cookbook works for you. New or busy cooks will be happy
with a variety of family-friendly dishes presented in an easy-to-follow
format. Look for key works in the title like basic, simple, busy, or
quick. Experienced cooks might be looking for more creative recipes,
maybe a specialty book on pasta, or Chinese cooking, or vegetarian
dishes. Ready to whip up a gourmet meal? Choose a glossy chef-authored
arrangement is logical. Are the recipes in defined
sections and arranged according to the main ingredient, (chicken, pasta)
or cooking method (grilled, baked, one-pot) or type of dishes (entrees,
salads, soups)? A book of 800 consecutive recipes may seem like a great
deal, but excitement can quickly turn to frustration when the recipe
that piqued your interest the other day is hidden somewhere in the
middle of a never ending tome.
directions. Most of us prefer easy-to-follow numbered
directions written in chronological order. Avoid cookbooks whose
directions are in a narrative format or that are continued on a
non-facing page. Any interruption makes it too easy to miss an important
preparation or cooking step.
information. Good cookbooks show the preparation time and
number of servings for each recipe. Really good cookbooks also give you
bonus information; cooking tips, suggestions of what to serve with each
dish, definitions of unusual ingredients, recipe history, and/or
book lays flat. Is there is anything more annoying than
trying to follow a recipe when the book keeps slapping shut? A
user-friendly cookbook has a plastic comb, wire coil, or lay-flat
binding. How can you tell if the binding is lay-flat? Hold the book open
with both hands and look at the spine. If the cover is attached to the
end pages, but not attached to the spine, the binding is lay flat. Force
the pages open by running your hand down the length of the open book.
You will not damage the binding.
extensive index. Cookbook indexes should list recipes
both by name and main ingredients. Want to make Florentine rice? You
should be able to find it under "F" for Florentine,
"R" for rice and "S" for spinach. A good index makes
the cookbook one you'll use again and again.
inspiration. A cookbook should inspire you to go beyond
the written recipe and experiment on your own. Some books do this by
suggesting alternative ingredients, others by the shear creativity of
the recipes. Cooking is a creative endeavor and the best cookbooks will
serve as a jumping off point to your own unique dishes.