Recipes and the joys of cooking meet chemistry and insider advice in the accessible “Cooking For Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks and Good Food” by Jeff Potter, an essential tool for home cooks (and foodies) of all skill levels (O’Reilly, $40, 488 pages).
In this second edition of “Geeks,” recipes for 100 dishes (oven-roasted eggs, Belgian meatballs) and ingredients (mayo, vanilla extract) mix and mingle with “labs” (knife-sharpening, essential equipment), cooking methods, directions for how to read a recipe, and an explanation of what makes cuts of meat tough or tender – for openers.
Big-picture issues are also explored: What is flavor? How is heat transferred? What roles do air and water play in baking? Along the way we learn the correct ways to crack an egg, butterfly a chicken and avoid food-borne illness.
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Adding depth are interviews with 23 experts in their fields, including chef-educator Jacques Pépin, pizza-meister Jeff Varasano and “On Food and Cooking” author Harold McGee.
In all, it’s a fascinating read that will raise your level of understanding, and supplement your repertoire of expertise.