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Friday, July 29, 2011

Cookbooks for Cheaters

Ok, I admit it - I'm not that great a cook. I still need cookbooks! I'm not on Top Chef where they make everything off the top of their heads - how do they DO that?  (Many hours in the kitchen, encyclopedic memory, experience tasting all kinds of cuisines, ability to think creatively under pressure, no problem!)

So how do we amateurs decide which cookbook to use?

You can buy one on impulse and perhaps suffer buyer's remorse or, how about this? Borrow it from our Library.

It's kind of like speed dating: you flip through the book quickly at the store and are smitten with a few eyecatching recipes, so you want to take it out for a first date. (This is where the Library comes in.) Check it out here (or place a hold on it,) take it home and cook a few recipes from it. If you absolutely love it and can't bear to give it up, then commit and buy it. Happily ever after!

If the book's not all you hoped, just know that it will be available from the Library if you ever want to take it out again.

For example, here are some cookbooks I love but don't want to buy (and that our Library owns):

All books by Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa:
the original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and the others -
BC Parties, BC Family Style, BC in Paris, BC at Home, BC Back to Basics, BC How Easy is That?

Each cookbook is lovely, but to me doesn't have enough recipes to justify the price of the book. 

Ina's latest book, How Easy is That, aptly titled,  has some recipes that are so simple they almost don't qualify as recipes.  For example, Roasted Figs - Wrap halved figs with prosciutto, brush with olive oil, and bake at 425 for 10 minutes.  Friends tried it this past weekend:  warm, sweet/salty and delicious, but do you really need a recipe for that, or is it just directions?  

My daughter and I also made the Crostini with Tuna Tapenade, this one was outstanding, with the whole being more than the sum of the parts - lemony and flavorful with kalamata olives.  (Note - you could sub out the mascarpone cheese with either cream cheese or sour cream so you don't have to purchase 1/3 cup of expensive mascarpone.)  Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches -  also good,  but just use good Italian tuna and a mustard vinaigrette with purchased hummus, serve them open faced on a toasted baguette and you're done.  Don't need the cookbook.

A few weeks back, we tried the Watermelon and Arugula Salad.  Savory watermelon salads are all the rage right now, and this one was good, not great.  The best one I've made is a watermelon, tomato and kalamata olive salad but not sure where that recipe is right now.  (I'll look it up! - said the Reference Librarian)

Also tried the Roasted Eggplant Caponata, which was very good, but I actually like Roasted Eggplant Spread from the Barefoot Contessa Family Style  better and it was easier too - just roast everything in the oven and process.

These books are certainly attractive, photos styled simply but beautifully, and the recipes are really very good and perfect for summer entertaining and enjoying.  Hope you come to our Library and take out these or other cookbooks, and let me know what you've made, good, bad or indifferent!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm hungry!