A food science cookbook!
Even if you think that you have enough cookbooks, The Science of Good Cooking is one you should at least check out of the library and read. I’m sure it’s obvious from my posts that I like to understand cooking, rather than just following a recipe slavishly. You’ve probably also noticed that I’m a fan of Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, and America’s Test Kitchen, so it probably won’t come as a surprise that I’m recommending this book.
I consider myself a reasonably accomplished cook, and pretty good at improvisation, but I’ve benefited from reading and using this book. It’s like a cooking school in a book.
While there are lots of good recipes, the presentation is by techniques and concepts to help you understand what actually goes on when you apply heat, or use salt in a recipe, or why the yolk and the white of eggs cook differently. And there’s experimental data, too. This book is not just telling you what to do but why to do it–there are experiments to show why a technique works. Mastering the techniques in this book will give you so much freedom in the kitchen, because you’ll understand the changes taking place while you’re cooking. The information is presented without a lot of heavy-duty chemistry or physics that you sometimes find in food science books, too.
Every recipe that I’ve used from this book has improved my cooking! The extra-thick strip steak that I cooked using the technique from this book was the best I’ve ever eaten. Same for the baked fish.