THE CREATIVE COOK by James Kempston


The Secrets of the Kitchen Revealed
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 Kempston, a self-taught cook and former manager of a country hotel, has dissected the eating and cooking processes; he believes that a scientific understanding can free cooks from recipe slavery. But his efforts often seem slapdash or just plain strange For instance, in accord with his belief that tastes should always be balanced, he suggests scraping burnt toast over food when bitter notes are missing. Some of this information is helpful (Kempston explains why a food processor is inferior to a hand-held knife for chopping vegetables), but the presentation is haphazard. Furthermore, the measurements have been converted in this British import, but ``translating'' a cookbook for an American audience is requires more. Kempston refers to ``pulses'' rather than dried legumes and in giving instructions for microwaving poppadoms-- Indian flat breads--he states that they are widely available. These misunderstandings spread to the recipes themselves. A tangy focaccia-like appetizer bread in a section on ``Savoury Oddments'' calls for one ounce of yeast, but American readers need to be aware that the active dry yeast more commonly used here is twice as potent as the compressed yeast used in Europe and that the amount should be halved accordingly. Finally, while there are some interesting ideas here, like fried almonds tossed with toasted cumin and sea salt ground together, many dishes are unnaturally rich; a recipe for chocolate mousse flecked with orange zest produced something closer to pudding in texture. An intriguing idea ruined by unfortunate oversights.

Pub Date: Dec. 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0-297-83022-8
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1994