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Review: ‘The Kitchen Counter Cooking School’ by Kathleen Flinn

Review: ‘The Kitchen Counter Cooking School’ by Kathleen Flinn post image

Title: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Notices into Fearless Home Cooks
Author: Kathleen Flinn
Genre: Nonfiction
Year: 2011
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★★☆

Review: Fresh from her stint at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris (chronicled in her first memoir, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry) author/chef Kathleen Flinn isn’t sure where her path leads. The idea for her next project comes after a chance encounter in the grocery store. Flinn notices a woman filling her cart full of processed foods. When she gets up the nerve to ask the customer about it, Flinn discovers that the customer wants to eat better, but feels overwhelmed choosing and preparing healthier options.

Lightning strike! Flinn decides her next adventure will be to set up a basic cooking school for home cooks that want to do more and cook better, but don’t have the basic skills to get started. The Kitchen Counter Cooking School is an account of Flinn’s first class, and offers practical advice on everything from basic knife skills to reading recipes to developing flavors to getting the most out of every grocery dollar.

The one word I can think to describe this book is “comforting.” As a wannabe foodie myself, I think I pretty well fit the profile of most of the people in Flinn’s first class. Reading about their challenges and successes made me feel like I too could move beyond the few dishes I know how to make well to being a cook that can improvise and make a meal out of the leftovers in my fridge in no time flat.

I loved that Flinn included recipes for the dishes she taught in the class, as well as tips for how to start improvising with simple foods like dressings and marinades. It also helps that Flinn has organized the book around some of an amateur cook’s biggest challenges — What do I do with the very specific leftovers from a recipe? How can I save money cooking? What are ways to choose the best products? What does “season to taste” even mean?

This is not a book that will have much useful information for an expert cook or someone who is comfortable in the kitchen. But for those of us with limited skill but a desire to learn, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School could be just the book to get started with.

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sara (wordyevidenceofthefact) January 30, 2012, 7:42 am

    Glad you enjoyed this one! As a possibly more experienced cook, I’ll say I still learned much from it and thought it was useful for advancing folks who might be comfortable in the kitchen but who don’t stray far from recipes. See my full review here:


    • Kim February 4, 2012, 11:00 am

      That’s a good perspective, thanks! I can’t imagine being a person who strays from recipes, but I imagine I could get there someday.

  • Vasilly January 30, 2012, 10:25 am

    Great review, Kim! I started this book months ago but had problems with my e-reader and never finished it. Now I know I need to go back to it.

    • Kim February 4, 2012, 11:00 am

      Yes, I think so! I liked it a lot.

  • Andi January 30, 2012, 10:37 am

    Sooo want to read this one. It does sound like it would be a comforting, cozy type read.

  • Kailana January 30, 2012, 12:26 pm

    Sounds like a worthwhile read for me. I definitely have limited skills…

  • Belle Wong January 30, 2012, 1:09 pm

    Something very similar happened with my sister, who loves to cook. She started talking with someone at the grocery store, and ended up giving that person cooking classes – only hers were one-on-one. This sounds like an interesting read!

    • Kim February 4, 2012, 11:00 am

      Can you sister come hang out with me? That’s awesome.

  • Joy Weese Moll January 30, 2012, 1:43 pm

    I love whipping up salad dressings!

  • Lynne January 31, 2012, 9:47 am

    Just read this and loved it. I feel like she wrote it just for me!

  • Pam January 31, 2012, 11:08 am

    I really enjoyed The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, so I will definitely pick this one up as well. I never know what to do with leftovers!!!

    • Kim February 4, 2012, 11:01 am

      Me either. That might be the hardest thing. Or, with random leftover ingredients after I make a recipe… I hate that.

  • christa @ mental foodie January 31, 2012, 9:13 pm

    I have this book on TBR, glad to here this is good! I’m in the same boat 🙂

  • Christy (A Good Stopping Point) February 2, 2012, 8:39 pm

    I’m what Sara above would call “comfortable in the kitchen but who don’t stray far from recipes” so I like the sounds of this book. I’m especially interested in the tips for dealing with the very specific leftover ingredients as this is a problem I have almost every time I try a new dish. Then I end up having a bunch of random stuff in the (small) pantry and fridge.

    • Kim February 4, 2012, 11:01 am

      Yes, me too. I love to try new recipes, but hate ending up with half containers of strange food that I can’t deal with. This happens all the time.

  • Trish February 3, 2012, 12:47 pm

    After seeing so many positive things about this one I decided to use it for my family’s group read of 2012 (mom, sisters, myself). I think I might even talk Scott into reading it. I like the idea of this book being “comforting” and making some of the ideas a little more accessible. Sometimes we think we’re doing things the easy way but the “hard” way really isn’t as hard as well think!

    • Kim February 4, 2012, 11:02 am

      That’s cool, I hope your family enjoys it. I think it could spark some great conversation about cooking tips and techniques from more and less experience home cooks.

  • Lisa February 5, 2012, 8:15 pm

    I’m actually pretty comfortable in the kitchen and even for me there was a lot to be learned from this one. Of course, I always love to have the new recipes and easy tips and it never hurts to be reminded that good food and be cost effective if you stop wasting so much.

    • Kim February 9, 2012, 7:54 pm

      That’s good to hear, thanks for sharing! I’m glad to see this is a book that can grow a bit.