All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Lately, so many roasting techniques push the idea of high heat for roasting--and only high heat will do. Well, I have a kitchen that heats up quickly and stays hot, and one that also holds onto the smells that high-heat roasting cause. It's a beautiful, old kitchen with almost no proper ventilation; plus I also have a very wonderful Viking professional oven/convection oven. The poor ventilation in this old kitchen is nothing I can change--so I roast at a lower temperature. So, all the recent roasting cook books have been of little value to me and a waste of my money, because I'm not going to run my oven at 500 degrees, nor at 450 degrees for any length of time.

In this cook book it is suggested that, when it comes to roasting, there are many ways to go at it. It is a philosophy that Ms. Stevens reminds us came from the late, great James Beard. She methodically describes the different roasting methods--using temperatures all the way from 225 degrees up to 395. She saves higher temps for searing and "significant browning". Now, I roast at a lower temperature knowing Ms. Stevens would approve. I also create better roasts with her advice and recipes.

Just like in her other great cook book "All About Braising" this author has given me wonderful ideas and shares her vast experience with me. I am so greatful for books like these--with authors so willing to share the best of what they know. There are very many "keeper" recipes here and much "food for thought". Just the idea of using thick slices of onion under my roast chicken--the flavor is incredible!--is justification for the purchase price. (I used to use carrots instead of a rack, and that was good. Onions are way better!)

This book also includes valuable info on convection cooking. Convection cooking does not overwhelm conventional oven technique in this book, but the information is there for every recipe.

I pondered over buying this book for a while, simply because I didn't want to invest precious space, time and money to one more cook book that promoted high-heat roasting. But, the fact that I loved Ms. Stevens' book on braising finally convinced me to buy this one. I am so, very glad I purchased this cook book. Since this book arrived, we've been roasting almost every day--Ms. Stevens' recipes, my variations on her recipes, and what my husband lovingly calls my "conjures", which in the past few weeks have been conjured from this cook book. This Fall our home has been filled with the wonderful smells of roasting--not smoking olive oil, not burnt crisps of 'whatever'. And I'll keep on roasting until Spring inevitably brings hot weather back to our southern location.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2011
French trained chef Molly Stevens does an admirable job of taking the reader through all the detailed nuances of mastering the art of roasting. Whether it is a beef tenderloin, a lamb loin, a whole chicken, or potatoes, asparagus and brussels sprouts, how to expertly roast, garnish and complement it is covered in All About Roasting.
We especially like the section on "Quick Go-Withs for Roasted Foods", spotlighting recipes beyond roasted dishes also included in this heavy volume. We were surprised to discover that some fruits lend themselves very well to the roasting process, including grapes, cherries, pineapple and plums.
Chef Stevens nicely lays out basic traditional roasting techniques, then builds upon that by including options to bring a creative twist to a classic and popular cooking process. All About Roasting is definitely a worthy addition to every cook's reference and recipe library.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 14, 2011
I thought I had the best book on roasts already in my collection, but I guess this will have to join the cookbook shelf and share the grandeur of roasts together. Molly Stevens includes recipes for; beef and lamb, pork, chicken and other poultry, fish and shellfish, vegetables and fruit.
One of the best things about this book is the amount of useful information it gives in the introduction. There is a chart for what goes with specific dishes, and page numbers, many worthwhile conversion charts. The introduction includes information about the history of roasting, the science behind it, how to roast and basic methods, the effects of basting, brining, salting, steps to make a pan sauce, carving, the equipment, and ovens, even shopping instructions.

There are not many photos of the finished recipes themselves, but there are very good photos of techniques and how to accomplish specific instructions along with the directions on how to prepare the recipes. There are suggestions for wine, serving amounts, roasting time and options are included.
Sources with web sites, telephone numbers (all in the U.S.) and an index is included.
So far we have tried and enjoyed whole roast duck with hoisin sauce(lazy person's Peking duck), and the roast goose, which is supposed to be for Christmas, but we could not wait and a very good recipe for British roast potatoes.

This indeed would be a good cookbook and gift for beginning cooks and even those a bit more experienced.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2011
I have been waiting so eagerly for this book. Her All About Braising is falling apart from overuse and I expect this one will be too. A couple of years ago I tried her method of doing roast goose from a recipe in Fine Cooking, and the memory of it still lingers. This book has a similar recipe - different stuffing. The book has beautiful explanations of why to do everything she suggests, and tells you which things are essential, which less important. I have read it cover to cover and on day one I made the English potatoes. Day 2 the eggplant with cumin and pimiento. Today (day 3)- cauliflower. This weekend, one of the chickens (have not decided which recipe). As I expected, it takes me through step by step, telling me exactly what to expect at each step. My only criticism (and in the scheme of things, a minor one) is that the index is not too good. Thank you again Molly. I am blissed out.
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69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
All About Roasting is an fabulous cookbook. I have a couple of books on roasting, but Molly Stevens has done such a wonderful job of taking me step by step through the process of roasting meat, poultry, fish, and even vegetables and fruits, that when I cook from this book I feel I have a teacher right in the kitchen with me, walking me through each step and ensuring I am serving the best from the oven to my family.

Before Christmas we bought a rib roast, it cost a lot and I was afraid to cook it. Because the family didn't want rib roast tartar I turned to All About roasting. The book took me step by step in preparing, trimming, seasoning, and finally roasting my rib roast, it was delicious and looked just like the picture in the book.

At first glance the recipes might seem intimidating, four pages long, but as I read the recipe I realized the initial recipe isn't that long, it's just she adds options on at the end, plus glazes or sauces or vinaigrette. So One recipe can change with a few easy extra steps. It's great to get the technique down with the main recipe, then get to experiment and play with the additions or changes.

I really like the layout of this book, the ingredients, step by step instructions that are numbered and easy to follow along, and pictures, beautiful pictures of finished food, of step by step instructions, of techniques. Some of the techniques she shows I've done for years, and still learned something from her instructional pictures.

While I wouldn't recommend this book for a vegetarian there is a wonderful section on roasting vegetables and fruits. Roasting Vegetables brings out flavors and textures that are new and exciting and makes a welcome addition to a proteincentric book.

Whether your book shelves are sagging from the weight of your many many cookbooks, or you're looking for your first cookbook to learn how to roast, or a gift for someone moving into their first home, this cookbook is one that will fit all purposes, from the most seasoned of cooks to the beginner, this is a great book.

*ETA, last night made the spice-crusted roast pork tenderloin on page 177. If you have this book, make this recipe! So delicious, so flavorful, so fast to put together, a perfect after work recipe. Yummy!
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2012
This is my second Molly Stevens book, the other being All About Braising, and I am as impressed as ever with her writing. My copy of All About Braising is well worn and shows signs of much use, and already this book is heading that way. There are very few cookbooks I consult anymore since discovering Mrs. Stevens. I have only had the book about a month and have had the pleasure of trying three recipes so far (3 basic ones). First I gave the roasted potatoes with rosemary cooked in duck fat (listed as goose fat with duck substitue). Mrs. Stevens insists that once you try this, you will discover the wonders of the duck/goose fat. I totally agree and I have returned to this recipe for a second time. While this recipe was met with great success, it is not the purpose of buying the book. I tried her recommendations for cooking a steakhouse steak at home (roasting the steak). I read the section on selecting the cut, ALWAYS read her tips on meat selections, and I went to a nice butcher to buy according to her recommendations. I followed her prep instructions after learning about the science behind her methods, and I cooked the steak to perfection. I will inject here that the major difference between this book and Braising is that you will be encouraged to buy better, more expensive cuts of meat here. That is well understood once you learn that slow braising is the best method to turn less choice cuts of meat into divine dishes. DO NOT take that as a slight on this book. There are times for braising, but there are special times for roasting, as so far my braised dishes have not come close to these roasted dishes (although they (the braises) are amazing by any standard). Finally I tried a roasted chicken this last weekend. After reading the section on brining, I went with Molly's recommendation of a dry brine left in the refirgerator uncovered for 36-48 hours. Yes, you will have to plan ahead, but I have never had a better chicken. The meat was succulent with the breast meat as juicy as the dark meat, and the skin...it was crispy and full of flavor. If you follow her instructions, you will impress people. If you read further into the book (beyond the simple ingridients and instructions) you will be able to discuss the cooking methods used to generate the amazing flavors. This is a book for the home cook who wants to cook well with little hassle, and even for the foodie who wants to try complex dishes and be able to discuss the technique with some depth. In closing I will encourage the purchase of All About Braising first, as it wil provide meal plans that are cheaper to make, but you will move on to this one after using Braising. I will also encourage the purchase of a heavy bottomed, enameled cast-iron piece as you will discover that this is the best, and most versatile pot for Mrs. Stevens books. The rest of the equipment recommendations I will leave up to her as she has a well written discussion of equipment in both books and gives wonderful recommendations for finding the best equipment (not to be confused with most expensive). Bon apetite.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2011
I hosted my first Thanksgiving this year and my go-to book was Molly Stevens' All About Roasting because I enjoyed her previous book, All About Braising. A first time turkey can be stressful, but let me tell you... Molly Stevens walks you through it, step by step, from buying tips, to brining tricks that keep the turkey juicy and skin crispy/golden brown! Her manner is very instructional with great explanations for why you're doing what you're doing. She holds your hand through the whole process! The Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers and Lemony Browned Butter was simple to make and absolutely delicious--even the kids that don't usually go near the greens loved them.

The general organization and layout of the book are great as well. Stevens begins with The Principles of Roasting, a 49 page chapter on the science behind what is going on inside your oven during the roasting process, what roasting methods work for which types of food and why, and factors to consider when investing in equipment that will save you money in the long-run. What I love is that all you really need is a good roasting pan! Then she goes onto the cooking...

The book is broken down into different chapters: Beef & Lamb, Pork, Chicken & Poultry, Fish & Shellfish, Vegetables & Fruits. Recipes with the same main ingredient are grouped together, building initially on a basic version for preparation, and followed up by variations to the basic recipe and "go-withs" that give the meal a whole new twist, and then tips on how to shop, store (if needed), prepare (ie. everything from teaching you how to trim and peel asparagus).

Overall a great book to read and cook your way through. It's an excellent companion to All About Braising and I'm sure you'll be an expert at roasting and adapting to make your own recipes by the end of your journey! My only wish was that there were more beautiful pictures!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2011
I'll just say it: Molly Stevens is our new Julia Child. She has all the courage, intelligence, determination, scholarship, honesty, humor, lack of pretension and devotion to flavor that Julia gave us. She invites us in, demands that we pay attention, prepares us expertly to get it right, and forgives us for screwing it up - as long as it tastes good! A professional chef, a home cook, a writer, a reader, and one of the most warm-hearted, approachable, patient and funny teachers you will experience in the vast canon of fantastic cookbookery authors. If you need cookbooks in your life, then you already know she wrote one of the best ever with "All About Braising." Does she top it? You don't top it, you just keep it coming, and that's what Molly does in her hefty new beauty of a book. You might begin, like I did, in the pork chapter and stun yourself with the cuban-style marinated picnic shoulder "Pernil Al Horno." It emerges from its low and slow oven with an almost shocking ruby-red & brownish-black skin (and the aroma!). But now I'm thinking I could've just started at the back of the book, where all the crazy-good roasted fruit dishes are, like "Roasted Cherries with Creamy Polenta," "Maple-Roasted Apples with Candied Nuts Over Vanilla Ice Cream!" or a whole brown-sugar-roasted pineapple!" Dive in anywhere, learn something, feel the love this woman has for what she does, and start cooking like you MEAN it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2012
I've been cooking nightly for 25+ years and sometimes I need new inspiration. Bonus if the inspiration appeals to the analytic side of me. This book scores on both counts.

I've always roasted food - I can't count how many chickens I've roasted, for instance. But Molly Stevens's Skillet Roasted Chicken is my new favorite. The thighs are done every time, and the breast is not overcooked by the time this happens. I used her advice to cook our Christmas rib roast (prime rib) this year, and it turned out better than ever. Of course, a rib roast is pretty much always going to be delicious, but what I learned from Molly's book - to pre-salt, to bring to room temp before cooking, and to start in a searingly hot oven, and WHY you do that(which is key for me) - made our roast the best rib roast I've ever cooked. And I've cooked some really good rib roasts.

Every once in a while, I get a new cookbook that inspires me, and I get a little obsessed with it. As a result, my family eats really, really well for months. My current obsession is this book. My second-most-recent? Molly Stevens's All About Braising, which I'm still using after two or three years.

Molly Stevens is an american treasure. Just buy the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2012
After a thorough browse of this beautiful book, which extended to reading whole sections that interested me most, I would say that it offers not a completely comprehensive treatment of the subject, but a reasonable and sensible one. These are the things I really like about this book:

1. It's beautifully produced. High quality materials are used. There are lots of excellent color photographs of both the recipe results and recipe techniques. I did not note any typographical or "production" errors (a rarity these days) and was really impressed with the look of the book. The formatting of the pages is consistent, attractive, and easy to read.

2. It's beautifully written. The recipes are formatted and written in a consistent manner, and they are written clearly and accessibly without any compromise in elegance of expression. While very thorough instructions are given for the techniques used in the recipes and culinary terms are defined and explained, the author does not talk down to the reader. I'd say it's one of the most well-written cookbooks I've read.

3. It's beautifully organized. The chapters are divided into familiar categories: "The Principles Of Roasting," "Beef and Lamb," "Pork," "Chicken and Poultry," Fish and Shellfish," and "Vegetables and Fruits." "The Principles Of Roasting" is a 49-page overview of the things you need to know to execute the recipes in the book, along with descriptions of necessary equipment, which I believe is fairly complete for a book aimed at the general reader. Each of the other chapters begins with a mini table of contents listing all the recipes in that chapter, followed by a few pages of introductory information on the chapter's topic, and ending with recipes that proceed from the basic to the embellished. Each chapter also includes additional instructions for purchasing, prepping, and carving the items featured in the recipes. The logic and consistency of this organization, coupled with the felicity of the text and page formatting, makes the book very easy to read.

This is not a "1001 Recipes For X" kind of book. Rather, pretty much everything you need to know in general to prepare "X" is explained, accompanied by just a few well-chosen recipes for "X." The combination of the introductory material in the first chapter and the technique information in the other chapters comprises a wealth of "how-to" information that will serve as an education for beginners and a resource for all. It's hard to imagine a cook needing more than this book to attain roasting competence, develop a well-rounded repertoire of go-to dishes, and proceed to improvise recipes of his/her own. It's a book you could cook your way through (and write your own best-seller about - I want Rosie O'Donnell or Fran Lebowitz to play ME in the movie!!).

I am a careful and demanding reader and I did note a couple of points on which I wish the author had elaborated or a couple of details I wish she had mentioned, but they were very small points. Really, I think the only reason I can't say this is a totally comprehensive book is that it is so darn well done that I wish there were more of it. Kudos to the author, editor(s),and publisher. Great job!
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