Thursday, November 30, 2006

Book Review: Intuitive Cooking

Joanne Saltzman (author of "Amazing Grains" and "Romancing the Bean") is the founder of the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado. If you are not lucky enough to be able to attend the school, her new book "Intuitive Cooking" is the next best thing. This book is a complete course in using your senses to create a dish rather than relying on a recipe.

This is not an easy read. There are no pictures. This book is really like taking a cooking course and requires attention and study. As Saltzman says in the introduction, "This book is designed for those who want to study cooking more deeply than what is typically offered in culinary cookbooks."

I have studied natural foods cooking and I found this book an excellent review - reminding me of why I do things in the order I do and what I acheive by certain processes. I learned the reasons for things I do naturally and found some new techniques that I am eager to try, like steeping vegetables.

The book is divided into 3 sections.

Chapter One talks about the language of cooking. Saltzman has her own language and uses many terms I haven't heard before but they really describe perfectly what she is trying to say. She explains how to design a dish and compose a meal. Vegetable cutting techniques are also illustrated.

Chapter Two goes through the cooking methods. This is the crucial part of the book because if you can master these, you can make anything. She talks about pretreatments like soaking and dry-roasting, first stage cooking methods like boiling, baking, roasting, steeping, fermenting, steaming, braising pickling, stir-frying, etc.; and second stage methods like refrying.

Chapter Three gives almost 400 recipe sketches for vegetables, grains, and proteins (all vegan). They may seem a bit daunting until you are comfortable with the cooking methods from Chapter Two - but once you get them down, you will find that these sketches give you lots of room to be creative and free you from the confines of traditional recipes.


cv said...

Thanks for this review! I cited your blog in a purchase request for this at my local library. I'm a big fan of Saltzman's previous 2 books.

Cathe Olson said...

Cool. I hope they pick it up.