Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
nice cookbook with a few flaws
on November 2, 2007
First off, I should say I had no idea who Allen was before I purchased this cookbook a few months ago. I bought it based on two recipes of Ted Allen's I saw in Food & Wine Magazine, both of which were quite good, and both of which appear in this cookbook.
Allen's approach to cooking is a bit fussier than I normally like, and I don't know if you could call it "simple". For example, when salting both sides of meat, Allen suggests putting parchment paper down on a large cookie sheet, placing the meat on the paper, mixing up salt and pepper in a small bowl, and then sprinkling that mixture over both sides of the meat. That's just unnecessarily complicated. After trying several recipes I streamlined the directions beforehand, and it worked great on the Pasta en Brodo recipe.
Many recipes are more complicated than what I usually cook for a weeknight dinner. My personal guideline on a "simple" recipe is that anything which takes more than 30 minutes to prep and finish (not including cooking time) is not simple. Since many recipes in the book take a bit of skill, I don't know why there were so many beginner basics included, such as explaining how to cook certain meats. The tips were easy to understand and helpful, but they seemed out of place compared to the recipes themselves.
Also, a few of Allen's recipes just haven't turned out well for me. The two vinaigrettes I attempted were completely inedible. A couple of the recipes were more a list of ideas than recipes, especially in the salad section.
My final nitpicky complaint is that I wish there had been conversions for dried herbs. The recipes all use fresh herbs, which is nice when you can get them, but as you know that's not always possible.
Despite all that, the book gets some major props from me for several reasons. First is the plastic cover and the thicker, coated pages. Most of my cookbooks have covers that don't stand up to use in the kitchen, but this one will, and I love that. Second is the vegetable section, which has a lot more thought and care put into it than many other cookbooks where veggies are treated like an afterthought. The variations on recipes is a great touch as well, and I do like the focus on foods that are just a bit different than what you find in other cookbooks. Also, as superficial as this is, I love the color scheme.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who is looking for variety in their current cookbook collection.