This book is simple and straightforward but also very thorough. There are lots of recipes for Soups, Poultry, Meat, Seafood, Pasta, Sandwiches, Grains, Vegetables and Desserts. There are several guides on what to keep in your pantry, how to make basic things like chicken stock, what recipes are good to keep in the freezer, etc.
I thought this book might be good for me because I still don't feel as though I have advanced very much as a cook. There are more firsts than there are repeats and I feel like I still have so much to learn and that the process is taking a lot longer than I thought. However, when I went through the recipes in this book I realized that I already knew how to make most of them. I even disagreed with some of the ingredients and methods and was able to reconfigure the recipes to my own style of cooking. In a very strange way, this book made me realized that my culinary skills are much better than I had originally thought.
I tested out a couple of the recipes. Here are the results:
Beef Bourguignon page 55 - I pretty much followed the recipe except that I cut down on the amount of red wine it called for (it said a whole bottle, I put half and it was still too much) and I cooked it for 4 hours in my Crockpot instead of 2 hours in my Dutch oven. I served it with egg noodles and it was fabulous.
Shrimp Scampi page 89 - I made this tonight. I used less butter and more white wine to make more sauce but wanted to cut down on the calories. I was cooking a lot of linguine to go with it so I wanted enough sauce for that. I simultaneously created Chicken Scampi for Carlos who doesn't eat seafood. It was delicious.
Peanut Butter Cup Tart page 221 - This recipe just beckoned to me. I really wanted to make it but it called for lots of heavy cream. Both Carlos and I are developing a lactose intolerance and we are trying to lose weight. So I ended up going to Allrecipes.com and found another lighter recipe for peanut butter pie which I made instead. I used almond milk and low-fat frozen whipped topping which made for a much healthier dessert. I was inspired by the book but I ended up going elsewhere for the result.
I had a few problems with the book. The photographs are not all that great, the recipes were pretty basic (with only a few that really piqued my interest) and many of the dishes are heavy on fat. I got the feeling that this was really a Southern cookbook in disguise.
I do recommend this to people who are learning to cook and want a compact book filled with basic recipes on hand for whipping up basic dinners. In this case, this book is very thorough and it's a great jumping off point for developing basic culinary skills and a repertoire of regular meals.
There are a few other recipes I'd like to try such as:
Potato Chip Chicken Tenders
Creamy Garlic Chicken
Shrimp and Grits
Praline Bread Pudding
So even though it's not the best cookbook I've ever seen, it's still a welcome addition to my library.
Visit Jennifer Chandler's website: http://www.cookwithjennifer.com/