Pros: Delicious foods suitable for guests; wonderful tips for inns to explore; more than 400 recipes
Cons: Tons of butter; no photos; some ambiguous directions
Rating: 4 out of 5
The Great Country Inns of America Cookbook: More than 400 Recipes from Morning Meals to Midnight Snacks, Fourth Edition, is put together by James Stroman, Jennifer Wauson, and Kevin Wilson. It’s a hefty tome, packed full of the kinds of food you’ll find in America’s bed & breakfasts: recipes that are easy and convenient to make, full of flavor, and either impressive or comforting for guests.
The contents are organized by course (breakfast, appetizers, salads, breads, meats, desserts, beverages, and more), but there’s also a listing at the beginning by state and inn. So if you’d like to look up the inns in your own state and try their recipes, that’s easy to do. Each recipe is accompanied by a brief description of the inn, its address, and, if applicable, website address. The index, on the other hand, allows you to find recipes by ingredient, type of food (crepes, for example), name of recipe or inn, and so on.
The high point of this book is absolutely the flavor. The tomato pie is a sheer delight, although it was rather messy to serve when fresh (it had a tendency to fall apart). The peach cobbler certainly highlighted the best of that summer fruit. The zucchini breakfast meal is surprisingly flavorful given the short list of simple ingredients. All in all, flavor and appearance are the shining best aspects of Great Country Inns. You’ll be proud to serve these recipes to your own guests, and there’s no need to tell them how simple most of these recipes are—let them think you slaved over a hot stove!
Normally a lack of photos doesn’t bother me, although it’s a tad unusual in a book that’s all about food oriented towards guests, special occasions, and so on; I don’t think they’re needed here in most cases because the recipes are pretty simple, but some readers might prefer them.
I did find some of the directions a bit ambiguous. For example, there’s a casserole that involves “blending” a mixture of eggs and dairy with chopped & cooked potato, then baking. There’s no indication whether blending means stirring or actual blending with a mixer, which would result in a very different texture and result. We decided to go with stirring and the result came out well, so I’ll assume that’s what the recipe meant. These ambiguities seem relatively few, however, so I wouldn’t worry too much about them.
My only other negative is, like the photos, very reader- and occasion-dependent. Like most restaurant food, these recipes tend to use huge amounts of butter to improve flavor. The peach cobbler leftovers had a puddle of congealed butter in them after refrigeration—the recipe used so much that some of it separated back out again. This isn’t a problem if you aren’t concerned about healthy eating or bring out this cookbook only on special occasions, but I thought it deserved a mention in case it’s a concern for you.
Overall this is a wonderful cookbook, well worth exploring in your kitchen. The vast range of recipes is impressive and delicious, and surprisingly easy to make.