Think of the best home cook you know. Now think of their kitchen. It’s probably full of pots, pans, mixers and gadgets galore. Know what it’s not full of? Cookbooks. That’s because they don’t need them. Anyone can follow directions from a recipe — well, almost anyone — but not everyone knows that a salty marinade is better for tenderizing meat than an acidic one.
From the epicurean nerds that bring you Cook’s Illustrated, the food-mad magazine packed with ubiquitous black-and-white illustrations, comes The Science of Good Cooking ($24). The book, fueled by the belief that good cooking is based on concepts and not cut-out recipe cards, explains fifty basic culinary principles that make tasty food regardless of what you’re cooking. These include “A Covered Pot Doesn’t Need Liquid” (Concept 9), “Cook Tough Cuts Beyond Well-Done” (Concept 7), and our personal favorite, “Vodka Makes Pie Dough Easy” (Concept 44). If you’re still draining batteries in your smoke detector, this may be the book for you.
Buy Now: $24