Betty Crocker Why It Works
Insider Secrets to Great Food

by Kevin Ryan

"Recipes are like very short stories," says Kevin Ryan, PhD., a food scientist at General Mills, and author of Betty Crocker Why It Works: Insider Secrets to Great Food.

"They have a beginning (the ingredients), a middle (the method), and an end (the actual eating of the meal). If you tell the story right," the first-time author continues, "you end up with great-tasting food."

Getting it right every time is at the heart of this new collection of 120 recipes, each featuring behind-the-scenes information and techniques that demystify the science of why a dish tastes the way it does. In other words, "how recipes work from the inside out."

In Betty Crocker Why It Works the cook is no longer a slave to simply mimicking recipe steps and instructions. Now the ingredients, techniques and steps liberate the hidden chef in anyone wielding a spatula. From breakfast to dessert, Kevin Ryan explains how each process works, such as:

  • Bananas, like many fruits, are acidic which means they react with baking soda to produce gas bubbles, which causes rising. But too ripe, a banana loses acidity. For Banana-Chocolate Bread, the use of both baking soda and baking powder will ensure a tall loaf.

  • The secret to Better-than-the-Mall Cinnamon Rolls is a warm, but not too warm, dough that encourages yeast to eat as much sugar in the dough, producing gas that makes it rise. Too much sugar and spice (such as cinnamon) can slow down or even kill yeast

  • For perfect Classic Eggs Benedict, a teaspoon of white vinegar per quart of water stops the egg white from spreading before the heat of the poaching water has a chance to cook the eggs.

  • Chilling onions for about 30 minutes before slicing will slow the chemical reaction, which causes a lot of tears. When onions are cooked down slowly and really brown for French Onion Soup the result is a really authentic and flavorful soup, so take your time and don't rush this step.

  • The key to successful deep-frying lies in the temperature of the oil. If not hot enough, the oil will seep into foods resulting in a soggy, greasy mess. If the oil overheats, your Corn Fritters with Pineapple-Jalapeno Sauce, become too dark before the inside cooks.

  • Soaking chicken pieces for a short period of time in a brine solution of salt and water relaxes the protein in the meat. Water then has a chance to work its way between the proteins—your insurance policy for moist, tender Oven-Fried Chicken with Sweet Onion-Mushroom Gravy.

  • An often overlooked meatball ingredient is the liquid. Using a small amount of buttermilk will enhance the flavor and tenderness of Mama's Spaghetti and Meatballs.

  • Your Sesame-Garlic Broccoli will retain its bright green color if cooked in eight minutes or less. The chlorophyll in broccoli (and other green vegetables), which is responsible for that bright color is lost when overcooked or exposed to acids such as lemon juice and vinegar.

  • "All-the-Stops" Chocolate Cake's deep chocolate flavor is not due to the use of more chocolate. The best way to increase chocolate flavor is to increase the other flavors present in chocolate. In this spectacular cake's instance, strong coffee enhances the chocolate.

In each chapter, "Dr." Ryan diagnoses a recipe, explaining common cooking mishaps and prescribes ways to avoid or correct them. The book is also lavishly illustrated with more than 60 color photos. Artfully combining the trusted and reliable Betty Crocker name with the science behind great tasting food, Betty Crocker Why It Works is chock full of foolproof strategies for successful results.

About the Authors

Kevin Ryan, PhD, is a food scientist at General Mills, where he develops new products. He holds a master's degree and a PhD from the University of Illinois as well as a graduate degree in gastronomy from the University of Adelaide in a program sponsored by Le Cordon Bleu. Kevin and his wife live in Minneapolis.

With over 65 million cookbooks sold since 1950, Betty Crocker is the name cooks across America turn to for trusted, easy-to-prepare, flavorful recipes. From the classic Betty Crocker Cookbook, now in its 10th edition, to a wide range of specialty cookbooks—more than 40 titles in all—Betty has a cookbook for every eating occasion. Culinary experts, in state-of-the-art Betty Crocker Kitchens in Minneapolis, keep up-to-date on consumer trends and interests to create recipes to meet today's cooking needs. Betty Crocker is a registered trademark of General Mills.

Buy the Book  

Betty Crocker Why It Works
Insider Secrets to Great Food

by Kevin Ryan and the Betty Crocker Editors
Hardcover; 223 pages; US $24.95
ISBN: 0-471-75305-X
Information provided by the publisher.


Betty Crocker Why It Works


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