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In all ways to-the-point, Costello and Reich's guidebook offer kitchen commandments for a realm that often tends to "a little of this, a little of that" thinking. Costello's culinary skills are well matched with Reich's pithy writing in more than 200 directives on everything from cooking duck to ripening fruit, for which they lay down the major rules of cooking and kitchen conduct in as few as a couple of lines. Beginning cooks will find relief in their strong declarations-"Do not stuff a turkey"; "Always preheat the oven"-instructions that, once learned by heart, make cooking easier and end with better food. The explanations for these rules are succinct but amply informative so as to please anyone who has cooked long enough to already be following them instinctively; they draw on basic kitchen science as well as the collective knowledge of culinary experts like Jeffrey Steingarten and Michael Nischan to make a case for the validity of their decrees. Some "notes" are less concretely didactic than others ("Chicken is the test of a cook's versatility," for example), or leave room for interpretation ("Dress salad lightly"), but all are brightly informative enough to help cooks make better decisions and, in the end, be more productive and happier in the kitchen. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.