Before I received this I wondered, how does one review a cookbook? Then it came in the mail from Random House and I realized the question is irrelevant. Martha Stewart's Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook is so much more than a cookbook!
This 500 page volume is a How-To/Encyclopedia for cooking. Anything you've ever wanting to learn how to do is in here. Can't boil an egg? See Lesson 2.1. Want to make your own pate? (never going to happen, my friends) See Extra Credit: Grinding and Binding.
The first section of the book is the Basics: your equipment, knives, herbs, etc. The stuff you need to know before you get started. Then the book is separated into 7 categories: Stock and Soups, Eggs, Meat, Fish and Poultry, Vegetables, Pasta, Dried Beans and Grains, and finally, Desserts. Each category is then divided into Lessons (How to Roast, How to make Tomato Sauce, etc).
If you are familiar with Martha's 101's on her website, you'll have an idea of how the lessons work. Each lesson tells you about the process, what equipment and ingredients to use, and a step by step how-to. There are plenty of tips and photos of the process. After the lesson, are recipes to try out what you've learned. It's all theory until you actually pick up a spatula!
So, do you think I've benefited from any the lessons yet? Yes, I did, I'm proud to say! I did Meat, Fish and Poultry: Lesson 3.1: How to Roast. I made a delicious pork tenderloin for a family get together. It was a hit. And while I still have problems with timing, patience and always overthinking everything, I think I have a handle on this one.
The book is well laid out and easy to follow. There are excellent charts for quick reference; I've used the internal meat temperature one already. The photography will make you drool like Pavlov's dog.
Don't think this is a book you'll use once and then shove to the back of the cupboard. I could see me using this as a reference book whenever I cook. It's not just a pretty to look at book but a user friendly handbook for everyday use. It ain't cheap, but I think it's totally worth it. (Right now RandomHouse.ca is offering 30% off and free shipping on cookbooks.)
Highly Recommended for the Home Cook