The latest cookbook I bought myself, The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters which has a total of 405 pages has been a god-send to my kitchen. What I've learned from cooking meals at home is that I lack the most basic knowledge on cooking, for example, how do you boil asparagus to get it just right? Of course I know that one has to have boiling water and that one must put the asparagus into the boiling water in order to boil asparagus, but for how long does the asparagus need to boil? And what is the appropriate way? Do you begin with the asparagus already in the water before it begins to boil or do you add the asparagus into already boiling water? Do you salt the water? I have so many basic questions on cooking, and funny enough the answer is pretty difficult to find, sure you can hop onto the web and throw the question out there into the void but out pops up 10 different answers! And so you find yourself back to square one: how do you perfectly boil asparagus?
So what is it that you suppose I love so much about Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food? The answer is: the fact that this cookbook takes the time to go over the basics, and I mean, the basics. In this way this particular cookbook is a great starter for beginner cook-enthusiasts. Naturally you can't expect to find all your answers to all your basic questions, that would require a cookbook of many thousands of pages, but this cookbook does a pretty good job in covering the general basics of cooking different kinds of meat and vegetables as well as covering the basics on sauces, desserts, soups, broths, breads, salads, legumes and pastas.
An important note to keep in mind is that The Art of Simple Food is not a cookbook full of recipes (as most cookbooks tend to be). The Art of Simple Food is a cookbook that focuses on teaching you how to cook. Each items (whether it be meat, vegetable or etc.) begins with an intro which covers the basics of the item including how to cook them, this then transitions into a couple of simple recipes for said item. This will be all the more clear to you as we continue our review accompanied with pictures (below).
THE BACK COVER
The cookbook begins with a list of kitchen staples and then goes on to cover each item on the list in detail: why one should have it, what it is used for, how it should be kept for longevity, where one can get it, and whole bunch of other great information.
The chapter that covers Artichokes is but two pages long, and this will be the case for many of items covered in this book. While the recipes and basic information will be different for each item, the approach to each item is pretty much the same. The cookbook will begin with an introduction (as you can read and see in the picture above), the book will then go into detail of how you can cook the item (in this case, artichokes); Waters covers here boiling and steaming artichokes as well as giving a couple of recipes that covers braised artichokes and sauteed artichokes with onions, garlic, and herbs (as pictured below)
And to make my point, another example; this chapter covers Tomatoes, and as you can see in the same general approach.