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Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes Hardcover – October 28, 2010
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
No matter how creative the chef, every great dish relies on proven science, and this compendium of well-researched data is a textbook for proper food preparation. Curious Cook columnist for the New York Times and author (On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen), McGee will banish any romantic notions about cooking with his fast-draw expertise. Keys is a companion guide designed to be used in conjunction with cookbooks. With chapters devoted to Kitchen Tools, Heat and Heating Appliances, and Cooking Methods, McGee's 101 approach takes nothing for granted, but will surprise readers with lesser known insights, such as that salted water reduces the loss of flavorful and nutritious substances during boiling and that foil should not be used to wrap acidic foods or nonaluminum metal pans. McGee breaks down methods with basic tips--in pan-frying, for instance, warming meats to room temperature and drying food surfaces ahead are important factors for success that are often left out of recipes. Descriptions of foods from common fruits to cultured dairy products and seed legumes are detailed but not trivially so, with McGee summarizing the safe handling, purchase and storage, preparation, and basic characteristics. With an eminently pragmatic approach to cooking and a user-friendly précis of a lifetime's devotion to the kitchen, this is an invaluable addition to food literature. (Nov.)
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“Mr. McGee might have called this encyclopedic work "The Kitchen Home Companion," since it offers indispensable information on how to make the most of any recipe—a user's manual that enables home cooks to achieve maximum results… the enjoyment it affords will be found on the table.” — Wall Street Journal
"If you want to know virtually anything about the "why" of cooking, read Harold McGee. Along the way, he'll teach you the "how." — ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
“McGee’s writing is broad, yet detailed at the same time, scientific, but comprehensible.”— CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
“A great addition to any cookbook library. It picks up where many cookbooks leave off. The "How's" and "Why's" of a dish's success - or failure - are often a mystery, but McGee sheds light on many of those mysteries to make us more informed in the kitchen and ultimately, better cooks.” — SEATTLE WEEKLY
“McGee will banish any romantic notions about cooking with his fast-draw expertise… With an eminently pragmatic approach to cooking and a user-friendly précis of a lifetime’s devotion to the kitchen, this is an invaluable addition to food literature.”
Top customer reviews
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So it's not rambling, discursive, anecdotal, or overlong, and the prose soars only a little, here and there, mainly at the chapter starts. But read with attention, it casts a delicious spell of clarity, and regularly achieves the goal of all true explanations: to make the familiar, strange. McGee has packed this beautifully designed book with thousands of little insights and pieces of advice that will make you cook better. It's a delight.
My only dissatisfaction with the hardcover is that I wish the dust jacket had been reproduced on the surface of the book itself, and that the surface was glossy, to make it feel more like the kitchen-based book it is than a standard nonfiction offering (and that it had a sewn, not a glued, binding, as so many cookbooks do, for durability). But none of Penguin Press's books have those features, and as regular hardcover books go, it is very pleasingly printed, with thick, luxurious paper.
BUY "ON FOOD AND COOKING" INSTEAD. Its by the same author, and is a masterpiece. It covers every aspect of cooking to the very grittiest detail. The chapter on eggs begins with a detailed, scientific description of the chickens entire gestation period.
Why is that important? Once you know what an egg is composed of you'll know why and how cooking it certain ways changes its characteristics. Once you know the chemistry and physics behind food and cooking you know EVERYTHING. No more rules of thumb or pointers, just genuine, fundamental knowledge.
If you want simple rules of thumb, but no genuine knowledge, then buy this book. If you want the knowledge of an executive chef buy "On Food and Cooking" same author, different world.
Few of his previous works would be suitable for the everyday cook. This one is. How many people would wade through his earlier erudite discussions of protein strings, just to get a practical morsel for the kitchen? Few indeed.
This is a book that distills Mr McGee's work into a single practical volume. It may be "the size of a brick", but so what? Nor do I find the typography and layout disconcerting. I think they are ideal: they send you to the essential points immediately.
I have sent this book to some of my friends who would never read even think to peruse Mr McGee's previous opuses. But I am sure they will at least leaf through this one.
if I could own just one book by McGee, it would still be the justly famous [[ASIN:0684843285 On Food and Cooking], which is a hard act to follow. nonetheless, I find the new volume a welcome addition and I refer to it frequently.
one warning about the Kindle edition, however: the publisher made the index flat text without hyperlinks, so you can see what's in the book, but you can't get there from here. this is *REALLY* irritating; perhaps later editions will correct this lunacy.