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Tom's Cookbook Library: Focusing on cooking's four key elements

Samin Nosrat shares more than 100 recipes in "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking."
Samin Nosrat shares more than 100 recipes in "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking."

Samin Nosrat is making waves in the culinary world with a revelatory new book, "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking" (Simon & Schuster).

Drawing on her background as a food writer, teacher and award-winning chef, Nosrat aims to bridge the gap between home and professional kitchens, while at the same time sharing her own experience on such a journey.

Nosrat shares more than 100 essential recipes designed to put her lessons into practice. Topics cover how to make bright, balanced vinaigrettes (see an example below), caramelized roast vegetables, tender braised meats and light, flaky pastry dough.

The daughter of Iranian immigrants, Nosrat encourages cooks to master salt, which enhances flavor; fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; acid, which balances flavor; and heat, which determines the texture of food.

"Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" also features 150 bright and cheery illustrations and infographics created by Wendy MacNaughton.


(Makes about one cup)

2 tablespoons diced shallots

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon domestic vinegar

1 large or two small, very ripe tomatoes (about 8 ounces)

4 basil leaves, torn into large pieces

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove


In a small bowl or jar, let the shallots sit in the vinegars for 15 minutes to macerate.

Halve the tomato crosswise. Grate on the largest hole of a box grater and discard the skin. You should be left with 1/2 cup grated tomato. Add it to the shallot. Add the basil leaves, olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Smash the garlic against the counter with the palm of your hand and add to the dressing. Shake or stir to combine. Taste with a crouton or slice of tomato and adjust salt and acid as needed. Let sit for at least 10 minutes and remove the garlic before using.

Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to two days.

Note: This is ideal for sliced tomatoes and for avocado salad, caprese salad, summer panzanella and ricotta and tomato salad toasts.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Feedback on this column can be sent to

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