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by Pam Anderson (Houghton Mifflin Company)
Many homecooks take the art of cooking for granted, having learned via the hand-me-down method from parents, grandparents or other mentors. For those who are stepping away from the comfort of those mentors or who never even thought about having to cook, a basic primer is a necessity, if only as a reminder of certain techniques. The Perfect Recipe : Getting It Right Every Time steps in nicely to bridge the gap between the weighty cooking manual standards and gourmet mumbo-jumbo.
It comes as no surprise that this guide is easy and entertaining reading for any novice, yet holds tips and hints valuable to even the most veteran cook. After all, the author, Pam Anderson, serves up tasty fare as the executive editor of Cook's Illustrated Magazine, and she has personally worked on these recipes in her own kitchen, drawing on her own memories as an added quaint bonus.
This how-to cooking manual cuts to the chase of cooking basics, specializing in 180 recipes for basic comfort foods such as chicken soup, macaroni and cheese, fried chicken, meat loaf, potato salad, and pancakes. And yes, the apple pie and lemon meringue pie hints and tips are also there.
The recipes are here, as in any cookbook. The key to this how-to cook manual lies in the introduction to each, which includes a hodgepodge of history, ingredient guidelines, equipment, techniques, hints for best flavor, and many concise step-by-step illustrations by Judy Love.
Many of the recipes include variations on a theme for those adventurous new and old cooks. However, one must keep in mind with comfort foods that Mom's recipe may vary, depending on ingredients and cooking style. For example, The Perfect Recipe recommends baking potatoes as the best for mashed potatoes, whereas some personal tastes may tend to lean toward red potatoes. A food mill is recommended over mashing with the traditional masher for a smoother result, yet some grow up loving a chunkier result.
Even though tastes may vary, this primer of comfort food basics will do the trick nicely for newlyweds or those just stepping out on their own. Just know that you can easily adjust methods, flavorings and ingredients to suit your own personal fondest food memories.
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