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Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference Hardcover – October 28, 2002

216 customer reviews

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Hardcover, October 28, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

More and more herbs and spices appear in American kitchens daily, encouraged by television chefs and promoted through new ethnic cuisines entering the mainstream. Jill Norman's Herbs & Spices comes at exactly the right moment to guide readers through the tangle of leaves, seeds, and berries. Norman thoughtfully organizes herbs into major classifications by their predominant bouquets. This approach immediately assists the cook looking for substitutions. Norman's tasting notes, borrowing a vocabulary identical to that used for wine, establish a standard language for characterizing each item's salient aromas and flavors. Full-color, close-up pictures aid in identification. Text outlines culinary uses and purchasing and storing data and gives information on growing one's own herbs. A short recipe section offers examples of how specific herbs and spices are used in cooking. A directory of mail-order sources further assists those who lack local access. Norman has made a vital contribution to reference collections for quick identification of species and for the use of herbs and spices in cooking. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Jill Norman's Herbs & Spices comes at exactly the right moment to guide readers through the tangle of leaves, seeds, and berries." — Booklist

"Both novice and expert cooks will find much to savor here." — Booklist

"Readers who want to experiment with something different will enjoy flipping through the various flavor sections with their favorite cookbook in the other hand." — Library Journal

"If you've stopped reading cookbooks because the truly inspirational have become few and far between, make space on your bookshelf for this one." — Foodies West Magazine


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: DK Publishing; 1 edition (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789489392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789489395
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

177 of 182 people found the following review helpful By Chris Baker on July 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a backyard BBQ fanatic who has started competing at local BBQ competitions. Outside of heat, smoke and meat, the most important part of making good BBQ is in your seasonings. Whether it is making a rub, a baste, or sauce, it is important to balance the flavors and recognize what flavors are needed to take your recipe to the next level. This book has all of the information I need to do exactly that. This book gets a LOT of use and abuse in my house, and I have used it as a reference to help me blend/enhance flavors for SO many recipes. I can not recommend this book highly enough. If you want to know about the flavors, uses and pairings of spices, this book will take care of you. The thing I like most about this book is how for each spice it mentions what other spices are typically used with it. This is very helpful when trying to narrow the search for another flavor to add to your recipes.
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242 of 253 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`herbs & spices, the cook's reference' is the latest of eight different books on either herbs or spices by noted culinary editor and author, Jill Norman, one of the more influential disciples of the great English culinary writer, Elizabeth David, who contributed two books of her own to this subject.

I chose this book to review since I had a backlog of herb and spice books to review, and I wanted to start with one I could assume to be a standard against which all other books can be measured. The problem with starting with the standard is I'm assuming this role purely on the basis of the author's reputation in the field. I am happy to say that I find virtually nothing in this book to invalidate my holding it up as a standard against which other books on the subject may be judged.

For starters, Ms. Norman convinces us at the outset that the difference between an herb and a spice is vague enough around the world to require that we treat the two together, thereby eliminating any chance of leaving something out because it was not thought to be a spice or an herb. Part of this ambiguity is her statement that in the United States, a dried herb is considered a spice. Since Ms. Norman is an expert on the subject, I must assume that there is a faction in America that believes this. She states this to make it clear that her basis for distinguishing herbs from spices is based on the current British thinking on the subject. But, since she is covering both, the issue is academic in this book.

Much more interesting is Ms. Norman's separation of the various herbs and spices into a large number of categories based on flavor.
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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Seven of Nine, Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix 01 on August 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is organized to make using it a dream. It is divided into three sections Herbs, Spices and Recipes.

The first two sections are organized identically; an introduction, categories/groupings of herbs or spices and a section on preparing herbs or spices. Herb groupings are Fresh and mild herbs, Sweet herbs Citrus or tart herbs, Licorice or anise herbs, Minty herbs, Oniony herbs, Bitter or astringent herbs, Pungent and spicy herbs. Spice groupings are Nutty spices, Sweet spices, Acidic and fruity spices, Citrus spices, Licorice or anise spices, Warm and earthy spices, Bitter or astringent spices, pungent spices.

Each individual herb or spice has a page that includes pictures, history, notes on flavor use how it is harvested, culinary uses, other spices/herbs it combines with. The pictures and information combine to make this a top notch reference.

Recipes section is divided into two main sub-sections Blending herbs and spices and Cooking with herbs and spices. There is also a bibliography, sources and an index.

The Recipes for herb blends is shorter than expected but nice and represent other cultures. The spice blends are from around the globe and a longer more comprehensive list there are also recipies for sauces and marinades. Both herb and spice blend Recipes include suggestions and notes on how to use them and the best food pairings.

Cooking with herbs and spices has a good range of Recipes and the author packs a lot into this small section; soups and light dishes, fish, meat (includes three chicken recipes), vegetables, pasta noodles & grains, desserts and drinks ( including ice cream, Pineapple ginger cooler, Mojito).
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Lee on November 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
OK, I'll admit it -- I was a terrible cook. My meals were nutritious, sure -- but spices eluded me -- and so the food was only suitable for monks who have taken a vow of pleasurelessness.

This book changed my cooking forever. Not only is the book pregnant with spectacular images of spices from their natural to processed state, but very thoughtful information is provided on complimentary herbs and spices that would inspire any on-the-fly cooking adventurer! You will guard this book like it was your tax information once it's on your shelf. But it won't sit on your shelf very much -- Mine is on my coffee table. The book is impressive in it's scope and aesthetics. Get it!
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