Listen, I love The Joy of Cooking
. No disrespect
. But after spending some time with Aida Mollenkamp's Keys to the Kitchen
, I think that I may just have a new best bud in the kitchen. With its step-by-step illustrations, prep tips, and fundamental recipes, this is the kind of cookbook that truly teaches you the ABC's of cooking.
• Who wrote it: Aida Mollenkamp
• Who published it: Chronicle Books
• Number of recipes: Over 300
• Recipes for right now: Tomato-Orange Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons, Cranberry Bean Ragout with Olive-Citrus Butter, Red Curry Roast with Coconut-Chile Carrots, Roasted Squash Pasta with Sage Brown Butter, Creamy Butterscotch Pudding
• Other highlights: Let me start by saying how much I love the quick-reference table of contents printed on the inside of the front cover. So surprisingly handy! When you need to look up something really quickly just to, you know, make sure you're searing the meat correctly or can't remember how long a soft boiled egg takes, just flip open the cover and you're halfway there.
This quick contents is such a small thing, but it's really indicative of the whole book: small things that add up to a really powerful ally in the kitchen. The tips are in a separate color so they're easy to spot as you're skimming, unusual ingredients are underlined so they don't catch you by surprise, tense moments have call-outs in the margin to help you through them. Every little detail has been thought through with the cook in mind.
The book is also arranged to both teach you the fundamentals of cooking and then serve as a reference once you're feeling more comfortable. There are sections on setting up your kitchen and filling your pantry with essential ingredients, basic techniques for everything from prepping chicken to chopping herbs, "building block" recipes, and then a whole slew of recipes that will keep your weeknights happy for months to come.
And last but not least, it's one of those cookbooks that just makes you happy to hold it in your hands. It has heft and the pages feel silky as you turn them. The pictures are mouthwatering (even the ones showing techniques!) and the mix of fonts and design-styles makes it a fun and engaging read.
This is a lot for one cookbook to do, but Keys to the Kitchen does all of it and then some.
• Who would enjoy this book? New cooks (this would make a great gift for new cooks, too!), cooks wanting to add a solid reference book to their collection
• Visit the author's website: Aida Mollenkamp
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.
(Images: Emma Christensen)