Saturday, November 25, 2023

Weekend Cooking/Cook the Books: The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

This book the current selection for Cook the Books. It's not one I remember hearing about before but I read it while I was on holidays and I thoroughly enjoyed it. With some books you know from the first chapter that it is your kind of book, and this was one of those books.

Olivia Rawlings is a talented pastry chef, but she does have other talents too, specifically for getting herself into troublesome situations that she then runs away from. The book opens when she accidentally sets fire to the restaurant she works at while carrying a Bombe Alaska.  Thankfully she knows that she can run to her friend's home in a small town in Vermont, which will allow her lay low until the dust settles.

Once there she begins working at the Sugar Maple Inn, where her boss, Margaret, is a very opinionated woman with extremely high standards and very little warmth. Livvy needs the work and a place to live so she accepts the role regardless of the challenges that she knows she will face. Fortunately, other people in the town are more welcoming.

The food descriptions in this book were amazing! I often found myself wishing I was able to eat the food that was being described. It's not only about food though. There is lots of music, a story of found family, and yes, a touch of romance!  One of the things that surprised me was the reference to a version of square dancing which took me back to my childhood years. My parents were square dance callers and they ran clubs. As an aside, I can't quite believe that it has taken me 18 years of blogging to mention that! 

Livvy was a good character despite her tendency to run whenever the going got tough. I love the relationships that she build with some of the older characters in the novel.

This was Louise Miller's first novel and I am excited to read more from her, especially if the future books have a foodie feel to them too!

One of the big components of the book is that the owner of the inn, Margaret, wants to her pastry chef to be able to bake the perfect apple pie so that she can win the local baking competition, especially in the face of her lifelong feud with one of the other contestants.

When I was thinking about what to make it seems obvious that the best recipe to cook would be apple pie, but that wasn't really ap-peel-ing to me (see what I did there!). There was even a recipe for apple pie included in the book. I did, however, still intend to do something inspired by apple pie so I went looking for some recipes using that as my search term. I did look at some really very fancy Apple Pie Cakes but I must confess I have lost my confidence in making really complicated cakes. I should challenge myself to do something complicated again but not when I just got off a plane. It needed to be something simple this time.

 If you break down the components of an apple pie, there is pastry, apple filling with cinnamon notes and then it is served with cream. So instead of apple pies, I bring you Apple Turnovers. I sort of took inspiration from a few different recipes for making this

Apple Turnovers

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and dices into small cubes
2 tsp cornflour
1 tspn cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
2 square puff pastry sheets 
1 egg , whisked

Put apples in a large saucepan and then toss with cornflour and the add the rest of the filling ingredients. Cook on medium to medium-high heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Apple should be softened and the sauce slightly thickened.

Spread the filling on a large plate then let it cool completely

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F (180°C fan).

Line a large cutting board  with baking paper.

Allow the pastry sheets to thaw slightly and then cut into 4 squares (approximiately 12.5cm). Brush 2 edges with egg, then pile filling on the egg brushed side. 

Fold over, seal with fork dipped in flour (prevents sticking to pastry) and then place on the paper lined cutting board.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes 

Slide the paper with the turnovers on it onto a large baking tray. Brush turnovers with egg. Pierce a couple of times with a knife and then bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Serve warm with whipped cream or fill with stabilised whip cream once cool, if you can wait that long.

These were delicious. The only thing was that my frozen pastry was a bit old and so there were parts that were a bit dry. Next time we buy some pastry I will make some of these again with fresh pastry.

The next selection for Cook the Books is Under Cooked by Dan Ahdoot. I will also be sharing this review with Foodie Reads hosted at Based on a True Story.

Weekly meals

Saturday -  
Sunday -  Apple Turnovers
Monday - 
Tuesday - Mexican Chicken and Rice
Wednesday - One Pan Butter Chicken
Thursday - Out
Friday -Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. I love the idea of this book club, and I want to participate in it next year on a more regular basis. I've been curious about this book---thanks for the review and your recipe.

    1. I hope you do get to participate Deb. I can't do the next one as the book is hard for me to get in Australia but I will be back for the book after.

  2. This sounds wonderful!!! Thanks so much for writing about it. Will try to get it from the library.

  3. I enjoyed this book too, particularly because the author lives near me. Although I haven't encountered her, she sometimes shares recipes or tips on social media. By the way, if you ever do want to try an apple pie recipe, I have a good one. Here is my review:

    1. I have started following her on social media recently. I will check out your review shortly!

  4. I enjoyed this book very much as well. It was a perfect, fun, easy read for this busy time of year.

  5. The food descriptions were amazing. I didn't discuss that in my review. I would read another of her novels for certain.

  6. Nice idea! I don't think I've ever made turnovers, so thank you for the suggestion :)