Cooking For Geeks -Review
Cooking for Geeks 2010. ISBN-10: 0596805888; Author, Jeff Potter, Published by: O’Reilly Media, inc.,1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sanbastopol CA 95472 cover Price $39.99, 410 pages
I just came back from the O'Reilly media sponsored Open Source Conference (OSCON). While there, I responded to a tweet offer for a give away for this book, and I got it, thank you very much. I really needed something to bring home to my wife as a peace offering of sorts. She loves to cook.
While on the plane ride back to Alabama from Portland Oregon I read most of this book. As I read I realized that my wife would also really enjoy this book. I'd consider my wife well beyond the average cook.
This book has a unique approach, which is to explore the science and background of each topic before presenting the more conventional advice or recipe for utilizing that knowledge. The "geeks" and programmers will quickly recognize this style from their numerous "tech" books. While there are various good cookbooks that do take a more technical approach, they tend to be the very dense ones such as Larousse Gastronomique . This book, however, has a very light and easy to follow tone.
At one end of the scale the book covers the basics of setting up and equipping a kitchen. It includes useful advice on equipment, gadgets, selecting good knives, and kitchen organization. The book then continues with advice on basic ingredients and flavors. Each of these chapters hold their own with interesting facts and side notes as well as experiments and recipes.
Following the initial chapters, which in truth have a lot of advanced material, the book goes into cooking techniques. The initial chapter covers "Time and Temperature" and food safety. Once again there are fun recipes included to illustrate various points, for instance Caramelized White Chocolate illustrates caramelization along with various aspects of good time and temperature control.
Next we have a chapter on baking which includes two alternative chocolate mousse recipes. Followed by a chapter on "Playing with Chemicals" which includes recipes for lemon meringue pie and mozzarella cheese.
Finally the last chapter, "Fun with Hardware" goes into the trendy Sous Vide way of cooking, the practice of cooking meats and fish and other foods for extended periods in water baths at constant and low temperatures. It also covers some unusual uses for dry ice!
I have hopefully explained a bit why this book is fun and engaging. It should help cooks and would be cooks find real fun in the kitchen. After all, you are likely to spend a lot of time there if you enjoy eating well. This book will help you explore variety that you can achieve that you may never think of exploring on your own. Highly recommended!