Book Review: The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman

9780385344821Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Mark Bittman is one of my favorite cookbook authors, so I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to review The VB6 cookbook.

If you’re unfamiliar with VB6 (vegan before 6), it is a dietary solution Bittman came up with after being diagnosed as a pre-diabetic. He lives a vegan lifestyle until six in the evening, and after six he allows himself to indulge in his guilty food pleasures–in moderation of course.

The VB6 cookbook is the follow-up to Bittman’s VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health For Good. It consists of 350 vegan recipes which are flexible for those new to a vegan lifestyle. A great example of this is his steak su poivre with mushrooms recipe. It was an easy recipe to prepare and perfect for someone like me because I like the healthiness of the vegetables in the recipe, however, the carnivore in me appreciated the steak as well.

If you’ve ever read a cookbook written by Bittman, you will quickly see his passion for food and cooking, and that he is extremely passionate teacher on the subject. Before you get to the recipes, Bittman makes sure you are knowledgeable in cooking techniques and ingredients, and this book is no different. If you’re not familiar with the vegan diet, like I was, you will know the proper foods and dietary restrictions before you reach the first recipe chapter.

The recipes in this book covers every category from breakfast to dinner to dessert, and are relatively easy to make; however, if you lack a decent supply of spices and vegetables, you will find yourself making frequent trips to the grocery store.

Because Bittman’s cookbooks have such beautiful photography and picture tutorials, which is why I wish I would have seen more of them in this book. However, the quality of pictures are still on a level of perfection on Bittman can achieve.

The great thing about The VB6 cookbook is that it takes away every stereotype about the vegan diet. You can make a dish of nothing but vegetables and still have it come out as a 5 star steak dinner. This book is great for both vegans and non-vegans alike.




Book Review: Extra Virgin

9780385346054Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Reading Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar reminded me why I fell in love with Italian cuisine. The homemade feeling I get when an Italian dish hits the table because I know how much love, effort, and time was spent on making it. The old world feeling that fills the room because so much history and culture is infused into every dish, and if you’re really lucky, you may hear some really great stories. The staple and fresh ingredients used because it’s not really an Italian dish if it’s not made from scratch or capers, olive oil, or squid isn’t used somewhere.

From my reading, I learned the recipes in Extra Virgin are not the sole driving force of the book–even though the recipes are very good and authentic to Italian cuisine. The love between Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos is the foundation of this book, and it puts an entirely different spin on what it means to cook. Their love for one another, especially in the kitchen, shows you don’t have to slave over a five course meal in order for someone to really appreciate your selfless act, and how that person’s response can sometimes feel you up more than the plate of food sitting in front of you.

The food photography in this book is amazing! There is something about Italian dishes that transport me to Italy, even though I have not made my first trip. I swear I plan on traveling to Italy within the next three years. There is just something so rustic and homemade about the photographed food that it commands you to try a recipe or two.

The great thing about this book is that you really are learning the basics of Italian cuisine, and the recipes are a reflection of that. You learn to make pasta from scratch as well as their companion sauces, and there are a few visual teaching moments such as bread making. If you want a little taste of Italy in your home, I recommend getting a copy of Extra Virgin. You may just discover your love for Italian cuisine, too.

Book Review: Treat Yourself by Jennifer Steinhauer

9780385345200Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Treat Yourself by Jennifer Steinhauer is one of those baking books that reminds you what was great about being a kid: junk food favorites. Not only does Steinhauer share her most beloved snacks as a kid, she also teaches you how to prepare them.

The introduction gives you the gensis of how the author’s love for snacks and the initial concept for this book. The book, in her words, is not about emulating famous name brand snacks, but how to successfully make them as your own; by developing her own recipes, Steinhauer does just that.

With this book, I was able to walk down memory lane of my favorite childhood snacks, and some of which, to my dismay for quite some time, are no longer in production. I was able to make my own frosted oatmeal cookies which are practically on their last legs on store shelves, as well as my favorite oatmeal pies. For those who lack the heart for sweets, there are plenty of savory recipes included balancing the book out nicely.

If you like a little history about your food, you’ll enjoy the introductions to all the chapters, and the anecdotes above each recipe are a must-read. The recipes are especially made for the home baker: they are easy to read and follow, and the ingredients can be found in any grocery store including Wal-Mart.

My one piece of advice for buying this book is to buy it for both the recipes and nostalgia it brings. I can’t even tell you how long my mom and I reminisced over all our favorite snacks from when we were kids until now, and how our tastebuds remain trapped in our childhoods.