The food section of a large bookstore is overwhelming. Particularly if I have no idea what I’m looking for. I tend to make a huge pile of books, sit down somewhere, and start organizing into piles. It’s a process.
Martha Stewart’s Cooking School is divided into eight sections: Basics; Stocks & Soups; Eggs; Meat, Fish & Poultry; Vegetables; Pasta; Dried Beans & Grains; Desserts. The vegetable section, for example, begins with ‘How to Steam,’ ‘How to Wilt,’ ‘How to Blanch,’ and so on. Following the lessons, there are recipes that apply your new skills, such as ‘Steamed Asparagus and Bok Choy with Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette’ and ‘Steamed Artichokes with Tarragon Butter.’ Makes sense.
Each of the recipes require minimal ingredients and there is no confusion about the instructions because, if you follow the lesson before the recipe, you’ve already learned what to do.
I strongly believe that a great cookbook can be read outside of the kitchen (these are my four cookbook requirements). The element other than recipes in this book is that it has a huge amount of educational information: I’ve already learned about new ingredients, dishes (such as the Swiss potato recipe Rosti), and efficient techniques for basic kitchen skills.
For anyone who hasn’t attended culinary school, but loves to cook (even if you’re already skilled and confident in the kitchen), this 500+ page book is something you’ll come back to again and again. The price tag is a bit high, but think of it as an encyclopedia (back when they weren’t online) with great step-by-step pictures. Thank you, Martha!
Martha Stewart, Cooking School, 2008, Clarkson Potter Publishers, $45.00