Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen

Do you want to eat really well—not just once in a while, but all the time—but you don't know where to begin?

Are you tired of pizza—as much as you like it—and broke from buying takeout?

Do you love good food—the straightforward, homemade kind—but feel challenged to set up a kitchen, shop for decent equipment and groceries, and tap into a few basic skills that can put a simple roast chicken or vegetarian entree on your dinner table?

If you answer "yes" to these questions, then
Get Cooking is for you. Get Cooking is the first book from bestselling cookbook author Mollie Katzen designed specifically for beginners, whether you are just starting to cook for yourself or trying to kick the restaurant habit. Unlike most cookbooks, the goal of Get Cooking is to get you in the kitchen, no matter what your experience level might be.

Illustrated throughout with color photographs of each dish,
Get Cooking gives you clear, step-by-step instructions for making everything from classic mashed potatoes to Broccoli–Cheddar Cheese Calzones to Hot Fudge Sundaes (with homemade hot fudge!). With this book, anyone—you included—can make delicious, fresh food, with a lot less expense (and a lot more satisfaction) than ordering in.

You may know Mollie Katzen as the author of such famous cookbooks as
Moosewood Cookbook or The Enchanted Broccoli Forest; Get Cooking has all of the accessibility and personal warmth of those beloved books, but it is Mollie's first cookbook for vegetarians and omnivores alike. You will learn how to make North African Red Lentil Soup, Linguine with Spinach and Peas, and Chickpea and Mango Curry—and also Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, Spinach Lasagna, and Steak Fajitas.

Get Cooking in hand, you'll be serving everything from salads (such as Wilted Spinach Salad with Hazelnuts, Goat Cheese, and Golden Raisins) to desserts (try the Cheesecake Bars), with stops along the way for party snacks, a full array of side dishes, and a brilliant assortment of handcrafted burgers (bean, tofu, and mushroom—as well as beef, turkey, and tuna). Here at last is the cookbook that will make a cook out of everyone.

Received from the publisher for review.

First of all, this is a basic cookbook for anyone who has never been in the kitchen with their mother or grandmother for more than five minutes or watched the Food Network. It covers everything from the very, very basics such as a wedge of lettuce with dressing, to the more complex Green Pea and Feta Quiche. It is a good introduction to the kitchen for those who have never cooked in their lives (think Carrie from Sex and the City). The book is obviously for those upper middle class women, but there are some budget basics that everyone can make.

I tried a couple of recipes just to test things out:

First was the Linguine with Spinach and Peas. I was quite impressed with the ease of making the dish. I did skip the red pepper flakes since I'm not a fan, and I used butter instead of olive oil. The taste was quite good and the friend I tested on enjoyed it as well.

Two thumbs up here.

Next up was the Roasted Fingerlings. My grocery store wasn't fancy enough to carry fingerling potatoes, so I had to go with quartered baby potatoes, but the result was quite similar. I also used kosher salt and fresh pepper on them, as was suggested in the "Get Creative" section of the recipe.

The recipe itself was incredibly easy to make, and when baked on a foil lined pan as suggested cleanup is a snap.

The potatoes came out nicely browned and tasted lovely. The friend I tested them on agreed as well.

Two thumbs up here as well.

This one gets three stars. Although the cookbook purports to be for beginning cooks it is really for beginning cooks of a certain income level, so pass on this if you're a ramen noodle eating student. There are a variety of recipes for everything from pasta to soups, snacks, and desserts, as well as numerous recipes for vegetarians and vegans, which was nice. The pictures included with each recipe were extremely helpful so you knew what you were making and didn't end up with a Rachel Trifle Incident. Overall, I would recommend this as a gift to someone who is just setting up house for the first time, or someone who has always wanted to learn how to cook, but never has.

★★☆☆ = Liked It


Ryan G said...

Sounds like a wonderful book and one that I'm going to have to check into. Thanks for the review.

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