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The purpose of this small volume is to provide an intimate knowledge of how to get from here to there in the kitchen, making cooking all the more worthwhile. It enables the beginning cook to feel at home, relaxed and confident in the kitchen. In this compact, easy-to-follow cookbook, the celebrated former food editor of The New York Times gathers together just the kind of starting from scratch information and recipes he himself would have welcomed when he first put a saucepan on the stove and started on the road to becoming a superb cook.

The book begins with a careful selection of essential equipment and a few choice additions—all explicitly shown, item by item—and explains fundamental techniques, including:

• How to shell a shrimp, peel a peach or chop an onion
• Creating delicious soups and sauces
• Preparing steaks and seafood
• Making the tastiest baked, whipped or boiled potatoes

Craig teaches a simple method, than puts it to work in a variety of dishes. From easy yet delicious meat loaf to a glorious soufflé, he shares his own best-loved recipes, including:

• Chicken soup or broth
• Standing rib roast
• Corn on the cob
• Chocolate cream pie

The result is a book to cheer and inspire the beginner—to learn from, to cook from, to keep always available and refer to again and again.

With this classically elegant and profusely illustrated book of recipes and techniques, he guides us through every step of many splendid meals and imparts the kind of culinary knowledge most cooks only acquire through years of trial and error. That he accomplishes this with both the thoroughness and charm of a great teacher, make this book an invaluable aid for both the novice and experienced chef.

New to the 2012 Edition

Electronic books have no page numbers, instead the general index has hypertext links for each entry. Color photographs have replaced the original black and white illustrations.


"When I was a novice in the kitchen, this book was a map and compass. Now, many years later, it is a valued reference book that contains many fundamentals. While not as comprehensive as The Joy of Cooking, this little book deserves an early place on the kitchen bookshelf."

"I find myself referencing this book before any other . . . If you are new to cooking and can't boil an egg (much less water!) or figure out what pot to use, this book is for you."

"It is the only book I know that tells you how to boil an egg and the perfect way to make rice among many other very basic things. It is a no-nonsense, basic cookbook that should be in every kitchen." Cabbie, July 2011

"If you somehow were unfortunate enough to have lived your entire life under a rock and someone threw you into a western styled kitchen, then this book would be the only thing that you need. This book is both for beginners, and for those who have an enlightened understanding of the delicate nature of food. It covers the bare science and playful nuance of food. All of the illustrations of tools were incredibly helpful for getting you situated. By starting with even the most basic dishes like omelette's, Claiborne both gives the reader insight and the food importance because even the most basic meal can be an important one." Lyn, June 2011

"This is the absolutely best cookbook I have found (and I have many sitting unused on my bookshelves) for learning, preparing and serving up delicious food to your family without the need for becoming a gourmet cook."

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