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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Are you tired of dividing up your food supply into Good and Evil, into foods you can eat (but don't want to), and foods you want to eat (but are afraid of)? Sally Schneider wants you to leave the food police at the door, as she explores -- through 600 recipes -- new techniques of cooking that result in food that is full of taste and still, amazingly, good for you.
If Schneider had an official T-shirt, it would surely say "Flavor First," for this is one cookbook author who wants to put the joy back in cooking. Schneider, a columnist for Food & Wine, has been working for ten years on new cooking techniques to replace the high-fat cooking methods she was trained. In general, she advocates balanced cooking and balanced eating, excluding no ingredient; using small amounts of fats (butter, olive oil, duck fat, goose fat) to deepen flavor and lightening up traditional dishes without sacrificing flavor. She uses salt, chocolate, white sugar, wildflower honey, bacon, and pancetta in small quantities, to good effect.
And she's got lots of worthwhile tricks. Schneider uses paint brushes (natural bristle) to coat foods with a small amount of fat before grilling or roasting. She slices boneless red meat very thinly and fans out the slices so that a little serving will look more ample. She loves to roast vegetables for a caramelized flavor, or she braises vegetables in a little liquid, then sautés them in a little fat for extra flavor. She also emulsifies fats to extend them, which sounds very Home Ec-ish (and not very tasty), but it does work. You boil the fat you're using with water or wine or broth and get a creamy liquid or sauce as a result. (Think of how this could pay off with certain pasta sauces.)
All this talk of technique downplays the recipes, but they are delicious, primarily American regional cooking with accents from the Mediterranean, and a heavy emphasis on vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. Some of the recipes are so-called Essential Recipes, while others are noted as templates for improvisation.
A New Way to Cook is packed with information. There are double-page spreads that bring you up-to-speed on the properties and best cooking methods for all the new grains on the market, like Japanese red rice and black barley; nutritional analyses for most common foods; specific chapters devoted to flavor essences, dry rubs, and marinades; pages of menu ideas; and a little glossary of basic techniques. This is a whole lot of cookbook for the price. (Ginger Curwen)