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Mylène Bergeron Francoeur "Mongol Chef" (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
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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$ 28.84
37 used & new from CDN$ 7.59

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
42 used & new from CDN$ 7.19

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
29 used & new from CDN$ 32.99

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$ 22.53
26 used & new from CDN$ 12.00

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 Kitchen Revised Expanded Edition
Witch In Kitchen Revised Expanded Edition
by Cait Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.64
31 used & new from CDN$ 7.23

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.

Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition
Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners, 2nd Edition
by Suzanne Ashworth
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.38
56 used & new from CDN$ 16.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for the gardener in your life, July 2 2014
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This was a gift for my sister-in-law, who thrives on gardening, crossing plants and other such activities. She is currently trying a few techniques explained within the book and will be trying to save her first batch of seeds this year. Seems like this one is a keeper, with lots of useful knowledge. Happy with my purchase.

Art of the Slow Cooker: 80 Exciting New Recipes
Art of the Slow Cooker: 80 Exciting New Recipes
by Andrew Schloss
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.77
44 used & new from CDN$ 3.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be afraid of your slow cooker !, July 2 2014
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I ordered this book cause I wanted to expand my repertoire while using the slow cooker. I aimed for a variety of recipes, for classics and some with a twist. Soups, stews, braisés, classics, vegetarian recipes and even desserts are discussed in this book, which makes me pretty happy in terms of variety.

I liked the table showing cooking times for different ingredients. It really opens the door to designing your own recipes rather than just blindly follow instructions. Each recipe usually has tips and alternatives supplied for that hard-to-find ingredient, or that substitution you weren't sure about.

When you begin a chapter, there is always a division made: simple everyday dishes, and one another labeled "spectacular entertaining", which are simply more elaborate dishes. It's a clear, clean, no nonsense book and I appreciated the "straight to the point" tone of it; no time to lose. Pictures are a bonus, even if they do not illustrate each recipe. I refer myself to it a lot !

Making Your Own Mead: 43 Recipes for Homemade Honey Wines
Making Your Own Mead: 43 Recipes for Homemade Honey Wines
by Bryan Acton
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 12.59
25 used & new from CDN$ 1.87

3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks enough contents, but seem accurate, July 2 2014
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First of all, I was surprised to notice the very small size of the book when I received it. There is only a total of 60 pages, which seems awfully low when talking about making mead. There is section covering the historical setting and sources, which takes about 1/3 of the book. Interesting, but if you already know a little about mead, you most likely will not learn much.

The mead making technique covers a mere 10 pages. It's very very basic, but there are several illustrations that help in having an idea about the setup one could like to deal with their beverage. There are 7 recipes for regular mead. They also devote a small section to melomels (fruit meads), totalling 14 recipes. Most of them are very basic, like "take the regular mead, add *choose your fruit*, and let ferment. While good, it lacks a lot of originality. Kudos for briefly talking about Pyment, Cyser and Metheglin and Hyppocras , and others drinks including honey, but then again, I'm kind of not really impressed about this book.

It's a very basic guide to mead. I would not use this book alone, as it lacks a lot of the information, in my opinion, about safety, being sanitary,potentials problems, etc. It's not bad, the info still seem accurate, but I was really expecting more out of this one. If you really don't have more money to buy another one, you can make something out of it, but I would suggest moving on to a more complete book.

Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses
Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses
by Mary Karlin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.32
47 used & new from CDN$ 21.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious experiments, July 2 2014
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This book covers exactly what I wanted to know about cheese. As a foodie, I wanted to have the bases to make cheese, and also have a good book that would allow to expand my repertoire without resorting to buying a more advanced manual shortly after this one. I was pleased by the airiness of the book, the inspiring and beautiful pictures, and the selection and variety of recipes included.

I likes the charts explaining different cultures, and that many processes are illustrated. They start slow with young cheeses, but they also explore cultured butter, yogurt or crème fraîche. Even if those are not cheeses, they use the same ingredients are are related to cheese and I really enjoyed to learn those were easily accessible.

When you become more experimented, you can switch to the next chapter, which are intermediate cheeses, exploring stretched-curd, semisoft, firm and hard cheeses. Then after, they get to bloomy-rind and surface-rippened cheeses, washed-rind, smeared-rind and blue cheeses. You will have nothing to envy all those artisan cheese shops, at a much more affordable price, with a bonus of being proud of your achievement. There is a little something for everyone in this book, and they really make everything look easy and manageable.

The last chapter covers cooking with cheese. It's kind of short, but there are some classics and some more inventive combos, including some frozen desserts, which I found interesting. Bonus for having a good cheese fondue reference, since most people are lazy and get the packets. Nothing like a really homemade cheese pot !

The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach
The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach
by Ben Falk
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 28.80
44 used & new from CDN$ 28.69

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best references on permaculture and more !, June 26 2014
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I had been waiting anxiously for this book several months before it's release. I have a big interest into small scale farming, everything eco-friendly, and just generally reading on resiliency, self-sufficiancy and sustainable living practices.

This book is a real bible. Starting from their own experience, the writer covers important subjects like how to find a suitable site for your system, how to view the possibilities. What should be done first, and how should you select what goes where on your site. Water is essential to life - he tells you how to find it, how to use it, but also how to clean it and cycle it. The book has a part as well on animals; ducks, chickens, dogs and sheeps. Improving your site, either by planting or by landscaping, also is part of this education. Since it's a small operation, relying on just a few people, it focuses a lot on optimization and how to obtain the best yield while taking care of your soil. One of the most interesting things is that they show you how to grow mushrooms, and even rice ! Graphics and tables are abundant and show you exactly the important statistical information you want to know.

What is beautiful, is that this book is not about what you want to do. It's about making out the most out of what your site has. People often forget that it is nature who has the last word, not men. You too, will learn from their mistakes, and their successes.

But this is not all about growing food. They also have a good talk about your sources of fuel, and ideas about how to shelter yourself. Like the title says, it really puts the emphasis on Whole Systems, which includes supporting the life of us, humans. The last part of the book is heavily oriented on our happiness, and the benefits of a life resulting from permaculture.

When I buy a piece of land in the future, this will be one of my go-to books for planning and starting up things. A great buy !

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