Bread in Half the Time – Book Review

Bread in half the time is by Linda West Eckhardt and Diana Collingwood Butts. It was first released in 1991 and is now found mainly in second-hand bookshops. It is a massive workbook with 344 pages, including many well-presented illustrations.

While others since this book was published have included micro-rise bread making techniques in their overviews of bread making, this was the first serious and focussed work on using a microwave oven to reduce the time waiting for bread to rise. It is sub-titled ‘Use your microwave and food processor to make real yeast bread in 90 minutes’, and their recipes live up to that expectation — after a little practice, that is!

The micro-rise process is really very straightforward, although it certainly brings a different rhythm to bread making. One reviewer commented that since she had started making micro-rise bread she no longer needed store-bought bread, such was the balance of time and the reward of having home made bread so quickly available. This is not to say it’s an ‘instant bread’ recipe — there’s no such thing if ‘real’ bread is on the agenda. Planning ahead so there is time available to focus on bread making is sensible, but it is a much reduced time frame and much easier to manage.

Beginners will find the detailed introductory section most helpful, as it provides much information on the ingredients required for bread making and their role in creating bread (being flour, salt, sugar, yeast, eggs, fat). Various kitchen equipment is also covered, with much consideration given to microwaves and their settings and options. Nevertheless, it is the wide range of step-by-step micro-rise recipes — 200 pages worth — which is the big attraction. While it is possible to dive straight in to any recipe of choice, reading the introduction to the micro-rise method will make that first loaf much easier to create. The range of breads is broad, from black bread to French bread, pizza dough to fougasse – all using a food processor and microwave. For those who would prefer to use their bread machine, there are ample recipes for this also, dealing with basic and health breads, brunch breads, flatbreads, bagels and buns, as well as sweet breads.

This is not a coffee table book but one for the kitchen bench, where it’s direction will provide not only a pleasurable baking experience but delicious loaves of bread.

Book Review: The Eating Well Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook by Jim Romanoff

When I first received this book I was delighted. I thought, this just might be one cookbook I’m actually going to use and not just read and set aside! Six weeks passed and for once, my prediction proved accurate.

Since the day “Healthy in a Hurry” arrived in the mail, every week’s meal plan has featured at least two recipes from this book. The “Healthy in a Hurry” concept is a great one for modern mothers struggling to prepare wholesome meals with little time to spend in that short window between the end of the workday and the 6:30pm soccer (or whatever) practice. As the book’s subtitle states, the recipes are appropriate for quick and simple everyday suppers. There isn’t much here that you’d want to serve for special occasions, but the book features an almost endless variety of tasty weekday meals that can be whipped up in minutes.

Author Jim Romanoff–editor of EatingWell magazine–takes his inspiration from a wide variety of culinary traditions. Meals are inspired by Southwestern, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, Greece and North African cuisines. About two thirds of the 150 recipes are accompanied by beautiful full-color photos. Each recipe provides prep and cook time and nutrition information, as well as stating whether the recipe is high in fiber, low in carbs, or appropriate for a “healthy weight” lifestyle. “Nutrition Bonuses” are provided for recipes that contain 15% or more of the daily value of specific nutrients such as vitamin A, folate or iron.

“Healthy in a Hurry” features more than just recipes. The book is divided into helpful sections that can be useful in meal planning such as stocking your pantry, seasonal menu suggestions and vegetarian meals. Three sections provide ideas, not strictly recipes, for sauces, sides and desserts “in a hurry.” Special indexes help you to select recipes for kid-friendly, healthy weight and 30-minutes-or-less meals.

A few of the recipes we have enjoyed are: Adobo Pork & Potato Packets, Vietnamese-Style Beef & Noodle Broth, Grilled Eggplant Panini, Turkey with Blueberry Pan Sauce, Chipotle Flank Steak Tacos with Pineapple Salsa and Tangerine Veal Medallions.

Just a few of the delicious recipes that I have yet to try are: Korean-Style Steak & Lettuce Wraps, Spiced Pork Chops & Peaches, Grilled Filet Mignon with Vegetable Kabobs, Shrimp Enchiladas Verde, Turkey & Balsamic Onion Quesadillas and Express Shrimp & Sausage Jambalaya.

In my extensive cookbook selection there are some books that I return to repeatedly for good recipes for Sunday supper or special occasions. Others I just love to read, dreaming over the time-consuming recipes featuring expensive or exotic ingredients that I’d love to try…someday. But there are very few that I use regularly for my weekday dinners. “Healthy in a Hurry” has proved to be one of them and as such I recommend it as a valuable addition to anyone’s collection.

Home Coffee Roasting – Romance and Revival by Kenneth Davids – My Book Review

Kenneth Davids writes an outstanding book about home coffee roasting. It was published in 2003.Around 235 pages with great photos and diagrams cover the history of coffee roasting. He covers the machines that were in use and the ones that are in use today.

He goes in to the basic techniques of roasting coffee at home. He explains the different types from air roasting (known as convection), and conductivity (in skillet), and other methods. He even covers the basics of roasting in the oven.

The different styles of fancy home coffee roasters are covered and how they are the same and how they differ. He explains how to use each of them and how to keep track of the type of the green coffee beans that are used and keeping track of the time and temperatures that can make the difference in the roast.

His section of what to roast covers where the different green coffee beans come from how they can differ in flavor because of the soil, nutrients, etc. He covers the stages of the processing of the coffee beans. He covers the colors and the names given to each of the stages of the roast form light to dark.

On page 68, there is a real handy chart that covers all of the stages and describes in detail what the bean will look like. It even covers the approximate bean temperature at each level and gives the common name. It is very handy chart to have around.

For the beginning coffee roaster or the advanced, this book would be handy item to have in shelf as a reference to home coffee roasting.