Cooking Tips

Non-Recipe Culinary Books

I ran across an interesting culinary book the other day that was not a cookbook. It caused me to think about other such books that I have in my library or have found interesting. These books might also be a great gift for those cooks in your life and are the subject of this Cooking Tip.

What’s The Difference?

This little book is by Brette Warshaw and the chapters in it are very similar to these Cooking Tips. Some of the titles are:

  • Apple Cider vs. Apple Juice
  • Aioli vs. Mayonnaise
  • Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder vs. Natural Cocoa Powder
  • Crème Fraîche vs. Sour Cream

Food FAQs: Substitutions, Yields & Equivalents

This extremely useful book has been put together by Linda Resnik and Dee Brock. They have painstakingly compiled lists and charts that answer questions such as:

  • How much juice in an average-sized lemon?
  • How many onions are required to make one cup of chopped onion?
  • What can I substitute for a quince?

The New Food Lover’s Companion

A culinary dictionary is a great addition to your collection and this one is by Rob and Sharon Tyler Herbst. My copy (and the one pictured here) was published in 2013 and is a great book to grab when you run across a term or an ingredient with which you are not familiar. The authors also published The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion in 2015. It is a larger book both in size and content including information on more ethnic ingredients, food labels, ingredient substitutions and safe cooking temperatures.

Ratio: The Simple Code Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking

If you would like to be freed from using recipes all the time, this book by Michael Ruhlman may be for you. He discusses many dishes and breaks down the ratio of ingredients that are in each. He also includes representative recipes. Just some of his topics are:

  • Doughs
  • Batters
  • Stocks
  • Sauces
  • Custards

The Flavor Bible

Do you like to be creative in the kitchen but worry about what flavors work together? Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg have put together an exhaustive guide to help you. It is full of easy-to-use charts arranged alphabetically by ingredient starting with Achiote Seeds and ending with Zucchini Blossoms.

The Spice Companion

This is a recent addition to my bookshelves and is written by Lior Lev Sercarz. It is beautifully illustrated with photographs of all the representative spices. He describes the spice’s flavor, aroma, origins and harvest season as well as listing traditional uses for the spice along with recommended pairings and recipe ideas.

I am sure that there are many other non-recipe culinary books that would be helpful for us home cooks.
Do you have a favorite. Let me know.