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The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt


ElsieD
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I am a big fan of Kenji Lopez-Alt's columns on Serious Eats and was pleasantly surprised today to learn that he has a book coming out. It is being released by Amazon Sept. 21. I plan on buying a copy. Anyone else?

 

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science

 

Edited by Smithy
Added Amazon link at member request (log)
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  • 5 months later...

Just got this book today and I did a quick pass through it. It's definitely an amazingly solid book for beginners. In fact, I'd probably place it at the top of my "If you just had one cookbook to start cooking with" recommendation list. Not sure how much of the information is genuinely new for people who have been following Serious Eats for any length of time or just been following the general progression of food science in general. If you're unfamiliar with recently popular techniques like the reverse sear, constantly flipping burgers/steaks, straining the whites from poached eggs, spatchcocking turkeys, etc, this might serve as a useful primer to get you up to date.

The recipes are all pretty great versions of the American classics. Paging through, there were definitely a good 30 or so recipes that I wanted to make immediately but all the dishes were ones you've seen before elsewhere. If you're looking for what is essentially Cooks Illustrated for the 21st century, this is a great buy. If you're already an experienced cook, it's a handy reference work but it's probably a subset of info you already have on your shelves/online. If you're looking for a Christmas present for your food loving friends, at less than $30 it's a no-brainer.

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PS: I am a guy.

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I am also a fan of Kenji and got my copy today. I was a little surprised by information he gave on the purchasing of knives especially after reading our own Chad Ward's "An Edge in the Kitchen". His recommendation for a particular saucier that seems to be out of production suggests the book was so long in the making that it is already dated.

I am only a very little ways into the book and I'm certainly not dissing it. It more or less meets my expectations of his excellent contributions to Serious Eats gathered together between two covers. I shall be surprised if I find anything new in it but expect I will refer to it quite often.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I am also a fan of Kenji and got my copy today. I was a little surprised by information he gave on the purchasing of knives especially after reading our own Chad Ward's "An Edge in the Kitchen". His recommendation for a particular saucier that seems to be out of production suggests the book was so long in the making that it is already dated.

I am only a very little ways into the book and I'm certainly not dissing it. It more or less meets my expectations of his excellent contributions to Serious Eats gathered together between two covers. I shall be surprised if I find anything new in it but expect I will refer to it quite often.

He still makes reference to living in New York despite having moved to San Francisco over a year ago.

PS: I am a guy.

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I'm attending a meet and greet with Kenji at ChefSteps in Seattle this evening. Plan on picking up a copy. I don't read Serious Eats regularly, but have liked what I have read. Even if I don't agree with everything he says he is thorough and opinionated, you have to admire that.

 

jb

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gfweb, on 25 Sept 2015 - 12:12 PM, said:

Opinionated, yes.  But he bases his opinions on research not just accepting what has always been done.  A breath of fresh air.

 

That's what I like about him, though he has an affinity for American cheese on burgers. Which is an opinion I don't share nor understand. I know people like what they like and often what we like is acquired or colored by our childhood experiences and go beyond reason. But American cheese is nasty...to me. :)

 

jb

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I just finished reading it. I was disappointed. The recipes seem to mostly dated American recipes. He espoused using a scale to measure ingredients in the kitchen but most of recipes are in American volumetric measurements (one step forward two steps back). No mention of xanthan gum or lecithin? So much talk about pizza and no pizza recipe? No new techniques? I don't know, I guess I was expecting something like Ideas in Food where the info on the blog is greatly expanded.

Edited by _john (log)
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I'm on the fence about this one.  I love the Food Lab pieces and it would have been a no brainer to pre-order sight unseen if I actually had a job these days but I don't and am trying to economize.

 

This review of the book from the NY Times, In ‘The Food Lab,’ the Science of Home Cooking, pointed out that the book obviously lacks Kenji's interaction with readers via the the online comments that are one of my favorite parts of his Food Lab posts.  

 

I think it would be worth having this information collected in a book but will hold out until I can get my hands on a copy to leaf through.

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That's what I like about him, though he has an affinity for American cheese on burgers. Which is an opinion I don't share nor understand. I know people like what they like and often what we like is acquired or colored by our childhood experiences and go beyond reason. But American cheese is nasty...to me. :)

 

jb

It's the perfect cheese for a cheeseburger...he's not the only one who thinks that.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I just finished reading it. I was disappointed. The recipes seem to mostly dated American recipes. He espoused using a scale to measure ingredients in the kitchen but most of recipes are in American volumetric measurements (one step forward two steps back). No mention of xanthan gum or lecithin? So much talk about pizza and no pizza recipe? No new techniques? I don't know, I guess I was expecting something like Ideas in Food where the info on the blog is greatly expanded.

The Food Lab has always been relentlessly populist which means sticking to techniques and ingredients the median person is familiar with. I remember they did a look at Sichuan Fish Fragrant Eggplant that tested a bunch of different ways of cooking eggplant but not the traditional deep frying. When I asked why not in the comments, Kenji said that deep frying would be so unacceptably complicated to their readers that it wasn't considered a practical technique.

PS: I am a guy.

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I posted this in 'What are you Reading' thread :

 

I just got  " The Food Lab "  j. Kenji Lopes-Alt from my library

 

so far , its a a very well laid out book.  plenty of pics to keep you interested

 

and might be a fine book for some one in the early stages of learning to cook, 

 

it reminded me of Julia Child's  The way To Cook, but updated with easy to digest 'science'

 

 

or a good book to browse through for others, prior to purchase 

 

 

its quite literally a Heavy Weight  and nicely produced.

 

it has a decent section on SV too !

 

He called SV  'Cooler-Cooked'

 

:biggrin:

 

and its only $ 27.47  at Amazon.

 

they more read thorough it, the more Im tempted.

 

I didn't realize there was a dedicated thread.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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It's the perfect cheese for a cheeseburger...he's not the only one who thinks that.

Oh I know there are many people that prefer it on a burger. Just not my thing.

 

Meeting Kenji was fun. It was a gathering of a room full of food nerds. Kind of like going to a party where you don't know anyone, big difference being everyone here had a common interest. I struck up conversations with several people and had a pretty good time and picked upa  signed copy of the book. So far I've just started reading the introduction which is quite entertaining.

 

jb

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been reading The Food Lab over the past week.  I know once I surrender this copy to the library I shall not see it again for a very long time.  The Food Lab looks like a book I would refer to over time, and accordingly I decided to purchase my very own copy.  Something, working in a library, I almost never, ever do.

 

Amazon has none to sell.

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I've been reading The Food Lab over the past week.  I know once I surrender this copy to the library I shall not see it again for a very long time.  The Food Lab looks like a book I would refer to over time, and accordingly I decided to purchase my very own copy.  Something, working in a library, I almost never, ever do.

 

I concur with your assessment.  After reading Russ Parson's review in the LA Times with the accompanying list of tips and spending time with it in a bookshop the other day, I will go ahead and purchase it as well.   

Edited by blue_dolphin (log)
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I ordered this pre-order several months ago and completely forgot about it until it arrived in the mail.  I'm about 300 pages in and while I'm not in love with most of the recipes I've come across, I didn't buy it for the recipes.  I purchased this for the science.  On that front, the book is pretty excellent.  I'm sure the recipes are great too, but again that was not why I purchased the book.  I think he did a great job with this book, and for less than $30 the book is a steal! I'll definitely be gifting one or two to friends this Christmas.

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