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Customer Review

79 of 103 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This one's clearly for cooks more adventuresome than I. So please take my star rating with the appropriate grain of salt., November 16, 2010
This review is from: Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease: 325 Inspiring Recipes from Award-Winning Chef Rozanne Gold (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
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.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 24, 2010 11:23:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 24, 2010 11:24:49 PM PST
John says:
Lots (if not all) of the ingredients you mentioned are available in Whole Foods or any well stocked grocery, at least in larger cities and in regular supermarkets, too. You might be surprised what your Giant or Safeway supermarket carries, even if you've never heard of it. Before you go special ordering things off Amazon and the Internet, just ask the manager at your local market. I've seen Nutella and tahini as well as Greek yogurt and Mejdool dates in supermarkets in rural-ish places in Tennessee. Much of what used to be unusual or weird-sounding 10 or 20 years ago has become more commonplace. P.S. If you ever try that simple roasted chicken, come back and tell us what about it makes its flavor "brilliant". Would love to hear from you again if you prepare one of the recipes.

Posted on Dec 8, 2010 6:16:22 AM PST
J. E. Thorne says:
The recipe for chickpea flour soup from Provence -- the above mentioned "soup made solely from garlic, olive oil, cumin, chickpea flour, one scallion and an onion" -- is featured in a Serious Eats blog post. It sounds wonderful!

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 4:00:59 AM PST
T. Walsh says:
Thank you, caveat and all, especially the list of ingredients. I can only find eight of those items at the closest large supermarket; perhaps half could be tracked down in a full-day excursion to various little ethnic food boutiques (I live in Prague).

Posted on Apr 4, 2011 4:28:06 PM PDT
Actually, it was a very good review. I am a chef and I must say it really makes me mad when I read a lot of cookbook reviews that have a one-star rating for the very simple reason that
-I'm a plain cook. The food is too fancy/exotic/"strange"/complicated for me.
-Usually I make Sandra Lee recipes. This is way too advanced. (This always stated in a very pissy way.)

Those are not reasons to give bad reviews. So your review made sense.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2011 5:23:11 PM PDT
Sharon Isch says:
Jessica. Thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 2:16:09 PM PDT
Mila Laine says:
I found your review very helpful, thank you. While I do like the sound of some of the recipes here, I live in Switzerland in a small country town & know for a fact that even if I was to make the trip into Zurich I would still have a hard time tracking down that list of ingredients you listed.. so while the description says 'recipes with common ingredients that you will find in your local supermarket', I guess It clearly comes down to where your local supermarket is in the world ;) I really need recipes I can easily throw together with ingredients I can find in my 'local' supermarket, so will be giving this one a miss.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 29, 2011 6:51:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 14, 2012 1:47:48 PM PDT
Sharon Isch says:
Following is a link to a March 2012 New York Times piece by a cookbook ghostwriter about what it's like to work with chefs on their books. There's nothing in it to suggest it in any way applies to this particular cookbook or this particular chef. I'm plopping the link here only as a way to tip off cookbook fans to a behind-the-scenes story I think most of you will find as fascinating as I did. --Sharon

Posted on May 14, 2012 2:30:41 PM PDT
Dear Madam,
You have only read trough this book, but didn't actually try to make the recipes. This is somewhat unethical, you should write a review of a cookbook after actually trying out the recipes. If you don't like how these recipes sound, that is your issue (unwillingness to try new things, maybe?) I made about half of them, and every single time I got rave reviews from family and especially from people we entertained. Some ingredients are unusual, but how fantastic are the results! I bought smoked paprika, wasabi powder and paste, miso, fish sauce, but re-used them again and again. The pairing of the flavors is what makes this author outstanding; the simplicity of the recipes and short preparation time are just added bonuses. I highly recommend this book for people who appreciate fine cuisine, are short on time, can step out of their comfort zone and be adventurous. For you, a calming portion of beef Stroganoff or chicken casserole...
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