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109 of 110 found the following review helpful:
Excellent reference book for beginning and advanced cooks! Dec 05, 2008
This will be a wonderful book to add to your kitchen shelf of cookbooks, whether you own a couple or hundreds, because Martha, and Company, have put everything you need to keep yourself current and educated on kitchen abilities, into one great lavish book.
Looking back at when Martha began her career in domestic-keeping instructions and education, she wanted quality in photography and instructions. Though some of the recipes back in those early days may have been a bit weak, as time has given way to insight of what her followers want, as well as now having greater access to resources, assistance, and proofing, to those who enjoy domestic skills, as many of her fans certainly do, she has come full circle, and become appreciatively demanding in clarity and instruction. This is has never been more obvious than in this latest tome.
This heavy book of 502 pages makes a excellent source of hints, tips, and instruction in the kitchen. She, and her talented staff, have brought forth one of the more definitive tomes that will be within easy reach and understanding.
As in most cookbooks and instruction manuals, you need clear photography to help bring the point across and to help you understand what is meant by a cut or slice or turn. Sharp, close photos are ladened throughout the book whether showing you veggies or herbs, meat cuts or souffles.
In addition to the "Basics" section, there are 7 complete areas of instruction, with each subsection having a few recipes in which to practice. While this book gives full education in kitchen skills, it should not be known for having all kinds of recipes; there are definitely recipes appropriate to the instruction given, but they are basics. Many of Martha's other books would be well-suited to give you a greater range of recipes in which to try your newfound or sharpened abilities.
Whether you are just starting in your kitchen skills or whether you are seasoned and want to get better, this is an excellent reference material. For those who are very advanced, you might find this repetitive, and something in the line of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" could be your next line of challenge. Martha has said that she became who she was by going through Julia's books back in her very early days.
A Cook's Golden Rules, equipment, knives, herbs, seasonings, onions, citrus. (I think that just about every kitchen tool, pot, pan, and device has been photographed as well as knife sharpening skills and veggie cuts. Herbs and seasonings of all kinds have also been neatly laid out and labeled).
STOCKS and SOUPS (how to make)
White stocks, chicken soup, brown stock, fish fumet (stock), veggie stock, dashi (Japanese stock), cream soups, pureed soups, consumme (French Onion Soup and Minestrone are group favorites and are given a pedestal to show off).
Boiling, poaching, frying, scrambling,omelet, coddling, baking, frittata (poached eggs in a artichoke cup, Huevos Rancheros are 2 offered dishes).
MEAT, FISH, & POULTRY
Roasting, grilling, braising and stews, steaming, poaching, simmering, saute and fry (diagrams of beef cuts, prime rib, cleaning shellfish, gravies, leg of lamb, setting up your grill, steamed fish en papillote are a few of the fabulous presentations in this section).
Steaming, wilting, blanching, simmer, boil, poach, roast, bake saute, fry, stir-fry, braise and stew, grill, green salads (what to look for in fresh veggies. confits, veggie tian, braised spring veggies, plus vinaigrettes and dressings to enjoy those healthy salads)
Making fresh pasta, making filled pasta shapes, gnocchi, tomato sauce, ragu, baked pasta dishes (making fresh pasta has no equal to the store-bought varieties; it's fun and a great family/friend project especially in the winter months. Tortellini, stuffed ravioli with butternut squash along with the thick and hearty sauces shown you make a perfect meal anytime!).
DRIED BEANS & GRAINS
Cooking dried beans, grains (every bean you can think of with spicy to mild flavors make for a warming bowl of comfort soups or casseroles, and rice types and their cooking times help prepare the way for pilafs and risotto's. Polenta makes its debut at the end of the chapter to be an excellent accompanyment to a meat dish).
Creaming butter, cutting butter into flour, meringues, souffles, genoise, custards making Pate a Choux, sorbets and granitas (perfecting cookies, cakes, biscuits, and pies is always the grand finale of any meal and you are given a fruit galette, a tart, some pies, a few cakes, souffles, sorbets, and puddings).
This would be a great idea for a wedding shower, first apartment celebration, a birthday gift for a cooking/baking guru, or anyone who just enjoys reading all things "kitchen". Well done, Martha, as well as your wonderful staff of Sarah, Marcus, and Ditte!
210 of 223 found the following review helpful:
Indispensable for Beginners through Mid-Level Cooks Oct 22, 2008
By Norma Lehmeierhartie
Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook is an indispensable cooking guide for beginners through mid-level cooks. By mid-level, I am referring to anyone who cooks but is not adept at the various cooking techniques or one with a firm understanding of how and what tools to use in the kitchen.
As a former caterer and chef, I see that many people lack basic cooking skills. This book does a fantastic job of teaching the skill--Stewart provides clear instructions and the accompanying photographs makes the job of learning how to cook seem simple. (And cooking is fairly simple...you just need to practice--and get good guidance!)
The book is stunning in its layout and with impeccable photography throughout. The photographs alone would entice even the most reluctant beginner to jump in and learn to cook!
Cooking School begins with the basics--what cooking supplies to stock in your kitchen. Stewart believes in keeping things simple and she lists the basic equipment to do the job. Also included are knife sharpening tips and much more. Here again, the photos assist in the show and tell method of this book.
The remainder of the book is divided as follows:
* Stocks and dips
* Meat, fish and poultry
* Dried beans and grains
Each section provides cooking techniques and recipes, many of which are classics.
This is a wonderful book to buy yourself or anyone who wants to learn to cook--or to cook better. I bought a copy for my niece as a housewarming present!
By the author of the award winning book, HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT: BEAUTIFY, DETOXIFY & ENERGIZE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HOME & YOUR PLANET.
376 of 416 found the following review helpful:
Not For The Beginner Cook, Too High End. Nov 14, 2008
My thoughts are if you're a beginning cook then this is too high end a book for you. I'm not saying that to be mean but I'm saying it because a beginner would be too intimidated by Martha Stewart's style. A beginner needs "How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart" by Pam Anderson, or even better, "Betty Crocker Basics: How to Cook and Entertain with Confidence (Betty Crocker Books)". Another great one but it has no photos is "Saving Dinner Basics: How to Cook Even If You Don't Know How" by Leanne Ely. All of which are books that teach beginners how to begin cooking. These books tell you how to make, cut, chop, dice and then actually give you the recipe so you can do all that step-by-step while preparing a complete meal. Which is what we need for everyday to bring families back to the dinner table.
I have all 4 cookbooks and by far would turn to the "Betty Crocker Basics" over and over. This Martha Stewart book (while I am a Martha fan) gives you instructions for making your own lemon curd, Cassoulet, Pate a Choux, court bouillon, etc. I just don't see a beginning cook tackling these dishes.
This book is for making scrambled eggs with caviar in eggshell cups which is on page 87. And for steaming eggs inside artichokes and making homemade Hollandaise Sauce which is on page 83. And making Fish Fumet from scratch, page 55. And Duck Confit, page 232. The list goes on and on.
This book is published in the typical Martha Stewart fashion. It has beautiful photographs, heavy weight pages, the book is 503 pages so it is huge and overboard on everything. But if you really want real recipes and real cooking lessons and real everyday meals, turn to the other three books I mentioned. If you had to choose I'd start with the Betty Crocker Basics, it has pictures and clear instructions. It also has a complete entertaining section so if you do need a fancy recipe they're in there. The other two I recommended don't have pictures.
I also have "How To Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman but I would pass on that one as well.
I just don't know that this is for the real home cook, and if you're a Martha Stewart type cook then you already know how to do most of these dishes. Good luck and Happy Cooking. I hope this helps.
42 of 44 found the following review helpful:
Very accessible cookbook with a lot of useful features Nov 07, 2008
By Steven A. Peterson
A while back, I purchased "The Martha Stewart Cookbook." It had many recipes, some of which I tried. The one issue I had was that it was a higher end cookbook in that amateur chefs would not, to my mind, find a lot of the recipes something that they would want to take on. This volume is much more accessible to would be chefs at all levels of expertise. This book has a different focus. As Stewart says (Page vi): "This book has been designed and written as a course of study, very much like a college course on chemistry. . . ." The front cover says that this "is the new gold standard for everyone who truly wants to know his or her way around the kitchen."
The first section is termed "Basics." For the person who is early in their "cooking career," this is most useful. The first couple pages are "A Cook's Golden Rules." One which I have come to find most useful after a lot of harrowing efforts without the proper preparation: "Get in the habit of doing what the French call 'mise en place,' or preparing your ingredients. . .before beginning a recipe. I have come to depend on about ten little glass containers that I have, putting, for example, time in one, garlic in another, and so on. When the recipe calls for an ingredient, it's already measured and ready to go. Then, key pieces of equipment that the would-be chef would need, such as saucepans, a wok, cookie sheets, wire racks, basic tools such as slotted spoons. Then, on to knives, herbs, and seasonings. There is more, but that gives a sense.
Then, on to recipes. I have come to depend on chicken stock as an adjunct to many recipes. On pages 41 and 42, Stewart shows one how to make stock. The second segment on recipes features eggs. Stewart does a nice job of describing how one should prepare eggs. And there is a nice recipe for an herb-filled omelet on pages 87-89. I have tried this and it is tasty and pretty easy to make. Also nice is a set of variations on the basic recipe.
The section on meats and poultry and fish provides discussion of different cuts (Pages 102-104) and temperatures to which you should cook meats (Page 109). One illustrative recipe is grilled side of salmon. Ingredients include salmon fillets, lemons, oranges, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper. The salmon fillets are grilled over a bed of the fruit. I haven't yet made this, but will do so in the near future. This really jumps off the page to me.
On pages 288-293, Stewart gives us information on what to look for when you buy vegetables (e.g., avoid yellowing Brussels sprouts). Then, some nice vegetable recipes, one of which I have tried and enjoyed, steamed asparagus and bok choy with soy-ginger vinaigrette.
And if you like desserts (I like but try to avoid!), there is a nice section displaying a variety of possibilities.
In short, I really like this book. Lots of solid ideas about how to learn your way around a kitchen and a grocery store and clearly presented recipes.
26 of 28 found the following review helpful:
a little disappointed Aug 12, 2010
By Amazon Customer
I was a little bit disappointed with this cookbook. I had wanted to get it for so long that I just caved. I consider myself a beginner to intermiediate cook but there were a lot of techniques and recipes that a beginner would be intimidated by. I expected to see things like homemade meatballs and bread and all the tips and techinques that go along with it. Instead of that there were recipes for things like duck and rabbit and caviar topped egg cups. I don't even think there is a place anywhere near me that sells caviar let alone duck. However, there are a few recipes I would like to try such as homemade angel food cake. Another thing I liked about the book is how it discribed the herbs and what they worked best with and what they tasted like. If I could do it all over again. I would have checked it out from a library instead of buying it.
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