Whenever I think of Raghavan Iyer, I immediately start craving Indian food, like the dishes in his Indian Cooking Unfolded, which I reviewed a few years ago. Yet this James Beard Award-winning author and cook is, of course, much more versatile than that.
In Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked and Fried, Too!, he explores all the wonders of the potato--white, sweet, red, and gold. Featuring Iyer's usual style, this cookbook goes beyond simply providing recipes.
Smashed, Mashed, Boiled and Baked starts with a mini-encyclopedia of potatoes, including nutrition, whether to buy organic, and which cultivar to use in which situation. In addition, throughout the book, you'll find dozens of "Tater Tips," which not only focus on making you a potato expert but also introduce you to a world of ingredients and handy cooking techniques.
The cookbook is published by Workman, so you know the color scheme and graphics are eye-catching and the recipes are clearly written and well edited. The chapters take you from munchies to salads, sides, and mains and end with luscious desserts: sweet potato sweet rolls with Cointreau glaze? Yes, please; I'll take two.
The wide range of recipes cover the expected, like Russian potato salad, as well as more surprising fusion dishes, such as Asian-inspired steamed buns with potatoes and chives. So many of the recipes appeal to me, I could pretty much start at the beginning of the book and make everything: Canadian lamb pie, Mexican empanadas, Eastern European knishes, Indian curry, Chinese tea-infused new potatoes, and French sweet potato tart.
Despite the global foundation of the dishes, Iyer is always careful to make sure his recipes are accessible to everyone. I think the most exotic ingredient I found in this book was lemon grass, and even I can buy that at the supermarket. I don't know about you, but I appreciate it when a cookbook author remembers we don't all live in New York City or Seattle.
An especially welcome feature of Smashed, Mashed, Boiled, and Baked is the dual index. Besides the conventional index of recipes and ingredients, the cookbook also contains an index of recipes appropriate for different dietary restrictions: gluten free, vegan, and two kinds of vegetarian. How helpful is that?
If you like foodie eye-candy you won't be disappointed. Although there isn't a photograph of every single recipe, there many beautiful full-page photos of the finished dishes and some that demonstrate cooking techniques. I think you'll be happy.
I had a hard time picking a recipe to share, mostly because I didn't want to leave out any of the helpful tips and information. I decided that instead of typing, I'd scan a recipe (you'll have to click the image to enlarge it and to see it in sharp focus.) I picked this potato salad because its North African flavors sound so warming and good. Be sure to read the Tater Tips and the introduction so you can tweak this dish to your personal taste.
Note on photos: All photos were scanned by me or downloaded from Workman's website and are used in the context of this review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder, Raghavan Iyer or photographer Matthew Benson.
Published by Workman, 2016
Source: review (see review policy)
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