Thursday, 29 December 2011

Necessary Reading - Festive triple header!

Macarons are sweet, jewel like mini meringues sandwiched together with various delicious fillings and are a source of constant discussion (not to mention frustration) for both amateur and professional pastry aficionados. However the end result marries the aesthetic with the delicious in a way I've yet to see paralleled, so I was pleased as punch to receive the brilliant 'Macarons' by Pierre Herme this Christmas. To call this book comprehensive would be quite the understatement. I can confidently say this is only book you'll ever need on the art of the Macaron. The vast array of recipes range from the classic (Chocolate) to the unusual (Osetra Caviar and Walnut Brandy), are clear and easy to follow and are supported by detailed explanations of the appropriate techniques required. The illustrations are both beautiful and practical and do a great job conveying the sense of opulence and wonder associated with these colourful delights. All in all this really is a top book and one I'd highly recommend.

Speaking of Macarons, probably the most well known purveyor of these little treats is Laduree of Paris. Anyone lucky enough to visit one of their shops will testify to their extravagance, reminiscent of the classic luxurious french patisserie and it's good to see that this has been carried forward to their book 'Laduree: Sucre', by Phillipe Andrieu and Sophie Tramier. Housed in a crepe paper lined box, the book itself is beautifully made, padded and velvety with the pages edged in gold. There is a nice balance of recipes which are generally well described and illustrated and contain all the classics (Including the Macaron) as well as a few twists. All I will say is that the recipes themselves are definitely aimed at the more experienced amateur cook and beginners may need some patience getting to grips with some of the techniques. However I like this book a lot and think it would make a great gift.

'Wild Raspberries' by the artist Andy Warhol and Suzie Frankfurt is a 1959 'cookbook' like no other you'll find. The recipes themselves are humorous to the point of parody and include instructions such as ordering your chauffeur to pick up a suckling pig from the Plaza hotel's restaurant. The book is hand-lettered, mistakes and all (By Andy's mother) and contains 19 distinctive Warhol illustrations. Of course, this isn't really a serious cookbook, but it is funny, fanciful and a fantastic addition to any food lovers collection. It's not an easy one to find, but is definitely worth the effort!

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