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Cooking the Books: Getting back to their roots

Cooking the Books: Getting back to their roots

Get the Sunday Star paper tomorrow, June 9, for your 25% discount coupon on these cookbooks. Look for it in StarLifestyle.

My Rendang Isn’t Crispy

Author: Zaleha Kadir Olpin
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine
Price: RM99.90

Masterchef UK contestant Zaleha Olpin made headlines last year when the chicken in her chicken rendang was deemed “not crispy” by MasterChef UK judge Gregg Wallace. Zaleha received an outpouring of support from the entire South-East Asian region after the incident and has since said that the episode was really a blessing in disguise as people continue to remember her for it.

Capitalising on that initial fame, Zaleha has now released her first cookbook, the cheekily named My Rendang Isn’t Crispy, which features the coveted recipe for that infamous chicken rendang, where it is obvious that the chicken is meant to be anything but crispy.

The rest of the recipes in the book are mostly heirloom ones Zaleha inherited from her mother, grandmother and sister-in-law, like rendang opor Pahang, mum’s fish curry and chicken sambal. Other recipes allude to Zaleha’s favourite things to eat when she’s at home, including coconut crepes and mee goreng mamak.

Cooking The Books featuring recipes for uncrispy rendang and other Malaysian dishesThe recipes will look fairly familiar to Malaysians, although they have obviously been written with a more international audience in mind, as substitutes to common ingredients are provided everywhere – like desiccated coconut in lieu of grated coconut – presumably to ensure that people all over the world are able to try replicate Malaysian meals without too much hassle.

Overall, the book is likely to appeal to those looking for a sample of traditional Malaysian favourites as well as diehard fans hungry for more recipes from Makcik Rendang.

Natural Baking: Healthier Recipes For A Guilt-Free Treat

Authors: Carolin Strothe & Sebastian Keitel
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley
Price: RM75.50

Cooking The Books featuring recipes for uncrispy rendang and other Malaysian dishesWritten by German superstar food stylist, recipe developer, photographer and blogger Carolin Strothe and her designer husband Sebastian Keitel, this cookbook delves deep into the nitty-gritty details of making healthy, seasonal bakes. The book is endorsed by none other than Jamie Oliver who in his Foreword says “I often want to eat my phone when she (Carolin) posts something new on Instagram.”

The recipes in the book are incredibly diverse and very fruit-centric, derived from how much Strothe and Keitel enjoy being in the garden and harvesting the season’s freshest fruits.

You’ll discover recipes for cherry tart, mini chocolate cakes, berry pizza and plum cake, among a host of others. Strothe does advocate using less sugar and sugar alternatives like muscovado sugar as well as wheat flour substitutes like spelt flour, chickpea flour and wholemeal emmer flour. As luck would have it, most of these flour alternatives are now readily available in gourmet supermarkets locally, so you should have few problems recreating these recipes at home.

Ultimately, although the book is one of many new cookbooks peddling the idea of healthy bakes, it stands apart from the crowd just in terms of aesthetic appeal. Because this cookbook is so beautifully styled and photographed, that you’ll be tempted to start baking the minute your eyes make contact with the first page.

The Delightful Street Food Of Malaysia

Author: Azian Hasan
Publisher: Amanie Media
Price: RM39.90

Cooking The Books featuring recipes for uncrispy rendang and other Malaysian dishesAzian Hasan is a popular local blogger and cookbook author, whose last book Everything Eggs was shortlisted under the “series” category in the World Gourmand Awards 2018. In this cookbook, Azian – a gifted home cook – waxes lyrical about her love for street food, driven by memories of eating staples like curry nasi lemak with her late parents.

What is obvious from the get-go is Azian’s natural warmth, which is palpable and comes across almost immediately in the book, a facet only enhanced by the many family images peppered throughout the pages.

The recipes in the book meanwhile are made up of the usual Malaysian street food suspects, from curry laksa and nasi lemak to mee bandung, sup kambing mamak and apam balik. Many of the recipes look fuss-free and fairly easy to execute as Azian has gone through some pains to simplify the cooking processes without affecting the final outcome.

The only downside to the book lies in the editing: Grammatical errors abound everywhere so if you’re a stickler for this sort of thing, it is unfortunately likely to interfere with your enjoyment of the book.

Cooking the Books: Everything you ought to be eating and cooking

Cooking the Books: Everything you ought to be eating and cooking

Pick up your copy of The Sunday Star paper tomorrow (Sept 9) for a 25% discount on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in Star2.

Disaster Chef: Simple Recipes For Cooks Who Can’t

Authors: Nadia Sawalha & Kaye Adams
Publisher: DK
Price: RM116

There is an interesting dynamic at play between Nadia Sawalha and her best friend, Kaye Adams. Sawalha is a Celebrity MasterChef UK winner while Adams has confessed that even her boiled eggs don’t necessarily turn out the same every time. Sawalha’s frustration with Adams’ culinary efforts resulted in a hit YouTube series called Disaster Chef. This, in turn, has translated to a cookbook.

As cookbooks go, this one is pretty hilarious. Each recipe includes useful hacks as well as speech bubbles from Sawalha (who provides tried-and-tested information) and Adams (who provides the humour with questions like “How on earth do you pick up a hot chicken?”).

Recipes For Heart, Health In September's Cooking The BooksThe recipes in the book are designed with beginners, or disaster chefs, in mind – basically people who need to cook to survive but simply don’t know how or where to begin. As a result, many of the recipes are incredibly simple, like boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, cheesy bread and butter pudding, and buttery carrots with parsley.

What’s enticing about the recipes is how few ingredients are required to assemble each dish, and how the step-by-step instructions document everything down to the last detail. If you’re after fuss-free recipes that show you how to make meals from scratch without boggling your mind with foreign ingredients or elaborate techniques, you’ll adore this entertaining cookbook. – Abirami Durai

Recipes For Heart, Health In September's Cooking The Books

 Eat Better, Live Longer

Authors: Dr Sarah Brewer & Juliette Kellow
Publisher: DK
Price: RM98.95

EVER wondered what’s going on in your body as you age, asks the blurb on this book’s back cover.

It’s a question we probably should consider as we get older, though thinking about it isn’t always all that fun. Nor is observing good practices to combat the adverse effects of senescence.

But trusted reference book publisher DK (formerly Dorling Kindersley) has made the subject interesting with its signature colourful graphics and illustrations.

You may already know what is good and bad for you – adopt a healthy diet, get active, deal with stress, etc – but this book helps build on that knowledge with up-to-date research based on science.

The authors look at the world’s longest-lived communities (Japan, Switzerland and Singapore are the top three), identify the common eating habits among them, and recommend a longevity eating plan.

Interspersed throughout the book are recipes as well as information on the anti-ageing benefits of 20 “wonderfoods” and “supergroups” of food, including yoghurt, pulses and root vegetables.

Having proven health benefits, plant-based dishes form most of the recipes in the book. For those of us who lean towards a rice-based diet, the four-week eating plan may take some getting used to. But the recipes are easy to make and look delicious.

Even if the plan doesn’t appeal to us, the book contains a lot of information about food and eating habits that will aid in future-proofing. – Jane F. Ragavan

Greens 24/7: Delicious Recipes For Green Veg At Every Meal Recipes For Heart, Health In September's Cooking The Books

Author: Jessica Nadel
Publisher: Quantum Publishing Limited
Price: RM130

THE plant-based diet has gained momentum in the past few years, as research has increasingly shown that embracing the diet can lead to lower rates of heart disease and diabetes.

Although theoretically it would be better to eat as much plant-based foods as you can, when you’re staring down recipes like spinach brownies (an actual recipe in this cookbook), you can’t help but wonder, “Is this really worth it?” Well, as with most things in life – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Greens 24/7 was written by Jessica Nadel, a Canadian vegan blogger who also has her own vegan bakery and is thus uniquely qualified to write this book. In terms of recipes, you’ll quickly discover that while the ones that mimic meat-based originals are laudable – think courgette noodle Bolognese and sweet potato and greens burger – it is original recipes like puff pastry with fennel and turnip greens, and kale and herb cornbread muffins that prove far more compelling and might just give you the push you need to test them out.

Ultimately, though, the book offers lots of new ideas for people looking to infuse more plant-based options into their everyday meals (even if it means embracing vegetable-dessert hybrids like chocolate-dipped kale crisps!). – AD

Recipes For Heart, Health In September's Cooking The BooksLonely Planet Food’s Ultimate Eatlist

Publisher: Lonely Planet Global Limited
Price: RM129.90

The follow-up to Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travelist, Ultimate Eatlist features 500 must-eat meals trawled from all over the globe. Compiled based on the experiences of Lonely Planet staff as well as top chefs and food writers like Andrew Zimmern, Jose Andres, and Curtis Stone, aided by a panel comprised of TV presenter Adam Liaw and food blogger Leyla Kazim, the list is an exhaustive collection of unique food experiences dotted across the world.

The compilation has been talked-about ever since it was released – in Malaysia, there has been jubilation that our food status has been celebrated with 11 entries in the book, with curry laksa coming in at No.2 (in the world!), and other iconic local food like ikan bakar, assam laksa, roti canai, wantan mee, beef rendang, kaya toast, Hokkien mee, char kway teow, durian and bak kut teh also making it onto the list.

Beyond Malaysia, plenty of other eating experiences abound – from more well-known culinary pursuits, like the full English breakfast in London, sushi in Tokyo and chai in India to lesser-known epicurean delights like pepperpot stew in Guyana, wallaby tail soup in Melbourne, salo in Ukraine and lahoh from Yemen.

Ultimately, this wonderful book offers an incredible homage to food in both familiar and unfamiliar parts of the world and will prove to be a trusty bible for gastro-tourists looking to heighten their travel experiences with local food experiences. – AD

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

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