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Alton Brown Cookbooks

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I understand that AB has a couple-three books out. Anyone have any of them? Any comments?

Shel
post #2 of 23
I've read two of them. Moderately interesting. Some out and out bad advice here and there. Cook pork to 170 for example in I'm Just Here for the Food.

I wouldn't own any of the ones I've read. Now yes, I'll cook pork shoulder beyond that temp, but most people aren't cooking pork shoulder. 170 will ruin most cuts of pork.

His techniques are more extreme than they are worth in my opinion (Hoisting huge clay pots into 500 degree ovens for cooking bread). Yes it works and produces good bread but it isn't practical for most home cooks. I think there are other techniques to produce good bread more suited to home cooks.

Try your library and see for yourself. Then you can judge their worth to you.

Phil
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
That seems odd since on a recent show he mentiond 140-degrees, and made a big point of it, too.

I wish my local library had some more cookbooks.
post #4 of 23
Go to your local bookstore if you have a Barnes and Noble or Books a Million they generally have areas where you can sit and read through books even if you don't buy it. You can usually learn alot about a book by looking at the index.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
If that were easily done I'd not be asking others for their opinion. Never even heard of Books a Million.

Shel
post #6 of 23
Check your local library, Shel. If they don't have them, they likely can get them through the ILL.

>That seems odd since on a recent show he mentiond 140-degrees, and made a big point of it, too.<

Actually, whoever said "consistency is the hobgoblin or small minds" could have had Alton Brown in mind. I have never seen one of his shows in which he didn't contradict something he'd said in a previous one.

My favorite is his constant insistance on only buying multi-task tools. Uh, huh. And then he takes us shopping for deep fat fryers; and panini presses; and remote-sensing thermo probes, and whatever other high priced, single-use item some manufacturer has paid him to tout.

Plus he is nowhere near as amusing as he thinks he is.

If you've concluded that Alton Brown isn't one of my favorites you're not far wrong.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 23
just because i want to play devil's advocate here... plus, to provide a better (hopefully) discussion, i will do my best to defend alton brown and his show, and books.

for starters, his books are pretty beginner/intermediate so if that is what youre looking for, and you dont mind using several wierd, McGiver'd tools to get a little bit better results, than his books might just be right for you. but remember to take everything with a grain of salt... kosher (ok, im not funny). if something is done a little faster than what is in the book, well, so be it, take it out of the oven... stuff like that.

as for his show, understand that he used to be a director... or producer, or something like that before he became a chef (yes, he is a chef and not just a cook). so that is where he gets his over the top dramaticism from. his show is not just about showing how to make food. he attempts to show you how things work and why you do them as well as showing you what to do...(does that make sense?)

as for promoting only multi-purpose tools, well, all those things could be used for plenty of things... though admitedly, not all of which are necessarily practical... or even involve food for that matter... say its a cold day, snowing and everything, i sure would want my socks warm... so, throw them on the pannini girll for a minute, make 'em nice and toasty, or you could use the pannini grill to make really flat and funny looking waffles. as for the thermo probes you refer to, i am unclear to what the heck those are... but im a creative person, so im sure i could think of something those could do... since i dont know what you referred to, i will use something similar, an infared thermometer, you know those home laser tag games? well that infared thermometer would be a great way to cheat when playing with the kids. as for the fryer... well, what is not fun about frying your buddy's shoe? but i realize it is still used for frying, but im sure it would make a great thing for some insurance fraud... get it wicked hot, toss a few cups of water in (and if youre "un"lucky enough for the oil to catch fire...) boom... insurance check for a new kitchen... and im sure it would make a killer foot rest...

as for his recipes and food... he is not going for super high class, 5 star meals. he is going for the more practical, slightly cheaper, and a bit easier food that probably the majority of his viewers are looking for. most of his viewers are the middle, to upper middle class people who enjoy cooking, but not willing to invest vast amounts of time, energy and money to be a great cook, only a good one. granted you arent going to come home from work and slow roast a pork shoulder for dinner, but as a saturday BBQ party... it is more reasonable. for this reason, it may be why better and more trained chefs do not enjoy his food and program... they have attained ALL the information he gives long ago, so they find it unentertaining, boring, and borderline stupid. KYheirloomer, i noticed your thing says youre a food writer i believe? im making some assumptions here, so please correct me if i am wrong. also, if you become offended by what i say here, please know that i am sorry and it is not my intentions to insult and/or offend you. so, for the sake of my argument here, i am assuming you to be a food critic, i am not sure how they are different, so if you know, please tell me. food critics are used to eating higher class foods, they have a much more refined palette, they know things about texture, consistency, taste, and much more. they also look for the flaws and strengths of these things in a dish. so they are not as satisfied...pleased, i think amazed is actually the better word for it, with the things the average joe, home cook makes; which is exactly what alton brown makes... now admitedly, i do enjoy the majority of his recipes, i find them rather tasty and its usually the kind of food i like. i do believe the man can cook and does know what he is doing in the kitchen.

so, shel, in the end, if you like his shows, like his querky-ness that he applies to his cooking style, and dont mind throwing your flower pot into the oven for a loaf of bread or roast... then i think youd like the books... but a hint here, i have only breifly flipped through his books and i believe they have his recipes from his show... and maybe then some. so if you dont wish to buy the books, im pretty sure you could get most of the recipes off Food Network : Cooking, Recipe Collections, Party Ideas, Quick & Easy Recipes, Cooking Videos and search for his name/show/whatever you are trying to make.
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post #8 of 23
Whew, Newbie, I was wondering if you were coming up for air or not. :lol:

I'm certainly not going to respond to all you said. Just wondering how you got all of that out of my post?

I never discussed his recipes.
Didn't talk about the quality or even the content of his books.
Made no comments about the taste, texture, ease of prep, etc. of his food, either as a critic, an interested observer, or a just plain folks type of guy.

All I said was that his books might be available through the library system, and

1. That he was self-contradictory. If you're going to be dogmatic about something, you should stick to your contentions. Not contradict your own dogma whenever it's in your interest to do so--such as when being subsidized, directly or indirectly.

2. That I don't think he's near as funny as he thinks he is. I don't even find most of his weird scenarios mildly entertaining. Obnoxious would be more like it.

Finally, just for the record, food writing covers quite a spectrum. Restaurant and chef criticism is a small part of it. Other aspects include book & video reviews, food travel, book writing, food history and culture, recipe writing, scripting food shows, reviewing equipment, etc. etc. etc. This can be done through various media, such as websites, magazines, newspapers, magazines, and books. It also includes the other side of the street; writing as a PR or marketing communications person, to present a restaurant, chef, or equipment maker's message to the public.

With the exception of scripting TV and radio food shows, I've done all of those things and more.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 23
wow, i did not know that all that was part of your area of expertise... learn something new everyday, right?

as for how i deduced ALL that from your comment, well... i must confess, i didnt deduce the majority of that from your comment nor anyone elses comment. i just figured if i was going to defend his book, i might as well go for the gusto and defend him on everything!!! i realize it was a bit over the top... ok, really over the top, and a few things impractical... but, i was a little bored and didnt have anything else to waste my time on, so i went into all that business. but as for why you did not like him so much, i wasnt sure if it was because of his food, or his show/personality. so i tried to cover both. honestly, i also kinda did wrote all that to see if we could get like a giant debate or something going, and like i said, i was bored, so went for the gusto on defending his book. but please dont read too much into what i said, it was not meant to be a pissed off rant, merely some playful banter to encourage some possible debate (and between you me me, i kinda agree with you on what you said, but lets keep that on the DL;))
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post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
I don't mind the shopping part too much, but then there's a lot I'd like to know about what's on the market.

I don't know how amusing he thinks he is, but some of his shtick is starting to wear on me. However, I'm finding that to be true with Emeril, Rachel Ray, I no longer watch Paula Deen, etc. Recently it seems as though Food Network is getting more into graphics and the chefs and cooks are getting a little hyper. Rachel Ray seems to be getting more animated and her cooking is starting to come across more like Sandra Lee's.

I wish Alton would calm down a bit, and loose the costumes and graphics, which get in the way of watching and learning from the show.

Well, off to breakfast,

Shel
post #11 of 23
Don't get me wrong, Shell. I don't object to the shopping, per se. In fact, I wish I had one of those places nearby as well stocked as his is.

What I object to is the inconsistency and self-contradictions. He spares no opportunity to tell us that we should never buy a single-use item. Indeed, more than once he has taken a long, twisting, do-it-yourself path to jury rig something rather than use the proper tool.

Oh, yeah! And just how many things can you use a waffle iron for? Or a deep-fat fryer? And so on.

I don't care for 90% of his schtick, to be honest. It's not even good theater, let alone good eats (heh, heh, heh).

And I don't like his dogmatism. Cookery is an art form, and what makes chefs creative is precisely the fact that there are many ways to accomplish a task. But you wouldn't know that from Alton, who infers, with everything, that his way is the only way.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Waffle irons can make very good hash browns, and don't,forget about the Waffle shoes - first designed by Bill Bowerman - track coach of Nike founder Phil Knight - with soles made in a waffle iron!

I agree that a lot of his schtick ain't funny, but that sort of stuff seems to be infesting FN these days.

I've never gotten a sense that Alton's way is the only way. He has strong opinions and, IMO, some very good ideas and, although sometimes presented in silly or inane ways, his "science lessons" have helped me better understand some aspects of cooking.

I don't think we're too far apart in some matters pertaining to Mr. Brown - perhaps I'm just more accepting of the faults of the show and his idiosynchrosies.

Heck, today I got annoyed with Tyler Florence because, while he was touting San Marzano tomatoes on his show, the ones he was using weren't San Marzanos but some California grown crap. And the strawberries he was using weren't so fresh looking either <LOL> I'd not have even purchased them, much less use them for eating or cooking.

It's all smoke and mirrors on FN, Brook.

Kind regards,

Shel
post #13 of 23
come on now... what with the "california grown crap" statement? dont be hating the state... sure the all the people arent the best there, but we can thorw down some pretty good agriculture. we got strawberries, artichokes as big as your head, and lets not forget about the wines. come on, show a little love here... please?:D
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post #14 of 23
Did I miss something here?

You're from (it says) Boulder, Colorado.
Shel is from the San Fran area---which, last I checked, was in California.

So what's this "we" stuff?

Besides, Shel wasn't taking shots at California agriculture. What he was justifiably complaining about is celebrity chefs who use products that purport to be what they're not.

"I don't think we're too far apart in some matters pertaining to Mr. Brown - perhaps I'm just more accepting of the faults of the show and his idiosynchrosies."

I reckon that sums it up nicely, Shel. Of course, I'm sure he's terribly bothered by my level of acceptance. Poor dear probably cries all the way to the bank.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Last I saw, he was laughing ....LOL>

Shel
post #16 of 23
Then I guess you will have to buy them all.:eek:
post #17 of 23
first off, i was joking, i did not take shel's statements abot california agriculture seriously. i was joking around with my response, i guess its kinda hard to get the extreme sarcasm and proper tone to indicate it being a joke through words alone. and i realize she was taking shots at other stuff, like food tv and the chefs and so on... oh, and i merely LIVE in boulder, however i was born, raised and lived the majority of my life in... california, about 20 minutes from the capitol (no, LA is not the capitol of California...) in a city called roseville. so hence i use the term "we" ...since i am californian and all.
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post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
The comment was directed to the tomatoes, not the state or the agriculture. That's an entirely different rant <LOL>

I could see, even on my crummy old TV, and without even wearing my new prescription glasses, the terrible quality of the strawberries that were used.

My point is that if you're producing a show like "Tyler's Ultimate," then the ingredients should be first class. Too many people don't even know what a truly fresh, ripe strawberry tastes like these days, and for Mr. Florence to be opening a package of obviously poor quality berries and exclaiming how good they are is, IMO, doing a disservice to his viewers. No wonder people add sugar to their fruit - the effin' fruit has no flavor.

And, since this is an Alton Brown thread, AB recently did a show about strawberries, and he took the time to show his viewers how to recognize a good, fresh, flavorful berry from the insipd garbage found in most markets and purchased and eaten with acceptance by a populace that has no idea what they're missing.

There, I feel better now :talk: :)

Oh, BTW, one small point - I'm not a "she" as you mentioned in another post. I'm a big, tough guy transplanted from New Yawk City .... <LOL>

Shel
post #19 of 23
wow... i am incredibly sorry i referred to you as "she" unfortunately i do not remember what was going one when i wrote that, i do not know if it was a typo, or an insomnia induced brain-fart. whatever the reason, i am very sorry for doing so... oh, and tyler florence bugs the living crap outta me... and i agree with the word "ultimate" in the shows name, he should be using "ultimate" ingredients. i personally think, if possible, that buying produce from farmers markets and stands is WAY better than the supermarket. in a farmers market, produce travels much shorter distances and is therefore, fresher and riper. and let me state this once i again... in case it was missed, I WAS BEING SARCASTIC!!! i know you werent attacking california's agriculture, you were attacking that "tyler florence" charachter... and his show...
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post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
No big deal about the "she" business. I was mostly just yanking your chain.

From what I've seen of Tyler Florence, I like the guy and the show. I had a thoroughly enjoyable read of one of his cookbooks a couple of weeks ago, and got some great ideas from it.

Perhaps calling him, or anyone, a "flaming, idiotic prick" on a public forum is a little excessive.

Shel
post #21 of 23
yeah... i guess youre right. name calling, especially the one i chose, is a bit excessive and i really dont mean that. its been a rough couple days and took out a good bit of anger on him, very wrong of me. i will edit my last post if possible still. and lets be honest, i like more than say... sandra lee, but hes not my favorite chef on the network. by the way, whatever happened to the naked chef? i liked him.
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post #22 of 23
ok, wow! I was going to read this entire thread till I realized that it no longer had much to do with Alton Brown's cookbooks!

Anyways...I don't own any of his cookbooks, but my sis does. I've liked watching his shows simply because I pick up a few interesting tips here and there. I've never used any of his recipes and I don't watch him for his culinary experience.

About his cookbooks, I love to look at cookbooks, but I couldn't get through much of his without getting bored. If you've watched his shows, you've probably absorbed all the useful tips he has to offer - I wouldn't waste my money on his books. I don't think his books are supposed to be much about the recipes. For me, there were way too many graphics and not enough content. Then again, I don't think he has much more content to offer.

So, I hope I could help with your original question, or at least help get this thread back to the question raised.
post #23 of 23
I believe for new cooks the books would be a big help. I agree in the fact that if you have seen his shows you know most of the content anyway. But Altons main focus in his shows I think are the hows and whys of what happens when you do certain things. He is an entertaining fellow though you have to admit that, huh.
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