If you know a novice cook (or just a nervous one, for that matter), I have the perfect gift. The Illustrated Kitchen Bible which has 1000 recipes, photos (not just on the finished dish, but for the "how to's" as well) and lots of great tips and charts (think conversion tables, substitutions, roasting and freezing guidelines...and more).
Each recipe has clear directions, tips (like whether or not the recipe freezes well or can be made ahead). At the front of each section there are a couple of pages of photos of the finished dishes for that section, the page the recipe is on and how long it will take to prepare. That's a really important one for me. I hate it when I start to make a dish and discover that it's going to take much longer than I thought, or needs marinating or two phase cooking....you know what I mean.
Here's an example ....The section called "Main & Side Dishes" actually has the photo array separated into "Hot Mains in 30 Minutes or Less", "Meat-free Mains" , "Meat-free Sides", "Light Lunches", Low-fat Dishes", "Kitchen Staple Dishes", "One Pot Meals", "Family Favorites", "Great on a Grill", "Cooking for a Crowd", and "Dinner Party Mains". How simple and how perfect is that!
And because it's cold here in Halifax, and because it's almost lunch time as I write....I couldn't help but spot the quick and easy (and did I say quick?) Lentil Soup.
In fact, it was ready before I finished this post!
Next up for me is Herbed Fish Goujons (think fancy fish sticks). They look and sound delicious.
And back to the novices among us...another terrific example of what this book does...four pages dedicated to the lowly potato. The first page, tells us how to choose them with photos and descriptions that take the guess work out of which type to use when. The second & third pages, shows us how to prepare them from scrubbing, to peeling, chopping (or grating) to cooking (boil, bake, fry and roast) and the last page is dedicated to ideas for leftovers with photos and page numbers for the actual recipes.
You have to love how simple and well organized this book is and, although I often forget to myself...this is one introduction to read. It spells it all out.