Monday, February 22, 2016

Jean reviews The Clever Cookbook by Emilie Raffa

The Clever Cookbook
Get-Ahead-Strategies and
Tips for Stress-Free
Home Cooking
Emilie Raffa

Emilie Raffa, who also photographed all the pictures in this book, is indeed a clever cook. Just as you can be, if you try her marvelous new cookbook, The Clever Cookbook.  She has figured out how to shorten (and store extra for later) certain basic combinations of ingredients which are required in her collection of delicious recipes. If you follow and save these base recipes, you will be able to cook and bake all sorts of normally time consuming, delicious dishes designed and dreamed up by her. They are quick, they are healthy, they are pretty (but not so pretty you don't want to just dig in immediately!), and, depending upon your own tastes, you will probably love every one.
To give you an idea of how the cookbook "works", check out the first chapter, "Prep-Ahead Vegetables, Pre-chop Three Key Vegetables for Quick & Easy Meals". The reader may think that he or she is just going to learn how to make the pre-chopped vegetables, however in face the vegetables are actually a "Mirepoix", which is  French for diced onions carrots and celery. The reader will be preparing large portions of these to be mixed together and frozen. All sorts of tips are given and the manner in which this is written is very exciting to anyone who loves learning new things or would like to learn more about cooking. Once you have this base of combined pre-chopped vegetables in your freezer, you will be able to make some of the author's recipes which follow in short order. One of the very first recipes in which you will use frozen Mirepoix is "Easy Chunky Vegetable Soup" (it is pointed out that it is Gluten-free). The author adds below the recipe that great flavors to diversify this soup are 1) a dusting of curry 2) spicy chili or coconut milk, or 3) Woodsy herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary. Love her easygoing yet knowledgeable style!
Every chapter has a different base of elements such as the pre-chopped vegetables. You will find all sorts of ideas for speedy meals to concoct and please your friends and family if you prepare a few things ahead of time. There are broths and sauces to use in various recipes, compound butters, spice blends which are homemade, a section on "Easy Beans", and more.
For those of use who love to use white wine in cooking, there is a section on how to save money by using dry white vermouth instead. There are also enough sweets to please everyone, scattered throughout the book.
I haven't read a recipe book this good since Moosewood and The Silver Palate (both really ancient books, at this point).
If you really love food and enjoy cooking, here's your book! Highly recommended. 5 stars for delicious and yes, stress-free!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My wife would like the idea of storing base recipe items for later.

Jean Baldridge Yates said...

yes, it is a great idea! Thanks, Alex!

Cyndi L said...

Even though I love to cook and actually spend quite a bit of time doing it, it's always nice to have those do-ahead items there waiting for you! Great review, Jean :-)

Eileen Bergen said...

I love having ingredients ready to go. I'm sure I can get some new ideas from this boo. Thanks, Jean.