Top critical review
14 people found this helpful
Some good recipes, but this is really a mixed bag
on August 29, 2013
Ever since we went on a mostly-Paleo diet last year, I've been checking out Paleo cookbooks. In particular, I've been checking them out of the library since I have a long-standing rule of cookbook triage: If I make three recipes and I want to make more, I give myself permission to buy the book. This has saved me from several regrettable purchases (even though my cookbook collection has still managed to reach 400 titles).
Primal Cuisine is okay, but I'm sending it back to the library without any regrets.
It's not that the book is bad; it's just fine. However, there are a lot of books I like more (as you'll see by perusing my reviews). And this one has a mix of recipes that's just... well, a little odd.
Like a lot of Paleo cookbooks (or any other book for a specific diet), it starts out with a large section explaining why you should turn to Paleo and then going into detail about the ingredients that are acceptable or forbidden. Since Paleo has some "everyone agrees with" guidelines (such as "no grain or white potatoes" -- the part I care about -- and "no legumes"), and then a whole host of "rules" that purists argue about (dairy, sweeteners, etc.) you do need to look over each book's pantry section to see which matches your personal policy and budget. This one is anti-agave, and uses stevia for most sweetening. Ghee and coconut oil for frying. It's also big on olive oil and goat products (e.g. goat yogurt) which we don't eat, but I easily can swap out those items.
Once you've read those 58 pages, though, you'll ignore them. The meat of the book -- so to speak -- is the recipes. The organization is fine, with chapters devoted to breakfast; Paleo parties; soups; salads; condiments and sauces; vegetables; dinner (seafood, meat, poultry); desserts.
But the recipes themselves are a mixed bag.
The entree recipes are really good. I mean REALLY good. I used this recipe for meat loaf and said YUM YUM YUM very loudly. (Instead of bread crumbs, you used chopped almonds or almond meal. And who knew that balsamic vinegar would improve a meat loaf so much?) I also stuck a "Try this!" sticker on "Mardi Gras crab cakes with Creole Remoulade" (again using almond meal instead of bread crumbs, and adding sesame oil, which I expect to be tasty). "Tequila beef stew with lime cream and jalapeño cabbage slaw" also sounds delicious... okay, you had me at "tequila beef stew." Ditto for "pineapple red curry duck."
The other sections, though, are so very unremarkable. Do I need a recipe for a "breakfast fruit compote" (which is [goat] yogurt, fruit, vanilla, 1/2 lime)? vegetable frittata? grilled prawns wrapped in Prosciutto? chicken salad made with leftover roast chicken? Certainly you won't hate any of them, but you can find such things in any cookbook, if you're a timid cook. There's nothing all that Paleo about them, unless it's to include homemade (Paleo) mayonnaise. Maybe all this is to reassure a new Paleo diet adoptee that he won't starve (since it's understandable to think about everything you CANNOT eat) but for me it was really a shrug.
In the end: Primal Cuisine is okay, but it's far from my favorite Paleo cookbook.