Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.
Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, sometimes called the Quinoa Sisters, are big advocates of the pseudo-grain, and their second cookbook, Quinoa Revolution: Over 150 Healthy, Great-Tasting Recipes under 500 Calories, is receiving plenty of buzz.
I, however, have mixed feelings about the cookbook. My first reaction was that I loved it. It's beautifully styled, with several full-page photos and a rainbow of subdued, earthy colors. I particularly like the informative front of the book, in which the authors introduce the ingredient, detail its nutritional value, and offer shopping tips. Besides a great FAQ, there are also cooking charts as well as advice for people on a special diet (gluten free or raw, for example).
I also was impressed with the range of flavors and dishes, from breakfast porridge to chocolate cupcakes. The salads, soups, and main dishes are appealing and cover Mexican, Indian, Asian, and down-home American styles and seasonings. Although a number of the dishes include meat or fish, vegetarians will find many recipes to suit them with little or no substitution.
Probably because Quinoa Revolution was first published in Canada, the measurements and oven temperatures are listed in both metric and imperial units, making the cookbook easy to use around the world. I also appreciate the many tips scattered throughout the book that explain a technique or suggest a substitution.
So what didn't I like about the cookbook? I'm an experienced and confident cook and wouldn't hesitate to tackle anything in Quinoa Revolution, but at the same time, I'd think twice about recommending it to cooks on the other side of the skills' spectrum.
First, I noticed quite a few dishes provide a cooking time but do not give us a way to determine when the dish is done. Inexperienced cooks may be frustrated when 15 minutes on their stovetop at what they consider to be a simmer leaves them with improperly cooked vegetables and meats and a less-than-yummy dinner. Doneness tests can make the difference between success and failure for unsure cooks.
I love it when cookbooks include the nutritional breakdown for each recipe and Quinoa Revolution does just that. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how the authors arrived at some of the numbers, rendering the information too vague to be of use. For example, I couldn't tell whether the nutritional analysis included the optional ingredients, so it was difficult to determine an accurate calorie or sodium count. Another problem occurred when general ingredients were listed, especially dairy products. Several recipes called for milk or yogurt but didn't mention a fat level (whole, low-fat, nonfat); this leaves me wondering which product was used when arriving at the fat content of each serving.
Although the photographs in the cookbook are beautiful, they don't always match the recipe. Again, not an issue for me, but some cooks may be thrown off by a recipe that calls for minced red chilies but the photograph shows whole chilies (including the stems!). Another recipe indicates grated lemon zest, but the photograph clearly shows ribbons of zest. And yet another one shows the dish topped with yogurt(?) but no topping is mentioned in the directions. I know plenty of home cooks who might be confused or bothered by these kinds of discrepancies.
Despite the issues I addressed, I do like the fact that the vast majority of the recipes call for easy-to-find ingredients and that the recipes are appealing. Moreover, gluten-free eaters will love the ways that quinoa flour can be used to make waffles, crepes, cupcakes and other dishes that usually require flour. I want to emphasize that confident cooks will have no problem finding success with Quinoa Revolution because they already know how to tell if a sauce is done or if the chicken has been thoroughly cooked.
Buy Quinoa Revolution if you want to learn more about this tasty and versatile seed and if you are looking for ways to add it to everyday dishes. If you're on your way to becoming whiz in the kitchen, you will find the cookbook to be a worthy addition to your collection, as I do. But if you're still learning to cook and rely heavily on detailed directions, you may want to check it out from the library before buying.
Buy Quinoa Revolution at an Indie or a bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Published by Penguin USA / Pintail, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).