Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Book Review: Notes on Cooking

I read Notes on Cooking from start to finish while sitting in a bookstore. Then, of course, I bought it. Later, I bought another copy as a gift for my Dad. That’s how great it is.

This clear, little book explains everything from understanding a recipe to straining stock to presenting your dish. The authors’ approach makes it seem possible to cook almost anything and enjoy it while you do. Here’s a great example from the chapter on temperature:

86. Never jump food more than one temperature state at a time.

There are four functional temperature states: 1) frozen, 2) cold, 3) room temperature, 4)warm or hot.

When you move food from one state to another (in either direction), don’t skip over a temperature state by, for instance, taking a roast directly from the refrigerator to the oven, or from the oven to the refrigerator. Only one state can change at a time.

Perfectly reasonable, understandable and helpful, right? The entire book is like that. I learned so much reading it.

When I teach writing, I remind the students how important it is to read. Read widely and read regularly. When you read something that you know in your heart you wish you wrote, you’ve come upon something great that you can learn from. I wish I knew enough to sit down and write Notes on Cooking. Luckily, Lauren Braun Costello and Russell Reich did. And you can read it, too. 

For more, see the Notes on Cooking website


Jenny said...

But wait -- what about taking foods (i.e. my pop tarts) straight from the freezer to the oven, which is what the recipe calls for...? Then you're skipping over a number of temperature states. Uh-oh...

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

You're the chef, my friend. Perhaps the rules differ for pastries? What do you think?

Jenny said...

Will have to meditate on that. But the whole frozen food industry is based on freezer to oven. Maybe that's why it's often not very good. And don't get me started on the microwave...!

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

That sounds just about right on both counts... usually. Not your pop tarts. (I mostly use the microwave as a place to pile other things...)