The cookbook debut from Cal Peternell, chef at Chez Panisse, was inspired by his oldest son leaving for college. In a warm, friendly tone, Peternell aims to instill skills and confidence in the beginner cook, by way of a core repertoire of recipes. Though, as the title suggests, there are a dozen such core recipes, once you factor in the variations and riffs he suggests, it’s more like 12 hundred. The book is as much fun to read as it is to cook from. Four-color photos that look beautiful but also like real life and occasional illustrations, some by his wife and adult sons (all artists), add to the book’s friendly feel.