Like reading a whole season of Alton Brown's Good Eats... great stuff!
Aug 14, 2010
The typical geek doesn't just want something to work. They want to know *why* and *how* it works. If your geekness extends to the kitchen, this book is perfect... Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter. It's a wonderful mix of science and hands-on activities, and definitely opened my eyes as to why things work as they do in the kitchen.
Contents: Hello, Kitchen!: Think Like a Hacker; Cooking for One; Cooking for Others Initializing the Kitchen: Approaching the Kitchen; Kitchen Equipment; Kitchen Organization Choosing Your Inputs - Flavors and Ingredients: Smell + Taste = Flavor; Tastes - Bitter, Salty, Sweet, Umami, Others; Adapt and Experiment Method; Regional/Traditional Method; Seasonal Method; Analytical Method Time and Temperature - Cooking's Primary Variables: Cooked = Time * Temperature; Foodborne Illness and Staying Safe; Key Temperatures in Cooking Air - Baking's Key Variable: Gluten; Biological Leaveners; Chemical Leaveners; Mechanical Leaveners Playing with Chemicals: Traditional Cooking Chemicals; Modern Industrial Chemicals Fun with Hardware: Sous Vide Cooking; Commercial Hardware and Techniques Appendix; Afterword; Index
There's just so fun stuff here, it's hard to know where to start. Potter does an excellent job in explaining the science behind what happens when you mix the eggs, flour, and milk together and apply heat. While most books on cooking tell you *what* to do, this one goes into the *why* and *how*. For instance, why does heat change food, and how does that happen? What is involved in protein denaturation, the maillard reaction, and caramelization? And why does knowing all this make a difference to you when it comes to knowing when a particular item is "done cooking"? It's this type of information that takes you beyond saying "but I left it in for the 10 minutes they said... why wasn't it cooked?" After reading Cooking for Geeks, you can start to understand what's going on within the food, and make educated decisions about what happened, what is happening, and what will happen next.
Fortunately, Cooking for Geeks isn't just a chemistry manual though. It's full of actual recipes that look delicious, as well as interviews with other cooks who reveal some of their secrets and mindsets behind what they do in the kitchen. Again, it all serves to take you beyond the "follow steps 1, 2, and 3" method of cooking, into something that is creative and fun.
This is like reading a season's worth of Alton Brown's Good Eats shows. Plenty of fun and very informational... and you can eat or toss your mistakes. :)
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Cooking for Geeks covers a new way of looking at how to cook for the hacker, maker, and creative person. By bringing science and experimentation into the kitchen, this Panel will show how to create better food and new experiences at the dinner table.