Cookbook Guide for All Levels

Hi there!

As you have probably seen from the lack of posts in the last week and a bit, I have been a little M.I.A. from my blog. Mostly because I want to enjoy the little freedom I have left before I plunge head first into my first session as a PhD student.

That being said, I am currently recipe testing and prepping lots of content for the month of September and onwards! I decided to take a little break from this blog to be able to create better content, since I feel that I have been in a kind of a rut.

HOWEVER, if you do want to keep reading my recipes, I collaborate with La Fabrique Crépue, a Québécois blog on a bi-weekly basis! Follow the link HERE to keep up to date. This month, I am focusing on BBQ friendly recipes and hosting tips!

Which is why I decided to do a post about my favourite cook books from which I draw lots of inspiration and that I use on a day to day basis.

I have already mentioned most of these books in previous posts, but my dear old Dad reminded me that it would probably be a good idea to have a kind of check list for those of you that are looking at getting new cookbooks, or for gifts!

There is a semi-logic to the presentation of these books (if I could only focus on what I’m trying to say and not the annoying drumming coming from my neighbor’s apartment)…

Ah yes! I decided to go with two things: your cooking skill level and feasibility of the recipes. What I mean by cooking skill level is that some of these books are geared for all levels (beginner to advanced); whereas the feasibility of the recipes is more towards the availability of ingredients and how easy it is to find them and/or substitute them. We have all had cookbooks that have the most amazing pictures and recipes but once you look at the ingredient list, you need to do at least 10 shops before you find that one spice you’ll only ever need for that one recipe… Am I right?

I hope that this list of books is useful for some of you, either as an addition to your current collection, as a gift to a friend or family member, or just as a dust collector on your shelves!

  1. Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver
  2. Made in India by Meera Sodha
  3. Bonnie Stern: Heart Smart by Bonnie Stern
  4. Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give A F*ck by Thug Kitchen
  5. Street Vegan by Adam Sobel

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#1: Jamie’s Food Revolution

This book is based on his TV series where he traveled to a small mining community in Great Britain and gave himself the challenge of teaching a handful of individuals two recipes every few weeks; these individuals were then tasked to pass down the recipes and techniques to two friends, so on and so forth, with the hopes that the entire community would learn all of the new recipes.

Ideally, this is quite a feat, and although he didn’t necessarily succeed, the recipes he taught them changed many lives.

All the recipes are quick and easy, and in the past couple of years, Jamie has focused on healthy eating and nutrition, therefore all the recipes are, in my opinion, some of the best. They are all family friendly, the ingredients are all easy to come by and easy to substitute.

The only downside of this cookbook, that Jamie touches on in the TV show, is that you have to read the entire step by step procedure before starting the recipe. Why? It is textually written, so no bullet points or numbered steps. Once you get the hang of his recipes, you’ll never look back. Besides, it’s a good thing to do a read through beforehand, it prevents accidents and mistakes!

My favourite recipes: homemade curry pastes. This book has 5 or 6 different styles of curry pastes and a little over 7 Indian dishes that are TO DIE FOR, and easy to make as a beginner.

From this book, I’ve made: Vegetable Jalfrezi, a very mild Rogan Josh, and an extra spicy Chicken Vindaloo.

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#2: Made in India

This is my first all-Indian cookbook. I was immediately attracted to it because of its colours and the pictures inside. For me, having colour pictures of practically each and every recipe is a must, and I am willing to pay the price. Why? Because it helps you have an idea what the final product “should” look like, and also encourage you to get in your kitchen and cook!

This book also caught my eye because of the food photography. It looked somewhat similar, and after looking at the credits, I knew why. David Loftus is an incredible photographer and has been doing Jamie Oliver’s books almost since the beginning. He has an amazing eye and great composition eye, which clearly explains why I was so attracted to the book in the first place.

This is Meera’s first book, her second has just been published and I’m dying to get my hands on it!

This is a book of traditional Indian family recipes made “easy”. What I mean by this is that they are not complicated at all, do not require a great skill set in the kitchen, and also don’t require too many specialty herbs and spices. As with Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks, Meera provides a staple list of herbs, spices, and ingredients that you should have on hand to do all of the recipes. After doing a handful of the recipes myself, I can attest that once you’ve used these spices a couple times, you’ll find yourself incorporating them in other dishes, which means that you are definitely becoming a chef!

Her book is filled with little anecdotes, tips and tricks, measurement conversions, and much more. What I truly loved about this book is that it provides substitutes for hard to find spices, which is EXTREMELY handy if you live in an area that doesn’t have many ethnic grocery stores.

So far, I have not found any negative things to this book, other than I have some difficulty finding certain spices from time to time.

This book is very good for someone who is vegetarian, since many dishes in Indian cuisine are vegetarian. Her second book is completely vegetarian, which I am excited to get my hands on.

From this book, I have made: her Chaat Masala Salad, and also a couple of her curries that I have not yet posted!

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#3: Bonnie Stern’s Heart Smart

The only reason why I didn’t place this as book #2 is because some of the recipes do require a little more of a skill set.

This book has graced my Mom’s kitchen shelves for a good 10 years, and I couldn’t move out without my own copy. It has so many great recipes; every section is clearly defined and the recipes are straightforward and the steps are clearly indicated.

What is so great about this cookbook, which I HIGHLY recommend, is that it has a panel of nutritional information for each recipe, and nutritional facts every few pages. If you are looking for a book to help manage your cholesterol, or be more knowledgeable about your macronutrients, I urge you to go get a copy.

Being a collaboration between Bonnie Stern and the Heart and Stroke foundation, this book is full of heart smart recipes which will guide you along the way to increase your intake of healthy foods and help you make the switch to better-for-you choices.

My mom has made a hundred different recipes from this book, and I have also made quite a few myself. I really like the dessert section, since it does provide healthy alternatives for delicious desserts that you will definitely fall in love with, and also make you more conscious about what exactly you’re putting in your foods.

From this book, I’ve made: Roasted Cauliflower and Bell Pepper Pasta.

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#4: Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck

If you know me, you know that I can swear quite a lot in the kitchen. Not Gordon Ramsay level of swearing, but quite a lot… Like that time I was hung over and tried making chocolate and banana muffins, which ended up with the batter everywhere on my floor and inside the oven door… Yeah… click here for that story.

This cookbook is a no bullsh*t book, geared towards the vegan lifestyle and also towards those that just want to try something new in life. I’m not a vegan, but I do enjoy having plant-based foods on a daily basis. I consider myself 75% vegan, so this cookbook was a perfect addition to my collection.

For a non-vegan, these recipes are super easy substitutes for your regular meat options, and also give you a great reason for trying tofu and tempeh for the first time. Honestly, the recipes are so tasty and full of kick-ass flavours that you won’t even know that it’s vegan.

The reason that it’s #4 on my list is for the feasibility of the recipes. Now, finding tofu and tempeh is not hard, but getting your hands on nutritional yeast and certain vegan options of your regular sauces and things can be a hassle, especially if you’re not planning on becoming a vegan.

Being plant-based however, is much easier. The difference? Well, plant-based isn’t focused on activism (Save the animals/planet/humanity) but more towards having a diet that is sourced from plant-based ingredients closest to their natural form. I won’t go into the whole debate, but I might in a future post, since it is quite interesting.

Incorporating plant-based recipes to your lifestyle can save your life. You’ve probably seen the hashtag #meatlessmonday, which was created in an effort to encourage consumers to try going meatless for one day a week. It’s not hard! And no, you won’t miss the protein from the animals because there are plenty of protein sources in the veggie world.

Back to Thug Kitchen! Their recipes are flavorful, easy and quite cheap, not to mention family friendly! The recipes are great to incorporate to your meal plans, and many are great side dishes that help you get that extra fruits and vegetable intake!

From this cookbook, I’ve made: Pad Thai, Rice Bowls, Spanish Rice, Glazed TofuCauliflower Wings, and Fudge pops.

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#5: Street Vegan

Now this cookbook is brand new in my collection, and I’ve already made three dessert recipes. I chose the desserts because it’s one thing that I don’t do much of because of all my allergies and restrictions. Although these are vegan and I do have to find better alternative for nut-based desserts, they are all so delicious!

For the main course parts, this cook book is the last one on the list because you need both an intermediate to advanced skill set in the kitchen, as well as pretty darn specific ingredients.

The author, Adam Sobel, started this as a food truck and turned it into a restaurant, which great success. However, these recipes aren’t made for your weekday meals. These are meant to be “la pièce de résistance”, the dish you serve to impress someone. I have yet to thoroughly go through and make some of the main dishes, but from what I saw when I read it (yeah I read them as bedtime stories) you could easily substitute the vegan options for more meat or plant-based options.

I recommend this book for your die-hard vegan friends or die-hard foodies that are ready for a challenge!

From this book, I’ve made: Rhubarb and Strawberry jam, Poptarts that were featured on La Fabrique Crépue, Sambuca & Chocolate cookies, and Mint Chocolate cookiesMint Chocolate cookies.

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I hope that I may have inspired a few of you to run to your local book store to buy a few!

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