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If you own "All About Braising" and have tried the receipes......

d
ddelicious Oct 18, 2006 06:22 PM

would you recommend buying the book? as a whole, how does it stack up as a cookbook. just a few good recipes, or overall fabulous? and one final question, if i wouldn't use the recipes for pork or shelfish, is it still worth it?

  1. JoanN Oct 18, 2006 07:19 PM

    I hesitated buying the book. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about braising and I certainly didn't need another cookbook to add to my collection. But I found a book club edition on Amazaon at a good price and went ahead and bought it. I'm very glad I did. I've made four recipes so far; one was only very good, the other three were excellent. I still haven't tried any pork or shellfish recipes, but I certainly intend to. I think it's worth it even you won't. The recipes, judging from the reports, all work just about perfectly and there seems to be universal agreement that the sauces are just marvelous.

    1. j
      jackie de Oct 18, 2006 07:36 PM

      I got the book from the library because I have plenty of cookbooks and even tho I wanted to cook with the group, just didn't want to buy it. Almost all the recipes I've tried are great and I have learned from the book. I've braised plenty of things in my cooking life and didn't know there was such a variety of things to braise or such art to it. A very good book and one I will look into buying. You can always order it from the library, or look thru it at your local bookstore to see if you would really cook from it enough to justify buying it.

      1. Candice Oct 18, 2006 07:36 PM

        I found mine for $7.98 about 4 months ago either on amazon or ebay. Look around and find one cheap. Definitely worth it even if you have to pay more. I don't really use cook books that much, but I made some braised cabbage from it and have a bunch of recipes flagged to try soon. It's a nice book to peruse too.

        1. beetlebug Oct 18, 2006 08:24 PM

          I borrowed my copy from the library. I suggest you do the same to "test drive" the book without investing in it.

          But ABB will be my request number 1 on my Christmas wish list. My mom-in-law loves to buy me cooking related things. I've enjoyed cooking from it, loved eating from it and just liked flipping through it.

          The veggie recipes have been great. And, I've mostly enjoyed the chicken dishes. But, where I've mostly been cooking from is the pork recipes. Some have been good, others have been outstanding (braised bacon with carbonara was my fave). Over 60 pages goes towards pork recipes. Probably because so many different cuts of pork are conducive to braising. As for shellfish, I haven't made any of those recipes, but there only 27 pages of the book devoted to seafood and only one shellfish recipe (scallops). The other seafood recipes are mostly fish, with a couple of squid recipes. Total pages of recipes are about 400 pages. That's still 300+ pages of non-pork, non-seafood recipes.

          I've been cooking from ABB fairly steadily this month. And, there are still numerous recipes that I want to try. Everytime I read a post or look in the book, I see something else that interests me.

          I do love this book and the librarian is already asking me for this copy. She wants to cook from it too. The solution? She is buying a copy for her branch of the library and I hope I will receive a copy for christmas. This way, we are all happy.

          1. NYchowcook Oct 18, 2006 11:12 PM

            Yes! I would say: buy the book! What's so great about it is that the recipes are trustworthy. So many cookbooks *look* good, but when you get deep into it, find that some techniques are well, wrong, unreliable, etc. I have been wowed by cooking various items this month -- from vegetables to meat, including other than pork -- and have been seriously impressed, and appreciative, of Molly Stevens' techniques and kind direction. It's a great cookbook for the home cook.

            1. Carb Lover Oct 19, 2006 07:35 AM

              I bought the book on discount and like it very much so far. Have only tried a few recipes, but as others have said, her recipes indeed work! As I read her words, I get the sense that I can trust her and that she knows her stuff, which isn't always the case w/ cookbooks these days. She is a true teacher and has good tips to share along the way.

              I feel that the test of a good cookbook is if the recipes allow me to generalize what I learn and if it helps me to truly understand food and ingredients and not just get something on the table. AAB does that for me.

              The one tiny criticism that I must add is that, of the recipes I've focused on, I find that she relies a little too much on garlic and chicken stock for "big" flavor. I generally prefer subtler and cleaner flavors. Too much chicken stock in recipes these days is becoming a pet peeve of mine, so I like to just use pure water instead for some dishes. Also cut down on garlic here and there.

              If you have a Le Creuset pot or something comparable, then it will make braising that much more fun!

              1. j
                julesrules Oct 19, 2006 10:44 AM

                I do have to add my impression (not substantiated with numbers, so maybe others can weigh in if my memory exaggerates) that some, maybe too many, of the non-pork recipes do include bacon. And I eat bacon, I love bacon, but I don't need that flavour in my food all the time.

                1. p
                  ptrefler Oct 19, 2006 11:52 AM

                  I think it is one of those cookbooks, where the recipes work, you will learn a number of things you didn't know before and it is a great reference on the subject of braising. I collect cookbooks but only a few come along each year that I would consider must haves. This is one of them. I have made many of the recipes in the book. I didn't know how much I didn't know about or appreciate what braising can do. Braising fish was something I never thought about - I tried the braised halibut with leeks - wow. I don't always agree with the various cookbook awards, but this time the award was well deserved. It is available at various sources for attractive prices.

                  1. r
                    redwood2bay Oct 21, 2006 04:21 AM

                    I think it depends on how much you want to learn about braising or plan on having braised dishes as part of your regular repertoire. She gives the best instructions on how to braise that I have read-- Molly Stevens is a very thoughtful cook. I love that she has tips on buying different cuts of meat, for instance. She tells you what parts of the technique really matter, which parts are optional, when you can substitute things. I've been really impressed with this cookbook... I think it's a great resource for the home cook. The hounds steered me to this one-- I hadn't heard of it before the cookbook of the month project. Around here, it is widely available in remainders-- I found mine for $12 new, and at that price, it's definitely worth it. I agree with the PP who say borrow it from the library first if you can and try out a few recipes.

                    1. honkman Oct 26, 2006 12:52 AM

                      For those interested in braising it might be interesting to know that a new book on this topic will come out in a few days written by Daniel Boulud: Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine

                      http://www.amazon.com/Braise-Journey-...

                      1. d
                        ddelicious Oct 30, 2006 03:30 PM

                        Well I finally bought the book, and went through it this weekend. I have to say, I'm a little disappointed. I was picturing one pot meals that you can just leave alone for a few hours while you do other things (hey, I don't have much time, so when I have a chance to cook, its not always dinner time!) Anyway, the recipes for both long and short braises all seemed to be quite labour intensive, i.e. pots needing to be regularly stirred, food flipped, etc. And then there's the browning and sauce making. Maybe I had the wrong idea. I haven't had a chance to try any recipes yet, maybe I'll discover its a very simple process after all? Any thoughts?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: ddelicious
                          j
                          julesrules Oct 30, 2006 04:07 PM

                          I just bought the book recently and I kind of feel the same, but in general the prep and finish are pretty simple, or can be modified (I didn't broil the maple-porter short ribs for example - just brushed them with glaze). But I already make a lot of one-pot meals, and I don't find this book has really helped me in that regard - most of the dishes aren't really one-pot anyway, they still require sides. And she usually suggests other recipes from the book as sides, which I understand but isn't that helpful for me - one braise at a time is fine!
                          I think many of the dishes can be made a day ahead though, which might help.

                          1. re: ddelicious
                            Carb Lover Oct 30, 2006 04:22 PM

                            Right, they're not necessarily simple one-pot meals that you can "set and forget". Of course, some recipes like the braised cabbage are easy and low maintenance. While braising is considered a more "rustic" method of preparation, Molly seems to be a perfectionist of this method IMO, hence the extra steps. She does include shortcuts now and then, and if not, then I just make up my own if necessary. Braising is generally very forgiving of modifications.

                            You might consider checking out Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals which was in contention for Oct. book of the month. I'd never heard of it before, but checked it out from my library once I knew it might be picked. I wasn't able to cook anything from it because I had to return it after two weeks, but it looked promising.

                            More info:
                            http://www.amazon.com/Valentis-Soups-...

                            1. re: Carb Lover
                              d
                              ddelicious Oct 30, 2006 06:50 PM

                              Can you suggest steps to omit? Could you just stick the thing in the oven and come back when its cooked? Can you leave out the browning and still have a good result?

                              1. re: ddelicious
                                beetlebug Oct 30, 2006 07:50 PM

                                I don't think you can skip the browning and still have a good result. The browning gives the pot and the meat flavor that can't be replicated. You may be able to skip some of the stirring or flipping steps. But, to me, those steps are so short, it's not really worth skipping. I just set the kitchen timer and go do something else.

                                1. re: ddelicious
                                  Carb Lover Oct 31, 2006 01:28 AM

                                  It sorta depends on the recipe, really. But in general, no I would never skip browning. That is a critical step to developing deep flavor, a nice crust on the outside, and an appealing color/appearance. Plus makes the house smell so good...

                                  For some recipes, I've modified the time or merged a couple of steps, but good braising (and cooking in general) does demand some attention. Just try a few recipes and see what you think. The rewards should be motivation to continue...

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