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The Way We Cook: Recipes from the New American Kitchen Hardcover – May 27, 2003
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The "we" of the The Way We Cook are authors Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven, co-creators of a widely popular Boston Globe food column. The book offers over 250 recipes for simple yet attractive fare that's rooted in American home cooking but which also satisfies worldly palates. Thus the couple provides recipes like Grilled Chicken in Lettuce Leaves with Asian Vinaigrette, Braised Beef in Balsamic Vinegar, and Quick Fish Stew with Ginger and Thyme, while also offering recipes for too-good-to-mess-with favorites including Shrimp and Spanish Rice, Hot and Sour Soup, and a particularly good rendering of roast loin of pork with dry fruits. There's also a fine chapter on sides--don't miss the Crusty Smashed Potatoes--and sections on sweets including Sour Cream Coffee Cake, Congo Bars, Ice Cream Pie, and Julie's Mother's Apple Cake. Other cookbooks work the same territory that Julian and Riven do, but The Way We Cook offers exemplary taste, especially well-crafted recipes, and, perhaps above all, a keen response to the modern cook's need to make limited kitchen time count. -Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Julian and Riven, cooking columnists for the Boston Globe, promise their book to be uncomplicated and practical while at the same time elegant and informed-and they more than live up to their promise. "We aren't restaurateurs and we don't think people at home, taking times from their busy lives, should pretend to be either," they tell the reader, and say they've written a book the average American household can really use. Filled with simple recipes for the modern kitchen, the book offers enthusiastic introductions to each dish, and the recipes, which are written in a warm, mentoring tone, have ample guidelines and helpful tips. The authors shed light on cooking the Roast Pork Tenderloins with Caramelized Onions: "Pork is safe-and quite good-cooked until it is pink, not grayish-white like everyone did years ago." The suggestions for variations on any recipe are novel without being showy: for Chicken Pot Pie with Rich Pastry, they recommend a Salmon and Mushroom Pot Pie variation, which instructs the cook to simply halve the pastry recipe. The photographs that accompany the recipes are simple and instructive. Sections, aptly named "When You're in a Rush," "Good Enough for Company" and "If You Like to Bake," make choosing the right recipe a snap. Reminiscent of that 1980s standby, The Silver Palate, Julian and Riven's cookbook is innovative enough to be inspiring but familiar enough not to strike fear in the heart of the average cook.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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After "Salads" and "Appetizers" the book is organized around occasion. "When You're in a Rush" features weeknight meals like Ten-minute Bolognese Sauce, Pork Chops with Apples and Onion, and the five-ingredient Shrimp in Coconut Milk with Red Curry Paste, which takes longer to say than to cook. Not all of the dishes are so quick - Eggplant Lasagna requires assembly and baking - but they share a simplifying "one-pot meal" approach.
"Dishes We Make All The Time" includes homey fare like Baked Meatballs and Tomato Sauce, Yankee Pot Roast with Caramelized Vegetables and Bow Ties with Pot Cheese and Peas. There's also a French Onion Soup made with roasted onions and Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce that can be served in bowls or over pasta.
"New Classics" offers tweaks to the tried and true to reflect the modern tastes for leaner, more highly seasoned food, like Oven Fried Fish and Chips and Roasted Coq Au Vin with Sugar Snap Peas. "Good Enough for Company" features Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce, Chicken breasts stuffed under the skin with Ricotta and herbs, Roast Side of Salmon, Salmon and Mushroom Pot Pie.
There's a chapter of stews and braises - Spring Garden Stew, Braised Beef in Balsamic Vinegar and another of side dishes like Harvard Beets, Sautéed Apples, and Noodle Pudding. "Rise and Dine" features Salmon Kedgeree, Warm Cheese Pie and Blueberry Muffins; a baking chapter focuses on cakes, cookies and pies and the book ends with Simple Fruit Deserts from Apple Crisp to Baked Peaches in Brown Sugar.
Attractively designed, the book is a comfortable combination of the familiar and the new, with simple, practical advice for serving combinations, do ahead tips and variations. A book for cooks who like a relaxed feel in the kitchen, and who doesn't?
The chapter titles are a bit unusual, but they are exactly the range of topics you would expect to find in newspaper food columns. They are:
Appetizers such as deviled eggs, liver pate, ceviche, crab cakes, eggplant caponata, toasts, crackers, etc.
Salads such as Eggless Caesar, French Market Salad, Creamy Potatoe Salad, Fattoush, Greek Cypriot, etc.
When You're in a Rush with Soups, Chicken, Tuna, Salmon, Bass, and Scallops, quick Bolognese, etc.
Dishes We Make All the Time such as Vege Soup, Chili, Yankee Pot Roast, Meatball, Lamb Stew, etc.
New Classics such as Corn Chowder, Oyster Stew, Boulangere, Baked Beans, Salmon Cakes, etc.
Good Enough For Company with Rack of Pork, Leg of Lamb, Ossobuco, Duck Breasts, Roast Salmon, etc.
Simmering Pots with lots of soups and stews such as Cuban Stewed Chicken and Beef Daube, etc.
Sides such as Fresh Corn Risotto, Scalloped Tomatoes, Quick Couscous, Blue Cheese Popovers, etc.
Rise and Dine with Frittatas, Muffins, Soda Bread, Quesadillas, Banana Bread, Blueberry Loaf Cake, etc.
If You Love to Bake with Strawberry Shorkcakes, Carrot Cake, Pies, Tarts, Cookies, Gingerbread, etc.
Simple Fruit Desserts with five recipes for apples, oranges, and peaches.
The first thing which bumped my opinion up from three stars to four was with the description of how to cook hardboiled eggs. For starters, they recommended my preferred method of pricking a hole in the shell and dropping the eggs into just boiling water. Then, they gave the additional tip of rolling the just dropped eggs around a bit in order to center the yolk in the cooked egg. To cap things off, they gave a recommendation on how to crack the hot eggs to make them easier to peel when they cool.
The next thing which warmed my opinion of the book was that I could not find any steps in any recipes which I would do differently. There are few fancy techniques called for in the recipes and almost all of them take no more than a page, but there were also no short cuts.
The last thing which appealed to me was the lack of processed ingredients. All pie crusts are made from scratch and I detected no cans of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. I did find the directions for the pie crusts to be less than perfect, as it was lax in calling for very cold ingredients, combined in such a way to keep them cold and to leave bits of butter to fluff up the crust. But then, this is not a book on pie baking and I'm sure the technuque they give works well enough. Another less than ideal baking recipe was the carrot cake, which called for but a single layer. If I am going to the trouble to make a carrot cake with butter cream icing, I will make three layers for sure.
This is not a book for died in the wool foodies. Were I not reviewing it, I would not buy it myself, but for that very large number of people who need to make good meals at least three times a week and don't have time to wade through 800 pages of `The Joy of Cooking' or `James Beard's American Cookery', this book is just the thing.
I think Steve Raichlen's comparison to Julia Child and Simone Beck is misplaced because the latter duo was doing an in depth survey of a very specific local cuisine while the current authors are collecting recipes originating from all over the world and presenting them for a particular audience. So, their emphasis is on a specific audience rather than a specific cuisine. Sorry Steve.
This is an excellent book which accomplishes it's mission at a reasonable price. Just be warned that this is NOT low carb or low fat cooking, just very tasty cooking.
I like to try different books and see how their recipes are.
This one is great, and the recipes are easy to follow and the
ingredients are ones that you would have on "hand" in your home.
I loved how their catgorized it-"meals for when you are in a rush" excellent idea.
I would recommend this to someone who likes to cook but doesn't want to spend the day or the time looking for ingredients that are hard to find.