Top positive review
47 people found this helpful
Outstanding, exceptional...a truly wonderful wonderful cookbook
on November 22, 2009
Gourmet Today is a really spectacular cookbook. In the intro they (she...R Reichl and crew) state that bascially the American food culture has changed significantly ("sales of salsa now top out catsup....") as has the American lifestyle, with more demands on people's time coupled with a greater interest in eating well, and eating better, healthier food. So in Gourmet Today they strive to provide a cookbook that addresses this. I think they do a fantastic job in their effort. I have a truly huge (nearly 300) and very well used cookbook collection and I do not offer my praise of this one lightly. They have presented a broad, diverse collection of recipes with extraordinary finesse. I only buy new cookbooks that have recipes that fascinate and intrigue me and maybe go beyond what I have. Was going to pass on this one at Costco (folks, it is 21.95 there!) but started reading it and couldn't put it down. Got it home and have been enjoying it now for several weeks both to cook from and to read.
I have the first Gourmet cookbook; I like it well enough and refer to it fairly often, but in my estimation, this one is way better. I will not belabor the various sections, which are pretty standard and listed in detail by another 5* reviewer. But I will say there is something for everyone. It has great recipes for the familiar including tuna noodle casserole, a fantastic recipe for turkey meatballs w/spaghetti from Lidia Bastianich, and simply a myriad of other favorite salads, soups, sides and mains. But there are also some fantastic yet accessible recipes for that go beyond: turkey tonnato (yep, a turkey version of the infamously elegant veal tonnato, making it more affordable,healthier, easier to get than veal, and also more ecoloigical and a tad more compassionate), salmon cannelloni with lemon cream sauce (you make the fresh crespelle for the cannelloni..but it is still elegant and simple); some fantastic vegetarian recipes that are very well presented including an excellent tempeh burger, and my favorite for the moment - Afghani scallion dumplings with yogurt and meat sauces (folks, the most exotic ingredient in this charmer is wonton wrappers), mushroom tamales, roasted vegetable panzanella and much more. I could go on, but I hope this gives a sense of some of the interesting contents. There are really well-selected recipes from at least 6 major cultural groups (sorry to group some of these together but for expediency...): India, Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern, African, Euro-Mediterranean along with classic American. Great preparation tips and hints. There is an assumption that you might be entertaining or prepping ahead so there are tips for that as well as a healthy batch of both alcoholic and non-alcohlic beverage recipes; good section on grilling. Good info on sustainable seafood/fish. There are some excellent bread recipes. There are some good stories that accompany some of the recipes. Excellent collection of vegetable recipes as well as starch/pasta/grains. The desserts are awesome.
I saw somewhere where a reviewer said these recipes were 'dumbed down'. Not at all...but they are expertly conceived and presented making them seem simple or at least accessible. I will absolutely stand by that. The 'ethnic' recipes are brilliant - they have managed to make them both very accessible and authentic. There are recipes that are really simple to assemble and others that are more sophisticated but all, even the more complex ones, seem to have an ease of preparation bacause they are well thought out.
For those who live in really rural areas...might be some ingredients you can't get ( but then, even in small towns there are often "ethnic" groceries that cater to local Mexican and Asian populations...might try there for some ingredients, or mail order.). For those who simply MUST have pictures...this is not the book for you, but it does have stellar graphic design.
i will just restate that this is truly an excellently crafted collection of recipes that will not disappoint. I am amazed with how well thought out it seems to be. While I respect and use some of Mr. Bittman's cookbooks I sometimes feel like he defaults to Asian cooking style/flavors a bit too often; I do not find that at all with the Gourmet Today collection. I do find the collection is what I would call 'well-grounded' which for me means it is food the way real people eat, at home that is and not how they eat at 3 Star restaurants in Napa Valley (yes, we love French Laundry...but who cooks like that at home!).
Probably not for a timid beginning cook, but if you know and like anything about Gourmet Magazine, then this is highly recommended for you. Yes, some of these recipes can be found online or in editions of the magazine; other not. But with Gourmet Mag now sadly defunctified by Conde Nasty, this collection seems somehow even more special. Hope you get it and enjoy reading and using it as much as I have. This is going to stay on my favs shelf. There is PLENTY to explore in this masterpiece.