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Mylène Bergeron Francoeur "Mongol Chef" (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

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Northeast Foraging: 120 wild and flavorful edibles from beach plums to wineberries
Northeast Foraging: 120 wild and flavorful edibles from beach plums to wineberries
by Leda Meredith
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.28
18 used & new from CDN$ 19.03

5.0 out of 5 stars A book worth your money if living on the east coast, Nov. 12 2014
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I bought this book because it focused specially on the Northeast, where I live. I wanted to learn more about the edibles that I could possibly find in relative close proximity to home.

Leda is an enthusiastic forager,and her writing is very communicative of the pleasure she gets from this activity. In the first few pages of the book, there is a very handy guide on where to find which plant, by season. The rest if the book is simply put, the 120 different plants to harvest, in alphabetical order.

This explores common plants, like strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, pears, apples... but also lesser known ones, like the beach plum, black walnut, fragrant sumac, june berry or even the Pawpaw. The are lots of greenery presented inside the book and while they are not the most striking items in the book, I'm curious about a good lot of them. Notes are made on how to identify, where and when to gather, how to gather, how to eat, how to preserve, info for future harvests and any warnings that might be useful.

The book is well constructed, with good color quality pictures and glossy pages. I find myself referring to it often, even if I am still lacking a spot to do a real bit of foraging. I feel it was worth the price and seems like a complete guide to start off foraging !

The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs
by Karen Page
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.33
41 used & new from CDN$ 26.33

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my first choice, July 20 2014
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This book is not exactly what I thought it would be.

The concept is pretty simple: it has a very long list of ingredients, and it lists all the pairings possible, according to some chefs. I'm not personally too fond of the "celebrity chef" approach, but I do have to concede they have experience.

Their ranking system uses visual cues to tell us what flavor pairings are the best, using bold font and caps. Sometimes, it makes for very long lists of items, in alphabetical order. I would have made that in order of importance (very classic to more adventurous), because it sometimes looks like a very big mess.

Also, the season, taste, function, weight and volume will be shortly described. They might tell you the most common techniques for preparing the ingredient, give you tips about using it, describe the flavor affinities, and which ones are incompatible.

The book is very informative, but I think it could have been made into something more comprehensible and well organized. Comments from chefs are all over the place, and sometimes it's difficult to follow the list of pairings within the layout. Also, about 98% of the book is the listings of flavors pairings. I was expecting a bit more material in terms of how to select the pairings, and be adventurous in the kitchen, like why one thing works while the other will not.

Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic & Cool Treats
Perfect Pops: The 50 Best Classic & Cool Treats
by Charity Ferreira
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.57
36 used & new from CDN$ 0.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Cool yourself down in style, July 18 2014
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I ordered this book along with a pop maker, and it did not disappoint.

The flavor mixes are well thought and appealing and the book is focused on simple instructions to get you making pops in no time. Since most of them contains the whole fruit instead of just flavored water with sugar, they are filling and usually one pop will be good to satisfy you, instead of having a few of the commercial ones, which makes them a nutritious and sensible treat to eat on a hot summer day.

My first recipe done was the bourbon-peach pops, and they did the job wonderfully. People kept asking for more. Very pleased with my purchase.

Herbs & Spices: The cook's reference
Herbs & Spices: The cook's reference
by Jill Norman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.40
13 used & new from CDN$ 23.32

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The spice of your life !, July 17 2014
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Although this book does not have as nice a cover as others similar books, don't be fooled by it's appearance.

The book is divided in sections that make sense (herbs vs spices) and they are further divided by taste. The book is printed on full color glossy pages, providing quality pictures of the item discussed. Also, we have the common name in bold letters, but also the Latin name, which can help tremendously when a plant has more than one common name.

There are notes on the side of the page regarding the taste, which parts are used, when/how to buy and store it and even advice on growing your own, when possible. There is also good details on it's culinary uses, and pairings with other foods or spices are suggested, The book covers a wide range of herbs / spices, and I can usually find information about rare spices used in medieval cooking, like cubeb, galengal or gains of paradise, that most people are not familiar with.

There is also a more extensive section on preparing and preserving herbs at the end of the first section, as well as the equivalent in the spices section. The end of the book covers recipes.... so herbs mixtures, spices mixtures, it shows you how to make condiments or just plain regular cooking with the mixes you just made.

I really enjoyed this book, it has great contents and a wide enough range of items so that I can feel like if I'm looking for something, this book would have it.

Follow the Shaman's Call: An Ancient Path for Modern Lives
Follow the Shaman's Call: An Ancient Path for Modern Lives
by Mike Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.08
30 used & new from CDN$ 10.67

5.0 out of 5 stars A complete book on shamanism, July 17 2014
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I've devoured this book from cover to cover in about a week. The approach taken by the author is simple and in touch with the 21st century.

Clearly the facts and techniques presented in this book come from many years of experience, as well as scientific / historic based facts, which I enjoyed. Each chapter presents their own set of exercises to explore your spirituality and find your own power. There is no CD included with this book,but the author has a website where they have some drumming tracks to help you during your work.

I really would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about shamanism. It's realistic, interesting, simple, but at the same time complete and full of wisdom. Loved it.

Pure Dessert: True Flavors, Inspiring Ingredients, and Simple Recipes
Pure Dessert: True Flavors, Inspiring Ingredients, and Simple Recipes
by Alice Medrich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 46.00
10 used & new from CDN$ 46.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great back to basics book, with a twist, July 4 2014
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This book's title couldn't be more accurate; it focuses on freshness, simpleness and bold flavors.

The presentation is clear, clean and airy, with beautiful photography. I found many daring recipes, like quark soufflés, mexican chocolate soup or saffron and cardamom panna cotta, but there are as well lots of improved delicious classic pairings.

There is a lot of potential here for the cook who wants to impress, as well as lots of inspiration. My personal coup de coeur is the vin santo chiffon cake. Light and airy, they suggest serving it with ripe fruit splashed with the same wine, which just is perfect summer fare.

Even if the book is a little expensive in my opinion, it's hardcover and well constructed, which will make it last, and the number of recipes proposed is fair and adequate.

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen
by Scott Cunningham
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.85
31 used & new from CDN$ 10.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoying it one bite at a time, July 4 2014
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I liked the encyclopedia a lot. Even if "encyclopedia" might sound complicated, it's actually a very simple tool to use.

Each food is clearly explored and explained on a similar system: Name and Latin name, Planet, Element, Energies, Lore and Magical uses. The categories dividing the book makes for easy and fast research when you're looking for an information. There is also a good introduction to food magic, at the beginning of the book, setting the mood for exploration and discoveries to be made.

Cunningham also explores magical diets, made to attract a certain kind of energy in our life, like Love, Money or Peace and happiness. The end of the book is Scott's favorite recipes. He also provides quick reference tables for associations of food by elements, planet or astrological sign. Those little "extras" will come in quite handy, I'm sure.

It's a serious book with pertinent information and I really enjoyed it.

The Art of Charcuterie
The Art of Charcuterie
by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 49.50
27 used & new from CDN$ 49.50

5.0 out of 5 stars One awesome and complete book on it's subject !, July 3 2014
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This review is from: The Art of Charcuterie (Hardcover)
As is usual with all CIA books, this one is very complete, well illustrated and extremely informative.

Different chapters covers equipment, seasonings, meat, poultry and seafood, sanitation, the curing and brining, smoking, forcemeats, sausages and condiments. It's difficult to imagine a category they would have missed.

If you want just to make a few sausages for fun at home, this book might be a little overwhelming. Being from a culinary institute, the main target audience would be culinary students, trained chefs and small business owners. This, of course, does not mean you can't enjoy their recipes at home (you definitely can, and should !) but there might be parts of the book you'll want to skip, (unless you're a food geek), like the explanation of color in meat, it's solubility, it's palatability, it's microorganisms, etc.

The first meat item visited in the book is the ubiquitous bacon. You could be the star of your circle of friends, if you came up with with the different twists proposed for this cut of pork. You could try your hands at gravlax, or duck confit. These are specialty items that usually cost a pretty penny, are easy to make and are much more affordable when home made. It is empowering to serve the final product to family and friends.

Different chapters are stuffed with pertinent information, recipes, tips, diagrams, etc. The knowledge being explored here is a real gold mine, covering the subject of charcuteries entirely. It's diversity will allow me not to buy a similar book for some time, before I'm done exploring all the ideas that came to mind when I first read this one.

The last gem of this book is it's chapter on condiments. When doing a platter of sausages, pâtés and thin sliced pastrami, you'll want to enhance and showcase their magnificent flavors with ketchups, sauces and coulis, relishs, little pickles, etc. Like you enhance the experience of eating cheese by drinking fabulous wines to complement each other, those will bring color and punch to your charcuteries plate.

For practicability, you'll find several conversion and equivalents tables, along with a well developed glossary at the end.

In retrospect, a very complete fun, complete and informative book. Worth every dollar I spent on it, and it's one of these books that I know will be timeless and keep on giving for many years.

Bistros and Brasseries: Recipes and Reflections on Classic Cafe Cooking
Bistros and Brasseries: Recipes and Reflections on Classic Cafe Cooking
by The Culinary Institute of America
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 35.95
28 used & new from CDN$ 13.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Classic French cooking at your fingertips, July 2 2014
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As always with CIA books, this one did not disappoint.

Even by living in Quebec, and having a culinary background which includes quite a lot of French cooking, I was pleased by this book. Most of the classics are represented and I even found some recipes which were a novelty for me. The tone of the book is authoritative, supported by hands-on experience, but it conveys a lot of the warmth and carelessness of the French at the same time.

The photography is just gorgeous, and the stories really get you in the right mindset to enjoy your experience, whether you are reading or cooking from the book. For those not familiar with French terms, there is a whole section called "fonds de cuisine" showing and explaining techniques or how to do a specific item.

One little thing, which I think bothered me more than I wanted to admit, are the several grammatical mistakes. It's not deterring me from giving it five stars, but I cringe when I see chapter five is labeled "entrées", but they translate it to "main dishes". "Entrées" means "starters" or maybe "appetizers". I also saw some wonky translations like the "Pot au feu" being transformed into a "pot on fire" (relax folks, nothing's on fire in French !). I hoped that for someone so deeply immersed in French cooking, they would have made the extra mile to make sure everything still made sense.

I still enjoyed this book a lot, and it was worth my money. Definitely a winner !

Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons
Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons
by Cait Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.95
18 used & new from CDN$ 3.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Discover the divine in food, July 2 2014
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Although some parts of this book strike me as being a little silly, I liked the approach the author has on cooking with the divine in mind. It's not a book on correspondences, or on the magical properties of ingredients. It's all about opening yourself to the divine before cooking, an ancestral act honoring the primal forces of our world.

It's encouraging us to find the ritual and sacred into the common tasks we have to complete in our kitchen, but it also says "respect yourself", in such way that we are told not to shame ourselves for when inspiration eludes us. The book is organized in seasonal parts, and each major sabbat will get their description and propose rituals, activities and of course, recipes.

Nothing ground breaking here, BUT the recipes are well constructed, honest and well explained. They also yield a reasonable number of portions each. I liked the tone of the book, and the fact that it's pretty realistic about our current modern lives.

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