Refreshed Cookbook Review

Refreshed Cookbook Review

Title: Refreshed: Lighter, Simpler Comfort Food
Author: Jim Bailey
Published: October 28, 2016, Schiffer
No. of Pages: 272
Cover Price: $11.99 Hardcover

Third generation Yankee Chef, Jim Bailey, who is a popular columnist and blogger, has boarded the bandwagon and released Refreshed: Lighter, Simpler Comfort Food. His specialty is dishes with a New England flair, and he is known for the term “yanked” which means he adapts professional recipes to doable ones for the home cook. In this, Bailey’s second cookbook, Bailey has not only “yanked” the recipes so that they can be made in the home kitchen, but he has also “yanked” a lot of the fat and calories from them (which also mean he has “yanked” a lot of the flavor).

It is a fact that fat makes food taste good, and a certain amount of fat is necessary in our diets. Whenever someone tries to cut the fat from recipes, it is inevitable that the finished dish won’t be as good as the fat-laden one. Some people are happy to give up taste for a chance to eat lighter, but my philosophy has always been to eat a smaller amount of the real version and enjoy it.

The Blackberry Cream Ricotta Cake, which in the introduction says, “This deliciously moist cake is a cross between a pound cake and cheesecake. It has moistness and body that few other cakes can stand up to,” was the first recipe I tried. The picture was mouthwatering, I had blackberries in the fridge, and needed dessert. The finished product was absolutely terrible – heavy and fairly tasteless. Thinking I had surely made a mistake following the recipe, I made it again. The results were identical to my first attempt and I surmised that this cake needed some major changes to make it edible.

The recipe for Potato-Crusted Salmon Fillets sounded great, and I added a tablespoon of olive oil to the potato mixture, knowing that the oil would make the potatoes crisp up. The end result was delicious, and it is a great way to prepare salmon; everyone who tasted it loved it, and I will be making it again and again. Incidentally, the Spice Cranberry Catsup was easy and very good.

Other recipes that I’d like to try from the book include Spicy Polenta Lasagna, Cincinnati Chili (the author points out that in Cincinnati they serve it over pasta, but he doesn’t think that sounds good, so he serves it over rice – anyone who has actually eaten Cincinnati chili in Cincinnati will certainly serve it with pasta because it tastes good and that’s how it is supposed to be served), and New England Shore Corn Pudding. I assume I will need to add a little fat back in to the recipes to make them edible.

All told, Bailey has “yanked” too much, and while the dishes look and sound fabulous, cooks who love real food will have to play around with the recipes to get them to taste good.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.

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