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Best techique cookbook?

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TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 07:52 AM

My 16 year old son has decided that he wants to learn to cook. However, he told me that he doesnt want to learn recipes, he would rather learn the techniques so that he could "improvise". Does anyone have any suggestions for a cookbook that I could use to build sort of a lesson plan for him? I am a pretty good cook, but I am really at a loss on the best way to teach him (e.g. start with sauces, braising etc). Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  1. CindyJ RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 08:02 AM

    Take a look at Tom Colicchio's "Think Like a Chef." From the inside cover: "...Tom Colicchio has created a new kind of cookbook. Rather than list a series of restaurant recipes, he uses simple steps to deconstruct a chef's creative process. ...He starts with techniques: What's roasting, for example... He also gets you comfortable with braising, sauteing and making stocks and sauces. Next he introduces simple ingredients... and tells you how to use them in a variety of ways."

    3 Replies
    1. re: CindyJ
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      TigerLLO RE: CindyJ Mar 15, 2010 08:09 AM

      I have that one and totally forgot about it! Great idea. Thank you!

      1. re: TigerLLO
        CindyJ RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 08:10 AM

        I forgot about it too, until I read your question.

      2. re: CindyJ
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        Westminstress RE: CindyJ Mar 15, 2010 11:22 AM

        I second -- Think Like A Chef is a great "technique" book.
        There's a lot of good technique in the Zuni Cafe book as well.
        For that matter, Mark Bittman is pretty good on technique because he gives the basic recipe plus variations. In this way, it is easy to see how you would vary the recipe depending on what you have on hand. And those recipes might be a little easier for someone who doesn't know how to cook.

      3. flourgirl RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 08:15 AM

        There's also John Ash's book "Cooking One on One" and Martha Stewart's "Cooking School", both of which are currently available on Amazon for great prices via the secondary market sellers.

        1 Reply
        1. re: flourgirl
          hobbybaker RE: flourgirl Mar 15, 2010 03:16 PM

          Another vote for Martha's "Cooking School". Although the number of recipes are limited, they are solid and the book covers basics with many photos. A good beginner cookbook. I like her version of red wine braised beef best.

        2. penthouse pup RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 02:56 PM

          Jacques Pepin's La Technique...

          1 Reply
          1. re: penthouse pup
            ChefJune RE: penthouse pup Mar 16, 2010 07:51 AM

            ditto for La Technique.

            La Varenne Pratique by Anne Willan is also excellent.

          2. JerryMe RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 03:46 PM

            This is old school but I have The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham. Circa 1990 original was like 1906. Yeah, I know it's old, as am I. I inherited it from my sis who could / would add the 'something special' to anything made.

            It's impressed me enough to rely on it weekly to find out 'what do I do with this'.

            Illustrations are black and white sketches but still get the job done.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JerryMe
              Euonymous RE: JerryMe Mar 15, 2010 07:00 PM

              I agree. This is my favorite cookbook. I don't use the recipes much, but when I need to know something about technique I bring it out, and have done so for the last 30 years or more.

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              just_M RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 05:22 PM

              Ratio might be of interest. I got it for Christmas and it looks great. I just haven't had time to play yet, but I love the idea of knowing a few simple formulas and letting it fly.

              1. breadchick RE: TigerLLO Mar 15, 2010 08:22 PM

                Several posters have mentioned really good books, so my comment is this: what a wonderful thing that he wants to learn the basics. I've told my family so many times that you can build many recipes from scratch if you know technique.

                Whatta great kid. I'm sure you're very proud!

                1. t
                  TigerLLO RE: TigerLLO Mar 16, 2010 06:27 AM

                  These are all wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for your help. I will probably use a little bit from all of these. And I am very proud of my son...I wish I had had the sense to learn this way. It took me a lot of years!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: TigerLLO
                    CindyJ RE: TigerLLO Mar 16, 2010 07:00 AM

                    It sounds to me like your son has had some good mentoring along the way.

                  2. kleine mocha RE: TigerLLO Mar 16, 2010 08:01 AM

                    Two further suggestions: get the DVDs of the original Julia Child PBS series; and Alton Brown's I'm just here for the Food.

                    1. t
                      tonka11_99 RE: TigerLLO Mar 16, 2010 12:05 PM

                      Cook's Illustrated "The new best recipes" and "How to cook without a book" by Pam Anderson.

                      Le Cordob bleu's "Complete Cooking Techniques".

                      Buy an online subscription to cook's Illustrated for about $19.95 a year (sometimes you can get it discounted).

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