Book Review: Apple Cookbooks, Part II

October 29, 2010

I checked out from the library a few apple cook books in which I looked over, with this week being the conclusion. Click here to see last week’s reviews.

Apple Orchard Cookbook

This second edition cookbook by Janet M. Christensen and Betty Bergman Levin was published in 1992. It is a smaller cookbook, consisting of 150 pages. It opens with a chapter titled “All About Apples,” which discusses what apples are ripe when, what kind of apples are better for all purpose, eating, or baking uses, a short description of 20 major eating apples, nutritional values, and how to process apples, how to taste apples, and a few other odds and ends about apples. The recipes then fall into “appletizers”, apple entrées, apple side dishes, apple breads, apple pastries, and apple desserts.

Overall, I like this book, as it seems to have some unique but not too outlandish yet simple recipes. It kind of reminds me of home cooking or fairs and festivals. Very hearty – Swedish Ham balls, baked chicken barbecue, jiffy apple stuffing, sour cream apple pie, etc. The layout and organization is nice, and it seems easy to read. There are no pictures, but I don’t think it detracts from the book.

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Apple: A Country Garden Cookbook

Part of a series of “Country Garden Cookbooks,” Apple: A Country Garden Cookbook was written by Christopher Idone with photographs by Kathryn Kelinman in 1993. The introduction consists of Idone’s childhood memories, famous apples in folklore, the saying “as American as apple pie,” and a few other odds and ends. There is a glossy discussing selecting apples, storing apples,and 26 apple varieties with pictures. The recipe portion is then divided into openers, accompaniments, main courses, sweets, and beverages, giving you a total of 45 recipes, most of which have a picture.

Like the pear cookbook in this series, I find this book very easy to use, and the pictures very tempting, but it is overall lacking in substance that it tries to hides with the use of abundant pictures. It does not have all that many recipes, nor does it really talk about apple availability. What recipes it does have seems like something any American would find hearty and filling.

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In Praise of Apples: A Harvest of History, Horticulture, & Recipes

This book was written in 1996 by Mark Rosenstein. After a short introduction, the first chapter is on “Choosing the Right Apple,” in which Rosenstein has a chart of 46 apple varieties to show if they are dessert apples, cooking apples, cider apples, apples that keep, and a short description. The chapter is six pages, in which each page has two apples pictured. The next section is kind of an introduction to the recipes with a word on the recipes, basic kitchen equipment, apple cooking tips, cooking equivalents, and cooking times. There is a cute antidote on different apple eater styles before launching into the recipes, which are organized into beverages, breakfasts, main dishes, “salads, soups, and side dishes,” desserts, and basic recipes. Basic recipes include things that other recipes are built upon, such as apple cider reduction, cider verjus, red-onion and apple purée, apple and leek stock, applesauce and apple butter. The next chapter is “From Fantasy to Applesauce: Planting a Backyard Orchard.” This chapter includes rootstock, selecting a site, selecting trees, planting, orchard management including pruning and pest and diseases, and harvesting. This is followed by a chapter on “Apple Cider and Cider Vinegar,” which does talk about cider apple classifications and talks you though grinding and pressing, and shows pictures of an impressive press. He moves on to testing the sugar and acid content, controlling the tempature of the ferment, and racking before moving on to making cider vinegar. There is a page dedicated to French, English, and North American cider apple varieties, though it is kind of disappointing that after he talks about cider apple classifications that he does not include it here. Next, he moves on to “Canning and Preserving Apples,” including hot-pack canning of various apple products, freezing apples, and drying apples.

The very first impression I got picking up this book, before I even opened it, was, “Would this book fit in my bookcase?” The answer is yes, if your book case can handle binders, as this is just a tad bit taller than a binder. Flipping though the recipes, all of the ingrediants are listed in italic letters, which I find very hard to read, but the cooking directions is done in bullet points, so that helps. As far as the overall content, it is a bit jack-of-all-trades, where it gives you a little bit of information, but not really enough to be really good. However, when it comes to the recipes with their yummy looking pictures, aside from the font issues, I am impressed. The recipes are a little less common and a little more grommet that may take more time to cook, yet it isn’t snobby or something to unusual for the American palate. Cider smoked London Broil with cider pepper glaze, sea scallops with coriander and cider sauce, cider barbecued shrimp with white beans and apples, apple bread with walnut apple butter, stone fence punch,  apple horseradish sauce, apple fritters and calvados cream, chocolate truffles with cider calvados ganche, cider lemon sorbet with apple crisp, apple pralines, and many more.

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