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Review: A New Way to Cook
Jun 1st, 2005

A New Way to Cook
Sally Schneider

"[The Mediterranean diet] is the model for my everyday diet: largely based on plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes; moderate amounts of fish, poultry, nuts, and wine; with a small amount of red meat, saturated fats, dairy products, and sugar and a minimum of prepared foods. I eat moderately day to day, and periodically I eat with abandon."

This quote from the introduction to A New Way to Cook sums up quite well my own approach to nutrition as well as the author's. Finally, someone wrote a cookbook just for me! Schneider doesn't spend a lot of time tiresomely counting fat grams or raving about carbohydrates, instead she focuses on taste, moderation, and heightening the flavors of a dish with just a touch of fat. She has a fabulous section on Flavor Catalysts, which encompasses 140 pages of flavor essences, dry rubs, marinades, broths, flavored oils, and sauces. The chapter on sauces alone is reason enough to buy this book, especially if you're interested in updating classic sauces without sacrificing flavor.

Schneider is heavily influenced by the cuisines of the Mediterranean: France, Italy, Greece, and Spain. Asian flavors find their way into the recipes as well. My only quibble with the book is that my personal taste runs a bit more to Mexican and Asian than traditional French, and I'd gladly trade the treatments of cassoulet and pate for more exploration of lemongrass and mole, but that's just a personal preference. (To be fair mole is mentioned three times in the index and lemongrass four).

This book is enormous, 756 pages, and well laid out. The sauces chapter, for example, is divided into Vinaigrette sauces, cold Mediterranean-style sauces (from aioli to pesto), creamy sauces, wine sauces, and salsas & chutneys. Essential techniques and base recipes are laid out and then expanded on in each section, and guides to improvisation are given so you can get creative.

The author claims this cookbook is the result of ten years of research, and it shows. This is an inspiring work that will no doubt be seen as one of the major cookbooks of the decade.


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© 2006, Kimberly Cooperrider | kymmco@excite.com