No need to explain what rubbed me the wrong way when I can simply quote:
"For eight years we have raised our own Charolais cattle on rolling, grassy pastures north of New Orleans. It's the beef we have at our house. Of course, a big freezer is the only way to afford and keep good beef. . ."
"If you have difficulty finding a shoulder, use venison shanks instead."
"Keeping it simple and delicious means deliberate strategies for planning ahead. I make intensely flavored broths, then freeze them in ice cube trays and empty the cubes into Ziploc bags."
"With meat from the neck of our Mangalitsa pigs, ground and seasoned with crushed peppers and cane syrup, sometimes I'll make sausage patties that fit perfectly on a biscuit, the way Jack likes it."
"Shredding the potatoes for these super-crunchy 'nests' is made easy with a clever device called a Benriner Turnning Slicer, or use a heavier Japanese mandoline. . ."
Done quoting now.
I'm happy to report that while the text and photographs rubbed me the wrong way, the recipes have been mostly terrific.
lemon ice box pie. Sounds quaint, grandmotherly, humble and delectable, and I loved the actual pie even more than the name. Beat together 3 egg yolks, a can of sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Beat egg whites until stiff, fold into lemon mixture, pour this lovely tangy foam into a graham cracker crust. Freeze and cross your fingers about salmonella. Thaw briefly before serving. I could have eaten the entire pie in one sitting. That is not an exaggeration. The recipe is here; I would serve the whipped cream on the side, not spread on top. Grade: A.
potato dumplings. Orbs of seasoned mashed potato stuffed with bacon and chives then poached and topped with butter and crunchy bread crumbs. Devastating. My silly family said they preferred plain mashed potatoes, but they are unreliable. Grade: A.
lentil soup. I'll let Besh make his case: "I've added cream to this recipe, which I've never seen before in a lentil soup. It gives the soup such a succulent texture." It really went against the grain to put cream in lentil soup, which is supposed to be sludgy, healthy, and dark brown. But why? I don't know. I've always just thought of it that way, as hippie penance food. The first night I couldn't see the payoff of all that cream, but the second night, the soup came into its rich, luxurious own. Don't know about "succulent texture." Grade: A.
angel biscuits. Yeasted. You make and shape the night before serving for breakfast. Tasted like a cross between a buttery croissant and a biscuit. Recipe is here. Grade A.
olive oil roasted cauliflower. As it sounds. Grade: B+.
gingersnaps. Ordinary. You can probably do just as well with the recipe on the back of the brown sugar box. Grade: B.
herb roasted chicken. As it sounds. Grade: B.
carbonara with sweet peas and ham. I've made better. Grade: B-.
sugar snap pea salad with pecans. Excited about this because sugar snap peas sounded like they'd make a crunchy, sweet salad. Didn't quite work, though. Grade: C.
I would keep Besh's book based on the number of excellent recipes it contains, but in the last few weeks my desire to purge the collection has abated. My house will never be a decorator showcase. The cookbooks can stay. They can all stay.