Where Cooking Begins: Uncomplicated Recipes to Make You a Great Cook by Carla Lalli Music

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Notes about this book

  • annmartina on October 16, 2019

    I'm an ingredient hoarder and this book inspired me to finally lean down my pantry and spice rack. I feel so much happier in my kitchen and hope I can hang onto these good habits.

  • Emily Hope on April 15, 2019

    Asparagus with spicy brown butter bread crumbs: I am a firm believer in the power of butter, but I cut back on the butter a bit (to 6 tbsp from 8!) and still thought it was too buttery -- the bread crumbs were totally saturated. The consensus was that it would also be better if the bread crumbs were smaller as opposed to the torn pieces that she recommends -- they don't really adhere to the asparagus and the elements seemed pretty separate. Also needed a good squeeze of lemon juice to perk it up.

  • Emily Hope on April 15, 2019

    Chicken ragu: The whole family liked this recipe (the picky 6 year old, who was given chunks of braised chicken before it got shredded and put back in the sauce, said "how did you make this chicken? so good!"). I had time constraints so swapped things and braised the chicken in the pressure cooker (15 min @high pressure, 10 min natural release) while the polenta cooked in the oven. Although it was tasty and will probably make again, I'm not sure how much time savings there really are compared to, say, a pork ragu -- yes, less cook time, but no less hands-on time; it was a fair bit of work. Served w/asparagus with bread crumbs from same book--reasonably good match, though I might have preferred a salad.

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Leeks with potato chips and chives

    • mllamas on October 01, 2019

      Leeks were a little tough. Add extra water and braise for a bit longer.

    • jenmacgregor18 on November 05, 2019

      Didn't take long to cook. After cooking, I cut my leeks into bite sized pieces to make them a bit easier to eat. And loaded them up with salt & pepper potato chips. Different & good. It kind of had a sour cream potato chip vibe. I really enjoyed them.

  • 10-minute pastry dough

    • Astrid5555 on May 10, 2019

      Great method, perfectly flaky dough. Love it!

  • Any-fruit galette

    • Astrid5555 on May 10, 2019

      Perfectly flaky dough, made with strawberries, gone within minutes!

  • Butter-basted rib eye with crunchy fennel salad

    • abrownb1 on February 03, 2020

      I only made the fennel salad and it was delicious! I added a bit more vinegar since mine was a little more mellow and added the Aleppo pepper to the salad. So easy and perfect with steak.

  • Grains and roasted squash with spicy buttermilk dressing

    • readingtragic on October 20, 2019

      Your photo is nicer than the one in the book :)

  • Omelet with whipped ricotta for two

    • southerncooker on September 15, 2019

      I used two of the spins on this, cottage cheese and small spinach. Made half recipe. Tasty.

  • Chicken cutlets with spicy coconut dressing

    • jenmacgregor18 on September 07, 2020

      Not a repeat for me. Nothing really wowed me.

    • julesamomof2 on August 31, 2020

      Another variation on the 'hot chicken on cool salad' theme. The dressing makes the dish. Otherwise, it was decent enough, but not sure I would repeat.

  • Charred broccoli salad

    • nadiam1000 on May 09, 2019

      This was only ok for me - it fell a little flat. Maybe needs more salt and acid. Not sure I will repeat.

    • Lepa on September 10, 2019

      I had my doubts when I read the instructions but this dish ended being the hit of my bookclub! Be sure to add plenty of salt and pepper or it could be bland (as the other reviewer noted).

  • Seared scallops with brown butter, hazelnuts, and chives

    • meggan on November 05, 2019

      I liked this ok but others were not into it. I am going to use the extra hazelnuts for a salad toss.

  • Seared lamb patty with marinated halloumi and herbs

    • cpasek on February 08, 2020

      Great recipe! I broke up the lamb more than was called for in the recipe while cooking. The seasoning for the halloumi was wonderful, although I might add a bit more seasoning to the lamb itself while cooking. I ended up putting this over a mix of butter lettuce and radicchio and it worked very well.

  • Stir-fried celery with peanuts and bacon

    • cjross on December 14, 2020

      Yummy, easy and good for using up cabbage and celery, which are two vegetables that sometimes languish in my fridge. I was cooking for a vegan so I omitted the bacon and just used oil. I'm sure it would be even better with bacon.

  • Chicories with garlic bread croutons

    • Lepa on June 30, 2019

      This looked like a salad I've had many times before but the oregano added an unexpected- and completely delicious- note that made it really special. So delicious!

  • Fresh figs with Manchego and wet walnuts

    • Lepa on September 08, 2019

      We had a dinner party with about eight different dishes tonight and this was my favorite. It was so easy to put together - almost an afterthought- and absolutely delicious. I anticipate making this often!

  • Sweet potatoes with tahini butter

    • Lepa on October 09, 2019

      This recipe adds a tangy, savory note to sweet potatoes, which I welcome, and some pleasant crunch from sesame seeds. I liked the method of steaming the sweet potatoes and will probably do that again. I ate this for lunch and it was a solid stand-alone dish.

  • Aioli and all the things for dipping

    • Lepa on November 02, 2019

      I made this tonight when we had friends over for dinner. We had raw bell peppers, fennel, endive, cucumbers and radishes along with steamed snap peas, green beans, eggs, salmon, potatoes and carrots. We ate it with homemade foccacia. It made for a delicious and healthy feast and the assortment of raw veggies was great for picky younger children. I was a bit surprised at how delicious steamed salmon is (with aioli). The aioli was good but not the best I've had. I feel like this is a concept worth revisiting and a nice do-ahead meal for a dinner party.

  • Spice-drawer chicken wings

    • grindabod on February 07, 2020

      Love how you use the oven in a way that mimicks the combination of indirect and direct grilling. Succulent meat and crispy skin!

  • Lobster pasta with grated tomato sauce

    • grindabod on September 01, 2020

      "I could get used to this", is what I'm thinking! Since the pandemic began, this is the second time we've treated ourselves to a fresh lobster, as opposed to zero times in all the years preceding. This type of dish takes the mighty lobster, that we barely dare to touch - especially here in Belgium - down from its pedestal a notch and lets you relax a little. This pasta dish was so delicious, so moreish, I think we might start doing this (a little bit) more often.

  • Pan-roasted salmon with cauli-tartar sauce and chive vinaigrette

    • bwhip on November 23, 2019

      This was remarkably delicious. My wife and I both loved it. Very simple to prepare, and the salmon roasting technique led to a silky, crispy, excellent result. The cauliflower was a great complement to the salmon in both flavor and texture, and the kiss of grapefruit throughout was really nice.

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Reviews about this book

  • Food52

    ...breaks down all the need-to-know cooking techniques, and offers a collection of incredibly delicious, modern recipes that harness each cooking method.

    Full review
  • Kitchn

    An interview with the author.

    Full review
  • ISBN 10 0525573348
  • ISBN 13 9780525573340
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Mar 19 2019
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 288
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher Clarkson Potter

Publishers Text

A gateway cookbook for novices--and perfect for farmers' market overbuyers, seasoned home cooks, and mere mortal poor planners who don't think about dinner until late in the day--here are 80 riffable recipes and foundational techniques that will make anyone a more confident cook, along with a new approach to shopping and cooking that leans in to our insurmountable desire to make whatever we feel like at any given moment.

The 80 recipes in Where Cooking Begins do double duty: they are keeper recipes and foils for Carla Lalli Music's rad yet intuitive approach to cooking: get into the habit of picking up a handful of fresh ingredients a few times a week; rely on a well-stocked pantry and a grocery delivery service for everything else; and learn how to pan-roast, sauté, slow-roast, confit, and poach. Carla buoys each recipe with eureka substitutions--cool riffs--so you won't stress if you lack an ingredient, don't like it, or want to use up the Swiss chard in your fridge. For novice and seasoned cooks alike, Where Cooking Begins is designed for reality: We are busy, it's hard to plan, we sometimes go crazy at the farmers' market, and we can order just about everything online. Carla makes all of this work for you--and for your dinner--with these approachable recipes that are just sophisticated enough to incite you to cook, but still doable any day of the week.


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