RE: Speaking of cookbooks...

Subject: RE: Speaking of cookbooks...
From: "Anameier, Christine A - Eagan, MN" <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 2003 09:36:49 -0600


Erika Yanovich wrote, in part:
"I don't like performing a task without understanding why or how can I
do it better next time. Cookbooks are for people who don't want to think
- fish instead of fishing rod."

I'm kinda surprised nobody has mentioned Cooks Illustrated yet (or have
they? I'm on digest these days...).

You may already know Cooks, but if not: Cooks is a bimonthly magazine
that has spun off a TV show (America's Test Kitchen) and a bunch of
cookbooks, including the recent "Best Recipe" series. There's one big
general volume called "The Best Recipe," and some slightly smaller
volumes devoted to pasta, Italian food, "American classics," soups, etc.


Recipes begin with a general discussion of the dish and its possible
variations. They talk about what they tried that didn't work, what did
work, and why. Then follows the recipe and, usually, some variations
(ingredients, then steps). For instance, in the main book their
cheesecake recipe includes at least two versions, a light and fluffy one
with a traditional water bath, and a dense New-York-style cheesecake
that starts at 500 degrees (!). They tell you why their recipe calls for
sour cream and heavy cream in addition to the cream cheese and eggs. If
I recall, there's some discussion of lemon zest vs. lemon juice too.
There's two pages of stuff before the recipe starts.

Lots of information on techniques, equipment, ingredients...

It's a little ironic that I love their cookbooks so much, because in
documentation I lean toward the "just tell 'em how to do the task"
approach. In technical docs I figure the average end user is *usually*
just trying to get a specific task accomplished, just like most folks
just want a recipe that tells them how to achieve Moo Shu Pork. I'd say
most people want the fish, not the fishing rod. But Cooks seems to have
found a comfortable niche writing for the minority of food geeks out
there who want to know all the details.

Also, I think somebody mentioned Alton Brown's cookbook and "Good Eats"
TV show recently (but I can't seem to dig it up in the archives...
apologies if I'm being redundant).

Christine


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