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Book: My Perfect Pantry

Today’s book is a cookbook. Why? Because I like cooking and was offered a free cookbook.

Geoffrey Zakarian is one of the  typical combatants on the TV show Iron Chef America. He is also a restaurant owner and involved with a plethora of other shows. In all, he’s a busy chef.

My Perfect Pantry, his current cookbook, is not meant to evoke the fancy flavors of Iron Chef, nor of the high dining in his restaurants. Instead, this is directed at the home cook, giving guidance on how to stock your pantry and spice cabinet for some amazing meals.

The concept is simple: 50 foundation ingredients are listed, and then there are recipes based on 50 pantry ingredients. Zakarian then builds recipes that utilize those ingredients to make dishes that range from snacks to entrees. The foundation ingredients are spices, and while I know, and you know, that great chefs burn through spices pretty quick so they don’t get old, we keep the same tin of cloves for a long time. I’ll say this: Zakarian says to change them out once a year, and it’s not a bad idea.

Then there are the pantry staples, again 50 items that will last a while. You can keep these on hand and just snag something off the shelf, make a marvelous meal!

If, that is, you have picked what you’re wanting to make and have the relevant fresh ingredient on hand. That’s the downside on this cookbook: on the one hand, I was hopeful it would give me ways to use just what I have. That is not what you get here, and I think the let-down is more on the marketing and description than it is on the author.

So, keep in mind that you will need to gather a few fresh ingredients to go alongside the staples and foundation spices listed. Some of them are certainly normal for the American kitchen: chicken, ground beef, eggs, but you just want to make sure.

I would recommend this one for someone past the beginner stage of cooking, or as a base for a big group gift-giving event. Picture throwing in with 20 friends to equip a newly married couple with this book and the 100 stable staples mentioned—there’s a great use for it.

Otherwise, it’s good. The food turns out well, but you may care for “Spicy Peanut Butter Slaw.”

I know I didn’t. So, your mileage will vary, but on the shelf beside a few others, a useful cookbook.

Free book in exchange for review: I picked a title I thought I’d like, so I’m predisposed to give it a favorable review. Send me books at random, and I’ll dislike more of them.

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