Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Ready for Dessert by David Lebovitz

Pastry chef David Lebovitz is known for creating desserts with bold and high-impact flavor, not fussy, complicated presentations. Lucky for us, this translates into showstopping sweets that bakers of all skill levels can master. In Ready for Dessert, elegant finales such as Gâteau Victoire, Black Currant Tea Crème Brûlée, and Anise-Orange Ice Cream Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce are as easy to prepare as comfort foods such as Plum-Blueberry Upside-Down Cake, Creamy Rice Pudding, and Cheesecake Brownies.

With his unique brand of humor—and a fondness for desserts with “screaming chocolate intensity”—David serves up a tantalizing array of more than 170 recipes for cakes, pies, tarts, crisps, cobblers, custards, soufflés, puddings, ice creams, sherbets, sorbets, cookies, candies, dessert sauces, fruit preserves, and even homemade liqueurs. David reveals his three favorites: a deeply spiced Fresh Ginger Cake; the bracing and beautiful Champagne Gelée with Kumquats, Grapefruits, and Blood Oranges; and his chunky and chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. His trademark friendly guidance, as well as suggestions, storage advice, flavor variations, and tips will help ensure success every time.

Accompanied with stunning photos by award-winning photographer Maren Caruso, this new compilation of David’s best recipes to date will inspire you to pull out your sugar bin and get baking or churn up a batch of homemade ice cream. So if you’re ready for dessert (and who isn’t?), you’ll be happy to have this collection of sweet indulgences on your kitchen shelf—and your guests will be overjoyed, too.

From the library.

This one gets two stars.  I was not impressed at all.  I enjoyed the author's other cookbooks, but this snooty recipe collection went overboard with recipes that were just too complicated for average bakers.  I actually did not find a single recipe that I wanted to try in the entire book!  It was also extremely annoying that in a giant, $35 book there weren't pictures for every recipe.  What pictures there were, were quite good and presented the food well.  Unless you are actually a pastry chef, pass on this one.

☆☆= Just Okay

Monday, February 14, 2011

Review: Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s 2008 Baked was published to national critical acclaim and raved about across the blogosphere. Since then, their profile has gotten even bigger, with continued praise from Oprah and Martha Stewart; product availability in every Whole Foods across the U.S.; and a new bakery in Charleston, South Carolina, with even more traffic than their original Brooklyn location.

Now, in Baked Explorations, the authors give their signature “Baked” twists to famous desserts from across the country. Here is their take on our most treasured desserts: Banana Cream Pie, Black & White Cookies, Mississippi Mud Pie, and more—from the overworked to the underappreciated. Readers will love this collection of 75 recipes from breakfast treats to late-night confections and everything in between.

From the library.

This one gets four stars.  It was a wonderful collection of unique recipes covering everything from cookies to pies to cakes, and beyond.  Granted, some of the recipes are more advanced, but armed with a trusty KitchenAid mixer the majority of the recipes will be more than manageable for the average from scratch baker.  The Honey Corn Muffins came out very well and didn't last long enough for me to photograph them for the review!  On the other hand, the Double Chocolate Loaf, while tasting yummy, horrendously overflowed the pan and looked hideous.  This is certainly recommended for bakers.

★★★★ = Really Liked It

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pre-Review: CSN Stores

You may remember that I have done a couple reviews for CSN Stores and loved the bookcase they sent me last August!  They offered me another great opportunity to review one of  their awesome products!  Since they offer virtually everything (from outdoor playsets, bookcases, and rugs to cookware!) in their 200+ stores I'm still pondering my options.

I came across these absolutely adorable Hello Kitty socks which would certainly brighten up the process of putting on my snow boots!  And, feed my Hello Kitty addiction, of course!

I also found this awesome leg exerciser that would be fun to use while listening to my many audiobooks.

There are just so many awesome products to choose from!  I definitely hear Hello Kitty calling to me and may have to investigate their other Hello Kitty items!  As soon as I make a decision and it arrives I'll be posting back about my experience!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Giveaway: Mr. Funny Pants by Michael Showalter

I was at my wit's end. I'd had enough of this job, this life, and my relationship had broken up. Should I eat chocolate, or go to India, or fall in love? Then I had a revelation: Why not do all three, in that order? And so it was that I embarked on a journey that was segmented into three parts and was then made into a major motion picture. Later, I woke up on an airplane with a hole in my face and a really bad hangover. I was ushered brusquely off the plane by my parents who took me to a rehab where I tested positive for coke, classic coke, special k (the drug), Special K (the cereal), mushrooms, pepperoni, and Restless Leg Syndrome. It was there that I first began painting with my feet.

But rewind...the year was 1914. I was just a young German soldier serving in the trenches while simultaneously trying to destroy an evil ring with some help from an elf, a troll, and a giant sorcerer, all while cooking every recipe out of a Julia Child cookbook. What I'm trying to say is that there was a secret code hidden in a painting and I was looking for it with this girl who had a tattoo of a dragon! Let me clarify, it was the 1930s and a bunch of us were migrating out of Oklahoma, and I was this teenage wizard/CIA operative, okay? And, um then I floated off into the meta-verse as a ball of invisible energy that had no outer edge...

Ugh, okay. None of this is true. I'm just kind of a normal guy from New Jersey who moved to New York, got into comedy, wrote this book about trying to write this book, and then moved to Alaska, became the mayor of a small town, spent $30,000 on underwear, and now I'm going to rule the world!!!

Learn more about Michael Showalter here:

Thanks to Hachette Book Group I have two copies to give away!

Contest ends 11:59 PM EST February 28, 2011. Open to residents of US and Canada only. No PO boxes.

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