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Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work
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Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa, husband-and-wife chefs and the forces behind the popular blog Ideas in Food, have made a living out of being inquisitive in the kitchen. Their book shares the knowledge they have gleaned from numerous cooking adventures, from why tapioca flour makes a silkier chocolate pudding than the traditional cornstarch or flour to how to cold smoke just ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Clarkson Potter (first published January 1st 2010)
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Schmerica
This book isn't bad by any means, but just ... very much not to my taste. I think it's admirable that there are people who are interested in expanding the boundaries of what they do with food, whose interest is in new ingredients like xanthan gum and meat glue, processes like cryo-blanching and sous vide, and experimenting with scientific rigor and ultimate precision. But wow, none of that could be further from what I find interesting about cooking and food.
Eliza
4/2/2012: "Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work" is an interesting hybrid of cookbook and science text. While the science-y sections of it are tough going (for me, anyway!), it is fascinating to get a sense of the expanding boundaries of what we used to call "cooking". For every recipe that seems like just a riff on what we already know how to do (Buttermilk biscuits, Soft Scrambled Eggs), there's one that seems so far away from what I might imagine making that it makes me giggle (Onio ...more
Oscar
3.5/5

A solid look at the scientific side of cuisine and cooking; I've already cooked a couple recipes from the book and got very good results. Instructions were clear and easy to read. The scientific explanations tended to lose me, but rewarded rereading.

However I was a little bemused by the equipment and ingredients that the authors posited could be within the reach of a typical home cook. Even when I had a well-stocked, proportional kitchen, I certainly didn't have a smoker, a piece of equipme
...more
Ty
This is another highly scientific cookbook, similar to "Ratio" by Michael Ruhlman. While it is unlikely that i will use many of the example recipes in the book, the detailed descriptions of the chemical processes taking place during different kinds of cooking were interesting. I do plan to use the book as a reference when going out on a limb with a new recipe. It was a fairly quick read and should be interesting for most technically-minded amateur cooks.
Jeannie
1) It is a very simple book with not-so-simple techniques, like using liquid nitrogen to flash freeze food. The book has just one sentence about the safety precautions of LN. LN is extremely dangerous and when improperly served, it can perforate stomach lining and injure the body.

2)It was a turn off to read the Roast Chicken (with Broccoli Rabe) recipe, when it oddly sounded similar to a gourmet version found on Epicurious. The recipe on Epicurious is far superior, unless you believe that Brocol
...more
Robert Hudder
This one... I like a lot. I've been following their blog for a while and it is largely filled with musings and suggestions. This book is similar in that it tells you a scientific/cooking technique and gives you an example of the use. But much like Braise by Daniel Boulud, the possibilities begin to explode based on the simple description of the technique. Often this is caused by the reframing or changing of a reference - in braise, it was the realization that cabbage rolls were braises, while in ...more
Caitlin
After reading the first 5 pages, then flipping through the table of contents and the rest of the book, I put it down and sent it on it's merry way. This might be interesting or good to other people out there - and that's great - but this was way different than I expected (like others said, it's very science-ey) and I couldn't handle it. It was slow going, and in the end I just couldn't get enough interest in it to bother finishing it.
Harlan
Aki and Alex have turned their immensely successful blog, catering business, and teaching experience into a book for ambitious professional and home cooks. The recipes and the techniques they illustrate are fascinating, novel ways of bringing together flavors and textures, and their excitement at these techniques came through well. However, large sections of the prose were extremely poorly/hastily written, with jarringly bad paragraph construction and narrative flow. Whether the book was unedite ...more
Tom
The best cookbook I've read in the last couple of years, one that has me really excited about trying new things in the kitchen, which is harder than it should be these days. Although the first person plural voice feels a little forced at times, I really liked the depth of biological/chemical explanation the authors go into. It feels like a more functional successor to McGee, and may even surpass him in some explanations. A nice mix of traditional technique and molecular gastronomy. I am done rea ...more
Sylvia
Actually surprisingly full of good ideas, especially with techniques (e.g., cryo-blanching; pre-hydrating pasta before cooking) and some interesting ingredient/flavor combinations (popcorn-white chocolate gelato). I only skimmed through the last section for professionals, because as a home cook, I'm definitely too lazy to go out and find transglutaminase or measure out ratios of kappa carrageenan to locust bean gum.

I appreciated the scientific explanations of what's going on at a cellular/molecu
...more
Heather
Make sure you're really into the science of food, or else it will get dry and dense quite quickly.
Mills College Library
641.5 K157 2010
Jennifer
This is a cookbook that makes you think. Sometimes it missed the line between too technical and not enough detail, but the scientific notes on why food behaves like it does were interesting to read. Not all the recipes are practical for the casual cook, but some of them sound really good and I'd like to try them once I purchase the book (this was a library check-out).
notyourmonkey
Not always advice I'll follow, not always recipes I want to try, but I very much enjoy how they think about cooking and food. A little bit like the love child of America's Test Kitchen and Alton Brown, only even geekier. They don't take food practices for granted, and they dig to the science as well as the result. Plus, their joy in food is palpable. Lovely.
Molly
Very interesting to read about some of the cooking techniques I employ such as brining and learn about the science behind why they work. I tried out a couple of the recipes in the book - apple cheddar risotto and scrambled eggs (slow cooked in a ziploc bag in warm water - turned out great!) and I'm excited to try out some of the other methods.
Jacki Myers
interesting food science stuff, but Harold McGee's books are much better. A basic intro to sous vide and circulation water bath cooking. Too many liquid recipes that would need a chamber vacuum sealer to work while they extoll the inexpensive and fine for non-liquid food FoodSaver.
Beka
Though none of the recipes were usable for me, I thought this was a very interesting book. They delve into the science of food and show you how to apply it to your cooking. I have to admit that a lot of the science went over my head, but I enjoyed the book nevertheless.
Firecooked
Interesting! Lots of ideas on how to use the latest techie tools (and some older ones too). Also, a real education on how various chemicals play together in food.

Kevin
Very interesting...now I still have to cook my way through the book. Hmm...i am not certain I will find all ingredients in the local supermarket. ;-)
Mike
Kind of like a mini culinary school.The "Professional" section has a lot of stuff that didn't exist when I was in school,so that was interesting.
Rachel
I guess I just wasn't that into it on a personal level, not that there was anything wrong with it. It was fine.
Ellie Benson
Really cool book, a little bit different than what I expected but very enjoyable.
Ryan
Fascinating and well-researched, with something for everyone to try.
Christina
Turns out, this was way too technical for my taste...
Mary
Jan 11, 2012 Mary marked it as to-read
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