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A New Way to Cook Hardcover – October 1, 2001
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Want to eat healthful, delicious food without self-deprivation? Sally Schneider's A New Way to Cook shows you how. Schneider's approach is global: not only does she provide 600 recipes for a wide range of truly satisfying, good-for-you dishes, she offers a blueprint for better eating and cooking, no matter the recipe. Her mantra? No need to give up flavorful fats and the pleasures of salt and sugar, which are intrinsically necessary to a satisfying diet, she maintains. No food is excluded in her plan. Applying moderation, portion streamlining, and a number of unusual techniques--for example, you get all the flavor and satisfying mouthfeel of fat without excessive calories if you emulsify it first with water or other liquids--she offers her better way. Those of us caught between the need to eat sensibly and the reasonable desire to derive maximum enjoyment from food, impulses often at odds, will welcome her cookbook.
Proceeding with an enumeration of essential techniques and "strategic" ingredients (for example, buying high quality can help check calories as people tend to eat less when they eat better), Schneider then offers her innovative recipes. These run the gamut from "Fried" Artichokes with Crispy Garlic and Sage to Oven-Steamed Red Snapper with Fennel Leeks and Curry to Chocolate Chestnut Truffles (chestnut purée helps keep calories in check). Many of the recipes include variations and improvisations--a basic roasted vegetable formula, for example, also offers "tutorials" that encourage cooking freedom. Schneider also presents flavor-enhancing component recipes (such as that for roasted garlic), as well as tips, charts, and other useful information that further extend the book's usefulness. With a chapter on "flavor catalysts" like dry rubs and flavored oils; nutritional analysis; and mail-order and other resources listings, the fully color-photo-illustrated book is a sure thing for readers who want to eat healthily and well. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Every era must have its cookbook, and the cookbook for the early 21st century has arrived. It is not that the recipes Schneider, a columnist for Food & Wine, has included are particularly or innovative. These are recipes that reflect the way Americans cook and eat today, or perhaps the way we wish we cooked and ate. Schneider sets forth a list of techniques for cooking healthful and tasty food, then presents 600 recipes that follow these guidelines. She includes nutritional information charts at the back of the book. Introductory material to each chapter is comprehensive, e.g., a chapter on beans opens with a guide to buying, soaking and cooking dry legumes and combining beans and grains, then follows up with Chickpea Stew with Saffron and Winter Squash and Fat Beans with Mole. Asian, Italian and other multiculti fare typifies modern American cuisine, which means that Oven-Steamed Whole Fish with Chinese Flavors, Thai Seafood Salad with Lemongrass Dressing, and Salmon Cured with Grappa coexist happily in a chapter on fish and seafood. Often Schneider provides a jumping-off point for variations, as in Open Ravioli with a list of possible fillings and sauces. A chapter on desserts tantalizes with such treats as Rustic Rosemary-Apple Tart. Final chapters on flavor essences, flavored oils, sauces and more, as well as instructions for doing anything from peeling citrus fruit to seasoning a cast-iron pan, round out this impressively substantial effort.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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How many combinations of ingredients are there, really, especially in the realm of layperson cooking? Not many, it would seem from the popular recipe sites and mags -- but this book comes up with some stunning new combos. What first caught my eye: cauliflower, raisin, pine nut pasta. I don't even care for pasta, but how could one not try out such a stellar new blend of flavors? Similarly ingenious, unusual pairings fill this hefty book. I'm really impressed.
At first the format seemed strange to me, but now I adore it. Each chapter ("Legumes," "Pasta," etc.) begins with a page listing the recipes to follow (which are named usefully and descriptively -- not "Sally's Star Seashells" or something equally obfuscatory). At first I found this cluttered and unnecessary -- why add this extra busy page when there's a lovely full index and a great table of contents? -- but now I rely on it. Not sure what to make with that 5-lb. sack of lentils? Just flip to the Legume chapter's summary page and skim the recipes for ideas. For my style of cooking, in which I love recipes for ideas but abhor actually following them, this is bliss.
Finally, the in-depth sections in the preface about the philosophy of healthy cooking are *gasp* not preachy and, beyond that, actually invaluable. I cook healthy food my way, so have a high-falutin sense of how to cut out fats and so on; but dear Ms. Schneider taught me (even *me*? oh humbling) a thing or two. Like how to sauce pastas lightly yet flavorfully by mixing some of the pasta water into your super-flavorful low-cal ingredients, such as anchovies or soy sauce or even grated cheese; thereby you create a nice thin emulsion to lightly coat your yummy pasta without that gallon of oil for texture and flavor.
Ms. Schneider, you have done an immense service to humanity. I'm swept off my feet.
Keep in mind, this is not a traditional cookbook. If you are looking for recipes this is not the book for you. If you want to learn how to cook and how to do things yourself, this it the book for you.
I love this cookbook, but I have to agree with the reviewer who wrote that this is not necessarily the best cookbook for the very busy person. Nonetheless, I still give it 5 stars, because the author isn't making a super-speedy meal claim, and with practice her recipes can get a lot quicker. Also, some of the less time-friendly recipes can easily be adapted. For example, I subsituted chicken breasts for the whole chicken in the FANTASTIC garlic & herb roasted chicken. For me, this cut down on prep time and the problems of trying to get anyone to eat dark meat, plus I have chicken for salad toppings and sandwiches. Memorizing some of the simpler recipes also speeds things up. The first time I made 'warm spilling fruit' I was very slow. Now that I know it's fairly simple, I can throw everything into a pot and have it done in 5 minutes, in time to spoon on top of plain oatmeal. I have learned that cooking certain fruit (such as blackberries) makes me much more likely to eat things that I don't normally like.
Also, a person can get around the issue of grocery shopping by doing some planning for the week. Buying a few frozen items is a small compromise (in my opinion).
Some readers may just be having problems with the lost art of cooking in this country. When was the last time someone you knew planned their meals ahead or focused on using herbs and spices and avoided 'pre-prepared' items? These things used to be common though.
I would rate this book on par with any other book that encourages proper sit-down meals. There's nothing "boil-in-bag" about it, but you can get high quality meals in a reasonable amount of time. Yes, there are some more elaborate recipes, but there are other recipes that are pretty reasonable. Also, if you think of ways to use left-overs, it's possible to cook once every few days, but have the fantastic flavor for a while longer. Normally, I *hate* left-overs, but then normally left-overs are bland and tasteless. I have to fight with my significant other over leftovers when I cook from this book. Left-over chicken can go on a salad, and on a soup -- into which a few left-over vegetables are tossed. True, the author doesn't give you guidance on how to eat left-overs, but I think this is also because her cookbook seems fairly family oriented (as opposed to a single person living alone). Portion sizes are very reasonable and can suit 2 people fine, but cooking for 1 occasionally requires adjustment (ex. chicken breast instead of a whole bird). For the first time ever, I made salad dressing and had zero left-over.
This cookbook is great at encouraging improvisation by providing a palette of skills and options centered around basic recipes, as well as the standard recipes. For example, there is a fruit tart recipe that enourages the reader to choose their own type of fruit and their own flavor and mix to preference. It's rare that you can find a cookbook that will give you a 'general' recipe that you can play with to preference. I have made the fruit tarts multiple times (admittedly with store bought pastry) and each time used a different combination. The same goes for the fruit & nut salad (not the exact title) -- which gives you a list of possible types of fruit and possible nuts to use, depending on what's on hand. The salad recipe is particularly handy for when you don't want a boring salad, but haven't got time to buy new ingredients. One time I used left over clementines, dry cranberries, and walnuts bits -- post-holidays.
American readers may find there are slightly more recipes for rabbit etc than we are used to. I also wish there was slightly more information about vegetatian meals, but her chapters on legumes and grains are implicitly pretty helpful.
I did not find any of her techniques particularly difficult (she has a good glossary of instructions in the back); but I imagine that for many people who are used to 'heat and serve' cooking, it may seem like a lot. You do have to get used to keeping certain things (like lemons) on hand, and getting comfortable with a new recipe. My grandmother was a great cook, so a lot of this stuff slowly is coming back to me. I can't pretend I love spending time in the kitchen, but I appreciate food that isn't boring and for me that means doing more than just 'heat and serve'.
The best thing about this cookbook is that you can have a 5 star meal and feel totally indulged without eating anything bad for you. The quality of the flavor in her meals is fantastic. The garlic roasted chicken in particular has won me tons of compliments (to the point where more than one person has said a meal at my house was better than most of the restuarants in the area). Getting something with flavor, breaks the monotony of the usual american diet, and thus cures the tendency to mindlessly munch on things that taste 'good' (chips, chocolate etc).
I would recommend this book in conjunction with the "Frenchwomen don't get fat book" because it really does make a person feel indulged rather than deprived. I actually find cooking from these recipes relaxing because I know I'll really enjoy the meal, wihout having to worry about calories.
Wife and I borrowed this one from the library and just kept re-borrowing it until they said we couldn't anymore-
so we bought it!
Haven't gone through the entire book yet - but found many recipes we knew we wanted to try for sure!
I find this book simple, sophisticated, organized and understandable for any home maker. If you truly want to find your method of cooking/baking, this book truly sculpts it out!