Pros:great recipes, detailed instruction,interesting
Cons:if you're looking for low-fat, this isn't it!
This cookbook has become a staple in my kitchen! It's written by Christopher Kimball, who is also the editor of Cook's Illustrated magazine. He has a reputation for exhaustively testing recipes in a number of ways until he finds exactly the right combination of ingredients to get the best results.
If you like basic, down-home food or if you're a fairly new cook who wants basic instruction, "Yellow Farmhouse" is a great choice. Not only does it provide some detailed and helpful information on buying and using cookware and utensils, it provides detailed instructions on everything from baking potatoes to frying chicken to making a good pie crust.
But the best part of the book is the recipes. Kimball is not a big fan of cake mixes, etc. His recipes are from scratch and take a little extra work but the results are worth it. Kimball is also an unapologetic believer in using top-of-the-line ingredients. Although some of the vegetable and meat dishes use olive oil and other fairly "innocent" ingredients, the most spectacular-sounding recipes here call for the heavy artillery -- real cream, real butter, buttermilk, etc. are commonly used ingredients of his. The book also does not provide counts on caloric/fat content because Kimball's objective here is to re-create good old-fashioned American cooking with maximum flavor. But even if you cook mostly low-fat dishes (we do in our house), this book has a wealth of information and is nice to have around when we do decide to go all-out.
I made my very first "from-scratch" pound cake (with blueberry topping and fresh-whipped cream) from this book's recipe. The recipes for mashed potatoes, biscuits and country pot roast are excellent, and sometime soon I hope to try the recipe for fried chicken (on a recent Martha Stewart episode, Kimball demonstrated his fried chicken technique from the book).
An added bonus to the recipes and basic instruction are anecdotes at the beginning of each section, where Kimball recalls some childhood and more recent food experiences that influenced the way he put the cookbook together. People who want a good primer on preparing traditional American food the right way will love this book.
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