Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Williams-Sonoma Tools & Techniques

Williams-Sonoma Tools & Techniques

The sense of joy and satisfaction that I get from cooking something wonderful and sharing it or eating it is almost indescribable. Not only do I feel pride, but it inspires me to take on more and more recipes and techniques. I learned to cook from watching my parents, reading cookbooks and watching television cooking shows. But it took years and years and there is still more for me to learn.

Over the years I have upgraded and accumulated various tools. Whether it's the pleasure of using a favorite chef's knife, or finding the ultimate digital remote probe thermometer I think if you enjoy cooking, you can't help but be a bit of a kitchen gadget geek.

When I was first learning to cook I loved the Jacques Pepin La Technique book. There were plenty of techniques I wouldn't try for years and even more I still haven't tackled, but in that book with all of those photos I gained immeasurable confidence. Truth be told, most of those very French techniques are not ones I use day-to-day. For a book that combines the meticulous instructions you find in La Technique, but more basic everyday techniques and great color photos every step of the way, the new Williams-Sonoma Tools & Techniques book is truly masterful and a terrific resource. It's a book I wish I had owned way back when I was just learning to cook.

The upfront section, after a forward by Thomas Keller and introduction by Chuck Williams, goes into great detail about the essential kitchen tools. These are not Williams-Sonoma branded items, but the basics and beyond such as Pyrex measuring cups, earthenware tagines, silicone spatulas--oh don't get me started! I'll turn into a kitchen nerd before your very eyes.

The techniques section shows everything from separating eggs to cleaning a whole fish and carving a turkey to embellishing pies and how to make meringue, something one day, I hope to conquer. There are plenty of recipes in this book for things like fish fumet, braised vegetables, pasta dough and buttermilk fried chicken, but it's really all in the service of learning how to cook. I can't think of a better book for a newlywed or a singleton, anyone really who wants to learn the basics the right way. Kudos to the team who spent 3 years creating this amazing volume and especially to Jen Newens the executive editor.