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Authors: Jason Logsdon

Tags: #Cooking, #Methods, #Gourmet

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BOOK: Modernist Cooking Made Easy
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References

Ingredient Tables
Ingredient Techniques
Ingredient Temperatures
Sous Vide Time and Temperature
Doneness Range
Beef - Roasts and Tough Cuts
Beef - Steak and Tender Cuts
Chicken and Eggs
Duck
Fish and Shellfish
Fruits and Vegetables
Lamb
Pork
Turkey
Fahrenheit to Celsius Conversion
Sous Vide Thickness Times
Beef, Pork, Lamb Thickness Chart
Chicken Thickness Chart
Fish Thickness Chart
Modernist Cooking Resources
Modernist Cooking
Sous Vide
Ingredient and Tool Sources
End Notes

 

S
ECTION
O
NE
I
NTRODUCTION TO
M
ODERNIST
C
OOKING

 

 

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

In cooking, most new dishes, flavors, and techniques are building on the work of prior generations of cooks. There are very few truly original works and we all owe a debt of gratitude to those that came before us and paved the way for us. There has been a great tradition of sharing and codifying cooking techniques from Escoffier to Ferran Adrià to Grant Achatz to Nathan Myhrvold, each of which built on the works of those that came before.

This book is no exception. I could never have written it, much less explored the latest modernist techniques, without the chefs, authors, and cooks who experimented with food, and most importantly, shared their knowledge with us in books and on the internet.

I’d especially like to mention several resources that were invaluable in creating this book. I highly recommend them for you to read if you want more in-depth knowledge.

Alinea
by Grant Achatz is filled with amazing techniques and whimsical dishes. Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot delve into the “why” in their
Ideas in Food
book, as well as their always informative website.
Texture - A hydrocolloid recipe collection
, compiled by Martin Lersch from Khymos.com, is a great compendium of recipes for many modernist ingredients. The
Hydrocolloids Primer
from Dave Arnold and the Cooking Issues website help to clarify some of the uses of and reasons for modernist ingredients . And, of course, the comprehensive
Modernist Cuisine
by Nathan Myhrvold, which covers pretty much every cooking technique you would ever need to know.

All of these resources gave me a foundation that I could use to explore the techniques and ingredients found in this book.

 

 

H
OW
T
O
U
SE
T
HIS
B
OOK

This book is meant to be used as both a reference guide and instruction manual for the new techniques and ingredients that are being used in modernist cooking. It has been written so each chapter can be used independently. I do recommend reading the Introduction to Modernist Cooking section first since it will provide you with a foundation of knowledge required to understand the remainder of the chapters.

After you have read the introduction chapters, there is no need to read the book straight through unless you want to. Feel free to jump around to any of the techniques or ingredients that interest you. If you seek additional information about a recipe you can look up the specific ingredients or techniques used in it to get a more detailed description of how they work.

We have provided images of many of the dishes. For larger, full color images you can go to:

www.modernistcookingmadeeasy.com/getting-started

To stay up to date with modernist cooking and what we are working on you can:

Join our monthly newsletter at:
http://eepurl.com/owpNb

Follow me on twitter at: @jasonlogsdon_sv

Like our Facebook page at:

www.facebook.com/ModernistCookingMadeEasy

Most importantly of all, remember to have fun!

 

 

W
HAT IS
M
ODERNIST
C
OOKING?

 

 

If you have any questions you can ask them in the Modernist Cooking Forums on our website. Just post your question and other cooks will weigh in with their answers.
You can find them on our website at:
www.modernistcookingmadeeasy.com/modernist-cooking-forums

 

 

 

Modernist cooking goes by many names including avant-garde, modernist cuisine, haute cuisine, and molecular gastronomy. In general, these terms really just mean any cooking that uses the most modern techniques. They tend to be associated with the more refined plating style and the use of esoteric ingredients but they really encompass all cooking knowledge.

The focus of this book is on the newer, modernist techniques and ingredients.

A
RE
T
HESE
C
HEMICALS
S
AFE?

One of the most common questions I get asked is some variation of “are these chemicals safe” or “why do you use these chemicals? I prefer natural foods”.

I have to be honest, these are also questions that I asked myself before I started embracing molecular gastronomy. When I began looking for answers, what I found was pretty amazing. These “new chemicals” are really no different than many of the ingredients we currently use in cooking and many of them have been around for a long, long time.

For instance, agar has been used in Asian cooking for hundreds of years and is just the extract from a certain type of algae. Xanthan gum is produced by fermenting sugar with a certain bacteria found in cabbage.

Unless you are on a “raw” or “paleo” diet, these ingredients are no more processed than kitchen stables you typically eat at home. Cornstarch (steeped, fermented, ground, washed, centrifuged, and dried corn)
[1]
and sugar (diffused, clarified with lime, heated, evaporated, ionized, seeded, centrifuged, then dried sugarcane or beets)
[2]
aren’t exactly pure, not to mention common ingredients like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, a reaction of sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide).

I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist, but it seems to me if you bake, thicken liquids with cornstarch, or eat anything with sugar in it, then you shouldn’t have any issues with using the majority of the modernist ingredients. Many of these modernist ingredients are also used in normal store-bought foods such as sandwich bread, mayonnaise, ice cream, and salad dressings and have been for decades.

S
CIENCE OR
C
OOKING?

A major criticism of molecular gastronomy is that it is “science” not “cooking”, and that you need to understand chemistry and have lots of fancy equipment.

I think this viewpoint is mainly due to how recently many of these ingredients have started to be used in American kitchens. Because of this, there has been a lot of experimentation and explanation about how they work. All of this discussion took place for our traditional ingredients centuries ago, but these exact same discussions did occur.

For instance, you need to add water to the powdered mix and whisk until the thickening agent is evenly dispersed, becomes hydrated and a thick foam is formed, leavened by the carbon dioxide produced by the NaHCO
3
interacting with the hydrogen. The foam is then heated over medium-high heat until the cellular foam structure solidifies and sets, and non-enzymatic browning covers the surface.

Or, you could say “add water to the instant pancake mix, stir together, and cook until it isn’t wet and the outside browns.”

This same idea applies to molecular gastronomy too. To utilize the thickening power of xanthan gum you don’t need to understand how it works on a molecular level, just that adding some to a liquid will cause it to thicken.

I’m willing to bet that the majority of the people who say molecular gastronomy is too complicated can make instant pancake mix just fine but couldn’t begin to tell you how it works.

D
O
I
N
EED
L
AB
E
QUIPMENT?

Similar to the last point, many people picture fancy, expensive equipment in a sterile lab. The truth is that the majority of modernist cooking can be done with standard kitchen tools you already have on hand.

In the Equipment section we give our recommendation for “required” modernist equipment and the total cost is under $100.

Sure, things like rotary evaporators and centrifuges cost thousands of dollars but they are equipment used for very specific purposes and most cooks would never need them.

W
HY
D
O
P
EOPLE
F
EEL
T
HIS
W
AY?

There are many reasons that people have these misconceptions but I think the biggest one is very simple:

Clear, concise information for the average cook isn’t easily available.

This book aims to change that by providing you with a base of knowledge that you can apply to your own cooking.

W
HAT
M
AKES A
M
ODERNIST
D
ISH?

Many modernist dishes are based on traditional foods that have been tweaked in one of several ways. The dish may maintain the same flavor profile, though it doesn’t have to, but the change in texture, size, and use will result in a dish all of its own.

A
N
ON-
M
ODERNIST
E
XAMPLE
A great example of taking two dishes that have the same components but are different dishes is for New England Clam Chowder. You can eat it in a nice restaurant, in a white bowl, with small oyster crackers floating on top.
In casual restaurants this dish is often re-imagined as a ladle of clam chowder in a hollowed out bread bowl.
The soup itself may be unchanged but changing the bread component from a small, hard, floating garnish to a large, soft, serving vessel creates an entirely new dish.

Change the Size

Modernist dishes tend to be on the smaller side. Taking an existing dish and making the components smaller is a great way to make something new. Some modernist techniques can help you with this but they aren’t needed for many transformations. For instance, you can reduce sauces or just cut proteins into bite-size pieces, or just focus on keeping the serving size small. Of course, you can also create small films or gels to shrink the size of liquids.

BOOK: Modernist Cooking Made Easy
10.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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