Customer Reviews: Cooking Basics For Dummies
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The book begins with this comment (Page 1): "Whether you fancy yourself a hotshot home cook or someone who wouldn't know a whisk from a Weimaraner, Cooking Basics for Dummies, 4th edition, can help you." So, this book is designed, at one level, to provide a neophyte the tools to use as the foundation for decent cooking. As such, I think, it does its job nicely. I have sometimes seen rather lame entries into the ". . . for Dummies" series. This is not one of those.

The volume begins with the basics--what goes into your kitchen? This includes the basics of your own kitchen (such as when you can best use a microwave--and when you should probably not use one); What tools one needs I the kitchen (Pots and pans, small appliances, mixing and baking tools, "gizmos and gadgets"--such a meat thermometers, which can be very useful; Stocking the pantry and the refrigerator--What are the basics needed? (e.g., baking supplies, herbs and spices, refrigerated supplies [such as eggs and butter and cheeses], fruits and veggies).

Part II of this book explores techniques, such as use of knives, boiling-poaching-steaming, sautéing, braising and stewing, roasting, grilling and broiling, and cooking basics (measuring, working with eggs, whipping-stirring-folding-etc. There are also recipes that illustrate the technique in action. For instance, sautéed skillet potatoes. Clean potatoes and scrub them (unpeeled), cube the potatoes, heat oil in a large skillet, add potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, remove potatoes, sauté onion, bell pepper, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, cook for about 4-5 minutes, add potatoes to mixture and cook until potatoes are browned and crisped. Described step by step and simply. Someone trying this dish for the first time would have a fair chance of success by following the 7 point instructions for the recipe.

Part III looks at mastering breakfast (e.g., how to make scrambled and fried eggs, how to cook bacon, how to make French toast), soups and salads, grains, sauces, and sweet dishes. One example of a recipe included in this section: Béchamel sauce. Heat milk, create a roux (butter and flour mix--explained simply), add milk to roux while continually whisking, remove from heat and add nutmeg and salt and pepper whisking all the while.

Part IV presents a variety of recipes using techniques described earlier. This includes one pot meals, making meals for a crowd, classy dishes, use of leftovers, etc. (keep in mind that recipes are also included in earlier chapters on techniques and so on). Part V focuses on "Tens": ten common cooking disasters and how to avoid/deal with them, ten ways to think like a chef, and ten ways to do healthy cooking (including going vegan or vegetarian, producing low fat meals, and providing more fiber with meals).

All in all, pretty satisfying. One can quibble about this or that, but this, overall, works pretty well.
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on June 30, 2012
When I graduated from college, my mom bought me a bunch of cookbooks to send me off into the real world. Cooking for Dummies was one of those books. It was at the height of the "Dummy book phase" where anything from cooking, to chess, to quantam physics was all the rage.

Cooking for Dummies is more of an instruction manual with recipes than it is a cookbook with detailed instructions. The first few chapters are focused on cooking methods rather than ingredients (grilling, sautéing, poaching, etc). Later chapters get into salads, eggs, one pot meals, and meals for entertaining. Because it's organized in that way, it's harder to use as a cookbook. Once you've read through it, it's more likely you'll transition into another cookbook than to go back and visit this one for recipes.

Overall, great primer for someone who really has never cooked or is a disaster in the kitchen -but think of it more as a lesson manual than a true cookbook.
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VINE VOICEon December 17, 2012
There is so much I loved about this book, my first takeaway was the French term mise en place which means have everything ready before you cook. The book explains the basics tools you need to be a good cook. I was intrigue with the knives having read Anthony Boudain books, Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw. He said knives are like the tools that define chefs. Many spends thousands of dollars getting the most exquisite knives. The books goes into details on the different techniques of cooking like sautéing,braising, poaching , roasting, etc. I am a visual person so I went to You Tube and saw each technique performed so I could see it in real time.

I practiced some of the techniques starting with scrambled eggs and I tried their version of cooking the perfect steak and my wife was impressed. I got into it that I went out and bought this gorgeous all clad skillet and I am looking for a chef knife.

Also, I became more aware of expiration dates especially with eggs and other items. I did enjoy the book and I highly recommend it.
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on May 26, 2011
I'm not completely knew to cooking, but I had not idea how to clean a cast iron pan, how to make sauce from scratch, or the proper temperature that a roast needs to be to be considered done. I think this is good for those that have mastered scrambled eggs, but that is about it. I really enjoy the light, easy, and best of all, easily understandable formate of this book!
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on September 16, 2011
This book is easy and entertaining to read. Examples and recipes are clear and easy to follow. I am using this to teach a cooking class and it has been useful to me personal for my own cooking, but also to bring the basics to my students.
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on April 11, 2011
This book is very well written for those who don't know much, or want to know more about cooking. I bought this for my husband, who wants to get into cooking, but had no idea how to start. The thing he found most useful was the section on what to do with leftovers, which has been one of those "ugh" things in our home. Now instead of throwing out leftovers, we've got some ideas on what to do with them.
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on April 13, 2015
Bought for my daughter who is going to be getting her first apartment and I thought it would be easy instructions, measurements, etc. but it's actual recipes and not overly easy ones you would think from the title of the book. My daughter laughed when she opened the box but wasn't over thrilled with the more "experienced" recipes.
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on November 21, 2011
We're a firm believer that you can learn something new every day and Cooking Basics for Dummies proves that beautifully with a wide range of facts, tips and suggestions for anyone who needs a bit of guidance in the kitchen.
From picking the perfects pots and pans to learning how to handle a sharp knife correctly or choose fruits and vegetables at the market at their peak of ripeness, Cooking Basics for Dummies offers plenty of good instruction.
The lighthearted tone of the copy throughout makes this a good armchair read even if you are not ready to tackle any of the book's many recipes such as Hungry Family Lasagna or Rosy Red Velvet Cupcakes.
We would have liked to see even simpler recipes and more color photography. But if you have a college student, new bride or novice chef on your gift list this year, Cooking Basics for Dummies is a welcome instructional tome.
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on March 24, 2012
I thoroughly enjoy the "Dummies" books because they are written by experts in their fields, they're ALWAYS funny, and I receive the basic knowlege I'm seeking. My friends always laugh when I refer them to a "Dummies" book before I explain my logic. They're an EXCELLENT place to start. I can always expand my learning and research if I want or need to. What I most like about "Cooking Basics for Dummies" is that it's a great refresher course for me. I've been cooking and baking for years; however, once I started reading it, I realized how very outdated many of my skills, techniques, and other cookbooks are. The material is current in that feeding ourselves, family, and friends has changed. We're much more crazy-busy than ever before, much more aware of the sources of our food, and more knowlegeable of how food interacts with our health and well-being. I would suggest both novice and seasoned cooks take a look. I think you'll enjoy it and learn a lot!
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on April 20, 2013
I was looking for a book that could explain the basic and give me advises on how to cook and I finally found it. This books explains a lot of simple stuff and has recipes to apply what the chapter is about. It has a list of basic supplies and equipment for a kitchen, provides terms and explains it easily.
Really like IT.
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