Book Review: The AWW Cooking School, Learning to Cook Step-By-Step

| 10 June , 2010 | 1 Reply

Jane de Graaff, I Ate It All

I’m desperately searching for a chocolate cake recipe- and not just any old chocolate cake recipe. I need mud cake. Wet, moist, dark, mind-blowing mud cake- and I don’t have time to stuff around.
It’s a birthday cake for god’s sake and I’ve only got time to do this once!

Okay Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking School– this is your big chance to shine.
Mississippi mud cake: here I come!

Sometimes you just need a big-old kitchen dictionary. One book for everything. You know, an encyclopaedia of ingredients, recipes and inspiration.

It helps if there are detailed instructions and a stamp on the front that says triple tested for your success every time.  And this is exactly where the AWW Cooking School cookbook fills the gap on your shelf. It’s comprehensive. It’s clear. It’s a mammoth book of everything you’ll ever need to know about cooking. All bound in a fetching pastel turquoise cover- let it never be said that AWW isn’t stylish.

To be honest, cake baking is not something that comes naturally to me. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook, but cakes just aren’t the top of my list (let’s pin it all on a disaster at age 13 when I mixed up the salt and sugar).

Still, I will insist on using cooking as an expression of love when significant events roll round. So that’s how I find myself flipping desperately through the pages of AWW Cooking School searching out a recipe with a guarantee that it will succeed.

But it’s not just cake baking where AWW Cooking School comes in handy- and I’d be lying if I said this was the first time I’ve used it.

See, AWW Cooking School is not just about pretty pictures and rustic settings (though admittedly it is a good looking book). It’s about building your confidence in the kitchen, showing you step-by-step just how to get each recipe spot-on. And it’s a one-stop shop when it comes to clarifying ingredients and methods that have hereto eluded you.

Not sure what to do with a choko? Ask AWW Cooking School! Always wanted to try your hand at souffle but not sure where to start? Ask AWW Cooking School. Want to really impress with that lamb roast? Simple, ask AWW Cooking School. You get the drift.

Each recipe in this tome of kitchen wisdom comes with detailed instructions and even pictures for the more difficult steps. Chapters are broken down into convenient categories that include pies, curries or bbq & grill. There are chapters covering teaching kids to cook and tricks of the trade– to help you brush up on technique. But my favourite chapters by far are recipes to know by heart (try the butter cookies they’ll beat grandma’s shortbread every time) and Showing Off. Because when it comes to looking effortless in the kitchen, AWW has got it down pat.

If you’re still keen for more after the detailed lessons of each recipe, there’s plenty of extra education in special features scattered through the book. You get the lowdown on pasta, mushrooms, or herbs and spices amongst other things.

It’s a great addition to the kitchen and one that I know I’ll be reaching for more and more often. In fact, if I could only use one cookbook ever again, it’s safe to say that AWW Cooking School would cover all my bases; if for no other reason than I can pass it on to my kids with the wise words- give a man a meal and he’ll eat for a day teach him how to cook- and hopefully he’ll whip up a feast for everyone!

Back at the birthday celebration, we slice into the cake and I hold my breath, waiting for disaster to strike! But the knife goes in, slides smoothly through the velvety centre and comes out with damp streaks of chocolate across the shinny blade. The birthday boy takes a forkful, smiles and pronounces. Now that’s mud cake.

Not bad for someone who doesn’t really “do” cakes. Seems a few extra cooking school lessons can go a long way.

Recipe’s tested:

Butter Cookies- pg 45

Panang Fish Curry and Chicken Korma dinner- pg 426 & 429

Mississipi mud cake – pg 540

The Australian Women’s Weekly Cooking School is out now and is available in bookstores and online from or Random House, RRP$74.95.

If you are interested in taking some cooking classes, you can do a cooking class with Pamela Clarke herself, read here for more information.


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Category: Lifestyle

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