review of The International Dictionary by Carole Bloom for Amazon.com
This handy little reference book is probably less useful than it seems to be. If you already have a few pastry and baking books on your bookshelf, this would be a good, but not a great addition. You get a dictionary of around 800 definitions, and a few dozen recipes.
Note carefully what this book is not. You will not get a comprehensive encyclopedia full of pictures, diagrams, and recipes for just about everything under the sun, written by a diverse panel of distinguished and world renown pastry chefs. If you need a picture of something or a specific recipe, you will probably not find it here.
What you will get is a quick and handy reference to look up specific words and pastry names and get a brief, dictionary-style definition written by a respected but solitary author. Most entries are half a dozen sentences. A few major entries, such as sugar, will barely get a page. One can nit-pik here and there, but the the information is reasonably objective and level-headed.
The recipes are common ones easily found in any standard baking/pastry book, but it is a collection of fairly good recipes. The ones I tried worked very well. "Beat" and "blend" are important techniques, yet receive a couple of useless sentences each, and similarly for "fold". Certain important, specific procedures and skills, surprising, receive scant attention. I also object to the cooked sugar chart: her categories are significantly different from standard texts on the subject, making it dangerous to use as a reference for a different cookbook. She also does not give the standard advice that cooked sugar should always be judged by the thermometer, and not these old-fashioned finger tests (cookbooks that do use these categories in recipes will usually have a chart giving exact temperature equivalents; if not, you need to get a different cookbook). The definition of Swiss and French meringues is backwards. Mirliton is also a Cajun word for chayote. The definition for cornet (paper pastry cone) is missing.