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The Amazon Book Review
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After nine years of working as an event planner and in advertising sales at Vogue, Glamour, and People magazines, Kate McMillan decided to seriously pursue her passion for food by attending the California Culinary Academy and graduated from Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco where she honed her culinary skills. She began taking small catering jobs while in culinary school and has since grown her business to include everything from casual dinner parties for 8 to passed hors d’oeuvres soirees for 400. Kate lives in San Francisco with her five-year-old twins Emily and Grace, who already enjoy helping in the kitchen (especially when it involves cupcake batter).
When I picked this up, everything seemed great on the surface: I love the simple one pot approach. I love the idea of seasonal recipes, helping them be both tasty and affordable. And Williams Sonoma sort of conjures this idea of elegant, special cuisine that is lovely and will be adored by your company.
However, this book has a lot of problems. It isn't REALLY one pot... the dish that I'm making as we speak requires a casserole dish, a deep saucepan, a frying pan (not to mention a colander and two large bowls) and requires that I transfer food back and forth about 2-3 times among these vessels. And as one other reviewer states the seasonal recipe theme is only loosely followed, and there are certain ingredients that are a real challenge to find (that lovely dish on the cover requires preserved lemons... still looking for those, somehow I bet W-S carries them).
However, the biggest problem with this cookbook is the lack of recipe editing. I've made about 5 different dishes so far and each and every one has had some major error, either in the amount of a particular ingredient required or in some prep step. Many of these errors I've been able to correct through experience, but one dish was a serious failure.
All of that being said all the dishes I've made from this cookbook (apart from the failure) have been wonderful, better than my average. So in that way I feel the cookbook is doing it's job, but I have to work way too hard to make everything come together.
The final verdict from me is that I'll keep using this cookbook, but with caution. There are some recipes I'm not going to try because of the risk posed by the cookbook, which is a shame. This thing needs a second edition or something.
The cookbook is such a jumble of recipes that I'm having difficulty organizing my thoughts in order to write this review, (and that's not normal for me). So, I apologize for the long length of this review: I could not concisely sum up my thoughts. I think this review provides a lot of pertinent info, but feel free to stop reading after the next paragraph--it provides the reason why I rated it a high, (but still average) three stars.
One thing is perfectly clear to me, though, and it is not a good thing: When I want to make a one-pot meal, I want to make it in ONE pot (okay, maybe two if I want to brown an ingredient.) While there are many one-pot recipes here, there are way too many recipes that need separate pots and pans for all the steps involved to bring the dish to table. There are also an unfair amount of "one-pot" meals that require side dishes.
Having looked through many Williams-Sonoma cookbooks and owning quite a few that I picked up for a song at estate sales, I can say that this is not like the "normal", older, smaller Williams-Sonoma cookbooks. You know without even looking through it that it has a lot of recipes, which can be a good thing--or it can be a bad thing. What's messing with my brain is the fact that the recipes are arranged by month and day: There actually is a recipe for every day of the year. There are a few other W-S cookbooks, released in 2012, that are set up this way.)
The reason why a certain recipe is on a certain date is unclear. While there is some attempt made to pair seasonal vegetables and fruits to certain months, you are going to find those same ingredients in other months as well. And, (what I consider a major crime), you will find nonseasonal ingredients paired with seasonal ingredients.Read more ›
I was giddy with excitement over this book! One pot dishes that are Williams-Sonoma worthy? Holy Cow! After making my first dish I realized this: Someone needs to explain to Williams Sonoma the concept of the one pot dish! Yummy dinner but 2 sinks of dirty dishes left over <sigh>
I do not like how the book is organized either! The calender idea is cute but a pain to flip through if I am looking for something to do with the chicken in my fridge. They should have a better index.
The recipes are yummy. They are fairly easy to follow if you have some sense of cooking beyond boiling water and microwave meals. The photos are very pretty as well.
I am giving this book only 2 stars. Its not as advertised as "one pot". As my husband said when he walked into the kitchen, "Holy cow! I would hate to see their 2 pot cookbook!"
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I agree that most of the recipes are NOT one pot. I did a chicken one that had at least 4 with all my burners going. I am working my way through this book by only cooking from this book for the summer. With many choices of proteins and vegetable only (so I can use our garden as resource for a while) there should be no problem if anyone else is trying this method of cooking entertainment. The beer braised pork pg 73 is to die for! I also agree that some need on the spot modification which an experienced cook would pick up on.
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This is the second book I've purchased from WS's "____ a Day" collection. I like to try new things and having a recipe for every single day of the year makes this a lot easier. If a particular day's recipe doesn't spark my fancy, I usually find something I love within a range of 2-3 days! Yes, a lot of the recipes are not made in ONE pot, but I personally did not interpret the title literally (and for the record - using a colander does not constitute a second pot - I'm surprised people aren't complaining that the title didn't explicitly specify the need for utensils!) In a nutshell, this book provides recipes for full meals (as opposed just a salad, a soup or a vegetable - which are the other editions from WS's "_____ a Day" collection).
I am not a novice in the kitchen, but not a pro by any means as well. However, I do think this book can be useful to both new cooks and more experienced ones since the recipes are laid out in simple steps yet combine ingredients in new and unique ways, which keeps things interesting for everyone. I also like that the recipes aren't too "theme-y" (turkey in November, pumpkin in October etc). This allows for neutral yet delicious meals throughout the year without feeling hindered by holiday-specific menus.
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