Review – Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co. by Julian Kutos

Hi,

If you’re still looking for a little something the Easter Bunny could hide in its basket, you might be interested in Julian Kutos’ new Italian cookbook “Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co. Einfach italienisch genießen”. As you can probably guess by the title, the book is written in German and hasn’t been translated into English yet, but who knows?

Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co
Image provided by Löwenzahn Verlag¹

“Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co” is divided into four main chapters; Grundrezepte (Basic Recipes), Aperitivo, Pasta, and Pizza & Co, but where this book really shines are the concise and very helpful introductory chapters. They guide you from the very basics like ingredients or cooking equipment, to things like the five basic tastes and perfect cutting techniques. I think it’s needless to say that this cookbook also includes notes on how to use the cookbook, important terms, a glossary, suggested menus, an index and even a list of suppliers.

Of course I also did some cooking. Every recipe is accompanied by at least one large picture, and vegetarian and vegan recipes are easily distinguishable by special symbols at the top of the page.
FrittataI made four different dishes from this cookbook: Frittata, Bruschetta Tradizionale, Cannelloni ai Funghi, and Pizza.
The Frittata was easy and fast to make. I had most of the ingredients at home. I just exchanged the mozzarella di bufala the recipe called for for regular mozzarella. My boyfriend really liked the frittata, while I peeled off all the mozzarella, because I didn’t like the consistency and the taste together with the rest of the frittata. Maybe it would have been better to use buffalo mozzarella after all.

The Bruschetta was the recipe I had to modify the most. I still had loads of very soft Datterino tomatoes at home but no baguette. So I just used the rye bread I had at hand and made bruschetta just for me. It tasted good, maybe a little sweet, but that might have been my overripe tomatoes.

A meal my whole family liked but took me ages to make, were the Cannelloni ai funghi. The book says it should take about 65 min to prepare and cook them and I still ended up needing 50 min more.
Nevertheless, the cannelloni tasted wonderful. I had to use button mushrooms instead of chanterelle mushrooms due to the season but the filling was lovely. The only thing that might be problematic for some is the amount of food. It wouldn’t have been enough for four adults. We were three, we weren’t that hungry that day and there wasn’t much left.

A review of this Italian cookbook probably wouldn’t be complete without trying the Pizza Dough recipe. Making the dough isn’t hard. The dough shouldn’t be too wet and not too dry 😉 . I made pizza twice: Once on the same day after letting the dough rest for a few hours, and once after letting it rest in a cool room for five days. Both times, the dough was great to work with. It was easy to roll out and made wonderful thin crisp pizzas just the way I like them.

With “Simply Pasta, Pizza & Co.” Julian Kutos wrote an Italian cookbook that features Italian classics as well as a more modern take on Italian cuisine. Because of the easy-to-follow instructions and the great introductory chapters, the book would make a great gift for novice cooks. The only thing I really missed was a chapter on desserts. 🙂

4 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ http://www.loewenzahn.at/page.cfm?vpath=buchdetails&titnr=2618
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

 

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Review – Die Jüdische Küche by Annabelle Schachmes

Hi,

If you know me, you’ll know that I love food and cooking. I also love collecting cookbooks, something I must have inherited from my dad. Luckily enough, I recently got my hands on a copy of Annabelle Schachmes’ Jewish cookbook “Die Jüdische Küche”. It was originally published in 2015 by Gründ cuisine under the title “La Cuisine juive“.

Die Jüdische Küche
Image provided by südwest¹

With “Die Jüdische Küche”, Annabelle Schachmes tried to create a collection of Jewish dishes from all over the world. To find the recipes, she traveled to different continents and brought back gems from Russia, Tunisia, Israel, the USA and various other countries.

The book is divided into eight sections: “spices, pickle & condiments”; “appetizers”; “main courses”; “sides”; “soups”; “street food & New York delis”; “breads & pastries” and “desserts”. Usually these chapters are there to help you find recipes, in this book they only confuse. Everything is okay up until we reach the “soups” section which is not where I would look for it at all. It’s in the middle of the book while it should be somewhere near the beginning. I also don’t get why “street food & New York delis” is so far away from the main dishes. The placing of “breads & pastries” as well as “desserts” is perfect but what I don’t get is why “desserts” is full of pastries again with some lemonade recipes sprinkled in between. The whole thing is quite chaotic.

Cinnamon ChallahAmong over 160 recipes you will find favorites like falafel, hummus or challah as well as lots of dishes you’ve never heard before. Many recipes are accompanied by a description or even a photo but some aren’t and it is really hard to guess what cholent or loubia are supposed to be if all you’ve got is a recipe. “Die Jüdische Küche” is a beautifully illustrated cookbook full of photographs of markets and people in the streets but wouldn’t it be better to cut back on those photos and accompany every recipe by a picture instead?

While all this sounds harsh, you can’t judge a cookbook without doing some cooking. For Valentine’s Day, I chose to cook falafel and bake challah.
Falafal with Cucumber SaladI didn’t make a falafel sandwich as it is suggested in the book, but chose to serve the falafel with cucumber salad and sour cream. The recipe lets you choose between frying or baking the falafel, so I did the latter. I was a bit confused because the ingredients didn’t specify if the weight for the canned chickpeas meant the drained weight or not. In another recipe that was stated and here it wasn’t. Anyways, the falafel turned out great, maybe a bit on the dry side, but they tasted heavenly and they were assembled in no time. This will become a go-to recipe in my home for sure.

Heart-shaped ChallahI chose to pimp the challah recipe by making cinnamon challah. I did the dough just like the recipe stated and before I braided it, I brushed it with melted butter and dusted it with cinnamon and sugar. The challah was just as yummy as the falafel. So recipe-wise, “Die Jüdische Küche” is a great book.

Annabelle Schachmes collected Jewish recipes from all over the world. She took the recipes and her photos and had them bound into a book. What she forgot is that there are people who will want to use this book as a cookbook. There isn’t an introductory chapter telling us about the ingredients and the measurements used, or about possible substitutions – something you’ll find in every good cookbook. I also miss the possibility to see the geographical origin of a recipe at a glance. This would have been so easy to accomplish. And then there is the big question that hasn’t been asked or answered: What is Jewish cuisine? Why are all these recipes considered Jewish and not German, Eastern European, or Tunisian? We’ll never know.
If you are an experienced cook who wants an extensive collection of good Jewish recipes and lots of beautiful pictures of people and markets, then go for this book, but remember: “Die Jüdische Küche” is just a collection of recipes and not much more.

3 Star Rating: Recommended

¹ https://www.randomhouse.de/Buch/Die-juedische-Kueche/Annabelle-Schachmes/Suedwest/e507478.rhd
A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.