Has spring sprung? Not yet, as evidenced by New England digging itself out of a snowbank. However, I still plan to prep for the upcoming season by returning to basics. With Cooking Know-How : be a better cook with hundreds of easy techniques, step-by-step photos, and ideas for over 500 great meals, by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough, I can make sure to have a solid foundation to cooking.
Weinstein and Scarbrough have put together a very interesting, helpful book. As advertised on the back cover, this is “a whole new kind of cookbook.” In fact, it would be wiser to say that is less of a traditional cookbook and more of a book to teach technique. Cooking Know-How tells how to cook the recipe before actually stating the recipe. It tells you how to cook the recipe, but also explains skills and discusses how flavors work. Weinstein and Scarbrough want you to have the best tasting food possible, so they explain how using certain ingredients in the recipe can change the flavor for better or for worse.
Happily, the authors assume the reader is still a novice to cooking and therefore includes pictures of the finished product as well as the cooking process. Once you master the cooking process, all the associated recipes and their variations are open to you. The only real source of irritation is the alphabetical order of recipes, which does not assist in searching for a recipe. However, as the book becomes familiar, that is an easily-overcome obstacle.
Does the idea of cookbooks not really being cookbooks intrigue you? You might want to try The I Hate to Cook Book, by Peg Bracken for easy recipes. If you simply need to tweak your technique, check out 150 Projects to Get You into the Culinary Arts, by Mark William Allison. The book is eye-catchingly formatted like a magazine, and is chockfull of advice, science, and step-by-step guides. If you only need experience with knife, check out An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives, by Chad Ward. This amazing book is practically an ode to the kitchen knife. It is also filled with kitchen cutting exercises and recipes to make sure those julienned ingredients do not go to waste.