Elevate Difference

O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook

Cooking with O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook is an exploration of taste. The cookbook is arranged by the type of food—salads and appetizers, drinks, desserts, meats, vegetables—and the recipes come from a series of chefs who have contributed their favorites. Colorful photos and commentary from the chefs accompany the recipes.

Unlike other cookbooks, there is no clear theme here. The selection includes a wide variety of tastes and geographic influences—from a simple sliced tomato sandwich (do we really need a recipe for that or are we being reminded that a tomato can be sandwich fodder?) to Caribbean Callaloo, Pecan Coated Fried Chicken, and Vermont Maple Sugar Pie. At the back of the book are recommendations of what to serve to children, vegetarians, and dinner guests and what to make when short on time. The book also suggests wine pairings.

At first glance, the recipes don’t seem to be aimed at the average cook. Ingredients such as crème fraîche, ras el hanout, pancetta, and file powder aren’t readily stocked in the common kitchen. Neither is it intended for meals on the run, as some of the recipes are fairly complicated.

What the book does with flair is bring together tastes combinations that sparkle. African Chicken in Peanut Sauce is worth the effort involved, the creamy sauce a perfect compliment to the spiced, succulent poultry. The successful pairing of cherry tomatoes with shallots in Sauteed Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes results in a colorful, easy, and flavorful dish that is appropriate to serve to company for an evening meal. You’ll never make standard potato salad again after trying Sweet Potato Salad by chef Art Smith. Easy to make, colorful, and with a taste that will keep people talking (imagine sweet potatoes, pineapple, green onions, pecans, dijon, mayo, and more—yum!). It’s the perfect side dish to bring to summer barbeques.

I would have preferred to have nutrition information provided instead of the sidebars written by chefs, but perhaps the absence of nutrition information was intentional – allowing readers to indulge in a smorgasbord of flavors without worrying about the long-term effects. When looking for something elegant and unique, to add some pizzazz to your table, O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook offers excellent ideas.

Written by: Jessica Jacobson, July 10th 2008
Tags: cookbook, food