The Science of Good Cooking

Master 50 Simple Concepts to Enjoy a Lifetime of Success in the Kitchen (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks) 

Unlock a lifetime of successful cooking with this groundbreaking new volume from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated, the magazine that put food science on the map. Organized around 50 core principles our test cooks use to develop foolproof recipes, The Science of Good Cooking is a radical new approach to teaching the fundamentals of the kitchen. Fifty unique experiments from the test kitchen bring the science to life, and more than 400 landmark Cook’s Illustrated recipes (such as Old-Fashioned Burgers, Classic Mashed Potatoes, and Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies) illustrate each of the basic principles at work. These experiments range from simple to playful to innovative – showing you why you should fold (versus stir) batter for chewy brownies, why you whip egg whites with sugar, and why the simple addition of salt can make meat juicy. A lifetime of experience isn’t the prerequisite for becoming a good cook; knowledge is. Think of this as an owner’s manual for your kitchen.

Let me start with my humble opinion, you are going to love this book! After my hubby bought this book for me, we both took a quick look through it. Just that quick I found a recipe for shrimp that has become my “go to” for a quick weeknight meal. If you’ve never been able to get a pie crust to come out right, try the Foolproof Pie Crust in the back of the book. I tell you, it works for both myself and my friends. What makes for interesting reading is the explanation of “Why” it works.


Pokin
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read to improve the results of your food!
Reviewed in the United States on September 22, 2012 Verified Purchase
Having relied on Cooks Illustrated recommendations for many of my favourite kitchen tools, buying this book was a no brainer. Needless to say I had high expectations going in, and this book did not disappoint.

I'm an avid cook, and while I've had great success with certain types of food, I've been frustrated by inconsistent results in others. (I can't seem to get a consistently moist pot-roast -- reason: my cooking temperature was probably too high; wrong cut of meat + oven braising is better than stovetop since it heats more evenly in more directions)

The Science of Good Cooking breaks down why food cooks a certain way, and which techniques are best for what purpose. The book is organized into 50 concepts with recipes reinforcing each concept. There's a section called "why this works" following each recipe, which breaks down the science behind each step -- for instance why use a certain type of marinade, cooking technique, take extra steps, etc to achieve a desired outcome. It's nice that it's not just a list of recipes.

Experiments back each concept. Meats were weighed, measured, smashed to determine tenderness, and moisture loss. They came up with a range of ideal resting times for various meats based on actually measuring the amount of juices lost at various times, and they sent food to the science lab to analyze their structure. They even stuck bones on mashed potatoes to test out whether keeping bones on makes food taste better. This book debunked some assumptions I had (acid does not actually make food more tender), and helped me understand other ones better - why salt directly applied on skin makes it more crispy, but if you brined the skin you'd get a different outcome. I also learned that the direction you cut your onion affects its taste - obvious in retrospect, but I never thought about that!

I was disappointed I couldn't see a table of contents before purchase, so here are the 50 concepts you will find within the book -

1. Gentle Heat Prevents Overcooking
2. High Heat Develops Flavor
3. Resting Meat Maximizes Juiciness
4. Hot Food Keeps Cooking
5. Some Proteins Are Best Cooked Twice
6. Slow Heating Makes Meat Tender
7. Cook Tough Cuts Beyond Well Done
8. Tough Cuts Like a Covered Pot
9. A Covered Pot Doesn't Need Liquid
10. Bones Add Flavor, Fat, and Juiciness
11. Brining Maximizes Juiciness in Lean Meats
12. Salt Makes Meat Juicy and Skin Crisp
13. Salty Marinades work best
14. Grind Meat at Home for Tender Burgers
15. A Panade Keeps Ground Meat Tender
16. Create Layers for a Breading That Sticks
17. Good Frying is All About Oil Temperature
18. Fat Makes Eggs Tender
19. Gentle Heat Guarantees Smooth Custards
20. Starch Keeps Eggs from Curdling
21. Whipped Egg Whites Need Stabilizers
22. Starch Helps Cheese Melt Nicely
23. Salting Vegetables Removes Liquid
24. Green Vegetables Like it Hot -- Then Cold
25. All Potatoes Are Not Created Equal
26. Potato Starches Can Be Controlled
27. Precooking Makes Vegetables Firmer
28. Don't Soak Beans -- Brine 'Em
29. Baking Soda Makes Beans and Grains Soft
30. Rinsing (Not Soaking) Makes Rice Fluffy
31. Slicing Changes Garlic and Onion Flavor
32. Chile Heat Resides in Pith and Seeds
33. Bloom Spices to Boost Their Flavor
34. Not All Herbs Are for Cooking
35. Glutamates, Nucleotides Add Meaty Flavor
36. Emulsifiers Make Smooth Sauces
37. Speed Evaporation When Cooking Wine
38. More Water Makes Chewier Bread
39. Rest Dough to Trim Kneading Time
40. Time Builds Flavor in Bread
41. Gentle Folding Stops Tough Quick Breads
42. Two Leaveners Are Often Better Than One
43. Layers of Butter Makes Flaky Pastry
44. Vodka Makes Pie Dough Easy
45. Less Protein Makes Tender Cakes, Cookies
46. Creaming Butter Helps Cakes Rise
47. Reverse Cream for Delicate Cakes
48. Sugar Changes Texture (and Sweetness)
49. Sugar and Time Makes Fruit Juicer
50. Cocoa Powder Delivers Big Flavor

The only thing I would have loved was a trouble shooting / Q&A section - e.g. How do you keep meat from cooling too much when you rest it?

Overall a great book if you want to improve your cooking technique, and also if you just want to learn more about why things behave the way they do!

Update: Looks like "Look inside" is now available for this book so there's finally a table of contents! 🙂 Since I've been cooking with the new concepts in mind, I'm happy with how my meat dishes (especially the stews) are turning out. I also tried using vodka instead of water to make pie crust (with the tip of putting a heated pan under the pie pan) and the pie crust turned out flaky and delicious as promised.

Maggie S
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Reference
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2016 Verified Purchase
I have four shelves of cookbooks in my kitchen with classics such as Julia Child's originals all the way to glossy offerings from 3-star Michelin restaurants. Despite this, one can be an excellent cook using only two cookbooks: "Cooks Science" and the "Joy of Cooking". Cooks Science is comprehensive and the discussions help make you a better more informed cook than the usual recipe-oriented fare. I give it four and not five stars only because some of the recipes seem to be "tacked onto" the broader technical discussions rather than drawing upon them. For example, a discussion about the importance of slow cooking pork is followed by several recipes that seem to ignore that counsel. It's not an exhaustive cookbook like Joy of Cooking, but does offer recipes in most areas and manages to hit most of the biggies. Still, these seem to be a minor quibbles with an othewise excellent text.

J. Boyd
5.0 out of 5 stars Choose your own adventure -- Excellence in Ebook format!
Reviewed in the United States on April 11, 2014 Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic cookbook. It's also a wonderfully entertaining education on the hows and whys - the science - of cooking. Every recipe I've tried has turned out well - and has taught me something. I own a hard-cover copy, and it has a place of honor on my kitchen bookshelf.

Then I bought the Kindle edition. Whoever formatted this book for Kindle has done a superlative job. The formatting actually enhances the reading experience.

For example - you are reading an early chapter entitled The Science of the Senses. In the first section (The Five Tastes) there's an interesting discussion of the fifth "taste," umami flavor. You can just read this and go on to the next section on How Taste Works. Or, if you want to understand umami a little more, you can follow the links in that first section to an in-depth discussion of glutamate and nucleotide levels in foods. This is Concept 35 - a section that is more than half-way through the book and yet meshes perfectly with what you read in that introductory chapter. The Concept ends with three recipes specifically engineered to show the best use of glutamate and nucleotides to produce rich meaty flavors -- AND with links to two additional recipes from yet another section of the book that also illustrate techniques associated with enhancing meaty flavors. It's a seamless reading experience that has you wandering through all different parts of this book.

When I first did this, I became a little alarmed. How was I ever going to find the recipes again? Have no fear. There is a complete and interactive table of contents. You can readily navigate to each of the "Science of.." chapters, or pick out one of the 50 Concepts and go directly there. In addition, there is a specific page of links that just lists all the recipes. So if you want to cook - hey, it works as a cookbook!

The Ebook version of The Science of Good Cooking reminds me of those "Choose your Own Adventure" stories - each time you dip in, you can follow a different path through. Kudos to the editors at America's Test Kitchen.

Edited to add:
The images in the book were clear, dark enough, and large enough be viewed very easily on my Kindle paperwhite. Tables were always correctly formatted, and fit the pages. The whole thing looked amazingly NICE and professional. Would that other ebooks looked so good!
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Mediterranean Instant Pot: Easy, Inspired Meals for Eating Well

Bringing together the #1 diet and the #1 most popular kitchen appliance, this Instant Pot-authorized cookbook makes it more convenient than ever to cook the Mediterranean way, incorporating more vegetables, grains, beans, and seafood into your diet, and exploring the healthful, authentic flavors of cuisines ranging from Turkish to North African in everyday one-pot meals.

Made in the Instant Pot, succulent meals such as Chicken Tagine, Lamb Meatballs with Couscous, Pickled Onions, and Tahini, Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto, and Gigante Bean Soup with Celery and Olives become hands-off affairs for the busy cook. The Instant Pot also takes the waiting game out of cooking dried beans and sturdy grains so it’s easy to enjoy them more often. And vegetables get star billing, both as main dishes (Braised Whole Cauliflower with North African Spices), and sides (Marinated Artichokes and Baba Ghanoush). Recipes embrace the tenets of the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, translating its less-meat-and-more-vegetables approach into vibrant, healthy one-dish meals that take the guesswork out of balancing portions and multiple dishes. Most recipes are ready in under an hour. And full nutritional information is provided.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I bought this book when I first got my IP. I love how America’s Test Kitchen pays attention to the details. I have to admit that the first time I did more than just leaf through it was just recently. I wanted to make shrimp and was looking for a new recipe. I don’t make rice because my husband has problems with it. To my delight, there was a recipe using Orzo! Turned out really well. I plan to try other recipes as well.


J&J
TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5 Cookbook
Reviewed in the United States on December 19, 2019 Vine Customer Review of Free ProductWhat's this? )
I am virtually speechless... at how Amazing this book is, for All.
I mean, it's America's Test Kitchen, which if you don't know,
has made a living out of literally testing everything, in a kitchen, from appliances to recipes to store bought items.
If you want to know the best store bought chili mix to the best butter to bake with, ATK has tried it out.
They have a show on PBS around 8pm if you want to hunt it down.

So when they make a cookbook, and there is a new edition every year, you can trust it's right.
And this Instant Pot version is. Oh so right.
I dare say, it qualifies as a "Desert Island" cookbook.
One of only 5 you'd need for the rest of your life & the rare good for gifting cookbook.

Too many details to cover so, I'll highlight my faves.
One, adding a hand towel under the cover after you quick release your grains, like rice or quinoa,
and resealing while it sits, makes professional quality fluffy rice move from side dish to main course.

Two, it's not just Instant Pot items.
Simple recipes, like salsa verde, pesto, tzatziki, and of course spices but,
for those you need grinder/ food processor.

The cooking times are spot on.
Including the beginning pages with a cheat sheet for grains, beans, vegs & proteins.
Even a trouble shooting guide if you're new to, Instant Pot or, just cooking in general.
Ps, the foil sling for the salmon was The Best salmon ever,
including my addiction to Costco's pesto salmon. As easy to clean up as well.

As a no meat eater, in a meat loving household (yes, I do seafood but that's it),
the recipes with chicken broth translated so easy by subbing veggie broth.
Yes, there is a recipe to make your own but, Walmart's brand of Organic Veg Broth is the best I tried.
Obviously, I tried a lot. It's the only one with a rich veggie flavor, not salt, pepper or carrots.
So for under $3 @ quart, that's my staple, not making my own.

This is a book rich with winter comfort foods, light summer fare and a wonderful variety of flavor.
But the best part, and No, it's not the quick ease of the Instant Pot, is
with America's Test Kitchen attention to detail, you can be confident, even as a novice,
your recipe will come out right the first time.
JnJ love
4.0 out of 5 stars America's Test Kitchen is the best
Reviewed in the United States on December 7, 2020Verified Purchase
I like how they explain why a recipe works and now I can use my instant pot more. the only problem I have with their recipes is some ingredients are hard to find or you might only use a small amount and be lefty with the rest and not use it. So I just omit some of those and it is fine.

Ladyfingers
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Of Both Worlds--Greek/Turkish/North African Cooking Made Easy In An Instant Pot
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2019Vine Customer Review of Free ProductWhat's this? )
I couldn't wait for America's Test Kitchen to combine one of my favorite ways of cooking with some of our family's favorite foods. Mediterranean Instant Pot is chock-full of one pot meals, and the ingredient range is diverse enough to satisfy anyone's palate. We love lamb--this cookbook allows me to experiment with different cuts. The first recipe we tried was perfect for our cold Michigan winter day--Moroccan lamb and lentil soup. The addition of harissa makes it wonderfully spicy, and no need to head out to the store to purchase. The recipe for this condiment is also included, as are many others like hummus, baba ghanoush, basil pesto and tzatziki.

One unique feature common to all America's Test Kitchen cookbooks is format--every recipe is fully explained, starting with an introductory paragraph explaining why it works and where to get ingredients, to ending with detailed recipe directions and beautiful photo accompaniments to assure mistake-free end results. I'm a seasoned cook--the recipes found in this book are as suitable for me as they are for beginners. Besides great Mediterranean meals, the beginning of the book is loaded with helpful tips about instant pots as well as successful rice, bean, vegetable and protein cooking methods.

I couldn't be more pleased with these Mediterranean recipes, and using an instant pot makes them almost effortless.
The extravagant one
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book with some superb looking recipes, but....
Reviewed in Canada on May 9, 2020Verified Purchase
Every single one of them seemed to include beans - which I intensely dislike - pasta or potatoes.
The latter I like but my husband and I are both diabetic, so guess what I am careful with and am trying - after nearly 20 years - to get him to cut back on: beans - which he loves - pasta and potatoes!
One person found this helpful

The “I Love My Instant Pot®” 5-Ingredient Recipe Book

Today, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. This cookbook hasn’t been released yet, so I’m urging you to pre-order it. I truly do love my Instant Pot. So much so, I ordered my youngest daughter one for Christmas, besides getting her some of the accessories. This book is really great. I’ve already made 2 of the recipes from it, making things I’ve never tried before. One of the many things I enjoyed about it is that they don’t just stick to recipes that you can make using the insert pot. They include recipes for the egg bites tray, the steamer, a glass baking bowl plus others. That extends the usefulness of this book. So try a few and enjoy!

 From Pot Roast, Potatoes, and Gravy to Simple Lemon Cheesecake, 175 Quick and Easy Recipes (“I Love My” Series)

175 must-have 5-ingredient recipes perfect for anyone looking to save time and effort—all while using your favorite appliance the Instant Pot.

Now using the Instant Pot is easier and more convenient than ever with these 175 delicious, simple, and straightforward recipes using just five ingredients or less. Perfect for people on the go, this cookbook will help you make mouthwatering dishes for every meal of the day that the whole family will love.

Using ingredients that you probably already have on hand, The “I Love My Instant Pot” 5-Ingredient Cookbook features fast and affordable recipes that don’t require a lot of prep or shopping. And best of all, they’re satisfying, flavorful recipes you will want to make over and over again!

Including an easy-to-understand overview of your Instant Pot, this cookbook has you covered for every occasion. From breakfast to dinner and desserts and snacks in between, you will save more time (and money) than ever while enjoying tasty food all day long.

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100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen, with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More

100 Cookies is a go-to baking resource featuring 100 recipes for cookies and bars, organized into seven chapters.

Chocolatey, fruity, crispy, chewy, classic, inventive—there’s a foolproof recipe for the perfect treat for everyone in this book.

• Introduces innovative baking techniques
• Includes an entire chapter dedicated to Kieffer’s “pan banging” technique that ensures crisp edges and soft centers for the most delicious cookies
• Nearly every recipe is accompanied by a photograph.

Recipes range from the Classic Chocolate Chip made three different ways, to bars, brownies, and blondies that reflect a wide range of flavors and global inspiration. 

This is the comprehensive-yet-charming cookbook every cookie lover (or those who love to bake cookies) needs.

• Highly giftable with a textured case and a ribbon marker
• Recipes include Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies, Olive Oil Sugar Cookies with Blood Orange Glaze, Red Wine Cherry Cheesecake Swirl Bars, and Pan-Banging Ginger Molasses, S’mores Cookies, Snickerdoodles, and more
• A great pick for the home baker who loves cookies, as well as fans of Sarah Kieffer’s blog and Instagram
• Add it to the shelf with cookbooks like Sally’s Cookie Addiction by Sally McKenney; Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan; and The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies & Bars by America’s Test Kitchen,

Absolutely love the organization of this book!

There are some very interesting recipes in this book! The organization looks really good. I love the large, color photo of each different type of cookie. It makes browsing in search of something new much easier. What really stuck out to me was the approximation of how many cookies each batch would make. I’m an “empty nester” and I don’t need to make huge batches of cookies until we get closer to Christmas. So that is a Godsend to me.