Keys to Good Cooking (Penguin) is written by the big daddy of food science (which sounds boring but is actually riveting), Harold McGee. McGee teaches readers to understand the scientific processes behind cooking, and does so in ways that are immediately applicable. This book will teach you how food and cooking work, providing you with the skills and understanding needed to be a more creative and successful cook. McGee has a rabid cult following of chefs and home cooks (check out his classic "On Food and Cooking") and after reading this book, you’ll understand why.
Other titles to watch out for: "Tartine Bread" by Chad Robertson (Chronicle Books); "Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?" by Ina Garten (Crown Publishing); "When French Women Cook" by Madeleine Kamman (Ten Speed Press); "Meat" by James Peterson (Ten Speed Press); "The Essential New York Times Cookbook" by Amanda Hesser (W.W. Norton); "Life Is Meals" by James and Kay Salter (Knopf Doubleday); and "The Commonsense Kitchen" by Tom Hudgens (Chronicle).