In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Mar 3, 2017 9:00 AM
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Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar, Copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  Photography credit: Chris Court © 2016 

Our Summary:

This book is everything you believe about cooking: that it shouldn't be intimidating; that you cook to take care of people, and the mood you take into the kitchen really does translate to the food.  Through Award-winning Chef Naomi Pomeroy's thoughtful progression of delicious-sounding and exquisitely photographed recipes, her inviting attention to detail, and her inspiring commentary, Taste & Technique is designed to help anyone become a better cook and thoroughly enjoy the process.

What you need to know:

Buy it:  Taste & Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by Naomi Pomeroy with Jamie Feldmar.  Photographs by Chris Court.  Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, September 13, 2016.  Hardcover $40.00  (Amazon $22.00; Kindle $19.99)

© 2016

See it:  400 pages with full page and double-page color photographs of all the finished recipes, with several techniques and process photos.  A simple but complete table of contents leads and includes short but thorough chapters on Equipment and Techniques.

Make it:  16 chapters that include 128 recipes, plus probably another 100 or so component recipes and variations to complete the title dish.  The shortest chapters are for proteins (Seafood, Poultry, Pork, Beef, and Lamb) though the 4 recipes in each of those chapters include suggestions for seasonal variations that can be found in other chapters like Vegetables, Soups, and Pantry.  To hear more about our community's experiences with recipes from this cookbook, please tune in to Now That's a Mouthful - WITF's food and cooking podcast.

Our Review:

In some ways, we are all self-taught cooks.  Somewhere, sometime, someone showed us something in the kitchen and from there we began.  Chef Naomi Pomeroy is much like us in that regard.  Her mother taught her how to cook with the little that they had.  From there she took it upon herself to learn about food - to cook and to create.  Pomeroy went on to open restaurants and close restaurants, and then open them again.  Through the highs and lows of her award-winning career, she always returns to her kitchen to learn again, then creates.  That is precisely what Taste & Technique is - a cookbook from which anyone can learn and create delicious food. 

While it's tempting to want to read this book cover to cover - and you should - Pomeroy is smart enough to know that most of us don't have the time to read a cookbook, let alone cook it.  She encourages you to familiarize yourself with each chapter - even if it's to read her brief introduction on the subject matter, which is usually less than one page.  Still, in those few short paragraphs, you'll instantly understand why Sauces, or Eggs, or Poultry or Lamb, for example, are important as ingredients and what they are capable of in a recipe. And, likely, be inspired to cook up a Parsley Sauce Verte or one of its 3 variations, or make a Crispy Fried Egg with Fresh Corn Polenta, while contemplating the simplicity of Brined Chicken Breasts, which will change the way you prepare them - forever.

Pomeroy organizes Taste & Technique in a classical way:  sauces come first, then you move into starters, soups, through vegetables and proteins, and finish with desserts.  Once you take to the kitchen, you'll learn or master a kitchen technique in every recipe.  In turn, that will serve you as you cook many other recipes and meals.  And there's much to choose from.  Her main dishes are all paired with seasonal vegetable or side dish options, most of which can stand on their own.  What's not to like about learning to perfect Pan-Seared Pork Chops?  Especially when Pomeroy gives you a variation for each of the four seasons, such as Spring:  New Potato Salad with Fava Beans and Morels, or Fall: Escarole Caesar Salad, and the page numbers for those recipes.

When you consider that Pomeroy has probably cooked her way through the most impressive collection of cookbook titles to develop her award-winning style, it's easy to see how that knowledge has trickled down into the pages of this book.  Current, thoughtful, yet manageable, Taste & Technique is as much about delicious recipes as it is about teaching.  Pomeroy translates her experiences into meaningful chapters of amazing food that you want to cook.  Even her Pantry chapter with its impressive 26 recipes (plus more variations and flavorings) including Herb Oil, Fried Garlic Chips, Homemade Ritz Crackers, or Champagne-Poached Apricots, is worth a lingering look. 

Once you begin to cook - but, oh, where to start? Maybe with Melon with Radicchio, Crispy Prosciutto, and Caramelized Honey-Black Pepper Vinaigrette, or Porcini Braised Chicken Thighs with the Fall Variation: Potato Dumplings? - you learn (or learn-to-perfect) classic cooking techniques.  Pomeroy in her clear directive voice helps you understand and apply the ideas, whether intuitive or not.  Mostly, though, she helps you find your confidence in the kitchen giving you the ability to cook through any recipe Taste & Technique offers, regardless of your skill-set. 

She doesn't limit you though her intent is to teach.  Pomeroy encourages you to try several recipes together so you can discover the excitement that comes from learning new flavor combinations, like those in Pistachio Meringue Cake with Fresh Citrus, Candied Kumquats, and Cardamom Caramel Sauce.  Pomeroy provides precise measurements to help you understand the subtle aspect of seasoning, the foundation to balance and restraint.  You leave Taste & Technique competent and confident.  Those you cook for will leave your table full and satisfied, in every sense of the word.  

You cannot help but want to be in the kitchen cooking with this book.  You'll feel confident and inspired; serious yet happy.  Even, as Pomeroy says, when things don't go as planned you can still take "deep pleasure in the act of making and sharing food with the people you love."  That, to Pomeroy is the true joy of cooking.  You'll find the true genius of Taste & Technique in the enjoyment that comes from the learning.  And, you'll use what you learn again and over again as you return to this book eager to create something new and delicious.

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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