Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cookbook Review: Potato Salad by Debbie Moose

     I got this book for two reasons; for one, potatoes and vegetarians go together very well, and two, potato salad is a great make ahead dish that can be kept in the icebox for several days and it still tastes good to just about everyone on the planet. I know some people are weird about leftovers (I live with one of those people) and being able to use the make-ahead method is great to help save time during the week.

It seems that in the potato salad world there are two camps, mustard and mayonnaise. Potato Salad, however, takes you beyond that school of thought and suggests pesto, yogurt, olives, tomato soup concentrate, olive oil, and even tahini as main ingredients for new versions of an old favorite. They all sound delicious, too.

The majority of the recipes in the book are naturally gluten free, but there are a few ingredients she mentions that may be up in the air such as vinegars, mustards, and dressings. Just double check before you buy something new and all should be well. As far as being dairy free or vegan friendly, the book offers a vegan mayonnaise recipe and any eggs called for can simply be omitted without much change to the quality of the recipe. Worcestershire sauce is called for a few times, and this contains fish if I remember correctly, but can be omitted for Bragg's or tamari.

Potato Salad does not stop at just salads, Moose has included more hearty dishes pairing the potatoes with crab, shrimp, tuna, and chicken. For the vegetarians, there are recipes for Tex-Mex style dishes with sweet corn and spicy jalapeños, other recipes are more simple calling for a simple olive oil and herb dressing.

Great book to keep on the shelf for reference. I was a bit put off at first by an entire book about potato salad. Really, how many ways are there? Apparently more than I ever thought possible, and now I'm craving a good curry potato salad!

Want to check the book out before you buy it? Click here.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Cookbook Review: Kids Fun and Healthy Cookbook by Nicola Graimes

     While this cookbook is definitely not aimed at the gluten free community or at vegetarians, it is a fun book as the title promises! There are techniques and recipes in the book that are appropriate for children of all ages, so worrying about it not being for the right age group is not an issue if you're buying it as a gift. I would say it would be fine for kids up to 12 or so, depending on their personal skills.
I enjoy the fact that Graimes' book is readable (and enjoyable) by both children and adults. It gives plenty of safety advice, explaining things in a simple and calm manner while avoiding chastising reminders about hot stoves or making messes. I also enjoy the fact that Graimes discusses the different food groups and explains how each food plays a role in contributing to a balanced diet. I will say that the one thing I disagree with is that the book states that potatoes should not be considered as a serving of vegetables, while I think they should. Potato flakes, fries, potato chips, and the like are not considered servings, but real potatoes should be. Yams and sweet potatoes are great for you – there is no reason to not consider them vegetable servings.

All the basic cooking techniques are covered in the book, from egg cracking to whisking, stirring, basic sautéing, chopping, and peeling. The book itself is divided into sections for breakfast, light meals, main meals, desserts, and baking.

It is great to see a cookbook that is geared towards kids that both explains and utilizes fresh, whole foods in all the recipes. This book really pushes the fact that kids can accomplish many things on their own and should not be afraid to try to do new projects or ideas. The book is mostly plant based with a few dishes calling for meat thrown in. The use of eggs is pretty liberal throughout, simply because they are an easy to cook item.

For those of us on a gluten free diet, the majority of the recipes can be easily converted to suit our diet and the vegetarians and vegans can just substitute proteins and omit other ingredients to satisfy other needs. Some dishes, such as hard boiled eggs, would just be useless to the vegans, but there are relatively few of these instances.

Check the book out here before you buy it!

Happy cooking!

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