In The Can’t Cook Book, JESSICA SEINFELD gives self-doubting cooks everywhere a rousing, “Oh, yes you can!”
The cover of Jessica Seinfeld’s new cookbook, The Can’t Cook Book: 100+ Recipes for the Absolutely Terrified! (Atria Books, $28), seems like the very picture of 1950s American domesticity. There’s a smiling Seinfeld in an apron, surrounded by baby-blue cabinets and a black-and-white-checkered tile floor. Only something is seriously amiss: The stove and pastel-pink fridge are both ablaze.
As the author of the New York Times best-selling cookbook Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, Seinfeld often puts out (figurative) fires for her cooking-impaired friends and her husband, comedian Jerry Seinfeld. After years of being the phone-a-friend for culinary crises, she wanted to share her know-how with the many “can’t cooks” out there, who range (as described in the book’s intro) from “The Won’t Cooks” to “The Too Busy to Cooks” to “The Publicly Humiliated Last Time I Cooked Cooks.”
“What they all have in common is a family history of a lot of stress around cooking or parents with zero experience in the kitchen,” Seinfeld explains to American Way. “When it came time to take care of themselves, they weren’t comfortable cooking.”
Seinfeld eases Can’t Cooks into the kitchen by baby steps. Early chapters define essential kitchen tools, give a fail-safe setup list and offer step-by-step instructions for basic skills like chopping vegetables, washing ingredients and measuring flour. The cookbook’s website (www.tccb.co) provides accompanying how-to videos, which can also be activated using a smartphone app.
The more than 100 recipes alternate between familiar favorites such as Margherita pizza and oven fries and trendier fare like quinoa and kale chips. Each recipe includes a list of needed tools, bold-faced type for all action words and a “Don’t Panic” statement to defuse any possible fears. (“Using a food processor can be loud and off-putting. Don’t shy away.”) “I tried to come up with as many different ways to pull people in and make it clear what they are doing,” Seinfeld says.
And what if your kitchen ends up looking like the cookbook’s cover? Not to worry. “I wanted the cover to convey the idea of happy chaos,” Seinfeld says. “No matter what happens in the kitchen, hopefully we’ll have fun together in the process.”