Obese, loaded with wisdom and full of delight!
I am talking of The Cook’s Encyclopedia, The Ultimate Guide For All Cooks!
I have always loved books. But now I find my reading confined to cookbooks solely! It’s different, when I am spending time with my grandchildren. Then of course it is Roald Dahl and Dr Seuss. And how can I forget my daily dose of bedtime Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Then that’s what all good grandmothers do, right?
But then this grandmother also sometimes likes to read beyond the books prescribed by her grandchildren.
Oh, yes, let me come back to my new find The Cook’s Encyclopedia. This book has pushed off at least 3 paperbacks to make itself a place of pride to lodge itself majestically in my daughter’s creaking bookshelf. She received this book as her birthday present from one of her friends. A thoughtful present indeed. I am glad, and believe that where this mother failed, this book will succeed in helping her recreate some Sunday Rolls with Poppy Seeds (pg.722) on a Monday morning, at least and know the difference between tortellini and trout, tarragon and tagliolini.
This book is bustling with recipes ranging from how to make your Herb Mustard Vinaigrette (pg. 63) to Rice Salad with Curry Mayonnaise and Fruit (pg.92) to Indian Saffron Potatoes in Coconut Milk (pg. 332) and Biryani Rice with Lamb (pg.254).
At first glance, this book intimidates you—the sheer size of it. It’s exhaustive and informative (768 pages indeed). But then it is called an encyclopedia for nothing.
The opening section describes staples, basic tools and equipment, recipes, suggestions followed by party time recipes. The book tells you how to cut onions, peel cucumbers, how to make pasta dough, and Mexican Corn bread with Green Chillies ( pg. 730). The recipes here are delicious but also practical.
It tells you the difference between Tagliolini and Rigatoni (types of pasta). If you thought Cavatappi was some haute designer, hold it, it’s a spiral pasta. The book also tells you the difference between Parisian potatoes (small and round shaped with a scoop) and Pont Neuf (long and thick, of particular dimensions….)
So you want to make some delectable Vanilla Ice cream Parfait ( pg. 660), Panna Cotta with Coffee (pg. 674) or almost impossible to resist Tiramisu (pg.688), look no further; this book has it all for the yearning cook. It gives a perfect blend of detailed step-by-step recipes, baking tips and delicious images by acclaimed photographer Gunter Beer.You really get a sense of what the dish could look like.
Spectacular looking Baked Peaches with Lavender, Butter pecan Cookies and Sweet Sushi with Strawberries and Toasted Quinoa to set your stomach rumbling, are but a few easy and delicious standouts throughout the book.
The book lives up to its actual title. The real secret to this book is the recipe section that is diverse and each recipe is well explained, illustrated and tips are generously placed throughout the book.
This is one book, I would highly recommend. An essential reference book for cooks of all levels. This book is ideal as a beginners guide as it gives you all the tools to explore your food odyssey.
This book is also ideal for those who don’t harbor any culinary dreams for the present. At least, you can always create an aura of a great cook, let this charming volume, full of flavor resting on your bookshelf impress your friends.And by the way, my daughter, now can not only differentiate Roquefort from Serra da Estrela but can also quite pronounce Tête de Moon like a Parisian!
For cooks on the go, you can take this lovely book with you, wherever you go! The Cook’s Encyclopedia app is available on iPhone and iPad for a nominal price.
Here’s a delightful, easy to follow recipe for a dessert from the book which has been successfully tried and tested in my kitchen.
Panna Cotta with Coffee
½ vanilla pod
500 ml (17 fl oz) cream
100 g (3 ½ oz) sugar
1 tbsp coffee beans
3 sheets of gelatin
1 Cut the vanilla pod lengthways. Scrape out the seeds with the back of a knife and add them to the cream. Bring the cream with the scraped vanilla pod, the sugar and the coffee beans to the boil. Let the gelatin sheets soften in cold water for approximately 10 minutes.
2 Set the boiled cream mixture aside. Add the softened, squeezed and drained gelatin and dissolve it.
3 Pour the cream through a sieve into a measuring cup.
4 Pour it into glasses and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours so that panna cotta can set. Then put the glasses into hot water briefly and turn out the panna cotta.
Tip: Sprinkle the panna cotta with crushed almond biscuits or Amarettini and garnish it with amarena cherries. For a lighter panna
cotta, use milk as a substitute for half of the cream.
(Recipe Source: The Cook’s Encyclopedia, page 674)
My Experiments with Penna Cotta with Coffee
I used the above version to try at home. The recipe in the book is absolutely perfect.
2 cups cream
1 tbsp. coffee beans
2 tsp. gelatin powder
½ tsp. vanilla essence
Soften the gelatin in cold water for about 10 minutes.
Boil sugar, coffee beans and cream, add vanilla essence. If using vanilla pod, add in the beginning only.
Add dissolved gelatin to the mixture and dissolve.
Pour the mixture through a sieve to remove the coffee beans and vanilla pod.
Pour into 2 greased moulds and chill for at least three hours.
Just before serving, dip the mould for a fraction of a second in hot water and demould it by inverting onto a serving plate.
I decorated one plate of Panna Cotta with grated chocolate and orange slices.
The other was garnished with sliced strawberries, which added a whole lot of drama to this dessert.
The dessert keeps well for almost a week and can be made in advance. (I tested this!)