on December 14, 2012
This book is intended for people with little or no cooking experience. I bought it for a friend of mine who loves Southern food, knows almost nothing about cooking, and says that he wants to learn how to cook. It is the perfect book for that type of person. The photos and information make cooking seem inviting and easy, rather than intimidating. The book is divided into three main sections covering basic background information, methods, and recipes.
Approximately the first hundred pages provide basic information on kitchen equipment, ingredients, and prep work. These sections include attractive yet informative photographs. The accompanying descriptions are clear, organized, and easy to understand. The chapter on kitchen equipment covers specific types of cookware, bakeware, knives, tools, electrical appliances, barware, and table settings. It includes a picture of each item, a description of what it is used for, and what to look for when buying one. The chapter on ingredients follows a similar format. Again, each item has a picture and a description of how it is typically used in cooking. Information is included on spices, sugars, salts, vinegars, fats/oils, grains, nuts/seeds, cheeses, beans, vegetables, fresh herbs, fruits, meats/fish, and wines. It is very thorough and covers just about every ingredient that would be encountered in Southern cooking. For example, the cheeses are divided into categories (fresh, blue, soft, melting, grilling, and grating), and a total of 39 types of cheese are pictured and described. The chapter on prep work includes definitions of common terms (chop, dice, julienne, etc.) and goes on to provide specific instructions (with photos) for common tasks. For example, how to peel and core and apple, cut up a chicken, separate eggs, and blanch vegetables.
The methods section covers baking, boiling, braising, frying, grilling, roasting, sautéing, and steaming. Recipes are included to help illustrate each method. Photos and detailed instructions help guide the cook through the process. This section is much like a normal cookbook, except with more detailed instructions and step-by-step photos of the cooking process.
The final section of the book includes more recipes, intended to be used by someone who has become more comfortable with cooking, and no longer needs step-by-step photos or highly detailed instructions. It includes a nice, balanced selection of recipes with a focus on Southern types of food. Photos are included for some recipes.
Overall, I think this book is great choice for someone with little or no experience in the kitchen.