The New Kitchen Science: A Guide to Knowing the Hows and Whys for Fun and Success in the Kitchen

Howard Hillman, Author
Howard Hillman, Author Mariner Books $15 (336p) ISBN 978-0-618-24963-3
Reviewed on: 02/17/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Hardcover - 337 pages - 978-0-618-47130-0
Hardcover - 338 pages - 978-0-544-31088-9
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This updated edition of a kitchen essential provides the answers to all the culinary questions that can leave cooks scratching their heads. Hillman reveals, for example, how microwave ovens work (a tube within the oven causes food molecules to vibrate, which causes friction, which in turn causes heat), why percolated coffee can taste bitter (usually because it's been boiled for far too long) and why crustaceans taste sweeter than fish (their flesh contains more of a compound that converts into simple sugars). Divided into sections-including Cooking Methods, Baking, Seasonings, Food Storage, and Health and Nutrition-this authoritative and sprightly volume will have anyone who's interested in cookery sighing, ""Aha!"" Hillman begins with a list of the all-too-familiar ""mistakes good cooks make,"" which points to explanations for why those eggs went rubbery, that batch of ice cream turned icy and the roast mysteriously shrunk. He also offers ""Principle-Illustrating Recipes"" (e.g., two vinaigrette preparations, one truly emulsified and therefore superior) and kitchen experiments (e.g., one that demonstrates the ""strange, distinct flavor"" that results from the chemical reaction between salt and MSG). Written with friendly reassurance and designed logically and thoughtfully, this compendium of questions and answers is a must for the kitchen shelves of curious cooks everywhere. (Feb.)
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