Start Here: Instructions for Becoming a Better Cook

Knopf. Oct. 2023. 656p. ISBN 9780593320464. $45. COOKING
In this fantastically epic cookbook, El-Waylly, chef and host of The Big Brunch and Ancient Recipes with Sohla, aims to offer a “one-stop culinary school in a book” to hone culinary skills and intuition. She first sets readers up with core tools, pantry essentials, and things to know, like knife skills and how to measure ingredients. Offering several subcategories, like “Whip (and Fold) It Good,” the book is broadly divided between culinary lessons and baking & pastry lessons, with equal emphasis on savory and pastry, because El-Waylly believes a good cook shouldn’t be afraid of anything in the kitchen. She offers tips and tricks along with the explanations behind them in a playful and encouraging tone. With extensive use of spices and global food inspiration, these are full-flavor recipes that have lots of appeal. Recipes are clearly labeled from easy to advanced and if vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. There are also many gorgeous and helpful photos throughout.
VERDICT With the focus just as much on the techniques as the recipes, this cookbook will be invaluable for readers who are getting started cooking. The recipes will motivate them to get in the kitchen, but experienced cooks and bakers will relish the abundance of information and interesting recipes too.
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