by Simon Quellen Field
Chicago Review Press, 2011; $16.95
Much of my daily work in the Fine Cooking test kitchen involves troubleshooting dishes that aren't working properly. Whenever I'm stumped, my go-to resource is Culinary Reactions.
Whether he's explaining how different proteins (meat, cheese, eggs) react to heat or why a copper bowl makes whipped egg whites more stable, Simon Quellen Field speaks to readers in very clear language, explaining what is occurring every step of the way. While the science is solid-he even supplies projects, like making cheese or roasting a turkey, to give you firsthand experience-his tone is playful. Tidbits of information, like why diet sodas float and regular ones sink in a bucket of ice water (answer: real sugar-and lots of it-makes the liquid denser than water) means reading that's not only informative but also fun.