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Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham

Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham

4.5 2
by Marion Cunningham, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
Here at last is a much needed cookbook designed to instruct and inspire beginning cooks who don't know how to cut up an onion or scramble an egg--and who are reluctant to try.

Marion Cunningham, today's Fannie Farmer--who embodies the best of American home cooking--is the perfect guide for the uncertain cook. Not only are her recipes simple, they are easy to


Here at last is a much needed cookbook designed to instruct and inspire beginning cooks who don't know how to cut up an onion or scramble an egg--and who are reluctant to try.

Marion Cunningham, today's Fannie Farmer--who embodies the best of American home cooking--is the perfect guide for the uncertain cook. Not only are her recipes simple, they are easy to master, because she writes in clear, straightforward language that anyone can understand. She addresses the needs and concerns of beginning cooks: how to shop, how to determine the quality of ingredients, how to store fresh produce and to ripen fruits, what basic kitchen utensils to use, and how not to waste food.

With 150 recipes woven through eleven seductive chapters, such as Soup for Supper, A Bowlful of Salad, Thank Goodness for Chicken, and Extras That Make a Meal, Ms. Cunningham reveals the secrets of relaxed and efficient home cooking. She stresses the importance of thinking ahead--not just one recipe at a time. Today's dinner can be recycled into a lunch treat for tomorrow, Sunday's leftover polenta is fried up and topped with Parmesan for a weekday supper dish, small treasures in the fridge can make an omelet filling, a pasta garnish, or stuffing for a baked potato, and homemade biscuits can be transformed into strawberry shortcake.

The side dishes she recommends are simple and are coordinated with the timing of the main dish. Often she gives us a recipe in which everything is cooked together--for instance, a chicken is roasted along with onions, carrots, and potatoes, so everything is ready at once, and when you're finished there's only one pan to clean; easy fish is baked over a bed ofvegetables; a steak supper combines watercress, mushrooms, bread, and a delicious steak all in one.

Above all, Ms. Cunningham demonstrates that the satisfaction of cooking lies not only in the good taste of all these wonderful home-cooked dishes but also in the pleasure of sharing them with friends and family.

Editorial Reviews

Marion Cunningham is the legendary cooking teacher behind The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, and in this new book, she takes beginners through every step of learning to cook. From shopping for ingredients to storing them to turning them into a simple home-cooked meal, Cunningham offers uncertain cooks expert advice and reassurance. Illustrated with wonderful step-by-step photos.

Product Details

Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.19(w) x 10.29(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

How To Carve A Chicken

Carving a chicken is a simple process that takes a little patience; it gets easier each time you do it. If your chicken truly is cooked enough, it should be easy to remove the meat. It's not a delicate process, though, so don't be shy about manhandling the chicken a bit. Wait until it has cooled just enough for you to handle it comfortably.

Set the chicken breast side up. Pull the leg and thigh back to expose the joint that attaches it to the body (have a little patience; wiggling the thigh section and pulling it away from the body with your hands helps).

1) Use a sharp paring knife to probe for the socket and cut through it, separating the leg and thigh from the carcass. Repeat with the other leg and thigh.

2) Use the knife to cut through the joint that connects the leg to the thigh.

3) Pull off the wings by gently twisting them away from the carcass. You may need the aid of your knife to separate the wings fully.

The breastbone runs along the top center of the chicken carcass. Feel for it with your fingers. Make a 3-inch-long slit along both sides of the breastbone. 4) Dig your fingers into one of the slits and peel the entire half of the breast meat off the carcass. Do the same to remove the breast meat on the other side. Slice each half of breast meat crosswise, making 5 or 6 slices per breast half.

Pick or cut off whatever meat remains on the carcass. Arrange the legs, thighs, wings, and meat on a platter and serve.

Roast Chicken with Vegetables

Serves four

New cooks are intimidated by the idea of roasting a chicken, but nothing could be simpler. If you roast the chicken withsome vegetables in the same pan for about an hour, you will have a moist, golden bird and savory accompaniments--all ready to eat at the same time. While they cook, you can set the table, watch the news, maybe make a dessert. Sometimes it's handy to roast 2 chickens at the same time; it takes no extra effort, and you will have plenty of leftovers for salads, soups, sandwiches, or a main dish of cold chicken with Green Sauce.

8 whole carrots
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium-size yellow onions        4 sprigs fresh or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
8 small white or red potatoes  (about 1H inches in diameter)        
1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds
3 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Preparing the Vegetables

Peel the carrots and cut them crosswise into 1H-inch-long pieces. Cut the thicker pieces in half lengthwise as well.

Peel each onion and cut into quarters.

Wash the potatoes under cold water to get rid of any dirt. Leave them whole and unpeeled.

Scatter the carrots, onions, and potatoes on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking or roasting pan. Sprinkle 1H teaspoons of the salt and H teaspoon of the pepper over them, and lay 2 sprigs of the rosemary on top. If you are using dried rosemary, put 1 tablespoon in the palm of your hand and crumble it over the vegetables.

Preparing the Chicken

The giblets, which consist of the liver, gizzard, and heart, plus the neck, are usually in a package inside the cavity of the chicken, between the legs. Remove them and discard or refrigerate them to use later.

If there is a pale-yellow chunk of fat on either side of the cavity, pull or cut it off and discard.

Hold the chicken under cold running water and rinse it inside and out. Shake off excess water and pat dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle the remaining 1H teaspoons of salt and H teaspoon of pepper over the outside of the chicken, rubbing them all over the skin.

Set the chicken, the breast side facing up, on top of some of the vegetables, with the remaining ones surrounding the bird.

Insert a dial-type (not instant-read) thermometer into the breast, taking care that the rod of the thermometer does not touch any bones.

Roasting the Chicken

Put the chicken in the center of the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.

When the timer rings, remove the pan from the oven and, using a large spoon, turn over the vegetables that surround the chicken. Don't bother with the vegetables under the chicken.

Return the pan to the oven and set the timer for 30 more minutes.

After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven to check for doneness. Insert the tip of a small paring knife into the meat of the thigh where it attaches to the body. If the juices that run out are pink, the chicken needs to continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes. If the juices are clear, it is done. The meat thermometer should show a temperature of 170 degrees F to 180 degrees F when the chicken is done.

Carving the Chicken

Carve the chicken according to the instructions on the preceding page.

Scoop the vegetables out of the roasting pan and onto a serving platter. Remove the fat from the pan juices.

Arrange the cut chicken pieces on top of vegetables, spoon some pan juices over the chicken and vegetables, scatter the 2 remaining rosemary sprigs on top, and bring the dish to the table for serving.

Meet the Author

Marion Cunningham was born in Southern California and now lives in Walnut Creek. She was responsible for the complete revision of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and is the author of The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, The Breakfast Book, The Supper Book, and Cooking with Children. She travels frequently throughout the country giving cooking demonstrations, has contributed articles to Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and Gourmet magazines, and writes a column for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times.

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Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a 38 year old woman who was clueless about cooking, I had more embarressing moments in the kitchen than I care to mention. I realized I needed remedial help. I looked at several basic cookbooks including cookbooks for kids, all without success, till I found "Learning to Cook" in my local library. It is wonderfully easy to read and explains the minute details of setup/prep AND their rationale that other cookbooks assume you already know. More importantly I was inspired to try these recipes and became confident in the kitchen. My family has been raving about my cooking and coworkers want to know Marion's secret for Parslied Red Potatoes. I am getting Overdue notices from the library and I realize I can't live without this book! I must buy it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham is an excellent cookbook for the novice cook and a welcomed addition to the cookbook library of a more experienced cook. The recipes are simple and basic. The step-by-step directions on cooking techniques (e.g., peeling an onion, chopping a tomato, preparing garlic, beating egg whites, etc.), along with their illustrations, would be very helpful for someone not familiar to food preparation. The recipes' directions are clear, making this one of the easiest cookbooks to follow. I made the Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy recipe, and the results were fantastic. The Lemon Pudding Cake was great. You must make the Raised Waffles; once you have tasted this recipe, you will never eat frozen waffles again. Novice cooks should not be intimidated by most of the recipes in this book. (Only a few of the recipes might be challenging for a novice cook on the first attempt, however.) I am an experienced cook and had no difficulty with any of the recipes I tried. Great gift for a bride and/or groom, for someone moving out of their parents' home, or for someone who does not know the difference between an egg white and an egg yolk.