19 December 2014

Last Minute Christmas Gifts - Cookbooks


Cookbooks make great gifts. They are a good present for those who are learning to cook, those who are trying to improve their skills and need new ideas and those who like to browse through them and  imagine they could cook like that.

I think we all do a bit of cookbook drooling, but which to choose for a gift? Here is a my gift guide. Hopefully there is something in here for everybody.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook 
by Angela Liddon

This was a gift from my good friend Tanita and has to be my favourite cookbook of the year. It's a collection of 100 vegan recipes, but they are the kind of vegan recipes I like to cook. Lots of satisfying family dishes with no weird ingredients and believe me vegan cookbooks can be full of them and I just find it unappealing. I prefer to cook vegan food from fresh ingredients and it seems Angela has the same feelings about it.

The chapters are broken into: Breakfast; Smoothies, Juice & Tea; Appetizers; Salads; Soup; Entrees; Sides; Power Snacks; Desserts and Homemade Staples. 

My favourite recipes so far are:
  • Quick and Easy Chana Masala
  • Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Easy Mushroom Gravy
  • Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce
  • Flu-Fighter Sunshine Smoothie
Good for:

Those who eat meat free and dairy free or for people who would like to eat a healthier diet. Easy to follow recipes. Mouthwatering photos


by Kay Plunkett-Hogge

I'm currently giving away this book along with another two titles to one lucky reader. I've not made anything from it yet, but I've enjoyed a good browse through it. I think it is going to be very handy for Hogmanay when I'll be whizzing up a few cocktails in my Optimum 9400. Yes I'm a lazy cocktail maker.

The chapters are broken into: Before we begin; The Drinks;  Non-Alcoholic Drinks and The Food (veggie and non-veggie)

The recipes I want to try are:
  • Basil and Mint Lemonade (It's green!)
  • The Gloom Chaser (alcoholic and citrussy)
  • The Zombie (rum, bacardi and tropical juices)
  • The Mojito (a classic)
  • The Life of Rye-Ley (bitters, whisky and champagne or prosecco)
  • Ricotta, Pomegranate & Thyme Bruschetta (munch, crunch)

Good for:

Weekends and parties.


by Natasha Corrett
and Vicki Edgson

I was sent this title a while back to review and after an initial read it got swallowed up by my bookshelf. One of my plans for the new year is to thin out my bookcase and just keep my favourites like this one so they will be used more instead of getting lost among all the others. 

This is another one with mouthwatering photos. This time over 100 healthy veggie and vegan recipes.

The chapters are broken into:

It starts with a few chapters on the authors, the ideas behind the book and some advice on healthy eating as well as meal planners, then it moves on to the recipes.

Breakfast; Starters and Soups; Salads; Mains; Treats and Snacks and Dessert.

The ones I have bookmarked to try first are:
  • 'Cheesey' Kale Chips (vegan)
  • Caramelised Pear and Lentil Salad (vegan)
  • Scrambled Eggs and Baked Portabello Mushrooms with Melted Goat's Cheese
  • Butternut Squash Risotto
  • Banana Toffee Crunch Ice Cream
  • Raw Chocolate Mousse (vegan)
Good for: 

Veggies, vegans and those looking for a healthier diet.


by Rosie Ramsden

I was sent this book to review too. They wanted me to create my own recipes wheel, but I didn't really get the concept and declined. It isn't a book with glossy photos, but is a rather neat little book with watercolour illustrations in muted colours. I am afraid it's a bit meaty, but there are some good veggie recipes too.

The chapters are broken into:

Simple White Bread; Vegetable Soup; Risotto; Roast Chicken; Braised Beef; Poached Fish; Potato Gratin; Wilted Greens; Sponge Cake & Custard.

The Sponge Cake wheel contains:
  • Blackberry and Yoghurt Sponge (no frills)
  • Lemon and Caraway Drizzle Cake (no frills)
  • Upside-Down Plum Cake (night in)
  • Semolina Cardamom Orange Cake (friends)
  • Banana, Hazelnut & Butterscotch Loaf (friends)
  • Chocolate Chunk Vanilla Sponge (creative)
  • Clara's Marmalade Tray Bake (creative)
  • Vanilla Raspberry Cake (impress)
  • Salted Chocolate Pistachio Cake (impress)
  • Brown Sugar Breakfast Cakes (night in)
  • Salted Caramel Crumbs for Ice Cream (leftover)
  • Fig Frangipane (leftover)
Good for:

People looking for lots of ideas on a theme. veggies who don't mind sharing a book with non-veggie recipes and meat-eaters.


by Sarah Al-Hamad

This one is a beautiful coffee table book. The kind you leave around for your visitors to admire. It's much more than that. It's a history of dates around the world. Think sticky toffee pudding and butterscotch sauce, add a bit of travel, snippets of history and the most temptingly beautiful photos.

The chapters are broken into:

Breads and Spreads (The Gulf); Cookies, Brownies and Slices (Liwa);  Date Cakes (Cartmel and Coachella Valley); Puddings, Fudges and Custards (Elche and Andalucia) & Ice Cream, Milkshakes and Stuffed Dates.

Some stand-out dishes:
  • Date and Ricotta Fritters
  • Cranberry and Date Brownies
  • Date and Pomegranate Cake with Pomegranate Syrup
  • Sticky Sponge Cake with a Toffee Sauce
  • Pinwheel Date Shortbreads
Good for:

Bedtime reading, browsing while having a cuppa and for dessert, cake and biscuit lovers.


by Gillian Veal

This is the cookbook of a cafe I love to visit and can highly recommend. It's just a wee cafe in Dundee up behind the University and the seats fill up quickly, but it's definitely the place to head for a great veggie lunch in this fair city. Full of super tasty home-cooked food, the kind you wish you ate at home every night. The cookbook does include some meaty dishes, but the majority are veggie and illustrations rather than glossy photos, but somehow that doesn't matter and I love this book!

The chapters are broken into: Breakfast, Brunch & Eggs; Breads & Sandwiches; Soups; Salads & Mezze; Tarts & Pastried; Mains; Dressings, Sauces & Flavourings and Sweet Things.

Recipes to make today, tomorrow and the rest of the week:
  • Vegetable and Apricot Tagine
  • Butternut Squash and Feta Empanadillas
  • Fig, Gorgonzola and Rocket Tart
  • Roasted Carrot, Pepper and Smoked Paprika Soup
  • Griddled Bread with Chargrilled Halloumi, Roasted Vine Tomatoes and Sauteed Spinach
  • Pear, Cinnamon and Almond Cake
  • Banana Bread with Coconut and Toasted Nuts
Good for:

Simple, but delicious vegetarian recipes.

I'm giving this cookbooks away as well as two other to one lucky reader. Check out all my Christmas giveaways on my sidebar.

17 December 2014

New in my Christmas Kitchen

New in my Kitchen is where I share new products that have arrived in my kitchen in the past month.

This month's kitchen roundup is a seasonal feast. Hopefully it will give you some festive ideas.

1. Panettone from Gresado

A panettone arrived from Gresado. It was soft, moist and had a wonderful flavour. I can understand why the Italians are so mad about it. I have largely overlooked it until now, but when this one arrived I was inspired to make individual Banoffee Trifles with it.

The rest was sliced and eaten with hot chocolate. More than one mug, but you get the idea.

During December Gresdao are sending a free panettone to all customers who spend £50 in their online store. 

Also until January 17 2015 use the code TTDEC14 and get 10% off your shop.

RRP £4.90 for 500g
Score 9/10 

2. M&S Great British Cheese Bites

These cheesey bites from Markies are great for New Years nibbles with fizz, but they're also a good starter for Christmas dinner. I tried them with mango chutney, which was a good pairing. I particularly liked the Cornish Camembert wedges in a seeded crumb, but the cream cheese & garlic and the Lancashire cheese and onion bites were pretty tasty too.

These are on at 4 for 3 with lots of veggie options including 12 Mini Tomato & Cheddar Cheese Rosti Topped Frittatas, 12 Handmade Vegetable Spring Roll Selection, 12 Oriental Rice Squares, 10 Antipasta Skewers, 12 Brie & Cranberry Tartlets and 10 Cherry Tomato & Onion Galettes.

RRP £4.00 (4 for 3)
Score:  8/10 

3. Stilton and Cranberry Lattice

I've enjoyed one of this set of two lattices. Unfortunately I know Cooper wouldn't like them, fusspot that he is and of course Graham is vegan (oh well more for me!). In days past this would have been a perfect and easy Christmas dinner. A good option if you have veggie friends or family coming for Christmas and you don't have a clue what to make. Did I mention they have mushrooms in them too? Happy days!

RRP £5
Score: 9/10

4. M&S Tarte aux Apricots

All butter sweet pastry, blind baked for crispness, brimming with juicy caramelised apricots in a light frangipane, topped with roasted almonds. What can I say? It's a classic and good with a cuppa or as dessert with a dollop of whipped cream.

RRP £5
Score: 8/10

5. M&S Santa in the Snow Madeira Cake

A gorgeous family Christmas cake. A moist buttery sponge filled with buttercream and raspberry jam. I'd go for this over a heavy fruit cake any day. Scrumptious! Such fun royal icing decorations too. It will definitely bring a smile to the table. Highly recommended!

RRP £12
Score: 10/10

6. Waitrose Woodland Friends Reggie Robin Cake

Waitrose do a whole range of Woodland Friends products and one of their latest is this Reggie the Robin Cake. A great option if you have kids. Soft sponge cake with raspberry jam. Isn't he cute?

RRP: £13
Score: 8/10

7. Clementine, Cranberry & Pomegranate Bucks Fizz

Forget your bog standard bucks fizz, this stuff is amazing! It's a dark pink, almost red colour, so it's instantly appealing before you've even tasted it, but the flavour WOW! It' so fruity, a little tangy, but oh so good. This is a MUST for Christmas morning. I am definitely stocking up on some. 

3 days left to order New Year Food for collection. You have until 5pm 20 December 2014.


RRP £4.99
Score: 10/10

8. Plaza Centro Prosecco

I've already stocked up on this for Christmas. When I saw it was half price I immediately bought a few bottles. They had a wee tasting in store and it's rather nice. I actually prefer Prosecco to Champagne anyway. 

For my drivers I bought Shloer which Tesco have on 'buy one get one free' right now.

RRP £6.49 (half price) Tesco
Score 9/10

9 NEW M&S Veggie Jellies

I was really excited on a recent trip to Markies to see they had some new veggie jellies. Now you already know I am mad for jellies. When I saw the new range I had a big mad smile on my face.

Veggie Fruit Gums -  Score: 8/10
Veggie Wine Gums - Score: 8/10
Veggie Fruit Pastilles - Score: 6/10
Super Sour Pastilles - Score: 10/10

And wait for it............

Veggie Colin the Caterpillar Cola Gums - Score: 20/10
They are awesome! Best veggie jelly sweetie to date.

RRP £1.30
Score 20/10 (really if I could I'd give it this score!)

Disclosure: I was given some of the items to review and others I purchased myself. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.