The Ultimate Potato Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough

499 Pages; No photographs or sketches. Softcover

Published by William Morrow/Harper Collins, NY, NY, June 2003

Reviewed by Meghan O'Neil for Good Cooking, Spring 2003

The Ultimate Potato Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough is a cook book that is intended to take America's favorite side dish or meal accessory, the potato, and give an assortment of recipes that turn it into a meal itself. The reason why I believe that this cookbook was such a good idea is that potatoes are such a cooking necessity and there is so much to be done with them. Also, since there are such an assortment of varieties, they appeal to the likes of most people's taste buds.
The book gave many choices in terms of different cuisines and meal courses. Many different ethnic varieties were represented in both difficult and very simple recipes. The difficulty of the recipes varied, which was nice because some people have more time to spend in the kitchen while others are just looking for a quick, tasty meal to put on the table for their family. The recipes in the book were very clearly written, which is an absolute essential for someone in the kitchen. Each recipe has a brief description of the recipe and some of its historical information to help give whoever may be cooking more of an idea of what the finished product will be like. One negative aspect of this book is that there were no illustrations. It always helps to see what you will be cooking. It gives the book some color as well.

I decided to try the potato quiche which is a perfect brunch menu item, having the crispy potato crust, the egg and cheese filling, with crispy bacon added as well. Also, this dish could be used as an easy meal because it is rather filling. It was an easy recipe to follow and was not labor intensive. Everyone who tried it was very happy with the final result. One part of the recipe that might need to be looked at was that while trying to get the inside of the quiche to finish cooking in the oven, some of the crispy potato crust tended to get a little too crispy and burnt. I tried to put a bit of foil over the burning edges and it worked until it was finished. Other than that, the dish was a delight. The second recipe I tried was one of America's favorite appetizers, the potato skin. This recipe was very easy and cheap to buy the ingredients. The skins were very rich with the bacon, cheese and scallion filling and could easily be used a side dish. Rather than just throwing your average baked potato on a plate alongside of a steak, try making an easy potato skin recipe and adding that. The key to this book is not using the potato on its own. I think that overall this book was a good idea, because there is no other book that focuses only on potatoes and the many ways they can be used. They have a world of their own and can be used so many ways, but many of us just do not know how. The Ultimate Potato Book will teach you how.