I want to know "Why", not just "How"

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So few books explain why a technique is used and what its purpose is:- e.g. why, when making a custard, one should incorporate some warm milk into the yolk mixture before adding the yolks to the milk (temperature?) or why the dough for a baguette should be folded over to form a seam at the bottom. I am keen to learn not only how to do things, but also why. Can anybody recommend any reading material?

Thanks,

GG
 
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You probably need to get a culinary text book like The Professional Chef, by The Culinary Institute of America, or Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslen, both are excellent books and go in to a lot of detail about technique.
 
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The Curious Cook by Harold McGee explains a lot of the science behind cooking, well written and very educational. He's written at least one other book on the same sort of topic but the title escapes me at the moment.
 
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Don't forget my favorite little cherub, Shirley Corriher, food scientist who frequently shows up on Good Eats as the voice of comfort to Allton Brown.
 
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Yes, Shirley Corriher's "Cookwise" is a good read as well as Alton Brown's "I'm just here for the food"
 
4,508
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Joined Jul 31, 2000
Hi GS, welcome to cheftalk...

I very much enjoy both the Oxford & cambrigde companions to food.

Of course Larousse Gastronomique.

May I also suggest you take a look at our book review forum further down the page, schroll down to the bottom of the forum after you open it, and click on the (how many days window) set it for last year..it will give very valuble discussions on millions of books, some so so, but some fantastic.

Good luck, and keep your hands in the food
cc
 
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Thanks again guys - I have both the McGee books on order from Amazon and Shirley Corriher's Cookwise from a local supplier.

Cape Chef - Larousse is a well-thumbed tome on my cooking bookshelf, but I guess my computer background wants the details of the algorithms. Hey - there is a good title for a cooking book - The Algorithms of Cooking. Any takers?

GG

ps - Does anybody know whether the so-called "destructionists" have published anything? (Have I got this right - the guys who purport to analyse the science of cooking and turn traditional methods on their head?)
 
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Algoithm as a cookbook name???

Geez, don't ya think there enough "so called" data in the books already.

Also, who do you think is capable of such an undertaking ? :)
 
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LOL, Athenaues!!!

I should of figured, one with your background in law,math and writing (+ cooking) would be the choice :D

Just keep it simple!! or is that an oximoran?
 
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Methinks, Cape Chef, that one of the problems with most professions these days is too much specialisation and insufficient generalisation. Maybe mathematicians need to know more about cooking and chefs more about algorithms?
Maybe just my bias showing.....
:)
 
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Me thinks MSquared,

That the mathematician in question has an enormous understanding of cooking,but I need not defend this person :)

Also, a chefs life is full of algorithms, wouldn't you agree?

Just my bias showing a bit as well ;)
 
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I suppose that one could, from one angle, describe a recipe as an algorithm. In that sense a recipe complies with the general definition of an algorithm = "A formula or set of steps for solving a particular problem"
Being a tyro, I have no idea how rigidly professional chefs adhere to their recipes. Is the standard operating procedure in a commercial kitchen to meticulously follow a recipe once designed and tested?
 
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In many cases yes, particuarly in chain restaurants, food service and the like.
But not so much in my world..I need the creativity factor to keep me happy :) but of course many chefs read and test recipes, as do I.

You need to be sure what you are serving to your guest is always excellent..so, It's a algorithm with a hitch ;)
 
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Cape Chef, the creativity part I can understand. But does this mean you are
a. continually changing your menu or
b. making subtle changes to standard menu dishes.
 
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GS,

a) Yes, my menu changes every single day for both lunch and dinner, my breakfast menu is consistent from day to day but with numerous daily specials.

b) Yes and no...see above
 
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Ahem ... to get back to GSquared's question: Well, I wouldn't call him a "destructionist" (a la Paul Liebrandt, or Derrida in literature), but: Gray Kunz, in The Elements of Taste (written with Peter Kaminsky) does a brilliant job of breaking down and analyzing flavor. Many times better than Culinary Artistry by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (which I still like and use a lot).
 
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There is also a really interesting sounding group ( unfortunately, i've forgotten their name) of scientists who work with chefs to analyze cooking techniques and in some cases, turn them on their head.
They hold a 'symposium of scientific gastronomy'.
Chef Heston Blumenthal from the Fat Duck in Bray, England works with them and he cooks steaks on a very low temperature so that they cook without the texture of the meat changing much.
I'll try to find the magazine that I read about this in, so i can explain myself better, 'cause it's fabulous stuff.
 
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Suzanne, your absolutly correct :)

I can still taste Kunzs spicy broth of bass and halibut flavored with lovage!!!!

Seeing that Girardet is my all time favorite chef, I have an infinity with Gray
 
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