andrew's Profile

From: Vancouver Island, BC Canada

Joined: February 1st, 2009

About me: Welcome to Cookbooker! I've been cooking for years, and right now I'm especially interested in baking - artisan bread, pizza and various treats.

Favorite cookbook: Ad Hoc at Home

Favorite recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Website:
www.cookbooker.com


Latest review:

January 6th, 2013

Blueberry Muffins from Bouchon Bakery

These were okay muffins, but nothing special. I'd been led by the instructions to believe they would be something out of the ordinary - they have molasses, honey, lots of butter, and rest in in the fridge... read more >


recipe reviews (176)
book reviews (12)
useful review votes (204)

andrew's Reviews


Search Reviews:

Cookbook Reviews

12 books reviewed. Showing 1 to 12Sort by: Rating | Title

Ad Hoc at Home

By Thomas Keller
Artisan - 2009

November 30th, 2009 (edited 23rd April 2010)

The recipes here are definitely a step above the regular (I think I used the phrase 'step above' more than once in my recipe reviews!).

These are not quick recipes - they all involve some techniques and ingredients taken from the restaurant world, but at the same time, they are not fancy restaurant recipes - they're meant to be enjoyed with family and friends, and although they will often impress, are not self-conscious 'show-off' recipes.

So far, so good - everything has been very good and I'm learning things I didn't know before.

American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza

By Peter Reinhart
Ten Speed Press - 2003

February 7th, 2009 (edited 26th November 2009)

I love this book, though be warned - it's not exactly a regular cookbook. The first half is a bit of a travelogue and personal journey as Peter seeks out different types of pizza around the world, trying to capture some of the flavours of his youth and of the history of pizza. The second half consists of recipes which recreate the various pizzas he was impressed with in his travels.

I really liked this mix; it provides a context to his abiding interest in pizza and also provides a useful perspective - there's no one perfect pizza as there are so many different and good variations out there. Peter has excellent taste, and makes a great tour guide.

Peter's blog is at: http://peterreinhart.typepad.com/

The Best Vegetable Recipes (Best Recipe Classics)

By Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, Cook's Illustrated Magazine, John Burgoyne, Carl Tremblay, Daniel J. Van Ackere
America's Test Kitchen - 2007

February 9th, 2009 (edited 9th February 2009)

I really like this book. If you're a fan of the Cook's Illustrated process of exhaustive testing and reduction of a recipe to its basic elements, and a fan of vegetables, you'll be in heaven.

It covers 53 different vegetables, and is organized by vegetable, not by recipe type. So you look up the veggie you are interested in and find general preparation and cooking instructions, followed by a 'master recipe' and several variations.

This organization rewards discovery and experimentation - we've just had this since Christmas, but intend to work our way through it systematically, especially as produce pops up in the markets this spring and summer.

Bonnie Stern's Essentials of Home Cooking

By Bonnie Stern
Random House Canada - 2003

August 25th, 2009

This is an excellent general cookbook. Bonnie doesn't try to do too much here, just provide a nice selection of well-tested, classic, fairly simple recipes that are nevertheless quite classy and suitable for entertaining as well as for a nice meal at home. Almost everything from this book we've tried has worked out very well.

The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread

By Peter Reinhart, Ron Manville
Ten Speed Press - 2001

October 17th, 2009

This is an iconic book. I discovered it almost by accident; one of those Amazon recommendations which, after doing some reading online, I realized was just what I was looking for, as I'd been wanting to start making bread at home for some time.

As the title suggests, the book is an apprenticeship. Put yourself under Peter's authoritative care, listen to what he tells you, and you'll do just fine.

The book is laid out in three sections. The first, "What is it About Bread?" is a personal story - Peter's account of the renaissance in artisan breadmaking in North America and of his winning the James Beard national bread competition in 1995.

The second, "Deconstructing Bread: A Tutorial" is a thorough tutorial on the art of breadmaking.

The final, "Formulas" are his recipes - from bagels, challa and ciabatta all the way to his famous Pain a l'Ancienne and wild yeast cultivation and usage in sourdoughs.

I'm still exploring and learning from this book, and I know I'll continue to do so for years.

C is for Cooking: Recipes from the Street

By Susan, M.S., R.D. McQuillan, Sesame Workshop
Wiley - 2007

August 25th, 2009

Lots and lots of fun! This book is colourful and inviting for budding young chefs. The recipes show what parts kids can help with and what parts need older kids or adults. Admittedly some of the recipes are a bit basic (veggies and dip, peanut butter and jelly), but it's all quite healthy and there are a few adventurous ones in here too.

Chocolate & Zucchini

By
-

March 23rd, 2010 (edited 23rd March 2010)

I've just started using this website for cooking advice and recipes, so it's based on limited experience. Still I'm impressed. Clothilde's natural yeast pages are exemplary - very clear and well written, and I enjoy her persona as it comes through on the site. She's been doing this for a long time and the site is one of the top food blogs for a good reason.

Fresh: Seasonal Recipes Made with Local Ingredients

By John Bishop
Douglas & McIntyre - 2007

October 29th, 2009 (edited 29th October 2009)

I'm just getting started with this book, so I'll update this as I get more experience, but I can say off the top that it's a beautiful creation - lovely design, interesting looking recipes that take twists on some old favourites as well as going in new directions, and an appealing organization. It's laid out by season, and emphasizes produce found on the West Coast of North America, specifically the Pacific Northwest.

Recipes from John and Dennis Green are interspersed with little pieces about local farms who produce some of the food found in Bishop's Restaurant, and who inspire many of the recipes.

John Bishop is one of those rare chefs who can not only do amazing things in a kitchen but who can also put together a very credible cookbook for home chefs. His previous books have been reliable and accessible and so far this one is too.

Moosewood Cookbook

By Mollie Katzen
Ten Speed Press - 1992

June 17th, 2008

This is definitely a classic, as you can see by the number of editions they've printed. It's a useful book to dig into for solid vegetarian choices, though at one point when I was cooking a lot from the book, every meal began to have a similar taste of onions and oregano. Not a fair criticism, though, since there's a lot of variety, just something that seemed to crop up a lot!

Pastry: Savory and Sweet

By Michel Roux, Martin Brigdale
Whitecap Books - 2009

September 18th, 2009

A beautiful looking and very promising book marred by some problems.

For now, I'm going to give this a cautious 3 star rating. And that's even though nothing I've made from this book has worked out properly. You see, I think the problem is partially in the cook, not all in the book. I'm still getting pastry experience, and this book is just not meant for someone who is starting out with pastry, no matter that it implies this in the cover flaps.

Michel Roux has held 3 Michelin stars for over 23 years at his restaurant, so there's no doubt he can cook. But it's possible that his great mastery of pastry leads to assumptions which make it hard for a relative beginner to produce good results.

For instance, in tiny print on the introduction pages is the crucial (crucial!) information that all temperatures in the recipes are for fan-assisted (convection) ovens and if you don't have one you need to increase your oven by 30 degrees F. Nowhere in the recipes is this repeated.

He is a big proponent of mixing by hand, which is a great way to get a proper 'feel' for dough. But a relatively inexperienced baker like me takes much longer than him to get the dough into shape, and the result is a warm dough which often gets tough. A cold kitchen and marble counter/slab are vital here. I also find that his blind baking instructions seem a bit incomplete - my pastry was shrinking regularly until I read The Pie and Pastry Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum, who recommends at least an hour in the fridge for pastry before blind baking.

So, I'm going to go back to basics with Rose for a while, and then I'm going to tackle this book again, since the recipes and photos are so enticing (and a little intimidating too...), and see how I do. I'll update then.

Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day

By Peter Reinhart
Ten Speed Press - 2009

October 17th, 2009 (edited 29th January 2010)

I'm just getting started baking from this book and quite excited to see how Peter has improved on the recipes I've made from his other books. So far, I'm impressed with the improvement on the Whole Wheat Hearth Loaf.

What he's done here is refine his techniques and apply them to some of his old favourites as well as some new recipes. He's learned from some of the new breadmaking techniques (stretch-and-fold instead of kneading, overnight refrigerator fermentation) to make artisan bread much more quickly and simply than before.

According to his blog he had 4000 emails from recipe testers during the process - I like the fact that he's so interested in testing; not enough cookbooks go through the tester mill...

The Pie and Pastry Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum
Scribner - 1998

January 19th, 2010

This is a marvellous book. It's a master class in baking, and for someone like me who picked it up when I was just starting out with pastry, it was absolutely perfect. She provides an enormous amount of detail and patient step-by-step instructions. She comes across as friendly and professional at the same time; a welcome kitchen companion.

I'm still exploring the book, but every crust I've made has turned out perfectly, and received compliments galore. And her apple pie is just perfect...