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Read up on some of 2014’s most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.
Saveur: The New Classics Cookbook takes readers on a culinary trip around the globe via a variety of great dishes from all corners of the planet. You’ll find dishes from Burma to Uruguay, Algeria to Scandinavia, and Ethiopia to Latvia. In this way, it lays a path for you to dine around the world without ever leaving your kitchen. This isn't where the book's uniqueness stops, though. The table of contents is sorted by menu course and contains three indices: Ingredient, Region of Origin, and Related Topics. With such great navigation tools at my disposal, I was ready to dive into the tome.
More: See why Saveur made our list of favorite fall cookbooks this year.
At first glance, it's clear Saveur offers something for every mood and skill level -- from multi-day, high-effort recipes to one-pot meals. There are recipes that will have you sailing through the express checkout lane and others, like Couscous Royal with its 38 ingredients, will have your grocery cart overflowing. On the exotic side of the spectrum, there's the solution to the "riddle of sauerbraten" -- a foolproof recipe for German pot roast -- as well as a lesson on how to use chop sticks and a guide to the differences between Gallic and Creole cuisines.
There are also recipes for what I consider to be "osmosis" foods -- dishes that you have cooked so often that you needn't use a recipe. One example of this is Broccoli Strascinati. Made with 4 ingredients in 1 pan, the dish is so common to me that I never thought that there was a recipe for it. To me, it’s just broccoli with red pepper, olive oil, and garlic -- a real classic.
The recipes that I cooked from the book came out with varying results: I found the Pad Thai to be unbalanced in flavor and too dry. However, Joe’s Special -- described as "odd and divine" -- was astonishingly good. It is an egg scramble that includes ground beef, garlic, and spinach. I found it to be a rich, filling, and very satisfying supper on a cold New England night. Plus, it's something that can be tackled any day of the week. Despite the Pad Thai, I would like to keep cooking from the book: I would love to give the Southern France Classic Cassoulet a try (though it does call for 3 days of prep time...).
Overall, this cookbook is truly a classic that deserves a spot on any cook’s shelf. It is a valuable resource that I know I will refer to over and over again as I cook my way across the globe.
First photo by Mark Weinberg; all others by James Ransom