I want to know things like:
- When a recipe says to use a wooden spoon, is that because someone's grandmother used a wooden spoon, or is there something fundamental in the utensil's woodenness that improves either the contents being stirred or the way I actually stir? Can I use a rubber spatula?
- What happens if I don't wait for the oven to preheat to the required temperature? If I put something in earlier, that means it will take less time, right? How am I paying for it in terms of texture or flavour?
- The recipe calls for an egg at room temperature, but I just pulled it out of the fridge, and I can't wait. What does it change?
- What exactly is wrong with the way I stir-fry?
- Why are most recipes written so I can't tell what are the essential instructions and which ones belong to the "that's how it's always been done, with a wooden spoon in a glass bowl" ilk. How am I supposed to know what I can safely modify or ignore?
The author is director of Serious Eats, and if that's anything to go by, with such gems as Why Do I Cream Butter, and What Happens If I Don't?, this may be the answer to all my culinary quandaries.
I haven't had a chance to track down a copy of The Food Lab in-store so I can look it over properly. Is anyone familiar with it? Will it tell me everything I want to know?