As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I have been struggling with anxiety lately. One of the things that has always helped me “calm down” is throwing myself into an elaborate recipe. To that end, I have been cooking and baking up a storm in the last month. It helps that my roommates gave me carte blanche to cook whatever I want. You can see on my Pinterest page that I find almost all my recipes through Pinterest. However, for my recent birthday I purchased three cookbooks for myself. Indulge for sure. I have been using two of them quite extensively and felt it was time for my first ever cookbook reviews.
How many recipes do you need to make from a cookbook before you can judge it? I’d say at least three, preferably four or five. But I feel like I can adequately review…
Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food: The Ultimate Weekend Cookbook (2014) by Jamie Oliver
And the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook (2012) by Griffith and Cheryl Day
First, the Jamie Oliver cookbook.
I have cooked two recipes to-the-letter (almost) from Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food: German Coffee Cake, Amazing Apple Pie, and Ultimate Cornbread. Otherwise, I have used the dough from the recipe for pierogies and the base for the chili. Let me tell you, this book is the real deal. Jamie Oliver apparently took some flak for writing this since he is usually all about healthy and nutritious food. This book is not that at all. It is a collection of recipes from all around the world that are feel-good recipes. The kind that are healing. And that is my core food philosophy. My personal style is global comfort food, so this was right up my alley. Plus it’s a gorgeous book and one, I can attest to, lays flat when opened to a recipe–bonus. I am having so much fun working through this cookbook and fear that I will soon run out of recipes.
Verdict: 5 stars
Fortunately, Jamie Oliver has a number of cookbooks out there–two of which I hope to pick up at the library today–and Jamie is quite generous with the recipes he publishes on his website.
For more from Jamie Oliver check out this NPR interview with him about the cookbook.
Now for the Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook. I first heard of this cookbook winter 2014 when I was baking a lot. I got it out of the library and drooled over the recipes yet never made one. When my birthday came around, I knew there was one baking cookbook I had to have, this one.
I have cooked three recipes from this cookbook: Bourbon Pecan Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Macaroons. Unfortunately, I do not feel like these were particularly strong recipes. The pecan pie was burnt on top, and it took three days until it really got good. I am always looking for a chocolate chip cookie recipe because I have a quixotic quest to track down the best recipe. This one claimed to be the best recipe. Honestly, some things about it were good–the cookies baked into perfect circles with raised edges–others were not, like the fact that I couldn’t get over how much salt was in the recipe. As for the macaroons, way too sweet. I didn’t even bother to dip them in chocolate. I understand that it’s a Southern bakery, so supposedly everything is sweeter, but I can’t justify adding two cups of sugar to sweetened coconut flakes. These recipes really just didn’t inspire me. They felt more polished, like restaurant recipes rather than from the heart, this-is-what-we-cook-at-home.
Verdict: 2 stars
In closing: I cooked some of these recipes from both books for my book club’s meeting on Saturday. The German coffee cake from the Jamie Oliver cookbook was unbelievable, and I would make it again in a heartbeat (add a swirl of melted bittersweet chocolate mixed in with the streusel on top). The macaroons from Back in the Day, not so much.