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James Peterson cookbook review

Updated on January 15, 2014

A good cookbook should be reliable, easy to understand and of course, be able to guide you through the process of making delicious food. There are millions of cookbooks and zillions of online recipes. Many of you might have experience in finding recipes online and struggles on which one to follow.

James Peterson- a cookbook writer, photographer and cooking teacher.
James Peterson- a cookbook writer, photographer and cooking teacher.

One of the main problems with online recipes is the reliability of information. Recipes posted online can be written by anyone and could be very authentic, sometimes contains highly useful secret ingredients that makes the dish taste really fabulous or even taste like your grandma's cooking. However, at the same time, there are also risks in getting a not-so-exact recipe, which leads to cooking disasters and disappointed stomachs due to wrong measure standard, or simply unclearness in the recipe.

Blueberry Tartlet from James Peterson
Blueberry Tartlet from James Peterson

The saver way to find a reliable recipe is to look for those written by known chefs, like Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey or Nigella Lawson, etc. They do tend to provide reliable recipes (at least for their own good will). If you do not want to pay for a seasonal cookbook, most of the time you can get recipes from their own official websites for free.

However, the editing of online material is in general more loosen compared with print materials. Using a solid printed cookbook is still one of the most popular ways of using recipes. Besides the above famed chefs, one of the most useful cookbook series out there is the books from James Peterson.

James Peterson

James Peterson might not be the most famous 'celebrity chef', but his cookbooks are renowned as respectful tool books helping people to understand the basis of cooking. He has a degree in Chemistry and that could possibly explain why he often has very systematic and logical steps in cooking. He was also formally trained at the cooking school of Cordon Bleu in Paris.

His series includes books classified by ingredients and dishes, like books specialized in making sauces, soups, baking and books specialized in basic cooking techniques that helps you to apply in all sort of cooking.

Detailed explanation on his Rationale

One of the selling points of James Peterson's books is his detailed explanation on the rationale behind the cooking processes. For instance, James shows how and why ingredients in a sauce can be mixed and what could possible got your sauce wrong. Sometimes it just makes it so much easier to make thing right when you understand more.

Photo illustrations in James' books.
Photo illustrations in James' books.

James Peterson cookbooks

Clear Photo Illustration

Take the book ‘Baking’ as an example. James, also a photographer himself, uses a huge amount of photos to illustrate the step-by-step process along side with detail descriptions. James also applies a very systematic approach in explaining the very basic recipe as first step, and then introduces variations on top of that. With the clear photo illustrations and cross references of methodologies introduced in the book, you can easily recreate your own version of delicious baking.

Logical categories of technicals

One of the things I like about James' work is his logic in categorizing cooking technicals and showcase them with clear and easy understandable wording.

Being a 'know-why' person, I always would like to understand the underlying rationale behind a particular action. James always give the answer in these types of scenarios. I must say that another chef which also explains very clearly is Nigella Lawson.

Room for Improvement

Unike other 'celebrity chefs', James Peterson is not in particularly engaged with social media. While the fan-base of Jamie Oliver is widely expanding through his multiple social media gateways like youtube, facebook and twitter, James is relatively reserved with these new media. Would be even better if he could have videos demonstrating his cooking techniques.

Ravioli recipes from James Peterson.
Ravioli recipes from James Peterson.

Browse in James Peterson’s official website to understand more. His useful series of cookbooks include the awarded book “Baking”, “Fish and Shellfish”, “Essentials of Cooking”, “Glorious French Food”, “The Duck Book”, “Simply Shrimp” and many more.

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