Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More about my birthday, this time - presents

Dear Marg,

I'm worried that the sheer number of cookbooks I got for my birthday implies great expectations on the part of my friends and family. I mean, what are they going to expect me to serve for dinner after receiving Ready for Desert by David Lebovitz, The Flavor Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, 500 Soups by Susannah Blake, Canal House Cooks Everyday by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer and Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel? I can never live up to the presure of those expectations.

So instead I'll share a bit about each of the books over the next few days. OK, weeks is probably more like it given my schedule lately. Starting with the smallest, since that is how they are stacked on my desk, 500 Soups is a  6" square collection of recipes divided into chapters like, "Cooled and Chilled", "Healthy and Wholesome", "20 Minute Treats" and my favorite, "Meal in a Bowl".

Each primary recipe is illustrated with a photograph that clearly shows the soup. Not one for art that obscures soup, Ms. Blake has selected images that show you exactly what you can expect. In fact, so little attention was given to the art of the photography that I had to search to find the photographer's name (Ian Garlick. Really.) listed in the same font and placement as the Home Economist.

The chapters feature about 10 main recipes and then at the end of the chapter each recipe is given its own page with a handful of variations. While I love the idea of variations, it's odd that they are at the end of the chapter.When I'm on the bean soup page I want to be inspired by the wealth of options that Blake has come up with. If I"m curious about whether I can substitute red beans for black I don't want to leaf through to the end of the chapter to find out. I want it all right in front of me. 

I haven't had time to try any of the recipes yet,but they do look good, and the breadth of varieties offered is wide. The book is part of the 500 Series, which also features 500 Cupcakes, 500 Casseroles and 500 White Wines.

This seems to be a solid basic book, and a good addition to the library. I'm not sure that it will help with the surfeit of high expectations but as Abby says, you can't be a wizard every day.

Love, Elise

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