Nancy Leson calls me J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's fanboy. I admit it; I love this guy! He's so, so... scientific. In this week's Food For Thought, Nance and I enthuse over Kenji's new cookbook, plus three more.
Lopez-Alt's columns and experiments are one of my favorite parts of Seriouseats.com. His new book, "The Food Lab -- Better Home Cooking Through Science" draws from his columns there and adds plenty more. It was from Kenji that I learned why it makes much more sense to sear a steak last, not first. And why it's better to cook your pasta in the minimum amount of water necessary to cover it, not the "plenty" so often cited in cookbooks.
And these are not just his opinions. They're the results of hundreds of carefully designed experiments. The 958 pages are loaded with his findings, recipes, tables, comparison charts, techniques, the works. As I mentioned to Leson, "When you're not reading it you can use it to chock the wheels of your private jet."
Another must-have is Seattle native Susan Volland's "Mastering Sauces". Over 150 recipes plus tips on ingredients, equipment, tables and loads of info on how to "maximize flavor, manipulate texture and season confidently." "Mastering Sauces" covers everything from acidity to zesters. Volland appears at Elliott Bay Books tonight (12/ 2) at 7 p.m. to read and sign.
Nancy's also high on "Sea and Smoke: Flavors From the Untamed Pacific Northwest" by Joe Ray and Blaine Wetzel which tells the story of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island. Ray reads from the book at Lit Fix December 9.
And for those with a sweet (and a savory) tooth there's "Theo Chocolate: Recipes and Sweet Secrets From Seattle's Favorite Chocolate Maker". 'Nuff said?
"I've read hundreds of cookbooks. They are the bird." – Col. Sanders