What can be better than a recipe book that is actually fun even just to read all the way through? This book is characterized as being for “young scientists,” and indeed, I found it in the youth section of the library. It has so much valuable cooking information in it, however, I hate to think it won’t be known to a wider audience.
There are over 70 recipes in this book, but they are not the most important part of the content. Rather, it is all the explanations of how ingredients interact and create different results in food. This will enable users of the book to extend what is learned to create other recipes and enhance any meal.
For example, how do you make meat tender? How can you make a sauce better by emulsifying it, and what does that mean, anyway? How does the use of yogurt change cooking outcomes? What is the difference among different types of rice and how do those differences affect cooking times, consistency, and taste? How do you make runny food drier? What makes some cookies chewy and some crisp? (Yes, perhaps the most critical information in the book!)
Then there is the all-important issue of the “secret” method to cooking Italian pasta. We remember being startled to find one of our favorite Italian pastas, cacio e pepe, had only three ingredients. How in the world could it be so delicious? This cookbook answers that question with its recipe for Aglio e Olio, another three-ingredient Italian wonder. Once you learn this secret, you will never want any pasta made any other way! [Secret tip: if you are as lazy as I am, and even three ingredients throw you for a loop, Trader Joe’s has an excellent version of cacio e pepe in its frozen food section.]
All of this information is imparted as part of a solid collection of recipes that fall into categories of Breakfast; Lunch, Dinner & Sides; Snacks & Drinks; and Sweets. (And how cool is the Mirror Cake in the Sweets section and featured on the cover with its shiny, reflective surface, and what makes that happen?)
At the end of the book, there are charts for conversions and equivalents.
Evaluation: This is an excellent resource for all ages, but certainly would make a great teaching tool for the fields of science – especially chemistry – and math, for younger users. Highly recommended!
Published by America’s Test Kitchen, 2021