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Review: Cook Like a Rock Star

– Anne Burrell, the host of Food Network’s “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” and “Worst Cooks in America”, has just released her very first cookbook. –

 

Anne has some powerful ideas about how to be successful in the kitchen, and challenges home chefs to “own what you do in the kitchen.”  Anne wants to empower you to have the confidence and skills you need to pull off a great meal, and (most importantly) have fun doing it… rock star-style!

 

To quote Mario Batali, who wrote the Forward to Cook Like a Rock Star:

“Anne could cook, she could take the heat, and she had a good time.”

 

Unfortunately, for too many of us time is our enemy, and fun takes a backseat to “just getting it done.”  However, Anne holds the belief that every one of us can improve our experience in the kitchen.  This is her central premise in Cook Like a Rock Star.  And to help us do that, she provides us with her tips, tools and encouragement.

 

And the recipes… let’s not forget them.  Awesome!  And definitely unique.  125 mouthwatering recipes, and page after page of gorgeous full-color pictures to give you all kinds of great presentation ideas.  There is a lot to work with if you are interested in exploring Anne’s brand of authentic Italian home cooking.

 

Mise en place

One of the techniques Anne uses to help her organize herself in the kitchen is ‘mise en place’, which means ‘put in place’.  Basically, each recipe in the cookbook starts with a list of mise en place items… things to prepare ahead of time, before you do any cooking.  What a great idea!  So you have all your tools and equipment out, all ingredients accounted for, and everything else otherwise prepared for the recipe.  This allows you to be totally present and ready to cook when the time comes!


For me, this simple change has made all the difference to my stress level in the kitchen.  Since being introduced to this concept I actively try to use the ‘mise en place’ technique with my other recipes.  I write a list (usually next to the ingredient list in a regular cookbook) of all the things that need to be done before I start cooking.  Funny enough, it works especially well when you are in a rush, and more apt to forget something important.

 

Anne as a Coach

Anne’s voice is heard throughout the book, like a coach, or a good friend, giving you helpful advice when you need it.  She writes like she talks on TV, with a lot of humor and enthusiasm.

And Anne’s friendly reminders and tips are sprinkled throughout the book are in a cool, handwritten font, which looks like she is sharing her personal notes on a recipe with you.  Nice touch!

If you need help getting your kitchen in order, there are lists of Anne’s favorite kitchen tools and gadgets, as well as her favorite food items to always have on hand.  These are great takeaways from an experienced chef.

 

Cook Like a Rock Star - by Anne Burrell

Anne’s Recipes

Anne spent some of her formative years studying the art of cooking in Italy.  She was heavily influenced by the simplicity of authentic Italian cuisine, and her recipes reflect this.  She also draws on her experiences  working in a variety of restaurants, from La Bottega del ’30, a small restaurant in Tuscany, to New York’s Centro Vinoteca, to present the food that she loves to make, and people enjoy eating.

Here is a taste of the types of recipes you can expect from Cook Like a Rock Star:

Small-portion antipasti dishes called “piccolini” (unique and fun)

  • Peperonata with Goat Cheese
  • Oyster Mushroom Chips
  • Prosciutto-Arugula Breadstick “Brooms”

Appetizers or “firsts”

  • Pumpkin Soup with Allspice Whipped Cream & Fried Leeks
  • Roasted Beet & Many-Herb Salad
  • Spicy Chickpea Soup with Crispy Crunchy Croutons

Amazing pasta (like the ones from the Iron Chef competitions!)

  • Tagliolini with Walnut-Arugula Sauce
  • Chef Anne’s Light-as-a-Cloud Gnocchi
  • Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe Pesto & Sausage

Main courses or “seconds”

  • Rosemary & Lemon Roasted Chicken with Gravy
  • Whole Roasted Fish with Sliced Potatoes, Olives & Herbs
  • Seared Red Snapper with Sicilian Cauliflower & Parsley Salad

Side dishes (the “sparkle”)

  • Brussels Sprouts Slaw
  • Sweet Potato & Apple Hash
  • Stewed Zucchini with Tomatoes, Oregano & Pine Nuts

Desserts

  • Tarallucci with Salty Caramel
  • Maple-Pumpkin Bread Pudding
  • Blueberry Nectarine Crisp

 

As A Gift?

This cookbook would make a great gift for someone who would like to enjoy the process of cooking, just as much as the final result!

 

Sample Recipe

Sample recipe from Cook Like a Rock Star (you have to scroll down a bit to see the recipe).

 

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