Modern Classics Book 1 by Donna Hay

192 pages; Color photographs  Heavyweight paperback

Published by William Morrow/Harper Collins, NY, NY, October 2002

Reviewed by Uli Pandjaitan for Good Cooking, Spring 2003

To tell you the truth, I picked this book because of the nice photograph on the cover. It has a nice, clean-cut, very simple look. So I thought to myself maybe the recipes inside are going to be like the cover. I know I am not supposed to judge any book by its cover, but I was desperately trying to find a book that has simple recipes to follow. I am new at this cooking zone and the last thing that I want to do is to follow recipes when I don't even know where to begin.
Well, this book is great for people like me who never make anything other than boiling a pot of water. Donna Hay starts by presenting you with beautiful pictures of the final products, with the names of the dishes on the bottom. Then, your mind starts wondering: "Hmm, I would like that for dinner today, Oh, but that one looks good too". Then you flip to the next page to find the recipes of the pictures that you just saw, four recipes on one page. It's a big book but think about having four recipes on one page: now you know how short and simple the recipes are. She divided the book into 6 sections: soup, salads, vegetables, roasts & simmers, pasta, noodles & rice and the last one is pies and tarts. I chose to try fried rice and chinese barbecue pork because where I come from fried rice is a very common dish and chinese barbecue pork is something that is standard by asian taste buds. I am quite surprised that it takes me only five minutes to mix all the ingredients together for the pork and leave it overnight and bake for forty minutes and voila you have the china town style of barbecue pork. With the fried rice-- it's a bit different from the Indonesian fried rice because of the ginger. I don't think Indonesian fried rice has ginger in it. The two recipes worked great for early dinner dishes for friends; you might want to add some vegetable stir-fry to complete the whole scene of family style dining. Modern Classics Book 1 has so many great simple dishes for beginners or just for people with busy lifestyles. Another great thing about this book is that Donna Hay adds a section in the back about basic tools that you need for your new cooking experience which I found very helpful because you don't want to buy things that you think you might need but end up putting them in your storage room. Buy this book if you are a beginner or you just want to simplify your life!