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Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks
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About the Author

Linda Carucci is an award- winning cooking teacher, chef, and culinary consultant. She was presented with the Cooking Teacher of the Year Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. In addition to teaching classes in the San Francisco Bay Area, Linda is the Julia Child Curator of Food Arts for Copia: The American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in Napa, California.

Reviews

Secrets of good cooking
It's called "Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks," and for people serious about cooking, it's the next best thing to plunking down several hundred dollars for a comprehensive course.

Linda Carucci has more than 20 years' experience as a professional cook and teacher in the Bay Area, and in this book she skillfully combines these two talents, giving her readers their money's worth and then some. Her editors and publisher did a fine job visually breaking up the book with many sidebars -- most prominently Recipe Secrets -- that avoid the tedium of feeling bombarded with too many facts, college-textbook style. Carucci -- at one time dean of the California Culinary Academy and now the Julia Child curator for food arts at Copia, the American Center for Food, Wine & the Arts in Napa -- knows the key element of successful teaching: Don't just tell students what to do, but explain to them why they are asked to do it. This is especially useful when instructions seem to run counter to common wisdom. Carucci, for instance, advocates salting meat, poultry and fish well in advance of cooking. But haven't we heard over and over that salt will draw out moisture, so chickens, steaks or burgers will be dry if salted in advance? That has been the prevailing opinion, she admits -- and it's dead wrong. Without getting too technical, Carucci explains that initially, salt does draw out moisture. But after a while, reverse osmosis causes the meat to reabsorb the liquid. The result will be a finished dish that's more tender, moist and flavorful. And you don't just have to take Carucci's word for this. She quotes two local culinary heavyweights for support. Bothsausage maker par excellence Bruce Aidells and Zuni Cafe chef Judy Rodgers (famous for her stellar roast chicken) are devoted practitioners of early salting. On the subject of salt, the book also tells what kind of salt to use for what purpose and -- of course -- why. It explains the benefit of trussing a roasting chicken and how to do it; how to seed, peel and chop fresh tomatoes; how to get every drop of a heavy sauce out of a food processor; why farmed fish is hardly the panacea it was once considered; and why and when to use wooden spoons for stirring sauces. The amount of information presented in this medium-size paperback would be considered respectable in a volume twice its size. And we haven't even talked about the recipes yet. There are more than 100, all tested by Carucci's veritable army of home cooks across the country who give her feedback, which, if critical, prompts rethinking and revising. So the recipes are rock-solid and interesting, yet sensible. Some are indisputably easy; in others, the amount of time required for preparation depends largely on the competence of the cook. For example, the roasted pineapple salsa served with honey-mustard glazed ham (a great savory variation on the hackneyed ham and pineapple theme) is a snap if you have good knife skills. If you don't, it can be time consuming. Trying to stay the critic rather than a booster, I thought hard about how this book could be improved. Two things come to mind: The typeface is so small that cooks who don't have 20/20 vision may find it taxing. Plus, a few more of the black-and-white illustrations of techniques would be nice. But, hey, this is not a coffee-table book, and it doesn'tcarry a coffee- table book price tag. It's a kitchen table book, and one of the best I have run across in quite a while.. -San Francisco ChronicleSmall cookbook packs plenty
Every time I watch a chef chop an onion, I learn something about that person," Linda Carucci says. She's an award-winning cooking teacher; the Julia Child Curator of Food Arts at Copia, the food museum in Napa, Calif., and, most recently, the author of a cookbook that's receiving raves online. Carucci's chief delight, it seems, is learning and teaching. For her, it's a natural continuum. Inhale, exhale. Take in new information, give it to other people. Her subject, of course, is cooking, and her first book ("Probably my only book -- I don't know if I have any words left") is Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks (Chronicle, $22.95). I was surprised to find that although it's packed with tips, illustrations, recipes, advice, anecdotes and explanations, it's a convenient-size paperback. This mountain of information is organized for accessibility and offered in reader-friendly prose. In our recent interview, Carucci praised the editors, designers, recipe testers, chef colleagues and her husband, Allen Rehmke, for their part in the project. Cooking School Secrets makes a great gift for the recent college graduate setting up a new apartment and facing a kitchen alone for the first time. It's also a great refresher course for experienced cooks. Each recipe is explained so thoroughly that it's almost a class in itself. Not surprising, since the book is based on the author's eight years running her own school, Linda Carucci's Kitchen, in Oakland, Calif. It's a book that begs to be used, and thereward isn't just recipes so tasty you forget they're instructional (do try the accompanying recipes for grilled marinated flank steak au jus and the savory corn pudding). You also have the pleasure of "meeting" Carucci herself in her writing. Her sense of enjoyment is an invigorating, illuminating force. "In my proposal I said I don't want a big, heavy coffee table book with a big price tag," she says. "I don't want something that's going to make a dent in your belly when you read it in bed." But producing this usable, affordable cookbook was easier said than done. "On the surface, you wouldn't know there were 116 recipe testers -- that there were home cooks in Burlington, Vt.; Elgin, Ill., and Glendora, Calif., who told me they could find pomegranate molasses for the muhammara [a Middle Eastern condiment that also includes roasted red peppers and walnuts] or rice noodles for the Vietnamese grilled pork salad. Or that on the East Coast they told me their halibut fillets always come with the skin on." (West Coast halibut fillets come skinless.) She realized the originally agreed-upon 150 recipes was just too much, and her editor agreed, then slashed the total by a breath-snatching 50. After Carucci had whittled down her "little darlings," the editor went over the revised recipe list and noted, "You don't have a chocolate cake in this book. You have to have chocolate cake." And she had to have it in a week. She started with an idea from Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur, Calif., that sounds a bit quirky: This chocolate cake calls for beets. (It's true, but your kids won't know they're eating a root vegetable unless you tell them.) Then she experimented with two kinds of icing: chocolate ganache, using Nick Malgieri's technique, and her own adaptation of Hershey's cocoa fudge frosting. Fifty of her testers could turn a recipe around in 48 hours, so she sent half of them the cake and ganache; the other half, the cake and fudge frosting. She expected this to determine which icing worked better, but it was a tie. Even her editor couldn't decide, so both frostings are in the book. What kept her from writing it sooner? Carucci says it was the prospect of sitting alone at a computer terminal through 100,000 words and scads of recipes. She was associate dean of students at Occidental College in Los Angeles when, in 1983, she moved to San Francisco to attend the California Culinary Academy. She was one of its earliest "older students" (she was in her 20s at the time) and later became its dean. She has been a caterer and, since 1997, has operated her own cooking school -- all people-related occupations. Furthermore, she says, she tested "off the chart" as an extrovert on the Myers-Briggs personality profile. That doesn't mean she has to be the life of every party, but that "I draw my energy from other people." Sit at a computer every day for a year? "What a dull, boring, horrible thing that would be for me." The recipe testers became her "lifeline," she says. "Every single morning I woke up and I ran to the computer" to see who'd checked in with triumphs, questions, comments, new problems, possible solutions. "It was like I was teaching online." And learning, of course. She gleans information from every experience, even breast cancer, which was diagnosed about 15 years ago. She doesn't refer to herself as a survivor; the experience was a career-alteringfact of her life. She left the academy -- "The guys couldn't handle it" -- and after free-lancing for a while, she started her school in 1997. She was back with her first love, teaching, working directly with people. "If you're by yourself, how much fun can you have?" she asks. And enjoyment -- fun -- is one of the priorities lined up in her life. "That's one thing breast cancer does for you. I got to live. A lot of my friends in my support group didn't. So I just figure, it's got to be fun." -Chicago Sun-Times


Secrets of good cooking
It's called "Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks," and for people serious about cooking, it's the next best thing to plunking down several hundred dollars for a comprehensive course.

Linda Carucci has more than 20 years' experience as a professional cook and teacher in the Bay Area, and in this book she skillfully combines these two talents, giving her readers their money's worth and then some. Her editors and publisher did a fine job visually breaking up the book with many sidebars most prominently Recipe Secrets that avoid the tedium of feeling bombarded with too many facts, college-textbook style. Carucci at one time dean of the California Culinary Academy and now the Julia Child curator for food arts at Copia, the American Center for Food, Wine & the Arts in Napa knows the key element of successful teaching: Don't just tell students what to do, but explain to them why they are asked to do it. This is especially useful when instructions seem to run counter to common wisdom. Carucci, for instance, advocates salting meat, poultry and fish well in advance of cooking. But haven't we heard over and over that salt will draw out moisture, so chickens, steaks or burgers will be dry if salted in advance? That has been the prevailing opinion, she admits and it's dead wrong. Without getting too technical, Carucci explains that initially, salt does draw out moisture. But after a while, reverse osmosis causes the meat to reabsorb the liquid. The result will be a finished dish that's more tender, moist and flavorful. And you don't just have to take Carucci's word for this. She quotes two local culinary heavyweights for support. Both sausage maker par excellence Bruce Aidells and Zuni Cafe chef Judy Rodgers (famous for her stellar roast chicken) are devoted practitioners of early salting. On the subject of salt, the book also tells what kind of salt to use for what purpose and of course why. It explains the benefit of trussing a roasting chicken and how to do it; how to seed, peel and chop fresh tomatoes; how to get every drop of a heavy sauce out of a food processor; why farmed fish is hardly the panacea it was once considered; and why and when to use wooden spoons for stirring sauces. The amount of information presented in this medium-size paperback would be considered respectable in a volume twice its size. And we haven't even talked about the recipes yet. There are more than 100, all tested by Carucci's veritable army of home cooks across the country who give her feedback, which, if critical, prompts rethinking and revising. So the recipes are rock-solid and interesting, yet sensible. Some are indisputably easy; in others, the amount of time required for preparation depends largely on the competence of the cook. For example, the roasted pineapple salsa served with honey-mustard glazed ham (a great savory variation on the hackneyed ham and pineapple theme) is a snap if you have good knife skills. If you don't, it can be time consuming. Trying to stay the critic rather than a booster, I thought hard about how this book could be improved. Two things come to mind: The typeface is so small that cooks who don't have 20/20 vision may find it taxing. Plus, a few more of the black-and-white illustrations of techniques would be nice. But, hey, this is not a coffee-table book, and it doesn't carry a coffee-table book price tag. It's a kitchen table book, and one of the best I have run across in quite a while. -"San Francisco Chronicle" Small cookbook packs plenty
Every time I watch a chef chop an onion, I learn something about that person," Linda Carucci says. She's an award-winning cooking teacher; the Julia Child Curator of Food Arts at Copia, the food museum in Napa, Calif., and, most recently, the author of a cookbook that's receiving raves online. Carucci's chief delight, it seems, is learning and teaching. For her, it's a natura


Secrets of good cooking
It's called "Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks," and for people serious about cooking, it's the next best thing to plunking down several hundred dollars for a comprehensive course.

Linda Carucci has more than 20 years' experience as a professional cook and teacher in the Bay Area, and in this book she skillfully combines these two talents, giving her readers their money's worth and then some. Her editors and publisher did a fine job visually breaking up the book with many sidebars most prominently Recipe Secrets that avoid the tedium of feeling bombarded with too many facts, college-textbook style. Carucci at one time dean of the California Culinary Academy and now the Julia Child curator for food arts at Copia, the American Center for Food, Wine & the Arts in Napa knows the key element of successful teaching: Don't just tell students what to do, but explain to them why they are asked to do it. This is especially useful when instructions seem to run counter to common wisdom. Carucci, for instance, advocates salting meat, poultry and fish well in advance of cooking. But haven't we heard over and over that salt will draw out moisture, so chickens, steaks or burgers will be dry if salted in advance? That has been the prevailing opinion, she admits and it's dead wrong. Without getting too technical, Carucci explains that initially, salt does draw out moisture. But after a while, reverse osmosis causes the meat to reabsorb the liquid. The result will be a finished dish that's more tender, moist and flavorful. And you don't just have to take Carucci's word for this. She quotes two local culinary heavyweights for support. Both sausage maker par excellence Bruce Aidells and Zuni Cafe chef Judy Rodgers (famous for her stellar roast chicken) are devoted practitioners of early salting. On the subject of salt, the book also tells what kind of salt to use for what purpose and of course why. It explains the benefit of trussing a roasting chicken and how to do it; how to seed, peel and chop fresh tomatoes; how to get every drop of a heavy sauce out of a food processor; why farmed fish is hardly the panacea it was once considered; and why and when to use wooden spoons for stirring sauces. The amount of information presented in this medium-size paperback would be considered respectable in a volume twice its size. And we haven't even talked about the recipes yet. There are more than 100, all tested by Carucci's veritable army of home cooks across the country who give her feedback, which, if critical, prompts rethinking and revising. So the recipes are rock-solid and interesting, yet sensible. Some are indisputably easy; in others, the amount of time required for preparation depends largely on the competence of the cook. For example, the roasted pineapple salsa served with honey-mustard glazed ham (a great savory variation on the hackneyed ham and pineapple theme) is a snap if you have good knife skills. If you don't, it can be time consuming. Trying to stay the critic rather than a booster, I thought hard about how this book could be improved. Two things come to mind: The typeface is so small that cooks who don't have 20/20 vision may find it taxing. Plus, a few more of the black-and-white illustrations of techniques would be nice. But, hey, this is not a coffee-table book, and it doesn't carry a coffee-table book price tag. It's a kitchen table book, and one of the best I have run across in quite a while. -San Francisco Chronicle Small cookbook packs plenty
Every time I watch a chef chop an onion, I learn something about that person," Linda Carucci says. She's an award-winning cooking teacher; the Julia Child Curator of Food Arts at Copia, the food museum in Napa, Calif., and, most recently, the author of a cookbook that's receiving raves online. Carucci's chief delight, it seems, is learning and teaching. For her, it's a natura

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