Category: Book review

The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook review

The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook review

Let me just start by saying that Evelyn Rose rocks!

As I mentioned in my post about Hamantaschen last week I have a fantastic Jewish cook book that is used by all of my family. It’s called the ‘The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook’ written by Evelyn Rose, published by Pavilion. My mum bought us all this book when we moved out from the family home. Mine was signed by Evelyn which makes it extra special. As you can see it has been made wet at some point and has smudged a little which really upsets me!Evelyn Rose's New Complete International Jewish Cookbook

Evelyn Rose was like the Jewish Delia. There was nothing that she didn’t know about Jewish cooking. There are many food laws to consider when you keep a kosher kitchen, mainly that you can’t mix meat and milk products, so a kosher cook book is essential! This book has over 1,100  recipes, 30 chapters and explains all about the different foods for different festivals.  Every Jewish festival comes with a traditional cake of some description. It’s a wonder there aren’t more overweight Jewish people around considering how many festivals there are!

The book

The chapters are broken up into the following categories

  • Starters
  • Fish and Vegetarian meals
  • Meat
  • Vegetables
  • Desserts
  • Baking (Yay- obviously my best bit!)
  • Preserves
  • Cooking for a crowd  (also known as feeding an army!)
  • Festivals

Now, I have to admit that although I can bake, I’m pretty rubbish at cooking so this is my only book for cooking kosher meat and fish. I follow the recipes to the letter and they always come out great. They are also exactly as I remember them as cooked by my grandma as well as my mum. Real, traditional style cooking.

A friend of mine recently remarked that she hated not having pictures in a cookery book, as she didn’t know what the dishes were supposed to look like. I have to say that I have never worried about that, and that’s probably as I have always used this book (even from a young age with my mum). It doesn’t have a single photo in it. With 1100 recipes there really isn’t room! It does have these really cute illustrations though.

Evelyn Rose's New Complete International Jewish Cookbook
Just one of the lovely illustrations throughout out the book

The Jewish Festivals

When it comes to baking for festivals I love it that you just turn to the right page for all you need. So when it comes to Rosh Hashanah you know where to get a Honey Cake recipe.

For Purim there are no less than five types of Hamantaschen (sweetand savory) to choose from.

Hamantaschen diagram
I love the little diagrams, like how to fold Hamantaschen

Peseach is especially hard to bake and cook for as the food we eat for the 8 days of that festival are limiting and very specific, so this one stop book is all you need- the cinnamon balls and macaroons are a family favorite not to mention the Plava (Oh how I love a heavy Plava cake! Not long now. ) I have to admit that as I am flicking through the pages of this book-  so as not to leave anything out- it automatically falls open at cinnamon balls!)

During Shavuot we traditionally eat Cheese cake (which is probably why it’s Tim’s favorite festival) I love Evelyn’s  Yomtov cheese cake, but let’s face it. I love all cheesecakes!

I could go on and on, but I will end this post saying that I am sure one day I will be buying this book for Beau and Darcey. I can’t see it ever going out of print or fashion. It’s the official Jewish cooking bible and I truly wouldn’t be without it!


Half term baking the Roald Dahl way.

The best books to bake with ….

Roald Dahl’s Completely Revolting Recipes and other tasty treats

Roald Dahl's Completely Revolting Recipes

Nish Nobblers

Beau is a HUGE Roald Dahl fan. We have read his books at bedtime countless times, so when she was given this fantastic cook book for Christmas by Nanny Ali she was absolutely thrilled. She took it to bed with her, copied the drawings in her home made books and literally drove me mad to make something from it from Boxing day onwards!  We made the Nishnobblers which are from the book ‘The Giraffe the Pelly and me’, just before New Years Eve. They didn’t last a day!

The book


When a book is called ‘Roald Dahl’s Completely revolting recipes and other tasty treats you know to expect some quite spectacular recipes. Each one is inspired by one of his books and has some fab illustrations by Quentin Blake (I love his quirky drawings) along side.

Some of our favourite recipes include…

  • Crispy wasp stings on a piece of buttered toast – from James and the giant peach- They’re Coconutty cinnamon bites to you and me.

  • Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake – from Matilda – remember that bit in the book where Bruce has to eat the whole chocolate cake infront of The Trunchbull? Well I think I could eat this one. It looks amazing.

  • Georges Marvelous medicine chicken soup – from Georges marvelous medicine (of course) Thick and filling soup. (sounds like Jewish Penicillin to me)

  • Hornets stewed in tar– from James and the giant peach. Coloured caramel with bits in. Should be horrible but actually sounds quite appealing!

  • Hot ice cream for cold days – Charlie and the Chocolate factory. Yes this is ice cream that is hot. Brilliant!

  • Grobswichy cake – from The BFG which is a pecan, cinnamon type cake

  • It’s also worth mentioning ‘A plate of soil with engine oil -from James and the giant peach.  I can’t tell you how gross the photo of this looks. It really does  look like a plate of engine oil dribbling into the mouth of the little boy- Yuck! But on closer inspection you see it’s actually a chocolate cake and sounds delicious- if you close your eyes and ignore the detailed  illustration first!
Engine oil- Yuck!

The book contains 50 original recipes and is packed with snippets from the story books as well as a photo glossary and useful measuring information at the front. Each recipe has a chefs hat scale to let you know how much adult input is needed. One hat = ‘easy peasy’ , three hats ‘tricky but tasty’.

One of my favourite parts of the Roald Dahl reading books is the bit at the end where you get to find out loads of interesting facts about the man himself. I love it when we get to that bit. It’s like you know a little bit of him that no one else knows. Like he’s your friend. This book is no different with Roald Dahl’s fab foodie facts. I’m not going to spoil it for you, you have to get the book yourself!
In all this is a great book for kids of all ages. It’s fun to look at and read as much as it is to bake with it.

So on to the recipe. The lovely people at The Road Dahl Foundation ( have given me permission to share one of the recipes from the book with you and as we have already made the Nishnobblers – which were a huge success judging by the chocolate chops my girls had after eating them, here’s the recipe below.

Nishnobbler recipe

You will need

Pyrex bowl
sheets of bubblewrap
7cm pastry cutter
pastry brush

100g good quality dark chocolate
100g good quality white chocolate

Makes around 6

What you need to do

Nishnobblers are made from tempered chocolate. Tempering is when you mix melted and solid chocolate together to make it shinier and more manageable. It is an indispensable skill to have in life and you learn how to do it right here! Once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be able to create masterful chocolate constructions to rival Willy Wonka’s.

Weigh the chocolate without eating any.

Melt 70g of the dark chocolate in a pyrex bowl on a defrost setting in the microwave or over a saucepan of simmering water. When it is melted stir the unmelted 30g into it until the whole lot is smooth.

Melting chocolate

Paint over the bubble wrap with the melted chocolate.

Paint the chocolate Mmmm   

Place it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Temper the white chocolate in the same way (N.B white chocolate melts faster than dark chocolate, so you may want to let it cool a little before you start painting.)

Darcey's turn with the white chocolate    Melting the white chocolate

Spread it over the dark chocolate. Chill for 15 minutes.

Smear it on Darcey! Looking good already!

Carefully peel the bubble wrap away from the chocolate.

Peel off the bubblewrap

Cut it in to rounds with the pastry cutter.

Beau cut out the discs

At this point I would suggest that mums and dad’s eat the left over chocolate that didn’t make it into a round. They’re delicious!Nishnobblers

Chocolate chops
I think Darcey enjoyed the Nishnobblers!


Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle traybake recipe

Following on from my post from yesterday, the publishers at BBC Books have very kindly given me permission to share with you Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle traybake recipe, as taken from her book Mary Berry’s baking bible.

Mary Berry's Lemon traybake

I made this cake for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Until then I had only really made flapjacks and brownies as a tray bake. I really wasn’t expecting the result to be so light and fluffy. I have to say it was totally delicious.

In Mary’s recipe she makes it as a Lemon Drizzle cake with a crunchy topping, but Tim requested a lemon glaze on top so I’ve added my little twist at the end. Don’t worry, I’ll give you Mary’s way too!

The Ingredients

225g softened butter

225g caster sugar

275g self raising flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs

4 tablespoons milk

Finley grated rind of 2 lemons

The crunchy topping

175g granulated sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

The lemon glaze topping

200g icing sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

How to make the cake

Line the tray

Pre-heat the oven to 160ºC/ Fan 140ºC / Gas 3. Grease a 30 x 23cm traybake tin then line with baking parchment.

The ingredients

Measure all the ingredients for the traybake

put it all in the bowl

Place it all in a bowl and beat until well blended.

Darcey helping

Let Darcey help!

Mix it all upIt should look like this.

Fill the tin

Turn the mixture in to the prepared tin and level the top with a spatula.

Hot hot hot!

Bake in the pre heated oven for 35-40 minutes or until the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the tin and springs back when pressed in the centre with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, carefully peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

In Mary’s recipe she adds a crunchy topping. 

Place the wire rack over a tray to catch any drips of the topping. To make the crunchy topping, mix the granulated sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Spoon this mixture evenly over the tray bake while it is still a little warm. Cut into 30 squares when cold.

Pour the lemon icing

I added a lemon glaze instead.

Mix up 200g icing sugar with the juice of one lemon so that it is quite runny. Set aside 30g of icing and mix with some yellow food colour. Pour the white icing over the whole cake. I like it to dribble over the sides! While the icing is still wet I added the yellow lines of icing.

Lining up to taste

Before the cake was even cold the whole gang descended on the cake! Tim loved it. The girls weren’t so impressed with the lemon icing! That just meant there was more for me and Tim.


The best books to bake with – Mary Berry’s Baking bible

Best books for baking

I think now is a good a time as any to start sharing with you all my favorite baking books. I have a LOT, as I am sure you can imagine, but some I love more than others.  I’m not going to feature them in any particular order. I’m just going to share them with you and do a good review on each one that I can’t live without. I’m also hoping to review new books as they are released, but more on that another time.

Mary Berry’s Baking bible

I was given this book when it first came out in 2009 by Jane Curran, the Food Editor on Woman and Home magazine. When a book is called a ‘baking bible’ you really expect a lot from it, and I have to say that it really delivers. It’s the first book I pull off my shelves when I want to bake something new! It has over 250 recipes so if you can think of a cake, tart, biscuit, tray bake, and pudding or pie the chances are it’s in here!

I have tried about 20-30 recipes from this book so far. My favorites are the Lemon Drizzle Tray bake (recipe to come tomorrow! Yay!) the very best chocolate fudge cake – it really is THE best and the melting moments biscuits, which I make with my girls as they have to be rolled in oats before they’re baked and they are brilliant fun to make with kids. I still haven’t attempted any breads or rolls. I think I may be too impatient to make bread, as you have to leave it to rise before you come back to it, knead it a bit more and so on and I’m more of a bake it now and eat it now kind of a girl.

So what makes this book great?

Click on the book image to go straight through to Amazon!

The book is divided up into sections which cover everything you could possibly want to make. There are also pages covering baking hints and tips, conversion tables and clever techniques. Here’s what’s inside.

  • Classic cakes– like Madeira and Victoria sandwich (which I am making tonight to take to a friend’s  house tomorrow)
  • Fruit and nut cakes– Cranberry and Apricot fruit cake anyone?
  • Spiced cakes– like Almond Spice cake
  • Chocolate cakes– you name it, it’s in here! Death by chocolate and brownies to name just two.
  • Cupcakes and other small bakes– like Madeleines, muffins, and eccles cakes
  • Celebration cakes, including a classic Christmas cake with different measurements for different size cake tins- very handy.
  • Special Cakes– These are “more complicated to make but look very impressive” such as Sachertorte, Wimbeldon cake and Chocolatines.
  • Tray bakes– I’ve only just discovered these, having only made flapjacks before. They’re really light and soooo easy to make. I defy anyone not to go back for seconds. Iced chocolate tray bake, Devonshire apple cake and Fast flapjacks are the next ones on my to try list.
  • Biscuits and cookies. So far I’ve made the Fork biscuits, chocolate chip cookies (for Tim… not me!), Lavender biscuits and Oat rounds. But the melting moments as mentioned earlier are my favs, especially still warm from the oven!
  • Fancy biscuits– These are a bit more fiddly but taste fantastic (of course) I’ve tried a few but I fancy having a go with the Almonds Tuiles and Macaroons. As Mary says in the book, these would make a great gift with a personal, thoughtful touch.
  • Shortbreads and bars – Bishops fingers, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Bakewell slices, They’re all here. You know how I feel about shortbread?
  • Baking for Children– Here there are a selection of fun and easy to make cakes and biscuits for kids to help make your kitchen a mess- or is that just my girls?
  • Tarts and Pastries – My father-in-law is the master of the tarte tatin so I don’t even go there, but all the recipes you need for tarts, tartlets, chocolate éclairs (Tim’s favorite – do I say that for everything?) and pastries are here.
  • Breads– Just looking at this list makes me hungry- English muffins, honey glazed walnut bread, Irish soda bread, Focaccia!!!!
  • Fruit breads–  Oooooh I’ve just seen the recipe for Banana and honey tea bread- two favorites in one. There’s also carrot and orange loaf, Courgette loaves and tea breads
  • Buns and scones. This is where I think I should really give yeast bakes a go! Bath buns, Rock cakes, hot cross buns and no less than eight types of scones.
  • Hot puddings and pies– Now I am a HUGE pudding fan. This has to be my favorite section, starting with classic apple pie and going right through to bread and butter pudding, treacle sponge and Pecan pie… pass the ice cream please?
  • Soufflés and Meringues–  Roll on summer so we can all make the Strawberry Pavlova and lemon meringue pie. I’ve never attempted to make a soufflé before, but looking at the hot chocolate one I really want to have a go now.
  • Cheesecakes– There are nine cheese cakes to choose from. I fancy the American Chocolate Ripple one.

After writing all that I have decided that I should only sit down to review a cook book after lunch and NOT before. Instead of wanting something healthy today, I’m dying for some bread and butter pudding now! Probably due to its warming effects and the fact that there’s 3 inches of snow outside. Resist Emma resist!

So, you can see why I recommend Mary Berry’s Baking bible to any keen baker whether a novice or an experienced cake maker. It’s got it all and what’s more you can hear Mary Berry’s voice encouraging you when you read it. Her recipes are simple to follow and are nearly all made up from baking cupboard supplies. If you have eggs, flour and sugar in your baking cupboard then you can conjure up a treat from this book in no time at all.

A quick Mary Berry story

Last summer I went to the Lakeland Christmas press launch. (Christmas starts in June/July for stylists!) At press launches shops show you all the new products that they are going to be selling the autumn and winter and Lakeland were also showing all the food gifts that they will be selling that year too.

I was being shown around the launch by the lovely Lakeland PR , Kelly. One of their newest designs was a sandwich cake tin that has a form in the middle that lets you have tons more cream filling in the centre. On the display was a copy of Mary Berry’s Baking bible and I said to Kelly “I’ve got that book. It’s fantastic” To which she replied “Oh Mary’s here, she’s in the next room being shown the new kitchen gadgets” Well you can imagine how excited I was. I HAD to meet her.

Now I should just make it clear at this point that I have met quite a few celebrities in my time. I’ve shot a lot of famous people’s houses and been to a lot of celebrity product launches, so I really shouldn’t get star struck anymore. I mean I’ve been an interior stylist for 12 years!) But let me tell you, meeting Mary actually made me nervous. This is ridiculous as she is so tiny and slim (doesn’t she eat her cakes? I only have to look at a cake and I put on 3lb!) but she is the nicest lady. When I met her I prattled on about loving her book and being a baking mad nut and we chatted about how impressed we both were with the new Lakeland products and she was really sweet. She talked to me for what seemed like ages. It absolutely made my day.  Now whenever we see her on TV on The Great British Bake Off I always say to Tim  “I’ve met her. She’s lovely” Now, if I could only meet Paul (I’ve got the bluest eyes ever) Holiday!


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