The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School
by Alison Cayne
Photos by Con Poulos
Facts: Artisan Publishers, 384 pages, $35.00 or Kindle $17.95 (or Amazon Hardcover $23.55, Kindle $1.99)
Photos: Almost every recipe, plus numerous step-by-step photos and illustrations
Recipes: About 113
Alison Cayne is the founder of The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School in New York City. A glance at the school’s website led me to believe it’s a popular school. Over 90% of the (numerous) classes are wait-listed for June. Her cookbook, The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School, is meant to inspire the confidence that a class at her school would give.
If you’re new to cooking, this book will adjust your approach to cooking and give you new confidence, or certainly narrow any edges of intimidation you might feel. It’s friendly. There isn’t an explanation of chemistry or a list of why this works and why that doesn’t as there is in Cook’s Science (but I do love Cook’s Science). Nonetheless, Cayne’s book seems more practical and less esoteric.
What it does provide:
• Knife skills; how to season; setting up workspace; the necessary pantry and such.
• Interesting recipes & explanations regarding concepts you’ve heard of, but don’t know how to execute.
• Considerations for balance necessary if, say, you’re adding a sauce. Beyond flavor she teaches the difference and importance of textures, spices, a drizzle or a dip, etc.
• Detailed explanations of ways to cook, e.g. what braising does and when it’s appropriate.
• Tips for layering flavors, as in soups.
• Types and tips for making (16) sauces.
• How to (properly) make an omelet (also step-by-step photos).
• As an aspiring cook, there are enough “how to’s” to give you confidence and glow in front of guests.
You’ll find her chicken paillard recipe quick and easy. I suggest halving a few cherry tomatoes with the arugula to add another dash of color.
- Two 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- Olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- Lay the breasts on a cutting board and butterfly them: Press your non-dominant hand flat on top of a chicken breast with the thinner side toward your pinky finger. Starting at the thick side, slice the breast horizontally in half, so it opens like a book. Be careful not to cut all the way through; you want about ½ inch of muscle holding it together on the thin side of the breast. Butterfly the second breast.
- Spread the breasts open, lay them between two pieces of parchment paper, and pound them with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin until about ½-inch thick. Pounding chicken not only tenderizes the meat, it also speeds up the cooking time and keeps the meat juicy.
- Temper the breasts for 10 to 15 minutes. While they come to room temperature, preheat a grill pan over high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken. This will keep the breasts from sticking.
- When the pan is hot, gently lay the breasts on it and generously shower with salt. Make sure there's enough room - about1 inch - around each breast; this will ensure that the meat gets a proper char and does not steam. Do not touch the chicken for 3 minutes. This allows the meat to form a crust, which will help it release from the pan. Try to flip the breast: if it sticks, the chicken hasn't seared yet. Give it another minute and try again.
- Flip and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. When flipping the chicken, move it to a new spot on the pan (which will be hotter).
- Remove from the heat and rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Serve as desired.