A New Way to Cook (Sally Schneider)
That was clear in your original post.
I've had the hardcover book for a few years -- since it first came out. Nice reference, very interesting read, and I've made a few recipes from it with success.
Having said that, the book frankly didn't fit the type of cooking I tend to do: I tend to prefer meals that can be made on the fly with readily-available ingredients -- stuff I have in my pantry already. When I used the book, I found myself purchasing ingredients that I wasn't using in any other recipes...
But I've hung onto it with the intention of trying some more of its recipes....
The same author has a new book, The Improvisational Cook. I have both, bought the newer one online, and found the earlier one at a used book store. The author has appeared on The Splendid Table.
In both she focuses on ways of maximizing flavor, while trying to eat healthier, i.e. with less fat, salt, etc. (without being fanatical). Each chapter in the Improvisational book starts with a novel idea and recipe, followed by variations.
One chapter for example starts with roasted red (bell) pepper slices, and then uses these in number of ways. Another starts with leek 'noodles', leeks cut into strips that are braised. One of these chapters also talks about using nut oils for flavor.
Neither book is a comprehensive cookbook, but both can give an experienced cook some new ideas. However, another book that I found used, The New Spanish Table (Von Bremsen), has been more interesting and inspirational. It has both Spanish classics, and novel ideas from Adria, the chef at El Bulli (http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/f...).
I've had the book for maybe two years and really have looked at it twice. I really like her approach but I think I need pictures to be inspired. I keep telling myself I'll read it soon, the recipes seem well considered but I usually don't use recipes, just peruse them for ideas.
I think it's definitely worth getting if you're looking to add to your cookbook collection. It's a fantastic reference book and has lots of good ideas. It's inspiring and I think she's so credible. The thing is, I've had it for a few months and haven't cooked anything from it either. I think this is because the book is a lot about technique more than mouthwatering recipes you must try. And also, she's very specific. So even something like the rice pudding which normally I would have all the ingredients for calls out for a shopping trip to get a specific type of risotto rice. Because she stresses how the ingredients really matter when you're cutting down on fat so to use her recipes with curtailed measurements really necessiate that you get the right grain that will break down to the right amount of creaminess. So that kind of thing curtails spontaneous cooking. Also, it's predominantly Mediterranean which is not what I grew up with so I don't get Mediterranean cravings. But I am glad I have it and know I will use it. I just need to get more organized about it which is not something you have to say about most cookbooks but that's what makes it so special and different from anything else. It's a resource and guide as much as it is a bunch of recipes compiled together.
Speaking of Anya von Bremzen, I really like her Greatest Dishes/Recipes of the world book. After reading her explanations for her choices and after making a couple of things that I would readily make again, I find her very credible as well. This book is more fun than A New Way but both are great. I'll check out the spanish table.
Sally's books are probably best read after supper, when you can make a mental note to buy ingredients like leeks and arborio rice (but what CH doesn't have this?), or you realize that you have most of the needed items (like malted milk for a malted chocolate pudding). They are not a good choice if you need a quick recipe for tonight's supper.