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?
The following books are what I learned the most from as far as technique goes:
Larousse Gastronimique is amazing but perhaps not precisely what you are looking for. It is a food/ingredients/technique encyclopedia that is an absolute must for everyone culinary minded. There are recipes in there but Escoffier style. Speaking of which, Escoffier anything is also good but he offers little in the way of instruction.
The French Laundry by Thomas Keller is one of my favourites, as is James Peterson (already mentioned). McGee (also mentioned) is excellent.
The CIA textbooks are also very good at explaining and describing - I have several. The Oxford Companion to Food is interesting but again, more encyclopedic.
Here is a list of books you will want. You won't need all of them but you will probably end up with most of them before you figure it out.
Cooking Know-How by Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarbrough
How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson
The New Best Recipes by Cook’s Illustrated
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
I’m just here for the food 1 and 2 by Alton brown
The Joy of Cooking
I highly recommend some self study and research on the web.
Here is a list of cooking techniques. They are split into 2 groups ... wet and dry. Pull some articles on these techniques and read them and take notes.
If you actually learn it, you will have come a very long wy to learning what you want to know.
Roasting oven and pan
Cookwise by Shirley Corriher. Hands Down. Written by a food scientist with a home cook in mind.
I have almost all the ones mentioned in this thread, both Einsteins, How to read a French Fry, McGee, Peterson, Just here for the food.
They are all good but Corriher is the best, IMO
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:
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.
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).
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.