Recipe Book Review: Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr

Book cover for Tanya Bakes by Tanya Burr.

Title: Tanya Bakes
Author: Tanya Burr
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: June 30, 2016
Stars: 4.5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): Following the phenomenally successful Love, Tanya, Tanya Burr is back with her very first cookbook. In Tanya Bakes, she shares her passion for baking along with all her favourite recipes. As well as cakes and bakes, readers will love Tanya’s delicious and simple puddings, loaves and pastries.

From everyday staple bakes to sweet treats for special occasions, Tanya’s got the perfect recipe, every time:
– Tanya’s Ultimate Celebration Cake
– Banoffee Pie
– Salted Caramel Cheesecake
– Rhubarb and Custard Muffins
– Earl Grey Tea Loaf
– Tanya’s Nanny’s Apple Pie
– Smarties Flapjacks

So make yourself at home in the kitchen with Tanya and treat yourself, your friends and family to something delicious!

Goodreads | Amazon

If you are a fan of YouTube, you have most likely become familiar with Tanya Burr and her hilarious and informative lifestyle channel. When I was asked by Penguin Random House Canada if I wanted to review this cookbook, I obviously jumped at the chance. This book has the most beautiful images, and it is one that contains some fantastic recipes that even the most inexperienced of chefs can attempt. There are also lots of personal stories attached to the recipes, which make for quite a fun and enlightening read. My only criticism of this book would be that for the average North American reader, this book contains British cooking measurements. This will require the user to convert measurements if the required tools aren’t at hand.

Tanya Bakes has got to be one of the most gorgeous cookbooks that I have ever seen, and I am quite a fan of the genre. The images are so full of life and the pictures just seem to pop with excitement. It is so enjoyable to flip through a book of recipes and see gorgeous images of how the recipe will look when it is all finished. Definitely my favourite aspect of this book.

What is really fun and interesting about Tanya Bakes is the narrative that is included in the book. Tanya shares lots of life stories and inspiration as to why certain recipes are included in the book. This is something that takes this book into the memoir or autobiography  genre, as readers learn little tidbits about Tanya’s childhood and present day life.

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Australian Toasted Banan Bread

I typically attempt a few recipes from the cookbooks that I am reviewing, as I find that the process is just as important as the layout. The instructions for the recipes are clear and concise. There are tons of different types of desserts and even some wonderful seasonal recipes to try. I did give the Australian Toasted Banana Bread a whirl, as the ingredients were something I had on hand and the result was phenomenal. Although, I do prefer it untoasted myself. It was a bit time consuming to convert the ingredients, though. There are some great converters online and I did find one site that I found useful for this recipe if you are interested in making something from a cookbook that has different measurements than you are accustomed to.

Tanya Bakes is a gorgeous book that is sure to be enjoyed by all of her fans and those who love to bake. I am looking forward to taking a look at Tanya’s newest cookbook as well, as it centres around my favourite time of the year: Christmas!

ARC Review: Sweet Revenge by Heather Kim

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Title: Sweet Revenge: Passive-Agressive Desserts for Your Exes & Enemies
Author: Heather Kim
Publisher: Switch Press
Publication Date: January 1, 2018
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): 50+ killer cakes, cookies, and candies for your exes and enemies. Dumped by your beefcake boyfriend? BFF steal your one-and-only? Lab partner a more-than-periodic no-show? Don’t take these battles online. (Seriously, don’t do that, okay?). Get out your heaviest rolling pins, sharpest cleavers, and most blistering torches, and kill your enemies and exes . . . with kindness. That’s right – bake that loser ex a pan of Go Fudge Yourself. Gift your former friend a You’re the Devil Cake. And give that annoying admirer a Donut Call Me Again. Let them taste your over-them happiness and see what comes next . . . Pastry chef and tattoo artist Heather Kim serves up sinfully delicious recipes and bittersweet advice.

Goodreads | Amazon

You have most likely guessed from the title of this book alone that it is a fun way to take your heartbreak into the kitchen and work out some of your frustrations by making treats. Kim’s approach is one that is not a self-help book per se, but a book that can be used to get a little bit of “sweet revenge.” The act of mixing and baking has never had such a unique twist!

Sweet Revenge is a collection of recipes with some hilarious treats to make for that ex of yours (or yourself). There are cookies, bars, cakes and candies of all sorts to create. So many of the recipes are simple and have lots of interesting additions such as Doritos and Butterfingers. The images and the titles are so well thought out that they will make you laugh out loud, which is really the best therapy there is in my opinion. How can you keep a straight face while making a coffee cake entitled, You’re the Crumb of the Earth?

You've Lowered the Bar

I gave the You’ve Lowered the Bar (aka: Chocolate-Hazlenut Peanut Butter Bars) a try and they were so fast and easy to make. Personally, I wouldn’t give anything so yummy away to an enemy or an ex, so I enjoyed it with my friends instead. There is something about chocolate and peanut butter mixed together that can be quite satisfying.

This is one unique type of cookbook that has some fun and original ideas to help heal anyone’s heart. The images are whimsical and the recipes are perfect for anyone in need of a little revenge.

ARC Review: Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

Title: Sweet
Author: Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): There’s nothing like a perfectly light sponge flavoured with spices and citrus or an icing-sugar-dusted cookie to raise the spirits and create a moment of pure joy.’

In his stunning new baking and desserts cookbook Yotam Ottolenghi and his long-time collaborator Helen Goh bring the Ottolenghi hallmarks of fresh, evocative ingredients, exotic spices and complex flavourings – including fig, rose petal, saffron, aniseed, orange blossom, pistachio and cardamom – to indulgent cakes, biscuits, tarts, puddings, cheesecakes and ice cream.

Sweet includes over 110 innovative recipes, from Blackberry and Star Anise Friands, Tahini and Halva Brownies, Persian Love Cakes, Middle Eastern Millionaire’s Shortbread, and Saffron, Orange and Honey Madeleines to Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut and Rosewater and Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs.

There is something here to delight everyone – from simple mini-cakes and cookies that parents can make with their children to showstopping layer cakes and roulades that will reignite the imaginations of accomplished bakers.

Goodreads | Amazon

I have never had the pleasure of visiting an Ottolenghi restaurant, however it is definitely one thing on my travel to-do list. When I saw this recipe book was available for request, I was instantly excited to give it a try. The images are stunning, the layout is simple, and the instructions are easy to follow. That being said, depending on where you live, some of the interesting ingredients required to create these unique treats may be hard to find.

Admittedly, I have quite a large sweet tooth, so a collection of yummy new desserts to make is something that brings me joy. Sweet is a collection of cookies, cakes, and more that can be made at any time of the year. Although the instructions are clear and concise,  these recipes are geared towards experienced bakers. The techniques and tools that are required do involve some prior training, and while the recipes could be made with the assistance of children, it may be a bit overwhelming to tackle.

I do enjoy creating interesting and new treats. One thing that I discovered about my own habits, however, is that simplicity is something I strive for. I found myself drooling over all of the recipes included in Sweet, but just didn’t have the desire to put in the effort required to create most of the desserts.

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Orange and Star Anise Shortbread

I did opt to make the Orange and Star Anise Shortbread cookies. Sourcing most of the ingredients was fairly simple. The Italian and rice flours, vanilla beans, and star anise took me to 2 different stores to find. As the instructions are laid out quite well, these cookies turned out as expected and were absolutely an explosion of flavours in your mouth. The star anise is a very unique addition to a shortbread cookie and gives a flavour of liquorice to the cookie. Also, my entire house was filled with a wonderful aroma that was so enjoyable.

The citrus and spice combinations that can be found within the pages of Sweet are incredible. The book is a gorgeous addition to any baker’s collection. For those who enjoy a challenge in the kitchen, I highly recommend giving these recipes a try.

ARC Review: The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion

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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Dinner Plan: The Keepers Guide to Weeknight Meals and More
Authors: Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion
Publisher: Abrams
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Stars: 4/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From the authors of the IACP award-winning cookbook KEEPERS, an entirely new and personalized approach to tackling the dinner dilemma:

Between juggling work, family activities, mismatched schedules, and often bare refrigerators, there are all sorts of situations that make weeknight cooking a universally challenging—and frustrating—experience. The Dinner Plan offers five meal strategies—Make-Ahead, Staggered, One-Dish, Extra-Fast, and Pantry—that will help get dinner on the table no matter what the workweek throws at you. The 135 recipes—from main dishes to sides to salads and “lifesaver” condiments—provide lots of practical options whether time is super-tight, you haven’t had a chance to run to the store, or everyone is coming home at a different time.

And most importantly, all of the recipes are “keepers”—brag-worthy, reliable, crowd-pleasing preparations that you’ll confidently turn to again and again. Shrimp Scampi, Sheet-Pan Chicken Fajitas, Foolproof Carbonara, and Mexican Skillet Lasagna are just a few examples of doable recipes that will earn their place in any busy cook’s repertoire. Rounded out with plenty of tips and a bonus section on healthful snacks called The Forgotten Meal, The Dinner Plan is every home cook’s indis­pensable weeknight dinner guide.

Goodreads | Amazon

If there is one thing that I am always on the hunt for, it is a recipe that is quick, delicious, and simple to make. The Dinner Plan is a well-organized, eye-catching book that has some fantastic suggestions to get a healthy dinner ready no matter what your day has in store. The ideas take into account all sorts of different lifestyles, but they are most definitely geared towards family meals.

What sets The Dinner Plan apart from other time-saving cookbooks isn’t really the actual recipes. In fact, it is in the way the recipes are categorized as to whether it is a make-ahead, staggered, one-dish, pantry, or extra-fast. Knowing what type of ingredients are needed and the time commitment needed to prepare certain dishes takes the guess-work out of where to start. There are also tips included in the book that include what sorts of ingredients and equipment to buy.

If you have a family that eats at different points of the evening, you will most likely find a dish that will satisfy the needs of your family. Making a meal that can be served at any point of the day, or easily reheated makes some of these recipes really unique. For instance, the Kitchen Sink Burritos that I prepared can be made fairly quickly and then the fixings can be set out for anyone to put together at their own leisure. This recipe is also a much lighter and cheaper version than the ones you can purchase at a local burrito bar, as there are no added preservatives.

burrito

The Dinner Plan is an interesting take on how to serve dinner to your family when life just seems to get in the way. If you are on the hunt for suggestions on how to eat healthy meals for a busy lifestyle, this may be the book for you. It will give you a new perspective on how to make meals without the stress over the time commitment involved.

Cookbook Review: Holiday Cookies by Elisabet Der Nederlanden

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I received an eARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Holiday Cookies: Showstopping Recipes to Sweeten the Season
Authors: Elisabet Der Nederlanden
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Stars: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads): From Icebox Pinwheel Cookies to Red-and-White Meringue Kisses to Apple Cider Caramels, find new inspiration for the best of seasonal baking with Holiday Cookies.

This instant holiday classic is packed with 50 recipes, each gorgeously photographed and meticulously tested, along with dozens of decorating and packaging ideas. Filled with reimagined favorites like Giant Molasses Spice Cookies and Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies; confections like Peppermint Bark, Smoked Almond and Cacao Nib Brittle, and Dark Chocolate-Hazelnut Fudge; and detailed instructions for gorgeous gingerbread houses, cookie place cards, and edible ornaments, this is a cookie book like no other. Because the recipes are easy to scale up or down, Holiday Cookies is perfect for cookie exchanges, gift-giving, and just enjoying throughout the season. From a veteran baker and recipe developer, each cookie in this collection is guaranteed to be a stand-out, and destined to become your new Christmas classic.

Goodreads | Amazon

I know that it might seem a little early to be thinking ahead to the holidays, but they really are creeping up on us faster than you think! If there is one thing that I love the most about the Christmas season, it is the the treats. Holiday Cookies is actually more than a comprehensive little book of holiday cookies. This book contains recipes for cookies that can become favourites all year round. Chock full of tips for how to ensure the best experiences working with any cookie recipe, and how to package them for gift-giving makes this my new go-to book for the holidays.

If you are one for getting your baking done before the season begins, you will be happy to have Holiday Cookies for inspiration. There are some classic recipes that everyone will enjoy, such as gingerbread cookies and shortbread. However, there are some really interesting Swedish recipes that are a little bit different from the standard North American treats. I have already bookmarked the recipe for pepparkakor, as I love how the author has reminisced about her childhood and importance of family baking with this one. Also, pepparkakor is featured in one of my favourite childhood books, Pippi Longstocking, so I am excited to give these a try.

brownieOne of the recipes that caught my attention was Chocolate-Peanut Butter Brownie Sandwich Cookies. It is quite a mouthful to say, yet these are just as tasty as they sound! The recipe was simple and straightforward, requiring ingredients that are more than likely to be found in your cupboard.

 

Holiday Cookies is the perfect book of recipes for your holiday treat making this year. There are bound to be some old favourites included in this one, and most likely some interesting new cookies to try. The recipes are easy to follow and will absolutely get you in the holiday spirit.