Now meet James Peterson--former college chemistry major, world traveler, grape picker, short-order cook, chef, sometime restaurateur, the man who developed the advanced curriculum for the French Culinary Institute in New York and prodigious cookbook author, most recently of the new "Essentials of Cooking" (Artisan, $40).
It was the carrot incident that propelled him into action. One night, Peterson was invited to dinner at the home of a friend--a professional caterer. As he watched her slice a bunch of carrots and put them in a big pot of water to cook, he was aghast. This was not the way he learned to cook carrots in France, where carrots may be braised or glazed in a small amount of liquid. But boiled? Never.
Take those carrots. The section on how to glaze root vegetables, such as carrots, onions and turnips, provides information about the difference between white-glazed and brown-glazed vegetables, how and why the process works, an illustration, as well as tips about timing, temperature and what to do if there's too much or too little water. There are also links to related subjects: peeling pearl onions, for example; glossary entries that provide even more details about the glazing and braising processes and how and why to use aluminum foil or parchment paper covers; and a recipe. The result is a compendium of information that's more far-reaching than the recipe alone would be--and perhaps more than a rank beginner wants to digest.
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