Author: Carrie Palladino Farias  

Publishers: Tate Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-62024-765-5

Carrie Palladino Farias’s Mediterranean inspired collection of recipes, Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen, comes from a noble line of books on cookery. Everyone knows cookbooks have many uses; in the kitchen while you are preparing dinner, of course, but for those who leave the cooking to others more adept, cookbooks can make great reading.

The following volumes represent a brief history of books about the preparation and the consumption of food during the last 150 years. One simply must start with Mrs Beeton’s, Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.first published in one volume in 1861.

Mrs Beeton tells one, in the Household section, how to furnish a home, hire a staff, host parties, dances, royalty, members of the clergy, even how to correctly open a Bazaar. The cookery section covers meal preparation literally from soup to nuts: how to make a sandwich, wine, to pickle, preserve, candy, and how to feed one’s family and especially one’s children. Illustrations are plentiful notably the various cuts of meat and pictorial instructions are given culinary operations such as trussing a chicken and dressing a hare. Still a joy to read and use after all this time!

Other cooking books that make excellent reading are: The Boston School Cookbook (1896), The Joy of Cooking(1931), Larousse Gastronomique (1938), MFK Fisher’s Consider the Oyster (1941), Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1965), and then some contemporary books  notably, Anne Lindsay’s The Lighthearted Cookbook, and the many publications of Ina Garten ( The Barefoot Contessa), Nigella Lawson, and most recently books about the ‘Slow Food’ movement championed by Nova Scotia’s Michael Howell.

Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen is an interesting book to read too and useful in the kitchen as well. The author, Carrie Palladino Farias,is also a photographer and home chef. She is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a degree in hotel/restaurant management; she is also a wife and the mother of two girls living in northwestern NJ. and is a recipe contributor to AOL's recipe site, Kitchen Daily )

Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen has a number of excellent features not often seen in cookbooks. It has a well set out Table of Contents to begin, and also at the front of the book a List of Staples that every kitchen should have. There is also a USDA Food Safety and Handing Chart listing safe minimum internal temperatures of cooked food as well as suggestions for proper storage and proper methods of thawing food. Finally the author has included a Measurement Conversion Chart which should include a metric table along side standard measurements.

The recipes themselves are well laid out and easy to follow and the suggestions for appropriate side dishes are useful. It would be helpful if the recipes were all on one page as page turning mid-cooking is often difficult. Unfortunately the photographs of the various dishes are of poor quality and often do not enhance the dishes they represent. Food photos should be clear,and of high quality and show the finished dish not just a portion of the food in it. Although the recipes are ‘Mediterranean inspired‘ this does not mean in this book that they are heart-healthy or low fat.

Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen is a useful resource, a handy and attractive paperback that would enhance any cookbook collector’s shelf.

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