Read this cookbook: “The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School: Recipes and Inspiration to Build a Lifetime of Confidence in the Kitchen” by Alison Cayne (Artisan, $35)
By Wendell Brock
If you’re just beginning to cook or feel you lack confidence in the kitchen — or even if you’re an experienced cook who learned more from trial and error than formal training — Alison Cayne’s new book will be a welcome and trustworthy companion.
An entrepreneur and culinary professor who opened Haven’s Cooking School in New York four years ago, Cayne offers nine fundamental lessons, each with a set of recipes.
The vegetable lesson, for instance, describes how to blanch (using Spring Pea and Mint Salad), sauté (Green Beans With Garlic), grill (Summer Vegetables with Romesco Sauce), pickle (Quick Pickled Cucumbers), roast (Sweet Potatoes with Hazelnut Gremolata) and fry (Classic French Fries).
If you can cook a solid pot of rice, poach an egg, sauté a veggie and make a sauce, you can assemble a one-meal bowl: There’s even a full-page chart suggesting ways to mix and match components to come up with a superb bowl of your own.
My favorite chapter may be the one on fritters.
Cayne says she included it because every culture has a little fried bite. And because fritter making is a multi-step process, it’s the perfect dish for teaching the value of mise en place, the practice of putting “everything in its place” before you begin.
And darn if those little fried noshes don’t look good: Quinoa Broccoli Patties, Latkes, Mixed Vegetable Tempura, Pakora, Felafel, Arancini and Apple Beignets.
Should you need help roasting a whole fish, spatchcocking a bird, or mastering a soufflé, it’s all here, with wonderful photographs and plenty of step-by-step tutorials. And at $35, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than cooking school.
Wendell Brock is an Atlanta food and culture writer, frequent AJC contributor and winner of a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for journalism. Follow him on Twitter (@MrBrock) and Instagram (@WendellDavidBrock).