Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Essential New York Times Cookbook

The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century

Last I counted, I owned 69 cookbooks. It's hard to know if that's an accurate count because I've run out of space on the standing bookshelves that I bought several years ago, never dreaming I would need more than six shelves for this hobby. But there you have it. I have outgrown the bookshelves and now the books spill over onto the couch, windowsills, and night table. Last week I found one in the pantry. (True story.) 

I think my love of cookbooks has officially moved from a hobby into an obsession. If I started with the first cookbook on my shelf and worked my way through, one recipe at a time, it would take approximately 26 years to make my way through the lot of them. 

So, I definitely didn't need another cookbook. I definitely didn't need a compendium of recipes, a book that would add 1,400 (four years worth of) recipes to my bookshelves. But this one was just too tempting to resist. None of my other cookbooks have the recipe for Rum Omelets (this one does, on page 808) or for 19th century Rice Pilan (page 309). This cookbook is an absolute treasure trove. 

Favorite Recipes 
I have to confess that I had a hard time selecting recipes to try. There are SO many to choose from, and so many appeal. The Brownies are great, and so is the Fennel and Blood Orange Salad. Those are two keepers for us. I'll keep working my way through. There's no shortage of interesting recipes in this publication. 
What I like about this book
It reads like fiction! Each recipe tells a story of its own. It also feels great to prepare and serve these well-known recipes, exposing my family to slivers of American culinary history.  
    What I don't like about it
    I don't have much to criticize but I will say that the design could be more engaging. I also would appreciate some photos, even if it was just a smattering of them (I can't imagine including pictures of all 1400 foods!). 
     My ratings

    How’s the food? Yuk.                    Nothing to write home about.Good enough to make again. Wow. I’d eat it every day.
    Are the recipes easy to follow? Nope. Pretty much. Yes, the instructions are clear. Terrifically written, even for a novice cook.
    Is it a good read?Yuk. Readable but nothing special. Sure. Great reading. I’d keep it on my night table.
    How do you like the design of the book?Yuk.Alright. Good. Flat out fantastic.


    1. I almost bought this book but changed my mind at the last minute. Thanks for your review! After reading it I think I might go ahead and get it although I do love photos too...

    2. Reeni - Funny you should say that. I actually had this book in my hands three times at Barnes and Noble before I bought it. It's expensive and really truly not something I need. But it's different from lots of the other cookbooks on my shelf. I'm glad I splurged!

    3. Yay, I was waiting for this review since you tweeted about it!

    4. What a fabulous rating system! I love it! Thanks for the review.

    5. Awww shucks...now I may have to buy this... Thanks for the review and looking forward to your recipes! (And I definitely keep cookbooks in the pantry...anywhere there are shelves there are bound to be cookbooks!)

    6. I love cookbooks too! I sure don't think I have 69 though....maybe 30 or so.
      I can sit and read a cookbook for an entire evening :)

      Thanks for the informative review!

    7. I borrowed this from the library and liked it a lot. What I like about this book, as compared to other NYT cookbooks, is that Hesser worked hard to contextualize each recipe so you know what article the recipe originally appeared in. Plus she tried hard to get lots of reader input on what to include.
      BTW, speaking of cookbooks, I know you are a Moosewood fan. Did you know that there is a bloggers Moosewood Monday?

    8. Laura, thanks for telling me about Moosewood Mondays. That sounds RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. I will have to research that (and reach out to you if I need more info). Thanks loads.

    9. Your rating system is great! I wasn't a huge fan of the NY Times cookbook mainly because of the lack of pictures :) It's sad that I'm so visual!

      Hope you're having a good week!

    10. Love the rating system! I have this cookbook but I haven't made anything from it yet...now I"m totally motivated to flip through it for the gazillionth time and bookmark another five hundred pages :P

    11. I have a lot of cookbooks too--we're house hunting and one of the things I'm looking for is a kitchen with bookshelves. :) Anyway, thanks for the book review--the lack of pictures is a big negative for me, but you've convinced me to put this on reserve at my local library!

    12. I have passed the book up, several times, because it is big. I tend to better when there are only 100 or so recipes. Now, you have me sold on it and I may just buy it.

      I relate to your number of cookbooks. One day, I was griping, I did not have enough and now, I am totally frustrated, not knowing where to look first.

      Thanks for your kind words on my blog.

    13. I love your cookbook rubric! I'm a teacher and I use rubrics for my kindergarten students, but never thought to use it for other purposes... What a great idea.


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