Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Review: Martha Stewart's Cooking School

Martha Stewart's Cooking School by Martha Stewart

From publisher:
"Imagine having Martha Stewart at your side in the kitchen, teaching you how to hold a chef’s knife, select the very best ingredients, truss a chicken, make a perfect pot roast, prepare every vegetable, bake a flawless pie crust, and much more.

In Martha Stewart’s Cooking School, you get just that: a culinary master class from Martha herself, with lessons for home cooks of all levels.

Never before has Martha written a book quite like this one. Arranged by cooking technique, it’s aimed at teaching you how to cook, not simply what to cook. Delve in and soon you’ll be roasting, broiling, braising, stewing, sautéing, steaming, and poaching with confidence and competence. In addition to the techniques, you’ll find more than 200 sumptuous, all-new recipes that put the lessons to work, along with invaluable step-by-step photographs to take the guesswork out of cooking. You’ll also gain valuable insight into equipment, ingredients, and every other aspect of the kitchen to round out your culinary education."

I say if you don't know how to cook at all and are intimated by Martha Stewart- first go to Betty Crocker. But if you are ready to move up and beyond then this is the book for you. Just don't let not being able to cook stop you from picking this book up as you will learn so much with it.

I know a lot of people don't like anything Martha Stewart's does. I know she can be intimidating and scary. But this book is fantastic. First and for most the information is amazing. Next the photography is beautiful and supports the information in a wonderful pairing. This book covers some basics but also takes things a step beyond to help you understand how to cook which will ultimately make you a better cook.

The books covers:
  • Equipment lists that tell you everything from a loaf pan to a dutch oven to a spider (which is wide shallow mesh skimmer with a long handle great for removing food from hot oil or boiling water).
  • It gives you a run down on knives and what they do and how to care for them.
  • Shows how to do basic vegetable cuts and more special cuts like the lozenge which is to cut them into thin slices and then stack the slices and cut into strips. Making cuts on the diagonally to achieve a diamond shape.
  • The book covers some basic herbs: how to wash, store, cook and few other tips for them.
  • It has a several pages on just onions. Photos of the different kinds, how to peel, slice, cut, chop, saute, caramelize the various kinds.
  • Making stock from a basic chicken stock to how to make a consomme or cream soup. It not only tell you how to make them but a glossary of terms and tips.
  • Eggs - how to boil, poach, coddle, make a frittata and so on.
  • Meat, Fish and Poultry - It has charts to show what each cut of meat and how to buy. It shows how not only how to roast, grill saute, braise, stew and many other things to create the perfect meat dish but also shows how to tie a roast, stuff a turkey, get charcoal ready for a grill, how to carve a duck and many other techniques.
  • Vegetables - how to steam, wilt, simmer, saute, grill, make a green salad and many other ways to cook vegetables. It also has a buying guide what to look for, what to avoid, storage and cooking method.
  • Pasta - how to make fresh pasta, gnocchi, sauce, baked pasta dishes and several other things.
  • Dried Beans and Grains - how to cook and varieties of beans and grains

And finally....
  • Dessert - how to cream butter, cut butter into flour, make meringue, a souffle, sorbet and many many other things. It include a chart showing a variety of berries and stone fruits

PLUS all that throughout the whole book there are recipes upon recipes....from gourmet to just basic comfort food

Minestrone Soup
Squash and Goat Cheese Frittata
Chicken Piccata
Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Creamed Spinach
Herbed Rosti with Wild Mushrooms
Glazed Turnips
Gnocchi with Basil Pesto
Rice Pilaf
Double Crusted Apple Pie
Creme Brulee
Poached Apricots
Yellow Buttercake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

It is a beautiful book with a wealth of information that I think anyone serving someone who likes to eat and enjoys food should have in their kitchen.


  1. Any particular recipe from there that you recommend?

  2. I have been thinking about this and going through the cookbook but to decide and really it isn't one recipe. But the techniques that I really enjoyed. Very thorough on the photos and steps of how-to...make an omelet, fillet a fish, carve a turkey, make risotto, make french fries, truss a chicken, make fresh pasta, frost a cake, roast a leg of lamb, make ice cream, deglaze a pan and so on. It just had so many great techniques that can be used everyday.



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