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All posts for the month May, 2012

Zombie Cupcakes: From the Grave to the Table with 16 Cupcake Corpses

I’ve been catching up on The Walking Dead Season Two the past several nights.  I’m really enjoying the drama, the characters, the production, really…all of it.  Still, for those of you who have seen the show, you’ll believe me when I say it’s not making me hungry.  Like, not all.  (Nor particularly cheery for that matter.)

On the other hand, when Zombie Cupcakes: From the Grave to the Table with 16 Cupcake Corpses crossed my desk (thanks to the great folks at Andrews McMeel Universal for the copy), I got to thinking that it might not be so bad to eat a zombie now and then.  A cake zombie that is.

What’s the Book About?

This book is equal parts love letter to zombies and manual for making great cupcakes.  Recipes are introduced with zombie trivia questions (I was dismayed to see how many I got wrong…) and the designs themselves pay homage to many popular zombie myths, including the T-virus from Resident Evil, baseball bats for zombie bashing, and, of course, step-by-step instructions for how to make brains delicious enough for zombies and children alike.

Recipes start with decorations and the basics including how to make royal icing, blood colored gel, teeth, crosses, maggots and the aforementioned baseball bats.  Then the book goes on to give 16 different recipes ranging from Toxic Bite to Zombies Rising to my personal favorite, Bride and Groom (see the cover above.)  What’s even more impressive is the cupcakes aren’t just pretty to look at, they’re also delicious to eat with their assortment of frostings and fillings.

Even better, author Zilly Rosen obviously had would-be/wannabe/never-was cupcake designers like myself in mind when she wrote the book because the illustrations and techniques are simple enough that I think I could even make these cupcakes.

Fun Fact(s) I Learned Reading the Book

The budget for the Thriller video was $500,000, which in those days I bet was HUGE money.

There was a zombie movie in 1943 called I Walked with a Zombie.  I had no idea…

What’s Well Done?

This book gets high marks for three things.  First, it’s passion.  Either Zilly herself or someone involved in making this book loved zombies.  That much is obvious because the book is so much fun to read.

Two, the visuals in the book are great.  You know when you’re dealing with zombies, there’s going to be gore involved and this book doesn’t fail to deliver (for instance the Eye Popper recipe is very disturbing.)  Still, it’s not so gross I wouldn’t show my kids or eat one of the cupcakes if they were served to me.

Three, the ease-of-use of the book.  Literally, the illustrations of how to make the feet, eyes, zombie brides, etc. are fantastic and very userfriendly.

What’s a Little Rare

I thought the book was over before it was done.  There’s a lot of creativity in the pages and I’m sure with all the work that went into making the book great that expanding it would have been difficult or even cost prohibitive, but I just wanted more.

I’m not saying the book isn’t worth it’s price tag or anything, I just wanted to see more ideas and more zombie gruesomeness.

Overall

If you like decorating cupcakes or if you want to be good at it, this is a great book.  While the techniques focus on zombies, I have no doubt that they couldn’t work for other things, too.

Enjoy!

Edible Cocktails – From Garden to Glass

So, I was lucky enough to receive an copy of  Natalie Bovis’ (aka The Liquid Muse aka the person responsible for getting me into blogging) new cookbook Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist and am I impressed.  I’m not much of a mixologist, in fact most of my at-home mixed drink making involves a one second pour of vokda or gin and filling my glass with soda, but I know a good cookbook when I see one.

And when I see Edible Cocktails, I see one.

What’s the Book About?

The premise behind Edible Cocktails is simple: take everything that’s great about farm-to-table dining and apply it to mixology.  Organic produce, Slow Food (er Cocktails), growing your own ingredients, it’s all in there, but for cocktails.

It’s not something I had thought of, but it makes so much sense.  If I want only the best, freshest, most-carefully-raised produce in my dinner, why not in my drinks as well?  If I care about the tomatoes that go into my marinara, why not the tomatoes in my bloody mary?  If I care about the herbs on my roast chicken, why am I not striving for the same in my mojito?

To make this vision reality, Edible Cocktails gives you a wealth of information about what you can grow at home, basics on how to grow them, and a full rundown of the different types of liquor and tools you will use to make excellent drinks.

Oh, and there are recipes.  Lots of recipes!  They range from classic martinis to sours to pizza slice cocktails to bacon cherry creek cocktails…and that’s just the drink recipes.  There are syrup recipes, mezcal recipes (chorizo mezcal anyone???), garnishes, and instructions on making your own liqueurs, like homemade Irish cream–all of which keep the focus on farm to table cooking and mixing.  That’s pretty sweet.

Fun Fact(s) I Learned Reading It

One, whisky and whiskey are both proper spellings of the hard alcohol.  However, whisky applies mainly to Scotch and whiskey to everything else, including American bourbon.

Two, a cocktail and a mixed drink are not the same thing.  Cocktails only refer to a subset of mixed drinks!  This means Americans have been using the term wrong (including me in the paragraphs above… d’oh!)

What’s Well Done

Edible Cocktails is filled with information, but it’s not a textbook.  The photos are gorgeous and the layout makes absorbing all of Natalie’s information easy.  It never feels like this book is an info dump.  It’s more like a conversation with a good friend who just happens to know how to mix a fantastic drink.

What’s A Little Rare

No pun intended, but I wish there had been more conversation around using meat and raw eggs in cocktails.

I have this feeling that Natalie is perfectly fine drinking an infused liquor that has had meat in it or a drink with a raw egg, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that a lot of American audiences (myself included) are not.  We need to be warmed on the subject, given reassurances, and given more tips on how to avoid foodbourne illness.

Overall

With that said, this is a great cookbook.  Edible Cocktails is very clever idea whose time has come and who better to help us through it than bar industry veteran, multiple mixology cookbook writer, and long time cocktail blogger Natalie Bovis?

Enjoy!