Kitchen on Fire: Mastering the Art of Cooking in 12 Weeks or Lesscan give a beginning cook confidence in the kitchen.
Kitchen on Fire is the name of a cooking school in Berkeley founded by authors and chefs Oliver Said and Chef MikeC. The authors have taken the curriculum of their Basics of Cooking course and turned it into this book.
Twelve chapters cover every basic topic a cook needs to know, starting with knife skills and mise en place and moving through the various techniques – sauteing, stir-frying, searing, broiling, etc. – and finishing with yeast breads, quick breads, starches, and the egg.
Each chapter has simple, but detailed instructions of each technique. Five to eight recipes are included for practice at the end of each chapter.
A quick count of the recipes shows that about half are vegetarian, and of those, about a third are vegan. Even if you know you won’t be making half the recipes in the book, the descriptions of the techniques are valuable and can be applied to any recipe.
The best part of learning techniques, instead of recipes, is that it enables a home cook to make up a dish on the fly. If the CSA box includes some weird veggie you’ve never eaten, just knowing the techniques in this book will provide enough information to make a delicious dish.
I recommend Kitchen on Fire for beginning cooks, but also for more experienced cooks who want to broaden their kitchen repertoire and break free of recipes.