Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekend Cooking...a Review of "Get Cooking"

For this week's Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, let's look at a new cookbook...

Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen
(HarperStudio, ISBN 978-0061732430)

What to do if you find yourself, all grown up, standing in your kitchen, a place you don't know too well or use very often. You would like to be able to cook, perhaps invite people to eat, and have it involve something beside takeout or pizza. But really, you have no idea how to deal with a recipe and a microplane grater looks like something in your dad's garage. Or what do you do if you know someone like that? Well, one thing you might very well consider is getting them a copy of the famed Mollie Katzen's, she of Moosewood Cookbook fame, new cookbook, Get Cooking.
"We've kind of become a nation of nutrient and flavor- challenged food voyeurs. Let's change that. I'm here to help.
For starts, I'm exceedingly happy to present you with 150 delicious, doable recipes that even the most inexperienced person can walk into any kitchen right now and make for dinner tonight. The "cuisine" is what I like to call "Big Tent." accommodating a broad base of tastes and needs, vegetarian and meat loving and everything in between...You'll find them to be boldly seasoned-there's absolutely no need for "beginning" to mean "bland"- with lots of ethnic influences and flavors to keep things interesting."
She starts with the basics- how to equip a kitchen, stock a pantry and prep your veggies. You might think everyone knows how to chop an onion or deal with a head of garlic...except if you have never done it. Or if you have been doing it

Then we get to the recipes, broken down into Soups and Salads, Pastas, Vegetarian Entrées, Burgers, Fish, Chicken & Meat, Potatoes, Vegetable Sides, Party Snacks and of course, Desserts! Now Katzen may consider these basic, but they are certain not ordinary or dull. There is a basic chicken soup, yes, but there is also a Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup and a North African Red Lentil Soup. There is Spaghetti and Meatballs and Mac and Cheese but also Pasta with Tuna, White Beans, and Artichoke Hearts. And those burgers include a basic hamburger, but also tuna, salmon and a Spice-Crusted Tofu Cutlet while the vegetarian entrees include Baked Stuffed Potatoes but also Thai Green Curry with Coconut Milk, Vegetables, and Tofu. This is not necessarily your grandmother starter cookbook.

Each recipe has a photograph, all taken by Katzen, clear instructions and a list of not difficult to find ingredients. They seem to be recipes that even the most inexperienced cook could follow with good results. Many recipes have added little sections on particular challenges that might come along like how to toast nuts or what to do with those chicken giblets. You don't just throw them out, do you? But each recipe also includes what may be my favorite part of the book, a "Get Creative" column, which suggests how to take the recipe to the next level with a few additions, a few substitutions or a twist here and there.

If you know someone that needs that starter cookbook, maybe a young person off to college, someone setting up there first apartment or someone whose use of takeout menus is leading them to bankruptcy, this would make a fine gift. And I admit I found more than a few things in here I will be trying out in the near future...hmmmm...Intensely Chocolate Brownies...yum.

My thanks to HarperStudio for the ARC of this book!


  1. This sounds like the perfect Christmas gift for my nephew. He's getting ready to buy his first home.

  2. Will keep this one in mind as I Christmas shop...there are at least a couple people on my list that could use it!

  3. My daughter and her botfriend are hoping to move in together next year - this sounds an ideal book for them!
    thanks for review ;00

  4. Although I'm an old cook I'm going to give this one a look. I like collecting recipes that cover a "broad base of tastes and needs,"

  5. I absolutely love her other cookbooks. I saw this at the store the other day and thought maybe it was too basic for me, so I didn't look carefully. Now you're making me want to go get it and give it as gifts. Thanks!!!

  6. I do think this would make a nice gift. it is basic...but with a bit of flair that I think would interest a lot of new, young cooks in particular.

  7. This one's going on the list. I LOVE that every recipe has a photograph!

  8. I'll be on the look out for this one...I love, love, love basic cookbooks (and who says you can't improvise them a bit if you want to?!??!). Thanks for the great review.


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