Cookbook Review

It's time once again to take a look at some of the cookbook titles available out there. As usual, the selection of cookbooks available to home chefs and beginners is absolutely astounding. If you want to know about vegetarian backyard barbeques or making tea sandwiches, there are books out there for you. There are even a few cookbooks about preparing and serving bugs! That's right, bugs. So, needless to say, there are cookbooks on just about every subject imaginable.

This month, we tackle three different cookbooks. Each is unique in its own right and can offer different advantages (and disadvantages) to different people. Our cookbook lineup is as follows:

To be fair, I've tried to include information about the general layouts of each books, some of the topics and recipes covered (recipes cannot be reprinted due to copyright laws), and how each book might be best used. I've also included some information about the authors and where you might find these books for purchase.

Before we dig in, I'd like to encourage you to suggest other books for review. We try to feature cookbook reviews periodically in Seasoned Cooking and are interested in your suggestions and submissions. With that said, let's get on with the reviews!

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 Soufflés)
    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.
Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen About the Authors
    The Culinary Institute of America, one of the nation's most influential training school for cooks, is a college offering bachelor's and associates degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. Courses are offered at the independent, not-for-profit college's main campus in Hyde Park, New York and an additional campus in St. Helena, California.
About the Cookbook
    Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen is much more than a cookbook. It strives to immerse a reader in the history and techniques of garde manger -- which was a term originally used to identify an area used for storing preserved foods. Today, it has come to refer to an entire area of specialization in professional culinary arts. Garde Manger takes the reader on a journey through the history of cold food preparation and then carefully covers a wide variety of related topics ranging from the art of making a great sandwich to the steps involved in making your own sausage. Taking full advantage of the resources available to the Institute, contributors to the book combined intelligent discourse, creative recipes and tips and brilliant color photography to create a book that strives -- and succeeds -- at being much more than just another cookbook in your kitchen. Garde Manger offers over 350 splendid recipes for entertaining and preserving foods. Every chapter begins with an overview of the topic and some general information about relevant techniques, important ingredients, notes on presentation and tips on preparing your own recipes. Whenever a technique or unusual ingredient is mentioned color photographs are provided to aid the reader. The recipes are then presented in a simple, but easy-to-follow format. When applicable, alternatives are presented at the end of a recipe in highlighted boxes for easy location. While some of the recipes are time-consuming, most of the results are well worth the effort and the Seafood Sausage practically make the book worth adding to a cookbook collection on its own!

    Because of the emphasis on entertaining, the recipes in Garde Manger yield larger quantities. I found that most recipes are easily reduced; however, certain recipes -- such as sausages or cheeses -- are best made in the quantities suggested. Recipes included in chapters such as Salads and Sandwiches lend themselves easily to variations according to a given cook's tastes. However, unless you are very experienced in making foods like sausages and cheeses, it is suggested that you follow the recipes closely.

    For the home cook that loves to spend time in the kitchen and entertain guests, Garde Manger presents a perfect opportunity to add new techniques and ingredients. However, it is not well-suited to beginning cooks nor to those that spend little time cooking or entertaining. Most of the recipes presented in the book are easy to follow and, although some are very time-intensive, many can be prepared in short order and with little advanced notice.

    To give you some ideas about the recipes included in Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen, here is a portion of the Table of Contents and some examples of the recipes you'll find in it:

    1. The History of the Garde Manger
    2. Cold Sauces and Cold Soups (like Mango-Lime Salsa or Cold Carrot Bisque)
    3. Salads (like Roasted Pepper Salad or Cobb Salad)
    4. Sandwiches (like Spicy Catfish Sandwich or Cucumber Tea Sandwich)
    5. Cured and Smoked Foods (like Smoked Shrimp or Corned Beef)
    6. Sausage (like Mexican Chorizo or Summer Sausage)
    7. Terrines, Pates, Galantines, and Roulades (like Venison Terrine or Chicken Galantine)
    8. Cheese (like Mascarpone or Mozzarella Cheese)
    9. Hors d'Oeuvre (like Profiteroles or Chicken Croustade)
    10. Appetizers (like Beef Carpaccio or Smoked Duck Tart)
    11. Condiments, Crackers, and Pickles (like Yellow Pepper Ketchup or Red Pepper Oil)
    12. Basic Recipes (like Barbeque Spice Mix or Pasta Dough)

    If the examples above have you wondering what else is offered, Garde Manger will probably be a welcome addition to your cookbook collection. It is one of those rare jewels that will do more than sit next to your stove. You could actually curl up with it by the fire and learn something about the art of the cold kitchen. Happy reading!

Where to Buy
    If you are interested in purchasing Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen by The Culinary Institute of America, 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 $54.95.
The Recipe Encyclopedia: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking About the Authors
    The Recipe Encyclopedia was put together by a team of expert home economists, nutritionists and chefs with extensive knowledge, experience and love of food and cooking.
About the Cookbook

    Unlike most cookbooks, The Recipe Encyclopedia takes an unusual approach to organizing its recipes and glossary information. The entire cookbook is alphabetized. In addition to well-organized recipes, the book contains an extensive food dictionary with over 900 entries conveniently located in the far margins of each page. If you want to know more about quenelles, simply look under "Q" between the entries for "Queen of Puddings" and "Quiche". When words just aren't enough for these dictionary entries, color photographs are included. After all, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words! In addition to the helpful information presented in the food dictionary and the tasty morsels presented in the recipes, there are also 26 "how-to" features that cover more interesting ingredients or tricky techniques. For example, one feature that deals with ice creams and sorbets covers everything from how to make a basic vanilla ice cream to making blackberry sorbet.

    The Recipe Encyclopedia presents over 800 recipes ranging from traditional favorites to nuevo cuisine. Its accessible A to Z format makes it especially well-suited to cooks who are looking for recipes using particular ingredients or for dishes influenced by certain cultures. For example, if you wanted to find a recipe that used artichokes as a primary ingredient, you would look under "A" to find the entry on "Artichokes" and discover a recipe for "Penne with Artichoke Hearts". Every recipe includes a wide variety of information including: difficulty, serving information, preparation and cooking times. Few recipes offer variations, but extra notes are often included that offer options for lowering fat content, saving time during preparation and storing leftovers.

    While the unusual format of The Recipe Encyclopedia does take a little time to get used to, it quickly shows its advantages and becomes a helpful reference in the kitchen. For those that aren't sure about where to look to find a certain recipe, the book does include a nice index and it can be used to quickly locate favorite recipes if the A to Z format gets confusing. The wide variety of recipes presented is sure to be a pleasure to both beginning cooks and experienced chefs.

    Since the cookbook is organized in an alphabetical format, here are a few ideas about what kinds of recipes can be found by browsing through its pages:

    • A-B (like Almond Macaroons or Lobster Bisque)
    • C-D (like Braised Celery or Salmon Dip)
    • E-F (like Quick Eggs Florentine or Onion Fritters)
    • G-H (like Spinach Gnocchi or Ham Salad)
    • I-J (like Irish Stew or Sushi Rolls)
    • K-L (like Fish and Cumin Kabobs or Leek Tart)
    • M-N (like Gourmet Meatloaf or Seafood Noodle Hot Pot)
    • O-P (like Chicken with Okra or Gourmet Vegetable Pizza)
    • Q-R (like Vegetable Quiche or Raspberry Jam)
    • S-T (like Mediterranean Salad or Red Pepper Terrine)
    • V-W (like Grilled Vegetables with Garlic Mayonnaise or Walnut Cookies)
    • Y-Z (like Curried Yogurt Chicken or Zucchini Swirls)

    If you like discovering new things about the food you make, you'll probably enjoy The Recipe Encyclopedia. If you wish you could just find all of your apple recipes in one place, then you'll love it!

Where to Buy
    If you are interested in purchasing The Recipe Encyclopedia: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Cooking, 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 20% off the list price by clicking here. The publisher's list price for the cookbook is $25.00.
Editor's Note: None of the cookbooks mentioned in this review are in any way associated with Seasoned Cooking or its publisher.

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