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Frugal Gourmet Cooks with Wine

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2004

    Fun & Informative Cookbook

    Jeff Smith has always been an influence on my cooking from the first time I saw him on television. I was very excited to get this book many, many years ago and it has been a staple in my kitchen ever since. This is a cookbook focused on using wine in virtually every recipe. That made it dear to my heart right away. The book begins with an introduction where the author considers the properties of wine as food. He goes on to discuss romanticizing wine and concerns about alcohol. The introduction is, like all of Jeff Smith's writing, peppered (pun intended) with personal anecdotes that always bring a smile to the face. The book then moves on to a section filled with cooking hints and tips. The author discusses various pieces of kitchen equipment, cooking terms and various definitions. A brief discussion of herbs follows, although I believe he could fill an entire book with this type of wisdom about the culinary use of herbs. The section is completed with information about the TV series and a few hints on entertaining. The next chapter opens with another wonderful anecdote. Unlike many dry cookbooks, this one is filled with life and warm commentary. The author discusses wine and how it relates to history, theology, healing and cooking. This is no mere cookbook filled with indexed recipes and little else. Finally, the recipes begin. The first section includes a variety of 'tapas'. 15 different tapa ideas are offered, although only 3 are actual recipes. 4 more appetizer recipes follow including a recipe for zucchini fritters that are simple and are simply out of this world. A chapter on soups is next and opens with comments on adding wine. Simple instructions for making various stocks (without wine) are included. Mr. Smith includes a recipe for minestrone soup that, while challenging compared to many of the other recipes in the book, is beyond description. Recipes for various chowders and soups total 13 recipes in this chapter. The next chapter deals with fish and shellfish and I must confess that I have rarely used recipes from this section. 11 recipes include one I have made. The scallops in cheese sauce was easy to make and tasted wonderful, although I was loathe to try it the first time. The next chapter proves that wine and salad do 'go together'. A variety of simple dressing recipes even includes a recipe for mayonnaise. The 17 recipes include one for a tuna and potato salad in pesto that sounds odd but is delicious. A far cry from 'tuna helper'. The next chapter moves through pasta, rice and dumplings. 12 pasta recipes and includes the sultry 'Hooker's Pasta'. Only 5 recipes wait in the rice section and the green rice recipe is a favorite at our table. Only 5 dumpling recipes follow but it was from this book that my dumpling making began. Semolina, polenta and German dumplings are all simple to make from the pages of this book. Mr. Smith's well known love for poultry is well represented. Chicken is first with 10 recipes. I have used more than half of those recipes with some frequency. I think each recipe from this section has passed through my kitchen at one time. The 5 duck recipes have seen far less use. Duck is not popular in our house so it is hard to judge these recipes. Knowing Mr. Smith's talent I am certain they are perfect. Turkey rounds out the poultry with a single recipe I have yet to attempt. The chapter on 'confits' is next. Growing up we called this 'potted meat'. Only 6 recipes are offered, but they are in the true spirit of the 'frugal gourmet'. Beef (8 recipes), pork (7 recipes), lamb (6 recipes, including 1 for curry powder) and even rabbit (5 recipes) are also covered. 4 marinades are offered. 8 recipes for sausage might not be the healthiest choice. Each recipe I have tried has been wonderful. A small section about veggies includes 12 recipes. The carrots in vermouth is recommended by all of my friends. A short section about the eggplant includes 8 recipes. I would ha

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