Cookbook review

I'm not a logical person when it comes to cookbooks.

I have tons* of them. I read them carefully, but only rarely do I cook from a recipe as writ. Normally it's more of "Thyme on roasted mushrooms? Hmm. That sounds good." With that inspiration, I am off and cooking.

Also, I am wildly disloyal to many of them, and my colossal eBay feedback is littered with the bones of cookbooks which no longer appeal to me...if they ever truly did. There are some, however, that earn their keep (and, indeed, greatly protected status) by having a recipe so spectacular that I cannot find any way whatever to improve upon it. Not necessarily in the plural, either. A cookbook where so much as one recipe is stellar is something that will be passed on in my last will and testament. Naturally, there are fewer of these cookbooks than there are taxes of which I approve, but I digress. Some of these cookbooks are surprising, and some are not.

One can readily imagine that any cookbook where there are several such recipes is a joy forever. I'm here to share one such beast: Cook's Illustrated's Restaurant Favorites at Home. The premise is simple...take a bunch of restaurant reviewers to send in their (duh) restaurant favorites and then give them the full CI deconstruct-reconstruct treatment.

This book leapt out at me from the bargain bin of a Border's bookstore and its piddly $4.99 (plus the loathsome sales tax) price proved irresistible. (If you haven't got a Border's nearby, check only goes for +/- $7, plus shipping) My guess is that it wound up on clearance because the foods recipe-ed within proved a bit too frou-frou-chi-chi/innovative for the CI crowd, which generally expects foodie solutions to regular (the best roast chicken, the best brownies in the words of one reviewer) weeknight meals. This stuff, frankly, is more suited to lunatics like me or people who'd like to go all out for a dinnah party or similar.

So far, I have made 7 recipes and they have all been hits. None of these are the sorts of things an average person would want to prepare after rolling home from a day of toil, but they have been sensational in every way. In fact, if you were to have a dinnah party and made a starter, main and dessert from this book, not only would it be surprisingly easy but you'd be a hero of spectacular, epic, legendary proportions.

It also throws in suggestions on presentation and some equipment and ingredient reviews.

You mightn't have considered it at the full-on $29.99 retail price, but for $5-$8? Steal it now.


* About 48 linear feet/15 linear meters, give or take


meggie said…
I digress a little here, but upon looking at the cover of that book, I see it features Pears.
For a time my daughter & I noticed almost ever cooking tome we encountered featured pears, very prominently. As a fresh fruit, we love them. As a cooked item, not so keen.
Are we missing something??
Joke said…
Depends on the pear, is my thinking.

Comice pears, IMCO, are ideally poached and Bosc pears, can be both eaten out of hand or go in a tart.

Sharon said…
I have it (yes, bargain table!) and while I haven't made anything out of it yet, it makes for great bedtime reading.
Joke said…
Give it a try! Especially if you go with the "plating" suggestions, you will be utterly heroic to your guests.


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