I hadn’t heard of Alex and Aki until a few months ago, but I’ve quickly become a fan. The wife and husband chef team explore food through chemistry. Their book Ideas in Food, named after their blog, presents food in the chapters you expect: Bread, Pasta, Vegetables, Meat, etc. What they do differently is explain scientifically the best ways to cook those things. Plus there’s lots of modern techniques such as sous-vide and vacuum sealing and a whole section on cooking with food additives like xanthan gum, carbon dioxide, and agar. I wish Alex and Aki had been my science teachers in high school. They explain everything simply and clearly in such a non-boring way. I now understand why brining works–salt and osmosis–and also learned that we can thank a man named Clarence Birdseye for frozen food.
Will I use this cookbook every day? I’m not sure since the recipes I most want to try cooking most involve tools I don’t have, like a sous-vide machine or vacuum sealer, but I’ll certainly rely on it for inspiration. They’ve made me rethink some of the basic ways I do things in the kitchen and have inspired me to try new techniques. I’ll let you know if I ever make their Grilled Potato Ice Cream.