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Review: Brilliant Food Tips & Cooking Tricks

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Brilliant Food Tips & Cooking Tricks
By David Joachim
ISBN: 1579543014
Publisher: Rodale Press
Publication date: July 2001
Format: Hardcover
List price: $29.95 (Canada, UK)
Type: Cooking Reference
Sample recipe: Beef Stew, Overnight One-Pot Cheesecake
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

It pains us to say it, but if more people had this book, there would be less need for Ochef. Packed with practical information, cooking tips, and recipes, David Joachim's book is one of the best, most useful, and most accessible cooking reference books we have seen. It is also sold direct from the publisher under the title The Clever Cook's Kitchen Handbook.

The great thing about this book is that it covers a lot of ground. The problem with this book is that it covers a lot of ground. All the entries are categorized alphabetically, but there is a lot of information in the book that you won't find by turning to the section on Broccoli or the section on Thermometers or even looking through the index. It's not really a book that anyone will read from cover to cover, but without doing so, you're absolutely going to miss some of the 5,037 tidbits of information. Recipes — 900 of them, good recipes — are scattered throughout the book, but there should be a separate index of the recipes

The publisher of the book, Rodale Press — publisher of Prevention, Men's Health, and some other health-oriented magazines — has occasionally seemed to us to steer a little close to the alarmist school of "healthy cooking" in the books it publishes. But this book toes the line perfectly — offering tips on cutting fat, retaining nutrients, etc., when appropriate, but also recognizing that butter, eggs, meat, and other scary ingredients add flavor, texture, nutrients, and can be part of a perfectly normal diet.

Unlike the monumental and brilliant Oxford Companion to Food, which is primarily educational, Brilliant Food Tips & Cooking Tricks is primarily useful, both as you plan to cook and as you actually work in the kitchen.

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