Monday, June 07, 2010

Cookbook Review: In the Sweet Kitchen

Back in 2004, when I was working at Crapters and on the cusp of deciding to go to culinary school, I used my 30% staff discount to purchase a whole bunch of cookbooks. Regan Daley's In the Sweet Kitchen was one of them. It was a $60 beautiful hard cover and I immediately fell in love with it because half of the book was devoted to information about baking: ingredients, techniques, equipment, and all kinds of stuff I was previously oblivious to - including a section on high altitude baking, which would come in handy later on in my life when I moved back to the mountains. The recipes were also lovely, and I embarked upon making several of them.

Recently, In the Sweet Kitchen has been re-released for the book's 10th anniversary with an updated trade paperback cover. Yours truly was interested to see if there were any updates to the book that might tantalize me, and I got a review copy. Recently I sat down to compare the two editions, and there are very few changes. The subtitle is different, and a minor word or two has changed (mind you, I didn't go through it with a fine toothed comb), and there fewer photos (and the photos are not new either), but other than that, except for a new preface, the books are the same. And there were no new recipes!

I am not complaining, though, because the recipes the book does contain are excellent. The information on baking, which is extremely comprehensive, is still well worth the large chunk of space on my small cookbook shelving unit this volume takes up.

I have made several recipes. Of course, I have made Regan's Ultimate Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies (page 501) several times, and it's a recipe I still go back to, even though I have had to tweak it slightly to get it to work for me. There is a post way back in my archives about them here.

I also have made the Roasted Clementine and Chocolate Tart with a Macadamia Nut Crust (page 461). Actually, I've made this more than once. The first time was for a dinner party I threw when I still lived in Ottawa, and the second time was when I was on the dessert station at culinary school. The chef instructor had me adjust the recipe a bit; we didn't use clementies but rather just the regular oranges the school kept around, and I had to use hazelnuts instead of macadamia nuts, but it turned out great.

Additionally, I have made Regan's Flaky Tart Pastry (page 653), her blueberry pie (alas, not with wild blueberries because they are not always available to me), her Damn Fine Apple Pie (page 472), and today I made the blueberry muffin recipe on page 608, only using huckleberries I had in the freezer from last year. They were delicious!

The recipes in this book vary between very sophisticated and very simple & "down home," which is something I really like about this book. There is something for everyone and ever skill level. That element, combined with the 300+ pages of instructional information, makes this an excellent book for both the beginner and the seasoned baker! A definite recommend!

1 comment:

bellini valli said...

That's cool, I just reviewed this book too. It was filled with so many delicious recipes it was so hard to choose just one.


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