If you live in the Boston area you may be familiar with Chef Michael Schlow.
A James Beard Award-winning chef, Schlow owns three wildly successful restaurants: Radius, Via Matta, and Great Bay. Although I've never dined at one of Schlow's establishments, I recently got my hands on his cookbook, It's About Time ($24.71).
Different from most cookbooks, this tome is not separated into courses. Instead each section represents a specific time — be it a cooking time (Time to Eat and Now) or a time in one's life (Time to Celebrate). To find out more about this excellent cookbook,
- Unlike some cookbooks by restaurant chefs, this publication is totally accessible to the home cook.
- There's something for everyone, from the busy mom desperate to feed her kids healthy food fast to the culinary bachelor looking to impress his latest fling with cooking expertise.
- You really get to know Michael Schlow as a chef and as a person. In some aspects, this book is autobiographical.
- The recipes use common ingredients and feature classic techniques that the home cook will be familiar and comfortable with.
- The organization of the recipes is hard to follow. The ingredients are listed on the far side of the page and instead of numbering the steps, the instructions are in an easy-to-get lost bulleted list.
- Some of the recipes require cooking gadgets — like a mandoline — that most people might not own.
Recipes: There are over 150 recipes that cover every course from appetizers to cocktails to dessert. While the majority are simple, a few are complex with seemingly endless steps. Still, there are plenty that I am interested in making:
- Steamed Prince Edward Island mussels with spicy tomato and herb broth
- Yukon gold potato soup with shrimp, bacon, and potatoes
- Secret agent raspberry bars
- Clams in broth
- Veal Milanese with arugula, tomato, and red onion salad
- The Schlow burger
- Jimmy's dancing punch
- Homemade ravioli
- Individual lemon sabayon tarts
Imagery: The book is filled with pictures, big and small, of the dishes, of the process of cooking an item, and of the ingredients. However, some are in color and others are in black and white; some are centered on the page and others are coarsely chopped out of the book. These inconsistencies aside, the photos are beautiful and mouth-watering.
Overall Rating: This book was a very exciting find, and I look forward to experimenting with Schlow's recipes. While it would not be my first choice for a novice home cook, it would make a great gift for a cookbook collector or foodie who loves recipes.