February 5, 2015

cooking through a cookbook

cookbooksA couple of months ago, I read that making multiple recipes from the same cookbook can help you become a better cook. This is not a novel concept – Julie Powell famously chronicled her experience cooking through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in her blog, which was later turned into the (wonderful) film Julie & Julia – but I never really thought about why it was an effective strategy until I started trying it myself. The idea is that by following the same chef’s recipes over and over, you start to understand the why behind the what – why certain flavors are used together repeatedly, why you cook something for a certain length of time, why vegetables need to be chopped to a certain size, etc. Eventually, you start to get the hang of the basic strategy behind the preparation and can stray from the recipes based on personal tastes or, as is often the case in my house, what needs to be used up from the fridge. The end goal, of course, is getting so good that you can get rid of the cookbook altogether and cook from memory and feel.

Would you try cooking through a cookbook? What are some of your favorite cookbooks to cook from? I’m loving this one, but not sure I can keep up with the expensive ingredients! This one (a wedding gift from way back when) is another favorite.