Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: 12,167 Kitchen and Cooking Secrets by Susan Sampson

It seems safe to say that no one -- but no one -- is going to know all the tips in 12,167 Kitchen and Cooking Secrets (Robert Rose). That’s one of the things that makes the book a terrific gift: the would-be home chef and the kitchen star will both find things to interest them in this book. It’s the sort of tome that real food lovers will be able to spend hours with.

With 12,167 tips to choose from, I don’t even know where to start. Every time I put my nose back into the book, it’s in there for another half hour’s grazing. What’s the difference between mayonnaise, hollandaise and béarnaise? (Not a lot when you come down to it: “All three members of the ‘aise’ family are emulsions made with egg yolks, an acid and a slowly incorporated fat.”)

How to make perfect choux pastry.

How to pick a perfect avocado and -- once you’ve got it -- how to pit it.

Eight keys to cooking with sucralose.

How to choose the right cooking oil for the job at hand.

Should you use pot barley or pearl barley?

Buckwheat groats or kasha?

Block or deli cream cheese?

Food editor Sampson says she was pressed into writing this book by friends who were astonished at the little things she knew, the “secrets” that she says are never really secrets. “Just undiscovered territory. What’s obvious to one cook is a revelation to another.”

The revelations are here -- one simple “secret” at a time. A terrific gift for anyone interested in the fascinating world of cooking and food.

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