Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 2, 2011 09:11 AM

Cookbooks: Hows & Whys not Recipes

Hey everyone, I'm looking for a cookbook that isn't simply recipes, but instead explains the "How's & Whys" of fine cooking. Every book I've looked at seems to be all recipes or mostly recipes with small sections of "How to properly cut the fat off a _______ and what it does to the dish by removing it"

Essentially I'm looking for something more textbook style than cookbook. Any tried and true suggestions?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I would suggest Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson; it has a lot of photos for basic techniques and suggestions and different ways to cook almost anything. Good Luck

    1. You might be interested in Harold McGee. Very briefly, he writes about the science of cooking, the technique and history.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Seconding Harold McGee; On Food and Cooking has the history and science behind every major ingredient you can think of.

        Not exactly what you want, but Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home cookbook has detailed explanations for each of the techniques used in the recipes (don't know about his other cookbooks, but I'm guessing this is generally true of him in general).

        1. re: caseyjo

          My husband is a big fan of McGee, but for me he has only limited appeal because things like farinograms to measure dough strength, illustrations of the pot vs column still, and drawings of tongue papillae are just not that interesting to me. He really discusses things down to the molecular level but what I do enjoy is his explanations of how to make and rescue sauces, all about egg cookery and nutritional fads. Fascinating and dry as dust all in one.

      2. Martha Stewart's Cooking School is written in a way that describes basic techniques and has lots of photos. Each technique is followed by a few recipes that use the technique. I checked it out of the library and found it very interesting to flip through and easy to understand.

        1. With these four, you won't need anything else. The first one is especially critical to a well stocked culinary library.

          If you lose the list you can always find it again under "Recommended Reading" on my web page:

          1. Since your name is KillerGriller, you may find Steven Raichlen interesting:

            He also has a show on the Create Channel (PBS). I always learn something about "why" (as well as "how") when I watch his show.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jay F

              Haven't made any of the recipes from his show, but I find Steven Raichlen very informative and knowledgable.

              1. re: cheesecake17

                Me, too. And I don't even like to BBQ or grill.