The Gourmet Cookbook

1038 pages; Black and White, No photographs, Some Sketches. Hardcover
Houghton Mifflin, NY, NY, 2004
Reviewed by Nida Chanthavanich Spring 2005 for Good Cooking

The review---

I think this book is a good book and has a thousand recipes. When read this book, it made me understand better. This book explains step and has pictures which makes it easy to follow the recipes. It also has pictures of the ingredients. Some recipes explain how to cut and has pictures to show every step when l didn't know how to shuck oysters and shaved me how to do it.

Shucking oysters (p.53) Arm yourself with a short, sturdy oyster knife (available at cookware shops and most fish market) and sturdy glove-almost any kind will do, even a gardening glove. Scrub the oysters thoroughly with a stiff brush under cold running water. Holding an oyster flat side up, so as not to lose any o the salty juices, or liquor, your oyster knife into the narrow hinged end and twist until the shell loosens and pops open (1). Don't be shy; this requires a certain amount of force. It the shell crumbles and will not open at the hinge, take it through the front door: aim your blade for the wide end of the shell. Side the knife blade against the flat upper shell to cut the large muscle and free the oyster. After prying off the lid, slide your knife along the bottom shell to loosen the oyster from its mooring (2).
I read Salad Green Primer. This book make me know how to select and a ]type of greens which one come from where. I like this part tell how to] washing and ]storing greens.

Washing and storing greens (p.134) You can toss a head of iceberg lettuce into the vegetable bin and forget about it, bit other salad greens require careful handling to keep them at their best. When you get home, examine the greens and discard any bruised, wilted, or broken leaves-they are a breeding ground for decay. It's a good idea to wash greens, even if they're organic or labeled "prewashed". Technically, we suppose, greens should remain unwashed until you are ready to use them, but usually time is of the
essence when getting dinner on the table, and if those greens aren't already clean, it's too easy to mutter, "Maybe tomorrow night" So we tend to wash our greens all at once in a just-cleaned sink of cold water. Gently agitate the leaves underwater, and sand or little bugs will drift to the bottom of the sink. Let the debris settle, then lift the greens out of the water into a colander. Sandy greens, suck as spinach and watercress, will benefit from a second bath. Dry the greens in bathes in a salad spinner then transfer them to bags. Some people swear by muslin bags or clean cotton pillowcase; other spread the greens out into thin layer, loosely roll them up in a tea towel or between sheets of paper towel, and then put the roll in a plastic bag. The goal is to get rid of excess water on the greens (to prevent rotting) while retaining their natural moisture moisture and giving them circulating air within a closed space. Greens will keep for two to four days this way, depending on their type; heartier greens will last longer then tender arugula and pale green lettuces. Watercress keep best with its systems in a bowl of water, covered loosely with a plastic bag.

When I went shopping I could to find everything in the recipes in the market. I cooked them and found them easy to follow. It is not to confusing to do. I think this book is a good cook book.

Dark Chocolate Shortbread
Makes 16 cookies
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes start to finish:

Shortbread is a great cookie on its own, but for chocolate lovers, it's made even better by the addition of cocoa powder. Try pairing this with a vintage port after dinner.

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Blend butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl with a fork until well combined. Sift flour and cocoa over butter mixture and blend with fork just until a soft dough forms.

Divide dough in half. With floured fingertips, pat dough into 6- to 6 1/2-inch rounds on an ungreased large baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, about 30 minutes.

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 F.

Prick dough all over with fork. Bake until centers are dry to the touch and edges are slightly darker, about 15 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes, then cut each shortbread into 8 wedges (while still warm) with a large heavy knife. Transfer to rack to cool completely.

Cook's Note:

The shortbread keeps, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper, in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.