Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cookbook Review ~ Whitewater Cooks with Passion by Shelley Adams

Shelley is back and this time she is cooking with passion! The fourth and latest book in the Whitewater Cooks series, Whitewater Cooks with Passion, sees Shelley cooking new recipes using inspiration from her trusted family and friends as well as plenty of inspiration from around the world.

The paperback book continues with the same theme as the other books in the series with lots of beautiful, mouth-watering photographs to accompany a lot of the recipes. There are 7 chapters dedicated to recipes including Breakfast, Starters, Soups, Dinners and Desserts.

It didn’t take me long to start bookmarking plenty of recipes and in the end I tested 6.

Tested Recipes:

Green Curry Chicken with Roasted Eggplant and Red Peppers
Mango Cucumber Salad with Mint and Sweet Chilli Vinaigrette
Italian Wedding Soup
Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing
Chickpea Flatbread
Indian Artichoke Hummus

The first recipe to be put to the test was the Green Curry Chicken with Roasted Eggplant and Red Peppers. We love Thai curries so I couldn’t resist this recipe especially as it was so easy to prepare – you literally put the ingredients in an ovenproof dish and pop it in the oven and forget about it. I was very hesitant about the amount of curry paste suggested but since I had the same brand as she suggested I stayed true to the recipe and I am so glad I did! The end result was absolutely delicious. It was a perfect Thai curry made without any fuss. I would serve this to friends coming round for a relaxed dinner without any hesitation. I did skip the cucumber you put on at the end because I couldn’t get the mini cucumbers suggested but also because I served the curry with the Mango Cucumber Salad with Mint and Sweet Chilli Vinaigrette which takes me to the second tested recipe.

I absolutely love mango salads with Thai curries so I had to make this to accompany the above recipe. The recipe does have quite a lot of ingredients but it’s still simple to make and really just a case of some chopping and assembling. The dressing makes a lot and to honest in future I don’t think I would use quite as much oil but it was delicious and full of wonderful flavours. As for the salad it was packed with bright flavours, great texture contrasts and lovely fresh and vibrant flavours. It was also a huge hit and brought a wonderful ray of sunshine to our plates and palates on a miserable rainy, grey January day!

For recipe number 3 I couldn’t resist the Italian Wedding Soup for a perfect post-hockey meal that I could make ahead of time. I opted for the choice of sausage meat for the meatballs (she suggests minced beef or Italian sausage) and it was a huge success. I have never seen a version of this soup that includes Marsala but it was so good and added a wonderful depth of flavour to the broth. We all loved it and enjoyed it for several days since the recipe makes enough to serve 10-12. I can’t wait to make this again as it really is a complete meal in a bowl and didn’t take long to make.

For something sweet there was no escaping the Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes with Raspberry Icing. The recipe was perfect because although I love Red Velvet Cake I’m really not a fan of the red dye that goes into it which this eliminates and also because I had all of the ingredients needed on hand! The recipe was straightforward to make but it does make a lot of batter so I would advise using jumbo cupcake cases as I used large and they were a little small. The recipe suggests baking the cakes for 15-20 minutes so I checked after 15 but as I suspected they were nowhere near ready and unfortunately opening the oven door seemed to cause them to drop quite a bit. In the end they took about 23 minutes in my oven so not too bad compared to what was suggested. The end result was a very light and incredibly moist chocolate cake. The icing was so-so. The flavour of the cream cheese overpowered so in future I would add more raspberries as really we couldn’t taste them. Other than that though the overall cupcake was really good, it just needed a few extra raspberries.

I was going to stop there with the testing but I just couldn’t resist trying the Indian Artichoke Hummus served with the Chickpea Flatbread and a family Birthday party (with a gluten intolerant Birthday girl!) seemed like the perfect day to try it! The Hummus was incredibly easy to make as you just pop everything in the food processor. Unfortunately though I didn’t like the final taste…..it was far too vinegary and just not pleasant. I was so disappointed.

As for the Chickpea Flatbread it was a complete disaster. The batter was far too runny so when I poured it in the pizza dish and transferred it to the oven it spilt everywhere (and I didn’t even use it all). On top of that there was far too much oil in the pizza dish. Although it smelt delicious while cooking, the final result was inedible. I was so upset and frustrated and ended up having to make a last minute stop at the shops to get a different appetizer for the party. Not a great way to end the testing process but sometimes you just never know and that’s why I put recipes to the test!

As well as the above tested recipes I bookmarked:

Chai Tea
Petie’s Red Quinoa Breakfast
Buckwheat Waffles with Fresh Ricotta and Citrus
Star Anise Duck Cones with Avocado Wasabi Cream
Lamb Meatballs with Cinnamon and Pomegranate Jewels*
Roasted Garlic, Carrot and Cauliflower Soup*
Moroccan Vegetable Soup with Couscous*
Bengali Chicken Soup*
Duck Pho*
Kale Caesar*
Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad*
Seared Scallop and Crispy Prosciutto Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette
Beef Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce
Drunken Prawns*
Fennel Sausage Risotto*
Mediterranean Lamb Shanks
Red Snapper with Tamarind Sauce
Butter Chicken Bowl*
Miso Gravy*
Smiley Creek Sauce
Tropical Mountain Loaf*
Jan’s Hornby Island Oat Crackers*
Lime and Pistachio Loaf
Lemon Curd Tarte in a Nut Crust
Date and Walnut Cake with Butterscotch Cream

I love the diversity of recipes within this book. Worldwide inspiration literally leaps from page to page with recipes from Italy, Cuba, Asia (to name a few!) and of course there is plenty of Canadian inspiration using fresh ingredients that are locally sourced.

As well as the diversity of international cuisine the book maintains its usual healthy approach to cooking and features recipes from her very health conscious daughter that have an emphasis on a gluten-free diet. In addition to so many of her own recipes, there are a lot of additional recipes which have come from friends and family and have been shared as they are some of Shelley’s favourites. Not all recipes are accompanied by photographs but the ones that are are beautifully presented and captured and look delicious.

Specialty Ingredients?
Generally no. By far the majority of ingredients should be available from your local supermarket, however there are a few ingredients that she notes she buys from her local specialty food stores (for example lime leaves, galangal and a few different Asian sauces and or condiments). I guess it really comes down to where you live but for the most part everything should be easily accessible.

Learn anything new?
No, although there is definitely plenty of fresh inspiration in this book.

The overall feel of this book is that it is one to be enjoyed and shared with your family and friends. Whether it’s a casual midweek meal or a get-together at the weekend, there are plenty of recipes to try out, share and ultimately love. It is a vibrant feel-good cookbook that will put a smile on your face just reading it (and a grumble in your tummy!) and a bigger smile once you cook from it.

That being said I can’t forget about the recipes that didn’t go as planned. I was definitely upset about the last two recipes failing so miserably, however the first four were so good and ones that I will absolutely make again…and again…and again! Therefore Whitewater Cooks with Passion gets the Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops Stamp of Approval.

This book is available to buy from Amazon.ca, Chapters.ca and other good book retailers.

*All opinions expressed for the purpose of this review are my own and have not been influenced by anyone else.

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