Nice read, okay cook book.
Reviewed in the United States on 20 June 2013
I took a different tactic with this cookbook as it was fairly unique. Essentially I read it cover to cover. The author wrote of her philosophy in the first section and then in each recipe she expressed her thoughts about the specific recipe. It could be one she grew up with, one she really liked or something else notable. Having found out she is a fairly famous cook (yes I live under a rock) and in passing saw her on a cooking show, this seems to be her way of passing judgement on each of her recipes. I wonder how many didn't make the muster!. She is a child of a cookbook editor and her father also seems to have the cooking bug. This sort of pre-warns you that a cheese souffle for a weeknight dinner might not be that unusual for her. I definitely felt, her cooking techniques and choices reflected her unique upbringing.
This book too is unique visually as it is graphically designed to look like a well used cookbook interspersed with recipe cards (assume the author's) and deliberately spotted in some cases. I thought this was cool.
HOW MANY OF THE RECIPES SEEM LIKE STUFF I WILL MAKE: As with any cookbook it has to work for me. In the past I used these criteria to determine that. Maybe this will help you too.
1. PICTURES OR ILLUSTRATIONS: Does the book have pictures or illustrations of some type to either entice or guide me? Many did.
2. ACCESSIBLE INGREDIENTS: Can I buy locally the ingredients of the recipes (let's face, we all don't decide to cook something well in advance when specialty items can be ordered). Most items were on the average American grocery store shelf. A few were harder to get.
3. HOW MANY INGREDIENTS: How long is the ingredient list? 10 or more items (not including dried spices or salt and pepper) become less likely to be cooked. Some recipes were entire meals so some ingredient lists were more involved.
4. HOW MANY OR HOW INVOLVED THE STEPS ARE: How many steps are involved. This criteria depends on the detail in the steps, if they are simple the list can be longer, if involved, can only go so far before intimidation sets in. This author puts a lot in each step. You can pretty much multiply by 1-1/2 to get a rougher idea of steps. However she explains a lot so once you make the recipe, it should get easier.
5. STUFF I LIKE: Finally the ingredients have to be stuff I like. This is not so useful to those of you reading the review and since I'm only reflecting on the recipes I like, harder to define.
PICTURES OR ILLUSTRATIONS:
This book has these where it counts and on most (except the simplest) recipes.
THE RECIPES I PLAN TO MAKE IN THIS BOOK AND HOW THEY FIT EACH CRITERIA:
Usually I pick 10 random recipes to determine whether I buy a cookbook, , but since I read this book cover to cover, I thought this would be more appropriate.
page 60: Little spare ribs: (has picture)
5 non-spice ingredients, 2 steps, no fancy non-accessible ingredients.
page 86: Shrimp and Cucumber salad: (has picture)
7 non-spice ingredients, 4 steps, no fancy non-accessible ingredients
page 106: Hanger steak with marinated broccoli and balsamic-raspberry vinegar: (has picture)
8 non-spice ingredients, 3 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 108: Braised short rib french onion soup: (has picture)
11 non-spice ingredients, 11 steps, no fancy ingredients: Sounds like a lot of work.
page 111: Slow cooked brisket, cider glazed parsnips and celery: (has picture)
8 non-spice ingredients, 5 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 123: Spice rubbed rack of pork with a side of harissa: (has picture)
4 non-spice ingredients, 5 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 135: Breaded chicken wth mustard and dry sherry: (has picture)
10 non-spice ingredients, 5 steps, no fancy ingredients, but I don't drink sherry so it would be something we would have to buy special. Long prep time. Not an impromptu recipe.
page 150: Roasted turkey reminds me of thanksgiving (has picture)
4 non-spice ingredients, 7 steps, no fancy ingredients. Since I grow sage, an easy fit.
page 170: Scallops gratin with scallions (has picture)
13 non-spice ingredients, 5 steps, no fancy ingredients, except vermouth, which we would buy special
page 180: Blackened Salmon (has picture)
4 non-spice ingredients, 4 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 226: Indian pudding (has picture)
9 non-spice ingredients, 5 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 233: Sugar-cranberry pie (has picture)
15 non-spice ingredients, 8 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 236: Sour cream pumpkin pie (no picture)
10 non-spice ingredients, 6 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 238: Apple crisp (no picture)
8 non-spice ingredients, 4 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 262: Evil cheese biscuits (has picture)
7 non-spice ingredients, 4 steps, no fancy ingredients
page 265: Deluxe coffee cake, (has picture)
14 non-spice ingredients, 5 steps, no fancy ingredients
16 out of 100 recipes interested me enough to plan on making these. This is not a large number. If I used my normal criteria of looking at a random set of 10, then out of 10 maybe 2 would have worked for me. I would not have considered this cookbook had I seen in a book store and used my normal criteria of seeing if ½ of 10 random recipes interested me..
Overall I found some of the recipes intimidating. Also some of the flavors/ingredients in some of the recipes not ones I would be interested in. That is a matter of taste and hard to quantify here.
But, as an example. I'm not a person to eat liver, mussels or clams. Nor am I fond of lamb. I also don't like overly fussy desserts. For the most part my family doesn't eat whole chickens. If you are one who likes all those, some of these recipes I dismissed might be ones for you.
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