Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Secret Ingredient Cookbook


The Secret Ingredient Cookbook is a collection of family-friendly recipes which each contain an extra seasoning or ingredient written and developed by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Due out 4th May 2021 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it's 304 pages (ebook version) and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

Not long ago, I stopped by a small family bistro and indulged myself with a fresh salad for lunch with really *fresh* and uncomplicated ingredients, served very well and unpretentiously. As I was eating, I was struck by how much the taste was elevated by the simple unexpected addition of julienned fennel. Everything was very fresh, but that fennel really made the salad special and unusual. This cookbook is written around the same principles - here are recipes for Caesar pasta salad with avocado, succotash with edamame, barbecue meatballs with orange soda, and over 120 more recipes with unusual ingredient twists. The ones we tried from this collection were all delicious and worked very well.

The author begins with a well stocked pantry list of must-have ingredients. The list is traditional (dried pasta, honey, brown & white sugar, vanilla extract, etc) but also contains some extras with which I agree wholeheartedly, fresh citrus and herbs for example. There is an abbreviated tips and tricks list with some interesting entries for quickly ripening bananas and lots more. 

The recipes themselves are arranged in chapters roughly thematically: breakfast, snacks, soups & salads, pastas, entrées, sides, desserts, and drinks. Each of the recipes includes an introductory description, ingredients listed in a bullet point sidebar (US measurements only), step by step instructions, as well a footers with tips and alternatives as well as tips on processing, presentation and more. Nutritional information is not included. The photographs are not plentiful but the ones which are included are high quality and clear - and serving suggestions are appealing and appropriate. The release version of the book will contain an index as well.

The recipe ingredients themselves are (mostly) easily sourced and will be available at well stocked grocery stores. There are a very few ingredients which might be a little more difficult to source, but definitely nothing that is 'way out there'.

Four stars. Well written and presented tasty recipes.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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