For me, cookbooks have to do three things: first and foremost, the recipes have to work, enabling me to produce tasty and presentable food at the first attempt. A good cook book should also be practical to use to in kitchen; and I want it to be beautiful inside and out too, gracing my bookshelves as well as inspiring me to cook. This collection of 100 low-carb recipes from Tori Haschka goes a long way towards doing all three.
The book is intended to help reduce intake of white carbohydrates. It begins with a useful but brief introduction to cooking with to low-GI pulses and beans which are used in many of recipes, but before long you reach page after page of the most gorgeously-tempting recipes. This is not fine-dining stuff, it’s solid, practical everyday home meals with a particular twist of unusual ingredients and some exotic flavouring. For the most part, the recipes call for ingredients, and techniques, which most experienced home cooks will be familiar with but there are a few recipes and techniques which will stretch some homecooks little beyond their comfort zone and some of the ingredients may need to be searched for: I don’t think I’ve ever seen rice malt syrup!
I tried the recipe for Seabass Swaddled in Courgette Ribbons with Parsley and Tarragon Salsa Verdi and was delighted to find that the instructions were straightforward and easy to understand. The fish was simpler to ‘swaddle’ than I had feared and that the results were stunning. Beautiful tasting and textured fish, doing justice to the expense of seabass, perfectly complimented by the flavours of the salsa verdi: the tarragon shone through over the parsley making the meal at once refreshingly light but at the same time full-bodied in flavour. The whole mean even scored with my husband who usually refuses to eat courgettes. He did however find it a little unsatisfying, probably because of the absence of carbs, and tucked into fruit cake immediately afterwards.
There are recipes for breakfast, snacks, salads, main meals and desserts. The breakfast recipes look tempting, but several appear far too much effort to prepare on a working day although they may work as a special weekend treat. Few of the desserts on offer tempt me – I just don’t see the point of trying to make desserts ‘healthy’, either eat them and enjoy, or don’t eat them – but I shall certainly be cooking a couple of more of the main meals such as Piri Piri Chicken with Black Beans and Tomatoes, and Thai Green Papaya Salad with Trout.
I particularly liked the brief introductions and tips which appear alongside most recipes, giving a little background to flavours, ingredients and menus and guidance on how to get the best results and potential variations.
The book, close to A4 in size, is neatly presented in wipe-clean, sturdy hard covers and printed on glossy paper which gives a least some protection against accidental spills and sticky fingers. It’s packed with full-page, colour illustrations of the recipes although I was a little disappointed to find that not every recipe was illustrated. The volume doesn’t sit open at a particular page easily, making the use of a bookstand or weight desirable if cooking straight from the recipe.
For a book that is aimed at helping you to achieve a healthy diet, it’s surprising that it doesn’t include any indication of nutritional or calorific values.
Read and Reviewed in August 2014
© Jessica Mulley 2014