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on June 8, 2013
This cookbook is designed for someone with a lot more commitment to food than I have. Don't get me wrong, I love to eat and I appreciate good, flavorful dishes. This book will certainly get you there. But, I want it to happen easily and this book is more involved than I will probably ever get. It's filled with tips, many of which are obvious, and the recipes often call for specialty items that take shopping time and money. It's a good cookbook, well laid out, with some good sounding recipes. But, frankly, I doubt that I'll ever make a dish from it. It's too involved for me.
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on January 2, 2013
I got this for my boyfriend for Christmas, as he's been spending more time in the kitchen after I got a new job. He's turned out to be a really good cook, but there some basic stuff he could learn to be a lot better, and this book has it all. This is really not JUST a cookbook, it's an amazing guide to most things that you need to know before you even go into the kitchen (where to shop, what to buy, how to break down larger pieces of meat into portions, what cuts of meat come from what part of the animal and how they are best cooked, etc). This is a lot of the reference stuff that I haven't learned just because, honestly, it's always presented in really dry text. I have to say though, I might be a little biased just because I'm a graphic designer and this book is just beautifully designed. Definitely makes it more fun to read. This book is great for anyone just learning to cook, or anyone that's been cooking for a long time but wants to up their game by brushing up on some basics.
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This book says "how to become a more accomplished, adventurous cook" but even IF you think you are already pretty much accomplished and you love adventurous food, this book has a lot to offer. I was bowled over immediately by the first page I randomly turned to, tacos with charred corn and zucchini. It turns out, this is one of my favorite things to order at a restaurant in New Mexico (Blue Corn in Santa Fe) and I am just thinking how great it's going to be to fire up the charcoal grill in summer and make these for guests. Then there is a recipe for brussels sprouts with a horseradish-lemon dressing. The bitter of the horseradish works with the bitter of the sprouts, and the lemon makes it balanced--great idea.

In fact, the recipes that appeal to me the most in this book are vegetables. There ARE a lot of meat recipes (spare ribs, lamb roasts, Peruvian-style beef steak) but the vegetable course appeal to me more. And that means that if you are not a big meat eater, you can find something to perk up your repertoire in this book.

The dessert course is equally adventuresome: mango custard pie, dulce de leche-lemon cheese cake and a chai-flavored coffee cake.

I found many, many things to bookmark for entertaining or for even just to make more out of a haul of vegetables from the farm stand. It also looks like a pretty decent gift for friends of mine who are enthusiastic cooks. Highly recommended.
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on October 21, 2012
Just what I needed - a well organized, resourceful cookbook to help me navigate and enjoy working in my kitchen. Great references and descriptions of "how to". This is so much more than just recipes! Your creativity will be unlocked with these "Keys to the Kitchen".
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on April 24, 2013
When I first saw this title in a book catalog, I was grabbed by the subtitle "the essential reference ..." and thought this was a book I must have. But then I got a grip and asked myself if I really needed yet another cookbook. To answer this question, I checked the book out of the library and looked through it. I decided no, I did not need another cookbook, at least not this one.

The book does in fact have a lot of basic information about cooking techniques and food, but it was nothing that I as an experienced cook did not already know, or did not know where to find in the cookbooks I already have. Moreover, the information part took up only about a quarter of the book; the rest consisted of the recipes. These tended to be rather unusual and eclectic - Braised chile chicken with raisins and almonds, anyone? What about Roasted carrot soup with toasted coconut? If you like such things, this book will certainly help you become a more adventurous cook, as the title promises. But if you're looking for familiar, down-home recipes that won't cause your kids to say "Ee-ew, what's that?" you won't find many of them here. There is, for example, only one recipe for pie. For a cookbook that has a lot of familiar American recipes plus a nice selection of ethnic-style (but not experimental) dishes, and that also has lots of basic information about cooking techniques and foods, a book already on my shelf, namely "The Good Housekeeping Cookbook," 2010 ed., can't be beat.

In conclusion, the basic reference information can be found in many cookbooks, so there's no point in buying it just for the reference part. If you like unusual, experimental dishes, this is a good book for you. However, if you prefer a more familiar cuisine and established recipes, it's probably not worth spending your money on.
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on October 15, 2012
Keys to the Kitchen is a book filled to the brim with information that makes being in the kitchen infinitely easier! It's basically the modern day Joy of Cooking. Aida's recipes are outstanding and you can see her passion for food shine though each page in the book. Even as a trained chef, I learned so much for this cookbook and will keep it with my in my kitchen forever!!
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on August 17, 2013
This is a wonderful cookbook for anyone who is beginning to cook. The first portion of the book explains how to stock your kitchen with tools and products so that you can easily cook flavorful meals. There is also an index in the back with sauces and spice rubs for food that you wish to cook. It is very user friendly. The recipes are easy to make and the results are very good. It is a worthwhile cookbook.
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on March 5, 2015
I give this, and a cast-iron skillet, whenever I'm invited to a bridal shower! Love the way it encourages a new cook to grow and experiment after learning basic skills and techniques. This is a treasure that more people need to know about!
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on December 19, 2012
Regardless of your level of cooking, you will be able to learn something. It is well worth the price! It's really a comprehensive guide to cooking almost anything. I would describe it as "approachable foodie".
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on January 11, 2014
This book is amazing! I'm a novice in the kitchen so I was a little intimidated reading the title, "...becoming a more accomplished, adventurous cook." I flipped through it at a specialty store and found it to be one of the least intimidating books about preparing food and cooking in the kitchen. (I should've bought it on Amazon though. Much cheaper than the price on the back of the book)

It is very descriptive, offering techniques, pictures, and definitions. Reading it will make you a more informed consumer of the different labels applied to products in the market. It also explains the different metal pots and pans and explains the differences you will notice with cooking with each. The recipes aren't your typical comfort food recipes, they're more like foods you'll find at a specialty cafe/restaurant that also serves ethnic foods. Recipes range from Cheat Sheet Beef Pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) to Carribbean jerk-style spare ribs and with desserts of shortcakes with citrus compote and orange flower whipped cream, coconut chai coffee cake, and dulce de leche - fresh lemon cheesecake.

It's easy to read and understand and has colorful pictures.
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