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Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft (Notes on...) Hardcover – June 1, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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)
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From Library Journal

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: RCR Creative Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0972425519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0972425513
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Right on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Notes on Cooking" is just a perfect book. It's well-written, concise, informative, interesting and entertaining all at the same time. I'm not a professional cook, but I do like to cook when I have time. The tips in this must-have treasure are priceless. How could I not have known some of these things, like where to store raw vs. cooked meat in the fridge? Plus all the insider tips from professional kitchens made me feel so in-the-know. I'm giving copies of this to everyone. As a mom of young kids, I don't have time to take a cooking class now, but this book has taught me more than I could hope to learn in one. It is truly essential for anyone who prepares food in any way, from pb&j to gourmet restaurant meals. Plus it takes two seconds to read. Perfect!
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Format: Hardcover
I saw an early copy of this book and the finished book delivers on every promise the cover makes and reviews note. It is pithy-yet-deep, eminently readable, and remarkably comprehensive without being overbearing. The voice of the book is a mixture of benevolent grandmother and master chef spiced with a delightful dose of nun with a switch. I may, as they encourage, find my own way but I will heed their notes in many places. (Do I really need to put bacon in a cold pan? I will now!) But while the Strunk & White analogy is appropriate, to me Notes on Cooking is much closer to Jim Collins' Good to Great. Strunk & White gives you an excellent road map for writing but when using the book it doesn't matter if you're a good writer. Notes on Cooking gives you and excellent road map for cooking and will surely help the novice cook but it will captivate and advance the craft of those of us who are already good and even great in the kitchen. I admit, I was skeptical - I mean who needs more rules right? Plus I know how to cook. Nope. This book had me at hello and inspires me to do what the last note says, "always be cooking."
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Format: Hardcover
I read the first book in this series, NOTES ON DIRECTING, with extreme pleasure, so when I saw there was a second in the series on COOKING, I was surprised and intrigued. And upon reading it, I was more than delighted. On the surface, directing and cooking may seem to be as similar as chalk and cheese, but after the first few pages it became clear that these two books were both designed to serve a common purpose: to impart basic, practical wisdom in a bright, consistently compelling style. NOTES ON COOKING is an ideal gift for anyone who cooks (or eats!), and I'm making a list of friends who I know will welcome this addition to their culinary bookshelves. I'm also looking forward to the next volume in this unique and surprising "Notes on ..." series.
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Format: Hardcover
Reading "Notes on Cooking," I imagine myself sitting at Lauren Braun Costello's proverbial kitchen table, listening, agreeing, learning. I am connecting to the author's prose in a way that rarely happens outside of fiction for me. I LIKE the voice I read, trust it inherently as a voice of authority and culinary leadership -- I find myself wanting to know the author more, ask her questions, get this expert's praise for my omelettes and roast chickens (LOL). I am connecting in a powerful way with this little book, and can't wait to buy it for friends and family, to share the nuggets so elegantly and tenderly contained within. This is the kind of book I would give to my daughter when she moved into her first apartment. It is simply essential.

Now, I could have merely written how much I "love" it or how "great" it is, but this is viscerally sincere. "Notes on Cooking" is filled with the guidance and directional confessions of a mentor who's "been there," of a godmother or your favorite aunt who "just happens" to also be a chef.

It's GOOD, and I am so thrilled to have discovered it when I still have time to transform the way I approach food, approach cooking.
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Format: Hardcover
Short, to the point, and very smart...Notes on Cooking is a must-own for the dedicated home cook, seasoned professional, or anyone who wants to hone their craft in the kitchen. As a professional chef, I found that it made me excited all over again about what I do day to day;it reminded me why I love being in the kitchen so much, and reinforced the basics that I may have strayed from over the years. It sifts through Ms. Braun Costello's years of being a chef, and boils down that experience to its essential core. The reader gets so much clear, undiluted information in a short span of pages. I guarantee that after reading Notes on Cooking- your food, and your outlook in the kitchen will improve for the better!
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Format: Hardcover
The succinct and reference-like format is wonderful, especially for those of us with limited reading and leisure time. This is a great gift for anyone who is interested in improving their cooking - whether a novice or experienced cook. If you have culinary training, the book is a gentle reminder about so many practices that may have fallen out of your daily routine, i.e. continual sharpening of knives. Even for the professionally trained there are a number of "who knew?" items, in particular the one about using a cold pan for melting butter.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a culinary gem and an instant classic. "Notes on Cooking" is for cooks what Strunk & White's "Elements of Style"is for writers: a compact, concise, succinct, timeless and well-written guide about honing your craft and making you think like a professional. Anyone serious about home cooking should own this book because it gives you the tools to be competent and confident in the kitchen. It's like having Julia Child by your side. I love the no nonsense voice of the authors. They lead you by the hand like all great cookbook writers and teach you with authority and passion. I highly recommend this book!
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