Jessica Seinfeld’s new book title says it all: The Can't Cook Book: Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified! Here, she shares some words of advice for the kitchen incompetent.
Cooking novices should begin with…Simple recipes with minimal ingredients and techniques. In other words, every recipe in The Can’t Cook Book! And the videos on doitdelicious.com.
Essential ingredients for the can't-cook chef…Good extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground pepper, Parmesan, fresh garlic (not the jarred stuff), fresh lemon and fresh herbs. This is my foundation — the ingredients I use time and again, so I always have them on hand.
And the essential kitchen tools…A chef’s knife that you love – I recommend Japanese knives for women. And a honing tool, to keep your knife sharp — a sharp knife is a safe knife (there is a video in my book on how to hone your knife.).
To up your culinary IQ or at least fake it in conversation…For the book, the most complicated terms I use are simmer and sauté… I’ve taken the tricky language out and instead break it way down for you with straightforward instructions. No glossary necessary. But if you really need a good one, I’m fond of “blanche.”
My mantra for the cooking-fearful…It's just food. You have failed and made mistakes in far more important areas of your life. It should not prevent us from taking control of our lives in this area. It’s a basic life skill worth having. Also, have a glass of wine and listen to good music to get you in the mood.
To encourage your kids' interest…Start by having them join you in the kitchen while you cook, whether they are playing on the floor, drawing at the table or doing homework. Then, advance to giving them little tasks to do to help you. When they feel small successes in the kitchen, they enjoy coming back to help.
I got my kitchen confidence from…Trial and error, practice and commitment. I don’t want to cook dinner every night, just like I don’t want to exercise every day, but I do it because it's better for me and my family. It helps to have very enthusiastic and complimentary eaters in my life.
My cooking soundtrack…I am obsessed with Spotify these days. It allows me to change it up from hip hop to something more mellow.
When planning a dinner party…Be a strategic menu planner. Make sure that you have a mix of recipes — not every recipe should be done on the stovetop. That’s way too difficult to execute. Instead, select one for the oven, a few that can be served cold or room temperature and maybe one (if any) that’s done on the stovetop. The last thing you want is to end up like a line cook at your own party. Also have friends on hand to help prep and serve the meal. Enjoy some wine in the process.
Pre-Thanksgiving...I spend the day before prepping the meal and baking pies. The evening before, we watch the Macy’s Parade balloons getting blown up near our apartment.
And on the big day...Lots of family and friends arrive and sit around and catch up, while my kids and their cousins go play in the park. I cook the whole entire meal. I love being encased in the kitchen for 48 straight hours. My husband always says at the end of the meal that I look like I’ve been to a spa.
Jessica photographed in her kitchen by Noa Griffel