Williams-Sonoma COOKING AT HOME: A New American Classic

Each year hundreds and hundreds of cookbooks are published on a seemingly endless range of singular topics.  Cupcakes, bacon, seafood, bread, vegetables – the list goes on and on.  There’s only one problem (well, actually there’s several problems).

First off, these cookbooks usually offer the reader only recipes (and sometimes a note or two of culinary history) but very seldom any empowering information as to why, for example, some cupcakes require baking soda and others need baking powder. The result is that the home cook becomes recipe-bond and creativity often goes out the window. 

Second, all these individual books on individual topics can take up a lot of shelf space and end up costing a collective pretty penny.  But take heart – two great culinary writers have solved this problem AND created a new American kitchen classic in the process.

Meet Chuck Williams (that’s Chuck Williams as in the founder of the famous Williams-Sonoma Stores) and Kristine Kidd (the former food editor of Bon Appetit Magazine and long-time collaborator with Williams on many culinary projects).  

Together they have created a must-have cookbook, Cooking at Home, which shares all the culinary secrets professional chefs know well.  Among the many details explained is when to use fresh pasta and when to use dry (hint – the answer is in the sauce).  Then there’s an informative summary (with supportive recipes) of the seven types of soup.  Williams and Kidd detail the difference between cornmeal and polenta, Chinese rice and Italian risotto.

The list goes on and on as the authors cover everything from cooking basics to every course and food group.  As you cook, you learn, you grow.  The accompanying notes are a revelation and also a secure starting point for embracing creativity in the kitchen. 

If you purchase one new cookbook this year or need an idea for the perfect birthday gift for a fellow cook, take a moment at your local bookstore and glance through this soon-to-be legendary book. 

It’s entitled to sit on your kitchen shelf next to your weathered copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Both books reflect a core belief that cooking will be more creative (and exciting) if both technique AND ingredients are clearly understood.

Cooking at Home by Williams and Kidd will enable you to explore each area – one remarkable page after another.   Well done!

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2010

Posted on November 10, 2010 .