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The best culinary wisdom from our favorite cookbook authors

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Thanks to the incredible array of authors who have published cookbooks over the past twelve months, I’ve cooked some of the best meals and most jaw-dropping desserts of my life over the past year. Some of them were legends like Nigella Lawson and Lidia Bastianich; some were newbie authors like Joshua Weissman and Molly Baz. From their books, I have gained new family favorite recipes and clever tips. And from our conversations for Salon, I learned how good cooks tackle the perennial questions of what to eat and how to prepare it.

As Quick & Dirty celebrates its first anniversary, I thought it would be enlightening to look back at some of those interviews and the best advice they gave. Some of this wisdom has been included in the recipes we have run, others now appear for the first time from the original transcriptions. We hope they will motivate, encourage and inspire you.


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To start

“I refuse to accept that there are only people who can’t cook. I would say 90% of those people can and are just afraid of making a mistake. We’ve all been through things in life , we’ve all done so many different things and had to learn so many things. And it’s like, if anybody can figure out how to write a check, or become a parent, or start a business? You can bake a chicken. Relax, you’re okay.” —Joshua Weissman, author of “An Unapologetic Cookbook”

“I think a lot of people don’t cook or have trouble cooking for reasons that have more to do with not feeling good enough about themselves, feeling like they’ve failed to become adult by not being that cook in a way that you imagine in your mind. So it’s a lot harder to get into the kitchen every time, and it really hurts people. With “Good and Cheap “, I was getting so many emails or people contacting me and saying, ‘Thank you for this section it’s just called stuff on toast. It makes me feel like I have permission to eat this way and I don’t eat badly. ‘” – Leanne Brown, author of “Good Enough. A cookbook”

“I always tell people, ‘Cook for yourself. No one else is going to judge you. Your shoulders will drop, you’ll learn what you like and dislike away from that feeling of judgment. .’ We live in an age of clickbait where there’s this proliferation of articles that say, “You’ve been cooking scrambled eggs wrong your whole life”, like there’s only ever one way to cook anything. either, or a way to eat scrambled eggs. the person wants them as a dry curd and the other person wants them more or less as a drink, fine.” — Nigella Lawson, author of “Cook, Eat, Repeat”

“Jerry and I have committed to having four vegan dinners a week together. Then he goes out with his friends. That’s fine. But as a family we decided, ‘Let’s do four nights a week, let’s see how it goes. happening.'” – Jessica Seinfeld, author of “Vegan, at Times: 120 Recipes for Every Day or Once in a while.”

Easy dishes and superstar ingredients

“Honestly, canned chickpeas are my favorite. Drain them. Roast them in the oven while something else is cooking, then toss in some sort of salad of roasted root vegetables, greens, chickpeas roasts. Whatever random condiment is in there, it ends up being our dinner most of the time. Canned chickpeas are my Friday girl. They’re so versatile.—Abra Berens , author of “Grist: A Practical Guide to Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes”

“Homemade croutons are so much better than the stuff you get out of the bag. They’re so delicious. They add texture and flavor, not just to salads. You can mash them over pasta. You can transform them in a situation with your fruits and veggies, just throw them in the soup. They’ve always been at the top of my list of favorite things to eat, period, and so I’m just singing their praises. —Dawn Perry, author of “On Your Marks, Get Set, Cook”

RELATED: My Year of Cooking Fast and Dirty: How I Lowered the Bar and Break Free

“I have a spaghetti pomodoro. You take tomatoes, you chop them, you sauté them in the pan. It takes, seriously, 5 minutes to make. It’s olive oil, a clove of garlic, some chopped tomatoes. Then you cook your pasta on the side, you mix it together. It’s really quick and easy to make and it’s a one-stop shop. — Eric Ripert, author of “Vegetable Simple” ,

“A good staple is tahini. It’s not just a spread or toss with hummus. I use it a lot in my cooking for sauces and dressings. I put it in sauces. It’s a good neutral base that has fat and creaminess. Even though we eat plant-based, we can still eat good fats and incorporate them as much as we want into our meals — Lauren Toyota, author of “hot for food all day”

make him stretch

“Do you know Richard Olney? For me, it’s the biggest. Really super uncompromising in many ways, but he was a big fan of the whole concept of au gratin with leftovers. So you have leftover roast from the day before, or leftover vegetables. His whole thing was just to chop everything, mix, sprinkle with butter, sprinkle with breadcrumbs, pour a little cream or no cream at all, and cheese on top, and just bake in the oven. It completely changes all around. — David Kinch, author of “At Home in the Kitchen”

“The classic is really eggs, and what you can do with eggs: make a frittata with a lot of whatever’s in the fridge and some kind of cheese and put it under the broiler. So at unless you have something that looks like something.” — Dorothy Kalins, “The Kitchen Whisperers: Cooking with the Wisdom of Our Friends”

“Sometimes I invest in making something that I know will last more than one meal so I can put it in the fridge and have a few dinners that way.” — Frances Moore Lappé, author of “Diet for a Small Planet”

“Something you may like to make a little ahead of time or the night before is really good. Yesterday I made a chicken and put it in the fridge. When I’m done talking to you, I can put it in the oven and then I can spend an hour talking with the kids or helping them with their homework An hour later dinner is ready Or make a large portion of something so you really want to eat two days in a row. It’s important to have little tricks that make everything a little easier.” — Mikkel Karstad, author of “Nordic Family Kitchen: Seasonal Home Cooking”

Store bought is fine

“I don’t shame anyone for doing anything in the kitchen. It’s fine if you want to buy store-bought stuff. Palms using store-bought puff pastry are super easy. Just throw some nuts and sugar on it, roll it up and bake it, and it looks like a fancy French dessert.” — Kristina Cho, author of “Mooncakes and Milk Bread”

“Sometimes I make my own pie crust, sometimes I don’t. Especially with the graham cracker crust, you can literally go to the store and buy one. I call it cheat codes. Like when you play in video games, you get to skip something and go to the next level.” — Vallery Lomas, author of “Life Is What You Cook”

Techniques to know

“It’s an argument for more bells, always. I’ve long said that the reason restaurant food so often tastes better than homemade food is because they use more butter and salt. than you can imagine, and it’s true. I also think that once you realize that, you can kind of expand your understanding of that to say that, in fact, you need more sauce tangy, you need more lime juice, you need more yogurt, you need more it’s going to be damn good I also like that my experience is that I talk a lot about great flavors here, but I’m not talking about big portions. One of the cool things about cooking for yourself and cooking for your family like this, I bet your portion sizes go down.” — Sam Sifton, author of “The New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes”

“That’s how I cook. I pull out a pot and try to put everything in it. Very Italian for putting vegetables with protein all together. Maybe at most a pot of water for pasta or for starches. But otherwise, it’s all in this pan. Time is precious, it’s limited. How do we cut all the extra time and get to the point? Get to the point. Let’s put something in the pan or put something in the oven, and cook us dinner.” — Lidia Bastianich, author of “Lidia’s a Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl: Simple Recipes for Perfect Meals: A Cookbook”,

“Nacho Hit – You have to make a single layer on a baking sheet. I make half the cheese first, and that creates a layer of fat between the most soggy toppings and the fries, and it’s best to keep them crispy. And I make sure things are small, so you can get every one of those bites of crisps with all your different toppings.” — Dan Whalen, author of “Nachos for Dinner”

“Basic knife cuts, like slicing, dicing, chopping, are really great to be armed with in the kitchen.” – Brette Warshaw, author of “What’s the Difference?: Recreational Culinary Reference for the Curious and the Confused”,

“What I practice myself is rustic, rustic icing. It’s something anyone can do. If you just practice your swoops a little and get an infinite number of redos when you swoop, you can keep swooping to your heart’s content. He looks so gorgeous. There’s something very nostalgic and just plain beautiful about a rustic cake that’s just so inviting, even more so than a perfectly decorated, completely smooth cake with amazing decorations on top. He just says, “Come and eat me.” – John Kanell, creator of Preppy Kitchen

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