Inside Cooking School

Since I couldn't find the new cookbook on Tuesday when it came out, despite visiting four different book stores, I decided to order it on Amazon. Less than 48 hours later, it was at my doorstep at a huge discount. (Remind me to always buy online.) The book is fantastic. I'm not a big cookbook collector and I don't tend to be that adventurous in the kitchen. The textbook style of this book, though, may just make me broaden my culinary horizons. But even if it doesn't, I collect Martha's books for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is design inspiration.

The book was designed by William van Roden, who also designed the Homekeeping Handbook, the Everyday Food cookbook and the Baking Handbook. Since the publication of those books, I've become a huge fan of this designer, who uses minimalist strategies to perfectly clarify instructional text in a way that is attractive and engaging.

Cooking School is no different.

It's a prime example of the well-planned guide. Much of this also has to do with the writing, which was undertaken by Martha and food editor Sarah Carey. The writing is clear, consise and well structured into highly-organized chapters that promote basic culinary techniques, which subsequently graduate to more challenging cooking tasks. All of it is fully illustrated with hundreds of step-by-step photographs.

I thought I'd take you 'inside' Martha's Cooking School and describe some of the details.
I always take the jackets off my cookbooks. The reason for this is that they don't get damaged and a well-worn book cover can always be covered again with the jacket. I keep the jackets in a small portfolio. I was pleasantly surprised to see this elegant black cover under the jacket. It's authoritative but not intimidating.
There are numerous new photographs of Martha throughout the book. Portrait photography was undertaken by Ditte Isager while the food photography (below) was done by Marcus Nilsson.

The Basics:


“To home cooks everywhere, may you always continue to learn.”

From Martha’s Introduction:

“This book has been designed and written as a course of study, very much like a college course in chemistry, which requires the student to master the basics before performing more advanced experiments. The lessons here begin just as they would in a true cooking school, with instruction about the essential tools and equipment, and perhaps the most basic lesson of all: how to hold and use a chef’s knife. You’ll also learn about fundamental ingredients, such as onions, garlic, and herbs & spices, as well as how they are used to build flavors. Then the book is organized in seven chapters, each offering indispensable lessons, such as the proper way to make a rich brown stock; poach eggs; braise meats, fish and poultry; prepare fresh pasta; simmer and puree vegetables; and cream butter to produce a fine-crumbled cake. The lessons are followed by recipes – a tutorial in stock making, for instance, is followed by a soup recipe that calls for the stock. This practical approach works throughout the book, which means that you build your recipe repertoire along with your skills.”

Pages: 504
Recipes: 200
Photographs: 500
Weight: 2 kilograms
Dimensions: 26 x 21.2 cm, and 4.4 cm thick

The Basics, 1) Stocks & Soups, 2) Eggs, 3) Meat, Fish & Poultry, 4) Vegetables, 5) Pasta, 6) Dried Beans & Grains, 7) Desserts.

Food photography by Marcus Nilsson
Portraits of Martha by Ditte Isager

Book designed by William van Roden

Printed in Japan


Maureen said...

Well, I have never, ever been able to make a decent piecrust. Maybe, just maybe there might be some hope for me in this new book of Martha's.

I have to wait until Christmas to get it but it will be worth the wait!

Take care,
Maureen :)

will said...

the book looks great! can't wait to order!