by Sybill PrattApril, 2004
Cooking lessons from a master
John Ash, cooking teacher par excellence, award-winning cookbook author, cooking columnist and more, makes some basic assumptions about his audience you like to eat and feed others, you have high standards and sophisticated tastes, but you're overcommitted to work and family so it often seems daunting or pointless to cook at home. Ash offers a cure for that sinking oh-I'll-just-order-take-out feeling that will "bring pleasure to your table" and save you money and calories on the way. His new book, John Ash: Cooking One on One, written with Amy Mintzer, is neither a kitchen primer nor the "only cookbook you'll ever need," it's his highly personal take on contemporary food approached in a series of unintimidating, self-contained lessons. The lessons are set out in three courses: "flavor-makers," including sensational salsas, vinaigrettes, pestos, marinades and simple, savory sauces; "techniques" from soups to soufflÅ½s, with stops for oven-drying (really fabulous), pot-roasting, grilling and pastas from both Italian and Asian points of view; and "ingredients" featuring chicken, salmon and shrimp, mushrooms and dried beans, tofu and its soy relatives, and some very special sweets. The recipes range from the fairly simple to the more elaborate, such as Fresh Cranberry and Tangerine Relish, Oven-Dried Cauliflower, Corn and Red Pepper Risotto, Grilled Tequila-Lime Marinated Salmon, Black Bean Gazpacho Salad and Lemon Zabaglione. Throughout, Ash is there with you, one-on-one, which adds up to a lot more than two.