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Nov 1, 2011 02:33 AM

November Cookbook of the Month 2011: Gourmet II: The Gourmet Cookbook by Ruth Reichl, et al.

Welcome to our November 2011 Cookbook of the Month, THE GOURMET COOKBOOK by Ruth Reichl, et. al.

Just been lurking up until now? We’d love to have you join us. This link explains how it all works:

This thread will be used for general discussion, menu planning, linking to recipes from the books available elsewhere on the web, and for discussing the sections at the front and back of the books covering general techniques, ingredients, sources, etc. You’ll also find some recipe links in the announcement post:

The threads linked below will be used to discuss recipes in the chapters listed directly below each link.

GOURMET II: Drinks; Hors D'oeurves and First Courses; Soups:

GOURMET II: Salads; Vegetables:

GOURMET II: Sandwiches and Pizzas:

GOURMET II: Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings; Grains and Beans:

GOURMET II: Fish and Shellfish; Poultry:

GOURMET II: Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb:

GOURMET II: Breads and Crackers, Breakfast and Brunch:

GOURMET II: Desserts (including cookies, cakes, pies, fruit desserts, puddings, etc.):

GOURMET II: Sauces and Salsas; Relishes, Chutneys, etc. and Basics:

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Thanks very much LLM. From now on I'm going into training before we start a new COTM each month. Bench presses should be a required part of any warm up routine before hoisting these "doorstop" books.

    1. Thanks LLM, but I am confused by the Gourmet II designation. Is it because this is the second Gourmet book as a COTM? This was actually the first of the two Gourmet compendiums under Reichl, so strictly speaking, I think of it as Gourmet I !

      2 Replies
      1. re: roxlet

        Gourmet I, yes... I wondered about that as well. And, technically the book is titled "The Gourmet Cookbook". The green book is simply, "Gourmet Today."

        Sorry LLM... I don't mean to be picky so early in the morning. Or maybe it's because it Is so early in the mornng.

        1. re: Gio

          Totally understand the confusion. I wanted to do something to make it obvious in the future, when looking up threads, that this was the second Gourmet book that we'd done. I understand that it was actually the first book to be published, but this seemed the clearest way to differentiate. There seemed to be some confusion during buying time about which book it was despite having written The Gourmet Cookbook.

      2. Great job, LulusMom! I am also not clear on Goumet II - I had to go to the top to make sure that I did not get a wrong book from the library.

        1. The good thing is that this book is indexed on EYB. With a book this massive, ity's really nice to be able to search electronically. I really hope to join in this month. As always, LulusMom, thank you for your hard work!


          14 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            One thing that might help, given your current time constraints, is that this book (like the other Gourmet book) gives an approximate time each dish will take to make. And while I found those timings a little optimistic in the other book, at least you can rule things out if they tell you in advance that they take 1 1/2 hours.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Good point. I haven't even lugged the thing off my shelf yet. (I hope I can find it! I'm starting to store cookbooks in unconventional places these days.) Do they have a weeknight meals section like Gourmet Today did?


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                No, they don't seem to have a section like that. But I do find those timing things helpful. If you know you're not going to have a lot of time, you can skip some stuff, and gravitate toward others.

                Love thinking of your house with cookbooks secreted all around it.

              2. re: LulusMom

                The time estimates are always way too short in part because they assume that all the prep work, the time-consuming peeling, slicing, dicing, trimming, washing, etc. is done before the clock even starts.

                1. re: bitchincook

                  Exactly! When in doubt, check to see how many things you'll need to chop/dice/etc. to get a more realistic estimate. If it's only an onion, I don't worry about it much, but when you add in ginger, lemongrass, leeks, 10 cloves of garlic, it can really make a difference.

                  1. re: bitchincook

                    For what it's worth: awhile back I read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle wherefore they tested the recipes in various "quick cooking" columns in food magazines for two things: 1) were the time estimates accurate and 2) was the time it took to actually prepare the dish "worth it" or not, that is, did all of the steps make a difference in the final outcome and was the final outcome good?

                    Some of the magazines tested were Rachel Ray, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Martha Stewart, Food and Wine, Fine Cooking, Real Simple.

                    Their conclusion regarding Gourmet's "Quick Kitchen" column was that the recipes they tried were easy to follow and finished exactly in the time promised. The other "winner" was Real Simple Magazine: "The recipes we tried were foolproof, tasted great and many take only 10-15 minutes of hands-on work. " Bon Appetit's recipes consistently overran the alloted time by 15 minutes, but the results were always good. They also liked Fine Cooking, though they said that the recipes often took longer than the recipes in other magazines.

                    Martha Stewart's recipes ran over the time estimates and yielded inconsistent results. Many of the steps were deemed "not worth it". Food and Wine yielded good results, but consistently overran the alloted time and included a lot of steps that didn't seem necessary. The recipes in Ray's Everyday Food were done in the alloted time, but were poorly written and confusing.

                    My impression is that Gourmet tests and tests and re-tests (or DID, past-tense RIP Gourmet) their recipes before putting them in the magazine...and I think they tested and re-tested them again for inclusion in their books. When Gourmet Today was COTM, I noticed a lot of the recipes had been tweaked ever so slightly from how they originally appeared in the Magazine (or, more accurately, how they currently appear on Epicurious).

                    In general, and especially after Gourmet Today was COTM, I trust Gourmet.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Very interesting how the different magazines stacked up. I just bought (with my copy of the Gourmet Cookbook) the Bon Appetite Quick, Fast, whatever (sorry, can't remember the name right now), and I have to say that a quick glance through it didn't excite me much.

                      I, too, trust Gourmet, but I do note that the recipe times given assume that the chopping has all been done before you start.

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        You mean Gourmet specifically says in the front matter or something like that that the times assume the chopping has been done in advance?

                        I know what you mean about the Bon Appetit books just not appealing in the same way. I can't put my finger on what it is, though.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          In the Gourmet books (the Green one I absolutely love, so this isn't a slam in any way; I'm hoping to love this one as well) the ingredients list will say 1 chopped onion, 3 cloves garlic sliced, 1 tablespoon minced ginger - things like that, which makes me assume they expect you to have that prep work done when you start the recipe if you plan on making it in the time they've given. This first occurred to me after a particularly labor intensive (lots of chopping) recipe that took a heck of a lot longer than they'd said it would. Now, I'm not the world's fastest chopper by any means, but still, it took a lot longer, and that was the explanation I came up with.

                          Yeah, big mistake on the Bon Ap. book. I saw the low price, know that I like tasty quick dinners and thought "why not?" You know what I find surprising - there are no times given, and some of the recipes that appealed to me seemed like they'd probably take a good chunk of time - certainly more than you'd expect from a book that calls itself fast in any way.

                          1. re: LulusMom

                            Oh, I see your point about GT... That's sneaky recipe-writing. Well, I guess it does eliminate the variable of knife skills (or lack thereof in my case) from the time estimate.

                            And so weird about the B.A. book having no time estimates given the title.

                            On another note, I found my Gourmet book! Can't wait to pick out some recipes!


                        2. re: LulusMom

                          I subscribed to BA for a dozen or so years (I stopped right before the remakes/dumbing down that have had everyone so unhappy in recent years, because I just had too much going on and didn't have time for it), and I clipped out lots of terrific recipes (none of which ever had times given that I recall). I never was inspired by any of the recipes in the Fast Easy Fresh column, though, so if that's the source of this book's recipes, I can understand its lack of appeal. I've never looked at any of the BA compendiums, but perhaps they're not as well curated as the Gourmet volumes.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            There is one recipe that is in rotation around here that came from that column - a pasta dish with chorizo (I use the soy stuff) and olives. It's a big hit, and I guess that was in my mind as I bought the book. But you're so right - when I try to think of any other recipe from that, I can't come up with one. And now that I think about it ... holy cow, that recipe might not even have come from BA. Jeepers.

                      2. re: bitchincook

                        I have cooked plenty from this book over the last 6 years. By now, I beat the active cooking times on a regular basis. My partner, well, typically you should double the time estimate.

                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                      So happy to find your link, Dairy Queen. I was just getting ready to take my ipad shopping, and EYB showed no recipes for the book! Turns out I had entered the one I have (with DVD included) which shows as not indexed. But it's the same book, of course. You saved the day!

                    3. LulusMom, you have drinks listed in the thread title of the second thread, along with salads and vegetables, here: You might want to ask to have that edited to avoid confusion.

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