Cooking the Books: The simple pleasures in life

  • Food News
  • Saturday, 15 Aug 2020

Get your copy of Sunday Star tomorrow, Aug 16, 2020, for a 25% discount on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in StarLifestyle.
Easy Comfort Food

Author: Bill Ho

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine

Price: RM84.90

Written by Bill Ho, a chef who formerly ran 8 Café & Bar in Singapore, this home-hewn cookbook features a collection of recipes that form the heart and soul of Ho’s childhood memories and culinary favourites.

Perhaps the best – and most interesting thing – about this book is the vivid, gorgeous illustrations that accompany each recipe. They are wonderfully evocative and somehow speak to me more than regular photographs would.

The recipes themselves run the gamut from fairly ordinary meals, like home-style char siew and yong tau foo, to more eclectic offerings like laksa salad and aglio olio laksa pasta. There are also Western style dishes like seafood paella and lemon and white wine baked fish.

The selection is a little bit of a mishmash of different things that Ho seems to like, with little regard paid to any sort of category separation. Also, the prefaces to each recipe are written in a very simplistic style – almost like the notes you might write in your diary, rather than carefully constructed odes to food.

In a way, it is a refreshing take on traditional cookbooks, which often feature elaborately written introductions. But in many other ways, it is missing that polish and sheen so familiar in more well thought-out creations. Still, if you’re looking for a smorgasbord of comfort food to add to your repertoire, perhaps you will enjoy the simpler pleasures afforded in this book.

Korean Cooking Favorites

Author: Hyegyoung K. Ford

Publisher: Page Street Publishing Co

Price: RM99.90

Korean food – much like K-pop and Korean television series – has become something of an international phenomenon. So much so that for some particularly rabid K-fans, the acronym KFC is as attributable to Korean fried chicken as it is to Kentucky Fried Chicken, despite the latter having been a popular and ubiquitous favourite for over 60 years.

In this love letter to Korean food, American author and food blogger Hyegyoung K. Ford delves into the multitude of recipes that make up the backbone of Korean cuisine. Ford is a Korean who grew up in South Korea with a mother who was a celebrated home cook. As an adult living across the world from her homeland, she started the blog Beyond Kimchee to document the recipes of her youth for her children. That initial success has now turned into her debut cookbook.

In this cookbook, you will discover a litany of Korean favourites from the perennially popular Korean fried chicken to rice and fish lettuce wraps, clam noodle soup, spicy rice cakes, soft tofu stew and radish kimchi. Each recipe is prefaced with short introductions about the meal and easy-to-follow directions. The only downside might be the difficulty in finding ingredients like Korean salted shrimp. Thankfully, most of the recipes offer alternatives for hard-to-source ingredients, so you’ll quickly be on your way to a delightful K-food adventure.

Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection

Publisher: Clarkson Potter/Publishers New York

Price: RM119.90

Few things in life are as delightful as cookies. Who wouldn’t want a warm, melty chocolate chip cookie just out of the oven or a fresh batch of cardamom cookies – perfect for a movie night?

Well, American domestic goddess Martha Stewart knows exactly what sort of hold cookies have on us, which is why she and her team came up with a cookbook devoted to them. Except in this incarnation, the cookies have been reimagined and given fun, quirky twists.

Filled with delightful recipes like masala chai tea cakes, Australian ginger cookies, green tea cookies, sparkly lemon cookies, chocolate chip skillet cookies, walnut cookies and so much more, this is the cookbook to satiate all your cookie fantasies and develop your passion for creativity, ie coming up with something a little different from the crowd.

The directions are incredibly easy to follow and each recipe has a corresponding picture to accompany it so you’ll know exactly what your cookies should look like at the end. If you’re looking for a cookbook that breaks that cookie cutter mould, this will do nicely.

Naked Cakes

Author: Hannah Miles

Publisher: Ryland Peters & Small

Price: RM86.90

Over the years, cakes have become increasingly elaborate affairs – tiered, topsy turvy, 3D – the works. And then, in the past few years, there has been a movement of sorts towards naked cakes – bare, denuded creations decorated largely with edible flowers, leaves and berries and perhaps a smidge of icing. These wholesome cakes hark back to simpler times and can be delightful in their own charming ways.

In this cookbook, American author Hannah Miles expounds on the virtues of naked cakes, devoting an entire book to the various means and methods needed to create these sorts of sweet creations.

From a rustic cheesecake tower, peach Melba meringue layer, blackberry and apple cake with cinnamon buttercream to a spiced pear cake, the recipes all have a rustic beauty to them.

But despite its many qualities, the simple truth is that a book devoted to naked cakes isn’t really for everyone, especially if you’re not inclined to bake at all, much less focus on only one particular kind of cake.

But if you’re someone who has always wanted to make simple cakes that somehow still stand out in a crowd, this is the book for you.

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recipes , cooking , baking , comfort food , Korean food


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