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#1118 - Epicurious Cookbook
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January 22, 2013 #1118 Epicurious Cookbook
Quite often when Al and Jerry are researching a topic for Radio Kitchen, they go online and head for Epicurious, the venerable recipe data base that has been serving the public since 1995. As an online service, Epicurious has resisted doing anything non-digital, until now. But due to popular demand, they have decided to do an Old School publication, "The Epicurious Cookbook."
What makes Epicurious a valuable website is this: it is very involved with its members, and it has strong ties to professional chefs around the world. They have a database of over 30,000 recipes written by the pros, and more than 200,000 contributed by the members themselves. Furthermore, members comment on the recipes, and give feedback on what works and what doesn't. It's not uncommon for Epicurious to modify a recipe in light of member responses. The more than 250 recipes all received "four forks" for quality and appeal, and should be considered well tested, can't miss propositions.
The tips and troubleshooting approach are worked into the cookbook and I think they are very helpful. One of the biggest issues for home cooks is the question of substitution. If I can't get or I can't afford a certain ingredient, what are my alternatives? You'll get lots of help on that.
The cookbook is arranged by seasons, starting with Spring. This makes sense because Epicurious is a strong supporter of local, seasonal eating, although they do concede that winter places a strain on that philosophy, and you shouldn't be afraid to go to the produce aisles of your local grocer.
By and large these recipes cover the gamut of dishes, going from appetizers to dessert, and everything in-between. The recipes are, in my opinion, very approachable and rarely intimidating. Editorially, the cookbook views American cuisine as a "great melting pot," open to any and all foreign influences.
Thus, you will see recipes for a Vietnamese chicken sandwich, Dominican chimichurri burgers, shrimp tika, and chilled soba noodles. They seem to be saying, the American Kitchen is a "big tent" with lots of room for lots of influences.
The cookbook is also strong on the basics: this is where you can go for definitive versions of things like eggs Benedict, meatballs, deviled eggs, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches and superior chocolate cake.
And finally, there is an abundance of very fine food photography to give you a good idea of what the dish is supposed to look like… a very useful tool, I believe. The Epicurious Cookbook is published by Clarkson Potter and retails for $28. This is a good way to get the new year off to a fast start in the kitchen.
**And one additional note: "Inventing Wine," a new book by Baltimore wine critic Paul Lukacs is available now. It is published by W.W. Norton and retails for $28.95.