"The New James Beard. The great new 1,000-recipe cookbook in which the dean of American cookery shares the expertise of a lifetime and--with a happy new emphasis on lightness, freshness, flexibility, and surprise--presents dishes for every course and every occasion, from soups to sherbets, from salads to pies."
James Beard pretty much ushered in the modern era of gourmet cookery in the United States. Since then, cooking has developed into highly creative, specialized forms, incorporating new ethnic cuisines and new kinds of fruits/vegetables/spices, which is exciting. Still, there's every good reason to go back to where good taste started--with Beard himself. This book is a phenomenal resource for anyone who is interested in good food, whether it's gourmet or not. It's got a nice blend of gourmet and more common recipes, but either way they're excellent. On one page you'll find a recipe for simple boiled potatoes, and on another you'll find one for a béchamel sauce or a beurre manié. It may seem paradoxical, but Beard just loved what tasted good and threw it all together. And it worked. There are chapters on appetizers, soups, salads, vegetables, fish and shellfish, eggs and cheese, pasta-rice-grains-and dried beans, poultry, meat, breads and cookies, desserts, basic stocks and sauces, and a concordance. I've enjoyed the Old Fashioned 3-meat meatloaf with bacon strips over the top and hard boiled eggs inside. The simple recipe for mashed potatoes and rutabaga with cream is satisfying. Baked acorn squash with garlic and bacon was good. And the rich Vadis Bars always get compliments. The (Dijon) Mustard Chicken is great, and the Sour Cream Cheesecake is the perfect balance between sweet and sour. The selection of recipes isn't exhaustive, but whatever you do find in the book is going to be great. It isn't a basic "how to cook everything in the world" cookbook; Beard does that in his The James Beard Cookbook. Rather, this book represents the highlights of his repertoire and the new direction he was evolving in. While this book may be better suited to cooks with some experience, anyone can use it and profit from it. This is one of those books that you can grow with over a lifetime. There is something Zen about the realization of the need for continuous self-improvement yet knowing you'll probably never master all the recipes. Still, the journey is worth it, wherever it takes you. Chop Wood, Carry Water. Chop Celery, Sauté Chicken Breast. Highly recommended.