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Cooking: 600 Recipes, 1500 Photographs, One Kitchen Education Hardcover – October 1, 2007
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Put simply, Cooking is a revelation. No other cookbook so deftly illustrates as broad a scope of classic culinary methods and flavors as you'll find here. As a veteran chef and award-winning cookbook author, James Peterson is uniquely qualified to take food lovers into the modern kitchen and turn them into passionate, precise, intuitive cooks. What's most impressive about a book of this breadth and size (540 pages and 600 recipes, brought to life with 1500 vivid color photographs) is how accessible and fun it is to read. Every recipe in Cooking sings with a deep knowledge of the ingredients at hand, encouraging cooks not just to follow the recipe but to really understand and relish in the process, and the result is a terrific turn-to reference for any cook seeking inspired instruction. --Anne Bartholomew
Luscious Recipes from Cooking
Braised Short Ribs
Classic French Apple Tart
From Publishers Weekly
Peterson's masterful survey of kitchen skills is a refreshing dose of tradition for anyone weary of quick-and-simple recipe books. The substantial volume is replete with step-by-step color photos, often 10 to 15 per recipe or process, that show the stages of a steak's doneness or how to make napoleons. The immense store of recipes to learn by is arranged partly by course and partly by main ingredient, with each section proceeding through many of his 10 basic techniques. Peterson is careful to include a range of dishes for every skill level, and cooks with any amount of experience will appreciate the numerous boxes that highlight preparation tips and tricks. Dominated by recipes like Fish Meunière and Boeuf à la Bourguignonne and with a prodigious chapter on sauces, the book feels like an old-fashioned French culinary education slightly updated with some nominally international dishes (Lamb Korma, Chiles Rellenos with Tomatillo Sauce), an attribute that may turn off some modern-minded cooks, but will reward those keen to absorb Peterson's deep knowledge of food and well-honed explanations for how best to prepare it. Color photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
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Top customer reviews
However, on going back recently, I have realized that I definitely missed something the first time around. Sauces is a truly remarkable reference; this is far less grand in scale, but considering the ubiquity of diagrams and illustrative photos, it is immensely more reader-friendly -- which would be absolutely invaluable to someone new to the culinary arts. Combined with Peterson's depth of knowledge and powers of expression, this book should be the first or second stop for aspiring home cooks.
Many common processes are mapped out photographically, from trimming various cuts of meat to preparing many sauces and the various ways to cut vegetables. The book presents many great recipes, but its true strength -- as it seems to be with all of this author's work -- lies in the clear and consistent description of what exactly you're doing, why it needs to be done and how else you might do it if you were so inclined.
I am not new to the kitchen, and I still get excited to try new things (or revisit old ones) based on this book; a very advanced student of cooking would not get much utility out of it, but I am confident that the vast majority of casual cooks will find many hours of giddiness in these pages.
Splendid Soups was all I could want from it, Sauces was less so, because it was aimed more at professional chefs (which means a.o. large quantities made in advance) than at the amateur home cook.
Fortunately Cooking adheres to the tradition of Splendid Soups. The recipes are very well doable for amateurs, not all of them rely on expensive ingredients and the supporting photographs are a real help and a pleasure just to look at.
As a European buyer I have two minor points of criticism: Some of the recipes are not really suited for users this side of the ocean because problematic availability of ingrdients, and it would be a real help if the ingrdients were not only measured in cups and spoons, and for that matter puonds and ounces, but also (in parentheses) in grams and liters. But probably non-American users were not the primary audiense of mr. Peterson.
In total: a prime item on my cookbook shelf, and, also not unimportant, at a very reasonable cost.
Peterson's approach is no nonsense, modern and worldy; many of us view Hot and Sour Soup, Chile Rillenos or Indian Chutney as everyday eating out staples, and if we like the presentation or want to "shoot" the chef in action, our cell phones are on the ready. This then is the sheer genius of the work. Peterson teaches, with simple instructions and copius "how to" color photos (1500), both basic and advanced principles and then gives us recipes (600) tips and techniques that employ these skills for an evolving everyday mastery of more than just basic french cuisine. Beginners can easily master fluffy omelettes, linguine with clam sauce or thai curry. More advanced cooks can go for terrine of foie gras or croissants from scratch. Even the holiday only cook can find out how to roast turkey and get a carmelized crust for the gravy- how many once in while cooks get treated to those kinds of tips? Everything seems so accessible!
To be sure other texts offer more in depth text and picture coverage of specific areas (Rinehart's 'Bread Bakers Apprentice' or Pepin's 'Technique/Methode' with instructions for the arduous but rewarding 48hr. meat glaze are good examples). And there are more genuinely encyclopedic books of great value- James Beard's 'American Cookery' comes to mind. Still, with numerous alternative recommendations to the recipes, this book covers a vast canvas of modern cookery. We even get a colored pictorial "degree of doneness" guide to steak "bleu" showing 90 degrees all the way through to medium well at 145. Your guests will be fascinated choosing their "color" and will leave your home knowing what temperature they like!
One glaring deficiency is that Peterson does not provide US or metric weight measurements to more easily execute and scale recipes- a major disappointment. Another early complaint- I've only had this book two weeks but have already spent many hours with it reading and cooking- is that Peterson tells his audience that plain jane salt is "fine" for regular use when even the most novice cook should be instructed to use Kosher salt (at minimum) for reduced salinity and increased control. I know- get a life!
In summary, the beauty of this book more than any I've seen is that rather than showing us how to prepare a fish dish, Peterson teaches us how to fish (figuratively). This fundamental skill development, so available at both the novice and advanced levels, across so many genres of food, is what makes this work a "budding" classic. Peterson is no stranger to James Beard Foundation and other awards. And as there are only two reviews on Amazon at 31 December, we can see just how new and relatively undiscovered this work is(published 2007).
I have ordered copies of this for my children, nieces and nephews. They are aware of my obsessions, as well as the the smells and tastes of my kitchen, and so too have begun gravitating toward more adventurous eating and cooking. What a great introduction to the joys of mastering a broad array of culinary skills, from the how to's of vinagrettes, starters and sauces, through meats, fish, veggies, eggs and souffles, complemented with a surprisngly strong take on breads, pies, pastries, and cakes. 'Cookbook' is the single best of its kind. A real winner.
Most recent customer reviews
You can't go wrong wit James Peterson