I’m a self-taught cook. I took a few home ec classes in middle school, but aside from that I’ve just been figuring things out by trial and error – and a lot of googling. I still have a lot of questions, though, which is why I was so excited to get my hands on Cook’s Illustrated’s newest cookbook, The Science of Good Cooking.
Simply stated, this book is brilliant.
It’s broken down into fifty concepts that are important to good cooking, everything from “Salty Marinades Work Best” to “Creaming Butter Helps Cakes Rise”. Within every section, they explain the science behind each concept and describe test kitchen experiments that illustrate these sciences. It’s likely more chemistry than the average cook needs, but it really drives home the why of the cooking concepts, not just the how.
The sections then continue with a collection of recipes that illustrate the concepts, including additional notes on how they’re best accomplished. Whereas the science sections are a little more intellectual, the recipes are incredibly accessible and easy to follow. Often, variations of the recipes and helpful pictures or notes are included too.
In addition to the concepts, the book houses a plethora of other great kitchen knowledge. It includes an extensive guide on selecting equipment for your kitchen. There’s also suggestions on measuring, temperatures, cooking methods and buying different ingredients.
The book has two tables of contents – one featuring the cooking concepts and one featuring the recipes – in addition to an extensive index so no matter how you want to use this cookbook, it’s incredibly easy to navigate.
If you could only have one cookbook for the rest of your life, this is the one you’d want on your shelf. If you’re a cook who’s looking to understand the science in order to be a better cook and give you the ability to create your own recipes, this book has you covered. If you’re a cook that just wants some guaranteed-to-work-beautifully recipes, this book is a gold mine.
I’m completely smitten by this book, if you couldn’t already tell. If you’re looking for something to add your Christmas list, this would be a great bet.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review. I am receiving no additional compensation for this post, and all opinions are my own.