(Cook) Book Review: “The 4-Hour Chef” by Tim Ferriss

3 Jan

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Ever heard of Tim Ferriss? (I’ll get to that cauliflower in a minute.) Called “The Superman of Silicon Valley,” he’s the author of The 4-Hour Work Week, a guide to simplifying your work life, and The 4-Hour Body, a guide to … well, simplifying your body. (Diet, exercise, the whole nine yards.) One of the top speakers on entrepreneurship in the country, he’s an expert on streamlining learning and optimizing your potential.

In other words, this guy:

Original image from askmen.com.

Original image from askmen.com.

While I don’t totally prescribe to all of his ideas — The 4-Hour Work Week focuses on getting out of jobs that feel like drudgery, and The 4- Hour Body has some curious dietary advice (cottage cheese plays a starring role) — his overall mantra of striving to grow, and being open to creative and unexpected solutions to reach your goals, is pretty inspiring. And downright fun to read; check out either of his other books here on Amazon if you’re curious about why “four” is such a magic number.

About a month ago, one of my girlfriends from college flew to DC for a weekend visit. Bringing with her, mind you, a supremely generous hostess gift: Tim Ferriss’ newest book, a hefty tome called The 4-Hour Chef. At the time, I’d never even heard of the guy, but I was, shall we say, intrigued.

Image sourced from Andrewzimmern.com. Isn't the cover design cool?

Image sourced from Andrewzimmern.com. Isn’t the cover design cool? Note: Said cover does not include that hilarious facial expression, sadly. (It’s hiding in the book!)

An interesting excerpt that kind of sums up his approach:

“Whether you want to learn how to speak a new language in three months, how to shoot a three-pointer in one weekend, or how to memorize a deck of cards in less than a minute, the true “recipe” of this book is exactly that: a process for acquiring any skill. The vehicle I chose is cooking. Yes, I’ll teach you all the most flexible techniques of culinary school using 14 strategically chosen meals, all with four or fewer ingredients, and all taking 5-20 minutes to prepare (literally, The 4-Hour Chef). But I wrote this book to make you a master student of all things.”

A bit extreme? Maybe, but as he says later, “This isn’t a textbook. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure book. As Bruce Lee said, ‘Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.'” I’ve already learned some really interesting stuff from the book, too. Such as:

  1. You can make your bourbon tast like bacon, and it’s actually not that hard.
  2. Knife skills, knife skills, knife skills (tutorial hopefully coming!)
  3. Low and slow is the key to making so-so meat taste like a million-dollar cut.
  4. Use a garlic clove that you’ve speared with a fork to push food around a saute pan or skillet. Subtle, garlicky goodness awaits you.
  5. Global cuisine can be boiled down to a few simple flavor combinations. Northern France your thing? Use apple, cider, and Calvados wine. Thai food? Try scallions, ginger, chile and cilantro. More into Korean flavors? Just use tamari, brown sugar, sesame and chile. Cool!

While I’m not following his actual series of lessons, I’m picking and choosing different things that interest me. One recipe that caught my eye was Tim’s Coconut Cauliflower Curry Mash. I was prepping some curry chicken for THT and myself, and it just looked so good that I couldn’t resist making it as a side dish. While I had a slight ingredient error (sweetened vs. unsweetened coconut milk), the resulting dish was simple, flavorful and surprisingly healthy. Check it out!

Nommy nom nom. Love that curry color!

Nommy nom nom. Love that curry color!

Tim Ferriss’ Coconut Cauliflower Curry Mash — makes 4 side dish-sized servings. Adapted from The 4-Hour Chef

You’ll need:

  • 1 small head of Cauliflower (enough to yield 3-ish cups)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 can or 6 oz. unsweetened coconut milk (check the “Ethnic Foods” aisle at most grocery stores, particularly the Asian section)
  • A pinch or two of salt
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • Cinnamon, to taste (optional)

Here’s what you do:

  • Pull off the cauliflower leaves. Then, cut out the “stem” or break apart the head until all florets are removed. Either pull them apart by hand into smaller florets or cut into florets with a sharp knife. Add cauliflower pieces to a large stock pot or Dutch oven.

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  • Open the can of coconut milk and use a spoon to mix it thoroughly. Add about half of the can to your pot. Add cashews, chopping roughly or crushing with your hands (“how Chuck Norris does it,” according to Tim).
  • Turn the heat to HIGH and bring the pot’s contents to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for about 20 minutes.
  • When cauliflower is fork-tender and finished cooking, remove pot from heat. Add salt, curry powder & optional cinnamon; then, mash cauliflower with a fork or potato masher until it’s at your desired level of “mashed potato-ness.” (I like mine chunky.)
In-process goodies.

In-process goodies.

  • Enjoy! Especially good with a spicier entree, like curry chicken or chicken tikka masala.

Which new cook books have you all been reading lately? Or, for that matter, which food blogs? Tried any unconventional recipes that turned out well? What are your planned food adventures for the coming year? Happy eating!


5 Responses to “(Cook) Book Review: “The 4-Hour Chef” by Tim Ferriss”

  1. Erin | The Law Student's Wife January 4, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Excuse me, how I am just now finding your blog?! So pumped!

    • galleykitchengal January 13, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

      So glad you like it, Erin! 🙂 Yours is so much fun, too — I can’t stop drooling over your recipes!


  1. Welp, There Goes the Casserole: Learning to Live with, and Love, Kitchen “Mistakes” « galley kitchen gal - January 13, 2013

    […] Meat? Tough and overcooked steak / chicken / pork? Taking cues from Tim Ferriss’ latest book, add liquid to a pot, add the meat, and cook for an additional 2-3 hours on low / at a low […]

  2. Budget (Ethnic) Eats: Curry Chicken with Peas & Carrots « galley kitchen gal - January 14, 2013

    […] Curry Chicken with Peas & Carrots — serves 2-3; easily doubled. Best with Coconut Cauliflower Mash or steamed basmati or jasmine […]

  3. February Resolution: A Month-Long Passport to … ? « galley kitchen gal - February 3, 2013

    […] This post about Tim Ferriss’ The Four-Hour Chef and a Curried Cauliflower Mash. […]

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