Friday, November 14, 2008

Cookbook Review: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book

The flap reads: "Just one for dinner tonight? Forget the cold cereal. Rach has a chapter of recipes that make dining on your own a thoroughly civilized occasion, with great meals that won’t leave you with a fridge full of leftovers. Vegetarians on the guest list? No problem! Choose from dozens of meat-free meals that are every bit as satisfying as your tried-and-true standards and savory enough to please the carnivores in your crowd. Observing a Kosher menu? Check out the selection of menus just for Kosher cooks, all ready in less than, you guessed it, 30 minutes. There's even a mother lode of burger recipes for fans of the bun—so many options you could make a different burger every day for a full month!"

I'm not the hugest Rachael Ray fan around, but she has grown on me over the years to the point that I won't automatically turn off her show when I come across it on the Food Network. I started to appreciate her versatility and I like watching her multi-task during her 30-minute episodes. Recently, she's become quite the brand, with a magazine and a collection of cookware in addition to her cookbooks. The Big Orange Book is the first Rachael Ray book I've ever been intimately involved with.

My overall impression upon flipping through was chaos. Really. The cover is bold, as are the photos and the titles printed in bright colours. The recipes are long, containing a lot of ingredients. And I know that is a 30-minute meal concept so there are bound to be a lot of ingredients compared to your regular recipe. The way the recipes were written wasn't consistent. Sometimes, if there were multiple dishes the ingredients for each dish were listed seperately, but sometimes they weren't. The instructions were also long, and while they were formatted for the multi-tasking Rachael is so well-known for, I found them at times confusing and unnecessarily convoluted.

A couple other nitpicky things I didn't like include the fact that every single time Rachael's famous "EVOO" was mentioned, the editors felt the need to translate it this acronym in parentheses (extra virgin olive oil). It was so redundant. Another thing was that most of the recipes had hot sauce in them. I hate hot sauce.

All that being said, there are some pretty tasty recipes in here. I made the Cold Chicken Satay Noodles and they were quite yummy. Her burger chapter is totally mouth-watering and has some wonderful ideas.

There are plenty of great ideas in here if you are a beginner cook or someone who has run out of ideas for fast family fare. For me in my situation, I'm not sure this is the right book at the right time, and I'm not sure I can find enough space on my bulging bookshelves to keep it around.


Meg said...

The noodles look great! Thanks for this review!

Helene said...

Great review. I don't usually buy her cookbooks but will look at this one at Chapter's.

Tamara (TC) said...

Thanks for the review and the noodles do look wonderful! I like her cookbooks sometimes when I have to cook in a hurry but want to try a new recipe. Only problem is that it seems to always mean a trip to the store for ingredients. It rarely works with ingredients I have on hand.


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