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One of the first books I learned about this year was Katie Shelly's Picture Cook: See. Make. Eat. I love the concept of this graphic cookbook, which is short on words and big on line drawings. The idea behind the book is to free us from the written word, so we can learn to be more inventive in the kitchen.
Although I'm not sure Picture Cook would work well as a first cookbook, I think it would have definite appeal to inexperienced cooks, teens, and college students. I know I would have loved following the pictures instead of reading through long directions when I was cooking with friends in my first apartment. The recipes range from the crazy simple (cinnamon-sugar toast) to the much more complicated (panzanella) and cover the entire range from breakfast to dessert.
I particularly like the double-spread idea pages, which help you make your own combinations for dishes like omelets, tacos, and pizza. (One such page is shown in the scan at the left, below.) New cooks will appreciate the tips, the graphic guide to cutting veggies, and the simplicity of most of the recipes. More confident cooks will be inspired to tweak the dishes to their own tastes, which somehow seems more approachable when the recipes are wordless.
The graphic directions are especially brilliant for layered recipes, like the white vegetarian lasagna shown in the scan at the right (below; click image to enlarge). No more having to guess how many layers the cookbook author really meant. The drawing clearly shows three layers of everything, ending with the sauce.
Finally, many readers will welcome the easy to use index, with its color-coded key to recipes that fit special diets, such as vegan, gluten-free, and no sugar added.
You might not want to get rid of your conventional cookbooks, but Katie Shelly's Picture Cook makes a nice addition to your collection. The cookbook would be a great for families with young children who like spending time in the kitchen. Even the youngest budding chef should be able to help guide the head cook through one of these graphic recipes.
Published by Ulysses Press, 2013
Source: Review (see review policy)
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