Book Review: Flour+Water Pasta by Thomas McNaughton

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

Who knew there was more to pasta dishes than spaghetti with tomato sauce, lasagna, your occasional stuffed ravioli or spinach pasta? In Flour+Water Pasta by Thomas McNaughton opens your mind to unlimited creativity in using pasta in a variety of dishes—outside your typical safe recipes for pasta.

The preface and the introduction are the appetizers for Flour+Water Pasta. You get a profound understanding of who Thomas McNaughton is and his relationship with food, pasta in particular, and how Flour+Water Pasta was conceived.

The book is split into two parts: The Dough and The Recipes. The Dough part is the fundamentals of what pasta is, the ingredients which makes up pasta, how to combine them, roll, and cook the pasta. If you were unfamiliar with flour and eggs before, I guarantee the first part of the book will have you feeling like a professional chef—or at least a seasoned culinary student.

The second part of the book is the recipes sections. The recipes are divided into seasons: summer, spring, fall, and winter. I enjoyed how the recipes were categorized because I was able to step outside of my comfort zone in thinking pasta dishes are mainly for fall and winter. With the other seasons, I was able to think about using those seasonal ingredients that I probably would not have thought about using outside of fall and winter.

Because I have been cooking for quite some time now, I did not mind the length of the recipes; however, someone who is a novice in the kitchen, the recipes may seem a little intimidating because of the amount of ingredients included with each recipes. They are all fresh ingredients and sometimes it is hard to find fresh ingredients when they are not in season. All the recipes I read and tried are easy to make, but are quite laborious if you are someone who likes to work with five ingredients or less. However, the amount of flavors you achieve combined with the fresh, homemade pasta is well worth the amount of time spent in the kitchen.

Prior to receiving this book, I was quite obsessed when learning how to make pasta from scratch, and Flour+Water Pasta was able to open my mind to limitless possibilities of what I can do with pasta. I can add flavoring to the pasta itself making it more exciting to consume as well as combining it with interesting and unusual ingredients and sauces. If you’re a pasta person, I would highly recommend you purchase this book or buy it to add to your cooking skills.

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Book Review: Summer House With Swimming Pool

9780804138819Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch is a fiction novel about a doctor being investigated for negligence in the death of one of his patients–a famous actor.

On Tuesday at 9AM, Dr. Marc Schlosser is due before the medical board to discuss the death of one his patients, Ralph Meier. Ralph Meier is a famous actor, and the events surrounding his death appear to be more suspicious than accidental.

Dr. Marc Schlosser has a successful private practice. His office stays busy with patients, and has a waiting list of those trying to get in to see him. He clearly defines his patients as seeing him as the best because he spends more “time” with them. In other words, he diagnosis them within three minutes and spends the rest chatting them up as if he is really being attentive, but could honestly care less.

It is not until a famous actor, Ralph Meier, visits Marc’s office because he got word that Marc is a doctor who likes to freely write prescriptions. Afterwards, Ralph begins inviting Marc to various events in hopes of developing a relationship with his newfound doctor.

After attending a backyard barbecue hosted by Ralph, Marc and his family are invited to Ralph’s family summer vacation home. Caroline, Marc’s wife, is hesitant and does not want to go because she thinks Ralph is scum, which is the same vibe Marc received from Ralph at a previous event they were invited to. Despite this knowledge, Marc is drawn to going because of his infatuation with Judith, Ralph’s wife.

On his own family vacation, Marc decides on a camping spot not far from Ralph’s summer house, and Caroline is furious once she discovers this fact. Caroline wants absolutely nothing to do with Ralph, but gives in because of her daughters and don’t want to come across as rude.

Eventually Marc and his family are invited to actually stay at the summer house with Ralph and his family, which is when the story really begins to unfold and the events leading to Ralph’s death are revealed.

In the beginning I was highly turned off by the main character, Marc, because of his nonchalant and smug attitude–the way he talked about his treatment of his patients made you think he was tying his shoes. However, as the book progressed I came to like him a little and understand his situation. You have to have an open mind about Marc, and be open to his point-of-view to really understand the story.

Book Review: Sweet by the Editors of Food Network Magazine

9780804137683Disclosure: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Anyone who bakes as a hobby or professionally knows that baking is an exact science. No ifs, ands, or buts. If you add too little, too much, or subtract ingredients here and there, the outcome of your recipe will be completely different.

As a way to ease the fears of those new to baking and desserts, the editors of Food Network Magazine and the chefs of the Food Network Kitchens came together to create a cookbook which brings simplicity to baking. Visually appealing desserts, uncomplicated techniques, and simple ingredients are the building blocks of Secret: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More.

If you’re an addict of amazing food photography, then you will be completely smitten by the pictures the way I am. I wanted to make everything I saw because it appealed to every reason why I love making desserts.

Not only are the desserts simple to make, they are also desserts you can make throughout the week. The best thing about this book is there is a chapter for every baker which are accompanied with picture tutorials. I like baking any and everything so I utilized every chapter.

For the past week I have had a strong desire to make a pineapple upside-down cake–both from scratch and a box mix. As I was flipping through Sweet trying to find my first recipe to make, I came across a recipe called Grilled Pineapple Upside-Down cake. It was the best shortcut, no fuss recipe I have made thus far. All I needed was pound cake from my local grocery store, brown sugar, butter, maraschino cherries, pineapple rings, and aluminum foil. Grill for 12 minutes. The recipe also works well in an oven.

If you’re a Food Network Magazine reader, you will be equally pleased, if not more, with Sweet: Our Best Cupcakes, Cookies, Candy and More. If you’ve never picked up a copy of their magazine but enjoy the network, you will be just as pleased.