For those of you who have plenty of time in your life to do nothing else but sit around and cook, I envy you. But for the average individual who doesn’t get home from their job until well after 6:00, and then has to make something quickly before winding down and getting ready for the next day, cooking can become quite a chore. What can put fun back in the kitchen for you? What could make cooking a delight and not just a task? I have two words for you: Alton Brown.While I admit that his cooking method is as much about education as it is about the individual recipes or aesthetic appeal, anyone who has watched his television show knows that there is a little something in his work for everyone. In his series of books, Good Eats : the early years, Good Eats 2 : the middle years and Good Eats 3 : the later years, Brown gives all the recipes and individual commentary to all the shows that he did under the Good Eats banner. In the books, as well as in the show, he not only tells you how to cook the individual recipes but he gives reasons for all of the different methods that are used, and even explains why one pan is better at cooking the recipe as opposed to another, or why it’s better to use a weight measurement rather than a volume measurement for flour when it comes to baking. Filled with fanciful characters as well as interesting tidbits about the history of cooking particular dishes, Brown has brought his own unique vision to cooking that is both stylistically pleasing and substantive.
But don’t just take my word for it. Try out any of his recipes for yourself. I would have to say that I have had first-hand experience with success, cooking various dishes using his methodology. I successfully produced simple sauces such as a homemade mayonnaise or English Rarebit, have been treated to both savory and sweet Pate a Choux that my daughter insists I make every Christmas, enjoyed sweet and tasty homemade marshmallows, and eventually aspired to attempt the more complicated yet equally rewarding cheese soufflé, all following Brown’s advice. If I were to take a look at one cook book for this year, or were to have one cookbook around the house (other than perhaps the Joy of Cooking), I would pick up at least one of Brown’s books. You would find yourself inspired to try cooking, you know, for the fun of it.