Monday, April 13, 2015

Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen

The premise of Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen by Dana Cowin is interesting. Unlike other cookbook authors who talk about their cooking experience, Cowin readily admits that she was never much of a cook.

However, as editor-in-chief of Food & Wine Magazine, Cowin had access to a whole lot of accomplished cooks and chefs who helped her correct her mistakes in the kitchen. Marcus Samuelson helped her conquer fried chicken, the Food & Wine test kitchen crew talked her through bechamel, David Chang helped her with kimchi, and Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis (from Baked) helped her with brownies.

At least 65 chefs helped her with the 100 recipes in the book, so it's as much about the different chefs as it is about Cowin's kitchen adventures.

Since she talks about the things that went wrong with her cooking, it reassures novice cooks that they can conquer the revised recipes, while at the same time her errors help warn new cooks of the pitfalls they might encounter.

The recipes here seem solid - the ones I tried have worked well. And for the most part, the recipes use ingredients that should be easy to find without hunting the ends of the earth. That's also great for newer cooks who might not want to use ingredients they aren't familiar with.

But this book isn't just for beginners. More accomplished cooks will appreciate the tips from the well-known chefs, like Bryant Ng's explanation of the differences between red and green curry, how to season curry, and what else to use curry paste for, or Mario Batali's tips about pasta, canned tomatoes, bread crumbs, and more.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the recipes, and the stories are an interesting read. Look for a recipe from this book soon on Cookistry.

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