In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review - My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence in the Kitchen

Written by Chef Donna Desfor | Sep 5, 2017 8:00 AM
Master Recipes

By Patricia Wells. Copyright © 2017 by Patricia Wells. Photographs by David Japy.  Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Our Summary:

If there's anything that will make you a better cook, it's confidence.  And confidence, according to Patricia Wells, comes from knowing what you are doing in the kitchen and why.  In My Master Recipes, Wells organizes this learn-as-you-go cookbook around fundamental cooking techniques, providing master recipes for fundamentals such as steaming, or searing, or poaching.  Recipes - plural, because you don't poach eggs the same way you poach fish, poultry, and fruit.  This book will remind you of your mother's favorite cookbook, or maybe even her mother's favorite cookbook.  It feels instantly familiar.  No frills, no fuss:  just solid, reliable know-how and a handful of recipes that teach you what you need to know.

What you need to know:

Get it:  My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence in the Kitchen by Patricia Wells. Copyright © 2017 by Patricia Wells. Photographs by David Japy.  Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, March 7, 2017, Hardcover $35.00 (Amazon $23.04; Kindle $14.99)

See it:  496 pages with random, rather pedestrian, color photos peppered throughout. 

Make it:  165 recipes spread between 18 primary cooking and baking techniques such as Steam, Infuse, Emulsify, Fold and Bake.  A chapter on Extras provides recipes for staple stocks, condiments such as dipping sauces, powders and side dishes.

Our Review:

You won't see My Master Recipes, by Patricia Wells, setting out on a countertop, bookshelf, or table, and immediately reach for it.  You'd probably not even notice it among today's modern high gloss, perfectly-manicured-food-on-book-covers culture.  This book takes you back to the simplistic covers like Joy of Cooking or Mastering the Art of French Cooking that suggested nothing about the recipes contained between the covers but instead sold you on the knowledge waiting for you inside.  Given this author's track record, it would be a shame to pass this book by.

Written more like a learn-as-you-go textbook, My Master Recipes compiles the recipes Wells has taught for decades in her classes.  Recipes that create a blueprint for success because you are mastering a technique, not a recipe.  To keep you interested, though, Wells adds variations for each of the techniques, and a healthy dose of Asian flavors, which she admits a fondness for. 

The use of seasonal ingredients, the abundant use of fresh fruits and vegetables, the generous gratings of zests and sprinkling of herbs, substituting honey for sugar when possible, and olive oil for butter when it fits, are the signatures of My Master Recipes and Wells' style of cooking.  She's not afraid to provide advice on when to make easy ingredient substitutions or to tell you to stick to the original recipe.  She leaves little to chance.

You'll enjoy mastering a piquant aioli, plus learn how to make a Beurre Blanc in the Emulsify section.  In Grind you'll become a master sausage maker with her Pork and Fennel Sausage then use that technique for her Asian Chicken and Cilantro Meatballs.  Then, in Set, you'll master the technique of panna cotta with Lemon Panna Cotta with Candied Lemon Zest, then skillfully trade out the lemons for raspberries and perfect Raspberry Panna Cotta.  Along the way, Wells instructs clearly and precisely in her pleasant tone.  You feel like you're in a cooking class, and when you're wondering "why" the answer is waiting for you in the next sentence. 

While My Master Recipes won't win any awards on looks alone, it will win accolades from anyone that wants to take the time to read and digest the information that leads each section (no more than a page or two).  It is here that Wells shares her tips and explains how to achieve the perfect results for each technique.  When you're ready to apply what you've learned in your reading, step into your home kitchen and enjoy the confidence that comes from creating delicious results.

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Tagged under , ,

back to top

Give Now

Food Sponsor

Dutch honey Gold

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »