Pros: Absolutely delicious food; many wonderful recipes
Cons: Some difficulties scaling down from inn-sized recipes; no food photos
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
The Red Lion Inn Cookbook, Third Edition, by Suzi Forbes Chase, is one of the lovely cookbooks we tested out this year using our Thanksgiving dinner and ourselves as guinea pigs. We made a goodly handful of recipes out of it, and over the course of those, a definite pattern emerged.
First, to be clear, the flavors are absolutely delicious. The ultimate quality of the food is wonderful. The pumpkin pie? So good I could hardly stop eating it. The cheddar rolls? Divine, whether buttered or encasing a sandwich of leftover turkey. The four-bean salad with homemade robust Italian dressing? Surprisingly flavorful and easy to boot.
Unfortunately, there’s just one problem that keeps me from wholeheartedly endorsing this cookbook: it seems the author didn’t do an entirely careful job scaling back the quantity of food from what you’d make for an inn. In some cases this just means that a recipe produces amounts you’re almost guaranteed not to use up: four cups of Italian dressing, using olive oil, which solidifies in the fridge, making it difficult to use after a couple of days without bringing it to room temperature first.
A greater problem, however, is that because of this scaling, some recipes seem to have some rather glaring mistakes in them. Thankfully the proportions in the pumpkin pie recipe were right, so it tasted fine. However, the recipe that said it made two pies and called for two single-crust pie crusts made four deep-dish pies filled to the brim! Luckily I’d figured from looking at the ingredients that there was no way it could only make two pies, but it’s a bit off-putting to end up with at least twice as much food as you’d counted on, particularly when there’s only so much oven space to go around in your typical kitchen.
Back to the good news, the recipe layouts are clean and clear. If you’re the kind of cook who really prefers to have photographs of the food, I’m afraid there aren’t any; on the other hand, the numerous pages are filled to the brim with a veritable ton of recipes, so think of it as a tradeoff.
Ultimately, I can recommend this book to experienced cooks (who’ll be able to cope with any recipe oddness) who tend to cook for large families; the delicious end-results are worth some trouble. If you’re a novice, however, and/or tend to cook for yourself, this probably isn’t the right cookbook for you.