I bought my book for a fraction of the cost, but had I paid full price, I would have been equally happy. This book is equal based practical advice on technique, kitchen equipment must haves, pantry staples as well as a pragmatic approach to confronting any recipe (controversial or not) (first 50 pages) and several chapters tackling Appetizers, Cathartic Cooking, The Lazy Gourmand, Home Dates, Holiday's and Buffets, Formal Home Cooking, Breakfast for Dinner and Desserts. There are 5-8 selections under each that provide a full complement of main + sides.
So Fennel and Pork Belly are controversial in the Amazon review section? Well, the Braised Pork Belly does not have any fennel in it--but the pulled pork barbecue does. Oh, to be sure, there are recipes in this book that I would likely never make. However, there are several recipes that present an lovely mosaic of colors and textures that surely will delight your dinner guests--and I plan to tackle them.
What would I make if not the Braised Pork Belly (with fennel conspicuously absent)? How about Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Creamy Mascarpone Polenta? Surely nothing controversial here, and it seems to flirt with the divine in terms of easy of both acquiring the handful of ingredients, and the inspired pairing.
But maybe the Balsamic-Marinated Hanger Steak? Hmmmm let me see...that recipe has controversial ingredients such as thyme, shallots and garlic. If these things offend, run from this book. The Prime Rib Roast offers other opportunities to offend as it has juniper berries as an ingredient and sassily pairs with Honey-Caramelized Turnips and Mustard Greens.
And if those things don't turn you away, surely the Guinness-Braised Short Ribs will (with Orange-Secented Tomatoe Compote with just 3 ingredients and Grain Mustard Mashed Potatoes, with just 4 ingredients).
If you want a book that will (1) bolster your skills and confidence as a home chef; (2) provide you with some inspiration sans fuss; (3) remind you that good food needn't be complicated but founded on fresh ingredients, solid techniques and well-thought out pairings; then get this book.
I will surely NOT be making slow-roasted beets--I hate beets not matter how they are prepared--not even the way that YOU prepare that you will be so sure will convert me. Nevertheless, throwing the book out for one offensive recipe is akin throwing the baby out with the bath water. No sensible person would do such.
However, in the spirit of being sensible, this is not an all-round cookbook on cakes, pies, cookies, roasts, appetizers, etc... ordinary cooking that every home cook needs to master. Rather, this is book is levels above that--and for us home chefs looking for inspiration, books such as these fit the bill. I guarantee that there will be at least 4 meals in this book that if you were to make them you would find them easy to make and that your dinner guests will be surprised and delighted....and isn't that what our goal is?