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Gourmet recipes by the score
on February 28, 2010
An interesting concept. . . . "Gourmet" magazine's "greatest hits" among recipes put together in a large compendium (recipes end on page 935). There is also a DVD that features the author's cooking techniques and some recipes. There are some nice features to this work, including "Tips and Techniques" (e.g., using salt and pepper, toasting spices, and handling chiles), a glossary (with a variety of chiles, fleur de sel, miso, truffle oil), and where to get certain ingredients and cooking supplies (e.g., where would you go to get buffalo or Thai basil?). But, of course, the heart of the book is its recipes.
The team involved in preparing this book had the following purpose and method (Page xii): "The concept was straightforward: we would look thro0ugh all the recipes we had ever published, select the best, and retest them. Then we would gather the cream of the crop into a book." I would note that some of these recipes are such that I will not try them (e.g., difficult cooking techniques or difficulty in finding key ingredients), but a large number of these are accessible to people who enjoy cooking their own meals. As such, this is a repository of recipes that are apt to be tastier and lusher than those from my beloved copy of "The Joy of Cooking." On the other hand, recipes are often more taxing on the amateur than are those in "Joy." As they say, a tradeoff. Nonetheless, many, many of these recipes are quite doable. . . .
The book is divided into a number of sections--Hors d'ouevres and first courses, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches and pizzas, Pasta (and noodles and dumplings), Grains and beans, Poultry, Beef (and weal and pork and lamb), Breads and crackers, Breakfast and brunch, Cookies (bars and confections), Cakes, Pies (tarts and pastries), Fruit desserts, Puddings (and custards, mousses, and soufflés), Frozen desserts and sweet sauces, Sauces and salsas, Relishes (and chutneys and pickles and preserves), and Basics. One of the nice things is the recognition in this volume of Americans' changing tastes. For instance, salsa is relatively recent in "Gourmet." By going over decades of recipes, one gets a sense of the changing nature of American tastes.
A word about "Basics," the past set of recipes in this work. Here, we see how to create the fundamental elements in cooking, such as stocks (chicken, beef, veal, fish, and vegetable), herbes de Provence (their recipe doesn't include lavender, but it would be easy enough to add), garam masala, and clarified butter (I have recently discovered how easy this is to make and what a difference it makes!).
There are so many worthy recipes that it makes little sense to try to enumerate some favorites or ones that I intend to make. However, perusing these makes it clear that while some will be challenging for the amateur cook, others are quite within the reach of such an audience--with the promise of some great tasting dishes!
Anyhow, a fine resource and one that I will be using in tandem with a precious few of my cookbooks that are workhorses in my kitchen library. . . .