Cooking The Books: Recipes for all abilities, from expert to beginner


  • Food News
  • Saturday, 13 Jul 2019

Get the Sunday Star paper tomorrow, July 14, for your 25% discount coupon on these cookbooks. Look for it in StarLifestyle.


Deco Choux Pastries

Author: Tan Phay Shing

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine

Price: RM99.90

The delicate French choux pastry was reportedly invented in the 18th century and is made using nothing more than butter, water, flour and eggs. The dough has a high moisture content that creates steam, which enables the pastry to puff up. It is also notoriously difficult to perfect.

In this cookbook, blogger Tan Phay Shing offers an introductory course in making and fine-tuning choux pastry. Tan has also included useful tips, frequently asked questions and pictorial guides to help readers navigate the treacherous terrains of DIY choux pastry.

Cooking the Books offers recipes for choux pastry, sardines, tempeh and veges this monthOnce you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff: Tan has crafted a series of Instagram-friendly, almost too-

pretty-to-eat creations for readers to recreate. These include bunny choux, hamster choux, rainbow eclairs, octopus choux and chicks-in-nest choux.

Each one is painstakingly put together and includes plenty of pictures and tutorials to help home bakers feel less daunted by the task. If you’re looking to make choux pastry guaranteed to impress at that next party, you might want to invest in this book.


Greenfeast: Spring, Summer Cooking the Books offers recipes for choux pastry, sardines, tempeh and veges this month

Author: Nigel Slater

Publisher: 4th Estate London

Price: RM123.90

There is little doubt that vegetarianism is on the rise. In the United States, data show that the number of Americans identifying as vegan rose from 1% to 6% between 2014 and 2017, a nearly 600% increase, while one in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan.

For people who have segued into vegetarianism after indulging in meat-heavy diets, recipes that utilise greens are in high demand. And frankly, if you’re a vegetarian hunting down vegetable-heavy recipes, you couldn’t do any better than to follow the crumbs pointing to Nigel Slater’s new cookbook Greenfeast.

Slater needs no introduction in the culinary world, but here’s a crash course on him in case you’re unfamiliar: an award-winning British journalist, author and television presenter, his writing has won the James Beard Award and the US National Book Award. Slater has also been an Observer food columnist for over 25 years.

Here, he has compiled recipes for the many vegetarian meals he has made over the years (all apparently detailed meticulously in little black books he keeps for the purpose of documenting everything he cooks and eats).

The recipes are all light, joyful spring-summer fare like peppers, chickpeas, garlic; rice, broad beans, asparagus; aubergine, puff pastry; halloumi, melon, chilli; and cauliflower, garlic, spices. Each recipe has an accompanying picture, so you have a very clear idea of what your dinner is supposed to look like, should you choose to make it.

Needless to say, with Slater guiding the way, there’s something for vegetarians of all stripes to enjoy in this vegetable-friendly little book.


Sardine: Simple Seasonal Provencal Cooking Cooking the Books offers recipes for choux pastry, sardines, tempeh and veges this month

Author: Alex Jackson

Publisher: Pavilion

Price: RM146.33

Most cookbooks entice readers with drool-worthy images, but Alex Jackson’s cookbook seduces and bewitches from the very first word.

The seasoned chef-owner of popular restaurant Sardine in London, Jackson specialises in southern French cooking and writes about it with fervent passion.

The book details Jackson’s first impressions of French food, beginning when he was a child and French dinner parties and holidays to the south of France were in vogue.

This fascination became far more tangible when Jackson ended up studying in Paris, where he churned out all sorts of delicious home-cooked fare, which eventually ended with him landing a job in a restaurant in London.

In reading this book, one thing quickly becomes obvious from the get-go: if Jackson didn’t already have a successful career as a chef, this book proves that he could easily transition into becoming a successful food writer. Few cookbooks contain prose as powerfully tantalising as this: “the perfume of a melon heavy with nectar”. Who wouldn’t want to eat melon after that?

And the recipes are just as besotting – from tomato and tapenade tart to salad nicoise, salt-baked guinea fowl and chocolate, hazelnut and pear tart – everything is designed to rouse the appetite in ways you never thought were possible.

Each recipe is prefaced with engaging descriptions and anecdotes from Jackson’s vast catalogue of experience. The only downside is the lack of pictures to illustrate some of the recipes, which would have been useful for home cooks unfamiliar with French cuisine. But having pored over this cookbook, it’s difficult not to find yourself (1) wanting to go to the south of France, and (2) dying to cook and eat all that delicious French food.


Tempted By Tempeh Cooking the Books offers recipes for choux pastry, sardines, tempeh and veges this month

Authors: Dr Susianto Tseng, Dr George Jacobs & Pauline Menezes

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine

Price: RM84.90

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product said to have originated in Indonesia around 1700. It has since become globally available, although it is not as popular as its fellow soybean byproduct, tofu.

This book aims to enhance tempeh’s name internationally and goes into great detail about it – from how it is made to its nutri-

tional value (the fermentation increases the nutritional value) and how to make it yourself at home. Recipes in the book include quite unusual fare like thick tempeh cashew cream, tempeh hummus, tempeh and butternut squash soup, tempeh croquettes and tempeh slices in barbecue sauce.

A lot of effort that has been put into showcasing the versatility of tempeh and how it can be used in many incarnations, from barbecues to fried foods and even curries. But on the flip side, it also begs the question: would you eat this much tempeh in real life?

Then again, more and more people are changing their diets and tempeh fits neatly into this health-savvy equation.

So while I personally am not so invested in trying out quite this many tempeh recipes, there are many others out there who might be otherwise inclined. If you’re one of them, this book has your name on it.


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