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Mar 15, 2010 07:52 AM

Best techique cookbook?

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. 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

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

      1. re: TigerLLO

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

      2. re: CindyJ

        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. 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

          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.

          1. re: penthouse pup

            ditto for La Technique.

            La Varenne Pratique by Anne Willan is also excellent.

          2. 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

              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.

            2. 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.