Out of all of my hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks that I own, I am ashamed to say that I don’t have any Southern American cookbooks on my shelves! I know, I am embarrassed but I was delighted therefore when I was offered the chance to review The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice so I could finally try out some good old Southern comfort food!
The Loving Kitchen is described as “a collection of comforting recipes straight from the kitchen of popular food blogger LeAnn Rice”, and I have to say it didn’t take me long to agree that this book is full of comfort food recipes perfect for sharing with your loved ones. The chapters are divided into courses including Morning Fare, Bountiful Breads, Soup and Sandwiches, Entrees and Desserts (plus a few others) and with more than 130 recipes I had plenty to choose from. In the end I managed to try out 4 recipes.
Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce
Cottage Herb Bread
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
The first recipe to be put to the test was the Pasta in Creamy Savory Pumpkin Sauce. I was a little dubious as it did sound pretty heavy/ insanely rich(!) with the amount of butter, cream and parmesan but both hubby & Wee One love creamy sauces and it was Autumn so I thought it worth definitely worth a go, especially as it was completely different from anything I would generally make. The recipe was straightforward to follow and didn’t take long to make. The only downside was the ingredients were listed on one page with the instructions on the following so I had to keep switching back but that is me being super fussy! The final result was that the meal was enjoyable. Hubby liked it more than me but that’s just because I found it very rich. Since there was so much sauce left over I made some fresh pasta the following night then added some sauce along with some cooking water from the pasta and I have to admit I enjoyed it even more than the first night. There was SO much sauce though that I had to freeze what was left as it was just too much but it makes for an easy mid-week meal in the near future! If you are a fan of rich, creamy pasta you will enjoy this.
The next recipe to be put to the test was the Lasagna Pinwheels. We all love Lasagna and it looked and sounded delicious so it had to be tried. Again the ingredients and instructions were over two pages which was a bit of a pain but I survived! Anyone that has made Lasagne before knows that this is a labour of love and this was no exception although once all of the different components were made it was very straightforward and I even managed to rope Wee One into helping which he loved. The final dish was delicious and worth every moment of labour! My only slight criticism was that I honestly didn’t think that the dish needed the chicken through the sauce so I would definitely miss it out next time and keep this as a delicious vegetarian meal.
Recipe number 3 to be put to the test was the Cottage Herb Bread because it just sounded so delicious (there is no accompanying photograph for this one). Made with Cottage Cheese and flavoured with dill and onion there was no way I couldn’t give it a try, especially since one of hubby’s favourite breads ever is a Dill & Onion Bread from our local Famers Market. Admittedly it was a very different recipe from any I have used to make bread in the past but it was so worth it. When I first took it out of the oven I was nervous as it hadn’t risen as much as I expected and it was a really dark brown, however as soon as I cut that first slice I knew it was all going to be ok, and it was….Better than ok, it was amazing and seriously gave our usual Dill & Onion Bread a run for its money! Hubby LOVED it so I know this recipe is going to be a firm favourite in our house and will be made a lot. By mistake I used Dill Weed (dried dill) instead of the dill seed and I have to say I’ll be making it with Dill Weed from now on as it was amazing.
Although I had planned to try a few more recipes the last one that I tested was the Pumpkin Spice Pancakes since I had leftover Pumpkin from the Pumpkin Pasta. Unfortunately this was a recipe fail which I hate but it just didn’t pass our family taste test. To start with the batter was far too thick – so much so I could barely get it off the ladle(!) so I had to add extra buttermilk to thin it a little. Then when it came to eating them, although the flavour was fantastic the texture wasn’t as it was gummy. I have made Pumpkin Pancakes in the past and they were great so unfortunately I won’t be using this recipe again.
Despite the last recipe being a fail we thoroughly enjoyed the other 3 recipes and I do plan to try out more recipes that I have bookmarked including: (Recipes with a * are top of the list)
Baked Crab Dip
Italian Stuffed Mushrooms
Hot Sausage & Spinach Dip
Chicken and Harvest Vegetable Soup
Butternut Squash Bisque
Crab and Corn Chowder
Granddaddy’s Spicy Stew Meat
Sunday Pork Roast
Crispy Southern Fried Chicken
Sea Bass with Berry-Mango Salsa
Lemon Herb-Crusted Fish Fillets
Fiesta Noodle Bake
Sausage and Pepper Linguine*
Poblano Popper Stuffed Portobellos
Green Bean Bundles
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie*
Cinnamon Spice Donut Muffins*
Key Lime Pie*
Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
So out of the 4 recipes I tested 2 I can’t wait to make again, 1 I enjoyed and will probably make again but wouldn’t be high priority and the last I won’t make again unfortunately. Still that’s pretty good if you ask me, especially when there are so many other recipes I’m looking forward to trying.
As it is a US cookbook measurements are in Cups and Ounces. Included in the book are some really quick and easy recipes for last minute entertaining using pre-bought ingredients that she just adds to (such as the Herbed Dinner Rolls which uses frozen, un-risen dough rolls). The majority of the book however is recipes that you make from scratch and cover every aspect of entertaining for family and friends in a casual and very relaxed manner. There are no overly complicated recipes – it’s straightforward, Southern-style family food.
Specialty Ingredients? There were a few things I saw that I couldn’t easily obtain (for example Key Lime Juice) but nothing really out of the ordinary and I’m sure all could be substituted with something else that I could easily get.
Learn anything new? Not really, although as I said before it was my first “Southern” Cookbook so I guess that’s a first and something new!
The book really is crammed full of honest good old Southern charm and really good recipes for comfort food. The downsides I found to the book were there aren’t that many photographs and the ones that do have photos aren’t really very good quality. As well as that a lot of the recipes serve large numbers which is great for when you are entertaining but for us for everyday eating it was just too much. And there is the issue of the ingredients being on one side and the instructions on the other which happened several times, but that is me being ultra fussy! Other than that though, it really is a great cookbook which I would certainly recommend if you want some good, simple and delicious family food!
The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice gets the Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops Stamp of Approval.
*The Loving Kitchen by LeAnn Rice is available to buy from Amazon.com and other good book stores.
**All opinions expressed for the purpose of this review are my own and have not been influenced by anyone else.