As a kid I'd watch my dad as he'd throw (his unit of measurement) some olive oil, onions, garlic, lemon, and olives into a pan to make a quick pasta. It's learning to cook this way that gave me a love and appreciation for food and cooking. That's what was so amazing about Twelve Recipes. When you read it, you feel like you're getting that private cooking lesson from a family member. A family member who happens to be a really really good cook.
Through the book Cal Peternell, chef at renowned restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA, lays out twelve-ish basic foods and techniques that he believes will let you eat well for the rest of your life. If you're a novice in the kitchen, the first chapter eases you in by teaching you how to make toast. No, seriously — toast. I was skeptical at first too, I consider myself to be somewhat of a toast veteran, but after reading a few pages I actually learned something. I had no idea that to make thin crisp toast you should actually use a loaf of stale bread since it's easier to cut. That's the beauty of the book – even if you've been making toast, grilling meat, or cooking rice all your life, there's still something to learn.
In the best way, this isn't your standard cookbook. You won't find a single recipe on each page, you'll actually find two or three, interweaved by a story about a family ping pong game. The photos are beautiful, but they're not your standard food-porn shots that make your home cooking feel insecure. Then there are the sweet little illustrations that were done by Peternell's wife and kids peppered throughout (see what I did there?). All these ingredients add up to a beautiful book that's sure to inspire your inner cook.
– JP LeRoux
by Cal Peternell
2014, 320 pages, 7 x 9.1 x 1.1 inches