Yesterday was all about cooking. It was so lovely to have a day recipe testing - both my own recipes and recipes from some wonderful books I've been sent to review - all of which would make excellent Christmas presents for the food and drink lovers in your lives.
The first book I looked at was one I didn't actually make a recipe from, as it's more of an info book than a recipe book, but is absolutely fascinating, and so informative. I spent a couple of hours totally immersed in it, before realising I needed to crack on with making recipes from the other books! TASTE - The Infographic Book of Food, by Laura Rowe is a must read. TASTE takes you through every type of food, with beautiful illustrations telling the story of each food/drink group. It covers food facts, recipe ideas, trends, history and much more. This really is a book you can get lost in for hours, and one I can't wait to read over and over again.

'Images from Taste: The Infographic Book of Food by Laura Rowe, illustrations by Vicki Turner. Published by Aurum Press, £20'
Next up is a book I've been looking forward to reviewing for a long time - 'A Year in Cheese: A Seasonal Cheese Cookbook', by Alex & Leo Guarneri, recipes by Alessandro Grano, published by Frances Lincoln. I'm a huge cheese fan, and this book covers all the options. It's full of beautiful images, and excellent recipes, as well ideas for seasonal cheeseboards, and is a book I know I'll refer to time and time again when looking for the perfect cheese pairings. Recipes include French onion soup with 18 month old comte, Cornish blue ice cream with caramelised walnuts, Smoked duck breast with baby gem, Brillat-Savarin (a triple cream cow's milk cheese from Ile-de-France) and fresh mixed berries, and the one that I tried out, Baked camembert with rosemary, honey, pear and almonds. As always, I tweaked the recipe slightly, so here's my version of this melted, gooey, goodness.
Serves 2
1 camembert
6-8 springs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp. dark agave nectar 
1 pear, sliced
2 tbsp. flaked almonds
Preheat the oven to 190C. Remove the camembert from its packaging. Take a piece of greaseproof paper a little bit larger than the cheese and wet it, then squeeze out the excess water. Tuck this in to the wooden camembert packaging and replace the cheese. Slice the top of the cheese and poke the thyme springs into the slits. Drizzle with agave nectar, then cook for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melting and the nectar is caramelising. Top with the flaked almonds and return to the oven for 1-2 minutes. Remove and serve with the sliced pears for dipping.


There were two more food cookbooks I was sent to look at, both of which I knew I'd love, based on the fact that the first one, Luiz Hara's 'Nikkei Cuisine, Japanese Food the South American Way', published by Jacqui Small, is written by one of my favourite supper club hosts, whose pop up I've been to a couple of times, most recently spending my birthday evening there with my nearest and dearest. I adore Luiz's food and was super excited to get his book and attempt to make my own version of the dishes I've gobbled down at his house. I'm thrilled that recipes I've had made by Luiz, such as Sea urchin linguine with tobiko caviar and yuzu cream, and the Nikkei sea bream with yuzu and green jalapeno rice are in the book. However, both involve quite a few ingredients I couldn't find in leafy south west London on a Sunday so I went for a straightforward, but classic Nikkei dish - Lime butter salmon. And because I'm me, I switched the salmon for tuna, and the cress for beetroot. This dish takes minutes, looks fab, tastes even better and I thoroughly enjoyed eating it for my Sunday lunch.

Serves 2

1 sashimi grade tuna steak (150-200g)
5 tbsp. light soy sauce
3 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp. butter
Half a thinly sliced, raw beetroot (wear gloves to do this)

Heat a non stick pan, lightly oil the tuna steaks and sear on one side. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly, then slice against the grain into 1cm thick slices. Arrange on the plate you'll be serving the dish on. Add the soy, lime and butter to a saucepan and heat, swirling the pan until the butter has melted and the sauce has thickened. Pour the sauce over the tuna, add the beetroot matchsticks and it's ready to eat.

The last food book is 'Make It Easy', by Jane Lovett, which is billed as foolproof, stylish and delicious do-ahead recipes. I was sent the press release and knew the name rang a bell, then realised that Jane and I have followed each other's Instagram accounts for a while, both liking nearly all of the others' photos. Though I've never met her, Jane is really supportive of my pop ups, always leaving me sweet comments and tagging people who might be interested in coming. Her book is full of home comforts that are taken to a new, higher level. It was so hard to choose which recipe to make. Favourites include Vietnamese herby chicken with nutty green rice salad, and Ginger creams with pistachio brittle. I chose to make Jane's Oriental beef, which is super quick to make and utterly scrumptious to eat.

Serves 2, as a starter, double quantities for mains

100g beef fillet steaks
Vegetable oil
1 spring onion
1 red chilli
Mixed baby salad leaves
Sesame seeds
Half tsp finely chopped ginger
Half crushed clove of garlic
Half finely chopped shallot
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Half tbsp. lemon juice

Trim any sinew off the steak, then rub with a little olive oil. Place a frying pan on a high heat, and once very hot, sear the steak on each side. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Slice the spring onion and red chilli lenthways in to matchsticks. Make the sauce by combining the ginger, garlic, shallot, sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy and lemon juice in a jam jar and giving it a good shake. Thinly slice the steak, against the grain and place in a ring on the plate you'll be serving on. Put the baby salad leaves in the middle of the ring of beef, top with spring onion and chilli matchsticks, pour the dressing over the beef and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

The last two books I want to tell you about are more about drink than food. First is 'Wild Drinks and Cocktails' published by Fair Winds Press, written by Craft drink expert Emily Han. A book full of recipes featuring local, fresh and foraged ingredients, you can learn to make your own infused waters, syrups, vinegars, tonics, spirits, wines and sodas by following Emily's recipes. There's a huge range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ideas - think Fire Cider Hot Toddy, and Homemade soda - the book is a real inspiration. I made the Ginger Syrup, which I then used for a cocktail recipe in the next book, but made with honey and served with hot water and lemon, this syrup is excellent in fighting sore throats, nausea and motion sickness.

Makes 1 jam jar

28g peeled, thinly sliced ginger
295ml water
255g honey or light and mild agave nectar

Combine the ginger and water in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Sieve, keeping the liquid and discarding the ginger. Pour the liquid into a clean pan, with the honey, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. I added fresh thyme at this point. Decant to a jam jar. This will keep in the fridge for up to a week.

Once cooled, I then used the ginger and thyme syrup to make a cocktail from the last book I was reviewing - 'Good Things to Drink with Mr Lyan and Friends', published by Frances Lincoln, and written by Ryan Chetiyawardana (the man behind award-winning London bars White Lyan and Dandelyan). Another stunning book, you can find every and any cocktail recipe you've ever dreamed of here, including classics such as the Old Fashioned, and others like Grapefruit and rosemary gin with ginger ale, Bottled Cosmo, and the one I made, the Galle House Punch. Named after Ryan's family home in Sri Lanka and using many of the spices grown there, this is a winter warming cocktail combining many of my favourite ingredients.

1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
Half a nutmeg
1 thumb of ginger
6 cloves
50g sugar
250ml water
1 flowering tea bud
300ml boiling water
200ml golden rum
100ml dark rum (I used Diplomatico which was delicious)
150ml lemon juice
150ml cloudy apple juice
500ml dry cider
50ml ginger and thyme syrup, as above

Bash the peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in a pestle and mortar. Add the 250ml water to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the sugar and spices and remove from the heat. Sieve, keeping the spiced water. Place the tea bud in a punch bowl, add the 300ml boiling water and leave for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients, plus 100ml of the spiced syrup. Serve hot, warm or cold.



  1. Both the tuna and the beef dishes look amazing - Luiz's popup is one I've wanted to go to for a while now but the dates have never quite matched! Maybe the book will suffice until then!

    1. You should definitely get to his pop up if you can!! SO good :)

      Rosie xx


© a little lusciousness. All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Made By pipdig