Double Take: One Fabulous Recipe, Two Finished Dishes
by A.J. Rathbun
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Double Take / 978-1-55832-424-4
I really wanted to like this cookbook, but I just can't. Even my vegetarian friends who love cooking and are always eager for new cookbooks just didn't like this one at all.
1. No pictures. This is a huge deal for me - I've gotten to the point where I almost won't buy a cookbook if it doesn't have pictures of at least a third of the recipes. "Double Take" has no pictures at all. This isn't just an issue of wanting to flip through and find something appetizing - it's also crucial for assembly instructions. If I don't know what the final product is supposed to look like, I am likely going to have a hard time with assembly. This problem is exacerbated by the authors' attempts to use "fancy" names for foodstuffs, leaving me to wonder what, exactly, I am contemplating cooking. Not a good place to be.
2. Poor layout. The ingredients lists should have been divided into thirds: items you will need for both versions of the dish, items you will need for the meat version of the dish, and items you will need for the vegetarian version of the dish. That way, when making your shopping list, you can immediately know what you need to buy and for which version of the dish, right? Wrong: the way the ingredients list is actually set out is in chronological order of appearance in the dish. This makes it a HUGE hassle to try to modify the recipes for all-meat or all-veg gatherings. You might think that "all-veg" just means to strike out the meat and double all the veggie ingredients, but you'd be wrong - some of the veggie ingredients are doubled, but not all, and you have to read through very carefully. Not conducive to list-making. (This isn't even getting into the fact that you can't always apply simple "double everything" math to complex recipes - a fact that the authors completely ignore with this book.)
3. Heavy reliance on meat substitutes. Most of the dishes in this book are classic meat dishes, but with a "veggie" version designed around meat substitutes. For a vegetarian/omnivore cookbook, this feels kind of lazy, but on the other hand, I'm not sure how much to criticize the authors for it. I mean, if you want the vegetarian dish to look, feel, and taste *exactly* like the meat dish, I guess you're going to have to reach for the fake meat, but it seems to me that there needs to be a third option in there somewhere. It's not that I have a problem with meat-substitutes per se, but having a cookbook tell me to substitute the bacon for the tofu-bacon and call it a day makes me wonder why I needed a professional cook to tell me that?
I don't know that "Double Take" is a bad book, and I really did *want* to like it, but I just can't shake the feeling that it feels like a poorly researched cash-in on the omnivore/carnivore dilemma that modern families are facing. I wish the authors nothing but the best, but I can't personally recommend this book because none of the omnivore or vegetarian friends I know felt they got anything useful out of this cookbook. I probably would have given it three stars for trying, but the lack of pictures was such a huge problem for me that I had to go with two stars - you might feel differently.
NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.
~ Ana Mardoll
View all my reviews