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peederj (San Francisco, CA USA)

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The Classical Music Experience: Discover the Music of the World's Greatest Composers
The Classical Music Experience: Discover the Music of the World's Greatest Composers
by Julius Jacobson II M.D.
Edition: Hardcover
27 used & new from CDN$ 6.32

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Introduction, Sept. 22 2003
If you want to buy one book that will introduce you to the wonders of classical music, including two CDs of clips from a few dozen of the best composers in history and plenty of quips about their lives and times, here's the one.
I hadn't heard many of the composers and learned plenty about them, and even a bunch of interesting stories from the medical field (the author is an acclaimed surgeon, "father of microsurgery"). So the author is very smart and doesn't have an axe to grind, and this is clearly his labor of love.
I would start here to get an idea of the historical development and the spectrum of composition and then move on to e.g. "Classical 101" and/or "NPR Curious Listener's Guide" and then maybe Copland's book or various CD guides depending on your interests.

A Return to Cooking
A Return to Cooking
by Michael Ruhlman
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from CDN$ 23.76

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous, May 11 2003
This review is from: A Return to Cooking (Hardcover)
The Veal chops with Morels and Herb Butter Sauce, the only recipe I have made out of this book so far, is one of the great achievements of human civilization.
I have enjoyed Eric Ripert's chef's tasting menu at his Le Bernadin, an intimidatingly formal restaurant where Woody Allen sat at the next table celebrating the victory in his lawsuit. Apart from the croque monsieur, the recipe to which is included at the opening of this attractive book, the veal recipe was the equal of anything on his menu, even with my feeble hands at the stove.
And for a far more digestible price.
May I recommend this book to those who dare to enjoy life to its fullest.

Think Like a Chef
Think Like a Chef
by Tom Colicchio
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from CDN$ 5.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Clears up many questions, May 4 2003
This review is from: Think Like a Chef (Hardcover)
This is an excellent cookbook that has a lot of very useful information in it and some tasty recipes. It, at long last, taught me how to properly cook mushrooms, and for that I am obligated to give it five stars.
Now with that formality out of the way, I am free to tee off on this thing. I just made the roast duck with root vegetables and apples recipe, and it was a honking example of awful kitchen testing.
The root vegetable quantities called for are probably in the region of twice as much as you need, but when they say "four turnips," just how big a turnip are we talking? Furthermore, the stuff should really be cut up into bite-sizes, but I guess he prefers to leave that up to the eater. The results on first try are edible, but so autmumal that I forbid this to be served outside of New England in a month that ends with "r"--a prohibition only hinted at in the text.
The worst thing is the truth in advertising problem. The food stylist who took the pictures of the preparations took liberties with the recipes!!! Shock and horror!...The illustration for this particular recipe features ingredients not present in it (what's that leaf doing there...or the thyme?) and leaves out ingredients that should be there, and doesn't cross-hatch the duck skin, etc. etc. etc...
It makes you feel unable when you just can't match the illustration no matter what you do. But these illustrations might not taste better than what the recipe says.
If the book really taught you to think like a chef, it would leave no question "why?" unanswered. As it stands, this title is mostly unfulfilled...the book should be three or four times as long and explain every decision in every recipe and then it would teach you to think like a chef.
As it stands, thanks for the mushroom recipe Mr. Colicchio, and enjoy the five stars.

The Chefs of the Times: More Than 200 Recipes and Reflections from Some of America's Most Creative Chefs Based on the Popular Column in The New York Times
The Chefs of the Times: More Than 200 Recipes and Reflections from Some of America's Most Creative Chefs Based on the Popular Column in The New York Times
by Michalene Busico
Edition: Hardcover
25 used & new from CDN$ 5.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Variety is the spice of life, Oct. 6 2002
This is a fantastic compendium of many of the best chefs in America and some of their finest preparations. You've got Romano, Vongerichten, Boulud, Keller, O'Connell...even relative newcomers like Patricia Yeo and Wylie Dufresne. It is an outstanding resource for getting a taste of the various styles and approaches...including multiple no-stir risotto recipes and other kitchen hints. Preparation times and a recipe index are provided to make this a very well done production, including a photo for one of each chef's preparations (each chef gets about half a dozen recipes included).
The meals are mostly accessible to the home cook and very clearly presented. They were obviously kitchen-tested in order to get into the New York Times from where these recipes are drawn, so no bogus preparations. Plus these chefs didn't hold anything back seeing as the New York Times is read by their target demographic and it's a competitive arena.
Anyone who wants to kick their culinary skills up a few thousand notches over Emeril & the food TV gang ought to invest wisely in this delectable tome.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
by David Allen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.96
61 used & new from CDN$ 10.41

5.0 out of 5 stars It works, Sept. 30 2002
I'm very skeptical of most of these kinds of things, but this one really helped me. It got me to throw out all my old files I was never going to look at again ever, got me to set up MS Outlook Alerts and task lists for my whole life so I could completely clear my mind of all casual concerns, and taught me to constantly ask myself, "What is the next action?" and answer very precisely.
When you know what the next action you can take is, it's very hard to procrastinate, and there was this amazing calm that entered my life when I got 100% of my to-do items done and automated all maintenance tasks.
The advice is simple, I bought it on audio cassette but had to stop the cassette a few times because the urge to purge all my junk was overwhelming.
I was ready for this and I was a quite organized person before this. I would recommend this to anyone.

Girardet: Recipes from a Master of French Cuisine
Girardet: Recipes from a Master of French Cuisine
by Fredy Girardet
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 9.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection. No question about it., Sept. 30 2002
This is without question one of the best cookbooks ever. I can't get my mind around how it is absolutely "just right". The food is lavish and beautifully presented, yet, it has this simplicity about it that brings it back from pomposity. There is a touch, a feel, that is as good as I've ever witnessed. A certain maturity that exudes extreme confidence.
Stylistically, the closest thing to this in my collection is the new edition of Larousse Gastronomique. Yet that book is full of recipes that are sloppily either over-the-top or ho-hum. Imagine that kind of cuisine taken to its absolute apex.
The descriptions are utterly clear, and detailed, and in a very helpful format of preperation, finishing touches, and presentation. This takes you through the mise en place carefully and then shows you what you need to do when ready to fire the plate and put it together. A quantum leap, IMO, in recipe presentation.
The photos are breathtaking. If you are intimidated by the recipes, you can always make yourself happy just viewing this as a picture book. But if you force yourself through these recipes a few times, you will lose the intimidation and wonder why you weren't cooking this way all along? Go ahead dive in the deep end...even a sloppy, crude rendition of these recipes will be worth every ounce of unnecessary stress.
I think Girardet has created a new watermark in cookbooks and look forward to seeing attempts to top this.
PS Serious sleuthing has revealed what "Nion" is (for the Nion Tart). Nion is the compressed nutmeat left over from creating nut oil. Girardet calls for grating walnut or hazelnut nion for his tart. It will take significantly more sleuthing to get one's hands on some nion, however!!!
Of course, no gourmet cookbook would be complete without calling for a tablespoon or two of pure unobtainium.

Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium Of Recipes And Cooking Lessons From San Francisco's
Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium Of Recipes And Cooking Lessons From San Francisco's
by Judy Rodgers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 40.92
34 used & new from CDN$ 27.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Really far more than recipes, Sept. 14 2002
This is one of the best cookbooks in my prodigious collection. It is so so true that she goes much further than the recipes and describes the how's and why's of what she is doing. Her writing has confirmed many of my own experiences I never found described elsewhere and has also taught me completely new twists on such fundamentals as making stock and dicing onions.
This is the woman who accidentally ended up living with the Troisgros brothers in France as a teenager and then ended up being the lunch chef at Chez Panisse instead of going to grad school. She was also a Stanford student. So you have genius and an unmatchable pedigree for California cuisine. That recipe cooks up a stellar cookbook...the surprise would be if it didn't.
Every preparation is paired with a specific wine and there is a fairly extensive section on cheese pairings. I mean, she's actually sharing the details here...including the crown jewel recipes of her franchise.
Although I live only two miles away I have never found occasion to go to her restaurant though I've always wanted to. I will go a few times now to see what the master's renditions of these remarkable plates come out like. You see, you share the recipes and everyone flocks to your restaurant. Why keep your skill a secret?
And I just ran and salted half of what I've got in the fridge!
OK, after a few months, an update:
I've been trying the pre-salting meat approach regularly, and pushing it. The results have been quite good, but there have been times when things have come out too salty. However, pushing it, and being forced to throw out some stuff, I have come up with the following safety guidelines so far.
I believe Ms. Rodgers is working with extremely fresh product in ideal circumstances, which most of us aren't able to duplicate in our supermarkets. Therefore her practices which she might find safe will not always be safe for us. While salt does act as a preservative for meat, in the small quantities used here (e.g. 3/4 tsp per pound) it's not enough to extend the life of the meat particularly long.
My rules of thumb for the most time you can salt, refrigerated (and after rinsing poultry and seafood thoroughly), the best consumer meat in San Francisco follow. If I was shopping at an average place, I wouldn't risk any delay in cooking at all.
Beef, Pork: 48 hours
Poultry, lamb: 24 hours
Seafood: 6 hours tops, less better
Note these probably aren't much different than you would have done prior.
Furthermore, she argues that you must let meat come to room temperature before cooking. For her parameters, this might work well, but I feel it is an unnecessary risk even with the "protection" of the salt. You can lengthen cooking with lower temperature to get the inside of a roast done as well if it's thick. So 15 mins tops at room temp.
Don't abandon common sense, or any other sense, when cooking. Trust your nose and eyes. The salt isn't a miracle worker. The times above are enough to let it do what it needs to to achieve the effect she wants I believe.
The recipes have been utterly fantastic however. I still strongly recommend the cookbook. It is unquestionably one of the best. I also strongly recommend, as I believe would she, that you take everything in it, ahem, with a little grain of salt.

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