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Resource Center – Reference Cookbooks

Every cookbook shelf should have reference books that you can use when you are looking for information about classic recipes or about how recipes work. This collection is a good starting point for your library. There are many others as well, but I had to pick my top 5 books. These authors and books represent three different styles in presenting the reference information. Shirley Corriher’s books flow like a standard cookbook interspersing the food science with recipes. Harold McGee’s books are more like a textbook with very detailed information. David Joachim and Andrew Schloss’s book sits in the middle. If you have your “go-to” reference books, please let me know what they are!

One of the most amazing people in the food world is Shirley Corriher! Shirley is a well known food scientist, has appeared on numerous Television programs and has written the first two books on my list of Must Have Reference Books. Cookwise was Shirley’s first book and it covers all aspects of cooking. This is the first book I turn to when I’m trying to answer any question or troubleshoot a recipe. Focusing on baking for her second book, Bakewise has more about the science behind baking than any other cookbook I own. I have used the information in this book to develop and troubleshoot many recipes over the years. Of course, the recipes she includes are all fabulous. One of my favorites is the Take-Your-Breath-Away Lemon Pound Cake on Page 25. If you are wanting to add some serious books to your library, these two are the ones to start with……

Another excellent source of reference information is The Science of Good Food. This book by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss takes a very different approach than Shirley’s books. In the Science of Good Food, everything is listed in alphabetical order similar to an encyclopedia (if you happen to remember what those are….). Want to know about aeration and what it does to your food? Or maybe information about Asparagus, then just look it up. This is another book I use for research when I’m working on recipes.

Harold McGee is another leading food scientist in the US. He has written two books which take more of a “textbook” style to food and cooking. Harold’s first book “On Food and Cooking” takes the subject of different foods and provides a tremendous amount of detail about what is in it, how it cooks and much more. His second book “Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes” looks more at the cooking process and what we do in the kitchen.

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