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Food IQ: 100 Questions, Answers, and Recipes

Food IQ: 100 Questions, Answers, and Recipes Summary

From grilling to sous vide, handmade pasta to canned fish, and deconstructing everything from salt and olive oil to organic produce and natural wine, Food IQ is a one-stop shop for foodies and home cooks, from novices to the most-adventurous culinarians. You don't know what you don't know.

In the spirit of books like Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, and Food Lab, an informative, entertaining, and essential guide to taking your kitchen smarts to a higher level—from two food world professionals (a chef and a writer).

When food writer Matt Rodbard met chef Daniel Holzman while covering the opening of his restaurant, The Meatball Shop, on New York's Lower East Side, it was a match made in the question. More than a decade later, the pair have remained steadfast friends—they write a popular column together, and talk text, and DM about food constantly. Now, in Food IQ, they're sharing their passion and a deep curiosity for home cooking, and the food world zeitgeist, with everyone.

Featuring 100 essential cooking questions and answers, Food IQ includes recipes and instructions for a variety of dishes that utilize a wide range of ingredients and methods. Holzman and Rodbard provide essential information every home cook needs on a variety of cooking fundamentals, including:

Why does pasta always taste better in a restaurant? (The key to a perfect sauce is not pasta water, but a critical step involving . . . emulsification.)

When is it okay to cook with frozen vegetables? (Deep breath. It's very much OK, but only with certain types.)

What is baker's math, and why is it the secret to perfect pastry every time? (It uses the weight of flour as the constant and . . . we have a handy chart for you.) 

Rodbard and Holzman also offer dozens of delicious recipes, such as Oyakodon–Chicken and Eggs Poached in Sweet Soy Sauce Dashi, The Cast Iron Quesadilla That Will Change the Way You Quesadilla, and 40 Minute Red Sauce. Throughout this culinary reference guide and cookbook, readers can expect to find both wisdom and wit, as well as stunning photos and illustrations, and illuminating conversations with notable chefs, writers, and food professionals such as Ina Garten, Roy Choi, Eric Ripert, Helen Rosner, Thérèse Nelson, Priya Krishna, and Claire Saffitz. 

About the Author

Daniel Holzman started his cooking career at the age of 15 at Le Bernardin in New York City before attending the Culinary Institute of America with a full scholarship from the James Beard Foundation. In 2010, he opened The Meatball Shop on New York City’s Lower East Side, which now boasts locations in Williamsburg, the West Village, Chelsea, the Upper East Side, and Hell’s Kitchen, and is the co-author of The Meatball Shop Cookbook.

Daniel has appeared frequently in the media, including Good Morning America, the Today show, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and has been featured in an array of publications such as the New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, People, Food Network Magazine, and GQ. He lives in Los Angeles.

Matt Rodbard is a writer, editor, and author of food and culture books with more than two decades of experience working in television, magazines, book publishing, and online media. He’s the author of the New York Times bestseller Koreatown: A Cookbook, and the Founding Editor of the two-time James Beard Foundation Award–winning online food and culture magazine TASTE. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, Saveur, GQ, and Fodors. He lives in New York.

Food IQ: 100 Questions, Answers, and Recipes Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

FOOD WRITER AND EDITOR Matt Rodbard is a confident—though confidently nonprofessional—home cook and tireless asker of questions about food and cooking. As the founder of the James Beard Award–winning food magazine TASTE, that’s his job, after all. Daniel Holzman is a professional chef, cookbook author, and dedicated home cook—a rare breed of on-the-clock food pro who relishes evenings at home making dinners of clay pot chicken, spaghetti vongole, and mushroom foil yaki for an audience of (sometimes) one. He’s a chef who actually makes dinner like a civilian.

Matt and Daniel are very good friends who met when Matt covered the opening of Daniel’s Lower East Side restaurant, the Meatball Shop, in 2010 and peppered Daniel with a series of questions about his meatball mix and pork-to-white-bread ratio. It turns out that questions would bring the duo together, and it’s questions that continue to cement their friendship.

They’ve written popular columns together for both Saveur and TASTE, and they talk about food constantly: while texting story ideas to each other, jumping into each other’s Instagram feeds, traveling to outer boroughs and far-off continents to taste new foods, and cooking together in their home kitchens in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. Well, in truth, Daniel makes dinner and Matt watches as Daniel grills Akaushi beef and improvises salsa verde to top the roasted Japanese sweet potatoes he pulls out of a rental apartment’s aging gas oven. And Matt asks questions along the way—many, many questions.

Food IQ is inspired by Matt and Daniel’s constant conversations about food, and it tackles some of the most discussed, though rarely clarified, questions about home cooking and food culture today. In the process, it teaches cooking fundamentals, imparts little-known culinary trivia, and reveals everything you wanted to know about salting meat, cooking in a microwave, making great pizza at home, and acknowledging the Global Pancake Power Rankings™—all in an action-packed format.

It is also inspired by Daniel’s lived experience as a chef who is constantly asked cooking questions by friends, family, late-night television hosts, random Twitter followers, and anybody who has uttered the line “I was wondering about . . .” in his presence. This is hardly a complaint.

Daniel loves talking about food, and he loves educating those willing to listen. Is making your own hummus worth it? Should I cook with MSG? Should I be embarrassed to reach for canned beans? Why is my whole roast chicken always dry? These are a few of his favorite questions. Or more accurately, they are three of the one hundred favorites that are answered in the book.

You might be wondering, how did Daniel and Matt come to the one hundred questions, and how do you actually use this book? The questions were established through the highly scientific process of Daniel and Matt creating a Google Doc, looking at their shelves packed with cookbooks and textbooks, talking, debating, and gently arguing about whether a hamburger is a sandwich (there are no spoilers in this introduction).

There was some of that, but the questions are also inspired by those Daniel and Matt are frequently asked on social media and through their work as a cooking educator and food writer, respectively. Early on, they surveyed friends and family (thank you all!), and they tapped into their past writing for some of the greatest hits.

Are there more than one hundred questions to answer? Of course. There are enough questions to fill a hundred books! But this first edition of Food IQ covers the one hundred most important and timely topics for today’s home cook right now—for everyone looking for food enlightenment in 2022 and beyond. Daniel and Matt see you. They call you the Foodie 2.0. Don’t wince—foodie is a term to celebrate, and this book marks the coronation of a new generation of foodie.

Are You A Foodie 2.0?

Food IQ has a big promise: to help readers cook better and smarter, and to increase their food knowledge along the way. But what exactly is food knowledge, and why do smarts and intuition matter so much more than simply following a recipe? Foodies 2.0 are people who love cooking, eating, and talking about food, but who aren’t necessarily as confident behind the burners as they’d like to be.

Matt recognized this growing interest in food beyond recipes after founding TASTE in 2017. From day one of running the magazine, he was blown away by the sophisticated and passionate reader emails and social media messages he received.

There was a real thirst for information about food beyond recipe aggregation and facilitating “getting dinner on the table” (a tired cliché used when addressing an increasingly large and important audience: you). In his opening editor’s letter published on February 7, 2017, Matt wrote, “Fish sauce, za’atar, chipotle, ’nduja, Chinese black vinegar, pomegranate molasses, kimchi—these are some of the new ingredients that are found in the modern American pantry, and TASTE will publish stories that clarify and celebrate this exciting evolution.” Five years later, that pantry has grown, as have the questions.

Increasing your food knowledge is about more than learning how to braise chicken thighs (though this is addressed herewith as well). Food knowledge is essential cultural currency, cashable at dinner parties with friends, around the water cooler (or in Slack channels), and on the front lines of social media.

This is the book that tackles some of the most prescient food topics of these times (as well as “wtf is a gastrique?”). Food IQ is your buddy the chef sitting down over a glass of Michter’s to talk about investing in a mandoline. It’s your buddy the food writer, sitting down over a cup of naturally processed Ethiopian pour-over coffee to talk about why shrimp are not overrated, just frequently overcooked, and leading an exciting discussion on modern culinary anthropology.

Daniel and Matt are here for you—as home cooks, as fans of food writing and television, and as human beings. Just as the great game maker Milton Bradley emblazoned it takes “A minute to learn . . . A lifetime to master” on his board game Othello, learning to cook takes time, and you won’t master all of the topics and techniques covered in this book overnight. But food is a lifelong journey, and Daniel and Matt are your guides as you read and cook through this book. And hopefully much longer.

How To Use This Book

How do you eat a dinosaur? One bite at a time. This is Daniel’s way of saying that learning to cook is a series of incremental steps taken over time. This journey starts with a question, which twists and turns over seven thematic chapters, starting with some of the most important basic information and progressing to more advanced topics.

Earlier chapters tackle fundamentals (such as “What is brown butter, and why is everybody cooking with it?” and “Fresh herbs v. dried herbs: When is it okay to reach for McCormick?”). There’s a chapter addressing tools and technology (knives, ovens, woks, microwaves, blenders, Chemex, and the Instant Pot are all covered), while later chapters focus on busting myths (“Why is the farmers’ market so damn expensive?”) and mastering hacks (“My roasted vegetables never get properly crispy. How do I make that happen?”).

Finally, the book rounds out with Daniel and Matt’s twelve favorite dishes to cook forever (including pizza, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and the chicken cutlet) and some weekend cooking projects that are well worth their time.

Although the book can be read from front to back, each question and its answer stands alone, allowing you to dive into the questions that interest you most. There’s an emphatic call to invest in a thirteen-dollar digital scale, and a concise breakdown of how to make greens at home taste like the greens at your favorite Chinese restaurant.

There’s straight talk about why it’s perfectly okay to cook with frozen fish, and why canned tomatoes from California are a better bet than the prized (and sometimes fraudulent) San Marzanos from Mount Vesuvius. The secret to making guacamole at home taste like it came from your favorite Mexican restaurant? It’s not what you would guess in one hundred attempts.

Recipes Enter the Picture

Each question includes an exciting recipe developed by Daniel, stretching from snacks (Five-Minute Rosemary Sourdough Crackers) and vegetable sides (Leeks Gribiche, Whole Salt-Roasted Onions) to fish and meat courses (Salmon Porchetta, Chicken Basquaise, Tamales de Rajas) and the world’s greatest hash browns, Pommes Anna.

These recipes play a critical role in increasing your food knowledge and learning to cook smarter. Not only are they extremely cookable, but each of the one hundred recipes is also directly related to the question at hand, serving as a mini-experiment to help you, the reader, better understand and absorb the concepts addressed in the question. Daniel and Matt promise that, after reading the question and answer and then cooking the recipe through, you will gain a deeper understanding of home cooking.

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN006306281X, 978-0063062818
Posted onFebruary 22, 2022
Page Count352 pages
AuthorDaniel Holzman

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