French Toast at Delilah

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This morning’s breakfast courtesy of Delilah in Nottingham.
A good cup of tea is hard to find in Nottingham these days. Coffee is plentiful and delicious but you have to work hard to find tea. Delilah delivers in a big way. They also have an extensive coffee menu and I’m working my way through it with help from great staff recommendations. Today’s choice was a lovely Cuban coffee, alto serra.
The French Toast was wonderful and I’m somewhat of an expert in the field. The bread was dry enough to hold the egg and crispy on the edges, soft in the centre with beautiful flavour.
The pancetta was seriously savoury, it tasted almost gamey it was such a deep flavour. Crispy and perfect with the toast. Plus put real maple syrup on something and I’m sold.
Downstairs in Delilah there is a deli with a well stocked counter and loads of cupboard staples and treats to tempt you.
All in all a great little breakfast. Now to do some serious walking to work it off.

Delilah Cafe and Deli
12 Victoria St, Nottingham NG1 2EX
Open 8am – 7pm weekdays, 9am to 7pm Saturday & 11am to 5pm Sunday.

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Sepia

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Sepia – The Cuisine of Martin Benn
Murdoch Books – 2014
Photography: Gary Heery & Jennifer Soo

In the introduction, Benn sets up the basic ideas of Sepia, the restaurant and the ethos. Benn explains that it’s meant to lend ideas as much as be a strict roadmap. And indeed, the recipes are amazing and inspiring. There are concepts and flavour combinations that you’ll want to try – techniques and tastes that beg to be tested.

The writing in Sepia is a little heavy. There are very long biographical sections which are interesting, if a little long. Alongside the recipes there is a lot of food writing following Benn’s way into food and the restaurant business through to the restaurant and it is full of anecdote and personality. I love reading about food and the whole industry but I know (people often tell me when I talk about cookbooks) that it’s not for everyone.

Recipes in Sepia are arranged in Menus and they are designed for servings of eight so there’s a bit of maths involved in scaling them down. All of the dishes have wine pairings and each separate aspect is broken down and worked through in detail so that you can see each part clearly.

The images and styling is beyond beautiful. Sepia has a sense of art running through the whole book. The dishes are gorgeous and aspirational and the portraits of chefs and restaurant are full of life.

My favourite recipes are the Mango and Vanilla with Sesame Brittle, Yuzu Sherbet and Nasturtiums; the Goat’s Milk Chevre with Beetroot Butter, Rhubarb, Beetroot Rye and Dried Goat’s Milk; and the Saint Agur and Mascarpone Cheese with Crystallised Macadamias, Celery Cress and Roasted Endive Granita.

Sepia is a book full of ideas, like Benn and the restaurant. It’s a book about food more than a cookery book, and would work just as well on a coffee table to keep dipping into and reading as on the kitchen counter to cook from.

It made me think about food. More than anything it made me want to visit Sepia!

Bistronomy

*Apologies to all re-reading this. WordPress has been a complete nightmare. It wrote my Bistronomy review over my latest book buying guide and has now deleted the review completely. So this is the same. But different. Send patience and coffee my way, please!*

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Bistronomy – Katrina Meynink
Murdoch Books – 2014
Photography: Luke Burgess

Bistronomy is about flavour not fuss, it’s about roots and originality.

Bistronomy is not your usual cookbook, it reflects bistronomy as a whole which makes it innovative, exciting and fresh.

I wouldn’t in fact make all of the recipes in this one, but I love reading through them anyway. There is a wide variety of very simple to really quite complex dishes in the book. The range of techniques used, as well as the array of flavours is amazing. It’s an easy cookbook to read with clear fonts and clean styling. Some of the recipes could use more detail in the instructions to help get you through the steps but there is definitely something for every level of home cook here.

Not one chef, but many, provided recipes for the book. Meynink did a fantastic job of pulling them all together and making them into a cohesive whole. Few recipes in Bistronomy have alternatives provided so a bit of shopping is required and sometimes quite unusual ingredients are needed. There are lovely spotlight pages dotted throughout the book on bistronomy chefs, ideas and restaurants and because it’s not all in one big chunk it makes it much easier to read. This is a real and fun insight into how bistronomy works and why it’s so popular.

The images are gorgeous, you could just look at it over and over again without ever needing to cook from it! It could do with more images of the dishes – some pages have beautiful photos next to the recipes but not of the food, with such novel ideas being used it would be great to see how they turned out when they were made by the professionals.

My favourite dishes were the Venison Tartare; the Short Rib of Beef, Chilled Normandy Apples, Country Style Cider Jelly; the Ricotta, Plums and Lavender; and the Caramelised Pineapple, Pine Needle Syrup and Pine Nut Brittle. And the whole Sweets section is pure heaven, I want to eat all of them. Twice over.

Bistronomy is not just a cookbook, it’s a book about food, about how bistronomy works. Whether you love cooking or eating, this is a wonderful book to have.

The Hungry Student Cookbook

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The Hungry Student Cookbook – Charlotte Pike
Quercus – 2013
Photography: Jonathan Cherry

The layout of The Hungry Student Cookbook is really sensible – easy to find just what you need for any time of the day or night. The font is simple to read and the recipes are very clear so there’s no problem following them. Most of the recipes are on one page so you can just prop the book open and start cooking. The instructions are step-by-step so you can see what to do next each time. Fitting into the student lifestyle of small kitchens and lack of time the amount of one-pot recipes are great, easy to make, easy to wash up and packed with flavour.

The ingredients used are readily available and there are lots of favourites, things that you have been eating all of your life written down so that you can cook them yourself. Unfortunately a lot of the images aren’t very tempting, which is a shame because it makes it harder to know which are likely to suit. It would also have been handy to know how long each recipe took to make.

There’s a great balance of meat, fish and veggie recipes with a wide range of ideas there is bound to be something for everyone. The cookbook is helpful and covers the basics well, my favourite sections were the ‘Soups and Salads’ and the pasta dishes, lots of hearty ideas, one pot meals and winter fillers. The Sweets section was a little disappointing, and could have done with a few more original things to tempt a second course. My favourite recipes were the Minestrone Soup, the Tomato and Onion Tart and the Homemade Pizza.

 

The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook

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The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook – Lynn Hill
Quercus – 2013
Photography: Emily Dennison

 

The Clandestine Cake Club started as a way for amateur bakers to get together, each bringing their own cake. It’s now gone global and the Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook has a great sampling of recipes from club creator Lynn Hill and other members.

The book is split into types of cakes from Classic to Chocolatey and Fruity to Creative.

There are lots of photographs and the styling is beautiful throughout. The recipes are easy to read with clear instructions and well laid out ingredient lists. Each cake has a badge at the top identifying which club it came from.

Traditional cakes have been perfected or tweaked and there is a huge variety of flavours. Concentrating purely on cakes (not bars, muffins or tray-bakes) this is a very niche but lovely book. The Fruity section was the strongest with a fantastic mixture of ideas and loads of original ways of using fruits in cakes. The weakest section was the chocolate one, which was more run-of-the-mill than the rest.

Most of the recipes fit on one page but annoyingly when they go onto a second page the next recipe is started directly below which can get confusing. There is a great section at the back of the book about common cake catastrophes and what to do about them. The index is well organised and there is a list of blogs by the Clandestine Cake Club members so you can see more about them. It would be nice to have a list of recipes according to author as well.

My favourite recipes were the Caramel Cake by Nelly Ritchie; the Plum and Cardamom Cake by Lynn Hall; the Sweet Potato and Pecan Cake by Gillian Tarry and the Toffee Shock Cake by Julia England.

The range of recipes in the The Clandestine Cake Club Cookbook will surely have a cake to suit any occasion and they are all so appealing that it’s hard to choose just one. This is a gorgeous collection that will make a perfect addition to any cookbook shelf.