The Nightmare Before Dinner – Zach Neil

Beetlejuice!

I love that this book is a celebration of Halloween, horror culture and all things Burton-esque. The recipes are from Beetle House, a restaurant that’s now on my bucket list because I need to experience the atmosphere and food, but more importantly its owner wasn’t allowed to celebrate Halloween as a kid and has found a way to make it a daily occurrence. I celebrate people finding ways to triumph over any kind of repression, especially when they can turn it into creative expression, so it fills me with joy that this restaurant exists.

All of the recipes can be veganised; there’s a page dedicated to vegan alternatives to specific ingredients before you make it to the first recipe. While I obviously want to try most offerings on the menu I decided to give myself the daunting task of choosing my ‘Most Want to Taste Test’ item in each chapter. Here goes…

Sauces & Dips for the Recently Deceased: Dead Sauce – with butter, honey, garlic, sea salt, lime juice, sour cream, mayonnaise and sriracha sauce, this “super-tasty citrus sauce is spicy, sweet, and garlicky.”

Nightmares Before Dinner: Beetle Bacon Bread – “a hearty sundried tomato and bacon “pizza” with a sweet balsamic reduction, soft mozzarella cheese, and crisp scallions.” Mmm, bacon! 🥓🤤

Herbs, Plants & Cauldrons: Fall Salad – this includes such yummies as butternut squash, roasted red peppers and dried cranberries.

Platos de los Muertos: Big Fish – salmon, sweet corn succotash, roasted red pepper purée, basil oil and micro shiso leaf.

Tricks & Treats: Willy’s Mango Panna Cotta – “topped with passionfruit foam and served with diced kiwi, fresh strawberries, and Cocoa Puffs”.

Poisons, Potions & Elixirs: The Franken-Martini – “combines vanilla vodka with a double chocolate liqueur” and topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and a chocolate bar.

There’s also a Put the Fun Back in Funeral chapter with ideas for menus, props and accessories for themed parties.

Beetlejuice!

I loved the photos of the droolworthy food with accessories including skulls and scissors, and the fun gothic touches in the layout. I was disappointed that not all of the recipes come with photos, although a higher proportion were pictured than most of the other cookbooks I’ve seen. The best compliment you can give the majority of my cooking is that it’s edible so I like to have a reference to show me what the final product is actually supposed to look like. I was glad to discover that the recipes in this book don’t need a bazillion ingredients or dozens of steps to make them, and I’m pretty sure I could give some of them a whirl.

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Race Point Publishing for the opportunity to drool over this book.

B-! On second thought, maybe I don’t need him in my life right now.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Some like it goth! If you love movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, or The Evil Dead, then you’ll love the official cookbook of The Beetle House, the Tim Burton-inspired restaurant with locations in New York, Los Angeles, and more. Featuring chef and owner Zach Neil’s signature recipes like “Edward Burger Hands,” a juicy burger stuffed with smoked bacon, fried egg, pepper jack cheese, avocado, with a sriracha cream sauce and “Wonka Wings,” chicken wings with a custom Fanta orange soda glaze, and so many more. Plus you’ll get an array of craft cocktails from the Coco Skellington to the Beetle’s Juice. Featuring more than 50 recipes plus a section on how to host your very own Burton-themed party with crafts, costume, decorations, and more this is the perfect book for the goth, the movie buff, and Halloween lover all the world round.  

Perfectly Creamy Frozen Yogurt – Nicole Weston

Here I am in my winter pyjamas with thunder rumbling in the background. Apparently this is a good time to tell you about some tempting treats to cool you down on a hot summer day, and why not! I love frozen yoghurt regardless of the season!

Once you devour the recipes for the five basics (tangy & tart, vanilla bean, chocolate, dark chocolate and coffee), you’re then treated to another 51 flavours of fruits, sugar and spices, and chocolate and nuts. The subsequent chapters allow you to drool over:

  • Cookie and brownie sandwiches
  • Cakes, cupcakes, and pies
  • Semifreddos, terrines, and bombes
  • Popsicles, bonbons, and other treats, and
  • Sauces.

The frozen yoghurts I most want to try are (take a deep breath; there are a lot!) coffee, lemon meringue, mango, apple pie, maple bacon, spiced pumpkin pie, Dulce le Leche, tiramisu, gingerbread, and cookies ‘n’ cream. I also need ginger spice cookie sandwiches, coffee lovers’ cake, caramel banana cream pie, cinnamon bun pops and sugar cookie bowls in my life.

I was pleasantly surprised that the amount of ingredients needed for the confectionery bliss contained in this book didn’t compete with the entries in a phone book; a lot of the recipes had fewer than ten ingredients. I was shocked that I actually knew what each ingredient was, the aisle where I could find most of them in my local grocery store and how to pronounce the ones I wouldn’t be able to locate without assistance. Sidebar: there are so many recipe books on the market at the moment with ingredients I’ve never heard of!

It’s highly recommended that you use an ice cream maker for these recipes because it’s easier and doesn’t result in the potential chunks of ice mixed in with your flavour that can happen when you mix without one, but you’ll find instructions for both options in this book.

There are accompanying photos for each of the frozen yoghurts but only some of the other sugary goodness is pictured. I’ve been the proud creator of some fairly spectacular culinary epic fails so whenever I attempt a new recipe I prefer for there to be photographic evidence that the creation is possible and what it’s supposed to look like if you get it right. I can’t be expected to know how much laughter is appropriate if I can’t compare my finished product with the original.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Storey Publishing, LLC for the opportunity to drool over this book. Now that I’ve made myself sufficiently hungry I’m going to work out which flavour I want to try first and consider investing in an ice cream maker.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Learn to make frozen yogurt at home that’s just as light, smooth, and delightful as what you buy. You’ll use Greek yogurt as a base and a basic ice cream machine to make these 56 flavor recipes that range from traditional to artisanal, including black cherry vanilla, toasted coconut, peach Melba, chai spice, watermelon, maple bacon, chocolate malted, pistachio, and browned butter pecan. An additional 50 recipes for treats like blueberry sugar cookie sandwiches, brownie baked Alaska, Neapolitan semifreddo, cinnamon bun pops, and salted caramel swirl bonbons ensure this is the sweetest guide ever to making and enjoying frozen yogurt.

Unicorn Food: Natural Recipes for Edible Rainbows – Sandra Mahut

🦄 Happy Unicorn Day! 🦄

Despite its promising title, Unicorn Food is not a book of recipes to help you feed your unicorn a nutritionally balanced diet, nor does it contain recipes that include unicorns as an ingredient. It’s okay! You don’t need to retrieve your pitchfork! There’s not a single unicorn listed in the ingredients of this book! 😜

Crogue-Unicorn

Instead you will get to marvel at some of the most beautiful food you’ve ever seen. Using natural food colourings like juices, spices or natural powdered food colourings that you can purchase from specialty cake decorating stores or our good friend, the Internet, you won’t find preservatives in any of the sweet or savoury delights in this book.

Blueberry Galaxy Cupcakes

You’ll find such yummies as unicorn poop (pretty little rainbow meringues), unicorn maki rolls, unicorn noodle bowls with the most extraordinary purple and blue noodles, crogue-unicorn (toasted cheese sandwiches with 4 colours in the cheese), and blueberry galaxy cupcakes.

I already thought donuts were out of this world but there’s even a recipe for cosmic donuts, which include edible silver glitter and bright blue icing!

I’m fairly certain that I’ll be indulging in swirly pastel unicorn cheesecake in the near future. I can also guarantee that I will never attempt the unicorn cake with a starring role on the cover of this book. I can only imagine the epic fail that would be the result of me attempting to replicate this one. However if someone would like to volunteer to make one for me I won’t object.

Unicorn Maki Rolls

The photography in this book is sufficiently droolworthy and if you’re my kind of chef it will show you the hilarious difference between what the food was supposed to look like and what your talent for disaster has actually whipped up. I expect the recipes in this book will wind up featuring at many parties in the near future.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Quarry for the opportunity to be one of the first to drool over this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This is not a book on how to feed your pet unicorn a healthy diet. But unicorns have magically inspired each of the 32 all-natural recipes in this book, from the show-stopping Unicorn Cake and Cosmic Donuts to Rainbow Veggie Sandwiches and Celestial Swirl Soup.

Add technicolor sparkle to your sushi and fairytale magic to your mocktails. It’s all deliciously natural – no nasty additives or preservatives – just beautiful food colorings made from berry juices and vegetables. All ingredients are straightforward and easily sourced! Astound and delight your family, friends, followers, and kids with these and more spectacular dishes:

  • Croque-Unicorn, a grilled sandwich of rainbow cheese
  • Veggie Noodle Bowl of colored noodles and a rainbow of star-shaped vegetables
  • Rainbow Pancakes topped with melted white chocolate and sprinkles
  • Unicorn Macarons sporting fondant horns
  • Unicorn Milkshakes with twisted marshmallow arches.

Brightly colored, not too serious, and equal parts whimsical and practical, Unicorn Food is shared experience. Create the most unbelievably Instagrammable dishes ever seen. Cook, post, and enjoy – the treats and the likes. Everyone will be drooling over your pastel masterpieces. 

Grug Learns to Cook – Ted Prior

🥧 Happy Pi Day!! 🥧

To get into the spirit I went through my stack of Grug and Clifford books to see which one would be most suitable for Mum today. I came across Grug Learns to Cook and thought there was a chance Grug would learn to cook pie 🥧 so went with that one.

Grug tries three recipes from his Bush Food Cookbook: tea-tree soup, gum-leaf rolls and carrot cake. So no pie, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

It turns out Grug is as good at cooking as I am and he likes to sample cake batter too. Grug gets an ‘A’ for effort. The results? 🤔

Well, besides the batter splatter which results in my favourite illustration, Grug does wind up with some edible ingredients, if not edible cake. Which brings me to my favourite part:

”Grug baked the rest of the mixture, but it came out burnt and black. He put carrots on the top to make a carrot cake.”

In context and with the accompanying illustration this bit earned a giggle from me. I’m fairly confident that my culinary masterpieces were the inspiration behind Grug’s marvellous food creations in this book. At least Cara hadn’t been invited over for dinner. I’m not sure there would have been enough left at the end of the lesson to feed two.

You’ve got to give Grug credit. He’s always willing to try new things, he tries his best at everything and when things inevitably don’t go quite to plan he doesn’t get upset. He makes the best out of the situation, salvages what he can and goes to bed so he can be ready for his next adventure. I can’t wait to find another excuse to give Mum another Grug book soon! 😃

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Try some scrumptious gum-leaf rolls prepared by Grug! 

This classic Aussie hero is back from the bush to enchant a new generation of youngsters!