In all ways to-the-point, Costello and Reich's guidebook offer kitchen commandments for a realm that often tends to "a little of this, a little of that" thinking. Costello's culinary skills are well matched with Reich's pithy writing in more than 200 directives on everything from cooking duck to ripening fruit, for which they lay down the major rules of cooking and kitchen conduct in as few as a couple of lines. Beginning cooks will find relief in their strong declarations-"Do not stuff a turkey"; "Always preheat the oven"-instructions that, once learned by heart, make cooking easier and end with better food. The explanations for these rules are succinct but amply informative so as to please anyone who has cooked long enough to already be following them instinctively; they draw on basic kitchen science as well as the collective knowledge of culinary experts like Jeffrey Steingarten and Michael Nischan to make a case for the validity of their decrees. Some "notes" are less concretely didactic than others ("Chicken is the test of a cook's versatility," for example), or leave room for interpretation ("Dress salad lightly"), but all are brightly informative enough to help cooks make better decisions and, in the end, be more productive and happier in the kitchen. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craftby Lauren Braun Costello, Russell Reich
As an essential primer of immediately useful and utterly relevant guidance, this guide can help anyone become a better cookwithout a single recipe. The book’s 217 notes deliver indispensable culinary truths, the highest standards of conduct, and timeless gems of cooking wisdom that have been taught and passed down by top chefs for generations. The notes… See more details below
- LendMe LendMe™ Learn More
As an essential primer of immediately useful and utterly relevant guidance, this guide can help anyone become a better cookwithout a single recipe. The book’s 217 notes deliver indispensable culinary truths, the highest standards of conduct, and timeless gems of cooking wisdom that have been taught and passed down by top chefs for generations. The notes provide explanatory commentary, helpful examples, and insights from Alice Waters, Daniel Boulud, Georges Auguste Escoffier, Leonardo da Vinci, and many others. They also include life lessonsabout how to bring delight, how to recognize quality, and how to see beauty in simplicity. For the beginner wanting to improve, the seasoned expert looking to review the highest culinary standards, or the food lover seeking a fascinating glimpse into the pursuit of epicurean excellence, Notes on Cooking provides a unique and invaluable apprenticeship.
1. Beware the book cloaked in numerous glowing testimonials unless the blurbers have unimpeachable reputations like Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pepin, James Peterson, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and the other heavyweights as is the case in Notes on Cooking. 2. Cooking wisdom must be timeless and applicable to cooks of all levels. A veteran of professional kitchens, Costello chides her peers to always be "open to considering new perspectives and ways of working," and counsels humility by encouraging cooks not to "bemoan the pedestrian tasks. Find pleasure in peeling a carrot, steaming rice, searing a steak, prepping, cleaning. " 3. Useful books offer nuggets on every page without requiring readers to start from the beginning. Notes on Cooking is expertly organized into 19 chapters, from Understanding the Recipe through to Presentation and Last Thought where readers are lectured: "Always be cooking. Hone your craft by doing it. Stop reading. Start cooking. " 4. That said, readers who hang on until the very end will find in the Appendices superb lists of food adjectives and 80+ flavor combinations, e.g., beets and lemon, leeks and chestnuts, sweet peas andpancetta, to name only three.
This small primer by restaurateur and chef Costello and coauthor Reich (Notes on Directing) delivers both practical and philosophical advice beyond what one will find in a cookbook. Its goal is to pass on knowledge that will help readers think like a chef, not merely follow a recipe. Some 217 "notes," or entries, are organized into 19 topical chapters that can be read in any order and include cross references among the notes. The notes offer simple advice like remembering to date and label perishables to lesser-known tips like how to pick the healthiest chicken in the grocer's case and testing eggs for freshness. The authors also include appendixes on flavor lexicon, classic combinations, and cooking essentials as well as 11 annotated recommended readings. VERDICT Both novice and more experienced cooks will appreciate the plethora of useful and valuable advice here. Overall, a delightful culinary resource.Lisa A. Ennis, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.
Lisa A. Ennis
What People are saying about this
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >