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Culinary Reactions: The Everyday Chemistry of Cooking

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Overview

When you’re cooking, you’re a chemist! Every time you follow or modify a recipe, you are experimenting with acids and bases, emulsions and suspensions, gels and foams. In your kitchen you denature proteins, crystallize compounds, react enzymes with substrates, and nurture desired microbial life while suppressing harmful bacteria and fungi. And unlike in a laboratory, you can eat your experiments to verify your hypotheses.

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Overview

When you’re cooking, you’re a chemist! Every time you follow or modify a recipe, you are experimenting with acids and bases, emulsions and suspensions, gels and foams. In your kitchen you denature proteins, crystallize compounds, react enzymes with substrates, and nurture desired microbial life while suppressing harmful bacteria and fungi. And unlike in a laboratory, you can eat your experiments to verify your hypotheses.

            In Culinary Reactions, author Simon Quellen Field turns measuring cups, stovetop burners, and mixing bowls into graduated cylinders, Bunsen burners, and beakers. How does altering the ratio of flour, sugar, yeast, salt, butter, and water affect how high bread rises? Why is whipped cream made with nitrous oxide rather than the more common carbon dioxide? And why does Hollandaise sauce call for “clarified” butter? This easy-to-follow primer even includes recipes to demonstrate the concepts being discussed, including:

·        Whipped Creamsicle Topping—a foam

·        Cherry Dream Cheese—a protein gel

·        Lemonade with Chameleon Eggs—an acid indicator

 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Full of charts, step-by-step photos, structural formulas, and amazing recipes (the cherry cream cheese has me drooling), you will become a better cook without even trying.” —MAKE Magazine

“This clear primer to the chemistry of cooking goes well beyond the basics to teach cooks how to improve their results scientifically.” —Science News

“The writing style is very personable and he does a great job of illustrating concepts with recipes.”      —Smithsonianmag.com

“With information advanced enough to interest the well-seasoned, hard-boiled home cook, the information in this book is written in such a friendly and approachable manner that even beginner kitchen-chemists will be delighted to learn from it.”—San Francisco Book Review

“A gateway into the science of food.”  —Gastronomica

Library Journal
Field (Why There's Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste: The Chemistry of Household Ingredients) believes the kitchen is really a chemistry lab in disguise because cooks preparing dishes employ the same procedures as chemists. He argues that understanding the scientific principles behind these processes is the key to becoming a better cook. From the reasoning behind weighing and measuring ingredients to creating foams and emulsions, Field delves into a number of topics to give readers a basic grounding in the chemistry of the kitchen. A few recipes are included, but this title reads more like a chemistry textbook than a cookbook. VERDICT Field is not the first to tackle this subject. Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is a classic, and Shirley O. Corriher's CookWise and BakeWise are more recipe-focused. Still, although Field's contribution is written for Mr. Wizard fans rather than Betty Crocker candidates, it is an engaging and entertaining guide to the science of cooking.—John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., AZ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569767061
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 159,442
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Field is the author of Why There’s Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste, Gonzo Gizmos, and The Return of Gonzo Gizmos, and is the creator of the popular Web site www.scitoys.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    Pretty great for the subject.

    It's a little dumbed down in the science department, but was an interesting read none the less. I liked some of the tips that I've never heard or thought of for cooking things.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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