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Review: Not Afraid of Flavor

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Not Afraid of Flavor
By Ben & Karen Barker
ISBN: 0807825859
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: Nov. 2000
Format: Hardcover
List price: $29.95 (Canada, UK)
Type: Chef's Cookbook; Southern Cooking
Sample recipe: The Chef's Favorite Lemon Tart, Grilled Lamb Chops with a Ragout of Baby Artichokes, Olives, and Oven-Dried Tomatoes
intended audience: novice advanced beginner good home cook gourmet professional
apparent goal: stocking stuffer sampler comprehensive Biblical stature coffee-table
competition: outclassed also-ran midrange strong challenger leads the pack
# of recipes: <50 <100 <200 <300 >300
practical recipes: <20% <40% <60% <80% >80%
# of ingredients: <3 <6 <9 <12 >12
ingredient hunt: 7-11 pantry supermarket online airfare required
recipe complexity: baby steps simple medium intense professional
instructions: inadequate bare bones full figured educational verbose
time conscious: outright lies speed of light fairly quick takes time takes all day
photos/drawings: skimpy adequate generous instructive glorious
recipe results: dorm food casual food family meals fancy food fit for royalty
flavor quotient: disappointing fair good delicious exceptional
layout: ick cluttered clean kind to cooks work of art
legibility: microscopic challenging adequate clear brilliant
production quality: cheesy questionable years of service gift-quality stunning
value: ouch! a little pricey on the money excellent worth splurging
Ease of Use
page numbers: invisible hard to find spotty adequate obvious
table of contents: missing frustrating passable useful helpful
index quality: none tragic adequate good excellent
page flipping: infuriating tedious acceptable rare never
writer: hack cook turned writer writer turned cook comedian auteur
cook: self-taught non-restaurant chef teacher celebrity
overall rating: fair good above average excellent Ochef Top 100
Comments: A quintessential chefs' cookbook (even though our mission statement forbids the use of the word "quintessential"), written by Ken Barker, named the Best Chef in the Southeast by the James Beard Foundation in 2000, and Karen Barker, named Best Pastry Chef by Bon Appétit magazine in 1999. The husband & wife team have been cooking at the Magnolia Grill in Durham, N.C., since 1986.

The recipes in this book are really spectacular and delicious — we want to make them all! But in addition to being not afraid of flavor, you have to be not afraid of using lots and lots of ingredients, taking those many ingredients through many, many steps, and just plain hard work. If you're up to the challenge, you — and your family/guests/fellow diners/etc. — will be well rewarded.

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