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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: Better ways to live and eat

Cooking the Books: Better ways to live and eat

Pick up your copy of The Sunday Star paper tomorrow (Aug 12) for a 25% discount on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in Star2.


Author: Michel Roux
Publisher: Quadrille
Price: RM99.90

The egg, says Michel Roux, “is an undervalued food, invariably overshadowed by expensive, luxury ingredients”. In writing this book, he shares his secrets on what has become his “most faithful companions” and offers 130 recipes and ideas for using eggs.

Roux devotes the first six chapters of the book to the mastery of key cooking methods – such as boiling, poaching, and scrambling – and the remaining seven chapters to the egg’s “genius in all forms of cooking”. Here, he instructs readers on the important role of eggs in batters, pastries, sauces, ice creams, sponges and more.

Recipes for eggs, Italian food and healthy food in this month's Cooking the BooksIn this new edition (first published in 2005), classic recipes – such as eggs Benedict and boiled eggs with special soldiers – are presented alongside many modern and creative takes on the egg. For example, soft-cooked eggs with vanilla caramel and brioche is made for those with a sweet tooth, while scrambled eggs masala sounds right up our alley.

This is a great book for all its technicalities on preparing eggs, and it can help you take your egg cookery up to pro chef level – but, as with many cookbooks by Michelin-starred chefs, there is that tendency towards some time-consuming recipes using ingredients that are harder to get.

That said, eggs – the most simple and complete food – are easily available, and it’s always good to know as many ways as possible to cook them. – Jane F. Ragavan

Recipes for eggs, Italian food and healthy food in this month's Cooking the BooksGennaro’s Fast Cook Italian

Author: Gennaro Contaldo
Publisher: Pavilion
Price: RM124.90

If you’ve ever watched British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver cooking Italian food on television, there’s a 90% chance you’ve also heard him mentioning his mentor, Gennaro Contaldo. The man is so inexorably intertwined with Oliver that when I went to one of Oliver’s popular Jamie’s Italian outlets in London, the first thing I saw on the specials was Gennaro’s pasta!

His connection to the famed celebrity chef aside, Contaldo is a popular Italian chef and cookbook author who has even nabbed a Guinness World Record for the most ravioli made in two minutes.

In this cookbook, Contaldo highlights easy Italian dishes that require little in the way of elaborate preparation. You’ll discover all sorts of delightful Italian recipes like smoked salmon carbonara, quick fish soup, anchovy-infused lamb cutlets, steaks in a herb-infused tomato sauce, and squid with olives.

The recipes are beautifully photographed (although it would have been nice to have more pictures, as many of the recipes do not have accompanying images) and it is evident that the meals are designed with modern, time-strapped people in mind. Ingredients listed are generally minimal and most of the dishes look like they can be prepared by anyone, from beginners to seasoned cooks.

So if you’re after a range of wholesome Italian dishes to complement your existing stable, you’ll love Contaldo’s easy-peasy, fuss-free recipes. – Abirami Durai

Recipes for eggs, Italian food and healthy food in this month's Cooking the BooksOh She Glows Every Day

Author: Angela Liddon
Publisher: Avery
Price: RM110.50

Following the success of her New York Times bestselling The Oh She Glows Cookbook, food blogger Angela Liddon returns with more plant-based treats for her fans.

This new cookbook contains 100 new recipes that are all vegan and predominantly soy-free, gluten-free, grain-free and nut-free. In other words, it caters for every conceivable allergy and dietary restriction imaginable.

The recipes are imaginative interpretations of classic favourites – you’ll find recipes for a stuffed avocado salad, mac and peas (with a cheese-less sauce), fresh cherry tomato salsa, golden French lentil stew and the ultimate flourless brownies.

In many ways, Liddon herself is the perfect advertisement for a plant-based diet – she looks golden and glowing and just radiates good health, which might be the kick in the butt you need to actually try these recipes. Because while many of them look appealing, it is difficult to shake off the idea that they are but poor copycats of the real deal.

But if you’re looking to seriously improve your diet and commit to a drastic lifestyle overhaul, Liddon’s inventive recipes (roasted garlic and sun-dried tomato hummus, anyone?) will strike a chord. – AD

Recipes for eggs, Italian food and healthy food in this month's Cooking the BooksThe How Not To Die Cookbook

Authors: Michael Greger, Gene Stone & Robin Robertson
Publisher: MacMillan
Price: RM104.90

TO be perfectly honest, I wasn’t all that excited when I first saw this book. After all, who wants to read a cookbook that has the word “die” in the title? But as it turns out, while the title may sound ominous, the book is actually a very sensible approach to extending life spans and reversing diseases.

Written by physician Micheal Greger (the author of the bestselling How Not To Die book), with recipes by vegan cookbook author Robin Robertson, the book does an incredible job of drumming in the importance of a plant-based diet in the introductory pages, with comprehensive information from studies, reports and journals thrown in for good measure. – AD

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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