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The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science Hardcover – Illustrated, 30 Oct 2015
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"For avid home cooks who came of age in the digital era, there may be few voices more authoritative than that of J. Kenji López-Alt, the nerd king of Internet cooking...He is reliable, personable and unpretentious. He is also a gifted explainer, making difficult concepts easy to grasp for those of us with a lifelong lack of aptitude for the sciences." --The New York Times
"Lopez-Alt's application of scientific rigour to home cooking is actually a lot of fun. Any book that devotes 13 pages to achieving the perfect chip is all right by us."
--The 25 best food books of 2015, The Observer Food Monthly
"López-Alt shows that conventional methods do not always work well and explains how home cooks can achieve better results using new techniques. A bestseller in America."--The Irish Sunday Times
"...a must-read for home cooks...Buy this book for your favourite food nerd and you'll get precious little conversation out of them on Christmas Day. It questions the techniques we use day-to-day, examining the science as well as providing recipes and a fair bit of humour. It's peppered with useful facts, too...My Christmas cooking has changed forever."
"...take your time. You'll learn a lot."
The 10 best cookbooks of 2015, The Washington Post
"...it is the only book you need to become a seriously good cook."
"He's [J. Kenji López-Alt] got science on his side (and a degree from MIT) and has spent countless man-hours thinking about and reverse-engineering what, exactly, makes delicious food work. (We highly recommend picking up his 1,000 page, James Beard award-winning cookbook..."
"It will make you question just about everything you know about cooking as well as give you new ways of doing old things to make them better... a hefty tome that is well worth its price."--Foodepedia
About the Author
J. Kenji López-Alt is the managing culinary director of SeriousEats.com, author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, and a columnist for Cooking Light. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Adriana.
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As books go, I would recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking instead. The Food Lab is better presented as a blog than a book.
It both is and isn't a cookbook. There are some great recipes in here, but it's not really a book to flick through to find something to eat. Rather, I find the recipes put into practice the theory explained in the pages around them. For example, there are 30 pages of text and diagrams on steaks: salting, searing, ageing, resting, cooking methods etc. Then, a couple of steak recipes, then another couple pages on more cooking techniques, another recipe featuring those techniques and so on.
Why this works for me is I love to know what's going on in the food, why it's happening, and how that changes the final product. For instance, the recipe tells me to roast the beef at a low temperature before finally searing at a high temperature - and you can just follow the recipe and get the result - but by reading the preceding pages you can learn about how the ordering of the cooking temperatures affects the result, and why. Understanding those principles and processes helps me think about other recipes in a new way.
(If you're going to buy this book, you're going to want an instant read, digital probe thermometer, and probably measuring cups, and kitchen scales with imperial measurements. As mentioned in other reviews, recipes are US, but that works for me, having lived there.)
It is big, and it is heavy - 2.75kg / 6lbs. It's too heavy to comfortably hold to read through on a lap, and it's also too big to fit my cookbook stand. It's for this reason that I give it 4 stars rather than 5. It's an effort to use this book, but it's so, so worth that effort.
This is an indispensble book for kitchen geeks!
If you're the type to put everything in one pot and cook, this might not be the book for you.
Would be ace if there were more vegetarian dishes but that's a personal preference and in no way diminishes my enjoyment of the book
The recipes are basic but aimed at highlighting the techniques and differences rather than highlighting anything particularly culinary and as such are a perfect complement to the techniques discussed.
My only gripe is that this book -- a book that talks about precise measurements and obviously aimed at an international audience -- uses archiac, out-dated and imprecise measuring units that are only used in Liberia, Myanmar and the US. What's quart?! Why are "cups" used for items that should be measured by mass? He even states himself (p.501) that you should use the metric system for a variety of reasons -- would have loved to have seen him follow his own advice, as this would save the rest of the world doing manual conversions on each recipe! Thankfully, I keep my Alexa in the kitchen...
Even with this frustration, it isn't enough to detract from the huge effort that has gone into this book. 5 stars!
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Its a great book to pick up and read at random, but also reading through from the start was really educational -...Read more
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