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dougal

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Everything posted by dougal

  1. Announcement of a new book by Blumenthal, due October 2011 in the UK. (Amazon UK are taking pre-orders, currently at £21.) From the publisher's blurb, it sounds like it might just be 'MC for the rest of us'. Hey, it has a section on sv! And at 432 A4-sized pages, its not going to be lightweight. http://www.bloomsbury.com/Heston-Blumenthal-at-Home/Heston-Blumenthal/books/details/9781408804407
  2. "fancy sharpening gizmos in 2011? Are there any that don't suck?" Is the EdgePro Apex a "fancy sharpening gizmo"? It certainly does NOT suck.
  3. that's not a review. it's press. Anyone seen a review? That journo has completely missed the fundamental point that the 'family' in the title is referring to the 'restaurant family', ie the team, the staff. Its incidental that you might use these recipes at home to feed your relations, your real family. All 20 or 72 of them ... This is the most important thing to understand about this book!
  4. If they did, they'd also have to rewrite the paragraph on 'Precision' found on page 396 ... The book itself says (on page 396, Precision, under Using This Book) "The best way of giving you the chance to reproduce these recipes at home, it seems to me, is to specify precise weights, timings and temperatures. That's why weights are given only in metric and not in cups. While cups might seem like a convenient system that's appropriate for a book on home cooking, it can be quite inaccurate, particularly with irregular solids." (The emphasis is mine.) Strikes me that a gram-free bowdlerisation of the book would be contrary to the author's clearly expressed intent, and cause enough for an immediate return for full refund.
  5. Pretty much every UK cookbook nowadays uses weight measurements. In grams. If they did, they'd also have to rewrite the paragraph on 'Precision' found on page 396 ...
  6. Mine only arrived today, so I've barely scratched it yet. Its a lovely book. Its laid out like a practical recipe book - minimal mid-flow page turning, components well cross referenced, and a very practical (and attractive) page layout. The single (serifed) typeface (Sabon) is very readable, and in a comfortably large size. I like the explanations of what is being attempted, why rather than just how. Its modern, but its not about food additives. I was a little disappointed with the sv section (don't buy it specially for that). Its a small section. Despite the glowing intro about how sv "is going to revolutionise the domestic kitchen", etc, etc, ... its a bit isolated. There are lots of slow-roast meat recipes (oven set well below 100C), but I haven't spotted a single "or sv it" comment in any of them. I haven't noticed a single mention of sv in any recipe outside the brief sv section. Which I find a bit curious. And disappointing, if truth be told. The recipes are an interesting and wildly varied mix. From a three-layer mushroom verrine using ice filtration, to a toasted cheese sandwich. From Roast Potatoes to Pear and Sherry Salad (with Sherry in jellied cubes). Ice creams from Mustard to the whimsy of Cinnamon & Vanilla (with Cinnamon and Vanilla scent bottles ...) Whisky-flavoured gelatine sweets to ... celeriac remoulade. Its a weird mix of Fat Duck (Parsley Porridge or Red Cabbage Gazpacho) and the distinctly homely given a few cheffy tweaks (Chilli con Carne with brined beans, pressure cooked tomatoes, etc and finished with a spiced butter). All of it seems to be interesting eating, even if none of it is typical weekday suppertime fare. Its cooking for the pure fun of it, doing things a harder way if that gives a better result. But with a grip on the reality of doing things at home - there's no liquid nitrogen, chamber sealer or centrifuge needed. Cooking you could hope to do at home, but not 'home cooking'. Its expected that you will have digital scales, thermometers, and timer, etc He makes much use of a hand blender. Naturally an Isi whipper or sv bath is going to be pretty much essential for a few of the recipes. Some ice creams call for dry ice (eg bacon and egg), others can be done in a domestic machine. In keeping with his precise instructions, where appropriate he gives refractometer (Brix) readings. A very interesting (if not quite perfect) book and a bargain at Amazon UK's current price of £15. Blumenthal was generous in his praise for his ghost writer in this month's Waitrose (supermarket) magazine, and Pascal Cariss gets a couple of small credits on the last pages.
  7. dougal

    Carbonation primer, please

    If you have gas that is dissolved but shouldn't be (its over (or super) saturated), all you need to release it back to being undissolved gas is a nucleation site where bubbles can form. By having the 'carbonated beverage' at room temperature, you are making it more super-saturated. The colder it is, the more gas it can hold dissolved, the warmer the less gas. Take away points: cool your drink before you open and pour it. Don't rely on pouring it over ice to do the cooling - apart from gassing off lots of carbonation, you'll be melting excessive ice which dilutes/waters down the carefully-formulated drink.
  8. Had an email yesterday from Amazon UK. Its actually running early. My (free, not fastest) delivery is expected to arrive before 1st October.
  9. Whatever you might think of 'Good tempered', its worth looking out for the same author's 'Art of the Tart' http://www.amazon.co.uk/Art-Tart-Tamasin-Day-Lewis/dp/0297843591/ (IMHO best she's done)
  10. The British advice spells it out fairly clearly. (But it does seem like a lot of celery ...) http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes.aspx
  11. dougal

    Infrared/Laser Thermometers

    Different materials/surfaces emit IR differently even when they are at exactly the same temperature. (They have different "emissivities".) Which means that an IR thermometer will give different readings depending on what you are pointing it at. And that means that as a general "point and shoot" NONE of these things is very accurate. Emissivity adjustment allows you to 'calibrate' the instrument so that its reading (for a particular surface) is more accurate. Or alternatively, you can calibrate the thing at the user end, applying an offset as you work based on experience or previous calibration. "When the oil is at 175C, I know it shows as 160" - or 180 or whatever. My (far from extensive) experience is that (variably shiny surfaces apart) they are quite consistent (giving consistently the same reading - whatever that might be - from the same surface at the same temperature). One additional point - the distance ratio. With a 4:1 you do need to get quite close to what you are measuring (or looked at differently, it averages over a large area) whereas a 12:1 allows you to be 3x further away when measuring the same area (otherwise you measure a smaller spot from the same distance). Wide angle or telephoto - there is a choice! Any laser fitted is simply to indicate the approximate centre of the measurement area. A laser takes no part in the measurement and does not indicate a 'point' being measured - the thermometer is always measuring from an area (whose size varies depending on how far away from the surface the instrument currently might be). It doesn't even need to have a laser. But people like them ... I suggest you get a chinese cheapie from eBay and play with that until you know that you need something better (or perhaps a specific job to do with it, like chocolate).
  12. I had presumed that sourcing spare parts might be your principal need, and that a specific model id was still required for that. Glad to hear that you are ahead of the game!
  13. dougal

    Ye Olde Style Charcuterie

    Regarding sausage for cooking, its traditional if not gastronomic to include binders, emulsifiers and padding to glue the thing together. Don't make the mistake of thinking that all historic production was of the highest quality. The best has always cost more and used extra care and extra tech, beyond that available to everyone - hence the best, not the same. If you want a 'traditional' binder, try "Rind emulsion". Boil your pig rinds, ears, etc (? !! ) for an hour or more, depending on thickness, then mince on the finest plate you have, and then blitz with some of your flavouring/spice mix before cooling. Add up to 10% of this sludge to the forcemeat mixture ... (from Maynard Davies 'Manual of a Traditional Bacon Curer'). Or try a bit of boiled rice. And just an incidental point - did you know that 'Ye' (as in Ye Olde...) is actually pronounced 'The'? In old (olde) english, there was a 'thorn' character, pronounced 'th'. When printing came along a few hundred years ago, printers just substituted the vaguely similar looking Y for the thorn. EDIT - or rather for ye yorn. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A2922077 And of course we know that 'olde' is pronounced 'old' and not 'oldie' ...
  14. To help with the Googling, the brand is 'Tefal' in Europe ... I'd hope to find any model refs on the plastic rather than the metalwork. And do try google.fr rather than just .com - Good Luck!
  15. If you are worried about serving eggs with cool (although ideally cooked through) yolks, then it does make sense to do it Pedro's way round -- cook the whites first (and arrest before the yolk cooks), then heat the whole thing through to yolk-cooking temperature, and hold before service. If you chill the whole raw egg, you should be able to maximise the cooking of the white while leaving the yolk 'raw' -- which is what you normally try to avoid by specifying room temp eggs for boiling. It would be ideal to leave as much as possible of the yolk 'raw' because you are going to cook it in stage 2, at 62.5 or whatever you choose. In stage 1, the thing is to get the white cooked WITHOUT (over) cooking the yolk. But unlike trad 'boiling', you are not trying to 'perfectly' cook the yolk - you actually want to under-cook it. Hence starting from cold should help.
  16. You might precook many eggs at 75°C for the required time, then either transfer to your 60°C bath until served, or chill for later use and reheat in the 60°C bath. As a pre-production exercise, I'm not sure why one would wish to go directly from the sv bath to the 'boiling'. An intermediate hold would seem best suited to production - as with standard poached eggs. Also, having already 'pre-cooked' the yolk to 60C, I'd expect that chilling the egg would help limit additional yolk-cooking on reheating/white-setting.
  17. As per previous postings, don't let the bright blue core-base of the flame touch the food - to avoid the possibility of taste contamination with unburned hydrocarbons. Using the flame flatter allows you to heat a larger area. Keep the flame moving, to prevent instant burning. Don't set fire to anything! Consider the surroundings and the thing your meat is on. Don't do it in a cluttered workspace! It is said that invert sugars (glucose, fructose) are particularly conducive to the Maillard reaction. So, I've read of people painting their protein with a sweet syrup immediately before torching, but I've not bothered with that myself.
  18. dougal

    The gluten thing

    If you don't have a (clinical) problem with Gluten, going 'gluten-free' puts you in the middle of the gullible crowd falling for the latest "I'm special" fad. Is Keller's background in the medical science of nutrition? Or marketing food artistry? (Or another combination of those three words?) Some people really do have problems with Gluten. They seem to be a tiny minority of the gluten-free crowd. Some minor digestive problems associated with "gluten" may actually be due to industrially manufactured (whipped) bread. Changing to traditionally fermentation-time-risen bread (extreme example: Sourdough) provides a "cure". This is the hobby-horse ridden by Andrew Whitely in his book "Bread Matters" http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bread-Matters-Why-Make-Your/dp/0007298498/ The UK product "Doves Farm Gluten-Free Flour" (from potato, rice, tapioca, maize ...) is excellent for smooth sauce-making and stew-thickening, completely regardless of any nutritional claims!
  19. Publication in the UK is expected 3 October. There's a synopsis on Waterstones' website http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/ferran+adria/the+family+meal/8563075/ On a related note, there's an article posted today on the Guardian's site (and probably prompted by the book launch) about different restaurants and their "Family Meals" (or not). And how they differ (or not) from what the punters get out front. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/sep/05/the-restaurant-family-meal Oh, and that Guardian posting also gives a link to this YouTube page in which Adria talks about his book (with English subtitles): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSpBzXQorWg Its 1 minute 51 sec At about 25 sec, there's some big fish bagged for sv, and at 53 sec there's a book page showing an Isi being filled for an espuma ... but the whole thing might just be a fearfully basic photo-recipe book - he actually says "if you don't know how to cook, its also a book that will get you started."
  20. I can understand flavour-impermeable plastic wrap preventing flavour concentration, particularly when dealing with bagging at a high vacuum in a chamber machine - thus pressing herbs into very close contact with the meat. I've never noticed 'flavour localisation' problems, with my FoodSaver allowing potential juice spread all around the bag. I don't see a paper towel being any sort of a flavour barrier to compare with plastic wrap. And 6-10 cloves of garlic still sounds rather 'personal' to me!
  21. .. Anyone who has ANY kind of a sous vide rig, from a DIY up to a PolyScience immersion circulator, and uses it without calibrating the temperatures produced, has got rocks in their head and may be endangering their health and their loved ones. Bob Bob, that was EXACTLY the point I was making with specific reference to the recommendation to use 55C - that recommendation having been repeatedly given to a poster previously using temperatures that were much higher (and thus safer, if less appetising!) I was saying -- don't go closer to 55C than the KNOWN, PROVEN accuracy of your equipment. As I said a couple of months back on the (lightly-trafficed) calibration thread -- And as I explained previously, my own 'reference' thermometer has a proper certificate of calibration to 'traceable standards', and is known to be within 0.4C over its entire range. Hence my cautious application of 0.5C as my margin for error.
  22. I'm sure another star will do no harm to the forthcoming book sales ... "Too many cowboys, only one Indian" (really!) due May 2012 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Too-many-cowboys-only-Indian/dp/095589302X/ {The book} "also offers the reader the exclusive benefit of being able to order dishes at Restaurant Sat Bains from the pages of the book, in addition to those on the current menu. " Novel?
  23. 70°C is why it was overcooked. You should definitely be aiming below 65 - and I too would suggest aiming for below 60. BUT I don't know your sv rig and how accurately calibrated, stable and uniform it might be. Just because the panel says 55.0, that doesn't mean that the meat is getting a true 55.000 You don't want the meat to be getting less than a true 55 if you are cooking for more than 4 hours. So, if your confidence is only "its 55 to within a degree or two" then you shouldn't be dialling in less than 57. I'm satisfied that my home-made rig is good within about half a degree C. Its probably better than that, but I can't be sure (without more investment in calibration), so for now an indicated 55.5 is my bottom end for long cooking. Garlic. I'd hesitate to use 6-10 cloves of garlic even with a big chunk of sv sheep. (See below about meat quantities.) Garlic sv is unlike garlic in a roast. Tread gently. Its easy to make a garlicky gravy/sauce/butter for adding at service or table. Wrapping herbs in something like a paper towel makes it easier to catch them - it won't do much for modulating their potency. For long cooking (such as 12 hours and more), one thing to remember is that the size of the piece of meat only affects the time it takes the centre to get to temperature - it doesn't affect the 'cooking' time needed at that temperature. Essentially, a single portion and a large joint cooked for the same 36 hours will be pretty much equally 'cooked'. You can use this to experiment with small cuts and "scale up for production" without significantly altering the cooking time (or temperature). Its VERY different to cake-making! If you take a piece of meat, divide it into four, and prepare and bag them identically, you can experiment and compare the effects of different timings - putting one bag into the waterbath every 12 hours, to get 48, 36, 24 and 12 hour results ready at the same time for comparison. (Just identify which bag is which!) Then you'll know what time suits your taste for that particular cut - so you can repeat it with larger pieces! My guess would be that leg of mutton (a roasting cut, remember), at 56C or so, is going to be fine at about 24 hours, and maybe a bit pappy by 48 hours (which a "stewing" cut would likely need).
  24. As has been noted previously, sirloin isn't the best for sv. If you insist on going with tender meat, cook it for a short time, just to bring it to temperature. (Use Pedro's ruler!) But you can do pretty good steaks from 36 hour 56C topside ... SV does great things with tough cuts. Try some "stewing lamb".
  25. dougal

    Wild Yeast

    The feeding regime (and living conditions) will influence (evolve) the culture. Reducing the daily feed quantity (say halving it) is fine as long as you are similarly reducing the quantity of culture you are retaining (in this example halving it) - so that the proportion of fresh food to culture isn't being changed. One sensible arrangement for regular baking is to make the food quantity equal to the amount that you routinely remove to bake with ... (ADDED: and from that, work out how much you should be storing. You can of course, build up the quantity from store by not dumping, and increasing the feed quantity to keep the fresh and sour in the same proportion.) If your feeding rhythm is irregular, your bread will be inconsistent. You can keep a culture alive for a surprisingly long time in the back of the fridge, but the longer its stored, the longer the feeding rhythm must be maintained (after coming out of storage) before its back to itself again. A 100% hydration (equal flour and water weights) does simplify calculation for those whose breadmaking is NOT routine. If you are baking the same stock every day, you don't have to think about calculation. But if you are making different hydration doughs, in different quantities, you have some numbers to do, and its much simpler if you use 100% hydration starter (and think in grams!) But if you change the hydration (or feeding interval, or storage temperature, or whatever) you will in some way be favouring a different population balance in your little ecosystem, which will evolve to suit. Perhaps it doesn't need to be said, but the only way to measure (with any accuracy) the quantity of frothy starter for baking with is to weigh it. A volume measure is going to have a variable amount of bubbles, and thus a variable amount of active starter, flour and water.
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