Barbara Jacobs, BOOKLIST (Starred Review)
"With just eight words—big city, small kitchen, limitless ingredients, no time—first-time cookbook author McDonough ensures that she (and her 90 recipes) will wriggle her way into urban kitchens, and urban hearts. With more than half of Americans living in metropolitan areas, her philosophy of “less is more” (founded in part on her training at the French Culinary Institute and her editorship at TheCityCook.com) will appeal, especially to many lured by the latest gadget.
"In the first part, she sets up the kitchen and its pantry, advising the use of great ingredients, a select quantity of top-quality equipment, and shopping with specialty merchants. Buy only three knives, McDonough says: one chef’s, one serrated, and one paring knife will handle any kind of cooking task. That same kind of simplicity applies to her recipes: salads composed of a few fresh items like raw zucchini and parmesan and main courses that don’t consume a half-page for title only (such as broiled black cod with miso, and chicken breasts 10 ways). Vegetables take center stage, as she readily admits her food faves, yet there truly is a recipe for everyone. Even more educational is the emphasis on the how-tos: working with butchers; understanding the differences in salts and peppers, rices, olive oils, and vinegars; et al.
"The finale? Appendixes that won’t quit: buying great ingredients: some of America’s best urban markets (from Baltimore to Seattle); metric equivalencies; web merchants; other information sources; glossary (today’s food language)."