Beginner Cooks become Kitchen Wizards

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logoWelcome to the eleventh entry of our blog series 'Lost in the Stacks' - with recommendations by Dublin City Libraries staff. Do you want to learn how to cook this year but don’t know where to start? Have you been cooking for years but would like to improve your skills.

These five books that follow are available from your library have the basic building blocks to guide any chef and perhap even tranform you into a kitchen wizard.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat : the Four Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat.
Samin Nosrat teaches you about techniques and also the science behind what works and tastes good! If you’ve seen the Netflix series, you really should read the book it’s based on. Nosrat got her start at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse, and blends science and taste beautifully in this illustrated cookbook. She focuses on four basic factors that determine how your food tastes: the titular salt, fat, acid, and heat. Each chapter begins with the science behind an element so you learn how and why it works (or doesn’t) in a recipe. Then there are “kitchen experiments” to apply what you’ve learned. After walking you through the four elements, Nosrat then teaches some kitchen basics and provides a bunch of recipes to test your newfound skills. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to learn to cook without a recipe, and has the time to read this book cover-to-cover.


Lateral cooking by Niki Segnit.
The author of The Flavour Thesaurus, Niki Segnit’s second book is a joy to read. Do you feel you that you follow recipes slavishly without understanding how they actually work? Would you like to feel freer to adapt, to experiment, to play with flavours?  Segnit, gives you the tools to do just that. Lateral Cooking is organised into 77 'starting-point' recipes, reducing the phenomenal variety of world cuisine down to its bare essentials - and then building it back up again. So, under 'Bread', we learn that flatbreads, oatcakes, buckwheat noodles, chapattis and tortillas are all variations on one theme. A few simple tweaks and you can make soda bread, scones or cobbler. And so on, through breads and batters, broths, stews and dals, one dish leading to another.


The back to basics cookbook by Maureen Tatlow
Not only a good cookbook for the favourites, this is also full of excellent tips and tricks to turn a recipe around. Includes the only recipes you’ll ever need for a good roast dinner!


Leiths How to Cook Cakes
Leith’s School of Food and Wine has some excellent cookbooks, which definitely includes How To Cook Cakes. There are over 70 recipes in this book, taking in contemporary dishes from cuisines worldwide as well as great classics with a modern twist. This authoritative book provides detailed, illustrated step-by-step guides to making all kinds of cakes, from creamed cakes and whisked sponges, through teabreads and traybakes, to cupcakes, muffins and scones. In addition, there is a selection of gorgeous cookies and biscuits.


The Ballymaloe cookbook by Myrtle Allen
Less technical than some of the books on this list this cookbook from predates the famous cookery school and gives you a chance to bring that good food into your home. Illustrated with stunning photographs and including previously unseen recipes, this is a celebration of modern Irish cooking at its best.


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