Homemade Chicken Nuggets - Recipe Below: Photo Credit Kathleen Flinn (used with permission)

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School

Signed copies are available from the author's website

The “The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks” is a great book for those who like to read about cooking.  It’s not a cookbook, although there are recipes in it, but it is the adventure of one writer, Kathleen Flinn, who embarked on an experience to use her skills learned at the Le Cordon Blue in Paris to help regular homecooks learn to love their kitchen and the art of cooking instead of dreading it.

She enlisted 9-novice cooks from all different backgrounds, gave their kitchens a makeover showing them how to stock a pantry so that they could easily prepare fresh and easy homecooked meals every day, and helped them see that the prepared boxes and packages were easily replaced by fresh ingredients that were easy to use.

Kathleen Flinn - Photo Credit: Roger Steen

“I feel there is a disconnect in this country when it comes to food and cooking. On one hand, there’s a culture of hero worship around celebrity chefs that fuels cooking-as-a-spectator-sport on television. At the same time, marketers worked for decades to convince people that cooking themselves isn’t worth their time, and that even simple dishes fall outside their grasp. All this explains why one woman in the book told me, ‘I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve eaten Tuna Helper while watching Gordon Ramsey.’ It’s a funny line about a serious problem. The rise of convenience food and decline of home cooking are inextricably correlated to the surge of obesity and diabetes. If people think they can’t cook, they put themselves at the mercy of companies whose interests are primarily financial to feed them instead. I believe in the power of home cooking and one of my life’s mission is to help people find their way off the couch and into the kitchen. – Kathleen Flinn, Author

The book is a fun look at what happens when nine different people try to improve their health and the health of their families by learning to cook  and along the way friendships form and lives intertwine and they find the most important ingredient for success – confidence in themselves.  And through this story the reader will also learn about additives, how to get the most for your money at the grocery store, quick and easy ways to prepare great food without a lot of measuring, and more.

I couldn’t help but be a little jeleous of the participants and I just want to put it out there in the universe that I live about just south of Seattle so should Kathleen ever need another participant I’m all in!  The experience was a great one to read about, it must have been even more fabulous to participate.

Baked Chicken Nuggets
My sister and I started making this alternative to the ubiquitous ultraprocessed fried chicken nuggets for my niece Sarah almost two decades ago. Store-bought bread crumbs can be stale and loaded with sodium, so try making your own. Toast two slices of bread, let them cool, and process them into crumbs in a small food processor. You can also use panko, Japanese bread crumbs, or toss in ground cornflakes for extra crunch. Cooking the chicken on a cooling rack allows the dry heat to crisp both sides, but if you don’t have one, simply coat a parchment or foil-lined cookie sheet with cooking spray, and turn the chicken pieces over after ten minutes. Try to use real cheese rather than a canned variety; it will make a big difference in flavor
Type: Entree
Yield: 24 pieces
Prep Time: 
Cooking Time: 
Total Time: 
  • 1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or mixed herbs
  • Pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • cup skim milk, yogurt or buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a cooling rack in the center of a cookie sheet. Set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken breasts into 1½-inch pieces.
  3. In a shallow bowl or a large plastic bag, mix together the bread crumbs,cheese, salt, dried herbs, cayenne (if using), and a few grinds of black pepper.
  4. Combine the egg and milk in a small bowl.
  5. Dip the chicken into the milk mixture and then coat it well with the bread crumb mixture, either in a bowl or by tossing it inside the bag.
  6. Place the coated chicken pieces on the cooling rack and put the cookie sheet into the oven.
  7. Depending on your oven and the size and thickness of the chicken, the pieces will take 15 to 20 minutes until firm and cooked through.
  8. Spritz the chicken lightly with cooking spray and then place the cookie sheet under the
  9. broiler for 1 to 2 minutes, until a bit browned, if desired, but keep a vigilant gaze on them lest they burn.


Author Bio

Kathleen Flinn is the author of the best-selling memoir, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, about her experiences leaving the corporate world to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris – where she fell in love with her husband. Her second book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Women into Fearless Home Cooks (Viking/Penguin, October 2011) is based on a project in which Flinn tried to understand why people rely on convenience foods and what kinds of cooking lessons make an impact on inexperienced cook. It has been selected as an Indie Next Pick and earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

A writer for more than 20 years in print and online, her work has appeared in more than three dozen publications worldwide. Her last day job was head of editorial for MSN.co.uk in the United Kingdom. She serves on the board of directors for the International Association of Culinary Professionals. She lives in Seattle

Book Details:

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (September 29, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670023000
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670023004