Recommended Reading from "Cooking for Engineers"

Flashlight Worthy says:
Cooking for Engineers started as a place for Michael Chu to store his recipes and rapidly turned into a destination for analytically-minded people who like to cook. Or maybe it's for cooks who are like to think analytically? Regardless, if you find yourself asking "why?" a lot when you're in the kitchen, the books below are for you.


The New Best Recipe

by The Editors of Cook's Illustrated Magazine

Published in September 2004 to replace the original "The Best Recipe," "The New Best Recipe" includes more than 1,000 recipes from Cook's Illustrated magazine. Are all the recipes perfect? Not quite, but each recipe does start with an in-depth article on what permutations the test cooks tried and what worked and what didn't work, so you can keep those mistakes in mind when perfecting your final recipe. When I decide to make a new dish, I always start with "The Best Recipe" (and now "The New Best Recipe") to get my creative juices going and the recipe planning started in my head. The new version is twice as thick as the old one (making a bit heavy and bulky at 1,040 pages), but has a lot 24more illustrations than before (800 total).


Cook's Illustrated

Every issue of this magazine is crammed full of helpful tips, well tested recipes, kitchen science, and equipment testing. Although each issue is only 34 pages, there are no ads and no wasted space.


Cook's Country

Because "Cook's Illustrated" only comes every other month, readers who can't get enough should subscribe to "Cook's Country" for the even months of the year. "Cook's Country" is similar to "Cook's Illustrated," but with more emphasis on reader submissions (tips, anecdotes, contests) and recipes.


On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen

by Harold McGee

Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking" is probably the greatest food science book ever written in the English language. No recipes, just straight information on the history, science, and technology of food. A necessity on every cook's bookshelf.


Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed

by Shirley Corriher

Biochemist Shirley Corriher's book, "Cookwise," is an interesting read if you're interested in the science of cooking and learning what to look for in a good recipe. It includes about 200 recipes, that Shirley uses to demonstrate food science and cooking technique. Not a great recipe book, not as comprehensive as "On Food and Cooking" in the science arena, and not as entertaining as Alton Brown's books, but still more than worth the time to read it.


The Joy of Cooking (1997 Edition)

by Irma S. Rombauer, Ethan Becker, Marion Rombauer Becker

"The Joy of Cooking" is the classic American cookbook. This cookbook was first published in 1931 by Irma Rombauer who personally collected recipes from her friends and neighbors. "The New Joy of Cooking" updates the original with new recipes and instructions for the modern kitchen (food processors, microwave ovens, etc.) but having removed the personal voice of the original "Joy of Cooking", "The New Joy of Cooking" reads more like an instruction manual. Still, it's probably one of the greatest American cookbooks ever written and an essential recipe reference (over 3,000 recipes) for any kitchen.


The Professional Chef

by The Culinary Institute of America

This is one of the best cooking school textbooks around. With lots of photos and illustrations, this text is an excellent resource for both the serious cook as well as home chefs wishing to learn more about cooking techniques and fundamental recipes.


Larousse Gastronomique

by Larousse Gastronomique, edited by Prosper Montagne

The reigning champion of food encyclopedias, "Larousse Gastronomique" offers a wide range of information about ingredients, cooking techniques, tools, and dishes. Plus, it contains about 3,500 recipes. The downfall of this book is that as a reference book it is a bit difficult to read for pleasure — but as a reference, it is unsurpassed. This 1,300 page book does have a bias towards European cuisine — with an emphasis on French.


Professional Cooking

by Wayne Gisslen

Gisslen's text is an often used culinary textbook that focuses on equipping a restaurateur with a basic repertoire of recipes.


The Bread Bible

by Rose Levy Beranbaum

This book is for home bakers who have finally gotten serious and want to bake a great artisan bread, bagel, croissant, or other type of bread. With extremely detailed instructions (some say excessive - but if you've ever tried to make a truly great loaf of artisan bread, excessive instructions is never a problem) and a reasonable number of illustrations (for a cookbook under $30), this book is your best bet at learning to produce great breads.


I'm Just Here for the Food: Food + Heat = Cooking

by Alton Brown

Alton's first book and winner of the 2003 James Beard Foundation KitchenAid Book Award for Best Reference Book, I'm Just Here for the Food is an excellent read. Alton's tips, kitchen hacks, and practical explanations are a must read for understanding the art and science of cooking as well as improving technique and how to think in the kitchen. I've found that the recipes are a bit hit or miss, but the knowledge imparted in this book allows you to forge ahead experimenting with your own recipes to make something you like (and like to cook).


I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking

by Alton Brown

Alton's third book (and second cookbook). This book focuses on baking. The recipes are grouped according to mixing method (like the biscuit method or muffin method). Some of his mass to volume calculations seem suspect to me, so make sure you use the mass when following his recipes.


Alton Brown's Gear for Your Kitchen

by Alton Brown

This book is basically Alton Brown's opinions on kitchen equipment and gadgets. Most of this book is very useful in focusing the home cook in getting the best tools for the job. Unfortunately, Alton is not an expert in every aspect of the kitchen, but his enthusiasm, personal experience, and sound advice in those areas where he is comfortable with makes this book worth the read. Whether you're a new cook or a seasoned chef, don't be surprised if you find new uses for your kitchen gadgets and manage to reduce your kitchen clutter after reading this book.


The Professional Chef's Knife Kit

by The Culinary Institute of America

This paperback book addresses the subject of knives: cutting, slicing, peeling, chopping, sharpening, honing, maintaining, and everything else you'll need to do to and with a good knife.


Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol

by Mary G. Enig

Although poorly organized, this book is a fairly easy read and provides a clear discussion of fats and oils. Special attention is paid to the maligning of animal fats and the issues revolving around trans fatty acids.


What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained

by Robert L. Wolke

A fun collection of essays explaining common questions involving food and cooking.


What Einstein Told His Cook 2: The Sequel: Further Adventures In Kitchen Science

by Marlene Parrish, Robert L. Wolke

More answers to common questions asked about cooking and food.