Home cooks everywhere can now bring one of New York City’s most popular cooking classes right into their own kitchens.
This concise and vividly-photographed cooking manual takes you inside culinary expert Jennifer Clair’s best-selling cooking class and teaches you how to master the six foundational skills you need to maximize your culinary potential.
You’ll learn the proper way to handle a chef’s knife, cook meat to perfection, create impressive pan sauces, and prepare restaurant-worthy vegetable dishes. Along the way, you'll discover which ingredients truly make a difference in a home kitchen (kosher salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, to start).
Each technique chapter includes a collection of flavorful recipes, so you can practice your newfound skills while cooking delicious meals. Throughout the book, myth-busting “Students Ask” and “Chefs Say” columns dole out pearls of indispensable kitchen wisdom (why you should never mince basil or mint; why blanching vegetables is better than steaming; what are the three key flavors that make all food delicious; and more).
Confidence is what makes a great cook, and this practical culinary guide is filled with the teachings you need to gain control of your kitchen.
Six Basic Cooking Techniques: Culinary Essentials for the Home Cook.
Clair, Jennifer (Author) Mar 2018.
112 p. HCNY, paperback, $19.95. (9780998979205).
e-book, $9.99. (9780998979212).
Manhattan cooking-school founder and food journalist Clair’s second cookbook (following Gourmet Cooking on a Budget, 2010) is a good substitute for Cooking 101, teaching the basics that make the foundation of a good home chef. She bases the book on her successful classes, describing in detail six essential techniques for succeeding in the kitchen, with an emphasis on plant-based meals. The color photographs guide readers through well-documented and elementary skills, like holding and sharpening knives, browning meat, and shocking green vegetables. Even better are the sidebars on chefs’ advice and typical student questions; professionals say not to peel ginger but smash garlic; novices query about how
long spices last and how to cover a pan so that meat juices don’t splatter. This quick course in how-to’s can also serve as a refresher course. Clair concludes with an illustrated section on recommended kitchen equipment.
— Barbara Jacobs
Six Basic Cooking Techniques: Culinary Essentials for the Home Cook
Meredith Heuer, Photographer
HCNY Press (Mar 6, 2018)
Clair’s manual is recommended to all beginning and intermediate home cooks looking for a way to up their game.
In her book Six Basic Cooking Techniques, Jennifer Clair distills years of teaching cooking classes into a useful manual for becoming a more rounded home cook.
Each technique receives one chapter, with numerous recipes provided through which to learn it, and illustrative photographs as helpful aids.
What makes this book so useful is that Clair leaves no room for confusion. She clearly lays out important takeaway points and provides step-by-step visual instructions to impart understanding on essential topics, including blanching vegetables and making pan sauces.
Each chapter is consistent, beginning with what is needed to cook the recipes or learn the technique and proceeding with an overview of the technique. Tempting recipes punctuate these lessons, for dishes such as Roasted Ratatouille with Olives and Basil, or Pan Roasted Chicken with Sherry-Thyme Gravy.
Spread throughout the book are two features: “Chefs Say” and “Students Ask.” These features present helpful ideas and techniques that are well known and used by professional cooks but that are often unknown to the home cook. “Chefs Say” relays pro tips that make home cooking easier, more efficient, and safer. “Students Ask” usefully responds to common questions and misunderstood notions—presumably heard again and again in Clair’s courses.
The recipes are all sound and easily accessible to the intermediate cook. Each recipe is presented with the purpose of giving the reader an opportunity to put the main technique of the chapter into practice and includes a short introduction that offers helpful hints and informative tidbits that add to the learning process.
Clair packs a surprising amount of information into her pages, and her book will be a welcome addition to any home cook’s library. One can only hope that she will write follow-up books; it is easy to envision this format being expanded into a series of similar cooking manuals.
ERIC PATTERSON (March/April 2018)
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
By Florence Fabricant
March 5, 2018
Jennifer Clair, who has taught small hands-on cooking classes in Manhattan since 2002, has assembled some essential lessons in a book. “Six Basic Cooking Techniques” uses straightforward text and photos to cover knife skills, meat cookery, pan sauces, roasting vegetables, blanching vegetables and preparing leafy greens. Each section gives a handful of recipes, mostly simple and very sound, and advice on equipment. But I was surprised that she does not mention cast iron as an option for skillets: “Six Basic Cooking Techniques: Culinary Essentials for the Home Cook” (HCNY Press, $19.95), homecookingny.com.