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Whenever I tell people that I have no idea how many cookbooks I own (I never count them!), I usually get a surprised response. Most people I know might own a handful to ten cookbooks. I own well in excess of 100 (and counting).

The inevitable question is: Why do you have so many?

And the answer is: Because … cookbooks make me happy.

For me, cookbooks are a source of inspiration and a source of pleasure, particularly when I’m stressed out or preoccupied. If I sit down with a cup of coffee and a cookbook, it’s an opportunity for me to focus on what makes me happy and in the process, clear my thoughts.

So it goes without saying that I will never turn down a cookbook. Never!

I was so happy when I was given the opportunity to review The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook: The Essential Recipe Collection for Today’s Home Cook.

I won’t lie. I’m a Williams-Sonoma junkie. I have access to not one but two Williams-Sonoma stores and I regularly make a pilgrimage to worship at the altar of expensive kitchenwares.

Yes. I know. You don’t need any of that stuff to be a good cook. Blah blah blah.

Me likey. And if I want to weep over multi-coloured melamine nesting bowls that’s my business, not yours!

On to the book at hand. As I mentioned, I had the chance to review this book and as one would expect from a cookbook featuring the Williams-Sonoma brand, it’s polished, thorough, accessible and pretty to look at.

The book has almost 400 recipes so it’s definitely value for the price. The recipes range from classics to more modern fare. If you’re familiar with Williams-Sonoma cookbooks then you won’t be surprised by this one. The recipes are clear, clean and precise and never daunting. And they all have that same quality that you sense in the retail outlets: it all just seems so easy.

I would have loved to try about half of the recipes but I had to get my review up so instead I settled on two classics: Banana Bread and Macaroni and Cheese. Both easy enough, but I’ve seen and tried many a recipe for both dishes that greatly disappoint. So I thought I’d put the book to the test.

I wasn’t disappointed.

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The Banana Bread was easy, quick and completely satisfying. I actually threw in pistachios for the nuts because I’m on this pistachio bender at the moment and the results were lovely. The cake was moist, not too sweet and made all the banana bread lovers happy.

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The Macaroni and Cheese made me really happy. I like old-fashioned macaroni and cheese where you take your time and make a cheese sauce and pretend that cholesterol counts don’t matter. Too many macaroni and cheese recipes nowadays cut corners or try to get you to believe that a few measly tablespoons of cheese will satisfy you. This recipe is pure macaroni and cheese at its finest. I wish I could be more eloquent but really, there’s not much more to than it was really really really good.

If you’re a fan of the Williams-Sonoma cookbook collection, this is one to add to it. If you’re looking for an excellent general purpose cookbook, then this is one to invest in. If you want to live in a Williams-Sonoma store, this cookbook is the next best thing.

Ciao!