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Book review - Cooking for Geeks

I've read quite a few O'Reilly "Cookbooks" and written a review of one before (Arduino Cookbook), but this is the first O'Reilly book I've seen that is actually about food!

This is cooking with a difference. From the title you can probably guess who the intended audience is; which I guess means admitting that I am in fact a geek (although I suspect some of my friends had a slight suspicion anyway). You don't necessarily need to be a geek to enjoy this book, although some interest in the science of cooking would be an advantage. The book uses programming and science related analogies within the book, but you should still understand the explanations without any programming experience.

If the following quote, taken directly from Cooking for Geeks, appeals to you then you have probably found the right book: "When it comes to buying a torch, skip the 'gourmet' torches and head to a hardware store to pick up a propane blowtorch".

The book provides an explanation about how and why we do things in cooking: why does food need to be cooked at a certain temperature? why do some recipes say stir gently, rather than beat vigorously? and why certain flavours may compliment or contrast each other, etc.

It encourages experimentation and adapting recipes to meet your own style and tastes.

Whilst I've tried some of the techniques mentioned there are some parts of this book that I'm unlikely to follow. Some of the use of chemicals is a little too specialist and I don't like the idea of overriding an oven's self-clean function just to get an extra crispy pizza!

But I am tempted to hack my slow-cooker so I can try sous vide cooking without spending hundreds of pounds on a specialist cooker.

Cooking for Geeks

One tip, which applies to any cookery book, is to avoid DRM locked ebooks. If you get a drm-free version (available buying direct from O'Reilly) then you can print off the individual recipe you are cooking and can also take notes as you cook. If you are DRM locked then following a recipe from a Kindle screen doesn't work very well and you probably wouldn't want your new Galaxy Tablet (or other tablet) from getting covered with mixture by using that when cooking.

It's also available in traditional paper and ink for old-school geeks!

Good guide to advanced cooking that every geek should be proud to own.


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