THE KITCHEN PARAPHERNALIA HANDBOOK is essentially a guide to substitutions – an alphabetical list of kitchen tools and cooking utensils, with suggestions under each for what to use if your recipe calls for that tool but you don’t have it in your kitchen. At the end is a guide to baking pans and dishes by size, suggesting alternatives that will hold comparable amounts, along with suggestions for how to adjust cooking times and fill levels for different kinds of dishes, and a guide to U.S. volume and liquid equivalents (for example, one cup = 16 TB = 8 fluid ounces or a half-pint).
If you have ever found yourself in the kitchen, realizing all of a sudden that you lack the equipment needed to complete the recipe you’re making, this book will be an invaluable help. It is certainly thorough, offering suggestions for everything from aspic cutters to zucchini corers, and most often offers at least one possible alternative that is basic enough to be found in almost every kitchen. (There are a few exceptions to this – the only possible alternative to an aebleskiver pan is an electric donut cooker, for example, and vice versa – but it is in general the case.). In addition to being a practical guide, this book is also useful for cooks and hosts wanting to find a more dramatic, flavorful, or creative presentation for their food – for example, by substituting banana leaves for plates, rosemary sprigs for wooden skewers, or pomegranates with names written on them for place cards.
MacLeod also briefly but clearly explains the look, function, and use of more obscure and/or outdated kitchen paraphernalia – this is helpful for re-enactors and others trying to recreate older recipes with modern equipment, and also for those who find references to older cooking equipment in novels (for example, a Victorian cook using a “salamander” to brown the top of a gratin or a dessert), and are curious to find out what it was and how it was used. The only thing lacking from this book that might make it more useful is a reference list of basic cookware that should be in every kitchen, from which a savvy cook can find at least something to substitute in almost any recipe.
THE KITCHEN PARAPHERNALIA HANDBOOK is a guide that should be in every kitchen, especially for cooks who want to experiment with new and interesting recipes but do not want to devote their entire income and kitchen space to an array of rarely-used single-purpose tools.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader