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

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.

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

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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.

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  • The Keys to Good Cooking - Berries
    The Keys to Good Cooking - Berries  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Harold McGee, the author of this book, is best known for his On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, which Alton Brown called "the Rosetta stone of the culinary world." McGee approaches cooking with an especial interest in food chemistry, but as readers of his New York Times "The Curious Cook" column know, his supple prose is a pleasure to read. In fact, he has won Bon Appétit's coveted Food Writer of the Year. The approach to his latest book, however, is through its nakedly direct dust-jacket, which simply lists the chapter titles, from "Getting to Know Foods" and "Basic Kitchen Resources" to "Eggs," "Meats," "Fish and Shellfish," and beyond. The Keys to Good Cooking distills what experts know about food ingredients and preparation in easy-to-understand language. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

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.)
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
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.
Library Journal
McGee's On Food and Cooking is an essential, easily browsed culinary reference. This new title—a compendium of practical knowledge on tools, cooking methods, science, food safety, and ingredients—makes explicit what many cookbooks do not. McGee explains things like why cooking times are variable, how to rescue broken mayonnaise, and when to replace your spices. Readers will develop a better understanding of food and a critical eye for evaluating recipes. VERDICT Don't be deterred by the introductory focus or the lack of illustrations. This collection of essential information should be required reading for new cooks.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594202681
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/2010
  • Pages: 553
  • Sales rank: 320,862
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.40 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

1 Getting to Know Foods 1

2 Basic Kitchen Resources: Water, the Pantry, and the Refrigerator 17

3 Kitchen Tools 43

4 Heat and Heating Appliances 65

5 Cooking Methods 77

6 Cooking Safely 105

7 Fruits 119

8 Vegetables and Fresh Herbs 143

9 Milk and Dairy Products 187

10 Eggs 211

11 Meats 237

12 Fish and Shellfish 269

13 Sauces, Stocks, and Soups 289

14 Dry Grains, Pastas, Noodles, and Puddings 323

15 Seed Legumes: Beans, Peas, Lentils, and Soy Products 347

16 Nuts and Oil Seeds 359

17 Breads 369

18 Pastries and Pies 393

19 Cakes, Muffins, and Cookies 413

20 Griddle Cakes, Crepes, Popovers, and Frying Batters 441

21 Ice Creams, Ices, Mousses, and Jellies 453

22 Chocolate and Cocoa 471

23 Sugars, Syrups, and Candies 493

24 Coffee and Tea 513

Where to Find More Keys to Good Cooking 525

Acknowledgments 529

Index 533

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    Better than his On Food and Cooking book

    I bought the hard back version of this book before I purchased my Nook. If you like Alton Brown this is a must read. Harold McGee takes the science of cooking to a level we can all understand. Before I read this book I didn't know how important it is to cook eggs over low heat.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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