Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Milk: The long overdue earnest summation


Anne Mendelson got me started making yogurt and mascarpone; she pointed the way to success with scalloped potatoes and taught me how to make better paneer; her panna cotta recipe is easy and hard to beat. All this comes in the context of an authoritative, opinionated, and riveting history of milk in which every thought is fully developed and crisply (sometimes haughtily) expressed. Is Milk something a casual cook needs? No, but if you're even slightly interested in learning more about dairy products, you should own this book. 

The recipes tend to be basic and impeccable, often borrowed (with credit) from other sources. I have no problem with this; I'd rather have terrific second-hand recipes than a bunch of original recipes only some of which are actually delicious. 

I made 19 recipes out of Milk:

Worth the price of the book: 3
Great: 9
Good: 2
So-so: 4
Flat-out bad: 1

Milk struck a chord with me. There are things you try and you just know you're never going to get all that into them. I suspect I'm missing the sausage-making gene and I may not be cut out for apiculture. But when I started playing with milk, I thought: when can we get a cow?

(Answer: never.)

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