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Posts posted by ermintrude

  1. MC does not list sodium citrate as an optional ingredient for direct alginate spherification (in the "Best bets" table on p. 4•187). Does that mean that the direct technique is not sensitive to low-pH bases, or that it can't be used for them at all? The reverse method has you add sodium citrate as an optional buffer (and also calcium sequestrant?) with acidic bases.

    The direct method is sensitive to low PH< 5 and sodium citrate is added to the base if needed to buffer the solution if needed however this can impart a sour taste.

  2. AaronM makes a good point. People love to identify new trends, or claim that trends are over. Being late to recognize a trend isn't very special, so people tend to jump the gun.

    In MC chapter 1 I discuss an article by Gael Greene from New York Magazine in 1981. In it she says that Nouvelle Cusine is "over, finee, mort, dead". It is the sort of broad prouncement that journalists love to make, especially those who position themselves as jaded sophisticates. Instead of being dead, Nouvelle went to in inspire a generation of American chefs.

    And you can call it a trend, but with "Nouvelle Cuisine" it eventually became seen in the media as ridiculous and associated with high prices, small portions and pretension. E.g. $50 for 1/2 a scallop and a cauliflower floret with three peas. And in most punters eyes nouvelle cuisine died but as we know it didn't and has had a profound influence.

    In the same way I expect "Molecular Gastronomy" (and I know most chefs hate that) to go the same way, as the press portrays it as strange odd and disturbing, and I expect it to fade away and I hope I will not see 1/2 a cauliflower covered in scallop foam with 27 spherified peas on a menu! Perhaps Modernist will survive that cull, however the tools and techniques and an appreciation of science are moving into kitchens everywhere.

    In 5 years time, I would expect not see Molecular or Modernist as a description of a restaurant menu as things would have moved on. Like with nouvelle cuisine the good will be absorbed and the bad discarded. Some modernist techniques can be radical (even the malard reaction to some people) so will take time or be distorted but while McGee laid the foundation, I feel (And April 6) this could be a game changer as if MC gets chefs and cooks going trying things then it could cause some fundamental shifts of opinion and technique.

  3. I've got it and I must admit I was disappointed I was was expecting to see more unusual combinations such as "caviar and white chocolate" which is in there.

    I was expecting a bit more e.g. "WHY does X work with Y" but it's more a book that says "X work with Y" and a lot in there is already common knowledge "Apple and cinnamon" as such it is useful, but more to probably a serious chef, but still interesting. As a home cook I can see me using it rarely, but would consult if I had a "what would go with that" issue.

    If you can get it for around £10 ok but not worth paying more for.

  4. It seems like that the most likely practitioners of this "customer not always right" philosophy are also some of the more high-end chefs and restaurants. Aren't theses top-dollar places exactly the ones you would expect to bend over backwards to make the customer happy and satisfied? I would think that spending a lot of money on a meal should come with some expectation of being treated well. The refusal to honor simple special requests would erode this expectation rather quickly.

    Well taken to the logically absurd conclusion, you could go to the fat duck and insist on an egg white omelette, macrobiotic dynamically grown mung beans and fennel twig tea - but what's the point!

    That said, while the fat duck was one of my most memorable meals I will never eat their salmon covered in liquorice ever again, (my dining companion loved it). I guess with notice they would accommodate but rather than eat the spawn of Lovecroft I'd ne happy with a plate minus the eldrich black and pink horror so I could savour the grapefruit, manni oil etc.

    Where you have genuine needs and let the restaurant know well in advance then provided they are normal and proven medical conditions (Vegitarian, Celiac etc) then I think a restaurant should try to accommodate. If dumped on at short notice then forget it (unless a walk in - and then do what you can)

  5. Well from my chem stock assuming 50g's of most will do you well to experiment and fit in a nice spice bottle except:-

    Buy More:-

    Maltodextrin - a small bucket as it's very light and you will use a lot. If you have 50g jars think 250g sized jars for this.

    Isomalt - It's a sugar you will use in sugar like quantities. 500g.

    Xylotol - Again it's a sugar 250 - 500g.

    Calcium Chloride - you use more if doing spherification, go for 100 - 200g

    Sodium Citrate - again you may need a bit more depends what your doing a 100mg again more if you doing mac and cheese a lot


    Calcium gluconate - perhaps more if reverse sperifications 100g

    Buy Less (But 50g of health food stuff - ground as needed should be ok)

    Lethicin - but the smallest amount you need and only grind it to a fine powder when you need it, It goes rancid if left for to long.

    Anything else you can pick up in your local from your local meth lab ;-)

    I'm still waiting for my copy of the book and from my experience (as a home cook) substitution with hydrocoloids is interesting to say the least. I used Kappa not Iotta when doing my Mac and Cheese and the Kappa worked. But the past I tried tsomething similar when making a jell and had a Fail. Hydrocoloids are very dependent on other chemicals around them, PH, temerature etc all count.

    This is fun to me, seeing what happens when I do "X"

    But hate it if it ends in me wasting food


  6. First try calling as instructed above.

    If that fails and your easy on date use the website and keep trying, If you can vary numbers even better a table for 2 may not be avaialable vbut a table for four is. Last time I tried this found a table for for, a couple of days from the date I was looking. Did not book it but it was available.

    Finally try calling last minute in case there has been a cancelation.

  7. A few months ago, we were invited to a dinner party at a restaurant. Most of the 10 attendees are vegetarians, a vegetarian selected the restaurant. When it came time to order every single person, except my husband and myself, requested something off menu. It was so bad, the waitress had to get the chef to come out and verify what could and could not be done.

    To a certain extent, this is about control. The following is only an observation. There is a certain righteousness in the vegetarian world, a sense that they are eating a kinder, gentler diet and making the world a better place. I'm not here to debate this...I'm only observing, ok?? When 8 out of 10 diners all have special needs, is this really special needs or about the need to feel special, to have the chef specially prepare your meal?

    I remember as I had done some work for a fine dining restaurant in London and as an extra thank you they let me take my office colleagues there for our Christmas meal with a major discount on everything. We were in total 16 with 3 vegetarians. For the vegetarians explained there would be at least 3 starters and 3 mains on the vegetarian menu (you have to ask) in addition to any vegetarian items on the main menu. As the menus are decided on the day depending on the produce available I could not detail exactly what but gave an example and everyone was happy except one, who constantly demanded to know what was going to be on the menu (we're talking starting 2 months in advance here), was strict that they would not eat risotto (it was a cop out to them) and a point blank hatred of broad (fava) beans I was asked to communicate and ensure that this did not happen. Yeah right, on the day everything went as normal except for my picky colleague who received a special (joke) vegetarian menu with every combination of risotto an/or fava beans you could think of.

    So often food is used as a way of control. Most restaurants I know if given notice for a particular requirement (vegetarian, no dairy, lactose intolerant) can plan or have time to make adjustments to prep etc to accommodate.

    However turning up on the day and dumping the customers demands on the kitchen with zero notice is not on, while this would be understandable for a walk in, when it's a party of 12 and 2 kick up a fuss sod them.

    It's not just restaurants for the "control freaks" have one to dinner, you've invited them and only when they sit down do they tell you that "I can't/won't eat X" and guess what your serving "X"

    Even worse if you asked before "Anything you wont eat" and they gave no clue

  8. There's one product I know for sure you should keep an eye on - cake and pancake mixes.... there's some cases that have come up where people get REALLY sick because they didn't notice the expiry date....


    Just sayin'.

    If you follow on and actually read the snopes link http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/pancake.asp which I guess many will not it's only partially true. And how old it is has nothing to do with if it's dangerous, the danger is if your allergic to mould or the mix is not in it's sealed packaging, read the articles for full details.

    So provided everything is in it's sealed packets don't throw it out when it's gone past the best before

  9. This brings up a question, is there any chance on the foreseeable future that we will be able to obtain a decent chamber sealer un the sub 600 range or are they just destined to remain in the $1+ range.

    Not quite at the sub $600 range yet, but I just got an email from Sous Vide Supreme announcing their own chamber vacuum sealer for $799

    I really want one of these!

    US only at the moment wonder how that will translate when it get's across the pond ?

    At £500 tempting £799 althouugh I'd like it would have to be a no.

  10. I had a go at the mac and cheese, all a bit haphazard but was 700g of cheese (Gruyère 300g, Cheddar 300g, 100g Mahon).

    Took 400ml of Theakstons Old Peculiar into thermomix set to varomma temp (i.e >100C) and brought to a boil to get rid of the alcohol. Then at about speed 8 added 3 teaspoons of sodium citrate and 4g of Kappa turned speed down and added the cheese bit by bit, turning up the speed to chop and using a spatula to wipe the sides down.

    Why the kappa carrageenan? I don't have the book handy, but I'm pretty sure the iota and kappa are very different.

    I recalled it was carrageenan and took a chance on kappa as I thought that would give me a better set for grating etc, seemed to work well.

    I'll try iota next time

  11. I had a go at the mac and cheese, all a bit haphazard but was 700g of cheese (Gruyère 300g, Cheddar 300g, 100g Mahon).

    Took 400ml of Theakstons Old Peculiar into thermomix set to varomma temp (i.e >100C) and brought to a boil to get rid of the alcohol. Then at about speed 8 added 3 teaspoons of sodium citrate and 4g of Kappa turned speed down and added the cheese bit by bit, turning up the speed to chop and using a spatula to wipe the sides down. Added salt, minced garlic, pepper then 1/2 thought sod cool and grate and used over mac straight away. The rest put into a dish to cool.

    Was probably the most cheesy version I had ever tasted, but slightly off taste wise perhaps less beer and sodium citrate, perfectly edible but could do better (Amazon has April 4th for me).

    The 1/2 I left to cool, had an off colour (the beer) and the texture was almost processed cheese but a bit less rubbery however it melts like a dream and will not split, so ate that today stirred into more pasta. Even a nuke in the microwave I could not make it split.

    Just need the precise measurements I guess to get it perfect.

  12. See the pork loin here when I looked the posts were next to each other (Which this post has now destroyed)

    The only time I had Iberico de Bellota Pork that was not cured was last year when I was in Spain and was offered pork chops, they told me they would should be cooked medium to medium rare for the best taste (i.e a lot rarer than normal for pork) would I be ok with that. I said yes and they were very good. Not sure about the food safety what with Trichinosis etc and the facts that the pigs run wild before fattening.

  13. a prejudice against underground restuarants.

    I like to think of myself as a bloke without prejudice. But I make an exception for underground restaurants. I find them claustrophobic and generally unpleasant spaces in which to eat - and offer you Manchester's Abode by way of evidence.

    Well Hakkasan restaurant is umderground and it did well for *. Even with it's agressive table turning (i.e. we seat you 20 mins late wnen you were on tiome but you still must leave 1:40mins later as your reservation was up). Good food but wil never eat there again.

  14. When your talking "Washing Machine" I assume you mean those in where the drum is horizontally mounted with the hole at the top. In Europe the drum is comenly mounted vertically with the hole in the the side, these won't work as when slowing down the test tube will get remixed when the force on the tube cannot over come gravity. Hence using a dedicated spin drier as in Europe these are mounted vertically. For seperating larger particulates it does work, fining a way to keep your tubes in place is the trick, luckilly as the macines are in a steel drum it's safer, but if glass or stuff goes through the holes in the drum it could ruin the machine.

  15. True but the mark up is lower than on wine or food costs. The price of white truffles in the past few years have hit £9,000 a kilo, several restaurant I know do not make a profit on it but have it on the menu because they want to offer that, at those high prices they can easilly make a loss if it does not sell. I also agree that haveing them as an option to add to a dish means the dish is probably not well balanced, also ariving with a truffle and asking for it to be shaved willy nilly is not a good idea. But if you walked into a good establishment told them you had a truffle and could they do something with it, most chefs , if they have the time (go early, late or on a slow day) would love to do that

    I can see the point that some servers up selling because of a larger tip but I've not known this in the restaurants I frequent, probably because feel someone is upselling or pushing something then I don't frequent there.

  16. Anyone else in London getting the book but needs some of the modernist ingredients.

    A while back purchased most of the Texturas range which come in giant pots that as a home cook I'll probably never get through (Way to much lethicin - want rancid) and also was at a supplier presentation for a supermarket and blagged a sample kit of additives. Guar gum, Locust bean gum etc etc.

    I'd be happy to supply some bags of white powder to get you going (Oh dear now I'm sounding like a drug dealer), also it woiuld be good to meet up with others working with these ingredients. Be handy to get a group together so we could share the cost of some of ingredients that are often more economically or only available in sizes way to large for an experimental cook.

    Intersted message me

  17. As a kid, way way back, when chemestry sets were real cheistry sets that you could blow things up with, make poison gases and have a whole load of fun, unlike know when just having those chemicals would get you arested as a terorist or drug laboritory I rememer improvising a centrifuge using a circle of wood with radiall spaces for the test tube and my grandmothers spin dryer Something like this not sure it would compare at all to a 30,000 rpm centrifuge but it was fun for me to mess around with and did manage to seperate some things (and make a mess when test tubes flew off inside.

    Finally remember it's not just RPM it's also the diameter of the rotors. The forces at the edge or a rotor 10cm in diameter at 30,000 rpm is a lot less than a 1m rotor at the same RPM.

  18. I might not be able to tell in a blind taste test whether risotto's been stirred or not, but to me risotto's about technique and I think that the kind of attention that stirring requires is a part of what I call risotto.

    Semi agree anything cooked by the absorbtion method I wouldn't consider to be a risotto, and I've never heard of rice pudding being called milk risotto, the two are different dishes although you can make a faux rissoto using this method, and if your in a hurry after work and can't stand there stiring then that's fine by me.

    However you can make a risoto with very little attention using something that heats and stirs automatically, I use a thermomix ,and from the the first glass of wine/vermoth/stock adding all the stock in at once. This makes a decent risoto.

    However when the rissoto needs to be perfect perhaps for a special meal or if you've been lucky enough to get hold of a white truffle etc, then by hand is the only way include preparing stocks from scratch. It gives more control but also just the act of doing so imbibes the food with part of you. Provided everythings under control stiring risoto can be wonderfully relaxing and if frends are around I'll chat to them while doing so rather than leave them on thier own.

  19. All the good restaurants I know would be happy to have you shave away, and provide the dishes to do that even with notice/understanding the time make a perfect plain rissoto for you to let the truffle shine.

    Also good restaurants, when they use (esp alba) truffles it's not a money maker, yes you pay loads, but they cost loads, and often the restaurant does not make as much of a profit as you'd think. That said there are places where up sells get my goat

  20. Interesting do a search on www.amazon.co.uk for "Modernist Cuisine" and the book is not returned, it offers a related search of "nathan myhrvold" but the book is not listed there.

    If I go into my account I can still see "Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking" as ordered but clicking on the link I get

    "Looking for something?

    We're sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site."

    What's going on have all UK orders been taken, but even so why are amazon not even listing the book.

    As an aside, what is the print run of the book, are there plans to do another if it sells out ?

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