Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, And Good Food by Jeff PotterCooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, And Good Food by Jeff Potter

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, And Good Food

byJeff Potter

Paperback | August 12, 2010

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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 Geeksapplies 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, NewYorkDaily News

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.
Title:Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, And Good FoodFormat:PaperbackDimensions:432 pages, 9.25 × 8 × 0.7 inPublished:August 12, 2010Publisher:O'Reilly MediaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0596805888

ISBN - 13:9780596805883

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fascinating Cook Book Pros: a lot of extremely detailed information about cooking methods, equipment, reactions, etc., interviews with people who cook creatively Cons: not many recipes, some information is well beyond what most cooks will use/need This is an interesting cookbook. I would consider the first 5 chapters worth reading if you plan to do any cooking and want a better understanding of what's happening or if you like experimenting. If you REALLY like experimenting the last 2 chapters will be perfect for you. If you don't feel like buying lots of chemicals to try new (and not necessarily edible) things, they're not as useful. The cookbook was written specifically for computer geeks who are afraid of doing things in a kitchen. The opening chapter has a lot of references to thinking of cooking techniques with regards to computing. If you don't know computer programming, you might consider this chapter skippable, but you'd miss out on some hidden gems of information, like the difference between all purpose and baking flour (gluten content). Chapter 2 is an overview of cookware, a chapter I'd normally not find interesting. Here again, there were interesting tid bits of information, like what to look for in knives, how they get teflon to stick to the pan, and a tasty 1-2-3 crepe recipe. Chapter 3 is where the experiments start. This is not so much a recipe book as it is an experimentation guide. Mr. Potter explains the theory behind something and then gives you a recipe with which to test that theory out. Often there are two recipes to compare and contrast. It's here I found the watermelon feta salad recipe, as an example of how you experience taste. I tried it, and it was very surprising. I would never have expected raw red onions (soaked in water to take the sting out) to work well with watermelon. And the saltiness of the feta added something that the watermelon alone couldn't do. In the end, it was a great experiment and I learned a few things about taste combinations. Also from this chapter, I tried the white bean and garlic soup. It was different (a thick, almost gravy consistency) but worth trying again. Cooking times, heat and food safety are dealt with in chapter 4, followed by the necessity of air in baking. If you're like my friends, though you've used them often you probably don't know the difference between baking soda and baking powder. This book will teach you. It will also tell you what gluten does, and how to use different kinds of yeast. Finally, the two chapters that require a lot more specific ingredients and equipment. Chapter 6 deals with chemicals in cooking (notably food additives, which is interesting even if you don't do any of the experiments - I wanted to try the s'mores ice cream, but couldn't find liquid smoke anywhere). Chapter 7 explains the principles of sous vide cooking and other specialized techniques. I highly recommend the book for anyone serious about cooking. The tips and tricks it teaches are useful for everyone. And if you're adventurous, some of the experiments sound like a lot of fun.
Date published: 2010-07-29

Table of Contents

Recipe Index; List of Interviews; Preface; How to Use This Book; On the Web; Acknowledgments; How to Contact Us; Safari® Books Online; Chapter 1: Hello, Kitchen!; 1.1 Think Like a Hacker; 1.2 Cooking for One; 1.3 Cooking for Others; Chapter 2: Initializing the Kitchen; 2.1 Approaching the Kitchen; 2.2 Kitchen Equipment; 2.3 Kitchen Organization; 2.4 Giving Kitchen Tools As Gifts; Chapter 3: Choosing Your Inputs: Flavors and Ingredients; 3.1 Smell + Taste = Flavor; 3.2 Tastes: Bitter, Salty, Sour, Sweet, Umami, Others; 3.3 Adapt and Experiment Method; 3.4 Regional/Traditional Method; 3.5 Seasonal Method; 3.6 Analytical Method; Chapter 4: Time and Temperature: Cooking's Primary Variables; 4.1 Cooked = Time * Temperature; 4.2 Foodborne Illness and Staying Safe Well, safer-there's no such thing as 100% safe.; 4.3 Key Temperatures in Cooking; Chapter 5: Air: Baking's Key Variable; 5.1 Gluten; 5.2 Biological Leaveners; 5.3 Chemical Leaveners; 5.4 Mechanical Leaveners; Chapter 6: Playing with Chemicals; 6.1 Traditional Cooking Chemicals; 6.2 Modern Industrial Chemicals; Chapter 7: Fun with Hardware; 7.1 Sous Vide Cooking; 7.2 Commercial Hardware and Techniques; Cooking Around Allergies; Substitutions for Common Allergies; Afterword; About the Author; Colophon;