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"I'm a nerd, and I'm proud of it," J. Kenji López-Alt declares in his massive–and massively informative–new cookbook, The Food Lab. The MIT grad and professional cook—cum—Serious Eats chief creative officer spent years systematically testing ways to make food tastier. The 300 recipes here prove his experiments successful. From the secrets to perfect steak (hint: flip frequently) to no-fuss risotto, the book is a catalyst for great cooking.W. W. Norton, $50, 938 pages

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