17 internautes sur 18 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Knits in Tardis
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Wow. I suppose it is somewhat bad for to write a review with reference to other reviews, but it's hard not to notice how much perceptions of what is frou-frou or pretentious or what have you figures into the assessment of...okay, cookbooks in general. As someone lucky enough to have grown up with a lot of cultural and culinary diversity, I'd argue that it's an oddly American thing to not be all that interested in where your food comes from, to not necessarily be all that into "fancy" cooking unless as a kind of luxury hobby, and to be turned off or offended by exotic meats (cheeks, brains, liver, etc.) or rely on a relatively limited set of produce staples.
That said, yeah, I can see a little pretentiousness in the Food52 Cookbook - I just don't know how much of it is a *fair* perception and how much of it is about prejudice and preconceptions I bring to the subject.
And the subject, simply, is obsession. Obsession with making the perfect example of some kind of recipe is what fuels the recipe contests that are continually running on the Food52 website, for which this cookbook is named. I'd seen the website before, several times, and although I frequently visit the FoodTV and Epicurious sites for recipes and inspiration, I have to admit I was underwhelmed by Food52. For one thing, it reminded me of the current yuppie fad of taking pictures of one's meal at home or even a restaurant (!) and posting it to Facebook or wherever. I note that the Food 52 site has readers rating both the recipes (with stars) and the pics (with thumbs up or down) - to me, that seems to border on fetishism. (Not that I see any inconsistency (COUGHCOUGH) between this view and my general enthusiasm over a different sort of "fetishism" evidenced on knitting websites - so okay. Maybe I'm just being overly puritanical about food, here.)
In any case, I never really "took" to the Food52 site, which - in retrospect - is too bad. Thousands of cooks submitting their best recipes and rating each other is a brutal, darwinistic battle that results in some...really, really good winning recipes. There, I said it. And critics are right, "fregola sarda with caramelized squash and charmoula" sounds like something you'd want to run away from, screaming, after a long hard day, but I suppose that "winter squash with couscous and herbs" sounds a little prosaic if you've been trying to perfect the recipe (and then get the right picture taking exposure) for a week!
I've been very happily trying out the recipes from this book. Pretty much the highest praise I can give for a cookbook is that you want to try these specific recipes in this specific book, as opposed to just being inspired to find something similar, and by that criteria, I have to give a high rating to Food52.
Some very basic salads like Argula, Pear and Goat Cheese or Chopped Beef Salad are great precisely because they are pretty darned simple, and they make a pretty persuasive argument for organizing the cookbook by seasons. Right now, pear and pomegranates are on sale and at their peak at my market. You can work hard on a fussy recipe or work magic with a few really good ingredients that taste almost as wonderful individually as they do together.
I notice that this cookbook has a penchant for repeating some ingredients more often than you'd expect, strictly speaking. (Groupthink? Terminal trendiness?) Crème Fraiche is in innumerable recipes, and yet there is no basic recipe for that ingredient, which is made simply by mixing cream with a bit of yogurt or buttermilk, then leaving it out at room temperature to culture for 24 hours. Or, you can buy it in a more well-stocked market. (One different from my current hometown grocery, where the most exotic item in the store is pre-packed sushi.)
So yes, if convenience makes for fun, it's someone in a diverse and larger urban community who'll have the most fun with this cookbook. I'd say seek it out anyway, or find the Food52 website, because you're probably in a rut. After making a half dozen recipes from this book, with mixed success (I'm no baker, and really went after some of the desserts), I can certainly say that I was in a rut. And maybe that's what an old-fashioned honest-to-goodness-PAPER-cookbook is for, with all due respect to Food 52 *online* and the other wonderful online recipe sources out there. With a physical cookbook, you sit down and look at what has been winnowed down for you, from endless possibilities, and NOT according to your personal search criteria or perspective. On my own, I never would have tried Ciabatta Stuffing with Chorizo, Sweet Potato, and Mushrooms, and now my family has been nagging me for an encore, all week.
A grudging tip of the hat to the uber-trendy phenom of "crowd sourcing". This term references the the fact that this cookbook is the effective product of multi-contributor blog postings. In fact I believe that Food 52 is claiming to be the first cookbook to do so, which to my mind doesn't hold water because food company recipe competitions and other "101 recipe" type cookbooks have been soliciting online for some time now. Notwithstanding, Food52 is a book (and a site) that enhances reader contributions while always respecting and recognizing those efforts. It is indeed the real deal.
15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Food52 is a food blog, but now is a cookbook, filled with recipes from different cooks. And I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. Almost all the recipes turned out fantastic, although there were a few duds. It is a higher end, tougher cookbook; but I think that it would appeal to a wide range of people.
To date (4/1/2012) I have made 22 of the 140 recipes within this cookbook.
This book is separated into seasons. Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring, based on the ingredients available during the season and the general theme of food. As said before, a good portion of these ingredients are higher end. So this isn't a budget cookbook, nor is it a quick fix cookbook.
At the front of the book is actually a bonus chapter, known as the test run that has three recipes. I haven't tried either, but they seem simple enough, although the one calls for an obscene amount of butter. They include a salad, pasta dish, and a dessert.
The first recipe in this section is the Summer Corn Chowder. This is one of the ones I've made and it was extremely good. The removal of the corn from the cob took a little time, but otherwise it wasn't a complicated dish to make. It just took a little time. The Blueberry-Coconut Muffins were also extremely good, with healthful ingredients, and were a quick mix to stir up. They'd probably be good with another kind of berry as well. Daddy's Carbonara was interesting, because of the use of eggs. But it tasted good and it didn't require a lot of prep work. I do think it could have used a touch more seasoning. A snack of Rosemary Thyme Pita chips was simple to make, although I found peeling apart the pita layers much more difficult than the book would leave me to believe. But they tasted much better than any pita chip you could find in a bag at a store. For cookies, the Zucchini-Lemon Cookies were very healthy tasting and almost made you feel like you were getting away with something even though you were having a cookie. Another dessert, the Simple Summer Peach Cake, was enjoyed by my coworkers, but it was kind of dry and crumbly. For another Zucchini Dish, the Zucchini Pancakes did not turn out well at all. I had an inkling at the beginning that they wouldn't hold together based on the ingredients and I was right. The taste was a little bland too. The Eggplant Parmesan was another one of those failed recipes for me. It was complicated to make and definitely not worth the time it took. It wasn't very flavorful.
There were plenty of other recipes from ribs, to fried chicken, to other things, and I definitely plan on trying some more of these dishes. They fit the Summer theme well and I imagine the vast majority of them are tasty.
I absolutely loved the Savory Bread Pudding. It was easy to make and with the mushrooms and gruyere cheese, it was definitely savory. I really enjoyed it. Continuing with the mushroom theme, the Creamy Mushroom Soup was delicious as well, although it was quite time consuming to make. A great snack was the Smoky Fried Chickpeas. They didn't last very long because they were so good though. I didn't really enjoy the Chicken with Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce. It sounded so delicious but was quite plain and took a long time to make. It should be forewarned that the Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies will keep you up all night if you eat too many of them. I speak from experience. I do have to say, as delicious as they were they would have been great with some dried cherries added in. The Southwestern Spiced Sweet Potato Fries with Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream turned out some fantastic fries, but the sour cream dip was not very good. I ended up using ranch dressing instead.
There's once again some great recipes I haven't yet got to try in this chapter. I look forward to some of the heavier meat dishes, like the Rib-Eye with a chocolate sauce. It just sounds intriguing.
Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Winter's Night was exactly that. Perfect for a colder day. It was heartier healthier fare. It did take awhile to make though. Moving on to the Roasted Bagna Cauda Broccoli, I just wasn't impressed. The flavors, despite having somewhat bold ingredients, weren't very strong. The Creamy Sausage Stuff Mushrooms were easy to make and had a fantastic flavor. I liked the use of Asiago cheese in the filling.
I have to admit, there just weren't as many recipes that intrigued me in this chapter. There were a couple of seafood recipes that would probably be good. But I didn't really see the heartier fare that I expected. There also weren't as many desserts in this chapter either, as compared to the others.
The Chewy Sugar Cookies were not very flavorful, but they were easy to make. A great spring ingredient is asparagus, and the Absurdly Addictive Asparagus is extremely good. I loved the pancetta that was mixed in with it. It was even easy to make. Pasta with Prosciutto, Snap Peas, Mint and Cream was also another wonderful dish. And again, east to make and a quick fix. The Maple Yogurt Pound Cake has been voted the best baked good I have brought into work thus far. It was just moist enough, and had great flavor. My mom is the connoisseur of Creamy Cucumber dishes, and the Creamy Cucumber Side is one of the best she's ever had.
I haven't tried too many recipes from this section yet, but I'm eager to. Since we're just getting into spring I look forward to trying more of these. Especially the Caramelized Pork Bahn Mi, it just looks delicious.
So overall everything in this book was very good. Its rare to find a cookbook that has every recipe turn out perfect or be tasty, so the few that aren't are acceptable. I do think that the expensive or odd ingredients might make it difficult to make some of the recipes, or turn more strictly down-home type of cooks off. Because some of them can be hard to obtain, and my family didn't even know what a good portion of them were (porchetta, Sriracha, etc.). So this book is definitely more of an adventurous culinary trip.
The layout of the book is nice. Despite having a hard back cover, it sets open easily enough. The recipes are easy to read with a large enough font, and almost every recipe has a picture. Some even have some preparation pictures the ones that are taken are quite beautiful and make the food look delicious. I do have to complain though about the way the recipes are sorted. Since its by seasons I didn't expect desserts, main dishes, etc. to be in separate chapters. But I at least expected them to be organized within the chapters themselves. This book had a week type structure, but I think it would have been better served to have everything separated by type of food within the chapters. I didn't enjoy flipping one page from a main dish, to the next to a dessert, to a side dish, back to a main dish, another dessert, etc. It just makes it harder to find things as I'm not one for really looking at the appendices or table of contents.
I do like this book, and its definitely deserving of a permanent position on my cookbook shelf. I plan to refer back to it again, especially for some of the recipes I have already tried, like the chickpeas and a few others. They seem to be good standbys with great flavor.
Review by M. Reynard 2012