.

TIPS: Coconut chutney can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered. Chutney can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
If banana leaves are unavailable, use foil to wrap fish. Leave foil slightly loose to allow steam to circulate.

•    Steamer

8    banana leaf sections,     each about 12 inches (30 cm) long (see Tips)    8
    Vegetable spray  
3 cups    grated fresh or frozen coconut (thawed if frozen)    750 mL  
12    cloves garlic    12
4    green chiles (2 inches/5 cm long)    4
2 tsp    cumin seeds    10 mL
1 tsp    granulated sugar    5 mL
1 tsp     salt or to taste    5 mL
    Juice of 1 lime or lemon
4 cups    cilantro leaves, including soft stems    1 L
8    halibut steaks or any similar fish (1 inch/2.5 cm thick)    8
1⁄4 cup    white vinegar    60 mL

1.    Rinse and wipe banana leaves and trim any dry ends. Lay one leaf on work surface, rib side up. Using a sharp knife held almost horizontally (knife should be almost parallel to work surface), carefully slice away part of thick rib, if necessary. Spray dull side with vegetable spray. Repeat with remaining leaves.
2.    In a food processor, process coconut, garlic, chile, cumin seeds, sugar and salt until coarse. Add lime juice, then cilantro, in batches, processing until fine and scraping sides of bowl frequently. Transfer to a bowl.
3.    Carefully coat each piece of fish on both sides with 1⁄4-inch (0.5 cm) thick paste. Place one piece of coated fish 3 inches (7.5 cm) from end of oiled side of banana leaf. Cover with 3-inch (7.5 cm) flap. Fold in sides and continue to fold into a “parcel.” Secure with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining fish and leaves.
4.    Fill steamer with 11⁄2 inches (4 cm) water. Add vinegar. Place wrapped fish in steamer and cook for about 30 minutes. To serve, place parcels on platter and allow each person to unwrap package.

Serves 8

Excerpted from Easy Indian Cooking, 2nd Ed. by Suneeta Vaswani © 2013 Robert Rose Inc. May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Hena’s Finger Potatoes page 185

Delicious potatoes, which make a marvelous marriage with any kind of barbecued meat or fried chicken, are just as wonderful by themselves. An old friend who is renowned for her cuisine gave
me this recipe when visiting from India.

TIPS: I like to serve these to accompany beer.
To toast sesame seeds: Spread in a dry skillet and toast on medium heat until starting to color, 3 to 4 minutes. Shake pan periodically to toast evenly. Seeds will turn slightly darker as they cool.

4 tsp    oil, divided    20 mL
1⁄4 cup    raw cashews, broken into large pieces    60 mL
1⁄4 cup    raisins    60 mL
2 lbs    all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch (1 cm) thick fries    1 kg
2 tsp    hot pepper flakes or to taste    10 mL
1 tsp    cumin powder    5 mL
2 tsp    salt or to taste    10 mL
1 tsp    mango powder (amchur) (optional)    5 mL
2 tbsp    sesame seeds, toasted (see Tips)    30 mL

1.    In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) of the oil over medium heat. Sauté cashews and raisins until cashews are golden and raisins are plump, about 2 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
2.    In the same skillet, heat remaining oil. Stir-fry potatoes to coat with oil. Spread in a single layer and cover. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, for 5 to
7 minutes. Stir and spread into single layer again. Cover and continue to cook, adjusting heat to brown potatoes without burning, for 6 to 8 minutes longer. There should be a golden crust on most potatoes when done.
3.    Sprinkle with hot pepper flakes, cumin, salt and mango powder, if using. Add reserved cashews and raisins and sesame seeds. Toss well and adjust seasonings. Serve as a side dish or as finger food.

Serves 8

Excerpted from Easy Indian Cooking, 2nd Ed. by Suneeta Vaswani © 2013 Robert Rose Inc. May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Suneeta Vaswani, born in Bombay, (Mumbai), came upon her culinary career almost by happenstance. When she moved to the United States, she had to adapt to being able to not only provide family meals, but being able to turn out glorious food for friends and family as is the Indian tradition. When her North American friends, who had lived in India and grown to love the food, requested to learn how to prepare the incredible Indian dishes Suneeta was making, what started out as a hobby quickly morphed into formal classes in cooking schools.

Suneeta is the owner of Suneeta’s Indian Cuisine, a food company that makes and markets chutneys. She has trained chefs in restaurants, developed, tested recipes and consulted on Indian food with a number of organizations, is past president of Houston Culinary Guild, a board member of Asia Society Texas, and a member of International Association of Culinary Professionals. Suneeta has been featured in national magazines such as Bon Appétit and has written articles for Fine Cooking, and Washington Post amongst others. She is the author of Easy Indian Cooking and Complete Book of Indian Cooking.

Monday, 20 May 2013

River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes

River Cottage Veg
200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes
by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Trade Paperback, 416 pages

A comprehensive collection of 200+ recipes that embrace vegetarian cuisine as the centerpiece of a meal, from the leading food authority behind the critically acclaimed River Cottage series.

I absolutely love the River Cottage series on television, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is indeed a pioneer in cooking and farming close to nature and sharing his techniques and findings with the world in a positive, encouraging and inviting way.

So of course I knew that this wouldn't be just another vegetarian cookbook. Almost every recipe in the book is so different than I have seen before and yet just make sense. They are the kind of delicious, intriguing and inviting dishes that make you forget about meat. Which are exactly the kind of veggie dishes that my husband, the carnivore, loves most.

All seasons are covered in this cookbook and most of the vegetarian recipes are easily converted to vegan, if you wish. 

Contents Include:
Comfort food & feasts
Hearty salads
Raw assemblies
Hefty Soups
Bready things
Pantry suppers
Pasta & rice 
Meze & tapas
Roast, grill & broil
Side dishes
Veg on the go 

These recipes are fun and inventive and you will find yourself wanting to try all of them, I guarantee. And your carnivores will find themselves immensely satisfied. ☺

HUGH FEARNLEY-WHITTINGSTALL is a renowned British broadcaster, writer, farmer, educator, and campaigner for sustainably produced food. He has written eight books, including The River Cottage Meat Book, the 2008 James Beard Cookbook of the Year. Hugh established the River Cottage farm in rural Dorset, England, in 1998.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Make Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, Floats, Cocktails, and More

Make Your Own Soda
Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pop, 
Floats, Cocktails, and More
by Anton Nocito, founder of P&H Soda Co. 

with Lynn Marie Hulsman
Trade Paperback, 144 pages

A little tired of consuming high fructose corn syrup
/water/chemical solutions?

Over the last few years we have taken back cooking, some even going as far as growing their own produce and preserving the harvest when possible. So why not bring this back to basics, do it yourself approach to soft drinks?

Believe it or not, soft drinks existed before the big giants told us how things should be. Their beginnings were as tonics and dispensed at the local pharmacies. 

Making your own pop might not cure all that ails you, but it is bound to make you feel good! I think it is something you can get the whole family into. And, when the kids are away, you can use the all-natural syrups for the foundations of some excellent cocktails! 

Contents include:
Getting Started
Soda Syrups from the Farm
Soda Syrups from the Pantry
Egg Creams, Egg Shakes, and Ice Cream Sodas
Hot Drinks

In Make Your Own Soda, you’ll find 70 recipes for all-natural syrups with unique, artisanal flavors like pineapple, lemongrass, and hibiscus, as well as old-time favorites like ginger, sarsaparilla, and grape. You’ll also find great ways to use homemade syrups to create soda fountain classics (Chocolate Egg Cream), great cocktails (Lovage Gin Fizz), and hot drinks (Hot Apple Spice Cup), all as delicious as they are distinctive.

Classic Black and White Milkshake
Recipe from Make Your Own Soda by Anton Nocito
as published on Crown Publishing
Makes 1 drink

4 tablespoons Chocolate Syrup (recipe follows)
1 scoop Vanilla Ice Cream (recipe follows)

Fill a tall glass with ice. Add the syrup. Add enough seltzer until the glass is two-thirds full, stirring briskly. Add the ice cream, then top with more seltzer, taking care that it doesn’t run over.

Makes 1 quart

1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, halved
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup heavy cream

Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside.

In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the half-and-half and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add the seeds and pod to the pan. Remove the pan
from the heat and steep for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Bring the half-and-half back to a steady simmer. While whisking the eggs constantly, slowly pour in the hot half-and-half.
Whisk until well combined, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the liquid has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl, and set it over the bowl of ice to cool. When cool, add the cream. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, process the custard in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for 14 days.

Makes 3 cups

2 cups water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 vanilla bean, halved
2 tablespoons chocolate husks (optional)
3 tablespoons Scharffen Berger or other high-quality cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the pan, toss in the pod, and add the chocolate husks (if using). Steep for 10 minutes.

Put the cocoa powder in a large bowl. Strain the steeped liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Strain the mixture again, and then let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.

Anton Nocito is the founder of P&H Soda Co., an all-natural soda syrup company located in Brooklyn, New York. Nocito is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute and was an executive sous chef within the Union Square Hospitality Group, as well as other restaurants in New York City and Long Island.