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    Grand Rapids, MI
  1. Thanks for the thoughts, everyone! I might just be looking for a solution in an odd direction. I have storage space, fridge space, etc - what I'm trying to save is time. The really tight right-angle sides on most containers means they have to fit facing straight down in the washer, whereas my regular plates and bowls line up nicely. So I thought I'd see if this is an attribute anyone else had thought to optimize for.
  2. Ok that might be a weird criterion, but it matters. I have room in my fridge and cabinets to waste a little space, but I feel like when the weekend comes I need to either clean everything by hand or run several loads through the dishwasher to finally get all my containers clean for lunches for the next week so I'm looking for ones that can be packed in there effectively. Any recommendations?
  3. Hmm, I'm not sure. I think it would be delicious, but I feel like if it's between layers that you're going to cut through it needs to be fairly firm to prevent it from squeezing out the sides. I think the idea of starting from a rhubarb syrup and then thickening it somehow for a filling would work well. Maybe a syrup with less sugar could be treated like a sweeter lemon juice in a different recipe?
  4. I actually just thought of rhubarb again a few weeks ago. Some time back I made this recipe for rhubarb mousse: http://seriouslygood.wordpress.com/2006/03/08/rhubarb-mousse/ which I actually had discovered linked from a previous eG rhubarb thread. At least I think it's the same - the original link was broken This time around I didn't feel like futzing about with all the eggs and gelatin and blooming and whatnot, so instead I made the rhubarb syrup per the recipe, splashed some cream in (... not terribly precisely measured), thickened with xanthan gum, then aerated with the iSi. Nice and simple to make and I served it as a dip with shortbread cookies from the store. I'm sure a proper filled tart would've been better - I think I'd like this with the MC@H pate sucree - but it was simple at least.
  5. Some results! After trying a few things, I believe I have a mashed potato recipe that freezes well. At some point I'm going to make it again in a larger quantity so that I can test frozen against unfrozen side by side, but things are looking good so far. After defrosting a sample, the fats had not separated from the mash visibly, and there wasn't any water visible at the bottom of the container or leaking from the potatoes. I designed the recipe below based on the eGullet potato primer for a basic fluffy mash, and used guar gum per the concentrations found in the 2002 paper Freeze±thaw stabilization of sweet potato starch gel by polysaccharide gums, which found that guar gum was among most effective at preventing syneresis. I think in all likelihood the guar gum modification could be applied to other styles of mashed potatoes or purees, but I haven't tested that yet.. Here's what I've come up with: 500g dry, floury potatoes, such as Idaho Russet50g unsalted butter, melted (10% of potato weight)20g cream (4% of potato weight)2.25g salt (0.4% of total weight)1.75g guar gum (0.3% of total weight)The temperature for retrogradation was chosen based on Ideas In Food (chapter “Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto” pg. 124-6,) where they note the gelatinization temperature of potatoes is 136˚F - 150˚F. Retrograde the potatoes by cooking in water in a bag sous vide at 67˚C/152.5˚F for 30 minutes. Cool potatoes completely. Cook the potatoes a second time, until tender. Combine salt, guar gum, melted butter, and cream. Pass potatoes through a ricer into a large mixing bowl containing the room temperature butter. Mix. Adjust salt to taste.
  6. Thanks! That's some good ideas to try! I have some xanthan gum, and I've ordered some guar gum, and I plan on running some tests next week with a control and a few different experiments. The pectin is a really interesting idea - not one I'd run into in my research thus far. I'll definitely have to take a look!
  7. Agreed, Lisa. I don't really expect there to be any way to fix chunks of potato, but I think there are a lot of things that are closer to purees, such as the potato soup you mention, or mashed potatoes, or other soups, or sauces, and I'd be eager to hear anyone's experiences.
  8. Having got a circulator (the Sous Vide Magic, and now the Nomiku as well), I am glad I didn't go for an integrated unit. The flexibility of not having an integrated tank is a big improvement. I'd feel really bad paying $400 for something that's not as flexible, even if it allegedly has some cool phone integration.
  9. I like cooking big batches of things ahead of time and keeping them in the chest freezer. I live alone, so it's nice to have a nice stew ready to grab whenever. I've also had some really great luck pre-seasoning chicken breasts and freezing them, then cooking sous vide from frozen. Sous vide, a big freezer, a pressure cooker, and some planning ahead have really helped me to be able to fairly easily throw together a meal and sides without a lot of immediate work. However, one area that I've had trouble is freezing starchier things: mashed potatoes or lentil soup / dahl, for example. In both cases they separated and the texture changed badly. Some research I've done points to there being a lot of stabilizers that I could use to prevent this: carrageenan, guar gum, other gums, etc. However, most of the information on them seems to focus on using them as gelling or thickening agents, which is exactly the opposite of what I want (e.g.: http://blog.khymos.org/wp-content/2009/02/hydrocolloid-recipe-collection-v3.0.pdf ). This paper from a Korean university has some good info: foodchem.net/publication/files/2002-03-03.pdf and it sounds like guar gum could be a very effective tool for helping things freeze and thaw better. But I'm still not really clear on *how* to use it. The paper's suggested 0.6% concentration seems like a lot to add to a dish that I don't actually want to thicken noticeably. I do plan to experiment with a few concentrations to see if I can figure out how to work it, but I thought I'd ask. Anyone have any suggestions? Is there a better approach? Is this whole concept just totally boneheaded (... wouldn't be the first boneheaded thing I've done)?
  10. I'd love a good recommendation here too. Has anyone heard of a book that contains recommended measurements for spices? Obviously things vary a lot but it'd be fantastic to have a starting point for recipes with less familiar flavor profiles. Just something like "X is commonly used 2:1 with Y", or "10g of Z per chicken breast". I suspect I'm looking for something that's not entirely possible, but that doesn't mean I can't dream...
  11. Is there a "modernist ingredient dictionary" anywhere? As a home chef (even as a well-equipped home chef), I'm reluctant to buy the entire Modernist Cuisine (though I do have the 'at Home' version) as I do not have or intend to buy a chamber sealer, liquid nitrogen, centrifuge, pacojet, or other laboratory-style equipment. That said, I can get ingredients from Modernist Pantry or other online providers, so I'd love that information. Is there any relatively in-depth reference for modernist ingredients available?
  12. swieton

    Cooking for One

    I've been trying to find a good solution to this problem myself and haven't settled on anything that really felt sustainable to my lazy self. Currently I'm very interested in trying out sous vide. I've ordered a Sous Vide Magic and I'm looking forward to prepping a dozen chicken breasts at a time with different seasonings and marinades and serving with e.g. a big batch of rice. Has anyone else used this approach?
  13. I have a question about freezing, defrosting, and reheating: What's the best way to defrost and reheat things? Many of the MCaH recipes specify they can be frozen for 3 - 6 months (the pesto recipe for example). Now obviously I could just defrost it overnight in the refrigerator or use the microwave, etc, but in the spirit of precise modernist cooking I thought I'd ask if there's a particular way that works well and minimizes any food safety concerns. Is there a specific microwave time at wattage per gram in the microwave recommendation that I've missed? Any other thoughts? Thanks! Mike
  14. It can be hard to find. You will have to ask, and it will come in the form of marrow bones. I get mine from a meat market out here that's very 'country'. It's a place where you can buy sides of beef, have them process venison, and get oxtails and beef hearts (and tongues!). If you have any places similar to that by you, that's probably where I'd call first. -- Mike
  15. I've cooked a turkey breast this way for Thanksgiving, which went over well even with this crowd. Light them before adding the coals. The grate on my Weber had a little flip area on the side I could open to add more coals. Otherwise, there's not really a very good way to lift the grate. My trick with the grill is a pair of leather gardening gloves. Welder's gloves would be good too. You could juggle lit charcoal with them, if you wanted to. Makes opening that grate up a lot less painful. Also, drop a meat thermometer through the smoke outlet on the top of the grill. It'll give you a rough idea of the air temperature inside so you can roast at a constant 300 (or whatever). -- Mike
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