Tips & Techniques Book Briefs Kitchen Companion
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Companion

Whether you're making a pie crust for the first time or you're curious why a roast should "rest" before you carve it, this newest book from Williams-Sonoma will provide just the information you need. Kitchen Companion: The A to Z Guide to Everyday Cooking, Equipment & Ingredients is the equivalent of having a knowledgeable friend standing at your side in the kitchen. You might even discover that it makes interesting bedtime reading.

Kitchen Companion was inspired by a letter Chuck Williams received from a customer who was frustrated that, no matter what she did, her muffins always got very brown on top before they were cooked through. Chuck realized that few people today have a true understanding of cooking passed down to them—the sort of knowledge acquired by watching a parent or grandparent in the kitchen, observing how they make adjustments to a recipe and hearing their insights. Instead, many home cooks only know how to follow recipes to the letter and become lost if they veer from the explicit directions.

Designed to be used alongside a recipe, this comprehensive volume is filled with practical information and commonsense advice. It is arranged alphabetically and meticulously cross-referenced, so you can quickly find what you're looking for. More than 800 line drawings of ingredients, cooking equipment and step-by-step instructions enhance the text.

A valuable resource for beginning as well as experienced home cooks, Kitchen Companion was recently named "best culinary reference book in English" by the International Cookbook Review at the World Cookbook Fair in Périgueux, France.

Kitchen Companion clarifies terms that may be unfamiliar, like "blanching" and "scoring," and explains the logic behind recipe instructions— why meats are first browned when making a stew, for instance. You'll discover a wealth of information about ingredients, from the common (flour and salt) to the exotic (galangal and starfruit). Also included are detailed discussions of cookware, bakeware and kitchen tools. Simple as well as more advanced cooking techniques are described step-by-step, be it sectioning an orange or frosting a cake. Charts summarize valuable information such as cooking times for dried beans and roasting times for meats and poultry. Another chart lists ingredient substitutions and equivalents.

Interspersed throughout are Quick Tips, which provide expert advice. For example: To remedy an oversalted soup or stew, simply slice a boiling potato, add it to the pot and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Then remove the potato slices, which will have absorbed some of the salt. Quick Bites offer interesting tidbits about food and cooking.

Kitchen Companion will also help you avert disasters in the kitchen—like those too-browned muffins. For example: Under "Muffin Blues," you'll find some simple explanations—the oven heat was too high; the pan was placed too close to the top of the oven.

Packed with essential information, Kitchen Companion is compact in size, so you can keep it close at hand while you cook. This is a book you'll turn to again and again.