Weekly Wrap-Up; By The Book

This week I’m going to do some book reviews.

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Full disclosure – I was not paid to write this post but all three of the books were sent to me free of charge to review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Book 1 – Austrian Desserts: Over 400 Cakes, Pastries, Strudels, Tortes and Candies by Toni Mörwald and Christopher Wagner

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Overall Thoughts:  I am thrilled to add this to my collection; I love a nice weighty cookbook!  This book is packed with recipes, divided neatly into sections like “Cake, Tarts, Schnitten, and Strudel;” “Cookies and Candies;” and “Ice Cream, Sorbet, Granita, and Parfaits.”  I don’t have any background in Austrian baking, but the recipes are written in such a clear, straightforward way that I would feel confident tackling any of them.  There are a few history blurbs but overall the writing is to the point, which I appreciate.  The color photographs are gorgeous.

Recipe:  Sour Ice Cream with Lime

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Recipe Reflections:  With just three ingredients – low-fat sour cream, simple syrup, and fresh lime – this is the easiest ice cream I’ve ever made.  But the ease didn’t make it any less tasty.  Sweet and sour were perfectly balance here and the mouthfeel was nice and creamy with no ice crystals.  I cut the recipe in half without incident.

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What I Want to Make Next:  Lavender Ice Cream, Plum Kolach, and Buttermilk Mousse with Honey.

Book 2 – CopyKat.com’s Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2, by Stephanie Manley

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Overall Thoughts:  This is the 2nd book from CopyKat.com that seeks to recreate recipes from popular restaurants.  There are recipes inspired by more than 60 restaurants, including Starbucks, Sonic, and Cheesecake Factory.  The book is divided into sections by types of foods, i.e. “Drinks,” “Appetizers,” “Desserts,” and so on.  I don’t really eat at most of the restaurants featured here, but if your family regularly eats out at (popular chain) restaurants and is looking to cut back this book would be a great starting point.  There are no photographs but you don’t need them as a starting point anyway because the dishes are all things you’ve seen before (that’s the point!).

Recipe 1:  (Panera Bread) Broccoli Cheese Soup

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Recipe 1 Reflections:  I’ve never tried the original, but we flipping loved this recipe.  The soup was sooo thick and perfectly creamy but without being too heavy.  The flavor was astonishingly “meaty,” and the vegetables all reached the perfect texture – soft but not mushy.  I used fat-free half & half instead of full-fat and I recommend this substitution.  Adam and I both thought this was the best soup we’ve ever made.  I cut the recipe in half without incident.

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Recipe 2:  (Cajun Cafe) Bourbon Chicken Tofu

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Recipe 2 Reflections:  I went with chicken instead of tofu here but feel like I still got a good idea of the recipe.  This wasn’t bad, certainly, but we did not enjoy it as much as the soup.  The sauce got very salty if you let it reduce too long, and we had already subbed in low-sodium soy sauce.

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What I Want to Make Next:  (The Melting Pot) Wisconsin Trio Fondue, (P.F. Chang’s) Lettuce Wraps, and (Red Lobster) Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

Book 3 –The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It’s Too Hot to Cook, by Matt Kadey

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Overall Thoughts:  This cookbook has 101 oven-free recipes and includes color photographs of 80 of them.  It’s divided into four sections – “Breakfast and Brunch,” “Starters and Sides,” “Main Dishes,” and “Desserts.”  I really appreciated how healthy all of the recipes in this cookbook were.  Usually I make substitutions to lower fat, calories, or sodium when I cook, but I couldn’t find a single recipe in this book that it seemed necessary to alter (for health reasons that is, I did make some pantry-related substitutions).

Recipe 1:  Mango Fool

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Recipe 1 Reflections:  I’ve never eaten a Fool before, but this basically ended up being flavored Greek yogurt.  The ginger and orange juice definitely helped boost the mango flavor into something extra-special.  This took about a minute to come together, and I plan on making it again.

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Recipe 2:  Avocado Fruit Salad

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Recipe Reflections 2:  My fruit all looks a little pink because I had to substitute frozen berries when my blackberries caught a case of mold.  I also subbed  almonds for walnuts.  I can’t say that I loved the savoriness of the avocado, but I did enjoy it more than I was expecting too.  The overall blend of textures and flavors was fantastic; this felt very fresh and zingy.

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What I Want to Make Next:  Machta Mango Shake, Cucumber Seaweed Salad, and Tex-Mex Chipotle Beans.

Do you like to cook straight from recipes or do you prefer to wing it in the kitchen?  Where do you tend to get your recipes – cookbooks, food blogs, or family and friends?

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