One year. Two books. 87,000 words total. Even I can hardly believe it, but it’s true. It has been a very hectic 2009!
My second book, The Competent Cook: Essential Tools, Techniques, and Recipes for the Modern At-Home Cook, officially launches November 18th. It has been a work in progress over many years, beginning with the eponymous food column I had on cdkitchen.com, which launched in the spring of 2005. When I was approached to write the column and come up with a title, I thought “The Confident Cook” was alliterative and catchy. Thank goodness my father convinced me otherwise, pointing out that confidence without competence is worthless. Very true indeed. So, “The Competent Cook” became my weekly online outlet to help readers become better cooks and learn the standards I valued.
By late summer of 2006, I was seven months pregnant and gearing up to wind down. I worked until five days before my son was born (my last gig was for Tyler Florence on “The View.” Needless to say, I think he was pretty shocked to see me 40 weeks pregnant and waddling around the set with strip steaks and brandied mushrooms!) I was right back to work for Michel Nischan on a TV shoot three weeks later. I just couldn’t keep away from the work I love. In early 2007, when my friend and agent, Molly, encouraged me to consider what kind of cookbook I would want to write (she knew me too well to ask if I wanted to write one!), the theme of the The Competent Cook was the clear winner.
I have been privileged to be a culinary instructor in addition to all the other toques I wear (chef/caterer, food columnist, recipe tester, and food stylist). It has been a sincere pleasure to pass along to students the knowledge and standards that I have learned from others and from my own trials and triumphs in the kitchen. Everything from the equipment I favor to the way I store food impacts my daily cooking life. My favorite evergreen recipes and the techniques that go with them are now finally compiled in a book that has been a work in progress not just since 2005, but my whole life. The book was meant to be born.
Getting a book published can take a long time, and at one point my patience waned. In March of 2008 I was ready to give up and just move on to other things. I was given the opportunity to write Notes on Cooking with Russell Reich, and I jumped at it. As fate would have it, the very same week I had an offer for The Competent Cook to be published. Unwilling to choose between the two projects, I said, “Sure! I can write two books in six months!” And that’s exactly what I did. Notes on Cooking was just released in June, and now a few months later The Competent Cook hits the stands.
Since receiving my advance copy a few weeks ago, it has been gratifying to pick up The Competent Cook and find recipes like my basic pie crust and chicken satay with coconut lemongrass sauce without having to pull the files off the computer or my hand-written notes from a filing box. At last, my favorite go-to recipes are in one convenient collection! I hope you enjoy the book and find it to be the perfect compliment to Notes on Cooking.