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Review & Giveaway: Gourmet on a Hot Plate by Judy Alter

GOURMET ON A HOT PLATE
by
Judy Alter
Genre: Cookbook / Cooking Tips / Tiny Kitchen
Publisher: Alter Ego Press
Date of Publication: November 6, 2018
Number of Pages: 132

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Gourmet on a Hot Plate is a collection of recipes and kitchen tips compiled after living for some time in a 600-square-foot cottage, with a tiny kitchen, no stove, no dishwasher, and barely any counter space. Given these limitations, Judy Alter developed a new approach to food, one that let her get in touch with the food itself. She does not have an Insta-Pot, an air-fryer, or a microwave. Her recipes call for using either a magnetic induction hot plate or a toaster oven. In the introduction, she explains her choices for making the best use of her tiny space. 
The collection begins with appetizers because that’s where Alter began her new cooking adventure. Gradually she branched out to main dishes, light suppers, soups and salads, and vegetable side dishes. Most recipes serve two or three. There’s a suggested list of cooking tools along with lists of what to keep on hand in your tiny pantry, your refrigerator, and your freezer, and a small section on condiments and cooking hints.
These pages will guide you to making your own spaghetti sauce—or brightening up a jar of prepared sauce—to making last-minute casseroles and simmer-all-day soups. Want Stroganoff but can’t afford the expensive beef? Alter shows you how to make it with hamburger. Love tuna? She’s got recipes for you. Sections on pasta, eggs, and appetizer trays offer practical and helpful choices for casual entertaining.
Above all, this is a practical guide for cooking with joy when you find yourself in a tiny space.
PRAISE FOR GOURMET ON A HOT PLATE:

Love cooking? Love the minimalist lifestyle? Your tiny kitchen doesn’t need to limit your gourmet dreams. Judy Alter’s Gourmet On a Hot Plate will inspire you with big ideas to satisfy everyone around the table. — Susan Wittig Albert, author of Queen Anne’s Lace

Whether you cook on a hot plate or have access to a full kitchen, this gem of a cookbook contains great recipes for those of us who cook for one. – T.R. Thompson

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review

I’m the type of person who watches pretty much every cooking video that shows up on my Facebook feed. Have you noticed that most of those meals are cooked on hotplates instead of a traditional cooking range? I have a feeling that Alter has been working on this cookbook long before hotplate cooking became all the rage. Why? Because her recipes are down-home cooking dishes, not the latest street food infused with some random essence you’ve never eaten before prepared with a gastronomical twist. And if you know that going in, you won’t be disappointed with this recipe book. I don’t know if the author used the word “gourmet” in the title with tongue in cheek, but I can say that you can bring any of these dishes to a potluck and not be ashamed.

As someone who learned to cook by my mother’s side, I appreciate cookbooks that give exact measurements and exact cooking times. Sure, I know how to use my senses when cooking, but I like my first experience with a new recipe to be scientific. If you’re a cooking noob, I definitely recommend familiarizing yourself with basic kitchen skills before cracking this book open. Heck, watch a YouTube video or two on how to pre-heat cooking surfaces, how to sear properly, etc. Trust me. Alter talks to you as someone who is already familiar with the kitchen.

My favorite parts in this cookbook are where she writes a few paragraphs about a particular dish she likes to prepare and all the different variations that are possible. I like hearing the backstory of where that recipe came from and her little tidbits of advice that stem from hits or misses that occurred when cooking that dish for her friends or family. To be honest, I wish she wrote the whole cookbook in this manner. I have read several cookbooks in that format and they are among my favorite. But having read the introduction and note to reader in the beginning, I understand her decision. Gorgeous pictures of food in a book means the readers pay more at the cash register.

If you think the appetizer section is just a bunch of cheese dishes, I wouldn’t argue with you, but I urge you to press on. Alter’s main dishes start cozy and familiar, and later transition gently to more exotic fare. I like the confident and easy way she instructs the reader on how to prepare pasta dishes, because that’s how they should be approached. That’s how cooking should be approached. As someone who doesn’t eat salad often, that section was an interesting read and I look forward to trying out some recipes.

My other favorite section in the book is her “Staples – Stocking the Tiny Kitchen” page. Alter has a short list of what you should keep in the fridge, in the cupboard, and in the freezer. I think that for the beginner cook or the cook who has found themselves in a smaller than usual kitchen, her suggestions are fantastic. This little book will have a place among my glossy cookbooks, but I think I will spend more time online: http://www.gourmetonahotplate.blogspot.com.

Without formal culinary training, Judy Alter has cooked her way through life, feeding family and friends at everything from casual dinners al fresco to elaborate meals for twenty. An award-winning author and publisher, she jokes she’ll come back in another life as a chef.
 
Today Alter finds herself cooking in a four-by-six kitchen where zoning laws forbid built-ins but allow anything that plugs in. So she cooks with a hot plate, toaster oven, and a large refrigerator/freezer. Given these limitations, she has developed a new approach to food, one that she says lets her get in touch with the food itself. By choice, she does not have an Insta-Pot, an air-fryer, a microwave. Her menu choices are dictated by her cooking facilities—and she loves it.
 
She shares her tiny kitchen tips and recipes, developed over the past couple of years, in Gourmet on a Hot Plate. Alter is the author of three previous cookbooks: Cooking My Way through Life with Kids and Books, Texas is Chili Country, and Extraordinary Texas Chefs,and a contributor to Bake, Love, Write and We’d Rather Be Writing. Her recipe for Doris’ Casserole has been included in so many books it’s almost an American classic by now.
 
Be part of her ongoing cooking adventure at the Gourmet on a Hot Plate blog, where she encourages discussion and welcomes recipes, comments, and questions.

 ║Website ║ Facebook Judy’s Stew Blog 
║ Twitter Goodreads Amazon Author Page 
Gourmet on a Hot Plate Blog————————————-
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THREE WINNERS!
2 Signed Copies, 1 eBook Copy
APRIL 24-May 4, 2019

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