James Peterson is a prolific cookbook author who won me over long ago with Essentials of Cooking back when I was in college, so when I found out his latest book was all about tips he’s compiled through the years, I was taken. What’s a Cook to Do? covers the basics (how to make the perfect burger), the advanced (how to flambé a dessert), the mundane (how to break an egg), and the fascinating (how to form crystal-clear ice cubes). With close to 500 tips, tricks, and blurbs of info, the volume has plenty to occupy yourself with. And next time you’re in the midst of a recipe and don’t know what, how, or why, chances are you can thumb through this tiptionary and find the answer.

What’s a Cook to Do?, $16.95

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