I wasn’t familiar with Sara Moulton before seeing Home Cooking 101 on NetGalley, but the cookbook’s cheery cover design appealed to me, along with the idea of learning from an expert home cook how to kick the flavor of everyday meals up a notch without elaborate, all-day bouts in the kitchen.
And…I loved this one! I’d been thinking of requesting it as a Mother’s Day present, but just found out I might be getting a new iPhone, so I may just have to buy it for myself, instead. (Unless any of my kids are reading this…hint, hint.)
As user-friendly and approachable as Sara herself, HOME COOKING 101 embodies a lifetime of experience. Sara was schooled in the French classical tradition, worked for years as a restaurant chef, and tested and developed recipes for Gourmet magazine. She spent a decade as the Food Editor for ABC-TV’s “Good Morning America” and was the host of several popular shows during the first ten years of Food Network. Sara, like her mentor, Julia Child, has devoted the bulk of her career to teaching, and specifically to helping the home cook put dinner on the table on a weeknight…a task that too often seems daunting.
From the publisher of Home Cooking 101
Home Cooking 101 is the author’s fourth cookbook, with over 150 new recipes. In it, she shares tidbits from her career, such as when Julia Child refused to hire an experienced chef to assist her because she cut an onion the wrong way, and she also includes guest recipes from some of her favorite, well-known cooks such as Rick Bayless.
If you’re not familiar with Sara Moulton and her cooking methods, visit her Web site for a wide selection of her recipes to see what they’re like: http://saramoulton.com/recipes.
In Home Cooking 101, you’ll learn the correct way to cut an onion; what to stock in your pantry; the best method for hard-boiling eggs (Step aside, Julia!); how to make your own butter; how to steam and shell lobster to make Summer Shack Lobster Rolls; and much more.
As I went through the cookbook, I easily bookmarked at least a dozen recipes I wanted to try, but I realized later that I was staying within my known likes and comfort zone with the recipes I was choosing. If you’re a good home cook who wants to develop your skills and expand your repertoire, you might end up bookmarking recipes like these, instead:
- Warm Grilled Octopus Salad (with a note on how to buy octopus and a section titled “Dave’s Tips for Preparing Octopus”)
- Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs of Beef (with Cook’s Notes on skimming off fat, cutting parchment paper to fit your pan, and on Wondra flour)
- Rack of Lamb for Two with Rosemary Crumb Crust (with a detailed section titled “How to Trim and French a Rack of Lamb”)
There are many recipes like these, that would make spectacular entrees for special dinners and which have step-by-step photos in all of the tip sections to make trying the recipes less daunting, but there are plenty of others more suitable for weeknight dinners. (Although none that I would say are really quick and easy, I think this author assumes you already know how to throw a quick meal together and that you’re using this cookbook for times when you have an hour or more for dinner prep.)
I bookmarked less complicated (OK, easy) recipes (of which there are many) to try. Although I only planned to make a few for this review, I ended up trying seven, and they were all winners that I would definitely make again.
Indian Cauliflower with Crispy Chickpeas
Green Chile Rice and Chicken Skillet Dinner
Stir-Fried Tofu in Chile-Orange Sauce
Sauteed Hungarian Pork Chops
Crispy Pork Fried Rice with Pickled Radishes
Warm Shrimp Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing
I also made Lemony Carrot “Fettucine” with Toasted Pistachios to go with Easter Sunday dinner from the cookbook’s “On the Side” section. It’s a great side dish for spring, and you can find the recipe online. (Use your spiralizer or food processor to make the carrots into “noodles”, if you can; that part was more time-consuming than I thought it would be.)
There’s a Vegan/Vegetarian section and a Meal in a Pan section, as well as Soups and Salads for Supper, DIY Dinner, Quick and Quicker Entrees, On the Side, Cooking When You Have More Time, and Something Sweet.
Some of recipes that I bookmarked but didn’t get to try:
- Baked Chicken Thighs with Pancetta, Olives, and Cherry Tomatoes
- Thai Chicken Salad
- Indian Eggs with Spicy Tomato Pepper Sauce
- Vegetable Fritters with Green Chile-Coconut Chutney
Sara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101
Oxmoor, Mar. 8, 2016
368 pp.$35.00, US
Disclosure: I received a free e-ARC of this book from the publisher for review through NetGalley.
Happy Weekend Cooking!