Cookbook Review: Mother's Best by Lisa Schroeder with Danielle Centoni

FTC Disclaimer: Review copy courtesy of the publisher 

Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again is a gorgeous cookbook featuring comfort food classics with a twist.

With today's busy schedules, it's difficult to make comfort food like Mom used to make. Those dishes that remind you of home. Sunday dinner types of meals. Mother's Best is a collection of recipes from the Mother's Bistro and Bar in Portland, Oregon. And it far more than a rehashing of classic stand-by recipes. There's an entire chapter devoted to macaroni and cheese. All with a new way to prepare it that make the actual prep a touch less tedious and is filled with time saving short cuts or advance prep ideas.

The book has a bit of a vintage flair to it. The style from the retro apron on the front is carried into the book by the vintage linen look of the chapter heading pages. There are a lot of pictures (although not of every recipe).  The Love Notes section had some information I already knew, but there were occasional ideas there that were new to me or a different method from one I had been using.  I particularly enjoyed the M.O.M. (Mothers of the Month) stories. I think it's a terrific idea to encourage and preserve the old fashioned cooking from different countries this way.

I made the Broccoli and Smoked Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. The preparation used a total of 2 pans, reusing the blanching water from the broccoli to cook the pasta.  The total cost for me to prepare was around $10--mostly for the broccoli, cheese and cream. I had pasta in the pantry and butter in the fridge. Start to finish it took about an hour to prepare--about the same as any other homemade mac and cheese. But what I really loved about the recipe was the lack of bechamel sauce. I didn't have to make a roux and worry about my flour to butter ratio. I didn't have to worry about lumps. It made throwing the dish together so much less stressful. The yield was 4-6 servings, but it served 4 generously with enough left over for lunch.

What sets this book apart from the other classics revisited books out there are the flexibility of the recipes, the hints that other books take for granted via the "Love Notes", the inclusion of the M.O.M. ethnic classics, and the lack of pretense.

I had only a couple of complaints, all relatively minor. There is only one (!) beverage recipe in the book, which seemed odd for something purportedly from a Bistro and Bar.  The desserts section also seemed light. And a little uninspired. I would have liked to see more selections for the multi-ethnic M.O.M.s  No recipes for Baklava. No obscure, regional dishes at all.

Mother's Best would make a great gift for any mother or grandmother who enjoys cooking.

My Grade: B+

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