Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks
Linda Carucci, Chronicle Books, . . Chronicle, $29.95 (392pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-4243-3
Carucci has no TV program or series of books to her name. She is, foremost, a teacher who has worked her way through the ranks of culinary America for 20 years. Trained at the California Culinary Academy, she went on to become one of the IACP's Cooking Teachers of the Year. If this first cookbook is any indication, that was a well-deserved honor. There's much to learn here, and Carucci presents the information clearly without dumbing it down, whether she's addressing the crucial roles of salt and butter or the fact that an enzyme in some people's saliva makes cilantro taste, to them, like soap. The first 50 pages cover cooking basics and dig into topics like understanding the palate and using knives. Drawings throughout illustrate such feats as slitting squid and butterflying boneless chicken breasts. Of the 100 recipes offered, the best combine Carucci's formal training with her Italian ancestry. There are cinematic mega-dishes like Double-Crusted Timpano with Fusilli, Ricotta, and Tender Little Meatballs; staples like Chicken Cacciatore, and Braised Calamari in Red Sauce; and four different risottos. Adventuresome dishes include Vietnamese-Style Honey-Glazed Pork Skewers, and Turkey Mole, with over two dozen ingredients. Chocolate appears not only in that mole but also in a handful of rich desserts like Devil's Food Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache. However, the greatest pleasures are the scores of tips and secrets alluded to in the title. "Beware of scallops that look pure white." "Potatoes cook evenly if you start with cold water." Who knew?
Reviewed on: 06/06/2005