Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review: "South African Gourmet Food & Wine" by Myrna Rosen & Lesley Loon

South African Gourmet Food & Wine: Traditional South African Food & More...
Authors: Myrna Rosen & Lesley Loon
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.
ISBN: 9780805941876
Genre: Cooking, South African, food, wine

About the Book (from publisher website):

"South African Gourmet Food and Wine: Traditional South African Food and More..." is a superb collection of genuine South African cuisine, including local favorite dishes from a variety of contributors.... [It] offers the cooking enthusiast...a wonderful array of mouth-watering creations as much fun to prepare as they are delicious to eat." - Bookwatch

"South African Gourmet Food and Wine: Traditional South African Food and More..." is an excellent, well-rounded source of South African cuisine, including local-favorite dishes from a variety of contributors. No dish is too complex to be fixed in any kitchen, and many delectables can be made quickly and easily.

From crayfish to sosaties, bobotie to chicken periperi, and from torte to truffles to South African wedding cake - these are a sample of the dishes ready to be prepared from this fun cookbook.

There is an historical section on the KWV wines of South Africa, with wine service suggestions throughout the book as well as many dishes featuring unique wines and liqueurs as ingredients.

Myrna Rosen and Lesley Loon overwhelm the cooking enthusiast with a great array of mouth-watering culinary creations. This book is a must for everyone who loves to cook...and eat!

My Thoughts:

First impressions:

When I pulled this book out of the package, I was immediately taken by the stunning cover. It is simple, but the photographs demanded that I pay much more attention to what was inside the book. Upon opening the book, I found the pages to be nice and heavy and the print to be clear and easy to read. In the middle of the book are 16 pages of gorgeous full color photos of some of the dishes contained in the book.

That's great, but can I really get the ingredients to make all those delicious looking dishes?

My first impressions made me really wonder how difficult the recipes would be, as well as how easily obtainable the ingredients would be. Since it's a South African cookbook, I had assumed I would need a grocery store that carried South African ingredients. I live in the middle of nowhere in a small village where the largest "city" within an hour's distance has a population under 40,000, so you know I'm probably not going to easily find ingredients.

The South African wines and spirits that are discussed and used in the cook book are available by mail-order from one source here in the US. If you live in Canada, you have a few more options. Sadly, because I live in Pennsylvania, I cannot mail order any of these items, so I must either make a trip to Connecticut to purchase them or substitute with something else. With that in mind, I did not try any of the recipes containing alcohol (yet).

What I was most surprised about was the specialty ingredients - there really weren't that many and usually a easily obtainable substitute was given!

Those dishes looked beautiful in the photos - I bet they are difficult to cook and being gourmet, I bet many of them are beyond my taste buds!

What I loved about the book is many of the recipes are not only delicious, but are quite easy to make. I found most of the difficulty was chopping up the ingredients before cooking. (in other words - really quite easy!) The recipes are clear with easy to follow instructions.

Most of the recipes weren't terribly different than what I grew up with. That really surprised me. I had expected more "odd" dishes, but according to the introduction to the book, South African cooking is much like ours - a blend of all different elasticities. This gives more of a new twist to the recipes instead of being blatantly different. With that said, this makes a very user-friendly cookbook that I know I will be reaching for again and again.

There are numerous recipes calling for fish and chicken. Not nearly as many recipes were for red meats and nothing for pork. I found that somewhat surprising.

The recipes I tried were all delicious and most easy to make. The "Portabella Mushroom Soup" was surprisingly easy and yummy.  "Monkey Gland Steak" sounds extremely gross; however, it is not only delicious, but doesn't contain monkey at all!! There were a couple of recipes that were a little more fussy, like the "Chocolate Raspberry Dacquoise Torte", but they were well worth the effort!

So what did I really think of this book?

I just love this cookbook and will be using it a lot in the future. There are so many delicious looking recipes that I haven't tried yet and everything that I have tried, I will be making again in the future. Without being able to view this book in the bookstore, I would have passed it up, assuming the ingredients would have been impossible to obtain, and being "gourmet", the recipes would have been terribly expensive to make and way too unusual for my average cooking style and taste. I would have really missed out on something wonderful!!

I received a complimentary copy of "South African Gourmet Food & Wine" as a member of the Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit dorrancebookstore.com to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

1 comment:

  1. I love flipping through cookbooks! I'm so glad you liked this one. And it's great to hear that the recipes are accesible, easy, and delicious! I'll keep my eye out for this one.



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