The Science Of Good Cooking

Master 50 Simple Concepts To Enjoy A Lifetime Of Success In The Kitchen

by Cook's Illustrated Magazine

The Science of Good Cooking

Hardcover, 504 pages, Cooks Illustrated, List Price: $40 | purchase

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NPR Summary

Chris Kimball and his team at Cook's Illustrated use simple science to explain their recipes and why they work.

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Best Books Of 2012

Recipe Rebellion: A Year Of Contrarian Cookbooks

If you're going to buy just one of the many books put out every year by the editors at Cook's Illustrated, this is it. True, a number of the recipes have appeared in previous "best of" compilations and in the magazine itself. No matter — The Science of Good Cooking is a one-volume kitchen seminar, addressing in one smart chapter after another the sometimes surprising whys behind a cook's best practices: "Create Layers for a Breading that Sticks," "Starch Helps Cheese Melt

Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Recipe: 'Roasted Cauliflower With Sherry Vinegar–Honey Sauce And Almonds'

roasted cauliflower
Carl Tremblay/Courtesy of Cooks Illustrated

Instead of placing vegetables straight into a hot oven without any protection, we cover our pans of chopped, thick cauliflower, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and carrots with aluminum foil. This way, the vegetables steam in the oven at a lower temperature for a short amount of time, retaining moisture and acquiring some persistent firmness before we remove the foil and let them brown.

Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4 to 6

This dish stands well on its own, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, but it can also be prepared with a sauce (recipes follow).

1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves off cauliflower and cut stem flush with bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges through center core. Place wedges cut side down on aluminum foil– or parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently rub seasonings and oil into cauliflower. Gently flip cauliflower and repeat on second cut side with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, salt, and pepper.

2. Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and cook for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast until bottoms of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven and, using spatula, carefully flip wedges. Return baking sheet to oven and continue to roast until cauliflower is golden all over, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Sherry Vinegar–Honey Sauce with Almonds

Makes enough for 1 recipe Roasted Cauliflower

Both regular and golden raisins work well here.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup raisins
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Heat oil in 8‑inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add raisins and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add water, vinegar, and honey. Simmer until lightly syrupy, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in almonds, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle sauce over roasted cauliflower and garnish with chives before serving.

From The Science of Good Cooking by the Editors of America's Test Kitchen. Copyright 2012 by the Editors of America's Test Kitchen. Excerpted with permission of Cook's Illustrated.

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