“As a food writer, I’d slipped into what I call ‘the foodie bubble,’ a magical place where everyone talks about ramps, perfect local peaches, and smoked duck prosciutto,” says Le Cordon Bleu–trained Kathleen Flinn in The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. “I decided it was time to abandon the bubble.” To that end, she gathered nine people who (like many of us) ate processed foods, tossed mountains of wilted produce weekly and didn’t know how to wield a knife. After adeptly walking readers through the societal reasons people have failed to pick up kitchen skills, Flinn proposes a radically simple solution: an 11-class program to teach them what they didn’t learn at home, from making vinaigrette to roasting chicken. The chapters nicely blend the narrative of her protégés’ progress with follow-at-home descriptions of classes and recipes. The result: delicious!
The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn, $31
— Vanessa Milne
Vanessa’s test of the program:
My idea of cooking vegetables is microwaving frozen beans, so I decided to try Flinn’s take on sautéing — an upgrade I could use every day. I threw some veggies in a pan, tossed as directed and added ingredients from what Flinn calls a “flavour profile” — seasoning options, from Cajun to Greek. I added three I had on hand (butter, thyme and white wine) for a French twist. Yum! I now plan to follow one of her recipes every week. And that crazily useful flavour-profiles list? It’s earned a permanent spot on my fridge.