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This one's clearly for cooks more adventuresome than I. So please take my star rating with the appropriate grain of salt.
on November 16, 2010
Let me say straight off that this is not what I personally consider a bonafide cookbook review. For several years I helped out with the annual cookbook review section published between Thanksgiving and Christmas by the newspaper where I worked. Each of us would get a cookbook category: desserts, appetizers, ethnic, regional, etc. to test and review. The rules were that you would prepare a minimum of three diverse recipes from each book, serve them to an equally diverse bunch of eaters and get their feedback; meanwhile, other recipes in the book would be scrutinized to make sure the instructions and ingredients lists were clear and made sense; books by chefs would get even more scrutiny, because recipes from professional kitchens often don't adapt well for use in home kitchens. Those are still what I consider the essential ingredients for writing a cookbook review that's worth its salt. This isn't one of them, as I've yet to cook anything from this book and probably won't until next summer, when the ingredients I most want to experiment with here are again in season.
What I can tell you is that the chef who wrote this book is amazingly imaginative and clearly knows the ins and outs of cookbook writing. Her recipes are clear and well written, the book is beautifully designed and the pictures look appetizing.
Other than her offbeat and interesting new ideas for summer produce, the recipes that intrigue me most are ones I haven't the nerve to try myself but would be first in line to get a taste of if someone else did. For example: chicken roasted "stark naked" with no seasoning at all, not even salt...pasta cooked in a bottle of wine...a soup made solely from garlic, olive oil, cumin, chickpea flour, one scallion and an onion... and spinach leaves sprinkled with kosher salt and cooked on a sheet-pan in a 500 degree oven with two spritzes of water.
I'd also be interested in tasting some of her many recipes that contain ingredients I've never heard of or ingredients I've heard of but haven't a clue what they taste like, so can't tell whether I'd like and am therefore reluctant to go to the trouble to track down and spend money on, such as: sable, slivered kimchee, frisee, herring in wine sauce, hiyashi wakame, tahina, za'atar, Greek yogurt, large Medjool dates, chickpea flour, Thai fish sauce, black sesame seeds, garam masala, pomegranate molasses, wasabi powder, prepared wasabi paste, Sriracha, soppressata, calabaza, French breakfast radishes, gemelli, purple basil sprouts, lavash bread, white miso, little bird chilies, scotch bonnet pepper, Turkish figs, ground sumac, ras el hanout, date syrup, pistachio halva, oloroso sherry, unsweetened dessicated coconut and Nutella.
As it turns out, many of these ingredients would not be hard to find, as quite a few are available right here at Amazon grocery.
So, not a review. But perhaps something that'll help you decide if this is right for you or a cook on your gift list.