‘Cooking School’ book review

So, you want to learn how to cook. Maybe you want to learn how to be a better cook. You've tried those recipes by celebrity chefs and they don't work. You attempted to recreate grandma's favorite cake and it did not come out right.

Cooking is not just about techniques and methods. It is about making choices, many choices. Cookware, knives, stocking a pantry, gadgets, electrics, products, ingredients, spices, seasoning, groceries, and a host of other options.

Learning to cook is learning to shop, eat, and do. It is a never ending education.

Cooking is not only about the how. It is also about the why. Learning how to do something is irrelevant if you do not understand why it is done or done in a particular manner.

Good cookbooks are a must. There are three types of cookbooks, instructional, recipe, and text books. Recipe books are just that. Follow the recipes and hope you can recreate them. Text books are for professionals and schools. I own three texts and use them occasionally.

Good instructional cookbooks show you the how and why of methods, techniques, flavorings, seasoning, and use of equipment.

My favorite go to books were "The Joy of Cooking" and Jaque Pepin's Complete Techniques". "Cooking School" tops them.

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One of the best instructional cookbooks is a boat anchor that weighs in at over six pounds, "Cooking School, Everything You Need to Know to Become a Great Cook" by America's Test Kitchen.

I am a long time fan of America's Test Kitchen. I used to watch their show religiously. Now, as a subscriber, I can view their videos online.

America's Test Kitchen are the geeks, nerds, and wonks of the culinary world. They do all the research, testing, and experimentation to bring home cooks information and education they can really use.

These are not restaurant celebrity chefs trying to teach their style of cooking. Most of that never works at home. You will never cook like a restaurant chef. No matter how many times you say "Bam!" or how well you pronounce French terms, you will not cook like them.

You can come close. You can replicate a wonderful meal you had at a top chef's restaurant. Before you even attempt it you need to learn the basics, the how and why, and the little tricks to make your cooking better.

You are a home cook. You need to master basic cookery. Cooking is a craft, part science, part art. Like any other craft it must be learned and practiced.

If ever there was an encyclopedia of cooking, it is "Cooking School". The book has 2500 photographs that show in detail how do to things. There are also 600 recipes.

"Cooking School" is the ultimate how-to manual. The book is written in an easy to comprehend style. The book has 18 sections. The first section is Cooking Basics.It contains articles basic terminology, tips to improve your cooking, knife skills and care, cookwear, stocking a pantry, and many other important things you need to learn before you even step into the kitchen. This section alone is one of the handiest references to have.

The next 17 sections are "How to Cook" just about every kind of food, eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, grains, stocks, soups, salads, and baking various goods. The photographs on techniques are extensive and priceless. Everything is easy to follow.

One important component of this book is how they tweak basic recipes to make them better or easier to manage. There is also advice on what to do if you make common mistakes. How to fix is just as important as how to cook.

Follow is an important point. You must be able to follow a recipe to replicate it. This is stressed in the beginning of the book.

If you could only own or afford one cookbook, "Cooking School" should be it. It is pricey at $45. As of this writing, Amazon had it for $26 plus change. I got mine at a hefty discount through my online subscription to America's Test Kitchen.

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