I think you should own theseMay 27, 2010
Last weekend I broke through a new cooking frontier. Well, baking to be exact. I’d never really wanted to make pretzels before, but then I got Kim Boyce’s cookbook, Good the Grain, and fell deeply and madly in love with her rye flour soft pretzel recipe.
I’m seriously happy I bought this book. Sure, I already have shelves overflowing with cookbooks but this is one I’d like to work my way through and follow meticulously. Most of the time I use recipes as suggestions but I’d be silly to mess with these carefully calibrated baking formulas. After all, I’ve struggled with using different whole grain flours and here she has it, all spelled out. Rye flour, amaranth flour, buckwheat flour, etc….there’s a chapter on each one. I imagine this makes my gluten-free friends very happy but it makes me happy too because now I can pounce all over the bulk section at our local co-op and buy all those flours I’ve never known what to do with!
Having never boiled dough before, I was really unsure of how my pretzels would come out. But they were perfect! And it made a great contribution to our final LOST get together last Sunday. (You can see the bowl covered in a white towel on the table – I was trying to keep them warm as long as possible!)
Anyway, I can’t recommend this cookbook highly enough. If you enjoy baking from scratch or if you have the desire to try baking with flours other than wheat, definitely pick it up! Here are a few other recipe titles from the book to give you a sense of what’s inside:
Strawberry Barley Scones
Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes
Molasses Bran Muffins
It kind of reminds me of another cookbook I’ve been using a lot recently. Actually, it’s my husband’s new favorite cookbook – The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook. Have you ever heard of the TV show? It’s a local show filmed right here in the Boston area. The show, and the book, are full of excellent information and classic-yet-improved cooking techniques.
This is the right cookbook for anyone who really, really likes following directions. Just like Good the Grain, the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook is all about testing and revising a recipe until it’s perfect. However, the emphasis is not on health with America’s Test Kitchen – it’s on taste. For my husband, he loves it because it tells him exactly what to do. For me, I enjoy it because I know I can mess with these recipes quite a bit before they fall apart! I take the not-so-healthy versions and go from there. For instance, the roasted broccoli recipe says to start with oil, salt, pepper and sugar.
But why the heck do I need sugar on my broccoli? I tried it their way, but then I tried it without the sugar and it still came out great. In fact, this is now my go-to, all time favorite broccoli recipe! Cooked at 500F, the roasty browned edges are phenomenal.
So, what else to expect from America’s Test Kitchen? Good ol’ American basics, but done exceptionally well. Some examples:
Super Crispy Oven Fried Fish
Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup
Classic Macaroni and Cheese
Apple Upside Down Cake
What are some of your favorite cookbooks? I’d love to hear what you’ve been reaching for lately when planning your meals!