Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook

9780756667535HThe Illustrated Step-By-Step Cook
Published at DK Canada

About the book

For any cook, illustrated step-by-step instructions that explain an unfamiliar technique or guide them through the crucial part of a recipe can be invaluable. The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook recognizes the importance of this and in classic DK style includes a photographic sequence of more than 300 classic recipes, positioned alongside the recipe so the reader doesn't have to go searching for it in a separate techniques section.

Particularly useful for relative beginners, by providing reassurance and demystifying methods that are new to them, the Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook allows anybody to cook classic recipes perfectly and with confidence.

My Thoughts

Our family loves to try out new recipes and 2013 won’t be different than previous years.   I, myself, love to have recipe books and discover new flavors.    So as part of the DK Start Something New Boutique promotion, I have selected The Illustrated Step-By-Step Cook.  I am no stranger with the illustrated cookbooks from DK Canada since I have previously reviewed the ones for baking, ingredients, season by season, and  kitchen bible.    It didn’t take long for me to explore the book and find a recipe that we will do one night.

This book is gigantic with a ton of recipes that will help you expand your repertoire of meals for your family!   The table of contents will allow you to go directly to a specific section of the book – Starters and light bites, salads, meat free, one-pot dishes, home from work, food to share, comfort food, bread, pies/tarts/cakes, spectacular desserts.   There is something for every kind of meal you might want to try during 2013. 

As I mentioned above, it didn’t take me long to find a recipe to try out.  So one afternoon I proceeded to make the French beef and herb potato pie.    It took me a bit longer than the 45-50 minutes of preparation because I decided to do one step at a time.    Besides, I have decided to prepare the meal in advance and put in the over about 50 minutes before supper time.

French beef and herb potato pie

Serves 6 – Preparation 45-50 minutes – Cook 35-40 minutes


For the beef

4 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 1/4 lb ground beef
salt and pepper
14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1/2 cup dry white wine

For the potatoes

2 1/4 lb potatoes
1 bunch of basil
1 bunch of parsley
1 cup milk, plus more if needed

IMG_6536Cook the ground beef

1) Crush each garlic clove.  Discard the skins and finely chop 2 of the cloves.   Heat one-third of the oil in a sauté or frying pan.   Add the onion and cook, stirring, until soft but not brown, 3-5 minutes.

2)Add the chopped garlic, ground beef, salt, pepper, and tomatoes.   Reduce the heat and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, until the meat is browned.

3) Stir in the stock and wine.  Simmer over very low heat, stirring from time to time, for 25-30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated but the meat is still very moist.  Do not cook the meat too fast or it will be tough.

Make the herbed mashed potatoesIMG_6537

1) Peel the potatoes and cut each into 2-3 pieces, depending on size.  Put them in a saucepan with plenty of cold water and add salt.   Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until tender when pierced with a knife.

2) Meanwhile, strip the basil and parsley leaves from the stalks.   Put the leaves and the 2 whole garlic cloves in a food processor.  Pulse with the remaining oil to form a purée, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally.

3) Drain the potatoes, return them to the saucepan and mash.  Add the herb purée.  Pour the milk into another saucepan over low heat.   As soon as the milk begins to bubble, remove from heat.

4) Gradually beat the milk into the potatoes over medium heat, and stir for 2-3 minutes, until the potatoes just hold a shape.  Season to taste.

IMG_6539Assemble and bake the pie

1)  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Brush Brush a large, shallow baking dish with oil.  Taste the meat for seasoning, then soon it, with all of its liquid, into the baking dish.   Cover with an even layer of the herbed potatoes and smooth the top with the back of a spoon, making sure the potatoes go right to the edges of the dish and no meat or sauce shows through.

2) Make a scalloped pattern on the herbed potatoes with the tip of a dessert spoon or the tines of a fork.   Dip the spoon or fork into a bowl of hot water set close to your workspace once or twice during the process, so the potato does not stick to it.

3) Transfer the pie to the heated oven and bake until the top is golden brown, the edges bubbling with gravy, and the tip of a skewer inserted in the center for 30 seconds is hot to the touch when withdrawn; it should take 35-40 minutes.  Cut the pie into 6 portions and transfer to warmed plates.

The experience was interesting.  It had flavor and it was different than what we usually have.   It was similar to Shepherd’s pie in a way.   The kids ate it with ketchup.  I chose to stick to the natural way of eating it – nothing else.  My husband flavored his a bit more.   After the meal, we agreed that next time we will incorporate some corn between the meat and potato layers and see how it turns out.

It was a nice discovery but it needs more vegetables for us.  Not everyone likes veggies and might find that the tomatoes are enough.    Still exploring new recipes on a regular basis is the perfect way to expand your taste buds and discover new plates that might be enjoyed my your loved ones.

If you are looking for a new cookbook this year, I would like to suggest that you check out The Illustrated Step-by-Step Cook next time you go to a bookstore.  Each recipe has detailed instructions, a clear list of ingredients and fabulous pictures showing you how to proceed to make the meal.  You can’t miss a recipe with that kind of photos.   Besides, you will also get a clear image of the final product for each of the recipes presented in this book.   I love it when a recipe book contains pictures of all the recipes presented in it.  It helps to have an idea of what it is suppose to look like.  

Do you sense you want to try something new in 2013? Are you wondering what you can accomplish this year? Why not explore the DK Start Something New Boutique and select one of their titles. Click on the icon below to access this special page.


The Illustrated Step-by-Step  Cook is available at your favourite bookstore, even and


Disclaimer: Thanks to DK Canada for sending me the above mentioned product for review purposes. I was not monetarily compensated for this review. Please note that the review was not influenced by the Sponsor in any way. All opinions expressed here are only my own. 

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