The authors of the new book (out today!) Forking Fantastic!, Zora O'Neill and Tamara Reynolds, contacted me a little while back and asked if they could send me a copy for my review. I know bloggers get books from publishers all the time, but this was a first for me. Of course I said yes... free cookbook! I wasn't sure what I was gonna do if I didn't like it... do I still have to review it just because they gave it to me? I certainly wouldn't do a positive review just because it was given to me for free. Luckily, it's a totally fun romp of a book. So no worries.
Zora mentioned there is a ham recipe in the book that she wishes she had called "Skank Ham" because it is full of booze and sugar. Ha! The book indeed has some good entertaining recipes. It's not all recipes, though. Lots of tips/motivation for throwing lively, interesting dinner parties. Not like, Martha Stewart pretty perfect place card type dinner parties, but dinners where the conversation gets spicy and the characters reveal themselves. The way they talk about how to salvage trash chairs for seating, shopping at thrift stores for eclectic table-ware, making make-shift buffet tables from a door, etc., made me feel like I could be an awesome dinner party host! Me, a 30 year old single gal who lives with mom, most of my serving ware being packed up in the basement... yes even I can have 10 people over and have it be Forking Fantastic.
The section on why people should cook struck a chord with me, too. They compare cooking to sex, art and power. YES!!! This book is free of pretentiousness, and there's even plenty of cussing. Not to mention menu plans, recipes, kitchen supply tips, etc.
Speaking of recipes, I made the roasted fennel side-dish from the book last night. Here's a paraphrased version of it... I'll be making it again. Yum.
Forking Fantastic Roasted Fennel
-4 large bulbs of fennel
-dry white wine (I used Bonnydoon's Big House White)
-Oil-cured olives (My store did not have these, so I used Kalamata and green cracked)
-crushed red pepper
-salt and pepper
Cut the fennel bulbs in qurters. Heat up some olive oil in a large, heavy pan. brown the fennel on medium-high heat on all sides (I did this in 2 batches to ensure good browning). Once you have some good brown spots, pour in a couple glugs of the wine (like a small glassful) and the olives. Cover, and let cook on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes until the fennel is fork-tender. Remove the lid and cook of most of the moisture, season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and serve.
So there we go.... my very first solicited book review!