Title: The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Notices into Fearless Home Cooks
Author: Kathleen Flinn
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.
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