The New Kitchen Science: A Guide to Know the Hows and Whys for Fun and Success in the Kitchen

3.95 avg rating
( 77 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780618249633: The New Kitchen Science: A Guide to Know the Hows and Whys for Fun and Success in the Kitchen

In this revised and updated edition of the book that thousands of cooks have turned to when they have a question, the science authority Howard Hillman provides the latest findings about everything from cooking methods, equipment, and food storage to nutrition and health concerns.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Howard Hillman is the author of more than twenty-five books on food and wine. He has contributed articles to the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Food & Wine as well as other distinguished publications.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

1
Cooking Equipment

Are quality knives a bargain?
Yes, because quality knives should last you a lifetime. Inexpensive ones
normally need to be replaced every five years or so. That"s why it is more
cost-effective in the long run to invest in a few quality knives than to
purchase
a broader assortment of less expensive and inferior implements. As a
bonus,
your cutting, chopping, and slicing tasks will be quicker and easier. Our
recommended five-knife starter set performs a wide variety of tasks. It
comprises a 3- to 4-inch (blade length) paring knife, a 6-inch utility knife, an
8-
inch serrated slicing knife, an 8-inch chef "s (chopping) knife, and a 10-inch
nonserrated slicing (carving) knife. You also need a 10-inch butcher steel for
honing.

Are dull knives more dangerous than sharp ones?
Without question. The sharper the knife, the less likely the cook is to cut
himself. This may sound like dull-witted reasoning, but the point is valid for
two pragmatic reasons. First, people tend to be more careful when using
sharper knives because the potential harm is more vivid in their minds.
Second, a duller knife is more apt to slip when cutting because it requires
more downward pressure to do the job.
There are more benefits from a sharp knife than just safety. It
makes cutting quicker and more efficient and minimizes ripping and tearing
of
the food.

How do the four basic knife-blade alloys differ?
Virtually all kitchen knives have blades of steel, an alloy consisting mainly
of
iron mixed with carbon and a smaller portion of other elements. The critical
difference between carbon and stainless steel alloys is that the first has a
higher carbon content, whereas the other amalgamation contains more
chromium, and often nickel.
The high-carbon stainless knife is betwixt and between the two—
its carbon, chromium, and nickel proportions lie somewhere in between
those
of the standard carbon and stainless steel varieties. Yet another variation of
the theme is the superstainless knife, the one with the scintillating silvery
look. Its alloy—at least its plating alloy—is impregnated with relatively large
quantities of chromium and nickel.
An alloy"s precise makeup determines to a considerable extent a
knife"s advantages and disadvantages for a cook.

What are the pros and cons of each knife-blade alloy?
A carbon steel blade is unequaled in its ability to take an extremely sharp
edge, and therefore it is preferred by most serious chefs. The major
drawback
of carbon steel is that unless the blade is promptly wiped dry after each
use,
it will rust. The alloy is also vulnerable to attack by the acid in foods like
citrus fruits, tomatoes, and onions. If the knife is not washed soon after
contact with these ingredients, the acid will react chemically with the metal,
blemishing the blade"s surface with blackish stains. Moreover, that
discoloration and its attendant off-odor can be transferred to the foods you
are cutting.
Superstainless steel is the least efficient of the four basic knife
alloys. It is all but impossible for a cook to restore the sharpness once the
knife loses its original well-honed edge (if the manufacturer gave it one in
the
first place). Kitchenware demonstrators speak hokum when they claim that
superstainless steel knives never need to be sharpened. What they should
tell you is that their product can"t be sharpened.
Stainless steel, like its super cousin, resists rust, stains, and
corrosion caused by water and acid. Though it takes a sharper edge than a
superstainless one, a stainless steel blade will still be annoyingly dull in the
hands of a busy cook.
A high-carbon stainless steel knife—by far the most expensive of
the four types—will neither rust nor stain. Consequently, it is the answer for
a
cook who lives by the sea or in a humid climate, because salt can corrode
and moisture can oxidize (rust) nonstainless steel. High-carbon stainless
steel is also recommended for cooks who do not want to be bothered with
having to wash the knife and wipe it dry promptly after each use—or who do
not want the knife blade to become tarnished because the chore was
neglected.
Although a blade made from high-carbon stainless steel can be
honed to a fairly sharp edge, do not believe the food writers and salespeople
who tell you that its sharpness will match that of a knife made with carbon
steel. As our kitchen tests verify, this is physically impossible.

What else should I look for when buying a knife?
Selecting the right blade alloy is not enough. You should buy only a knife
produced by a quality manufacturer because fine knife making requires
skilled workmanship involving a myriad of precision tasks, such as
tempering
the steel. In fact, unless you can buy superb carbon steel knives (they are
becoming difficult to find in America nowadays), we recommend that you
purchase the top-of-the-line, high-carbon stainless steel knives of a quality
manufacturer, such as Wüsthof (Trident trademark) or Henckels.
The tang (the part of the metal enclosed by the handle) should run
the full length of the handle and should be well secured with at least three
rivets. Otherwise, the handle and the metal part of the knife may separate
within a matter of years. The full tang also contributes weight and balance,
two essential qualities that inexpensive knives usually lack.
A knife"s handle should be easy to grasp and feel comfortable in
your hand. Its material should be durable and nonslippery. Nearly all
hardwood and many modern plastic-and-wood composite grips fit the bill;
plastic hilts do not.

What is the best tool for sharpening knives?
Honing a knife on one of those extremely coarse grinding wheels or belts
that
are commonly used by peregrinating peddlers or key makers is one of the
most unsatisfactory methods. Repeated sharpenings on these instruments
wear away your blade within a few years.
Almost as bad are those small pairs of steel rotating disk-
cylinders that are supposed to be attached to a kitchen door or cabinet. Not
only do these gadgets devour the metal of the blade faster than need be,
they
tend to scratch the blade too much and throw it out of alignment. Electric
knife sharpeners perform better, though they are not recommended for high-
quality carbon or high-carbon steel knives. These countertop appliances
can
permanently alter the angular shape of the knife"s cutting edge given by the
knife"s manufacturer.
The best day-to-day sharpening implement is the butcher"s steel,
a rough-surfaced, hard metal rod equipped with a handle. However, unless
you use the steel frequently to sharpen the knife, as a butcher is wont to
do,
the edge of your knife may dull beyond the restorative powers of the honing
rod. In that case, you will need to sharpen the knife periodically with a
whetstone, a small, abrasive, bluish-black block made of the exceptionally
hard silicon carbide Carborundum (available in most hardware stores).
Sometimes the abrasive material is a thin coating of minuscule diamonds.

What is the ideal honing angle?
Some say that 15° is the correct honing angle, whereas other estimates
place the number at 25° or even 30°.We experimented and found that
approximately 20° produces the best all-around results. A good way to
know
whether you are honing at or near a 20° angle is to refer to the
accompanying
graphic as you practice with an actual knife and butcher steel.

Where should sharp knives be stored?
Certainly not intermingled in a drawer with other knives and utensils. Every
time you open and close the drawer, knives jostle about, damaging their
cutting edges. One of the best storage solutions is a wood knife block
(which
also makes knives very accessible). Buy one with horizontal slots. With
vertical slots, you drag a knife"s cutting edge along the wood each time you
insert and remove the utensil.

Can I slice food with a chef "s knife?
Not if you want thin, attractive slices. A chef "s knife is designed to chop,
not
slice. As the accompanying illustration shows, there is a notable
difference—
for reasons of function—between the cross-sectional blade of the slicing
knife
and the chef "s knife. Because the slicing knife blade is relatively thin,
friction
and food crushing is minimized as the knife slides through the food. Just as
important, the thinner design allows the carver to cut narrower and more
uniform slices because the blade stays reasonably parallel to the face of
the
cut.
What about doing the opposite, chopping firm food with a slicing
knife? The chef "s knife does a much better job because its wedge shape is
broader on the top of its cross-section than the slicing knife. That extra
weight gives the blade extra momentum and therefore more power to help
the
cook chop through firm foods like garlic and carrots.

Should I buy a wood or polyethylene cutting board?
The harder a cutting surface, the more quickly a knife dulls. Hard surfaces
include metal, marble, china, crockery, enamel, glass, and most kitchen
countertops. The softest, and therefore the most desirable of the popular
cutting surfaces, is wood. Though softwood does less harm to the knife"s
edge, hardwood is used most often because it absorbs less moisture and
lasts longer.
Polyethylene boards are not as hard as, say, metal and glass,
but
they are harder than wood. Consequently, a knife becomes duller faster on
polyethylene boards than on wood ones. Even though polyethylene is
easier
to clean, most good cooks insist on wood cutting boards because keeping
a
knife sharp is crucial.
Hard cutting surfaces are not the only anathema to a sharp knife
blade. A blade that nicks too many bones or scrapes hard kitchenware in a
dishwasher or on a drying rack also may not cut the mustard.

Are hardwood spoons worth their higher price?
Hardwood spoons cost more than softwood spoons because they are made
of more expensive material and are more difficult to carve. They absorb less
bacteria and cooking flavors because their wood is less porous. They are
less likely to scorch, stain, crack, or warp. They dry faster, are more
attractive, and last more than twice as long as softwood spoons.

Why is good heat distribution a virtue for a stove-top pan?
Unless heat can quickly spread through the entire bottom of a pan, "hot"
and "cold" spots will develop. The hot spots will be directly over the places
where the heat source comes in contact with the pan. Thus, if the gas
burner
is starfish-shaped, or if the configuration of the electric coil is a spiral, the
hot
spots will follow those patterns.
The problem of frying or braising in a pan that has hot and cold
spots is that you cannot cook the food properly—unless you do nothing
else
but constantly and thoroughly stir the contents (and when braising, you
could
not do that even if you so desired). The food over the hot spots will
overcook.
Or, if you lower the heat to prevent scorching, the food will take longer to
cook or there will probably be insufficient heat to cook the other portions of
the food.
If you discover that your pots have hot spots and you do not wish
to replace the equipment, you can minimize the defect by using a heat
diffuser or by using a low heat setting.
When cooking food in a generous quantity of boiling or simmering
water, you need not worry so much about the negative effects of hot and
cold
spots on the bottom of your pan. By the time the heat reaches the food, the
cooking medium (water) will have more or less equalized the two
temperature
extremes. The same principle holds true for steaming.
The speed at which heat can travel through a pan"s bottom is a
function of how well it conducts heat (see "How is heat transferred to food?"
in chapter 2, pp. 28–29). Conductivity varies mainly according to the type of
metal as well as the thickness and finish of the metal.

Of the popular pan materials, which are the fastest heat conductors and
which the slowest?
The fastest guns in town are silver, tin, and copper. Aluminum is quick on
the
draw, too.
Middling-speed substances include cast iron and carbon (rolled)
steel, the type of sheet metal that is used to fashion traditional woks and
crepe pans. Stainless steel ranks even lower in heat-flow efficiency.
Even poorer conductors are glass, porcelain, earthenware, and
pottery in general. The sluggish attributes of these materials, however, can
be a plus in serving dishes. Providing that such a vessel is covered and its
walls are thick enough, it absorbs and gives up heat so languidly that it
should keep your food warm for a long time.
Factors other than the type of metal also determine how evenly a
pot heats food. The thicker its gauge, the more uniformly a pot will
distribute
heat throughout its interior surface. However, though a thicker gauge will
help
compensate for the mediocre heat-conducting properties of iron, the weight
of
the extra metal usually makes the pot unwieldy. A metal"s finish also
affects
cooking efficiency.

Are copper pots worth the money?
It depends.
We do not recommend purchasing mass-produced pseudo-copper
pots and pans—the lightweight, stamped stainless steel type with copper-
coated bottoms. The buyer gets the headache of the genuine copper
equipment (keeping the metal polished) without enjoying the heat
distribution
advantage. The copper coating that is used to produce this lower-priced
equipment is typically less than 1/50 of an inch thick—too thin to distribute
heat uniformly. Even the stainless steel is deplorably thin.
Authentic copper pots and pans, which are quite dear, are
excellent because the thick copper metal distributes the heat evenly
throughout the base and the lower sides of the cooking utensil. However, if
the copper base becomes mottled with black carbon deposits, the even
heat
distribution is greatly impaired and hot spots develop, turning a positive into
a
negative. This is why we never recommend copper cooking equipment to
anyone who doesn"t have the time and inclination to keep it clean and
polished—and it is a chore, to be sure.
Another drawback of authentic copper pots is that they must be
periodically relined with tin, an expensive process. The pan must be relined
once the tin starts to wear away appreciably because ...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Hillman, Howard
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: > 20
Print on Demand
Seller
BargainBookStores
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. Item doesn't include CD/DVD. Bookseller Inventory # 1186936

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.53
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Hillman, Howard
Published by Houghton Mifflin (2002)
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Quantity Available: > 20
Print on Demand
Seller
PBShop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Houghton Mifflin, 2002. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IQ-9780618249633

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.30
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Hillman, Howard
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Quantity Available: 5
Print on Demand
Seller
Chiron Media
(Wallingford, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. This item is printed on demand. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatch time is 24-48 hours from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Bookseller Inventory # NU-ING-00176463

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 14.80
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.70
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Hillman, Howard
Published by HOUGHTON MIFFLIN, United States (2003)
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Print on Demand
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HOUGHTON MIFFLIN, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised and Updated ed.. 208 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A revised and updated cooking handbook answers questions about cooking utensils, equipment, and techniques, the taste of foods, and the chemistry involved in cooking and preserving foods, from why heirloom fruits and vegetables taste better than supermarket varieties to how weather affects outdoor grilling times and why dry rubs give more flavor to meat than marinades. Original. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780618249633

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 18.89
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Hillman, Howard
Published by HOUGHTON MIFFLIN, United States (2003)
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Print on Demand
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description HOUGHTON MIFFLIN, United States, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised and Updated ed.. 208 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.A revised and updated cooking handbook answers questions about cooking utensils, equipment, and techniques, the taste of foods, and the chemistry involved in cooking and preserving foods, from why heirloom fruits and vegetables taste better than supermarket varieties to how weather affects outdoor grilling times and why dry rubs give more flavor to meat than marinades. Original. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780618249633

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 19.58
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Hillman, Howard
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
AMAZINGBOOKDEALS
(IRVING, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: BRAND NEW. BRAND NEW. Fast Shipping. Prompt Customer Service. Satisfaction guaranteed. Bookseller Inventory # 061824963XBNA

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 16.28
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Hillman, Howard
Published by Mariner Books (2003)
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Book Deals
(Lewiston, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Mariner Books, 2003. Book Condition: New. Brand New, Unread Copy in Perfect Condition. A+ Customer Service! Summary: Hillman addresses fascinating questions such as why heirloom fruits and vegetables taste better than supermarket varieties, why dry rubs impart more flavor to meats than marinades do, how weather conditions affect outdoor grilling times, and how food science is altering what we eat in restaurants. Bookseller Inventory # ABE_book_new_061824963X

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 21.31
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Hillman, Howard
Published by Mariner Books
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: 20
Seller
BuySomeBooks
(Las Vegas, NV, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Mariner Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 336 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.5in. x 0.9in.In this revised and updated edition of the book that thousands of cooks have turned to when they have a question, the science authority Howard Hillman provides the latest findings about everything from cooking methods, equipment, and food storage to nutrition and health concerns. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780618249633

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 17.38
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.95
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Hillman, Howard
Published by Mariner Books (2003)
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Mariner Books, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # INGM9780618249633

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 17.94
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Hillman, Howard
Published by Mariner Books (2003)
ISBN 10: 061824963X ISBN 13: 9780618249633
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Mariner Books, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 061824963X

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 23.91
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book