The Barnes & Noble Review
Madeleine Kamman has been hailed as a great teacher since she began hosting cooking shows on PBS years ago, but what her TV fans may not realize is that she teaches equally well, and even more thoroughly, through her books. Her bestselling The New making of a Cook was a comprehensive, authoritative source for the whys and hows of classic cooking when it was published 25 years ago; her completely revised and updated edition, The New Making of a Cook, manages somehow to be even more valuable.
There are more than 600 recipes in The New Making of a Cook some utterly traditional, some up-to-the-minute. Health is a consideration throughout, but Kamman is a firm believer that fat should be limited through a varied diet with everything in moderation, not by reducing fat grams in recipes whose essential quality is lost without them. So there are plenty of low-fat recipes in the book, and plenty of high-fat classics they are coded with the letters FFR for full-fat recipe, FCR for fat-controlled recipe, LFR for low-fat, and NFR for no-fat. And though the recipes are wonderful, they're just part of what makes the book so indispensable. Kamman is a master of techniques, and whether you need to know the best way to julienne vegetables, how (and when) to make a beurre manié, or a foolproof, step-by-step method for a perfect omelette, she will guide you with unerring accuracy. Whole sections are dedicated to topics such as kitchen equipment, food safety, and pantry ingredients; wine has its own very informative chapter, and so do such basics as sauces.Kammanpacks these chapters with history and lore as well as with practical information. The section on baking is so good that it may be the only thing you'll ever need to read to understand the essential principles behind yeast doughs, pastries, and cakes. The chemistry of food informs every part of the book, and in the course of just trying a recipe here and there, it's likely you'll pick up information you'll apply to many other things you cook. A detailed glossary is also extremely useful. This is a great book for a kitchen beginner, but it may be an even better one for the seasoned home cook or the professional chef. It will fill in gaps in your knowledge you didn't even know were there even as it inspires you toward new culinary achievements.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A major revision of an encyclopedic work, this authoritative two-volume update of Kamman's original The Making of a Cook (in print since 1971) takes serious cooks way beyond recipes into the principles and chemistry of cooking. Kamman, who has a clear bias toward classic French cooking, strikes an ambivalent note only in her stand on bringing artery-clogging fare up to contemporary low-fat standards. In the headnote for Roast Stuffed Cornish Hen with cream cheese, crme frache, pork sausage and the unexpected Grape Nuts cereal, she admonishes: "Go back on your diet tomorrow." Then again, many rich recipes go unremarked upon, like the one for Endive Pie with butter, bacon and heavy cream baked in short pastry. Her explanations of subjects like Cooking with Wines and Classic Brown Sauces -- and a glossary of common and uncommon vegetables -- will likely prove priceless to both curious home cooks and professionals. Certain groups of recipes, like those for souffls (Hickory-Smoked Cheddar Souffl, Baked Yam and Ham Souffl, Moussaka Souffl), stand out for their inventiveness and clear instructions. Kamman does a thorough job of presenting cooks with the tools to adapt, improvise and to develop and exercise their own culinary judgments. (Sept.)
Although this massive book began as a revision of Kamman's classic The Making of a Cook (1971), it's really an entirely new work; the text has been rewritten and greatly expanded, and few of the recipes are the same. The organization is similar, based generally on techniques and "building blocks" rather than courses of a meal (not surprisingly, the chapter titled "The True Way to That Man's Heart" has been dropped). While classic French dishes are still important, there are many lighter recipes, and Kamman, aware of the realities of the modern work week, incorporates time-saving suggestions and variations into more complicated recipes. Kamman's masterwork contains an incredible amount of information not only on techniques and ingredients but also on food science, cultural and culinary history, and myriad other topics. Although the book's size may seem intimidating, home cooks will find many creative everyday recipes here, and more ambitious cooks will turn to it for both inspiration and reference. Highly recommended.
Read an Excerpt
Danish Holiday Almond Cake
This cake, a cousin to the French pain de gjnes, is truly delicious and a treat to have once in a while. Please respect scrupulously the egg sizes given here. The cake is so delicious by itself that any icing seems to damage rather than enhance its flavor. For a recipe of the same cake made with ground pistachios, see my book, Madeleine Kammans Savoie. To make petits fours, bake the cake in a 9 x 9 x 2-inch square cake pan.
Makes 3 dozen squares for petits fours, or 1 round 10-inch cake with 18 to 24 servings
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unsifted cake flour for the cake pan
Large pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 ounces almond paste (not marzipan), finely grated
2 teaspoons orange flower water or 1 tablespoon kirsch
5 medium-size eggs
1 cup sifted cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 3250F. Butter the cake pan with the 1 tablespoon of butter and dust it with the single tablespoon of cake flour. Set the pan upside down and slam it once to remove all traces of excess flour.
In a large bowl, cream the remaining cup of butter until white, then add the sugar and almond paste together and beat until fluffy and white again, 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Turning the speed down to low, add the orange flower water, then 1 egg at a time. Beat again on medium-high speed after each addition until the batter returns to white foaminess. Finally, resift the cake flour mixed with the baking powder (if used) directly over the batter and fold into the batter. Turn into the prepared pan and bake 40 to 45 minutes. The cake is done whenit is golden brown and a metal skewer inserted into its center comes out dry and feeling hot when applied to the top of the hand.
Unmold immediately onto a rack and let cool completely before cutting. Trim off the edges if you desire petits fours and cut into as many 1 inch squares as you can manage. Dust with confectioners' sugar. If you prefer bringing the round cake to the table whole, put a decorative doily on it and dust with confectioners' sugar, then lift off the doily; its decorative pattern will be reproduced on the cake by the sugar.
Please do not freeze.
Copyright ) 1997 by Madeleine Kamman.