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February 2000 Issue
Three Selections
by Ronda L. Halpin
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Classic Home Cooking

About the Authors

    Mary Berry is a well-known author of more than 30 cookbooks. Her practical approach to cooking has made her a favorite guest on various television programs and has influenced millions of readers.

    Marlena Spieler acts as a jack-of-all-trades working as a caterer, book illustrator, magazine and newspaper contributor and cookbook author. She has been known to cover subjects ranging from vegetarian cooking to Mexican cuisine.

About the Cookbook

    Classic Home Cooking is a great resource for beginning cooks or anyone who appreciates a simple recipe format and lots of illustrated guides for tricky procedures. Perhaps the most useful aspect of the book are the delightful color indices that precede each chapter. A full-color photograph of each finished recipe is accompanied by the title of the recipe, a brief description of the dish, serving size and caloric information, preparation time and the page on which the recipe is located. Additional information indicates which recipes are classed in special categories such as: low fat, vegetarian, international classics, dinner party fare and economical. All this plus the recipes are organized in the indices according to the time it takes to prepare them. So, it is particularly easy to find a low-cost soup to make in under 30 minutes using this creative format.

    Presented as a beautifully bound hardcover book, Classic Home Cooking offers over 1,000 recipes and over 2,000 color photographs to accompany them. Cooks who enjoy being able to see the finished product and step-by-step illustrated guides to basic preparation methods and special techniques for individual dishes will enjoy having this substantial resource among their cherished cookbooks. Following the color indices in each chapter is a section called Know-How that explains basic techniques, storing and freezing tips, suggestions on garnishing and serving and other useful information that pertains to the given chapter subject. While most seasoned cooks will find that this information isn't necessary, it provides a good overview for beginners and some tips that may come as a surprise to more experienced chefs as well.

    The recipes in this book serve between four and six people, with the vast majority serving four. It is geared towards family dining, although there are dishes that are presented as "company fare" and most of the recipes are easily doubled or halved. Periodically, a recipe will also include some ideas for variations and methods to use to convert a side dish soup or salad into a main dish entree. Additional information about unusual ingredients or cooking techniques called for in a recipe is presented in a simple manner.

    To give you some ideas about the recipes included in Classic Home Cooking, here is a portion of the Table of Contents and some examples of the recipes you'll find in it:

    1. Hot & Chilled Soups (like Chinese Crab & Corn Soup or Chilled Strawberry Soup)
    2. First Courses (like White Bean Pate or Spicy Chicken Wings)
    3. Eggs & Cheese (like Zucchini Frittata or Swiss Double-Cheese Souffl├ęs)
    4. Fish & Shellfish (like Thai Shrimp Stir-Fry or Shark with Tropical Salsa)
    5. Poultry & Game (like Greek Spiced Chicken or Mushroom-Stuffed Quail)
    6. Meat Dishes (like Beef Stroganoff or Meat Pies with Cheesy Potato Topping)
    7. Vegetarian Dishes (like Falafel with Sesame Yogurt Sauce or Winter Vegetable Terrine)
    8. Pasta & Rice (like Spaghetti Carbonara or Paella)
    9. Vegetables & Salads (like Cucumber & Dill Salad or Creamed White Beans)
    10. Yeast Baking (like Focaccia or Sticky Buns)
    11. Pies, Tarts, & Hot Desserts (like Cherries Jubilee or French Apricot & Almond Tart)
    12. Chilled Desserts (like Scotch Mist or Tropical Fruit Cheesecake)
    13. Cakes & Quick Breads (like Brandy Snaps or Gingerbread)

    While I'm not sure that Classic Home Cooking lives up to its claim that it's the only cookbook you'll ever need -- especially if you are cookbook collector like myself or have special diet needs -- it certainly does provide a huge collection of recipes and a format that's easy to fall in love with. It's certainly sure to be a welcome addition to any cookbook collection.

Where to Buy

    If you are interested in purchasing Classic Home Cooking by Mary Berry and Marlena Spieler, you are likely to find it among the general cookbooks at any large bookstore, such as Barnes & Nobel or Borders. You can also buy it online right now and save 30% off the list price by clicking here. The publisher's list price for the cookbook is $39.95.
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