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The Gourmet Cookbook: More than 1000 recipes Hardcover – 2004
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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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
For starters, let me identify that this book is not a new `Joy of Cooking' or `James Beard's American Cookery' or Mark Bittman's `How to Cook Everything'. These three very large recipe collections are systematic teaching texts. Every chapter includes notes on the primary raw material and the primary cooking method. `The Gourmet Cookbook' is primarily a collection of recipes claimed to be the 1000 best, selected from 60 years of publishing over 10,000 recipes. The most famous similar cookbook is Craig Claiborne's `The New York Times Cookbook'. Reichl has improved a bit on Claiborne by adding some features appearing in the `Joy of Cooking' style of book such as sidebars on ingredients, tips, and techniques. I will approach evaluating this very big book by evaluating individual aspects and adding up the score at the end.
Selection of Topics: Comprehensive, but just a bit oddly organized. The chapter titles represent either a type of ingredient such as poultry, vegetables, and shellfish; a type of dish such as soup, salad, bread, and pie; or meal such as breakfast and brunch and first courses. I had a hard time finding the sticky bun recipe Reichl touted on the `Today' show because it was in `Breakfast and Brunch' and not in `Breads'.Read more ›
I think this is one of the most user-friendly large cookbooks I have come across in a long time.
The recipes, however, have been wonderful. I've purchased a number of cookbooks where flawed recipes present themselves quickly (beware of The Bread Bible's foccacia, e.g.), but I've found only winners in this cookbook so far. The flourless chocolate cake (p. 739) is much simpler to prepare than its taste suggests, and people at work raved about it for some time after I brought it in. Pumpkin apple bread (p.599), Banana, coconut, and macadamia nut bread (p.599-600), and rice pudding (p.827) have all been definite winners as well. I consider The New Joy of Cooking to set the benchmark for reliable-workhorse cookbooks, and so far I'm much more pleased with this cookbook than that old favorite! Enthusiastic 5+ stars for content; 3 stars for layout.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this giant book. Every recipe I've tried so far has been great. Love the tips section - short and sweet - and very useful. Read morePublished 15 days ago by D. Salmon
LIke the recipies, its just hard to read - as the printing does not have too much contrast.Published 2 months ago by Victoria G.
All Gourmet publications have always been top notch. If you tried to cook everything in this book it would take you years. It is quite extensive, well written, and is a must have.Published 9 months ago by Canuco
This is such a great reference and it's great to be able to get it for almost 25% of the original price. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Sarah George
One of the best cookbook out there! Every time I try a recipe out of this book, it gets raves. It is my "go to" book on any recipe I am working on. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jean
"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 13 months ago by Kathryn Carter