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Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food [Paperback]

Jeff Potter
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 26.99
Price: 18.89 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 Aug 2010

Are you the innovative type, the cook who marches to a different drummer -- used to expressing your creativity instead of just following recipes? Are you interested in the science behind what happens to food while it's cooking? Do you want to learn what makes a recipe work so you can improvise and create your own unique dish?

More than just a cookbook, Cooking for Geeks applies your curiosity to discovery, inspiration, and invention in the kitchen. Why is medium-rare steak so popular? Why do we bake some things at 350° F/175° C and others at 375° F/190° C? And how quickly does a pizza cook if we overclock an oven to 1,000° F/540° C? Author and cooking geek Jeff Potter provides the answers and offers a unique take on recipes -- from the sweet (a "mean" chocolate chip cookie) to the savory (duck confit sugo).

This book is an excellent and intriguing resource for anyone who wants to experiment with cooking, even if you don't consider yourself a geek.

  • Initialize your kitchen and calibrate your tools
  • Learn about the important reactions in cooking, such as protein denaturation, Maillard reactions, and caramelization, and how they impact the foods we cook
  • Play with your food using hydrocolloids and sous vide cooking
  • Gain firsthand insights from interviews with researchers, food scientists, knife experts, chefs, writers, and more, including author Harold McGee, TV personality Adam Savage, chemist Herv&eacute This, and xkcd

"My own session with the book made me feel a lot more confident in my cooking."

--Monica Racic,The New Yorker

"I LOVE this book. It's inspiring, invigorating, and damned fun to spend time inside the mind of 'big picture' cooking. I'm Hungry!"

--Adam Savage, co-host of Discovery Channel's MythBusters

"In his enchanting, funny, and informative book, Cooking for Geeks (O'Reilly), Jeff Potter tells us why things work in the kitchen and why they don't."

-- Barbara Hanson, NewYork Daily News


Frequently Bought Together

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food + Xkcd: Volume 0 + What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
Price For All Three: 41.57

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (12 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596805888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596805883
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 9 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

I'm hungry. Hungry for dinner; hungry for answers. Can knowing a little food science help you cook a better meal? Definitely. Keep you healthier? Yes! Let you pull off a crazy cooking challenge? Absolutely!! I love looking at how science can improve our everyday lives, whether inside or outside of the kitchen.

Visit my website to learn more about my book, Cooking for Geeks.

Website: http://www.cookingforgeeks.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/cookingforgeeks

Product Description

About the Author

Jeff Potter has done the cubicle thing, the startup thing, and the entrepreneur thing, and through it all maintained his sanity by cooking for friends. He studied computer science and visual art at Brown University.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My kind of cook book 5 Sep 2010
By Shazzer
Format:Paperback
Reminiscent of the "Good Eats" TV series, this book delves into the whys and wherefores of food and cooking rather than simply presenting instructions and a pretty picture (though there's a bit of that too). Armed with this knowledge, it's possible to then hack recipe "code" to suit your resources and tastes.
With geeky tips such as how to calibrate your oven with sugar and the Optimal Cake-Cutting Algorithm for N People, info on how much whipping will turn your cream to butter, and any amount of the science behind how foods react to the application of heat over time, this book really lives up to its name.
As for how good the recipes are: my fussy four year old declared the buttermilk pancakes the "most delicious things I've ever eaten" and asked for seconds and thirds.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont just make food, create food 16 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback
When you think about geeks, you rarely think about them cooking; most people instantly imagine them with pizzas or crisps, not in front of ovens. Jeff Potter, the author, explains why most geeks are shy of kitchens. Being a geek himself, he explains cooking in software development terms; compiling food, defining vegetable variables, overclocking the oven, and looking at recipes as source code. He explains everything with a sense of humour that is a joy to read. This book had me hooked right from the beginning, so when he started to talk about cooking with stuff that can kill you; liquid nitrogen ice cream or electrocuted hot dogs, I couldn't put this book down.

Jeff starts off the book with easy recipes, with the explanation that if you want to learn a programming language, you don't start off by writing an operating system. The same thing goes for cooking; start off small, learn to read a recipe and learn to change elements to suit your style. Source code isn't static; you can always change it to suit your style. Jeff takes you through it step by step, but he goes one step further. Geeks aren't just interested in following steps, they want to know, and need to know why. Why do you need to cook at a certain temperature? Why do you need to add an ingredient before another one? Cooking isn't just about blindly following recipes, its science!

Cooking for Geeks isn't a reference book. Whilst it does contain recipes throughout the book, it isn't a book that you will idly pick up to make a meal for friends. You will learn what sort of a cook you are, and help you focus on what you are good at. It will help you select kitchen hardware depending on who you are and on what you want to do. It will help you prepare and calibrate your tools, especially your oven.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Janis
Format:Paperback
I bought this book as a gift for our friend. She's already a great young professional cook and she liked this book very much.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Marmite 24 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
Content's decent. Skimps on the basics, but you can Google easily enough.

Condescending as hell, relates everything to programming - look past that, you're rewarded with good information.

Grr. Annoyingly useful.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a present 14 Jan 2011
Format:Paperback
This was a present for my boyfriend for christmas, hes quite geeky and has also prevously shown an interest in cooking. The book isn't really focused around the recipes although there are some in it, its mostly talking about the science behind the food, and talking about processes in cooking rather than just a list of recipes. The recipes that are in the book are used as case studies.

Overall, very good, my boyfriend was glued to it for quite a while after christmas, and is still refering to it now, even though hes finished the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars stolen! 26 Feb 2014
By Andrew
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was supposed to be the geek. But my wife, who is an excellent cook, is constantly dipping into my book, finding unusual facts about food chemistry and history - as well as recipes. Inevitably, the contributors vary in the level of their contributors, but I guess there's something for everyone here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book 14 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Absoultely fantastic book as a primer into the world of kitchen science also ideal for sciencey people who need to get into the kitchen more and learn the life skill that is cooking. I've bought 2 of these for gifts and have the e-book on my Kindle.

Whilst there are classic books like McGee on Food and Cooking which is all about the science of ingredients and cooking and the 375 Modernist Cuisine which also throws in history, hygine and recipies into the mix this book covers a lot for quite a lot of the same material quickly as well as giving some rather fun ideas to have some science fun in the kitchen.

As well as giving the answers the book also encourages you to experience the results for yourseld by doing experiments and adjust the levels of ingredients of various recipies so you can create your own perfect mix.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really fun to read. Great book, gives you the basics and tries to explain them - the ingredients, the processes, the how and why :) All in all, I'd recommend to anyone who skipped high school physics and chemistry, perhaps not much use but still a nice reminder to someone who knows their stuff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for a Sunday afternoon!
My boyfriend loves this book, bought it as a Christmas present, loads of cool tips and tricks. I proof read it first and couldn't put it down for hours!
Published 2 months ago by charlotte
4.0 out of 5 stars Recipient delighted
Bought as Christmas present and loved by the recipient. Lots of useful recipes and comments. Wacky cover design makes it look damaged which was a bit off-putting at first!
Published 3 months ago by Trevor Cobb
5.0 out of 5 stars amazing book
it's cooking, kitchen tools and more explained in a way an engineer/designer would like to understand what goes on when cooking, and what goes on when things don't work as they... Read more
Published 6 months ago by rin
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Great cookery book for food lovers who also love a bit of science. My boyfriend loves cooking and he studies food and nutrition at university so this made an excellent gift for him
Published 12 months ago by Miss L. K. Fenny
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
great book to understand the concept of flavours and the all molecular structure behind any recipe,,it comes with some recipes as well.great book to have it
Published 12 months ago by mixologyhelder
5.0 out of 5 stars Geek cooking
This is a great book of ideas for cooking with the risk of freaking out guests. Will be trying a few ideas shortly. Only issue seems to be some issues with the kindle file.
Published 12 months ago by Steven Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars Great present for a foodie
Bought this as a present for a friend who is very into baking in her free time as well as science, computer games and more geeky humour. She absolutely loved it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Miss R C Sindall
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read
There's a lot of good technical information in there but it takes a lot of finding. Lots of repetitions, lots of interviews with people answering the same questions over and over. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a geek but my son is!
I can not give this a five rating as I have not used it or seen it as it was a present for my son. He wanted it for his survival and entertaining in his new home and thinks it is... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mrs. M. Day
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
I'm no expert chef but i found this book easy to pick up and read, and reading about the science behind cooking is nice and fun :) great for adults and nerdy kids >12/13
Published 14 months ago by (Learn more)
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