Cooking the Books: From cute buns to everything kuih, inspiration abounds in March

Four lovely cookbooks – cute buns, a munchies guide, kuehs galore and warming food stories – are on offer at a discount this month.

Get your copy of Sunday Star tomorrow, March 8, for a 25% discount on these cookbooks. Look for the coupon in StarLifestyle.

Munchies Guide To Dinner
Authors: Editors of Munchies
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Price: RM110.25

Owned by Vice Media, Munchies is a popular food-centric channel that has proven extremely successful. In this cookbook, the editors have compiled some of their most useful – and best – recipes for home cooks looking to amp up everyday meals.

The great thing about this book is everything is so darn simple. The instructions are simple, the ingredients are simple and the recipes themselves are simple. All this lends itself to very happy cooking and experimenting.

The recipes are mostly of the comfort food variety like buttermilk fried chicken thighs, spinach and mushroom lasagna, fried fish tacos and Nutella and bourbon tiramisu.

The photography style evoked is unique in that it favours a lot of overexposure and has a quaint, almost 1970s vibe to it – and yet remains aesthetically pleasant.

Ultimately, this is exactly the sort of cookbook that’s perfect for people looking for uncomplicated meals that still have the ability to impress friends and family.

Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals From A Sweet And Savory Life
Author: Rachael Ray
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Price: RM150.50

For many people, Rachael Ray changed the way they felt about cooking. Self-taught and unfussy, she rose to stardom on the back of TV shows like 30 Minute Meals, which taught busy, time-strapped American urbanites how to make home-cooking speedy and efficient.

She has also earned her fair share of detractors – from Anthony Bourdain to Martha Stewart – who all contended that she couldn’t cook. Still, for a woman who allegedly can’t cook, she’s done pretty well for herself, building an empire out of her cooking shows, cookbooks and the like.

In her latest cookbook, Ray ruminates on her 50 years of life, peppering the book with delightful family tales that have inspired some of her recipes. The stories are the soul of this book and truly give you a glimpse into Ray’s childhood and her formative years as well as the tangible bond she has with her mother and grandfather (who died when she was young).

The recipes in the book are equally captivating and include the likes of eggplant parm steaks and tomato sauce with pesto, potato-parsnip pancakes, fried calamari, and crispy skin fish with morels and asparagus.

There’s plenty to enjoy in this delightful book, but it is Ray’s lively narratives that will keep you reading (and spur you to try the recipes too).

The Way Of Kueh
Author: Christopher Tan
Publisher: Epigram
Price: RM99.90

Acclaimed Singaporean food writer Christopher Tan’s new book is truly a triumph of research and industry.

Tan has gone to great lengths to document and discover the anthropology of 98 local kuih recipes (he spells it kueh as that is the spelling used in early literature).

The book details the historical elements of different kuihs made by different ethnic communities as well as the science, ingredients and tools required to reconstruct each type. The book is also peppered with interviews and tales from real-life people who continue to make these kuihs.

In this kuih tome, you will discover recipes for well-known treats like kuih keria, putu piring, kuih belanda, pineapple tarts and onde-onde as well as lesser-known variants like kuih ambon (an Indonesian creation), nagasari, kuih karas.

For sheer breadth and information, this repository on kuih is unparalleled. Tan wrote the book with the purpose of staging a "kueh-naissance", as he worries that younger generations are doing away completely with the art of kuih-making.

So if you’d like to be part of the kuih revolution or if you simply want a slice of kuih literature for posterity, I’ll venture there are few books that can top this.

Author: Xue Ren
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Cuisine
Price: RM79.90

Cooking instructor Xue Ren has made a career out of her creative Chinese steamed buns, giving up her job as a designer to start a baking studio in Kuala Lumpur.

In this very detailed cookbook, you’ll discover all of Xue’s tips and tricks to nailing intricately patterned mantou buns with designs ranging from little sheep buns to cow sandwich buns and magical unicorn and cloud buns.

All of the recipes include step-by-step instructions and Xue has also thoughtfully provided a comprehensive list of tools required to complete the job.

Many of the recipes do require a high degree of commitment but if you’re the sort of crafty person who enjoys labouring over dough and transforming it into something altogether magical, this book might be for you. Otherwise, don’t bother because the book is literally ALL about creative mantou buns, so there won’t be anything else in it for you.

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recipes , kuih , Rachel Ray


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