|Recipes: a collection for the modern cook|
A lot of cooks develop a repertoire of recipes that they feel comfortable with. They've prepared the dishes many times and know they'll turn out well and can be depended on when cooking for a specific occasion. The collection presented in Recipes is the repertoire of the author, Susan Spungen, who worked with Martha Stewart for years on magazines and cookbook and presumably feels that these dishes will resonate with a lot of home cooks as well.
As something of a cookbook collector (that's my husband laughing hysterically right now, but really it's not an addiction, I can stop anytime) I'm certainly not the type to just buy one or two cookbooks and call it good. Does anyone do that these days? If so, I admire their iron will and self-restraint. But if you were so inclined, I think you could just cook solely out of this cookbook and be considered a good well-rounded cook, although you'd be on your own with breakfast which isn't really mentioned apart from a few brunch dishes.
Spungen covers all the basics, dishes for weeknight dinners, casual entertaining, summer barbecues, etc., but with a modern twist. I would call her recipes fashionable without being super trendy, mostly French and Italian inspired with a garnish or two from Asia and traditional American cuisine. The book is divided into sections based on technique: Prepare (pantry staples and basics), Chop, Saute, Grill, Roast, Bake, Simmer & Braise, and Indulge (desserts). Recipes are fairly streamlined and straightforward, and techniques are explained so you could probably cook out of this book without much prior experience. The most complicated dish in the book is a Provencal Layered Omelet, which consists of three flat omelets with different fillings layered on top of eachother, and which I will most definitely try soon. The book is very attractively laid out, with a picture accompanying just about every recipe. Other recipes that caught my eye include: Thai Cole Slaw, Potato Tostones, Sticky Japanese Eggplant, Grill-Roasted Lemongrass Chicken, Rigatoni with Squash & Caramelized Onions, and an Italian Shepherd's Pie.