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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.