This book, published just a bit over a decade ago, contains recipes from her earlier works. Thus, this is a "one stop shopping" guide, if one is interested in Martha Stewart's recipes. And, in fact, this is a fine cookbook. It won't be for everyone. I'm not interested in large parties or dishes featuring caviar, and so on. But I do found a lot of neat recipes in this volume. Of course, this is more than just a cookbook. The lifestyle represented by Stewart's enterprise underlies this book. The little hints for making a dinner party special would not be of much concern to many who simply want a set of recipes from which to choose. But that is a key piece of what this cookbook is about.
As usual with better cookbooks, there are some nice extras besides the recipes. This volume features suggestions as to what should be in one's pantry, a few notes to cooks (including one that I have come to learn as true after taking shortcuts [Page xv:]: "When you cook with wine, use a wine you would like to drink. Your dish will only be as good as the ingredients you use." And cooking wine doesn't measure up to the real deal.), and a brief conversion chart at the close.
However, of course, it's the recipes that are the centerpiece.
There are 21 chapters, each covering some different aspect of cooking, starting off with "the basics" (basic stocks, pastry for further cooking, etc.) and "hors d'oeuvres." And let me take a moment to talk about one of those that she describes--the redoubtable "croque monsieur." Those few (and special) times that I have been in Paris, I had a lot of lunches featuring this classic. I have also served it as an hors d'oeuvre at some of the relatively few dinner parties for bunches of people that I've organized over the years. My version features a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich, with plenty of butter on each side. Then, you grill both sides on the stove until brown. Yummy. Stewart adds one wrinkle, though, that I aim to incorporate the next time I make this dish--Dijon mustard. Seems to me that that addition would add a nice bit of bite to the croque monsieur. Next section? Eggs. Here, there are a series of nice recipes. I like making frittata's from time to time, and she provides several recipes for this classic that look pretty inviting to me. I suspect I'll experiment with one of those in the not-too-distant future.
Just listing the rest of the 21 sections would take way too much Amazon space, but I'll mention a few other recipes that seem interesting to me. Under "Vegetables," she has a nice turn on my standard recipe (from the Berghoff Cookbook, as a matter of fact) for red cabbage. I add Granny Smith apples, cut up into small pieces, to the cabbage. She suggests, in addition, some onions (which, by the way, the Berghoff Cookbook refers to as well). But it does sound like it would add an extra dimension to the cabbage, so I'll add onions the next time I make the cabbage (which goes very well, by the way, with Chicken Schnitzel). Salads? One that she includes in this book looks intriguing to me: hot salad of escarole and pancetta. Simple to make--escarole, pancetta, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper.
The recipes for meats and seafood also contain a goodly number that look well worth making, too.
So, in short, a good cookbook. I'm not much interested in the lifestyle aspects of the cookbook, but I just pass that stuff on by and consider the recipes. Some are not so easy to make, but there are plenty that will work. Anyhow, a good cookbook that has been added to my little kitchen library.