Kimball, founder and editor of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, supplies his usual informative and detailed findings to help home cooks solve cooking dilemmas associated with many popular dishes. Following the style used by the Cook's Illustrated team, and defining what he considers the necessary essence of the finished dish, he takes readers on a journey of discovery through the methods, variations and experiments to the resulting finished recipe. While such detailed accounts may not be for everyone, they provide an interesting insight to the whys of the finished dish. Along the way Kimball covers the techniques needed to cook well, from searing, as with Quick and Easy Steak au Poivre, to high-roasting, which is used to great effect in the Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Raspberry Vinegar, to measuring flour for baking. Interspersed are panels of fascinating hints, forthright opinions and tidbits culled from his extensive knowledge on, for example, the equivalents of salt or the use of just a sprig of thyme, whereby he likens employing one sprig to "adding a can of coke to a swimming pool." Running the gamut from starters to dessert, the selection of recipes chosen reflects Kimball's eclectic tastes to provide a very personal collection that will appeal to those who like to know the why as well as the what. (Sept.) Forecast: As usual, Kimball delivers a good book that is sure to appeal to the Cook's Illustrated consumer and those who watch his PBS series. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
There is much to appreciate in this latest cookbook by Kimball (founder and editor, Cook's Illustrated magazine). He understands that many home cooks try to follow recipes without schooling in cooking techniques or access to certain ingredients. Keeping those variables in mind, he reworks familiar culinary standards, a traditional dish that has been languishing (e.g., German Potato Salad) or a comfort food favorite (e.g., Pasta with Bread Crumbs), outlining how he tests different versions and adjusts ingredients to improve convenience, flavor, and texture. One great advantage to his narrative is that while the consequent recipes bear the imprint of Kimball's tastes-sometimes a bit too similarly from recipe to recipe-he always reveals what alternatives he tried and why he rejected them. Adventurous cooks, then, have some idea of how they might modify Kimball's recipes. Accompanying them are sometimes humorous sidebars that further demystify food lore. The book skirts the borders of kitchen science, but the recipes-not fancy but good-ground it successfully in the realm of home cooking. Recommended for most public libraries.-Peter Hepburn, Univ. of Illinois at Chicago Lib. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.