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The Improvisational Cookby Sally Schneider
What if a cookbook didn't stop at great recipes? What if it made you a better, more confident cook? The Improvisational Cook will show you how to make decadent Chocolate Wonders and a delicious Tuscan Island Shellfish Stew, sure, but Sally Schneider also wants you to understand how those recipes work. Some neat trick: In doing so, she makes the other cookbooks on your shelf more valuable, opening countless opportunities to adapt their recipes. Schneider's highly anticipated follow-up to 2001's groundbreaking A New Way to Cook is a toolbox that empowers home cooks every step of the way from market to table.
Synopses & Reviews
In The Improvisational Cook, Sally Schneider helps home cooks declare their independence from recipes and set lists of ingredients and offers an invitation to a fun, more spontaneous way to cook with whatever is on hand. But how do you become an improvisational cook?
Once you understand how a basic technique or a recipe works, you can then begin to improvise. Start with one of The Improvisational Cook's essential recipes, such as Caramelized Onions. A special Understanding section follows, explaining the internal logic of the recipe and its creative possibilities. With that in mind, a savory onion jam; a real onion dip; a quick bruschetta topped with the onions, anchovies, and olives; or a rustic onion soup with dried porcini mushrooms is just a step or two beyond. Sally's notated improvisations illustrate simple, clever approaches and can be followed as is or used as a jumping-off point.
The possibilities are endless. Slow-roast fish at 300 degrees, along with some cherry tomatoes and olives for a sauce. Prepare a savory lemon jam to go with lamb or veal chops, or turn it into a cake filling. Roast a whole lobster instead of a fish in a salt crust. Add minced rosemary or Earl Grey tea to butter cookie dough. Turn a brownie batter into an elegant pepper-scented chocolate cake.
Sally gives you the know-how to embellish, adapt, change, alter, modify, and experiment in your cooking with plenty of encouragement and helpful information — the tools and insights you need to find your own voice and cook improvisationally. These include an exploration of the inside of improvisation — the creative mind-set, where to find inspiration, how to deal with the unexpected, practical approaches to learning what goes with what, including a chart of classic flavor affinities, and tips on organizing your kitchen to make improvising easier, from long-keeping pantry staples to makeshift tools.
Using The Improvisational Cook, you'll discover a way of cooking that's fun, unfussy, and truly pleasurable. Everyday cooking can become creative every day.
"As she did in A New Way to Cook, Schneider offers an original, practical and well-executed plan for improvisational cooking — experimenting, cooking creatively, playing with ingredients and recipes, and 'relinquishing total control and allowing an idea to develop organically.' She presents ingredient-inspired recipes followed by several improvisations, or variations: a simple Herb Salad morphs into Spring Salad with Pea Shoots, Tarragon, and Chives; Cilantro Salas with Fragrant Peanut or Sesame Oil; Salad of Cress, Pine Nuts, Pears, and Chives; and Doctored Mesclun Salad. The Sage-and-Garlic Popcorn precedes derivatives for Brown Butter Popcorn, Caramelized Shallot Popcorn, Rosemary Popcorn, Smoky Bacon Popcorn and White Truffle Popcorn. Each anchor recipe features an 'understanding' section that explains key ingredients or techniques. For example, a section within the Crackling Corn Bread recipe discusses cornmeal, fats in breads, buttermilk, flavorings and the basic cornbread formula. Readers can then use the ingredients and techniques — with confidence and knowledge — in myriad ways. Photographs are too few and far between; more images would enhance this volume and inspire experimentation. But overall the format is a creative way to teach readers to think more like chefs." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Schneider weans home cooks off their training wheels and provides a springboard from which they can leap out of the box, craft their own distinctive dishes, and let their new instinctive and creative juices flow.”
Everyday meat loaf, roast chicken, and cornbread become inspired new dishes in the hands of The Improvisational Cook. Sally Schneider, bestselling author of A New Way to Cook, encourages home chefs to be creative and daring, to “cook out of the box,” in order to create their own culinary magic. Encouraging freedom from strict recipes and set lists of ingredients, The Improvisational Cook is the ideal cookbook for anyone who has ever considered pairing prosciutto with roasted peaches or putting parmesan on french fries.
In "The Improvisational Cook," Sally Schneider helps home cooks declare their independence from recipes and standard lists of ingredients, as she offers an invitation to a fun, more spontaneous way to cook with whatever is on hand--embellishing, adapting, changing, altering, modifying, and experimenting all along the way. A chart of classic flavor affinities plus tips on organizing one's kitchen to make improvising easier are included.
About the Author
Sally Schneider is the author of the award-winning cookbook A New Way to Cook. A former chef, Sally is a regular contributor to radio's "The Splendid Table," and writes a syndicated newspaper column for Universal Press Syndicate called "The Improvisational Cook." Sally has written for numerous publications, including Food & Wine, Saveur, Real Simple, Self, and Metropolitan Home. She lives in New York City.
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