Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cookbook Review

I seem to have somewhere become addicted to cookbooks - especially ones with nice photos of what the food is supposed to look like. Pretty food presentation invariably can make things taste even better than they already are. Because the "layout" looks nice - it makes you want to eat it. A pretty plate with accoutrements of bright green veggies, and a dash of strawberry or cherry tomato red tantalizes your brain, making it a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

I have 56 cookbooks (not including my 3-ring binder collection of individual recipes) - and I just added 5 more! Mikes Merchandise usually has excellent prices on their books and being a bit weak when it comes to books caved-in on the following:
  1. Indian Home Cooking ($32 - Mikes price $8)
  2. The Silver Spoon ($40 - Mikes price $10)
  3. The Panera Bread Cookbook ($18 - Mikes price $6)
  4. Wok ($20 - Mikes price $8)
  5. Meals Made Easy ($25 - Mikes price $8)
The Indian Home Cooking book is really user-friendly and provides quite a lot of information on substitutions, with each consecutive recipe getting more complicated as the chapter goes on. The majority of the dishes are vegetarian which I really like for a change of pace, or if you want, you could use many as a side dish. There is an explanation for all the different styles of particular Indian dish at the beginning of each chapter and more before each recipe. The author encourages experimentation, suggesting to make recipes even it you don't have all the ingredients. So far Paul and I have made our very own dal - which is a thick bean dish. We substituted lemon as suggested, left out the ginger, and did not have or chillies, so I added red pepper flakes instead. (We had all the other spices thanks to the lamb sag Sabrina B. fixed for us when she and Noone and Dustin and Maya came to visit us) The chickpea dal was quite good - very unusual flavor - nothing like I'd ever fixed before - but I've never fixed Indian at home. Then again, I've never added so many spices to any dish before either. It smelled fantastic as it was cooking! I've included the recipe below if anyone would like to try it out - its big enough to print and read:

The Silver Spoon is an Italian Cookbook. Let me rephrase - it seems to be THE Italian cookbook. They translated from Italian to English - so its the real deal - so no swimming in heavy recipes of spaghetti and meatballs. Each page has about 3 to 5 short concise recipes on it. And the book itself has 1199 pages (the index of 64 pages brings it up to a whopping 1263). There are various full-page photos and merry illustrations spattered throughout and then two ribbon bookmarks built into the spine (bonus points there folks!). Each section is color coded and covers the following: sauces & marinades, antipasti, first courses, eggs & frittata, veggies, fish & crustaceans, poultry, game, cheese, desserts & baking - and then goes on to list quite a number of full up menus from famous chefs for about 70 pages.

I bought the Panera Bread book because #1 - it had a recipe in it for Kalamta Olive Loaf - which - if you've never had it - is amazingly wonderful. And #2 when I finally build my mud oven(this summer!) I will need some bread recipes. Basically this book gives you all the yummy things you can buy at Panera (or St. Louis Bread Co. for Paul's family).

The Wok book is definitely eye candy - lots of beautiful photos of wok prepared dishes, with just a handful of recipes. We have a new wok and would like to fix something other than "shelf #1 and 2 stir fry" - not that there's anything wrong with that - its usually fairly good - just trying for something a bit more authentic. The majority of this book is fairly specialized - and will require quite a few exotic ingredients and special trips to the store. Most likely a special occasion will be needed to try out some of the time-consuming recipes.

The last book is from the magazine - Real Simple, and is called Meals Made Easy. This book has a beautiful, very clean layout with lots of air around the text and a photograph of every single recipe, and a built in bookmark also (bonus!). The instructions are very good and they give estimations on preparation time (hands-on) - and total with cooking. Topics include: One-pot meals, No-shop meals, 30min Meals, No-cook meals, freezer meals, shortcuts, and reliable sides. This book is compiled around FAST and simple tasty meals, and will be very handy for hectic evenings.



At 7:36 AM, Blogger Laura said...

ooooooh, how fun!!!!! seriously though, 56+ cookbooks!!?????? good grief, i am always trying to get rid of them and consolidate, and you want MORE?!!!!!! perhaps you should start publishing a list of them here, in case anyone felt compelled to find you another book for your collection. umm, and a. . .MUD OVEN?

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

Cookbooks. This girl doesn't need them, she makes fabulously tasty meals out of her head. I haven't had anything she prepared that I did not like.

Every so often though it is fun to follow the recipes and the chickpea dal was aromatic while I stirred it and quite tasty. Thanks for the spices Sabrina B., we did pull the cardamom seeds out of the dish before eating because they puffed up to the size of chickpeas. Did not want to bite into them.

She has not made anything yet for us that I have not liked. Once she even proposed a dish that I had once before and forewarned her that I did not like it, but go ahead and make it anyway, because I was willing to give it one more try with her preparation. I liked it.

Oh, wait a minute what am I saying. In case any of the other guys out there get any ideas. She is a horrible cook, absolutely horrible. I get sick to my stomach every time she cooks. Bleah, spit, choke, puke. Have some bicarb and the poison center phone number handy. Don't let her cook for you, she'll poison you.

At 11:09 AM, Blogger Anne said...

What is this Mike's Merchandise store of which you speak? Those are some fabulous prices...not that I need to REALLY know more about it now (gave up buying books for addicted), but for future reference, it might be handy. :)

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Brina Bat said...

Its in my "In Huntsville" Category - on the right. But here's the direct line:


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