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Good food and good coffee: all you need in life is in these books

Good food and good coffee: all you need in life is in these books

Pick up your copy of Sunday Star tomorrow (June 17) for a 25% discount on some of these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in Star2.

Bosh!: Simple Recipes, Amazing Food, All Plants

Authors: Henry Firth & Ian Theasby
Publisher: William Morrow
Price: RM109.90

Henry Firth and Ian Theasby are lifelong friends who were once avowed carnivores, eating meat at least once a week. Then Theasby cut meat out of his diet and Firth soon followed suit. Both quickly discovered there weren’t many restaurants catering to their new diet.

So they started documenting their own recipes on an online channel they called Bosh. It has since become the biggest plant-based online channel in the world, with popular recipe videos being viewed at least 50 million times!

Cooking Books recipesFor this cookbook, the boys devised 140 new recipes (80% of the recipes are new and cannot be found on their social media channels and online). Whether you’re a fan of the sweeping plant-based movement or not, you’ll find something to whet your appetite here, including the world’s best pesto lasagna, creamy seaside pie, cauliflower buffalo wings, popcorn falafel, gooey PBJ brownies and sticky toffee pudding.

While some of the recipes are really long – the pesto lasagna being a classic example – everything is generally do-able and you won’t find too many ingredients that are foreign to this part of the world. So if you’re looking for meatless Monday meals or ways to embrace either a vegan, vegetarian or reducetarian diet, this book will be the plant-centric culinary saviour you’re looking for. – Abirami Durai

Cooking Books recipes

Magnolia Table

Author: Joanna Gaines
Publisher: William Morrow
Price: RM119.90

Although  Magnolia Table has been trending a storm and is now a New York Times bestseller, I wasn’t expecting to like this book quite as much as I did.

I suppose I was a little prejudiced because the cookbook is the work of Joanna Gaines, one half of the husband-and-wife duo on popular home design show Fixer-Upper. Gaines and husband Chip have parlayed the success of the show into other equally successful businesses, including a cupcake bakery, a restaurant (named Magnolia Table) and a real estate business, among others.

All that’s on top of the fact that Gaines is now expecting her fifth child! Which basically means it’s hard to believe she’s done all that and can cook too! But as it turns out, she can. And more than that, she has an indefinable quality, one that stems from being both photogenic and having plenty of personal charm. This charm emanates from every page, with tales of her children, husband and friends forming the foundation upon which all her recipes are built.

You’ll find delightfully simple (and beautifully photographed) recipes for cinnamon squares, white cheddar bisque, fried chicken with sticky poppy seed jam, brownie pie and lemon bars in here, but perhaps more engrossing are the stories woven into each of the recipes – of breakfast table favourites, discoveries as a newly-wed, and heritage meals.

In the end, I came away from this cookbook with lots of fresh new ideas and the certainty that like the rest of the world, I too had fallen in love just a little bit with Joanna Gaines. – AD

Cooking Books recipesLonely Planet’s Global Coffee Tour

Publisher: Lonely Planet
Price: RM109.90

This fascinating trek through some of the world’s best coffee destinations is as entertaining as it is educational. The book takes you through some coffee basics, including a very useful guide to roasting your own green beans at home (with a minute-by-minute elaboration of what to expect).

Countries included in the guide encompass Ethiopia (the birthplace of coffee), Wellington (long regarded as the source of the flat white) in New Zealand, and Melbourne (thought of as a pioneer of third wave coffee), Australia. Even our very own Ipoh is included here as one of the top three coffee cities in Asia, for the ubiquitous Ipoh white coffee.

With the help of this book, you’ll also learn how to order coffee in different languages and discover the best coffee haunts in each city, with tourist attractions nearby also highlighted. If you’re serious about coffee and love travelling to boot, you’ll want to invest in this handy little global coffee guide. – AD

Cooking Books recipesSpice Journey: An Adventure In Middle Eastern Flavours

Author: Shane Delia
Publisher: Murdoch Books
Price: Unavailable

AWARD-winning Maltese-Australian chef Shane Delia’s book on his journeys through six countries – Andalucia, Iran, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, and Turkey – is a beautifully photographed tribute to his heritage and Middle-Eastern cooking.

He offers readers 80 recipes, interpreted and distilled by a chef for home cooks. The recipes are not the usual traditional Middle Eastern fare, though; they are Delia’s modern takes on traditional recipes. There are even recipes for pork and duck, not usually seen in cookbooks on this region.

It’s a great book for browsing through the photos and reading Delia’s anecdotes, but it’s not quite the book for the average amateur cook.

As in most chef’s cookbooks, the list of ingredients are long. It’ll also require a trip to a speciality shop for ingredients such as sumac, Aleppo pepper, argan oil, kataifi, carob molasses and more. Delia has also included a short pantry guide with information and substitutes for lesser known ingredients.

But if you are a more adventurous and accomplished cook, you get to experiment with inventive flavours and try out new techniques.

There are many recipes here for impressing your guests with intriguing dishes such as Quail Egg Kefta Tabriz, Black Squid Ink Rice, Chorizo Filled Baby Calamari And Fried Seaweed, and Tortillas de Cameron’s and Pork Belly on Brioche Buns. There are also tempting desserts such as Argan Oil Chocolate Mud Brownie with Orange Cinnamon Ice Cream and Frozen Peanut Butter Parfait, Salted Tahini Caramel And Broken Baklava.

It’s definitely a book for chefs aspiring to expand their repertoire. For the rest of us, it’s an armchair culinary tour. – Ivy Soon

Smell of coffee permeates streets of tea-obsessed Kabul

Smell of coffee permeates streets of tea-obsessed Kabul

Afghans in need of a caffeine fix line up at Najibullah Sharyari’s coffee cart in Kabul – converts to the drink that is now percolating in a country obsessed with tea for centuries.

Standing on a noisy street among vendors hawking their wares, the 30-year-old barista serves takeaway instant coffee from a mobile machine at his New York-style cart for as little as 28 cents a cup.

Coffee is the “best medicine” to cope with the daily grind in the overcrowded, polluted and war-torn city, insists Sharyari, pouring Nescafe into a fake Starbucks cup for a customer as honking cars crawl past his stand.

The uninitiated often ask for tea, he says, before explaining: “We tell them they can have tea at home. There is a big difference between a cup of tea and a cup of coffee – coffee is better.”

Sharyari’s coffee cart – one of several he operates around the sprawling Afghan capital – is an oddity in a city where most people drink tea and cafes are often protected by armed guards and hidden from view behind blast walls and steel doors.


Watch the video with English subtitles


Afghanistan was introduced to tea because of its location on the ancient Silk Road, and today remains one of the world’s largest tea consumers per capita.

The drink is integral to the country’s famed culture of hospitality, with guests offered a cup of green tea – often infused with aromatic cardamom pods, and a piece of sugar on the side – as they enter homes and offices.

It is ubiquitous at the table regardless of whether the meal being served is breakfast, lunch or dinner.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhDlobQ34J4?feature=oembed&w=770&h=433]

But coffee has the power to pull people out of their daily routine, according to the aficionados at Sharyari’s cart.

“Whenever I go to university I take this street just to drink a cup of coffee while I’m walking,” university student Sayed Millad Hashimi says.

Getting creative

Sharyari launched his business four years ago in the relatively prosperous northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, investing 50,000 Afghanis (RM2,822) in a couple of coffee machines from neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Its success saw him expand to Kabul, where he says he has eight machines and serves more than 1,500 customers per day.

The sight of steam rising from the cart and the rich smell brew excitement apart from the impending jolt of caffeine, says a government worker named Mujiburrahman, rubbing his hands in anticipation.

“I am also happy to see our people getting creative and create job opportunities,” the young and sharply dressed customer tells AFP.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzP1LiYF7vw?feature=oembed&w=770&h=433]

Selling coffee on the streets of Kabul – one of the deadliest places for civilians in the country, where blast walls and traffic choke the roads – is a different prospect from Mazar, which Sharyari says is relatively peaceful and has a vibrant street life.

But in the capital there are grounds for buying your coffee at a street cart, which is accessible to residents in a way that fancier cafes hidden behind layers of security are not.

Rahim, a taxi driver, pulls up to the vendor and calls for coffee with milk without even leaving his car.

“There is no parking lot in this crowded downtown, we cannot park our cars to go to a coffee shop or restaurant,” the 45-year-old says.

“But (it) is easy here, just slam the brake, stop, pick a cup of coffee and go,” he adds.

Security remains a concern. On Jan 27 one of the deadliest bomb blasts in the capital since 2001 killed more than 100 people just a few hundred metres from Sharyari’s cart, he says.

“I was shocked but Kabul is such a resilient city,” he muses. “The next day the people were in the streets again and it was business as usual.” – AFP Relaxnews

Cooking The Books: Champagne, coffee and posh pancakes

Cooking The Books: Champagne, coffee and posh pancakes

Pick up your copy of The Sunday Star paper tomorrow (Mar 11) for a 25% discount on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in Star2.

Recipes that offer feasts and fests

Drink More Fizz

Author: Jonathan Ray
Publisher: Quadrille
Price: RM94.90

Jonathan Ray, the drinks editor of British newspaper The Spectator, was also formerly the wine editor of GQ UK and the Daily Telegraph. Obviously, the man knows his alcohol! This book is a tribute to his lifelong love of Champagne. Ray’s father was an avowed devotee of fizz and introduced his son to it when he was nine! Over the years, Ray has imbibed more than his fair share of Champagne and sparkling wine, and shares his love in this charming catalogue of his 100 favourite fizzes “at the moment”.

Most are from lesser-known producers like the Narrative Ancient Method by Okanagan Crush Pad 2013 from Canada, the Amalia Brut NV from Greece and the No.1 Family Estate Assemble NV from New Zealand. The usual suspects – like Moet, Mumm and Bolinger – are also all here, but Ray has endeavoured to feature each producer only once (with the exception of Moet, which makes two appearances in the book).

Each Champagne or sparkling wine featured includes lots of useful information about how it is made as well as the history behind it. Ray’s personal stories about how he discovered each of these wines also make for interesting reading. The book also includes lots of handy nuggets about terminology, pairing Champagne with food, and recipes for Champagne cocktails! If you haven’t already discovered the charm of Champagne and sparkling wine, this book will make you want to head out and buy some immediately. – Abirami Durai


Recipes that offer feasts and fests

Posh Pancakes

Author: Sue Quinn
Publisher: Quadrille
Price: RM94.90

Once in a blue moon, my youngest sister whips up a batch of pancakes. As she almost never cooks, this event is a hotly-anticipated ticket that necessitates multiple surprised messages in our family group chat. But it is the pancakes themselves that yield delight – warm, fluffy and drenched in pools and pools of thick, sickly sweet maple syrup.

In Posh Pancakes, this warm, fuzzy feeling re-emerges as pancakes are everywhere: from Eastern European blinis to Indian dosas, French crepes and Australian pikelets. Each dish is beautifully photographed, and you’ll find yourself entranced by inventive, delightful recipes like beetroot blinis with smoked mackerel and dill, corn and spinach pancakes with tomato salsa, and sweet potato and ricotta gratinated crepes.

There are so many pancake possibilities in this book that you’ll quickly start imagining weekend after weekend spent concocting all sorts of delicious pancakes for the family. I’m already wondering what to start with this weekend! – AD


Recipes that offer feasts and fests

So Much To Celebrate

Author: Katie Jacobs
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Price: RM149

This family-centric cookbook captures the essence of moments like picnics, ladies luncheons and tea parties, and the food that helps elevate the fun factor at these events.

There is a distinctly feminine swirl running through the book, as author Katie Jacobs (who is a stylist and photographer who has been featured in Martha Stewart Living) frequently references her mother, grandmother and daughter in many of her entries.

There is also a strong emphasis on creating themes and moments, like pie parties and backyard movie nights, to celebrate everything and nothing at all. It’s a glorious idea, this notion of being able to whip up a three-course meal on a random Tuesday night or have your girlfriends over for a chic white-linen lunch.

The recipes are suitably comforting and run the gamut from movie night popcorn to harvest caramel apple chocolate cake to southern skillet cream biscuits. If you’re looking for meals that really amp the celebratory factor, you’ll love this delightful book. – AD


The Marley Coffee Cookbook: One Love, Many Coffees & 100 Recipes

Authors: Rohan Marley & Maxcel Hardy III
Publisher: Quarto Publishing Group
Price: RM109

Use coffee to flavour, enhance and enliven food, farmer Rohan Marley tells us in his book. From personal experience, I have found that to be true, but until I looked through The Marley Coffee Cookbook, I never imagined it as an accent in so many savoury dishes and desserts.

Marley and chef Maxcell Hardy III put coffee in marinades, dressings and rubs, as well as syrups and even use it as a seasoning, just like salt or pepper, in their cooking.

While the recipes use Marley Coffee’s own range, Marley also describes the aroma, notes and acidity of the beans so we can substitute them with coffees with similar flavours from other brands.

Each chapter is dedicated to recipes using one of the brand’s coffees, which are named after the songs of Marley’s legendary musician father Bob – fans will no doubt recognise One Love, Buffalo Soldier and Get Up, Stand Up. Many of the recipes are Caribbean-inspired – you’ll find breakfasts, vegetarian, grilled food, beverages, soups, meat, salads and sweets as well as Marley family favourites such as Brown Stew Chicken and Coffee-Infused Pepper Shrimp.

I know the Grilled Honey-Glazed Chicken will be on my family table on Easter Sunday next month. – Jane F. Ragavan

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