Choosing Sides.

Author:Cullison, Margaret
Position:Book review

Tara Maaraza Desmond (author); CHOOSING SIDES; Andrews McMeel Publishing (Nonfiction: Cooking) 24.99 ISBN: 9781449427115

Byline: Margaret Cullison

Salads, veggies, breads, oh my! The sheer variety of sides presented in this eye-catching cookbook will have home chefs scrambling to the kitchen.

Tara Mataraza Desmond's dedication to an eclectic mix of side dishes, along with a clever title and colorful photographs, gives Choosing Sides a distinctive edge on the market.

Accompanying each recipe is an "Alongside" list of other recipes in the cookbook that complement the dish. Additionally, "Main-Course Pairings" suggest ideas for compatible main dishes, although those recipes are not in the book. The author discusses aspects of planning a menu -- such as appropriate mixes of flavor, theme, texture, color, and nutritional balance -- for novice cooks to consider. Short narratives relate memories and insights from friends and family about preparation of featured side dishes, including mashed potatoes, potato salad, and Irish brown bread.

The author answers many useful questions and offers practical advice; for instance, the number of grinds of a pepper mill that equals one teaspoon, the reasons for using unsalted butter instead of salted butter, and the varieties and best uses of salt. Her instructions for prepping portions of a recipe ahead of time are especially helpful for home cooks planning to serve elaborate meals for larger groups.

Desmond confesses to a special interest in salads, and...

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