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Cooking the Smart Way

By MaryAnn Miano

Wouldn’t it be great to have an expert with you in the kitchen when trying a new recipe? Every cooks knows that some recipes hold challenges (and ingredients) that can seem intimidating. By following the book Cooking the Smart Way by Marion W. Flexner, you will have your own guide beside you.

The book, part of the Catherine Henning Collection at the Colts Neck Library, provides a feature called “Kitchen Clinics” to help make your life easier in all culinary departments. The general Kitchen Clinic section at the beginning of the book will tell you how to select your pots and pans and how to buy and serve foods that will help you be a smarter, more efficient chef in your own kitchen. You can read how to season and care for your cast iron pan, how to remove scorched or burned food from pans, how to improvise kitchen utensils, and how to decide what to keep as staples in your pantry.

You can learn how to dress up your in-a-hurry meals (the author suggests thick, nourishing soup to make ahead and freeze as quick meals). You’ll find the concise definition of cooking terms (what is the difference between braising and browning?), along with useful hints and equivalent weights and measurements (4 tablespoons is the same as ¼ cup).

As for the recipes in this lovely cookbook, they have been selected to appeal to a variety of tastes. There are recipes for the gourmet to the budget-minded, the calorie-counter to the expedient cook. The author was careful to select classic, regional, and offbeat dishes from many countries, along with appropriate menus.

Before you attempt each recipe, the author’s “clinic” themed book presents any special utensils needed for that group of recipes, a wealth of Smart Tips, and definitions of cooking terms used only in those recipes. Here’s a great old European recipe traditionally cooked on top of the stove in an iron pot:




2 Rock Cornish hens (1 ¾ or 2 pounds) or 4 squabs

1 clove garlic, pressed

Salt, pepper, paprika

3 tablespoons olive oil, or more

1 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth or 2 bouillon cubes and water

3 tablespoons tomato preserves or chutney

2 tablespoons minced green olives


Split birds down back and rub with garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika. Brown lightly on both sides in olive oil. Add wine and chicken broth. Using a Dutch oven, let come to a hard boil, then reduce heat and let birds simmer until tender enough to fall from bones, for 1 to 1 ½ hours. The sauce is not thickened, but should be cooked down to about a cup. Add tomato preserves or chutney and olives and let come to boil, stirring constantly. Pass sauce separately.


Recipe from Cooking the Smart Way, Page 37, By Marion W. Flexner: M. Barrows and Company. 1958.





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