he secrets of successWe're used to the solid, satisfying, well-tested recipes in cookbooks that come from Better Homes and Gardens. But their latest, Simple Secrets to Better Everyday Cooking has a big plus or, maybe I should say pluses. Each of the more than 150 recipes gathered here is garnished with an appropriate simple secret, a tip on technique, a time-saving strategy or straightforward info on ingredients. The recipe for a foolproof French omelet has a sidebar on "Demystifying the Omelet" and, for the cholesterol-conscious, one on egg substitutes, too. The panels next to enticingly exotic Lemongrass Chicken ∧ Rice Noodles let you in on how to work with fresh ginger and how to use the highly aromatic lemongrass that flavors so many Asian dishes and is now available in many supermarkets. A fiery but friendly Caribbean Salsa that can be used to add a spark to fish, chicken or pork has both an explanation of how to select and store chiles and a full page of photos that make eight different kinds of chiles readily recognizable.
The recipes run the gamut from salads and soups to seafood, meat of all kinds, breads and desserts. Each has prep and cook times, full nutritional info and down-to-earth practicality that has made the pros at Better Homes and Gardens the pals of home cooks for generations.
Sybil Pratt has been cooking up this column for more than five years.