Sauces – Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making – review

Sauces – Classical and Contemporary This is another amazing book from John Wiley publishers. They might not be the most celebrated of cookbook publishers but the food-related books that they present are some of the best around, and Sauces is included in that list.

You know that any book, cookery or otherwise, that reaches its third edition has got to be worth looking into.  James Peterson deserves to be proud of Sauces – Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making. It’s not only popular with the cookbook-reading public but it has also won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award. This amazing volume is even used in culinary colleges and schools as a teaching aid.

Don’t be put off by the size of this book. It’s true that it’s as big as a small piece of furniture but it’s as big as that for a good reason. There isn’t any padding in Sauces. It’s cover-to-cover solid information that will be welcomed by anyone wanting to perfect sauce-making. Nothing seems to be omitted or overlooked. Every imaginable sauce is described, including Asian Sauces which have been added since the publication of the first edition.

There is, unsurprisingly, still a French bias but the book is no worse for that. Those sauces have a structure that enables flexibility and adaptation, and that’s the reason the methods have become classic. The contemporary sauces reflect modern tastes for lighter and healthier dishes where cream is less evident.

The book has a marvellous chapter on Pasta Sauces. James takes as much care over his catalogue of Pasta Shapes (over 30 in all) as he does over the pasta dressing, and these are not necessarily rich, tomato-based and complicated. It’s more about flavour of fresh ingredients and subtle combinations. Spaghetti with Clams or Mussels offers the choice of a cream or olive oil base, although Fettuccine and Shrimp with Crustacean Cream Sauce sticks to the luxurious and classic heavy (double) cream.

Desserts are not forgotten and the selection here is enough to make me quit my diet. Butterscotch Sauce is so delightful that I doubt it will get as far as garnishing a dessert – I’ll be eating it from the pan with a spoon.

Sauces – Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making is bound to become a culinary icon. It has been so well received since its first publication. Its admirers are not only professionals but include ordinary folk who enjoy good food and want to present restaurant-quality meals. Any serious cook will want to own this book.

Sauces – Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making
Author: James Peterson
Published by: John Wiley
Price: £29.99
ISBN 978-0-470-19496-6


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018