Review by

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work
(Random House) ISBN 978-0307717405 0307717402

Creative cooking is easy for home cooks and professional chefs with this food ideas cookbook. Besides providing culinary instruction and inspiration, Aki Kamozawa and Alexander Talbot explain the food science behind creative recipes. Culinary techniques range from simple (e.g., cold smoking) to advanced (e.g., liquid nitrogen).

Cooking ideas

The first three-quarters of Ideas in Food gives home cooks food ideas. Recipes use both American and metric measurements. The remaining quarter of the 320-page culinary reference book features food ideas for professional chefs. Ingredient weights are in grams. These recipe ideas use hydrocolloids, like xanthan gum, transglutaminase (Activa or meat glue), liquid nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa introduce each chapter and 100 recipes with culinary techniques and cooking tips. For example, the recipe for cold smoked fried chicken, which they claim to be the best fried chicken ever, uses a Bradley smoker.

Ways to smoke food

The authors explain the differences between hot smoking, cold smoking, smoke baking, smoke roasting and liquid smoke. They also recommend using rice bran oil for frying chicken, because it has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor.

One important item not answered in this book is why hydrolyzed proteins and food additives made from hydrolyzed proteins (maltodextrin, yeast extract, dextrose, citric acid, sodium caseinate, etc.) cause severe migraines in many people.

Ideas in Food has no images except for the photo of Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot on the jacket.

Cooking tips

Ideas in Food contains many cooking tips. For example, Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa explain how to make oil-free salad dressings using xanthan gum to create a smooth texture that mimics oil.

Other food ideas include popcorn gelato, pasta that tastes like potato chips (made with toasted, ground potato flakes) and a honeycomb-textured chocolate dessert that resembles Aero chocolate bars.

A Sources chapter provides websites where you can buy barrel-aged maple syrup and other cooking ingredients, as well as kitchen equipment, like electric smokers.

Examples of unique recipes

Vanilla salt. Maple vinegar. Smoked pasta dough. No-knead whole wheat sweet potato bread. Sourdough doughnuts. Onion crackers. Bananas Foster bread. Potato chip pasta. Ranch spice blend. Apple and cheddar risotto. Crispy chocolate mousse. Brown butter hollandaise sauce. Homemade mozzarella. Homemade ricotta. Brown butter ice cream. Parsnip ice cream. White chocolate frozen yogurt. Root beer braised short ribs. Peanut butter custard. Cheddar tofu. Gingerbread souffle.

Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot


Ideas for Everyone
  • Seasoning and Preserving
  • Bread
  • Pastas, Gnocchi and Risotto
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Meat and Seafood
Ideas for Professionals
  • Hydrocolloids
  • Transglutaminase
  • Liquid Nitrogen
  • Carbon Dioxide
Further Reading


Husband and wife team, Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot, are owners of Ideas in Food, a Pennsylvania food consulting business, and publishers of the Ideas in Food blog.

Return to Food & Drink Index