"I could live on raw fish." If you agree with this statement, then you might really like this cook book by renowned foodie, cooking instructor and gardening enthusiast Patricia Wells. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of raw scallops and the like. I picked this book based purely on the title; Salad as a Meal. I love salads and I love making them the main dish of a meal, sounds like perfection, right?
Sadly, this book is not for me.
Here's what I liked about it;
1..Excellent and inventive recipe for croutons - one in particular using polenta may actually get me interested in buying polenta to make them
2. Perfectly detailed instructions on how to poach fish. Poached fish, especially salmon is an auto pick for me when I go to nice restaurants. I've never tried to make it at home because I thought I'd need one of those specialty fish poacher thingies and frankly I have neither the extra $ or the cabinet space.
3. Lovely and very useful recipes for flavored salts. I don't know why it's never occured to me to make some of my own at home (I'm slow, I guess), but I just mixed up a batch of lemon salt per Ms. Wells recipe (it smells divine) and I'm going to try it out on some chicken I'm making for dinner tonight. But I could also see using this on hummus, tabouli, chocolate caramels, bread dip, the applications are flipping endless!
Here are the reasons I do not like this book, they are biggies.
1. There aren't as many salads in this book as I'd supposed, the book is broken down into chapters, Soups (comprised mostly of cold soups, seven out of the nine are chilled soups and I' not a fan of cold soups, sorry), Eggs, Fish, Poultry, Meat, Bread and sauces.
2. Over half of the photographs in the book are of her garden. Gorgeous closeups of limes, a bowl of capers, a weathered chair, grapes, anyway, you get where I'm going with this, WHERE's the FOOD? Well, there are pics of some of the recipes, but some that I'd especially want to see a pic of the finished result (such as the zucchini carpaccio) are not there and others, like a recipe for marinated olives are done in close up. Such a waste of photo space. I'll admit that I've been spoiled by Foodgawker and other cooking websites who always have a tasty finish photo, but it seems strange to me that most of the pictures included in this book have little to do with the recipes. If I wanted a photo album of a home garden in France, well then I'd . . well you know what I'd do.
3. Too many specialty ingredients without a reasonable explanation why they are required. When I make Alton Brown's soft pretzels I use kosher salt, because I know it is the closest to pretzel salt that I can buy at my Safeway grocery. Why should I buy some of these specialty vinegars and oils and what would work in their place if I couldn't afford a $30 bottle of vinega? No answers.
4. Raw poultry. Not rare poultry or slightly pink poultry, I mean raw, like you can practically hear the the little cluckers squawking at you for eating them. Yikes.
5. Simple, yes. Bland, yes. I'm talking here about most of the salad dressings. I like a little more zing, some zippiness, more of the punch in your gut than the feather on your foot kind of flavoring and for me a dressing composed of buttermilk, salt and lemon just doesn't cut it. It's like salad dressings for people who think ranch dressing is spicy.
Sigh, my search for a book of salads and dressings continues.