Another great book that's actually useful in the kitchen for the aspiring or novice cook. Peternell, who cooks at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, wrote a book on the basics - "Twelve Recipes" - all of which have numerous offshoots and derivatives, but don't stray too far from these techniques.
Extremely useful, and written in a conversational tone, Peternell is accessible and unpretentious. In fact, the book was written with his college age children in mind, so it has a straight-forward tone that makes it easy to digest.
The "Twelve Recipes" are more guidelines than recipes: toast, eggs, beans, salad, pasta, vegetables, roasting a chicken, braising, grilling, sauce and dessert. Some really nice pictures and the occasional illustration illuminate the book and make it aesthetically pleasing as well as a good guidebook for the kitchen.
Read it, enjoy it, appreciate the deliciousness. Good read & good guide.