The division between professional cookbooks or textbooks, and non-professional is shrinking all the time, and that is a good thing. . It means the professional books are more pleasing to the eye and more useful even if you are not working in a professional kitchen. If Americans are cooking less at home, there are a growing number of home cooks who turn out exquisite meals and need more instruction then the entertainment shows on Food TV can offer. Professional books are wonderful for younger cooks –- kids and teens -– who want to know why and how things happen in the kitchen.
Garde Manger: Cold Kitchen Fundamentals (Prentice Hall 2011) from the American Culinary Federation with contributing authors Edward Leonard, Brenda Carlos, and Tina Powers straddles that boundary with excellent guidance. It combines a cookbook with an encyclopedia of food. It starts with a unit on the history of Garde Manager, covering history from the Roman Empire to Escoffier. Next is a chapter on sanitation – vital for a young chef to understand how to keep food safe. There are chapters on ingredients, general techniques – and an encyclopedia of ingredients with useful photographs, such as different kinds of oils, citrus, and root vegetables. It goes into depth on proteins, from cheese to meat – with charts on Salmon comparisons (p. 210) and diagrams showing different cuts of meat. Ignore the chapter quizzes and review question – unless you want a lively trivial pursuit-like discussion after dinner.
The recipe range is impressive – covering everything from appetizers to cold soups to charcuterie and burgers. In the chapter on Main-Course Salads, there are “benchmark” recipes for Traditional Cobb Salad (p. 478) and Chef Salad (p. 479) followed by other classics – Salad Nicoise (p. 482) and Classic Greek Salad (p. 485). But there are plenty of recipes that are more unusual like Thai Pork Salad (p. 489) and Mango Ginger Duck Salad with Turmeric Curry Infused Oil (p. 495) – another “benchmark” recipe.
Garde Manger is an engaging cookbook because it contains glimpses of the reasoning behind dishes and how dishes fit together on a menu. It is a serious textbook – and yet, for non-scholars, it does offer a complete cookbook with clear, interesting recipes that could be part of any home cook’s repertoire.