Keys To Good Cooking by Harold McGee Book Tour

Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes 
• Hardcover: 576 pages
 Publisher: The Penguin Press HC, (October 28, 2010)
Book Description from TLC Book Tour:

From our foremost expert on the science of cooking, Harold McGee, Keys to Good Cooking is a concise and authoritative guide designed to help home cooks navigate the ever-expanding universe of ingredients, recipes, food safety, and appliances, and arrive at the promised land of a satisfying dish. A work of astounding scholarship and originality, Keys to Good Cooking directly addresses the cook at work in the kitchen and in need of quick and reliable guidance. Cookbooks past and present frequently contradict one another about the best ways to prepare foods, and many contain erroneous information and advice.

Keys to Good Cooking distills the modern scientific understanding of cooking and translates it into immediately useful information. Looking at ingredients from the mundane to the exotic, McGee takes you from market to table, teaching, for example, how to spot the most electable asparagus (choose thick spears); how to best prepare the vegetable (peel, don’t snap, the fibrous ends; broiling is one effective cooking method for asparagus and other flat-lying vegetables); and how to present it (coat with butter or oil after cooking to avoid a wrinkled surface). This book will be a requisite countertop resource for all home chefs, as McGee’s insights on kitchen safety in particular—reboil refrigerated meat or fish stocks every few days. (They’re so perishable that they can spoil even in the refrigerator.); Don’t put ice cubes or frozen gel packs on a burn. (Extreme cold can cause additional skin damage)—will save even the most knowledgeable home chefs from culinary disaster.

My Take on the Book:   I love cookbooks.  They are the most comforting non-fiction books on the shelves.  When I agreed to participate in this book tour, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into!  This book is non-fiction but it is NOT a cookbook!  The author stated this right away in the introduction.  This is a book and it is about cooking but it is not a cookbook full of recipes that may or may not guarantee success. 

This book is the science behind the food we cook, the gadgets in our kitchen as well as the ingredients and techniques we use day in and day out.   This book is jammed packed goodness in 576 pages.  I've been experimenting with recipes for well over 20 years now.  I still remember as a kid wanting to test the temperature of boiling water to see if my science teacher was telling me the truth.

So one day while making Mac and Cheese (I was probably 12 years old) I stuck the tip of a glass thermometer in my boiling water.  It went snap and broke into my water and mercury floated up to the top.  Little did I know then that there was more to checking temp than just using any thermometer.  This book takes facts and applies it to all that we are cooking.

Here is a youtube video made by the author that explains temperature:

That is what this book is about.  The author did all the research on the science of all good things in the kitchen.  This book is never ending!  It is to large to read in one sitting.  I haven't read the book from cover to cover.  I started flipping around at the chapters, marking the pages with mini flags to remind myself where I started and left off.  This book is the only kitchen encyclopedia that you will ever need in the kitchen.  It is jammed packed full of information that I never even thought of when cooking.

If you are a new or an experienced cook, I strongly suggest you read: 

Getting to Know Foods, Basic Kitchen Resources: Water, the Pantry, and the Refrigerator, Kitchen Tools, Heat and Heating Appliances, Cooking Methods and Cooking Safely first.

This is the most PERFECT book to buy for a young bride or a "foodie" for Christmas.  This book would be on my wish list if I didn't already own it!  This book ranks up there with my 30,000 years of Art book. 

  Here is the content of the book: 

Volume Conversions
Weight Conversions
Volume-To-Weight Conversions For Selected Ingredients
Kitchen And Cooking Temperatures
Target Temperatures In Foods
Substitutions: Eggs, Thickening, Leavening, Sweetening, Chocolate
Formulas: To Thicken, Gel, Prevent Discoloration, Sanitize, Disinfect

The Contents are:

Getting to Know Foods
Basic Kitchen Resources: Water, the Pantry, and the Refrigerator
Kitchen Tools
Heat and Heating Appliances
Cooking Methods
Cooking Safely
Vegetables and Fresh Herbs
Milk and Dairy Products
Fish and Shellfish
Sauces, Stocks, and Soups
Dry Grains, Pastas, Noodles, and Puddings
Seed Legumes: Beans, Peas, Lentils, and Soy Products
Nuts and Oil Seeds
Pastries and Pies
Cakes, Muffins, and Cookies
Griddle Cakes, Crepes, Popovers, and Frying Batters
Ice Creams, Ices, Mousses, and Jellies
Chocolate and Cocoa
Sugars, Syrups, and Candies
Coffee and Tea

About Harold McGee

Harold McGee writes about the science of food and cooking. He’s the author of the award-winning classic On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, and writes a monthly column, “The Curious Cook,” for The New York Times. He has been named food writer of the year by Bon App├ętit magazine and to the Time 100, an annual list of the world’s most influential people. He lives in San Francisco.
This book was provided to me to so that I could read and participate in the blog tour. My own thoughts and opinions are stated here. Check out other reviews of this book on theTLC Book Tour.  We will all be covering different reviews of this book. Check here, the book’s website, to see videos of McGee talking through some of the points of the book like the temperature video above.


  1. I admire people who can cook and furthermore who ACTUALLY enjoy cooking :) This book does sound interesting as I like facts and theories but not necessarily the cooking part. My son bought me the film Julia and Julie, which again is about cooking and blogging - fabulous film if you haven't watched it. Judith

  2. Then you will love this book Judith! I LOVE watching Julia & Julie! My girls (tween/teens) even loved it.

  3. I love the idea of giving this as gift this holiday season - brilliant! This is definitely a book that should be in EVERY kitchen.

    Thanks for being a part of the book tour. :)


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