Posts Tagged ‘michael van de elzen’

fast good home cooking

I don’t know if it’s anything to do with my occasional comments that cookbooks need to be able to sit flat on the bench to be used, but I love the new sit-flat limp binding of Michael Van De Elzen’s new book. What’s inside is pretty good, too. This is very much a family cookbook – there’s a number of recipes aimed at children, even a small section on baby food (I never cease to be appalled at those rows of little cans of ‘baby food’ in the supermarket; come on, guys, it isn’t that hard to mash banana – and Michael’s recipes are certainly a bit more interesting than mashed banana).

I’m not sure that “Fast” is the right title for this book… the Sticky Ribs I made for dinner the other night take an hour to cook, involving three separate cooking processes. But they were truly delicious! (And fed the three of us, including the teenager, for just $5). “Good home cooking” is, however, entirely accurate. This is proper food, recipes that you can (and probably will) actually use in your home kitchen, with an emphasis on making it better for you with more fruit and more vegetables – Michael even manages to hide pumpkin in cupcakes!

The recipes are organised by meals or by themes, with big bold headings and lots of colour pictures. It’s a very modern-looking and stylish cookbook, but it doesn’t lack on substance. I particularly like the number of meals where elements like breads and drinks are made from scratch – although I would have made flour tortillas for the lamb tacos, because the mesa used in making corn tortillas is quite hard to find. There are plenty of ideas here to make lots of yummy and innovative foods and drinks, guaranteed to make the family happy.

Random House

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui

food truck cookbook 2It is a rare thing indeed that I get a book to review not only before its embargo date, but also before the series has even finished on TV. And I am very happy to give the latest offering from the Food Truck a big thumbs up!

The recipes featured on TV are all here – at least all the ones that worked (and one of the things we love about the series is that things don’t always work, and there’s a lesson in that). And often they’re in improved versions. For example, the pretzels in the German episode turned out hard and dry, so there is a softer version here that I am going to have to have a go at. (Along with the quick sauerkraut and the Japanese cabbage salad. Definitely a change from coleslaw!)

While this is not necessarily a beginners’ cookbook, it is an excellent addition to any collection, featuring an eclectic selection of recipes from a variety of cultures. It’s worth purchasing for the healthy Pacific Island recipes alone. The overall theme is healthier fast food, and it would be so nice to see takeaway vendors taking some of these ideas on board. But the point is to make your own, at home; and by and large, the recipes presented here are approachable by the average home cook, the ingredients easily obtained, and the result something the family are likely to eat. There are exceptions – the Banh Mi recipe looks tasty, but there’s nearly fifty ingredients spread over three pages! On the other hand, it is a case of first, bake your Vietnamese baguettes, and then prepare three fillings and a sauce. This is one of the things I like about Michael’s approach, it’s that he’s very thorough and likes to start with raw ingredients. Besides, a lot of the sub-recipes can be used for other dishes, especially the sauces.

The book is well illustrated – on those occasions when the picture isn’t next to the recipe it’s not far away. There are also lots of photos of the Food Truck, and of real people enjoying the food. It sits reasonably flat on the bench, though for recipes near the beginning or end it will probably be necessary to use the bookstand.

Random House

Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jacqui