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Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer Hardcover – September 10, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Value Publishing; First Thus edition (September 10, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517189895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517189894
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #416,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

As the former food and restaurant critic for The New York Times and the author of several distinguished cookbooks, Craig Claiborne has earned a reputation as the great educator of the American palate. In this classically elegant and profusely illustrated book of recipes and techniques, he imparts the kind of culinary knowledge that is essential to making any dish -- from a humble boiled egg to the most ambitious of souffles -- but that most cooks only acquire through years of trial and error.

Claiborne tells us what tools and utensils make a kitchen well stocked; how to shell a shrimp or peel a peach; the whats and whys of soups and sauces, steaks and seafood, potatoes baked, whipped, and boiled. He conducts us through every step of many splendid meals, from clear soups to elaborate desserts. The fact that he does all this with the thoroughness and charm of a great teacher makes Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer an invaluable aid for both the novice and the experienced chef.


From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Craig Claiborne was one of the three best-known food writers in America during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s during his tenure at the New York Times, the others being Julia Child and James Beard. He legitimized the field of restaurant criticism by maintaining a discreet, anonymous profile in visiting a restaurant and paying his own check. He would evaluate the restaurant's food, ambience, and service, giving a rating between zero and four stars. Previously, it was common for reviewers to be paid by the very restaurants they were critiquing. Claiborne's ample knowledge of gastronomy commanded respect by restaurateurs who used his reviews to improve themselves.

He popularized the cuisines of China, Vietnamese, Indian, Brazilian, and a dozen more by having experts raised in the particular traditions to come to his house and cook where he would take meticulous notes, than write about them in the New York Times.

His first and most popular book, The New York Times Cookbook of 1961, sold over three million copies and was eventually translated into seventeen languages. He co-wrote (with Virginia Lee) the first American cookbook of genuine Chinese cuisine, The Chinese Cookbook, published in 1972, as well as twenty other cookbooks, including Craig Claiborne's Memorable Meals and Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking.

Born September 4, 1920 in Sunflower, Mississippi, he grew up in Indianola, Mississippi. He received a degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi. After working in public relations, he enrolled in the L'Ecole Hôtelière Professional School of the Swiss Hotel Keepers Association in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He lived most of his adult life in Manhattan and East Hampton, Long Island. He was known for his elaborate New Year's Eve and birthday parties, as well as his Fourth of July picnics. He died of a heart attack on January 22, 2000.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
Just a great beginner cookbook.
Chris Ward
I've used this book for many years and wore one copy out.
J. Urban
Craig Claiborne was one of the best.
c. b.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A. Henning on December 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought two copies two years ago, as a gift and the other for myself. I wish I had been smart enough to look for a book like this in 1990, when I began to take cooking seriously.
Now that I've got a small library of cookbooks (30+), I tend to rate cookbooks' usefulness on two criteria: the writing and the instructions. This one should be read for both. The Introduction and First Steps in Cooking alone are worth the price of the book.
I've now realized that the best cookbooks are those that convey to the reader that cooking is really a simple undertaking. Some recipes simply take more muscle or thought, but fundamentally, it's just cooking and cooking well is about organization, understanding food, and community. That is, you don't just cook for yourself; you cook for others, too, so you might as well learn how to do it confidently.
Claiborne shows you that cooking is just cooking and you can still produce food that tastes good. He never talks down to you. His instruction is that of a relaxed teacher, someone who seems to assume that you've been too busy to focus on other things to learn how to cook. Therefore, his tone IMHO is that of a person who understands the reader is intelligent but just hasn't had the time or inclination to cook. The novice and the expert will learn from this little gem.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
When I was (heck, I still am) learning how to cook, I ransacked bookstores and yard sales for the book that could give me the basics without a lot of fluff. I have everything from Cooking for Dummies to Jane Brody's Good Food Book (even Kids Cooking from Klutz Press). And, with all of those books, I find myself referencing this book before any other. Simple, clear writing, and about the right size (I found the hardback version that was reprinted in 1996). Size is pretty important, after all -- when you're cooking, it's hard to flip through pages of a tiny paperback or lug around a massive binder...but I digress.
If you are new to cooking and can't boil an egg (much less water!) or figure out what pot to use, this book is for you.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
Craig Claiborne has presented the fundamentals for "exploration" and "colonization" of the most essential room in everyone's home! The presentations are crisp and clear and every recipe or set of instructions actually works! The primer gives basic lists of tools, simple recipes, lots of explanations and inspires confidence on every page. When I was a novice in the kitchen, this book was a map and compass. Now, many years later, it is a valued reference book that contains many fundamentals. While not as comprehensive as "The Joy of Cooking", this little book deserves an early place on the kitchen bookshelf. And it is a great book to give as a gift to "start-up" cooks (such as the college grad in a first apartment)!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favorite cookbooks. I bought this book in 1980 and still have my original copy. That the pages are stained and tattered is testiomny to the many good meals I've cooked using Craig Claiborne's recipies. This book is an excellent first cookbook as it explains things very well without getting too technical. It would also make a great addition to the library of any casual cook.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lyn on June 27, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was originally my Uncle Tommy's. To me there were very few (in all of the world) that knew more about cooking then he. When I was 19 he gave me his original Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer, the first cookbook that he had ever used when he first got married to my Aunt in 1974.

If you somehow were unfortunate enough to have lived your entire life under a rock and someone threw you into a western styled kitchen, then this book would be the only thing that you need. This book is both for beginners, and for those who have an enlightened understanding of the delicate nature of food. It covers the bare science and playful nuance of food. All of the illustrations of tools were incredibly helpful for getting you situated. By starting with even the most basic dishes like omelette's, Claiborne both gives the reader insight and the food importance because even the most basic meal can be an important one.

The importance of meal, food, and how it can relate you to other people that you love, I think is captured in this very simple and straightforward-- yet elegant manner that this book is laid out. The day before my Uncle suddenly died we shared a really great meal together. What brought us all together? Food. What still makes me think of him daily is all this book is teaching me about both meal, and him.

I bought an extra copy on Amazon for my cousin. The book was in way better condition then my uncles very used, bent, and falling out pages. Hopefully we can get this "new" copy just as worn out.

Happy cooking!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Authentic Self on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an outstanding book for the beginning cook. No more dried out pork chops or dry meatloaf. Mr. Claiborne covers every detail of cooking. Unlike most cookbooks which assume you already know certain things, like how to break an egg, or how to sautee onions, he lays out all of the basics. I've always had trouble cooking and most cookbooks haven't offered any help. They have strange recipes with odd ingredients--I could never seem to find simple recipes for, say, chile or tuna casserole or baked chicken. There are always odd or exotic recipes when I just want to know how to cook a decent hamburger: what do I add to the ground beef to make it tasty and what temperature do I use to cook the patties without drying them out? I look for ground beef recipes and I see "Creole Weiners" and "Hamburger-Corn Pie". What?
The other problem with every other cookbook I've tried is that they give instructions with the assumption that you know how to do these things. For example, I remember the first time I used one cookbook recipe and the instructions said to "sautee the onions." Great, what does "sautee" mean and how do I do it? Or, make the patties and cook the burgers. On what heat? Should I coat the frying pan in butter or use a little water? You know what I'm talking about.
"Craig Claiborne's Kitchen Primer" to the rescue. He begins by listing, with pictures, the basic equipment you'll need. He follows by giving instructions on cooking basics such as the proper way to crack an egg, how to sautee onions, how to scramble an egg, even the proper way to cut up vegetables. AND his recipes are delicious and easy to prepare. His best piece of advice?
Read more ›
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