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Cooking the Books: From decadent pastry to smart food, tonics and teas

Cooking the Books: From decadent pastry to smart food, tonics and teas

Pick up your copy of The Sunday Star paper tomorrow (Oct 14) for a 25% discount on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in Star2.


cookbookLe Cordon Bleu Pastry School: 100 Step-By-Step Recipes

Publisher: Grub Street
Price: RM159.38

Le Cordon Bleu has a storied history that dates back to 1895 when French journalist Marthe Distel began publishing a culinary magazine in Paris called La Cuisiniere Cordon Bleu. Remarkably, the magazine turned into a cooking school, which has now become a culinary behemoth that trains more than 20,000 students every year in its institutions across the world.

And this gargantuan cookbook (it is over 500 pages long!) shows that the historic cooking school still has the chops to reel people in. As its name suggests, the book is littered with all sorts of decadent, delightful pastry recipes like chocolate praline tart with caramelised nuts, chocolate and raspberry eclairs, lemon yule log, coconut macarons, nougat, and Black Forest gateau.

While some recipes do seem to require more skill, the good thing is that every single recipe comes with a photo-based step-by-step guide (hence the length of the book). This makes it easier to deduce if you’re on the right track or not. On the downside, some of the ingredients listed in the book might be a little hard to track down in Malaysia, like praline paste and pistachio paste, but given the sheer volume of recipes in the book, you can afford to skip one or two.

Overall, the book is a practical, precise guide that gives readers the opportunity to replicate world-class pastry in their very own kitchens.


cookbookSmart Food: Recipes And Tips For Staying Healthy And Living Longer

Author: Cinzia Trenchi
Publisher: White Star Publishers
Price: RM69.75

Given the current zeitgeist for healthy eating, it isn’t a surprise that a large number of cookbooks are devoted to the subject. Already, I’ve seen no fewer than 10 cookbooks this year selling the secrets to old age management, disease prevention and perfect bodies. All ultimately hinge on the same thing: Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes into daily diets.

Cinzia Trenchi’s book is no different, except that the book’s preface is dotted with detailed information about (and pictures of) individual ingredients that are good for the body, like persimmon, cherries, almonds, buckwheat, cold pressed sunflower seed oil, and black venere rice.

The rest of the book is devoted to recipes and, while Trenchi tries very hard, some of her concoctions look downright unappetising, like the whole wheat pasta with asparagus, chestnut flour rustic cookies, and purple potato croquettes. On the flipside, some recipes do incite interest, like plum cake, broccoli and radicchio bake, and purple rice cookies with berries.

But overall, it’s a bit of a mixed bag so if you really do want to overhaul your diet and cook healthier meals, then perhaps this book will serve as inspiration, but otherwise, I’d suggest you just eat more fresh fruit and vegetables instead.


cookbookTonics & Teas

Author: Rachel de Thample
Publisher: Kyle Books
Price: RM49.98

Author Rachel de Thample is a seasoned cookbook author who has worked in restaurant kitchens alongside culinary bigwigs like Marco Pierre White and Heston Blumenthal. Thample’s approach has always been geared towards healthy living, and this is reflected in previous cookbooks like Less Meat, More Veg.

With Tonics & Teas, Thample works with naturopathic nutritional therapist Ciara Jean Roberts to devise a series of tonics, fermented beverages and teas to nurture healthier bodies.

All of the recipes include information about the curative properties of these beverages, like the everyday health tonic, which Thample says is a must-have remedy during flu season. Even Indonesian jamu kunyit makes an appearance here!

There are also recipes for Afghan pink chai (said to maintain the acid/alkaline balance in the body), golden turmeric lassi (aids muscle recovery), Armenian herbal tea (nourishing qualities) and tummy soother tea (for digestive problems).

The recipes are all short and simple, and the ingredients easily accessible, so there’s every incentive to try them out and see if the purported health benefits work or not.

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