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
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.
The 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
Written 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
Azian 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.
Get the Sunday Star paper tomorrow, May 12, for your 25% discount coupon on three of these cookbooks. Look for it in StarLifestyle.
Around The World In 80 Food Trucks
Publisher: Lonely Planet Global Ltd
It’s probably a little misleading to include the word “world” in this book, seeing as Asia is very poorly represented here. There are no food trucks from South-East Asia at all and just a smattering from other Asian countries (only one from India, a prolific street food hub).
However, if you are interested in testing out food trucks primarily in Europe, South America and North America, you’ll find all sorts of interesting food from vegan offerings at Bristol’s The Spotless Leopard in Britain to seabass ceviche from Lacayejera in Seville, Spain.
Curiously, Asia is represented in other countries, and you’ll find meals like Indian-style poutine from Chai Wallahs in Berlin and chicken, chilli and miso gyoza from Rainbo in London.
The American food trucks are probably the most diverse ones in the book, with innovative offerings like the kimchi quesadillas peddled by Kogi in Los Angeles, and the freshly-baked red velvet cookies made by Captain Cookie And The Milk Man in Washington DC.
The best part about the book is the recipes that accompany each food truck entry – here’s where you could learn how to make everything from tuna tacos to Uruguyuan flan and buttermilk fried chicken biscuit sandwiches exactly like the food truck pros who make it every day.
Edible Satire: French Cuisine With A Twist
Author: Isadora Chai
Publisher: Images Publishing
One thing that immediately stands out about local culinary icon Isadora Chai is how intrepid she is. This boldness and ability to speak her mind isn’t just limited to her personality – it’s reflected in her food too.
In her cookbook, which is essentially a compilation of the many monthly degustation dinners she has curated at her fine dining haunt, Bistro á Table in Petaling Jaya, Chai’s creative spark is in evidence everywhere. So you’ll find dinners that run the gamut from a manga-inspired one to a riff on Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.
And then there are the images presented in this book, which are probably some of the most gorgeous food pictures you will ever find – each image capably showcasing every breathtaking fibre and molecule of every single perfectly-plated dish.
Having said all that, the recipes in the book – as Chai attests – aren’t for the faint-hearted. Some of the ingredients are downright premium (read: unattainable) fare like fresh duck foie gras, Kobe tendon and Hokkaido scallops. And the sheer effort required to assemble each meal? Well, let’s just say you’d have to have the willpower of an Olympian to pull off some of these dishes.
Alternatively, you could just follow Chai’s advice and make some of the yummy individual components instead, like pea mash or parsnip soup.
Overall, though, you’ll find that despite the practical obstacles littering your path, you’ll still want this cookbook lining your bookshelves because, if nothing else, it reminds you that all food has the potential to be sculpted into the sort of intrinsically complex, unfailingly beautiful meals that Chai’s fertile mind regularly produces.
Korean BBQ & Japanese Grills
Author: Jonas Cramby
Price: RM137 (pre-order only)
Written by journalist and restaurant critic Jonas Cramby, Korean BBQ & Japanese Grills is an incredibly well-researched book on the myriad hows and whys behind this popular East Asian method of cooking. The book is backed up by an incredible amount of documentation and cataloguing, so you’ll discover how meat was banned in Japan until 1872 and how kimchi is so popular in South Korea, that the government spent millions trying to develop a space-proof version!
These interesting nuggets of information are interspersed with plenty of recipes, ranging from grilled beef to ginger pork, bulgogi and all the side dishes that typically accompany these meals – from cabbage salad to kimchi.
Cramby has also put a lot of thought into execution, so many of the recipes include useful tips as well as pictorial guides on things like butchering chicken and insightful information on grills, knives and other tools.
If you’re a fan of Asian barbecue, rest assured this handy little book will make for both an interesting read as well as a practical beginner’s guide to doing it yourself.
The Curry Guy Veggie
Author: Dan Toombs
Publisher: Hardie Grant
It is admittedly a little strange to find a Caucasian man with no discernible Asian roots or culinary pedigree writing a book on Indian cuisine, but Dan Toombs is proof that with globalisation, anyone can cook anything. Toombs has made a modest success of his Curry Guy blog, where he cooks all manner of curries, an effort that has in turn spurred the birth of multiple cookbooks.
At the outset, it is important to note that Toombs’ Indian food isn’t really the sort of authentic fare you’re likely to find in India. Instead, you’ll find recipes gleaned from “British curry houses” as he puts it, which essentially means the recipes are adapted based on local predilections and palates.
This is his third cookbook and it is dedicated to Indian vegetarian offerings, like vada pav (deep-fried potato burger), spicy masala popcorn, vegetable korma, chickpea curry and rava dosas. While some recipes are redolent of more home-cooked fare – think rice and lentil curry and butter paneer – others like the paneer, onion, chilli and garlic naan pizza, obviously allude to Toombs’ keenness for experimenting.
Ultimately, the book is clearly designed for people looking for a fuss-free introduction to Indian vegetarian food, so if you’re looking for really home-spun Indian food gleaned from someone born and brought up on the subcontinent, this book is likely to rub you the wrong way. On the other hand, if you’re after modified Indian fare or food with a hint of Indian flavours, this will do nicely.
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- A simple, healthy meal you might find on your PlateJoy Health plan.
- PlateJoy Instagram
- Many of us want to eat healthier, but diets are notoriously hard to stick to.
- PlateJoy wants to make healthy eating a lifestyle, not just a diet. To do this, they offer totally personalized meal plans that’ll keep you on track with your health and wellness goals.
- While its plans cost money, if your insurance covers it or if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes, you may have access to their new plan called PlateJoy Health for free.
- Keep reading to see how PlateJoy Health works.
Many of us aspire to eat healthier. Yet for most of us, these aspirations usually stay as just that, never translating into real action. While in theory we really do want to be healthier, with busy schedules and so many other things to prioritize, it’s easy to let a diet fall to the wayside and grab quick and easy foods instead, even if they offer no nutritional value.
PlateJoy is a service that makes healthy eating more feasible by curating meal plans catered to your specific preferences and needs. After you answer an in-depth questionnaire, PlateJoy will create a weekly menu and a grocery list based on what you need to buy and what you have in your pantry. You can even connect to Instacart to have these ingredients delivered right to your door. So, in the end, all you have to do is cook your meals.
Read more: I tried PlateJoy, an online service that customizes healthy meal plans for $8 a month – and it can be adapted to suit any type of dietary needs
For some, eating healthy is more than just a matter of losing weight or feeling more energized – it’s a matter of health itself. That’s why PlateJoy recently launched PlateJoy Health – a free program specifically designed for individuals at risk of type 2 diabetes.
Eating a more balanced, nutritious diet is one of the most common recommendations doctors give to patients to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. Since so many diets fail, PlateJoy Health takes a different approach, offering a meal plan of healthy recipes that fit in with individual’s schedules, locations, and eating preferences, so they can adopt a healthier lifestyle overall.
PlateJoy’s meal plan service isn’t free, but if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes, it might be. Many insurance plans will cover 100% of the cost of PlateJoy Health. If you’re eligible, you’ll not only get a free PlateJoy meal plan membership, but a free Fitbit and wireless scale, so you can track your activity and weight loss.
If your insurance doesn’t cover the service, or you’re not at risk of type 2 diabetes, you can still purchase the service for $89 (for a three month plan) or $119 (for a six month plan). And, if you sign up right now, you can save $10 on your purchase of a PlateJoy membership.
Sign up for PlateJoy Health for free (if eligible) or $89 for a three month plan or $119 for a six month plan (if ineligible) >>
If you’re interested in joining PlateJoy Health, here’s a walk-through of what you can expect:
Start off by signing up with your email and insurance to see if you’re eligible for the service
- PlateJoy Health
In order to see if you’ll qualify to get PlateJoy Health free, you’ll need to give them a little bit of information about yourself. Whether you qualify or not, everyone can use the service – you just may have to pay a fee (and you won’t get a free Fitbit or scale).
Once registered, head to your new landing page
- PlateJoy Health
Access free video content and your weekly menus, plus keep track of your activity, sugar consumption, and weight loss all from this handy landing page.
Then, you’ll fill out an in-depth questionnaire to help inform your PlateJoy meal plan
- PlateJoy Health
PlateJoy’s questionnaire is extremely thorough, so you can be sure your meal plan will actually be personalized. They ask questions you would expect to find when creating a healthy eating plan, like if you’re trying to lose weight, how active you usually are, and what ingredients you’re looking to cut from your diet – if any at all.
You’ll also be asked very specific questions like how you feel about seasonal produce (do you care if your meals include out-of-season ingredients, for example), eating leftovers, and if you prefer batch cooking or having something different for dinner every night.
You can go back and change the answers to your questionnaire at any point, in case you realize something you choose is not actually working for you.
Once you finish your questionnaire, you’ll find a queue of meals waiting for you
- PlateJoy Health
Based on your answers, PlateJoy will select and present you with a slew of meals that you may find on your next meal plan. As well as the meal itself, you’ll find cook time and nutritional information. If one meal seems unappetizing to you, you can remove it from your queue permanently so that it never shows up on one of your meal plans.
Once you’ve scanned through your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack options you’ll create your own menu
- PlateJoy Health
Here’s what a week of dinners might look like. When you come across your week’s worth of recipes, you can remove, swap or add based on what you like and don’t like. If you want to cook one of these recipes, simply click the cook arrow and you’ll be led to a full recipe page.
Once you decide you’re satisfied with your meal plan, you’ll get a custom shopping list
- PlateJoy Health
Before creating your shopping list, PlateJoy will ask what you already have in your pantry. Then they’ll send you this shopping list based on the ingredients needed in your recipes and the items you already have. They also indicate how much of each ingredient you’ll need for your menu, so you don’t waste food or money by buying too much.
You also have the option to send your ingredient list directly to Instacart, so you can save yourself the trip to the grocery store and have everything delivered right to your door.
Then, all that’s left is for you to get cooking
- PlateJoy Instagram
Once you have all your ingredients, all you have to do is cook. Head back to your landing page to keep track of your progress, but otherwise all you have to do is enjoy your delicious meals.
See if you’re eligible to sign up for PlateJoy Health for free >>
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
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?”).
The 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
Eat Better, Live Longer
Authors: Dr Sarah Brewer & Juliette Kellow
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
Author: Jessica Nadel
Publisher: Quantum Publishing Limited
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
Lonely Planet Food’s Ultimate Eatlist
Publisher: Lonely Planet Global Limited
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
- You can learn to cook with some practice.
- SupportPDX/Attribution License/Flickr
- Cooking is an art that comes effortlessly to some, but for others, it’s a foreign language that takes time to master.
- Whether you’re fed up with the frozen isle or trying to impress your family, learning to cook is a beneficial skill you can pick up with practice.
- After growing up on pre-packaged meals and takeout, author Jennifer Still decided to give cooking a try and relied on basic cookbooks and equipment to get her started.
- Here are eight tips if you feel hopeless in the kitchen.
Growing up in a single-parent household, my mom’s idea of “cooking” was throwing together a pan of Hamburger Helper, picking up fast food, or ordering takeout.
These culinary habits followed me through college and into my early 20s, when I finally decided enough was enough.
While I didn’t feel completely hopeless at cooking – I believed that anyone who can read should be able to follow a recipe – I knew I had a lot to learn about mastering the art of food preparation.
After some research and a little practice, I now consider myself to be a pretty solid home chef.
Whether you’re fed up with the frozen isle, trying to impress your partner, or looking to add cooking to your skillset, here are some tips for those feeling hopeless in the kitchen.
1. Start with one or two basic cookbooks
- Having a stack of cookbooks isn’t necessary.
- natalie’s new york/Attribution License/Flickr
It might be tempting to load up on every cookbook under the sun when you start cooking yourself, but try and hold back from doing so.
It’s not necessary to buy Gordon Ramsay’sentire catalog– find one or two simple cookbooks with basic recipes you think you’ll like.
I started off with Mark Bittman’s “How To Cook Everything,” “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook,”by Deb Perelman, and Jamie Oliver’s “15-Minute Meals,” all of which still get plenty of use in my kitchen.
2. Keep the fancy equipment to a minimum
- Start with the basics.
When you’re just learning how to cook, you definitely don’t need a sous vide cooker or a food dehydrator to produce beginner meals.
Beginner’s cookbooks, like “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman, generally don’t require expensive, fancy equipment to complete recipes. Maybe one day, but you don’t need them as a novice.
Keep it simple, with basic supplies like a food scale and meat thermometer (if you’re a carnivore). These will help you gauge the doneness of meat and perfect amount of flavor, as unlike the pros, beginners need to carefully measure ingredients to produce quality meals.
3. Don’t go off-recipe until you’re more confident
- Beginners will benefit from sticking to the instructions.
- Roberto Serra/Iguana Press/Getty Images
Professional chefs develop new recipes from scratch, while competent home cooks likely feel comfortable adjusting recipes with their own variations.
You should be able to do this one day, depending on your commitment to advancing your skills. Until then, it’s important to stick to the measurements and ingredients as they’re written in the recipes.
With practice, you’ll learn how the components work together and which ingredients can be substituted for others without ruining the dish.
4. Good knives are a must
- Some basic staples can help you get started.
- Vista Photo/Shutterstock
Never underestimate the power of a good knife. You don’t have to drop big bucks on a set of Wüsthof or Henckels cutlery, but it’s a worthwhile investment to pick up a few decent staples.
When you’re getting started, you’ll likely only require a chef’s knife, a serrated bread knife, and a paring knife.
If you’re clumsy or inexperienced with cutlery – and even if you’re not – you can avoid injuries by wearing a pair of cut-resistant gloves.
5. Start a collection of herbs and spices
- Herbs and spices are inexpensive ways to add flavor to your meals.
- Mei Burgin/Attibutrion License/Flickr
Jarred herbs and spices are inexpensive, flavorful, and last a long time in comparison to perishable foods like fruits and veggies.
Though the set of herbs and spices you’ll have in your collection will vary based on which types of food you cook most often, a few of my essentials are basil, parsley, paprika (smoked and sweet), garlic powder, onion powder, and good quality black pepper and sea salt.
They’ll be your best arsenal for creating tasty food every single time.
6. Cook in bulk
- Save some leftovers just in case.
No matter how much you love cooking, there will be times when you don’t have the time or energy to make a full meal from scratch.
This is why cooking in bulk and keeping leftovers in airtight containers in your fridge or freezer comes in handy. This is a no-brainer if you live alone or with a partner, since many recipes are portioned for families of 4 or 6.
You’ll be grateful to have some extras on hand, particularly if you make something really tasty.
7. Invest in a set of basic pans
- Start with a frying pan, a stock pot, a sauté pan, and a cast iron skillet.
- Bob Peters/Attribution License/Flickr
Much like knives, good pans are a must. The last thing you want is for your food to stick to cheap pans or for the coating to come off and end up in your food.
I find that medium-weight pans with a ceramic coating give me the best non-stick cooking surface and seem to chip and scratch less than teflon pans, but your mileage may vary.
Decent pans don’t have to be expensive, but look for a frying pan, stock pot, sauté pan, and cast iron skillet to start.
8. Don’t get frustrated
- Practice will help you get better over time.
No matter how advanced you are at cooking, sometimes things come up that unexpectedly ruin the meal you’ve spent a lot of time preparing.
Other times, you may have followed a recipe perfectly, only to try it and not love the taste. Try not to get frustrated in these moments and keep in mind that, like any new skill, cooking is a learning process that takes time and practice.
Get back in there tomorrow and keep trying until you no longer feel hopeless in the kitchen. You’ll be a master chef in no time.