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When Gourmet magazine opened shop in 1941, it addressed a small epicurean audience. In those days, fine dining was French, seafood specialties always seemed to include cream and sherry, and game made the meal--or so the magazine preached. The bill of fare has changed since then, and fine dining now includes dishes from the world's four corners, commanded by a broad, food-aware audience. Over the years, Gourmet has chronicled all this, changing to reflect a wider, more democratized food scene that has also, paradoxically, raised the bar on what's expected of the average, too-busy cook. The Gourmet Cookbook is the most comprehensive of the magazine's recipe anthologies--a mega-tome offering more than 1,000 formulas drawn from Gourmet since its birth.
The statistics are indeed impressive: more than 100 hors d'oeuvre recipes; an equal number of vegetable dishes; 200 desserts--21 chapters in all, touching all courses and including stops at breakfast and brunch specialties; breads and crackers; plus sauces, salsas, and preserves. Included are recipes from Gourmet contributors like James Beard and Jean-Georges Vongericten, and hundreds of sidebars like "Salad Greens Primer" and "Blind Baking," all useful and informative. There are classic dishes like onion soup gratiné, gefilte fish, corn fritters, and peanut butter cookies; "new classics" such as fried calamari and spaghetti alla carbonara; and the "modern," including oatmeal brûlée with macerated berries and grilled lobster with orange chipotle vinaigrette--"every recipe you'd ever want," says the text, something of an understatement.
Cooks should know, however, that this is not a basic cookbook, despite its Noah's ark of formulas. Rather, it's a Gourmet cookbook, which means that, notwithstanding some rudimentary recipes, the focus is on the stylishly up-to-date (which is not to deny the excellence of the formulas), resulting, often, in refinements. Thus its recipe for mac and cheese calls for dijon mustard and panko; its beef stroganoff requires cremini mushrooms; its grilled chicken calls for brining; and so on. Recipes can also run to over 450 words, and require unusual ingredients. (A list of sources is provided.) Of all its chapters, those for sweets are the most immediately attractive.
For all the praise, though, there's one major goof. The recipe titles are printed in a light butter-yellow color, making them almost illegible. For many readers, this will be a deal-breaker; others will find it merely annoying. Should you own the book? For dedicated cooks and foodies the answer will be, How can I not? --Arthur Boehm
The monthly magazine Gourmet played no small part in the birth of America's gastronomic renaissance of the late twentieth century. Through pictures and intelligent articles by noted food and travel writers, Gourmet made its readership aware of refined food traditions that made everyday American fare seem narrow. Editor Reichl and staff have painstakingly compacted Gourmet's vast reserve of recipes into an anthology of just 1,000 recipes sure to inspire cooks to get to work in their kitchens. The book's coverage of world cuisine is breathtaking, but it has a few omissions, most notably the cooking of sub-Saharan Africa and South America. An exhaustive index serves admirably to guide the reader through the recipes' complexities, analytically referencing recipes by major or unique ingredients. (One of its rare missteps is its conflation of Georgia the nation and Georgia the state.) Both recipes and their instructions are clearly laid out and easy to follow for the knowledgeable cook. A few line drawings illustrate special techniques, but recipes such as that for individual b'stillas could use illustration to give the cook an image of the finished product. The only serious triumph of aesthetics over practicality, the low-contrast pale yellow type of recipe titles burdens anyone with even minor vision impairment. A glossary and a directory of specialty food and equipment distributors round out the volume. Mark Knoblauch
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"The only cookbook you'll ever need" Well, maybe so and maybe not, but in any case this is one excellent (and gigantic) cookbook. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Kathryn Carter
whenever I think of something I'd like to eat, I find a wonderful recipe for it in here. really a marvelous cookbook, full of utterly delicious dishes. thank you!Published 26 days ago by poetry_lover_in_santa_cruz
With 1,000 recipes you are bound to find several ideas to please your palate. This is a superbly well put together book with a little introduction for each of the recipes. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Daniel
Finally, I found the best recipe for Irish Soda Bread!Published 7 months ago by Marguerite E. Brown
Lots of great basic everyday recipes as well as many using ingredients or utilizing techniques you might not have tried.Published 7 months ago by Book reader
I use this cookbook more than all of my other cookbooks combined. Every recipe I have tried has been a hit and added to my regular rotation (the pumpkin apple bread is a particular... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Lizbizpuxc