Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes

by Harold McGee
     
 

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The answers to many kitchen conundrums in one easy-to-use volume, from the author of the acclaimed culinary bible On Food and Cooking.

From our foremost expert on the science of cooking, Harold McGee, Keys to Good Cooking is a concise and authoritative guide designed to help home cooks navigate the ever-expanding universe of ingredients,

Overview

The answers to many kitchen conundrums in one easy-to-use volume, from the author of the acclaimed culinary bible On Food and Cooking.

From our foremost expert on the science of cooking, Harold McGee, Keys to Good Cooking is a concise and authoritative guide designed to help home cooks navigate the ever-expanding universe of ingredients, recipes, food safety, and appliances, and arrive at the promised land of a satisfying dish.

A work of astounding scholarship and originality, Keys to Good Cooking directly addresses the cook at work in the kitchen and in need of quick and reliable guidance. Cookbooks past and present frequently contradict one another about the best ways to prepare foods, and many contain erroneous information and advice.

Keys to Good Cooking distills the modern scientific understanding of cooking and translates it into immediately useful information. Looking at ingredients from the mundane to the exotic, McGee takes you from market to table, teaching, for example, how to spot the most delectable asparagus (choose thick spears); how to best prepare the vegetable (peel, don't snap, the fibrous ends; broiling is one effective cooking method for asparagus and other flat-lying vegetables); and how to present it (coat with butter or oil after cooking to avoid a wrinkled surface). This book will be a requisite countertop resource for all home chefs, as McGee's insights on kitchen safety in particular-reboil refrigerated meat or fish stocks every few days. (They're so perishable that they can spoil even in the refrigerator.); Don't put ice cubes or frozen gel packs on a burn. (Extreme cold can cause additional skin damage)-will save even the most knowledgeable home chefs from culinary disaster.

A companion volume to recipe books, a touchstone that helps cooks spot flawed recipes and make the best of them, Keys to Good Cooking will be of use to cooks of all kinds: to beginners who want to learn the basics, to weekend cooks who want a quick refresher in the basics, and to accomplished cooks who want to rethink a dish from the bottom up. With Keys to Good Cooking McGee has created an essential guide for food lovers everywhere.

Editorial Reviews

ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

"If you want to know virtually anything about the "why" of cooking, read Harold McGee. Along the way, he'll teach you the "how."

Wall Street Journal
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.
SEATTLE WEEKLY

“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.”

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

“McGee’s writing is broad, yet detailed at the same time, scientific, but comprehensible.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
If you want to know virtually anything about the "why" of cooking, read Harold McGee. Along the way, he'll teach you the "how."
Christian Science Monitor
McGee’s writing is broad, yet detailed at the same time, scientific, but comprehensible.
Seattle Weekly
“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.
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.)
From the Publisher
“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.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Library Journal
McGee (On Food and Cooking) is known for his scientific approach to food and cooking, and his latest work continues in that vein. It comprises 24 chapters ranging from "Getting To Know Foods" to food safety to "Sugars, Syrups, and Candies." Each chapter is composed nearly entirely of definitions, tips, techniques, and facts concerning the topic in question. While some of this information is often included at the beginning of recipes (e.g., chill bowl and beaters before whipping cream), there are far more esoteric suggestions (e.g., the exact temperature to cook a meat confit to achieve the best results). The book contains no actual recipes, although some sections do include general instructions for types of food preparations, like how to make a frittata or a smooth cheese sauce. VERDICT A good reference work for those interested in knowing the makeup of food and essential for fans of McGee; however, some readers may be disappointed by the lack of recipes.—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. Lib., Oxford, OH

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143122319
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/24/2012
Pages:
576
Sales rank:
604,894
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Ruth Reichl
Reading through this book I thought - How come nobody's done this before? But the answer is obvious: Only Harold McGee could answer every cooking question you could possibly have. We'd all like to have Harold standing in the kitchen while we cook, but since that's impossible, this is the next best thing. Every serious cook will keep this book next to the stove - and every amateur cook should do the same. (Ruth Reichl, author of Garlic & Sapphires and Tender At The Bone)
Rose Levy Beranbaum
Harold McGee is a passionate proponent of understanding how to achieve the best flavor and texture from food. Happily for us, he has the skill to share his vast technical knowledge in clear and simple terms. The invaluable information in this book will do wonders to improve the quality and enjoyment of all our cooking and baking. (Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of Rose's Heavenly Cakes)
Shirley O. Corriher
Everyone who cooks needs this book. Keys to Good Cooking is a treasure trove of food information. Even after 50 years in the food business, I learned something new every few pages. Cookbooks tell you "how," and food-science books tell you "why," this book tells you both. (Shirley O. Corriher, Author of CookWise and BakeWise)
Thomas Keller
I think Harold McGee has singlehandedly contributed to modern cuisine like no other person has. We constantly look to him for guidance and information as we continue to grow as cooks and explore new techniques. In his new book "Keys to Good Cooking," he provides us with clear and definite answers to all our "Why?" questions, when in the past we were just told or taught to do things a certain way. Harold has given us a true understanding of the interaction foods have with one another — he is the most important authority on the subject. (Thomas Keller, The French Laundry and Per Se)
Alice Waters
This book is a vital reference tool for all who love food and cooking—a book to read cover to cover, and then keep, dog-eared, on the kitchen counter.

Meet the Author

Harold McGee writes about the science of food and cooking. He’s the author of the award-winning classic On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and writes a monthly column, “The Curious Cook,” for The New York Times. He has been named food writer of the year by Bon Appétit magazine and to the Time 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people. He lives in San Francisco.

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