Frozen Desserts

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Francisco J. Migoya
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Frozen Desserts
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Frozen Desserts, by Francisco J. Migoya, is another user friendly, at-home education from the world renowned Culinary Institute of America.  The book successfully combines culinary history, background information on specialized ingredients and equipment, beautiful photographs, and countless delicious recipes into a comprehensive volume on frozen dessert dishes.  By "frozen dessert dishes," I am referring to complete dessert plates that typically include a chilled item, a sauce, a garnish, and a pastry or similar item.  The recipes for each individual component of a dish are delicious and fairly easy to create.  However, the book is definitely geared toward cooks who are looking for the challenge of producing entire dessert plates with multiple food components.  In other words, Migoya shares with us a number of dessert combinations that are both tasty and have eye appeal.

As with many titles from the CIA, Frozen Desserts is a somewhat hefty textbook which begins with a little food history.  You are given a brief overview of the origins of the frozen treat, as well as a look at its evolution into today's desserts.  Of course, you may skip over these first few pages, but I found it an interesting read. 

Again, as with other CIA titles, Frozen Desserts provides an important review of the specialized ingredients that you will encounter, as well as the equipment needed to begin.  I felt this section to be most helpful since there were a surprisingly large number of ingredients that I had never worked with previously.  Ingredients such as guar gum, xanthan gum, carboxymethyl cellulose, carrageenan, and many others, are discussed at length.  However, do not fear.  Despite their scientific sounding names, these ingredients are not dangerous, and are perfectly edible, safe, and useful.  Further, many recipes in this book do not call for these new ingredients.  So do not worry about investing in them just yet. 

Fortunately, unlike the ingredients section of the book, the kitchen equipment overview is more familiar.  You will see that an average home kitchen will likely be fully stocked with the needed tools.  A mixer, spatulas, bowls, and space in your freezer is generally all you will need.  However, an electric ice cream maker will be invaluable for certain recipes.  And for a few other recipes, a sensitive digital scale is desirable, especially when measuring some of the earlier mentioned new ingredients. 

Being a textbook aimed at instructing the culinary student, the CIA and author Migoya did not skimp on helpful, full-color photos of techniques, steps in recipes, and completed dishes.  You will often find photos that show you what your product should look like at a certain point in the cooking process.  Such photos allow you to more accurately determine whether you are ready to move on to the next step.  But just as important are the finished product photos which help you see how to present your desserts as the recipe directs. 

And finally, the recipes.  The recipes in this book produce dessert plates whose individual components are tasty and are ideally completed with very original presentations.  Migoya starts each dessert plate recipe with instructions on how to assemble the individual components to make the dessert plate, followed by the recipes for each individual item such as recipes for poached fruits, cakes, cookies, sauces, and ice creams.  This format is very helpful in that most all the needed recipes are grouped together.  So, unlike many cookbooks, you will not always need to flip between page 50 and page 350 to complete your project—a definite time saver.  And you will find that for many of these dessert dishes, a number of the components are either relatively easy to make or are fairly familiar food items.  So, there is no need to panic at seeing the number of components you must make to complete the dessert dish. 

But, the drawback to Frozen Desserts' format is that this book is not designed for those cooks who are seeking single element desserts, such as a scoop of quality ice cream.  Instead, Migoya's recipes mimic complete hot entrée dishes.  While a dinner typically includes a protein, vegetable, and starch component, Frozen Desserts' recipes may call for a chilled item, a fruit, a sauce, and some garnish.  Obviously, then, this means that to fully prepare a recipe, you will need to prepare three or four recipes and purchase ingredients for each—making the complete dish costly and time consuming. 

Know in advance, however, that you are perfectly free to eliminate or adjust the recipes to fit your budget, time, and tastes.  For instance, instead of poaching fresh sliced apricots, feel free to use simple sliced apricots or any other fruit for that matter.  Or, instead of making both a chilled peach dessert soup and serving it in bowls made from citrus sorbet, simply make the chilled peach soup and serve it in appealing bowls from your cupboard.  Sure the results will not be as dramatic as the recipe intends, but you should not feel locked into costly preparations if they do not fit your budget. 

But just as important to know in advance is that the individual components recipes in this book are too good to bypass merely because you cannot prepare the complete dessert dish.  Food is about taste, fun, and creating—not about breaking your bank.  Just plan in advance and you will find those recipes that fit your time, budget, or tastes and you will be impressed with your results.

Overall, Frozen Desserts delivers what most CIA books deliver—a comprehensive look at a particular field of cuisine.  A brief food history, an overview of ingredients and equipment, helpful photos, and recipes appropriate for the food topic were all present in this book.  As a textbook, this book's main objective is to teach and instruct a person in a new field of cuisine.  In this objective, Migoya, the CIA, and Frozen Foods did not disappoint.  True, this book is definitely meant for the cook who is on the market for complete dessert dish recipes.  But, if you are a cook who is interested in expanding his dessert recipe repertoire, then the individual component recipes in this book are tasty all by themselves and should not be overlooked.  With a little planning, you can still make impressive desserts and presentations by adjusting the dishes to your needs. 


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