Cover image for Learning to cook with Marion Cunningham
Learning to cook with Marion Cunningham
Cunningham, Marion.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred Knopf, 1999.
Physical Description:
xiii, 303 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TX651 .C86 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Here at last is a much needed cookbook designed to instruct and inspire beginning cooks who don't know how to cut up an onion or scramble an egg--and who are reluctant to try. Marion Cunningham, today's Fannie Farmer--who embodies the best of American home cooking--is the perfect guide for the uncertain cook. Not only are her recipes simple, they are easy to master, because she writes in clear, straightforward language that anyone can understand. She addresses the needs and concerns of beginning cooks: how to shop, how to determine the quality of ingredients, how to store fresh produce and to ripen fruits, what basic kitchen utensils to use, and how not to waste food. With 150 recipes woven through eleven seductive chapters, such as Soup for Supper, A Bowlful of Salad, Thank Goodness for Chicken, and Extras That Make a Meal, Ms. Cunningham reveals the secrets of relaxed and efficient home cooking. She stresses the importance of thinking ahead--not just one recipe at a time. Today's dinner can be recycled into a lunch treat for tomorrow, Sunday's leftover polenta is fried up and topped with Parmesan for a weekday supper dish, small treasures in the fridge can make an omelet filling, a pasta garnish, or stuffing for a baked potato, and homemade biscuits can be transformed into strawberry shortcake. The side dishes she recommends are simple and are coordinated with the timing of the main dish. Often she gives us a recipe in which everything is cooked together--for instance, a chicken is roasted along with onions, carrots, and potatoes, so everything is ready at once, and when you're finished there's only one pan to clean; easy fish is baked over a bed of vegetables; a steak supper combines watercress, mushrooms, bread, and a delicious steak all in one. Above all, Ms. Cunningham demonstrates that the satisfaction of cooking lies not only in the good taste of all these wonderful home-cooked dishes but also in the pleasure of sharing them with friends and family.

Author Notes

Christopher Hirsheimer is executive editor of "Saveur". Her photographs appear regularly in "Saveur" and in numerous cookbooks, including "Fried & True". She lives in rural Pennsylvania.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cunningham, one of the country's most respected cookbook authors, now turns her attention to teaching sound principles of good cooking. Having recently succeeded in publishing a book on cooking for children, Cunningham focuses on teaching adults who may have abandoned the kitchen for restaurants and frozen entrees. She notes that, like the case with almost every technology, the first barrier to learning is a specialized vocabulary taken for granted by initiates but completely opaque to the beginner. Cunningham takes pains to make her prose clear and comprehensible, but some parts of cooking, such as choosing a ripe avocado, ultimately still require some form of hands-on training. Cunningham's inspired recipes emphasize simple, straightforward flavors, and her clear instructions will attract starting cooks to venture into the world of the kitchen. --Mark Knoblauch

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cook to live, or live to cook? Even the most reluctant beginners will toss their toques into the latter ring once they start cooking from Cunningham's latest book. There's arguably no finer teacher to invite into one's kitchen than Cunningham, author of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and an activist in the cause of American home cooking today. Beginning cooks learn to find their way around the kitchen thanks to detailed step-by-step instructions on preparing surprisingly simple appetizers and entr‚es such as Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes and Parchment-Wrapped Fish Fillets (made with soy sauce and sesame oil). Meanwhile, a chapter entitled "Breakfast Can Be Supper, Too" proves that omelets, frittatas, waffles and pancakes can be a simple part of the two most important meals of the day. The old adage "easy as pie" is not entirely a lie in this book; recipes for Pecan Pie and American Apple Pie require some, but not superhuman, effort. Along the way, Cunningham offers practical, reassuring advice, without a hint of condescension, on everything from stocking your kitchen to storing vegetables and fruits so they will keep. This book is bound to take the fear out of frying, baking, roasting and stewingÄand help beginners cook their way toward culinary confidence. 50,000 first printing. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

YA-The 150 recipes in this book are simple, the ingredients humble (nothing more exotic than cilantro), and the directions detailed. Hints and techniques abound-how to whip cream, how to steam potatoes, whether or not to soak beans, what to do with leftovers, how to separate eggs, and how to make lemon pudding cake. Readers learn that adding a little salt to garlic when you chop it brings out the juices. This book illustrates basic techniques and will give novice cooks a firm foundation. It is clear and simple enough for beginners, especially for YAs who don't always have someone around to teach them to cook. For recipes with a little more pizzazz and a more contemporary flair (wraps, tiramisu), consider Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics (Macmillan, 1998).-Marilynn L. Zauner, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



How To Carve A Chicken Carving a chicken is a simple process that takes a little patience; it gets easier each time you do it. If your chicken truly is cooked enough, it should be easy to remove the meat. It's not a delicate process, though, so don't be shy about manhandling the chicken a bit. Wait until it has cooled just enough for you to handle it comfortably. Set the chicken breast side up. Pull the leg and thigh back to expose the joint that attaches it to the body (have a little patience; wiggling the thigh section and pulling it away from the body with your hands helps). 1) Use a sharp paring knife to probe for the socket and cut through it, separating the leg and thigh from the carcass. Repeat with the other leg and thigh. 2) Use the knife to cut through the joint that connects the leg to the thigh. 3) Pull off the wings by gently twisting them away from the carcass. You may need the aid of your knife to separate the wings fully. The breastbone runs along the top center of the chicken carcass. Feel for it with your fingers. Make a 3-inch-long slit along both sides of the breastbone. 4) Dig your fingers into one of the slits and peel the entire half of the breast meat off the carcass. Do the same to remove the breast meat on the other side. Slice each half of breast meat crosswise, making 5 or 6 slices per breast half. Pick or cut off whatever meat remains on the carcass. Arrange the legs, thighs, wings, and meat on a platter and serve. Roast Chicken with Vegetables Serves four New cooks are intimidated by the idea of roasting a chicken, but nothing could be simpler. If you roast the chicken with some vegetables in the same pan for about an hour, you will have a moist, golden bird and savory accompaniments--all ready to eat at the same time. While they cook, you can set the table, watch the news, maybe make a dessert. Sometimes it's handy to roast 2 chickens at the same time; it takes no extra effort, and you will have plenty of leftovers for salads, soups, sandwiches, or a main dish of cold chicken with Green Sauce. 8 whole carrots 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 medium-size yellow onions        4 sprigs fresh or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary 8 small white or red potatoes  (about 1H inches in diameter)         1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds 3 teaspoons salt Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Preparing the Vegetables Peel the carrots and cut them crosswise into 1H-inch-long pieces. Cut the thicker pieces in half lengthwise as well. Peel each onion and cut into quarters. Wash the potatoes under cold water to get rid of any dirt. Leave them whole and unpeeled. Scatter the carrots, onions, and potatoes on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking or roasting pan. Sprinkle 1H teaspoons of the salt and H teaspoon of the pepper over them, and lay 2 sprigs of the rosemary on top. If you are using dried rosemary, put 1 tablespoon in the palm of your hand and crumble it over the vegetables. Preparing the Chicken The giblets, which consist of the liver, gizzard, and heart, plus the neck, are usually in a package inside the cavity of the chicken, between the legs. Remove them and discard or refrigerate them to use later. If there is a pale-yellow chunk of fat on either side of the cavity, pull or cut it off and discard. Hold the chicken under cold running water and rinse it inside and out. Shake off excess water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the remaining 1H teaspoons of salt and H teaspoon of pepper over the outside of the chicken, rubbing them all over the skin. Set the chicken, the breast side facing up, on top of some of the vegetables, with the remaining ones surrounding the bird. Insert a dial-type (not instant-read) thermometer into the breast, taking care that the rod of the thermometer does not touch any bones. Roasting the Chicken Put the chicken in the center of the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer rings, remove the pan from the oven and, using a large spoon, turn over the vegetables that surround the chicken. Don't bother with the vegetables under the chicken. Return the pan to the oven and set the timer for 30 more minutes. After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven to check for doneness. Insert the tip of a small paring knife into the meat of the thigh where it attaches to the body. If the juices that run out are pink, the chicken needs to continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes. If the juices are clear, it is done. The meat thermometer should show a temperature of 170 degrees F to 180 degrees F when the chicken is done. Carving the Chicken Carve the chicken according to the instructions on the preceding page. Scoop the vegetables out of the roasting pan and onto a serving platter. Remove the fat from the pan juices. Arrange the cut chicken pieces on top of vegetables, spoon some pan juices over the chicken and vegetables, scatter the 2 remaining rosemary sprigs on top, and bring the dish to the table for serving. Excerpted from Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham by Marion Cunningham, Christopher Hirsheimer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Five Simple Truths About Home Cookingp. 2
Beginner's Essential Kitchen Toolsp. 4
Appetizers/Odds and Endsp. 7
Soup for Supperp. 17
A Bowlful of Saladp. 37
Easy Fishp. 73
Thank Goodness for Chickenp. 91
Meaty Main Mealsp. 109
Meals without Meatp. 145
Good Vegetablesp. 171
Breakfast Can Be Supper, Toop. 205
Extras that Make a Mealp. 219
Here Comes Dessertp. 251
Indexp. 297