Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Book Review: Simply Grilling

Jennifer Chandler is an experienced and acclaimed chef with books, television appearances, and other writings.  She is also a mom, so I can trust that many of her recipes are not going to have off the wall exotic ingredients, painstaking prep, or fanciful presentation.  I was hoping for simple, family oriented recipes, with a few specialties to be brought out for company days.  Because, lets face it, many moms and dads don't want to be spending all afternoon in the kitchen only to get whines and complaints from their little human counterparts across the table.

I had the opportunity to receive and give honest review of Chandler's latest book, Simply Grilling, a follow up in the "Simply" family of books she has started with precursors being Simply Salads, and Simply Suppers.  I have not seen either of these two previous books, but after experiencing Simply Grilling, you can bet I'm headed to my local library to look it up!

In the day of easy to search recipes, exhaustive lists, and twists on every classic meal available online, an actual paper copy cookbook would have to have a few basic elements for me to even want to look at it.
1) Pictures- photographs that highlight what the food is supposed to resemble if you've followed the directions
2) Easy Searching and well organized
3) Tips or ideas for slight changes if you don't have the ability to quite do the recipe as listed

Simply Grilling offers all of these.  My absolute favorite aspect of this cookbook (and honestly its the best I've seen in any cookbook I've encountered) are the large and detailed photographs.  The basic layout is a photograph on one whole page, withe the recipe on its corresponding right side.  SO AWESOME!  I can tell almost with a glance at the title and the picture if it is a recipe worth looking into for my family.  I also love the various tips she put at the bottom of each recipe.  Icons represent whether they could be done inside on a grill pan, what could be done ahead of time, cooking tips, variations, a marinate icon to let you know at a glance if you shouldn't be starting a recipe at 4:45 and wanting to eat at 5 :) The first few pages of helpful grilling hints, understanding grilling gear, and how to deal with marinades and rubs were also a great element to this book.  The recipes were well organized and had a great index in the back.

The only slight complaints I have about the book is that there are not enough meat recipes, and many of the ones that were there were more sauces and salsas disguised as meat grilling recipes.  While the chapter was in the top right hand corner of each page, I would have loved a color block that was larger or along the side so it was a little quicker and easier to find the section I was looking for.

While I still think the I will use my online recipe resources, this is a great cookbook to have on hand and would make a GREAT gift to someone you know who loves to grill. 

*I was given a copy of the cookbook in exchange for an honest review by book sneeze and Thomas Nelson publishers

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