The difference between today's new cooks and their forebears lies in the globalization of taste. Thus Modern Classics offers detailed instructions on how to build a Thai Beef Salad, whip up a Roasted Vegetable Frittata, deliver to the dinner table the perfect Lemon and Parmesan Risotto, as well as how to master contemporary versions of such Anglo staples as white sauce, brown gravy, roast pork, flaky pastry, and Shepherd's Pie.
In sections on the basics, Hay gives step-by-step directions for making the essentials (stock, mayonnaise, fluffy rice). How-tos guide the chef through preparation of specific dishes (spinach and cheddar soufflé, freeform ratatouille tart, laksa, French onion soup, pad thai). A sampler of recipes from around the world follows, offering variations on the kitchen skills and flavors just introduced. An array of short orders, easy-to-follow recipes for condiments and side dishes to complement the entrees, ends each section.
And here's the sweetest thing: pictures. Full color, artfully shot photos of beautifully prepared dishes show us what our labor will produce. For a generation of visual learners, these tantalizing visions are well worth the space that might have used to list 14 more things to do with turnips. Modern Classics would be the perfect gift; it deserves a spot in the bridal registry or the new graduate's apartment. --Schuyler Ingle and Joyce Thompson