Kitchen Sense: More than 600 Recipes to Make You a Great Home Cook

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Imagine if everything you needed to know to be a great home cook were contained between the covers of a single volume. There?d be new twists on cozy favorites like Macaroni and Cheese with Buttermilk Fried Onions and Crumbled Bacon, classic stews such as Chicken Paprikash, Asian-inspired dishes like Chilled Soba Salad, and all-American staples such as juicy hamburgers hot off the grill. There would be reliable, fundamental recipes for basics, including rice (white, yellow, basmati, jasmine, and brown) and ...
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Overview

Imagine if everything you needed to know to be a great home cook were contained between the covers of a single volume. There’d be new twists on cozy favorites like Macaroni and Cheese with Buttermilk Fried Onions and Crumbled Bacon, classic stews such as Chicken Paprikash, Asian-inspired dishes like Chilled Soba Salad, and all-American staples such as juicy hamburgers hot off the grill. There would be reliable, fundamental recipes for basics, including rice (white, yellow, basmati, jasmine, and brown) and vinaigrette (French, Italian, creamy, and others), along with countless creative variations. There would be boxes packed with time-saving tips and useful information on topics ranging from cleaning leafy greens to putting up jams and pickles. There’d be advice for mailing baked goods and pointers for making pan sauces. Each recipe would include not just a list of ingredients but also accurate cooking times, notes for advance prep, and specifics on how to store (and reheat or recycle) leftovers. In short, there’d be kitchen sense. And now there is.

In Kitchen Sense, renowned food authority Mitchell Davis provides more than 600 of his inviting, foolproof recipes along with the guidance you need to become a terrific home cook. If you already are one, you’ll find plenty of dishes to add to your repertoire. Because so much great American home cooking is inspired by this country’s unprecedented infusion of international ingredients, techniques, and preparations, Davis’s enticing collection takes its cues from far and wide, combining recipes from across the globe to create a true melting pot of flavors.

Written with flair by a true scholar of food who enjoys cooking and eating everything, from the simplest down-home cooking to the most sophisticated international cuisine, and crammed with informed, lively, passionate opinions, Kitchen Sense is like cooking alongside the Italian-Midwestern-Thai-Hungarian-Mexican-Southern-French-Israeli-Yankee-Indian grandmother you never had.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A labor of culinary love is evident from beginning to end in this thorough and inspiring collection of recipes written by Davis, a professor of food studies at New York University and on staff at the James Beard Foundation. Chapters are arranged by subject (such as "Grains," "Poultry" and "Meat") and include enticing and well-explained dishes that run the gourmet gamut from American comfort foods such as Macaroni and Cheese to ethnic fare such as Shu Mai (dim sum dumplings) and Pastitsio. Baked goods include Scones, Eggplant Focaccia, and Lavender Cookies. Useful features include "Kitchen Sense" (concise highlighted boxes covering such topics as party planning, ingredient measuring and artichoke trimming); advance prep and leftover tips, which accompany recipes; and an enlightening section on how to read recipes. Even with the noticeable absence of illustrations, this is a timeless and solid collection cooks of all levels will want within easy reach in the kitchen. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Davis is the director of communications at the James Beard Foundation and the author of two other cookbooks, including The Mensch Chef. His ambitious new book offers dozens of recipes both classic and contemporary, from Chicken Salad and Fris e aux Lardons to My Mother's Breaded Sole and Cod in the Basque Style. Davis has an appealing style, and he includes a lot of information on various culinary topics, but this is a crowded field, and many of the recipes are familiar. The huge Gourmet Cookbook, for example, with 1000-plus recipes, covers much of the same ground and more, and Mark Bittman's big How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Good Food remains ever popular. And one caveat--Davis provides information on both advance prep and leftovers, but some of the recommended storing times seem a bit long. For larger collections. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400049066
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/27/2006
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitchell Davis is vice president and director of communications at the James Beard Foundation. He is the author of The Mensch Chef and Cook Something, the cowriter of Foie Gras, and a contributor to magazines such as GQ and Food & Wine. Davis is also an adjunct professor and Ph.D. candidate in New York University’s food studies program. He lives in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt

Kitchen Sense

More than 600 Recipes to Make You a Great Home Cook
By Mitchell Davis

Clarkson Potter

Copyright © 2006 Mitchell Davis
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1400049067

Southwestern Baked Beans with Chorizo, Poblanos, and Orange
A recipe from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis
These unusually flavored baked beans have a rich, creamy texture and delicate orange flavor that blends surprisingly well with the chorizo and spices. I just love them. Be sure to use a fresh (raw) Mexican chorizo, not cured, smoked Spanish chorizo--the flavor will be good either way, but the Spanish chorizo ends up very dry.
Ingredients:
Makes about 8 cups, enough for 8 servings
• 2 cups small white beans (1 pound), such as navy, soldier, Great Northern, cannellini, or baby lima beans
• 1 pound fresh (raw) Mexican chorizo or other spicy sausage, cut into 11⁄2-inch pieces
• 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 dark green poblano chiles, seeded and diced
• 1 or 2 jalapeño or serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
• 1-1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (about 1⁄3 cup)
To Prepare:
In a large, deep ovenproof pot with a lid or in a slow-cooker, combine the beans, chorizo, onion, garlic, poblanos, jalapeños, orange juice concentrate, salt, andblack pepper. Stir in 41⁄2 cups water. Cover the pot, set in the oven, and turn the temperature to 250 degrees farenheit, or switch the slow-cooker on to low. Cook for 8 hours or until the beans are soft but still hold their shape. Remove from the oven or turn off the slow-cooker. Let the beans cool at room temperature. As they sit they will absorb any excess liquid. Stir in the cilantro before serving.
Total time: 8 hours
Advance Prep I find the beans are actually best if they are made the day before and reheated (on the stove or in the oven) before serving.
Leftovers The beans will keep for two weeks in the fridge or can be frozen for several months. Reheat leftovers on the stove, in the oven, or in a microwave.

Continues...

Excerpted from Kitchen Sense by Mitchell Davis Copyright © 2006 by Mitchell Davis. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Mitchell DavisPotter Recipe Club: There aren't many cookbooks that are as broad-reaching as Kitchen Sense. How have you come to be so knowledegable about so many different cuisines? Mitchell Davis: I'm an equal-opportunity eater. And I love to experiment in the kitchen with different ingredients and different cuisines. Sometimes it takes a little while before I'm satisfied by my cooking in a different idiom.For years I would try to make Chinese food at home, and even though it was often good, it never really satisfied my craving for Chinese food in a restaurant. I just couldn't find that "wok chi" Chinese chefs are always talking about, whatever that means. Then one day something just clicked and suddenly my Chinese food just all came together. The techniques and ingredients just became second nature and I began really cooking Chinese. A similar transformation happened with my Italian, Thai, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cooking. I'm an obsessive kind of person and I work on getting something right. And my readers get the benefit of me having figured all of this stuff out before they attempt a dish in a new or unfamiliar cuisine.PRC: What are the major challenges that face the home cook? MD: These days I think the home cook is done a bit of disservice by the rise in popularity of chef cookbooks. I love chefs and I love their food. But when it comes to translating their food for home preparation, I think most chefs fall short of the mark. And just as you don't want to eat in a restaurant every night, you don't want to cook a chef's menu every night. We're living in a curious time, foodwise, I think, when people know a lot more about food because of all the media and excitement about it, but they don't know how to cook. This makes cooking frustrating, because you see or taste or hear about a succulent and spectacular braised veal shank that Daniel Boulud makes, but when you go to cook something, it doesn't meet those expectations. With their staffs of cooks and dishwashers and piles of equipment and access to amazing ingredients, chefs aren't always thinking about what it's like to cook at home. It drives me a little crazy when a recipe keeps having you put things in different bowls, when you could do it all in one. Or when a recipe calls for an odd amount of an ingredient, that leaves a spoonful left in a standard can. (At times my fridge has been full of little dried up half-full cans of tomato paste.) I remember a good chocolate chip cookie recipe from a book of a great New York pastry chef that made 6 dozen miniature chocolate chip cookies. Who at home needs six dozen miniature chocolate chip cookies? That's a yield for a restaurant with a petit fours tray. At home you want 2 dozen giant chocolate chip cookies. I recall another recipe that had you strain a soup twice through a chinois (a fine mesh strainer). I have a weakness for buying kitchen equipment, so I have an expensive chinois, but I only have one. And so I would have had to clean it between strainings. This sort of excess use of equipment and refinement (if you strain something once at home, I think it's strained enough) is a hallmark of chef recipes. That's why we pay them so much when we eat out. When we eat at home, the soup can be a little lumpy. Having worked in professional kitchens and with professional chefs, but being a home cook at heart, I am always aware of the distinctions between the different way professionals and amateurs approach cooking and I try to account for these differences in my recipes. I don't believe in dumbing anything down, I just want my recipes and techniques to be as efficient and practical as possible for someone cooking in a home kitchen. PRC: Do you have a favorite recipe from the book? MD: An impossible question to answer. I don't have a favorite recipe, per se, but during the writing of the book and now that it is done, I go through periods when I like a recipe so much I make it over and over. I'm obsessive that way. The Southwestern Baked Beans with Chorizo, Poblanos, and Orange is a good example. This was a recipe I made up with some things I had on hand. I put a bunch of ingredients in a casserole and baked it overnight. When I got up in the morning, the smell was intoxicating. And the beans were really delicious. I made them repeatedly for weeks. I must have eaten a ton of these beans. PRC: Do you have a favorite cuisine? Why?MD: I guess my default cuisine is Italian. I spend a lot of time in Italy and I just love the simple approach to food there. It's taken for granted in Italy that you will be surrounded by good ingredients that you can assemble in a simple way to come up with something very satisfying to eat without much effort. With a bag of pasta and some good olives, garlic, maybe anchovies or cheese or black pepper, you are never more than 15 minutes away from a delicious dinner. That's the essence of good food. Not that I don't get all complicated and fancy from time to time, but Italian is my fallback cooking. Plus, Italian food is rarely very good in restaurants -- despite all the Italian restaurants around New York. So I save the other cuisines for when I'm eating out and cook Italian at home. PRC: Eric Ripert, executive chef/co-owner of Le Bernardin, thought highly of Kitchen Sense and suggested: "Try the Simple Seafood Sausage; it's the best I've ever had." How did you develop this recipe? It's pretty ingenious. MD: Funny you should ask because that recipe is a combination of techniques from a couple of chef friends of mine. For the Foie Gras: A Passion book, Susur Lee of Susur in Toronto submitted a very complex recipe that included a scallop roll made by pureeing scallops, reshaping it, and then poaching it in water that had just come up to a boil and been shut off. I noted it in the back of my mind because the texture of the final product when we were testing that recipe was really lovely. And the technique was so easy I thought it could have other applications. Maybe 7 or 8 years later, I was cooking a dinner with some friends, and Eric Ripert was invited. We had decided to do a seafood choucroute, which is a traditional but little-known version of the famous Alsatian sauerkraut dish. I wanted to make seafood sausage to go into it. I called up my friend Dano, who is a chef in upstate New York and a great sausage maker, and I asked how he made his delicious seafood sausage. I took Dano's advice for seasoning (with some mushroom and spinach for color, flavor, and texture) and I applied it to that scallop base I remembered from Susur's recipe, and voilà, Mitchell's famous seafood sausage was born. When Eric ate it in that choucroute, he proclaimed it the best he'd ever had. (A variation of it ended up on his menu at Le Bernardin a few weeks later -- I've never been so honored, culinarily speaking.) And I was stunned by how easy and delicious it was. I was so excited I made it for everyone for a few months. My sister was visiting, and watched me make it for her, and she thought it was so simple she could even do it herself. PRC: What is your most humbling cooking memory? MD: Oy. There are many. I recall spending a whole Saturday teaching a friend how to make gnocchi, the Italian potato dumplings that run the risk of being too heavy and gummy if you add too much flour or work the dough too vigorously. At the dinner party that night I left the table to put the gnocchi from the freezer, where they were firming up, into the boiling water. I waited a minute, stirred the pot, and all I saw was potato mush. I was so worried about making them too heavy that I didn't add enough flour to hold them together. They disintegrated. I didn't say anything and carried on with the meal -- as always at my house, there was plenty to eat. It wasn't until after dinner that my friend asked what happened to the gnocchi we made. PRC: Do you have any advice for home cooks?MD: Some words to the wise about cooking:1. Don't worry so much about fat, just choose better fat. Your cooking will be lighter and more healthful if you do. 2. Neither cooking nor baking are science. You can be creative. Recipes are guidelines. You really learn about food by paying attention to what you do and seeing what works and what doesn't. 3. Good cooking begins with good shopping. If you buy ingredients -- produce, meat, even prepared foods -- you are halfway toward making good food.
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