760 internautes sur 765 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Having relied on Cooks Illustrated recommendations for many of my favourite kitchen tools, buying this book was a no brainer. Needless to say I had high expectations going in, and this book did not disappoint.
I'm an avid cook, and while I've had great success with certain types of food, I've been frustrated by inconsistent results in others. (I can't seem to get a consistently moist pot-roast -- reason: my cooking temperature was probably too high; wrong cut of meat + oven braising is better than stovetop since it heats more evenly in more directions)
The Science of Good Cooking breaks down why food cooks a certain way, and which techniques are best for what purpose. The book is organized into 50 concepts with recipes reinforcing each concept. There's a section called "why this works" following each recipe, which breaks down the science behind each step -- for instance why use a certain type of marinade, cooking technique, take extra steps, etc to achieve a desired outcome. It's nice that it's not just a list of recipes.
Experiments back each concept. Meats were weighed, measured, smashed to determine tenderness, and moisture loss. They came up with a range of ideal resting times for various meats based on actually measuring the amount of juices lost at various times, and they sent food to the science lab to analyze their structure. They even stuck bones on mashed potatoes to test out whether keeping bones on makes food taste better. This book debunked some assumptions I had (acid does not actually make food more tender), and helped me understand other ones better - why salt directly applied on skin makes it more crispy, but if you brined the skin you'd get a different outcome. I also learned that the direction you cut your onion affects its taste - obvious in retrospect, but I never thought about that!
I was disappointed I couldn't see a table of contents before purchase, so here are the 50 concepts you will find within the book -
1. Gentle Heat Prevents Overcooking
2. High Heat Develops Flavor
3. Resting Meat Maximizes Juiciness
4. Hot Food Keeps Cooking
5. Some Proteins Are Best Cooked Twice
6. Slow Heating Makes Meat Tender
7. Cook Tough Cuts Beyond Well Done
8. Tough Cuts Like a Covered Pot
9. A Covered Pot Doesn't Need Liquid
10. Bones Add Flavor, Fat, and Juiciness
11. Brining Maximizes Juiciness in Lean Meats
12. Salt Makes Meat Juicy and Skin Crisp
13. Salty Marinades work best
14. Grind Meat at Home for Tender Burgers
15. A Panade Keeps Ground Meat Tender
16. Create Layers for a Breading That Sticks
17. Good Frying is All About Oil Temperature
18. Fat Makes Eggs Tender
19. Gentle Heat Guarantees Smooth Custards
20. Starch Keeps Eggs from Curdling
21. Whipped Egg Whites Need Stabilizers
22. Starch Helps Cheese Melt Nicely
23. Salting Vegetables Removes Liquid
24. Green Vegetables Like it Hot -- Then Cold
25. All Potatoes Are Not Created Equal
26. Potato Starches Can Be Controlled
27. Precooking Makes Vegetables Firmer
28. Don't Soak Beans -- Brine 'Em
29. Baking Soda Makes Beans and Grains Soft
30. Rinsing (Not Soaking) Makes Rice Fluffy
31. Slicing Changes Garlic and Onion Flavor
32. Chile Heat Resides in Pith and Seeds
33. Bloom Spices to Boost Their Flavor
34. Not All Herbs Are for Cooking
35. Glutamates, Nucleotides Add Meaty Flavor
36. Emulsifiers Make Smooth Sauces
37. Speed Evaporation When Cooking Wine
38. More Water Makes Chewier Bread
39. Rest Dough to Trim Kneading Time
40. Time Builds Flavor in Bread
41. Gentle Folding Stops Tough Quick Breads
42. Two Leaveners Are Often Better Than One
43. Layers of Butter Makes Flaky Pastry
44. Vodka Makes Pie Dough Easy
45. Less Protein Makes Tender Cakes, Cookies
46. Creaming Butter Helps Cakes Rise
47. Reverse Cream for Delicate Cakes
48. Sugar Changes Texture (and Sweetness)
49. Sugar and Time Makes Fruit Juicer
50. Cocoa Powder Delivers Big Flavor
The only thing I would have loved was a trouble shooting / Q&A section - e.g. How do you keep meat from cooling too much when you rest it?
Overall a great book if you want to improve your cooking technique, and also if you just want to learn more about why things behave the way they do!
Update: Looks like "Look inside" is now available for this book so there's finally a table of contents! :) Since I've been cooking with the new concepts in mind, I'm happy with how my meat dishes (especially the stews) are turning out. I also tried using vodka instead of water to make pie crust (with the tip of putting a heated pan under the pie pan) and the pie crust turned out flaky and delicious as promised.
235 internautes sur 251 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Yes, I have a BS in food technology with a lot of chemistry, biochemistry, bacteriology, etc. background. So I found this book another interesting treatise on food science. Personally, I love it. My wife, with a BS in elementary education, 2 sons with accounting and finance degrees, and a mechanical engineering daughter, I am probably the only one in the family to love this book. If you want to cook, and want to know WHY things happen during the cooking process, this is a great book. The recipes in each section emphasize each subject.
If you like Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher, etc., then this book is for you.
If you watch America's Test Kitchen or Cook's Country on TV, and like the science section, buy the book. To me, the recipes may be redundant (400 recipes for 50 sections).
This is a great book if you want to take "Food Science 101" at home. Read each section carefully, then maybe try a suggested recipe to understand the chapter subject. If you want to know HOW, don't buy the book, but if you want to know WHY, place your order now.
But for me, at age 74, it is a great refresher course. It is definately a FIVE if this type of book interests you.
With 50 sections, you could do one a week and take a two week sabatical.
99 internautes sur 104 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I still consider myself an advanced beginner when it comes to cooking so I LOVE cookbooks like this where they explain WHY recipes are they way they are. Things I liked about this book:
1. They have 50 cooking concepts that are discussed in detail. These range from "A covered pot doesn't need water" to "starch helps cheese melt nicely." They tell you the concept, then explain the science behind it. Often the explanation comes with illustrations, tables and details of the experiments they did in the test kitchen. There were a lot of things I had never read/heard of before like how salt added to meat makes it more juicy, but salt added to vegetables takes the water out.
2. The book is brimming with tips, tricks and information. The index has information on how to pick out kitchen equipment like knives, pots and pans and tools; emergency ingredient substitutions are also given. The front of the book goes over basics like meat temperatures that indicate doneness, definitions of common cooking terms. (I now know what to do if a recipe calls for chiffonading herbs!)
3. The book has lots of recipes and a good variety of types. It really has a little bit of everything.
4. The book is very well put together. The pages are glossy, the binding is tight. Feels like it can withstand years of being used.
Things I didn't like:
1. The biggest pet peeve I have with this something many people will NOT have to worry about. I happen to have the The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine and many (if not all) the recipes are the same. I randomly looked up about ten recipes and they were all duplicates. Some had more explanations on why they work, or might offer more variations, but so far I haven't found a single recipe that is not a duplicate. (I have not looked at every single recipe though, as I said, I just looked up a few in different categories.) That said, you would think I would be majorly upset but I'm not. There are so many tips and explanations in this book not found in the other one that I don't think it's a total loss. I just want to mention this in case you have the other book that there are no new recipes, but much new information.
2. There are no pictures of the recipes, but if you're familiar with Cooks Illustrated, this will not be new to you. Many of my "gourmet" cookbooks have no photos so this is a small thing. I just mention it in case there are people out there who are very visual and need photos.
3. The recipes are delicious but not simple. Cooking plain white rice has many additional steps. Basic Scrambled eggs is not basic; you've got to add two additional yolks and use half-and-half. That said, they give you a chart for "formula for perfect scrambled eggs" which I really liked.
With the three things I disliked, I still gave this 5 stars because I felt like people wouldn't really have my first problem, the second problem is trivial, and the third, well, this is a cookbook for when you want taste to matter. Maybe not for Monday night when you have less than thirty minutes to throw something together for the family, but definitely for Saturday night when the in-laws are in town and you want them to be blown away.
112 internautes sur 126 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Catherine S. Vodrey
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I'm a longtime COOK'S ILLUSTRATED subscriber, and if you are too--or if you're curious why some of us are such CI nutjobs--this book will sate your curiosity and provide you with lasting help in the kitchen to boot.
CI is famed for obsessively testing and re-testing virtually every aspect of their recipes. They don't take on fussy foods; they take regular stuff and tell you how to make it as well as possible. This necessarily means that some culinary tropes and old wive's tales get upended, but the effect is exhilarating rather than upsetting. "The Science of Good Cooking" is, essentially, an enormous keyring with dozens of keys allowing YOU, regular old home cook you, to perform to the highest standard you can in the kitchen.
One thing I love about the book and about the CI philosophy in general is that it's DEPENDABLE. You know that the authors and their staff have tested and tested and tested each recipe six ways to Sunday, and you sow the harvest of their hard work. The whys and wherefores are fascinating--food chemistry is the only branch of science that even remotely interests me--but the real fun comes when you set your work down on the table and witness it being enjoyed and dispatched by appreciative eaters.
46 internautes sur 50 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
- Publié sur Amazon.com
You don't need this book if you already subscribe to Cooks Illustrated or to its companion web site. You don't need this if you own the admirable Cooks Illustrated Cookbook. Each of these three resources will tell you all that you need to know as to "Why This Recipe Works," and the latter two even do it in wonderfully succinct head notes. All of the recipes in The Science of Good Cooking have already appeared in Cooks Illustrated and are readily available on the web site.
You don't need this book if you are a fan of the scientific cooking expertise of the estimable Harold McGee ("On Food and Cooking," Keys to Good Cooking") or the equally estimable Shirley Corriher ("Cookwise," "Bakewise"). Both of these writers will tell you all about "Why This Recipe Works" in prose that is considerably less corporate than that of the self-styled America's Test Kitchen. There is nothing "revolutionary," advertising hype aside, about a book that gets into the nitty gritty of the Maillard reaction. Other writers have covered this ground.
But let's say that none of the above applies to you. Well, then, do you like reading textbooks? The Science of Good Cooking is a textbook. It costs as much as a textbook and it would weigh down a backpack as surely as Introduction to Economics.
You like textbooks? While I could hardly have cooked my way through the 400 or so recipes in this tome, I did try (some more than once) a representative fourteen. So, in addition to lots and lots of useful information, here's what The Science of Good Cooking has for the cook:
A few brilliant recipes, one of which is the recipe for Whole-Wheat Sandwich Bread and another of which is the vodka-containing pie crust formula.
A number of very good recipes, among them the ones for Classic Brownies, Crisp Roast Chicken, Blueberry Scones, Scrambled Eggs, Ultimate Hummus, and Glazed Spiral Ham.
A few tweaks to otherwise perfectly good recipes, to wit Yeasted Waffles and Better Bran Muffins. These recipes belong to the Better Mousetrap Category.
A category of recipe I'll call The Science Experiment. Yes, you can make Classic French Fries using three quarts of expensive peanut oil; yes, you can use both a fry pan AND the oven to make excellent home fries; and yes, you can turn your countertop into a floury mess in pursuit of Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits. But do you really want to? Or do you want, to offer one example, the very simple and good (and cheap) recipe for Oven Fries that isn't in this book but IS on the Cooks Web site?
Since there's no accounting for taste, there are a few dogs, a representative of which is the Creamy Buttermilk Coleslaw, which I tried more than once. It's creamy, all right, but so bland that it made me grab for something--anything--horseradish, sriracha, chipotles--to wake it up. This is pretty much the case for a lot of the Asian-type recipes, as well; you'll be happier with a few more takeout cartons and a bit less scientific knowledge. (I await the day when Cooks tackles sushi.)
Do you need this book? You do if you've never heard of the Cooks Illustrated Empire of books-magazines-web sites. For the rest of us, it's a smart repackaging of material that's readily available in other corners of the Empire.