Along the same lines as the Junior League’s successful CALIFORNIA HERITAGE COOKBOOK, the present work gives more than three hundred recipes for Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Pasta, Pizza, Rice, Fish, Poultry, Game, Meat, Vegetables, Breads, and Desserts. The Junior League associations nationwide specialize in regional cookbooks designed to preserve the favorite recipes of the particular area. The League’s members submit, test, and taste the recipes before they are approved for inclusion in the cookbook, and the proceeds go toward charitable work and community projects.
The Apple-Broccoli Soup, which this reviewer tested and found delicious, is typical of these simple-to-prepare yet innovative recipes. Combining apples and broccoli is somewhat surprising, yet the flavors complement each other splendidly and are further enhanced by a basic chicken stock and a dollop of yogurt for garnish.
The ethnic-based dishes are pleasantly exotic yet require a minimum of difficult-to-obtain ingredients, and many specialty items, such as hoisin sauce, are now available in many supermarkets. Easily obtained fresh ginger root is prominent in several recipes, including the delightful Szechuan Chicken with Peanuts, which also calls for sesame oil. This is a major strength of a “favorite recipe” cookbook such as this: Recipes do not become favorites if they are overly complicated or the ingredients difficult to procure.
Despite the sixteen pages of color photographs illustrating the completed dishes, this cookbook is overall a rather lackluster production. There is a brief, six-page discussion of California wines, but the individual chapters devoted to each course are not prefaced with any additional discussion or anecdotes. Also, there seem to be an excessive number of recipes calling for boneless chicken breasts.
The index, however, is especially thorough and helpfully provides access by individual ingredient. Thus, a home gardener with a surfeit of Swiss chard can look up Swiss chard in the index and be directed to Saute of Spinach with Swiss Chard and White Bean Soup with Swiss Chard. Got some extra Zinfandel? The index sends one to a delightful Pear Sorbet which incorporates that famous California wine.
While this volume will probably not become an essential item for the basic home cookbook library, it is sufficiently appealing to warrant consideration by those who appreciate simplicity of preparation and who like to experiment with a variety of cuisines.