Trader Joe's is one of those love it or hate it topics. Personally, I am in love with it. So earlier this year, when I spotted this book in a Borders window, I literally ran inside to look at it.

Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's ($24.95) is not the official cookbook of Trader Joe's grocery stores — in fact, it has no affiliation with the supermarket chain. Rather, it was written by two devotees who wanted to create a recipe collection in which all ingredients could be found at Trader Joe's. To hear more about it, read more.

Pros:

  • Recipes are approachable for the beginner cook.
  • Recipes often make creative use of ingredients.
  • Each recipe is given an entire spread, including a full page picture.
  • The authors suggest wines (from Trader Joe's, naturally) that would pair well with recipes.
  • Hardcover cookbook is durable, looks nice on the shelf, and would make a nice gift.

Cons:

  • The recipes only call for Trader Joe's ingredients, many of which are unavailable elsewhere. This cookbook would be useless for anyone without a nearby Trader Joe's.
  • Ingredients could be phased out at any time. (For that reason, the cookbook makes plenty of suggestions for substitutions.)
  • Some dishes sound short on taste — I'll pass on the Dairy-Free Creamy Cashew Smoothie.


Recipes: The recipes are methodically organized. Some of my favorites:

  • Appealing Appetizers: Spicy Tropical Shrimp Boats
  • Soups, Salads, & Light Meals: Black Bean and Ricotta-Stuffed Portabellas, Le French Lentil Soup
  • Main Meals: Calamari Brodetto, Saag Paneer Lasagna
  • On the Side: Oven-Roasted Vegetables With Rosemary
  • Delicious Desserts: Saffron Ice Cream
  • Drinks: Sangria
  • Begin With Breakfast: Breakfast Crepes
  • Bachelor Quickies (heat-and-serve meals): Elegant Rack of Lamb with Vegetables and Apple Tart

Imagery: The images, which have not been edited in any way, are lush and enticing.

Overall Rating: Because this cookbook offers impressive-sounding, attractive dishes for minimal work, this book would be great for getting a beginner into the kitchen. If you're a Trader Joe's fan, you'll love this book. If you aren't, or don't have one near you, don't bother.