Murdoch Books

Book Review – New Pizza: A whole new era for the world’s favourite food by Stefano Manfredi.

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a free paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Oh look, me reviewing another cook book – surprise! What can I say, I have a bit of a cook book habit and always feel I have room for just one more… or maybe it’s if I own enough of them I can justify getting a bigger house? 😉

But, enough silliness and down to business. I found this book very interesting as it wasn’t just a cook book about pizza. It was almost a love story retelling the history of pizza and the best ingredients to do this dish justice… and then introducing the characters (the different chefs) and allowing them to retell the story with their own take on pizza today. We then got into some of Mr Manfredi’s recipes too.

Yes, okay, I can be a little too arty farty at times but hey, I feel the description is apt due to the stories that come with each of the initial recipes and sometimes each ingredient. This isn’t just a cook book, it’s a book of passion shared… and that passion just happens to be about how to cook a great pizza!

But if all you want is just a good cook book and advice on how to perfect your pizza making skills, don’t be put off by my above description! As ‘New Pizza’ does this too! There are very in depth, detailed sections on different doughs and how to make them, how to shape the doughs, etc.

And I must emphasise the ‘in depth’ as making the perfect dough in ‘New Pizza’ takes on a scientific element of equations and measurements that I initially found quite daunting – and I’ve been cooking for decades! But I then looked at it from a different angle and decided it just added to the desire of Mr Manfredi to share his passion for the perfect pizza. He could have kept his perfect dough equations to himself, but instead he is teaching them to the reader so that they too can experience pizza at its best. True gentlemen and true artist!

Then we go into the specifics of pizza itself – it’s not all just round, flat tomato and cheese! There are the Pizza Rosa – red pizza (tomato base), Pizza Bianca – white pizza (olive oil base), the Roman pizza – rectangular, fried, sweet… oh so many choices and not enough time to make them all! 😀

Courtesy of ‘New Pizza’ by Stefano Manfredi.

And if, like me, you are wheat free, there is even a good spelt pizza dough recipe. Though, if you have intolerances to gluten, dairy, allium or seafood… yeah, I did find the book lacking a little in that department for me. But that is my own problem and no fault of ‘New Pizza’. Some people are blessed with being able to eat everything – they will love this book. Me? Well… Next time I feel like falling off the wagon, I think I will use ‘New Pizza’ as my guide. I will “die” happy. 😀

Please note – I probably won’t ACTUALLY die, simply have to live with all the issues I get from eating foods I know my body can’t handle. 😉

As to the editing and layout of ‘New Pizza’ it is good. I, personally, found the book a little too chunky and cumbersome in the kitchen and it was too big for my cook book stand and looked more like a coffee table book that had gotten lost in my kitchen… but again, that is just me.

Modern cooks will appreciate the fact there is not only step by step picture instructions for the important things like how to shape the dough, but also a picture of each of the finished pizza to help entice you into wanting to make it. The pictures are amazing! There MAY be drool marks in my copy.

There were, however, a couple of typos scattered throughout the book. Usually I would say – no biggie, they will pick them up in the final edit. But I say that with eBooks and this was a paper one. I have let Murdoch books know of the issues and they did take it very seriously – they are professionals after all. What I do feel may have happened is a bit of a language hiccup? This is just a guess as I am in no way fluent in Italian… but as the majority of typos were ‘am’ being used instead of ‘an’… I am wondering if they are as interchangeable as ‘im’ and ‘in’ in German? Yeah, I’m not that fluent in German either and this is all one big guess.

Too be honest, if you skim the words, you probably won’t even notice! So don’t mind me! It does not, in any way, detract from the information ‘New Pizza’ is giving the reader. I am just one of those perfectionist who is perfectly imperfect… so will spot a typo in someone else’s work and then be blind to several clangers I make myself! 😀

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, but I would advise them that ‘New Pizza’ is for those who truly want to learn exactly what a pizza is and how to truly make it into more than just a take away meal. I am talking friends who have wood fire pizza ovens in their backyards and the like – you know they are serious about pizza and this would definitely be a book they should buy.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Now, I will remind you that I was sent a paper version of this book already and so that can make this section tough to answer, as it’s hard to ask if I would buy it when I already own it… But I will say that if I was to see it in the shops I probably wouldn’t buy it. Not because it is a terrible book, simply because I do not feel I could do it justice as a cook. As in, I don’t think I would really use it that often.

But this is due to my food intolerances and allergies making pizza not the best food for me. I can’t eat wheat, dairy, seafood, allium… you know? All the stuff that makes pizza GOOD!

Don’t get me wrong, now that I have a copy I am determined to try and learn how to make that perfect pizza dough from those in depth equations – I have a thing for equations – and my kids can eat most of that stuff… so, yeah, while I own it I will try and do ‘New Pizza’ justice, but I feel I am just not the right person to honour the passion and recipes within its pages.

 

In summary: A fantastic insight and lessons into how to make pizza the old and new ways.

Until next time,

Janis.

 

Book Review – Cook Fast, Eat Well by Sue Quin.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a free paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

I have to start by saying ‘Cook Fast, East Well’ was a delightful surprise, especially because I received a copy without having requested it first. Yay!

Secondly, as much as I’ve never really been a fan of the 4/ 5 ingredient cook books, I really enjoyed this one! Why? Because the majority of ingredients are whole foods – which is what I like to see in a cook book. Most “only this many ingredients” cook books contain way too much processed, ready mix nasties for my liking. And, yes, there are things like marshmallows and crackers (see the smores recipe) in ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ but they are few and far between. Pretty much everything else is like fresh pasta, fresh spinach, double cream, etc… No, I don’t mean every other recipe is just made up of these particular ingredients – give me some credit people! – what I am saying is that the ingredients used in the recipes are good, whole foods and not a tin of this and a packet of that rubbish I find so abhorrent in cook books. It’s not cooking if all you’re doing is opening things and mixing them – that’s just making a meal… and not a very good one either. Just saying. 😉

And – shock and horror – I actually TRIED a recipe and have the photographic evidence to prove it. My kids simply begged me to try the ‘smores – even though they already know how to make them. And, yes, Canadian cousins have pointed out these are not true ‘smores as some of the ingredients are wrong… but I don’t mind. They tasted good and that’s all that matters. Only problem I had was I used imported American marshmallows, rather than the Aussie ones I am used to… and those suckers cooked faster (and were more flammable) than I am used to. Super, super sweet too. Good thing they tasted okay “slightly caramelised” aka burnt. But the fault lies completely with me not paying attention to the griller and ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ cannot be blamed at all. It DID warn me to keep an eye on them!

Actually I found this a great little cook book for my eldest (soon to be 13) to add to her collection for when she eventually flies the nest. She has picked up my love of cooking (and cook books) and simply loves the quick and simply whole food recipes shown in ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’. So definitely one for the beginner!

The layout and format were interesting. I personally found them a little weird as there is no real ingredient list like what I am used to. Instead there is a picture of the ingredients with notes attached to each item telling you what it is and how much is needed. The method too is different where it’s not in a step by step or bullet format, simply a couple of paragraphs explaining it all to you. I am not saying this is bad or makes it a terrible book… it’s just different. But my daughter doesn’t see a problem with it and finds the ingredients easy to read and the method easy to follow… so I guess new generation, new style cook book and I am just an old fuddy duddy set in my ways! 😀

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, but I would only be recommending it to those new to the kitchen and cooking their own foods from scratch. That is not me being derogatory about the person’s skills or this book – I simply feel ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ is an excellent book for beginners or for getting those not too confident with from scratch cooking to get in there and give it a try.

But even an old hand like me can learn a thing or two from ‘Cook Fast, Eat Well’ (like how to NOT burn marshmallows) so maybe it is suited to all levels of cooks? Though, personally, I think it is an excellent starter book for those new to the kitchen and that is how I will be recommending it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Because I was gifted a paper copy, I don’t need to. Though I will openly and honestly say here and now I have regifted it to my daughter (or so I have been told when she politely snatched it from my hand crooning “my precious”). I, personally, don’t see a need to race out and buy a new copy… If I need to borrow it I will just nick it from her room when she is at school. 😉 But, yes, not a book I would/ do own… but a book much loved by my daughter and budding young cook so I feel it has gone to a good home.
In summary: an excellent simple ingredient whole food cook book best suited to encourage new and inexperienced chefs to get into the kitchen and have a go. Great book.

Until next time,

Janis.

Cover Reveal – Cook Fast Eat Well by Sue Quinn.

Recieving this cook book from Murdoch Books was a delightful surprise. And although I can’t go into it too much yet – but do promise a proper review soon – this book is just amazing for those new to the kitchen. My ‘nearly a teen’ eldest daughter has claimed this book as her own and has already enjoyed making a few things out of it. And so, you can guess it is an absolute pleasure to be able to present this cover reveal.

5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes, 160 Recipes

Sue Quinn • ISBN: 9781760522537 • Murdoch Books • 256pp Paperback • Embargo: 1 July 2017 • RRP $35.00

Cook Fast, Eat Well shows us that cooking dinner doesn’t have to mean long lists of ingredients and hours in the kitchen.

Five ingredients cooked in ten minutes, this cookbook has it all: plates to share and light bites, salads and soups, pasta, meat, poultry, seafood dishes and desserts, all easy to prepare and easy to eat!

Featuring over 160 recipes, all healthy and fast without compromising on flavor, from avocado pesto gnocchi to chicken fajitas to cheesecake.

  • Quick fix time-saving tips that don’t compromise on quality or taste
  • Must-have short-cut ingredient staples for your pantry

 

Sue Quinn is a respected Australian cookbook author and food writer with an emphasis on healthy recipes. Sue’s recipes and articles   have    appeared   in    leading    food    publications including Delicious and BBC Good Food magazines. Sue was strongly influenced by the cooking of the Italian, Greek and Lebanese communities of Sydney, where she was born and raised. A former national newspaper journalist and foreign correspondent, she has also drawn on her extensive travels for inspiration for recipes and food writing.

 

Cook Fast Eat Well

By Sue Quinn

Plates to Share and Light Bites
Fried Padrón Peppers with Togarashi p.18
Broad Bean and Sesame Dip p.30
Zucchini and Feta Fritters p.48
Salads and Soups
Roast Capsicum Soup p.96
Miso Soup with Tofu p.100
Pasta
Avocado Pesto Gnocchi p.128
Clam and Tarragon Pasta p.134
Cheesy Orzo with Garlic and Black Pepper p.152
Meat, Poultry & Fish
Steak and Blue Cheese Butter p.170
Vietnamese Duck Rolls p.180
Fish en Papillote p.196
Sweet Things
Orange and Rosewater  Syllabub p.224
Chocolate Cake in a Mug p.226

Book Review – Wholefood Thermo Cooked by Tracey Pattison.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a free paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

As part of being open and honest let me state here and now I do indeed own a (dun dun da!!!!) Thermomix. No surprise really, if you’ve read any of my other reviews and blog posts as that little baby gets mentioned a LOT!

No I am not about to now go on and MLM (Multi-Level-Market) you into having to go buy one yourself as that’s not my style. But I will say the ‘Wholefood Thermo Cooked’ cook book recipes worked a dream in mine. Actually, I found the cooking instructions so generic that I am pretty sure these recipes would work just as easily with say a Bellini or other Thermo style cooker. But please don’t quote me on this as I have never used a different Thermo cooking device and so am just guessing. And we all know what happens when readers of my work think I’m faking my views as I’ve not TRIED what the book is about first! But hey, I read a lot of crime fiction and murder mysteries, so I am pretty sure my family, friends, neighbours and total strangers who piss me off in the street are happy I don’t try EVERY single thing I read in a book. 😉

Oh and if any Thermo cooking device makers reading my review want to send me one of their babies to test run some of these recipes with… There is a ‘Contact Me’ form. Just saying.

But I can say for certain that you can use a Thermomix to cook the recipes in ‘Wholefood Thermo cooked’ and that I have NEVER made such yummy and easy to make brown rice in my LIFE! So good. Oh, and while being boringly honest, no I didn’t try EVERY recipe. But I played with the book enough to know I was on to a winner and totally in love with what it had to offer.

I mean, yes there were some recipes that I already knew versions of from my years of being a Thermomixer… I have heard it called a ‘Coven of Mixers’ or a ‘cult of mixers’. Just pass me my broom so I can get to my next coven meeting on time, ‘kay? But yes, there were a couple of recipes or recipe variants that I was already familiar with. But they were just the basics and things I feel any good Thermo based cook book is going to cover to ensure you know how to get the best out of the Thermo beast of your choice.

But some of those basics… mind blowing – oh my! Polenta/ cornbread from popcorn kernels? Macadamia pastry? Stock cubes best suited for winter and summer… I could go on but seriously feel you should just go get the book and look for yourself. 😉

I think what blew me away with ‘Wholefood Thermo Cooked’ was that I’d never even considered soaking/ prepping my dried beans in my Thermo device to get them to the same consistency as tinned beans. I mean, I buy dried beans as it’s a more budget friendly thing. I then soak them over night to be soft enough to then cook with…. Until now. Yup, an hour in your Thermo device and those dried beans are as moist and ready to go as a tin of beans… and for half the price! Can you see why I am in love with this book? If I forget to soak my beans the night before, which I often do, dinner isn’t cancelled – Thermo Cooking to the rescue!

Yes there were the usual recipes that my annoying food allergies and intolerance made no go zones… but those recipes were far out-weighed by things I could and have tried.

As for the editing, page layout and all that official stuff? Perfect as usual – if you get a cook book from Murdoch Books, you’re going to get a well laid out, easy to read and follow book! All recipes have highlighted areas at the bottom that show whether they suit certain dietary requirements – vegetarian, gluten free, etc. And all recipes are in both imperial and metric measurements. Score! Internationally friendly, just like a Thermo cooking device.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. I loved the freedom that came with ‘Wholefood Thermo Cooked’ as all you need is some sort of Thermo cooking device (rather than a specific one you may need to sign your first born away to afford) and a desire to cook whole foods. And, quite honestly, wholefoods on an everyday budget for most of it too! Definitely a cook book I would recommend to anyone with a Thermo device, or wanting to buy such a device and get a decent cook book to go with it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

As I have been gifted a paper copy of this book I don’t have to… and no one is getting this copy off me any time soon. 😉 We’re meant for each other, leave us be. 😀 But if I had to get a new copy, then I happily would as it is so worth it.

In summary: A great all round cook book for those interested in cooking Wholefood recipes in a Thermo device of their choice and budget. Highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

My Precious…. 😉

Book Review – A Whole New Way to Eat by Vladia Cobrdova.

 

A Whole New Way to Eat

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, so I did the PR cover reveal on this book a few weeks ago now and I’ve been going through it a bit since then… and well, loved it to some extent. Please, when quoting me, just leave it as ‘loved it’ okay? 😉

Let me explain the ‘to some extent’ bit though. I am a fan of whole food cooking, the more simple/ budget friendly the cooking the better. Which is where I can appreciate ‘A Whole New Way to Eat’ but did find a lot of the dishes a little too fancy and fru fru for me. As in, if I need a dictionary and Google maps to find an ingredient I will use for just one of the recipes… but can only buy in bulk… I’m not usually a fan. And please realise this is my sarcasm over exaggerating things a little okay? I am as hippy, new age foodie as they come and know where to get pretty much everything listed in the various recipe’s ingredients. However, I am also a budget whole food maker, baker and cook and there are quite a few items there that are more for special occasion (save up for something nice) cooking, rather than me feeding my family every day. Oh, and mentioning a family… this is also more a young adult book… you know? You, your partner and two friends… as most recipes serve 4 max, and the others serve less. So not the world’s most ideal family cook book… but as it never states that’s what it is, no biggie.

Oh my, that makes the book sound terrible…. And it’s not! I loved it, loved the ideas and energy the recipes gave off and enjoyed the one or two I even made. *Gasp* I KNOW! I am reviewing a cook book I actually TRIED something from first! Look out neighbours as I’m reading a cosy crime now about kidnap and murder. 😉

But back to ‘A Whole New Way to Eat’ the title says it all and explains away all the different ingredients used. Justifies it perfectly. Makes people realise that whole food isn’t just meat and three veg… there is a whole world of amazing different foods from different cultures to try, embrace and get to love. Yes it’s not always budget friendly or family sized… but come one people, there will never be a cook book that caters for every single need of every single reader. Just suck it up and enjoy this wonderful cook book for what it is – whole foods, healthy eating, tasty and inspiring meals. This book is also food intolerance and allergy friendly to some extent too, listing at the top of recipes whether they are gluten free, vegan friendly, etc. Not so good for we who can’t eat seafood or alliums, but I am so used to that these days I just let it slide and don’t judge many books for not thinking of the rare food issues. 😀

As for the technical side of things, the images used, the layout of the recipes and other formatting nitty gritty – perfect. Well laid out, easy to read and follow for any level of home cook and lot of helpful and handy tips. Every recipe is done with both metric and imperial measurements and so internationally user friendly too. Love books like that and Murdoch book delivers excellent formats like this in every book I’ve read and reviewed.

A Whole New way to Eat inner pic

Green & Gold Pavlova with finger lime and matcha cream….. ‘A Whole New Way to Eat’

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. I mean, yes it’s the more fancy end of whole food eating, but that’s not a problem – embrace it where you can. But it is a cook book of good, healthy, balanced whole foods… it’s not all kale, quinoa and lentils… though, yeah, they’re in there and looking delicious!

So yes, I would recommend this book to others, and it would pain me to have to idiot proof my recommendation, but I would explain it is a book best suited to those into whole food, healthy foods and those ‘trendy’ foods right now. I would feel looking through this gorgeous book all that is self-evident, but there is no helping some people, right?

Would I buy this book for myself?

I will be open and honest with you now in saying the paper book I have received is actually going to be re-gifted onto a wonderful friend who is going to get more out of it than myself. But this is simply due to the amount of dishes I can’t eat in it due to my own personal food issues and has NOTHING at all to do with the quality of ‘A Whole New Way to Eat’. Basically, this book is too good to just sit on a shelf and gather dust… so I want it to go to someone who is going to love it and use it frequently…. Though there are a couple of recipes I might just need to take a photo of first. 😉

In summary: I feel the title says it all – a gorgeous look into how easy it is to eat whole foods that you might not have considered before.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Backyard Chickens: How to keep Happy Hens by Dave Ingham.

backyard-chickens_cvr4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Murdoch Books for providing me with a paper copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

And what a book it is too. As corny as it sounds, it really is something my whole family can enjoy. This was proved many times when I went to read it to find my children had “borrowed” it and were either reading it themselves, or outside reading it to our chickens.

backyard chickens feathers

Our children (or chooks) have been book marking the book!

Though I will state here and now I don’t think you need to have chickens (or book stealing children for that matter) to find this book enjoyable and useful.

It covers all the needed basics of setting up some backyard chooks for yourself – shelter, feeding, watering, common ailments, etc. It’s all there and all written about in a manner I loved as it was factual, but enjoyable and entertaining all at the same time.

And, as much as my kids loved reading it and using it to ensure our chooks were being looked after appropriately, that does not make this a childish or immature book. It’s something young and old interested in sharing their yard with some feathered girls will love.

Oh and Mr Fox came a calling for the first time ever while I was reading this book…. No, not blaming ‘Backyard Chickens’ or Mr Ingham for that. We have just been very lucky in the years we’ve had chickens to not meet him until now. What was most shocking – despite the demise of Pepper the Australorp – was Mr Fox came for a visit at about 11am! Following guidance from Mr Ingham’s fine book we have done our best to improve security on the yard. The pen they are put in at night still has not failed us… but obviously when they are free ranging the yard during the day, we had left gaps in our yard, despite it being surrounded by a 5 foot, concrete embedded metal fence. We know that fence was good at keeping foxes at bay as, when we were chasing the critter around the yard  – after penning the remaining girls in cat carriers – it couldn’t jump over our fences to escape! But we followed it to the gap at the front – bushman’s gate of wire and lumber – and have since sealed it tighter.

So, you could say ‘Backyard Chickens’ was here at the right time! We are now down to 6 chooks, but it could have been worse! And come next spring the useful guide in the back as to the different sorts of chickens that make the best backyard buddies, will be used to get more girls. We will then follow the wise words in the ‘Flock Management’ section and go from there.

Can you see this book is very relevant to us? And such an essential addition to ensuring our feather babies have the best life they can and keep giving us those giant, golden yolk eggies!

Finally, I will also say that, despite growing up with chickens in my life and knowing most of their ins and outs and foibles, I still found ‘Backyard Chickens’ a good read as it did cover some stuff I didn’t know. Backed up some the stuff I already did and helped share my love of chooks with my children.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. And not just to people who already own chickens in their yards, but people who care about where their eggs come from and are considering getting their own chooks to ensure their egg providers are getting the best treatment. Mind you, pasture eggs are also a good option… but that doesn’t give you a chook to chat while you hang out the washing.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I may have to if my kids keep stealing my current copy! 😉 If I lost it or had to replace it (after too many chickens were taught to read it) then yes, yes I would buy it. For now I am very happy and feel very honoured to have been gifted a paper copy.  If my kid’s school ever gets chickens again, I might just need to buy a copy and donate it to them as it’s really a book for adults and children alike to read, learn from and enjoy.

In summary – an excellent, very comprehensive book aimed at Australian’s learning to raise their own backyard chooks.

Until next time,

Janis.

Cover Reveal – A Whole New Way to Eat: Best recipes from the people who started the wholefood movement in Australia by Vladia Cobrdova.

A Whole New Way to Eat

Oh be still my little cook book addicted heart! Another fabulous creation sent to me by Murdoch Books that I am now happy to share with you. My review will come in the next few days, but as I was sent all this gorgeous information, I wanted to share it too.

A Whole New way to eat title

Best recipes from the people who started the wholefood movement in Australia

Vladia Cobrdova • ISBN: 9781743368978 Murdoch Books • Extent: 248 Paperback • RRP:  $39.99

The About Life team who led the wholefood movement have at long last put together a collection of their beloved recipes. From humble beginnings as a juice bar with some basic wholefood grocery items, About Life has now grown into eight natural wholefood stores across  the Sydney region and now Melbourne.

Their philosophy towards food hasn’t changed in their 20 years of operation, no more complexity, just simplicity and goodness: food as medicine.

Nutritionist and recipe developer Vladia Cobrdova recreates over 135 of the mouth-watering dishes she’s made popular in the stores’ busy cafes, takeaway and ready-made meal sections. These are recipes your body will love from your taste buds to your gut.

A Whole New Way to Eat is a modern take on healthy eating for those more interested in eating well than following the latest craze. With recipes to cover every social occasion as well as being seasonal, local, sustainable and delicious, this is a must-have cookbook for every Australian kitchen.

 

Vladia Cobrdova is a nutritionist, recipe developer and Wellness Ambassador for About Life, Australia’s largest independent wholefoods retail chain.