Notes On Cooking – A Short Guide to an Essential Craft

July 23, 2009 1 Comment

Notes On Cooking – A Short Guide to an Essential Craft

On Reading A Recipe -

Turn off the television, don’t answer the phone, just sit and read it through. Make a mental inventory of the sort of equipment you need, the cooking techniques required, the ingredients you have on hand. Note the stages of preparation, and get a sense of appropriate timings.

This is the kind of sage advice you find in Lauren Braun Costello’s new book called Notes on Cooking – A Short Guide to an Essential Craft. The quote above comes from her chapter on Understanding the Recipe and is exactly the advice I try to give my readers at The Reluctant Gourmet web site and the Reluctant Gourmet blog all the time. Lauren just says it a little more succinctly than I do.

This is not a book full of wordy chapters but instead there are 217 short “notes on cooking,” like above, each filled with culinary insight that can help you be a better home cook. Here’s another one I like in The Cook’s Role chapter:

Work from your Strength. Don’t try to master everything. Become known for a few dishes, perhaps even the near perfection of one. Discover your obsession, then make yourself a slave to it: the mastery of a traditional dish, the combination of ingredients that have never before met, precision in presentation, devotion to a culinary heritage, the introduction of color where it never before existed.

Isn’t that just great advice?

The other 215 “notes” are broken down in categories titled:

  • Tools & Equipment
  • Procurement & Storage
  • Mise en Place
  • Building Blocks
  • Temperature
  • Pantry
  • Stocks & Sauces
  • Produce
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Meat
  • Bread & Pastry
  • Dairy & Eggs
  • Wine & Spirits
  • Repairing Food
  • Presentation

The author, Lauren Braun Costello, developed her skills under some of the world’s most renowned chefs and is now a private chef and food stylist for television shows including The Early Show, The View and CNN’s dLife.

Lauren is a graduate of from The French Culinary Institute where she received a Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts with distinction and was awarded a Les Dames d’Escoffier Scholarship. Boy do I hope Lauren reads this and wants to be interviewed for my Novice2Pro page.

Dorothy Hamilton, the founder and CEO of The French Culinary Institute in New York City, wrote the Afterword. It’s short, just like the “notes” Lauren presents us, but if you are a foodie like me, her words will hit home.

In the marketing material sent to me with Notes On Cooking, Chef Lauren says, “There is a bounty of exceptionally good recipes out there. But the best recipes alone do not teach much. They just outline a procedure. We wanted to fill the gap. We wanted each reader to turn to any page in our book, follow any one of the notes and become a better, wiser, more skilled cook.”

I like that.

The reviews for Notes On Cooking come from some pretty big names in the industry.

  • Jacques Pepin says, “Concise, focused and sensible…full of useful advice.”
  • Chef Daniel Boulud says “Indispensable advice, experience, and know-how. A superb addition to the library of any passionate cook.”
  • One of my favorite cookbook authors, James Peterson says “An abundance of tips, ideas and caveats. the list of food adjectives is one I’ll refer to myself and the list of recommendations is indispensable. the food airings are the most insightful I’ve ever seen. Work well done.”

Not bad press from the heavy hitters of the culinary industry.  Me, I keep a copy on my bed stand so I can read a few “notes” each night before going to sleep so I have dreams about cooking.

Let me leave you with one more “note” from Notes On Cooking -

On Repairing Foods

Dull Food? -

Brighten with acid or salt. Enrich with fat. Restaurants use animal fat and salt to enhance flavor. Vinegar, lemon jice, finishing oils, butter, and sugar are also old standbys.

 

Last modified on Tue 10 December 2013 5:13 am

Filed in: Cookbook Reviews

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Brie says:

    thanks for sharing another great book! i’ll add it to my growing list of must reads for the culinary world.

    i just discovered your site and am enjoying reading through your posts. there is a lot of great information here. thanks!

Leave a Reply

Culinary Schools

Ice Cream Sundays

Strawberry Chocolate with Almonds Gelato Recipe

Strawberry Chocolate with Almonds Gelato Recipe

Strawberry Chocolate with Almonds Gelato Recipe On a recent trip to State College, PA, my wife stopped at Tait Farms to pick up some local products including a Strawberry Dark Chocolate Sauce that my daughter thought would be a great ingredient to try in a new gelato or ice cream. I also had some Dark […]

August 13, 2014 0 Comments
Chocolate Trail Mix Ice Cream

Chocolate Trail Mix Ice Cream

How About Some Chocolate Ice Cream with a Bit of Trail Mix While I was down in the basement working out, I heard my youngest daughter upstairs in the kitchen preparing something.  My daughter has cerebral palsy and uses a walker to get around so I could hear the wheels rolling back and forth as […]

July 25, 2014 5 Comments
Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Hot Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

 We Used Starbucks Hot Chocolate Mix For This One Maddie and I were thinking about making some homemade ice cream and since chocolate is her favorite, we thought we would give that a try. I looked in the recipe book that came with my new Cuisinart Ice Cream Gelato Maker and found a basic recipe […]

July 10, 2014 0 Comments
Strawberry Gelato Recipe

Strawberry Gelato Recipe

Fresh Seasonal Strawberries Make For Great Gelato By now you know I am the proud owner of a Cuisinart Commercial Quality Ice Cream & Gelato Maker given to me by my neighbors Bob and Barbara for my recent birthday and I’ve been experimenting with it to learn how to make great homemade ice cream and […]

June 29, 2014 0 Comments
Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato

Difference Between Ice Cream and Gelato

What’s the Difference Between Ice Cream & Gelato I celebrated a big birthday at the beginning of the month and my wife invited some friends over including my neighbor who gave me a Cuisinart Commercial Quality Ice Cream & Gelato Maker (ICE-100) as a birthday present.  This past weekend, my youngest daughter and I put […]

June 20, 2014 5 Comments

Reluctant Gourmet’s Top Tip Lists

Check Out My RG Cooking Cartoons

css.php