Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cooking with All Things Trader Joe's

Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati
Brown Bag Publishing

Wow. This cookbook is so much more than I had expected. Don't get me wrong, I liked the idea of this book right away. It's just that I didn't realize the presentation was going to be so ... amazing! Great recipes with clear directions and short prep times. And best of all - full color illustrations of every recipe. So often, I hear friends lament about other cookbooks: "It's good, but there aren't enough photos. I need photos." Oh, we have photos!

The concept behind the book is pretty simple. Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati are crazy for Trader Joe's. Make that crazy like foxes. The pair realized that using the prepped ingredients available at Trader Joe's made it faster and easier to get healthy dinners on the table. They also realized many shoppers were clueless about how to use those same products. And the book was born.

Trader Joe's offers unique sauces and dips, fresh salads, gourmet meats and cheeses. Many of their items are fully cooked and ready to use. The authors believe their products are of consistently high quality and delicious, plus the selection is diverse. The key to building a great time-saving dish is coming up with recipes that combine prepped ingredients with fresh. But you don't have to worry about that, Deana and Wona have it covered. You just have to decide what to make first!

There is a great range of recipes presented here, starting with appetizers and going all the way through to drinks and desserts. Just flipping through the book initially, I noted at least a dozen recipes I wanted to try. The photos are fabulous - they make the dishes so appealing that my list grew longer with each turn of the page. Spicy Tropical Shrimp Boats, Pasta Puttanesca, Black Bean Soup, Frozen Tiramisu - so many appealing dishes ...

To make it easy for the cook, the proper names of items from Trader Joe's are capitalized, such as Thai Yellow Curry Sauce or Brown Rice Medley, while more common ingredients are in lower case. With this layout, even shoppers unfamiliar to Trader Joe's can easily track down the ingredients they need to get cooking. To give you just a bit more help, wine suggestions accompany many of the recipes.

This is a cookbook that offers cooks an easy avenue to prepare gourmet food with considerably less effort. Learn how to take advantage of the shortcuts that Trader Joe's products offer and start creating your own impressive creations. Your only dilemma is whether to take all the credit or share with Trader Joe's.

To get a feel for what this cookbook is like, visit the Cooking With Trader Joe's Blog. The recipes posted are different from those in the book, but they are of the same style.

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