Look What I Found Friday – the Cookbook Edition

lookwhatifoundThis is the third edition of my “Look What I Found!” Friday feature, Usually this is where I share what I have found, been given, picked, planted and bought. But this week I have a collection of cookbooks to share with you. As a bonus, I am hooking you up with a great non-food gift idea for Father’s Day. A Father’s Day recipe will follow soon. Enjoy!

First up is a book I got for review a wee while ago. I don’t know about you but when I see the word fitness in the title of anything I kind of die inside. I just know I will be exhorted to abandon my bookish lifestyle (read: lazy) and hit a trail, or be barked at by a drill sergeant. I stand a lot and move around a lot for work most days, so although not much of a traditional exerciser I do not lead a sedentary life.

Fitness GourmetAnyway, my excuses over, the book, Fitness Gourmet, is by Christian Coates, otherwise known as the force behind the well-regarded gourmet food delivery consultancy, Soulmate Food. In this, his debut book, Christian brings his straight-talking approach combined with nutritional expertise to anyone interested in eating better, whatever their fitness level or fitness aspirations.

Borrowing from Soulmate Food’s unique system of tailored-made menus for Burn, Balance, and Build, Fitness Gourmet gives recipes that can be used almost whatever are your nutritional needs. The easy-to-understand symbols with each frankly very delicious-sounding recipe give an indication who it is for, but gives easy suggestions on how to alter the recipe to suit another goal. It sounds a little gimmicky, but trust me it isn’t. This “BBB” system (my acronym) makes the recipes incredibly flexible, so will suit those who are also feeding a family with varying needs. You can use the book’s eating plans and 40+pages of sound nutritional guidance, or just wing it and use it in a more pick and mix approach. Yuki Sugiur’s images are beautiful and, crucially for anyone wanting more than a coffee table type of book, realistic.

Contents summary: Intro; what is the diet code; one recipe three ways; get to grip with the basics; why does water do for you?; grazing is good; your route through the day; a visual approach to eating ( a very good section); clean and natural foods. Eating plans for specific goals: to manage weight; to keep healthy; to build your body; to toughen up; to play team sports. Recipes: breakfasts; snacks; main meals; juices, shake and smoothies.

Who is this book for? Anyone interested in a flexible, nutrition-led collection of recipes, as well as an outline of plans to use for setting health and fitness goals, such as eat to manage weight, eat to build your body, eat to play team sports.

Who is this not for? Anyone wanting a quick-fix diet plan; strict vegetarians or vegans (loads of veggie recipe but also animal products, too); anyone on a long-term budget.

Interesting fact: Soulmate Food was the only external nutrition service for athletes in the London Olympic Village.

Stand-out recipes: Kimchi Silken Stew (natch); Super-green Candy Salad with Mango and Pomegranate (no actually candy, but candy beets); Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pistachio Butter. The only issue I have is with the use of agave (just use honey or maple syrup instead) and a few hard-to-get ingredients, but otherwise the recipes all look very enticing. A keeper.

Published by Jaqui Small. RRP: UK £25, US $35, CAN $38.99.

from my Instagram

from my Instagram

Next up is a book some of you may be surprised I am reviewing, Eat, Drink, Paleo. I was approached to review this book by popular paleo food blogger, Irena Macri and was initially going to turn down the review copy (I don’t advocate any diet other than one that includes lots of plants) thinking it was going to be a meat-fest. But something told me to say ‘yes’ (okay, I looked at her pic, and her Twitter feed, and she looks glowing with health). I’m really glad I did. Not only is the book not a meat-fest, there are a heck of a lot of colourful plants featured as the stars, not just the bit players, in her fun and beautifully photographed book. 

Irena, although following a paleo lifestyle 80 per cent of the time, is first and foremost a foodie, and a talented, creative one at that. Regardless of whether you are curious about eating a paleo diet, wish to dabble in at the shallow end (throwing in a plate of oven chips or a Green & Black’s chocolate bar now and again), or just want some very intriguing and for the most part quite accessible omnivorous recipes, this handsome paperback book is a great call. Irena briefly outlines paleo basics and a list of ‘no-nos’, but doesn’t put off any would-be paleos with too much in the way of evangelising: Just the facts, ma’am and then straight in to the sumptuous self-photographed recipes.

Like Christian, Irena uses some symbols to provide an at-a-glance indicator, but this time of potential allergens (which makes this as great cookbook for those catering for allergies), as well as time involved. Unlike a lot of paleo books I have seen, Irena gives us some “Cheeky Treats” (Double-Decker Lamingtons! Mango & Blackberry Meringue Roulade!) and real alternatives to some pretty dire and po-faced recipes out there representing the paleo lifestyle. Just a note though, if you are going to make some of these foods, especially anything to address a sweet tooth, you will need to invest in some specialist products such as green leaf stevia powder, tapioca powder and coconut flour. Personally, I am more in love with her savoury recipes.🙂

Contents summary: introduction; paleo basics; kitchen basics (kitchen, pantry, fridge); recipes: wake up baby; from the garden; meat; fish ‘n’ friends; cheeky treats; quickies; make your own; bottoms up.

Who is this for? anyone curious about paleo living but doesn’t want anything too hard-core; foodies with an interest in having some paleo-friendly recipes to hand for self or entertaining others who are paleo.

Who is this not for? Vegetarians, vegans, those on a long-term budget.

Interesting fact about Irena: she is “a regular chick who likes a glass of wine and an occasional French fry who happens to be very interested in nutrition and health and who cooks rather well.” (from her website’s About page). Basically she is like many of us.🙂

Stand-out recipes: Ratatouille Cake; Cauliflower Steaks with Braised Radicchio; Sweet Potato Rosti with Sardines Salad; Kedgeree Devilled Eggs.

Eat, Drink, Paleo is published by Michael Joseph

At Home in the Whole Food KitchenThis big, fat hardback is a sexy beast of a book. Recently published by Jacqui Small, At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen is the work of experienced vegetarian chef, Amy Chaplin. Amy’s is a beautifully produced book whose strap line, ” celebrating the art of eating well,” is no small claim. The earthy, realistically shot images are understated, reflecting the sophisticated but hearty tone of the book. This tome isn’t for dieters or those shy in the kitchen. You will want to strap on an apron and get stuck in.

The first part of the book, “The Pantry,” is broken down into pantry essentials, equipment, cooking from the pantry and pantry recipes. Amy doesn’t just provide lists; grains, for example, are explained in terms of nutrition, types, usefulness and short, day to day recipes. Pantry recipes are actually recipes that stand completely on their own merit: to wit, wholewheat fettucine with kale, caramelised onions and marinated goat’s cheese.

The second half – the bulk of the book – is a mostly gluten-free collection of vegetarian and vegan recipes in bright, whole sophisticated form: black rice breakfast pudding with coconut and banana (breakfast); sweetcorn soup with black sesame gomasio and chives (soup); beetroot tartlets with poppy seed crust and white bean fennel filling (whole meals). See, very sophisticated. Recipe categories are: breakfast; soup; salads; snacks, nibbles and drinks; whole meals; desserts, all punctuated with lush images. On my list of must-trys is hearty winter miso stew, summer rolls with macadamia lime sauce and black sesame rice crackers.

Who is this for? Experienced home cooks and those wanting to push themselves a little; vegetarians and vegans (obvs) as well as omnivores wanting some playful recipes to add to their repertoire.

Who is this not for: novice cooks; the time-poor (although there are quite a few quick recipes the bulk are ones you will want to spend time preparing); those with traditional tastes; those with limited budget or access to some of the less common ingredients (Hakurei turnips, I’m talking about you). If you are confident to make substitutions (e.g. for the fancy turnips) then this will be more user-friendly. Amy is from Australia, and although her recipes reflect Australasia and Far East influences, listed ingredients reflect her current residence in New York.

Interesting fact about Amy: she has been a private chef to such clients as Liv Tyler and Natalie Portman (my girl crush).

At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen is published by Jacqui Small.

tie // unified spaceAnd, ta-da! What does every Dad need? Another tie! But wait, actually these are different to anything you will get in a shop. Read on from my friend, Niki at unified space (I copied this from an email she sent me).

I wanted to make a product which was the equivalent to The Slow Food Movement. So, Northern Europe is a great place to grow flax and hemp and you will have noticed several fields around Fife & Angus covered in the stunning blue flax flowers. There is a linen mill in Fife which supplies my cloth (Fife Linen).

I have enjoyed designing each pattern/design and although a pattern should not need ‘explained’, for those interested, each pattern has a story behind it. I then give my pattern to sisters Solii & Zoe who own a print bureau in Leith and they print it onto the Fife linen. Then the cloth goes to Nina (also in Leith) who stitches them into ties for me. So the whole ‘team’ are all based in Edinburgh and we are all connected by the cycle path. (ed note: love this detail)

Being a bit of a colour nerd, each tie has a secret ‘gift’ on the reverse in that there is a tiny stitch in a slightly unexpected colour on the back. The colour is chosen to give a little energy to those who look because when I see the bright pink sitting on the green fennel, it makes my heart skip a beat or the pillar box red on the Inky Cog. The colours are not what you expect so it gives a physical surprise. 
I think the texture gives a fresh twist to a tie and they look great dressed down with jeans but also work with suits. Textured ties stem from the 1940’s Swing era. I will be slowly adding new designs to the collection over the next few months. They were launched in Brooklyn, NYC by Scot Street Style during this years Tartan Week and in Edinburgh this past weekend at Edinburgh’s Fruitmarket Gallery.
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Niki’s beautiful ties are available in limited quantities (she is nearly sold out) for now from her etsy shop. You will also see unique and nature-inspired designs on paper, textiles and china too.

Instagram screen shot of one of my dishes on one of Niki's tea towels -

Instagram screen shot of one of my dishes on one of Niki’s tea towels –