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Maxime Bilet

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  1. Hello everyone! Hope summer is treating you well! Here are a few more answers... 1. avaserfi posted some pics from recent recipe trials, along with a question: avaserfi, your confit looks beautiful, especially with the pommes sarladaises! The photo of your gummies suggests a few troubleshooting tips: 1) Take care to avoid mixing any air into the emulsion while you disperse the gelatin. Stir in the gelatin as gently as possible to avoid aeration. Do not ever whip, beat, foam, or shake the mix. 2) The photo also looks like the gelatin may not have been dispersed completely. When that happens, the gel doesn’t attain full strength, and it can take on a tacky texture. Fully dispersing and hydrating the gelatin is just as important as using the correct amount and Bloom strength. 3) Don’t skimp on the gum Arabic; it helps to produce a texture that is easy to handle. 4) Avoid overcooking the mix. If you remove too much water, the gelatin cannot do its job, and then the sticky sugar dominates the texture and can cause a cloudy appearance. Cloudiness can also be a sign that you did not emulsify the oil fully. Try to mix all of the dry ingredients together, and incorporate the wet ones slowly. Hydrate the gelatin completely first and then mix in the oil slowly while the mixture is cooling. Use a warmed, fine pouring vessel, such as a glass beaker, to add the oil slowly and smoothly. Warming the oil makes it easier to emulsify fully. You might also try using a sauce gun or a fine funnel, which allows the mix to settle and air bubbles to float to the top. Only the clearest portion of the mix comes out the bottom. Using an owl mold sure is cute, though. We all like how the vanilla makes it look like a “spotted ” owl. 2. In another comment, avaserfi asked: To clarify: The baking soda and fat should be loosely sealed in the jars, which are then placed in a pressure cooker. It is the pressure cooker itself—not the jars—that is then filled with water. Cook at a gauge pressure of 1 bar / 15 psi. You never want to seal the jars completely, because that could be dangerous as it results in too much pressure, raising an explosion hazard. Instead, screw the lids on part way for a loose fit. 3. ChrisZ was wondering about making not just a Modernist version of dauphinoise potatoes, but a low-fat one, too. I haven’t tried this, but I’d be interested to see what your results are! The thing about hydrocolloids is that they make for a great simulation of fat, but they aren’t as satisfying. I would recommend using whole milk rather than starting with skim milk. Cream is 30% fat, whereas whole milk is only 4% fat. You will still need some fat because much of the water is baked out of the dish in the oven. Water from the milk is still available in a hydrocolloid fluid gel, however, so the potatoes will still cook. Try thickening it with a very light fluid gel (using about 0.4% agar) or with xanthan gum (no more than 0.2%). And then report back! 4. Carlton wanted to know about some ingredients, which got us thinking about food grades… Yes, Polysorbate 80 and Tween 80 are the same product. Basically, “chemical grade” means is that it was stored or created in a lab with other products. Because of the potential for cross-contamination, these products are labeled chemical grade. Glucose syrup DE 40 and corn syrup DE 42 are not quite the same thing—the corn syrup is slightly sweeter—but you can substitute one for the other, as they are pretty much functionally equivalent. 5. Way upthread, JBailey asked about some of our more adventurous cooking equipment: The first thing that we must admit is that we work in a lab, where we have many talented professionals who are able to help us out with the maintenance of our centrifuge. Without them, our particular centrifuge would not be safe to operate. For a domestic or restaurant kitchen, safety is paramount. Luckily, the smaller varieties of centrifuges are (usually) much safer. Our friends at Cooking Issues, FCI’s blog, wrote about their centrifuges a while back [link: http://www.cookingissues.com/2009/07/21/oh-lord-wont-you-buy-me-a-new-centrifuge/]. In their post, they write about a “bench” centrifuge they bought on eBay. DoveBid.com is another great place to find such equipment. As the Cooking Issues post demonstrates, it is absolutely necessary to sanitize any equipment bought from either site, as you don’t know what it has been used for before. In some cases, equipment has been used for hazardous materials. If so, this equipment should never be used for food use. Resellers must disclose this information upon sale though, so make sure to read all of the information they provide. It’s also a smart idea to have any centrifuge rotor you buy used x-rayed to verify that it is crack-free before use. As for hand-held homogenizers, they do have a limited capacity. We like this one [link: http://www.amazon.com/Torbeo-Hand-Held-Homogenizer-capacity-stator/dp/B003NUVY5E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304400765&sr=1-1-catcorr] and while I haven’t used this one, [link: http://www.amazon.com/Torbeo-Hand-Held-Homogenizer-capacity-stator/dp/B003NUZQ3K] I think it looks good as well. 6. There have been various concerns over the mango sorbet, how to get it to aerate, how to best transport it, and whether it can be used with other fruits. Both Phaz and had inconsistent results. Phaz brainstormed and came up with some ideas: While your trials were certainly innovative, what about using different jars? Try finding some shorter, squatter jars. You could also try using the Food Saver attachment with the plastic, Tupperware-like containers. One trick we sometimes use in the Cooking Lab is to fill the jars via a whipping siphon. We put our base in a whipping siphon and charge it with Nitrous Oxide. This gives the base a little extra aeration before the process even starts. Once you are successful and you want to transport the sorbet, pack a Styrofoam chest with dry ice or with ice and salt. Make sure that you don’t remove the jars from the freezer until the contents have frozen through. Even better, let them freeze overnight. Besides mangoes, we’ve had great results with apples. We like mangoes in particular because they contain so much natural pectin. When experimenting with different fruits, you may get better results adding gelatin, rather than pectin, to provide extra stability to your foam. The gel breaks when frozen, so you won’t end up with a gummy texture. Albumin powder would work well, too. If you add about 5% gelatin and 7% albumin to apple juice, for example, you’ll get a nice foam even before siphoning. 7. A while back Chris Hennes made the Spaghetti Carbonara. Even before even making it, he had trouble and asked: You are correct Chris, it’s not a no-drain recipe. This should yield 450 g, which would be eight portions. We will add this to our corrections page. 8. Our editorial assistant, Judy Wilson pointed out that the pink brines were being discussed again. Looking at the parametric recipe on page 3•168, there is a typo in the scaling of the pink brine. It should be a scaling of 1%, not 10%. Basically, brines with a high salt content aren’t used for equilibrium brining, but a pink salt brine does not necessarily have to be a high-salt brine. Pink salts can work just fine in lower-concentration salt brines. Regarding your questions about pastrami and brisket, the brine used for the pastrami on 3•213 is a different kind of brine. The brisket version takes longer because it takes so long for the salt to disperse throughout the meat. 9. This wasn’t a question, but we just wanted to say how great chefmd’s beets turned out. It always makes us feel good to see someone say something was the best ever. And the arrangement was stunning: We also loved FoodMan’s Fourth of July BBQ spread!
  2. Hello again. Below you will find more answers. We hope that this helps and that you are enjoying barbecue season in the northern hemisphere! 1. jzemlin hand some curing concerns: As [member KennethT] noted, your meat won’t become too salty if you are using the equilibrium method of brining and cure longer than the suggested time. Although there is no detriment, there is no benefit from “over-curing” your meat either. If you were to leave your meat for too long in a brine that has a high salt concentration, it would, of course, become much too salty. Fixing that would be more complicated than it is worth. 2. While KennethT may have been able to help out jzemlin, he had a question of his own, which created quite a stir, in his own home as well as in the thread: This is a common experience, one that we have faced ourselves (of course, we work in a lab, where various smells have become normal; it’s different at home). We do change out the water in our bath. Some volatile gasses are able to permeate sous vide bags. Whether this issue as a mountain or a molehill, as jmolinari put it, is a matter of personal opinion. If the odors are too bothersome, you can buy reinforced bags that are less permeable to volatile aromas, which should help. The bottom line is that the leakage is small enough that it won’t affect your product, just the smell of your house. 3. Chris Hennes noticed a difference between the picture and the end result of the hamburger glaze: Well, Chris, you caught us. This picture was difficult for Ryan (the lead photographer) to create. So, when we changed the glaze recipe at nearly the last minute from a more mayonnais–esque recipe to the stock-tomato-suet recipe, we decided not to reshoot the photo. We may not have had such an iconic shot if we had changed it. That is our dirty little secret—or was, until now. 4. With so many of you trying out the Mac and Cheese recipe, more and more questions about it have been coming up. ermintrude asked: Frankly, there is no need for mac and cheese to include iota carrageenan if you are going to serve the dish right away. What the iota carrageenan adds is versatility. You can make big batches of the emulsified cheese in advance. It freezes well and will keep in the freezer for about a month, as we discussed upthread. You can thaw the emulsified cheese mixture and use it for just about anything you would use regular cheese for, such as grating over a salad, slicing onto a sandwich, or grilled cheese. This recipe produces a very delicious, easily meltable cheese. We love it for the Mac and Cheese, but that is only one way to use it. (And, jzemlin, our advice is simply to use it as you would any cheese for fondue. You will need to add more liquid and change out the beer for wine and kirsch if you want a traditional flavor profile. We have a whole section in Modernist Cuisine on the different cheese textures you can create with emulsifying salts and phosphates. See the Constructed Cheese topic on page 4•223 in the Emulsions chapter.) 5. Here’s another question from Chris Hennes: Cutting the meat into smaller pieces to fit in Foodsaver bags is a great solution. As for why we recommend bone-in belly, it mostly comes down to our personal preference. Boneless pork belly should work fine as well. We enjoy preparing meat on the bone because we believe it better preserves the integrity of the meat and provides a superior flavor. As we sometimes do, we also consider the aesthetic quality for presentation, and like the bone-in variety more for that aspect. 6. Borgstrom had several concerns about the Paella recipe: 1) You are correct on both parts. One added bonus of using the pressure cooker comes from the mouthfeel you get. In a paella or risotto dish, the desired consistency of the rice is a soft exterior and an al dente texture in the middle. When cooked in a pressure cooker, the rice has toothsome feel throughout, which while not al dente, has more of a bite to it. Try it in the pressure cooker and see whether you like the difference. 2) Thank you for pointing this out. The direction in the assembly, “Spoon rice into each bowl” should also direct the cook to season the sofrito with salt and sherry vinegar and fold in the cilantro stems, then garnish each bowl with sofrito.” We will add this to the errata page. 3) Yes, the rack of rabbit is purely aesthetic. You need not go through the trouble for this dish. 4) We have found that the best results from saffron are to treat it as delicately as possible. The color might not be as vibrant, but boiling saffron often eliminates its best qualities and can create a slightly bitter flavor. Extracting it this way will result in a more perfumed, sweeter result. 7. sigma has an issue with low-acyl gellan: This might depend on which recipes you have used low-acyl gellan in. If, for example, you are hydrating large quantities of gellanto put in a large amount of liquid, clumping might happen. A temperature change can also cause it to start to set. Low-acyl gellan is very sensitive to temperature; when it has just boiled, even contact with a room-temperature spoon can cause it to begin gelling. You can slow the gelling process by adding 0.05% to 0.1% calcium lactate or chloride, but you must be careful not to add so much as to inhibit gelling. So, sigma, let us know which particular recipes have given you this problem, and we will do our best to troubleshoot your difficulties better.
  3. Here are some more answers: 1. LoftyNotions and others have been wondering about the best way to store Activa. The best way to store Activa is to keep it frozen. If you have purchased a large quantity, vacuum seal it in several portions to minimize reopening and resealing. When stored frozen, it should last for 18 months or so. It always bears repeating that Activa is an enzyme and should not be inhaled, so wear a mask and gloves when working with it. 2. dml asked what power setting we use at The Cooking Lab for our microwave dishes: In the research kitchen, we microwave bokchoy in an 800 watt microwave at full power. Our microwave is not the variety that allows the user to select a certain wattage. If you have a microwave like ours, you can look at the sticker on the back to find out the maximum wattage. Then you can calibrate how many watts your microwave uses on low, medium, and high.The table on page 3•311 gives more specifics on microwave power levels. Keep in mind that if you have particularly large or particularly small bokchoy, your cooking time might vary according to the thickness of the core.Make sure your vegetables are vacuum sealed completely, too. The intense steam environment created should cook even the heartiest vegetables in a quick and even manner. 3. From roygon: We’re glad that you were able to adjust the recipe to your (and your guests’!) liking. In regards to the first question, it may depend on your pot. If you are making a small batch in a very wide pot, then no, there probably won’t be enough water to cover them. Our advice is to make a big batch of the brine and add enough to cover the potatoes. This way the scaling of salt, sugar, and baking soda will still be accurate while allowing for enough liquid to cook the potatoes. As for the second question, it is true that the potatoes become increasingly difficult to handle the longer they cook. In fact, we always plan on losing a few along the way when making this recipe. The age of the potatoes and their storage conditions can also affect how they perform when cooked. If, however, you are satisfied that they are cooked after six minutes, there is no reason why you should keep them in. One more detail to consider is the thickness of the cut we use. We like thick fries to best represent the contrast of a silky interior and extremely crunchy surface.Make sure to check your measurements to adjust for appropriate cooking times. 4. lesliec asked: Yes, there are differences. The bulk of our essential oils come from the health and beauty sections of major grocery stores or purveyors, such as Terra Spice or Chef Rubber. You can always try collaborating with a perfumer to create one, but make sure, as lesliec did, to find out whether it is food grade. 5. Way back upthread, KosherDIY asked: when making potroast in a sealed Dutch oven, how can you tell when it’s done? About what cooking time would you recommend? FoodMan pretty much guessed it when he replied: Traditional cooking is often prescriptive, particularly with cooking times. Though perhaps not tested stringently, they come from years of cooks trying variations. For example, at a simmer a braise will take anywhere from four to seven hours. Probably your best bet is to use clay to seal the oven and to use a thin, wire thermometer. The first time you try it out, you’ll want to monitor it closely, paying particular attention to the high point at which the temperature stabilizes. Follow the guidelines on pages 2•276–279 for cooking sous vide, as well as the guide in volume three. The table on 3•109, for instance, will tell you that you might cook lamb shank sous vide at 85 °C for five hours, so that provides one useful point of reference. With traditional cooking techniques such as this, a keen understanding of the technique and a willingness to engage in a bit of trial and error are really the best tools.
  4. Hello again! Here are a few more answers to your questions. 1. FoodMan pointed out an error in the cornbread recipe: We are adding this to our list of errata on the MC web site, but for the record, you should replace steps two and three with “Combine in blender with cooked corn, and puree until smooth." Furthermore, what is listed in step eight should read, "Bake in 175 °C / 350 °F oven for 10 min, and then reduce oven temperature to 130 °C / 265 °F and bake to core temperature of 88 °C / 190 °F, about 20 min." 2. We assume that it was eGullet commenter Borgstrom (because how many people with that name own Modernist Cuisine?) who wrote in to say the following: I have noticed incorrect scaling of components in several recipes (Beef Cheek Pastrami, Mac & Cheese). For the Pastrami, the scaling yields about 6x the amount of rub required for 100% (1kg) of the beef specified. For the M&C, the scaling yields about 3x the amount of cheese required for 100% (100g) of the macaroni specified. Based on postings on eGullet, it appears this type of component scaling issue is not uncommon in MC recipes. Without careful reading of the recipe or prior experience, someone looking to scale up and make 10kg of pastrami or 1kg of macaroni would end up with a massive amount of excess rub or cheese. This results in unnecessary expense and potential waste. In my case, I have or plan to freeze and reuse the excess component for future use, but that may not always be possible or desired. This inconsistent and arbitrary scaling of components does not seem in keeping with MC's otherwise systematic and organized approach. So far, it is the only criticism I have of the book after a couple of months of use. For your next edition, I suggest the following: a) Scale all recipe components to 1x or perhaps 1.1x of the main ingredient to minimize excess/waste and permit easy scaling up to larger quantities. b) Place a note in the recipe for components scaled higher than 1x so users can adjust according to their needs. Thanks for all the suggestions. We intentionally scaled many recipes this way. Take the pastrami for example, which calls for what may seem like a large amount of rub. If you were to measure the precise quantity needed, you would never get enough rub to go on the pastrami. It may sound like I just contradicted myself there, but you will lose some of the ingredients to grinders, sieves, bowls, sauce pans, and the like. Secondly, some products are difficult to make in small quantities, so in such cases we scaled up the yield for convenience. We like to err on the side of too much rather than too little, but your point is valid that this can lead to overkill if readers scale up the yield further. We like your suggestion of noting when that is the case so that the cook can choose whether to make extra or not. We hope that Modernist Cuisine becomes a guide that fosters kitchen creativity with a solid scientific background. You should never feel obligated to follow a recipe precisely (and many comments in this thread reassure us that eGullet readers often make substitutions for all kinds of reasons). 3. Way back up the thread, Chris Hennes asked: We the mustard seeds should be added alone (without the soaking vinegar), which is why Chris’s finished product came out thin. Will also add this to our list of errata. 4. Msk asked if it is O.K. to just eat the grapefruit-cured salmon as is, or must it be “cooked”? The salmon is fine to eat without any additional cooking. 5. nolnacs was puzzled over scaling. Why does the pink brine have a salt scaling of 10% but the other brines are 1%? Pink brines need to be much stronger than other brines to achieve the full effect. Functionally, a pink brine is actually more of a liquid cure; it is called brine simply by convention. Our brining section (starting on page 3•152) provides all the details on brining to equilibrium and working with high-salt brines. 6. Regarding cooking polenta, Pielle asked: Certainly you can use a Mason jar. The food will, however, take a few more minutes to cook in this container, depending on the size of jar you use. A 12 oz jar, for example, will take 12–15 min. 7. Chris Hennes wondered why the semolina pasta recipe has an input ingredient weight of over 600 g but the yield is only 450 g. He guessed that this might be due to the extruder. Chris is correct, as is the recipe. You lose more of the yield than you might think when using an extruder. If you were to triple the recipe or reproduce it with a different scaling, your loss would be roughly the same in grams, and thus a different proportion of the yield. 8. Chris also wanted to know why herb-embedded pasta should be refrigerated for 12 hours. Chilling the pasta dough in the refrigerator for 12 h creates a smoother, silkier, chewier texture. Just like resting gluten in bread dough, this step is crucial for achieving the right mouthfeel.
  5. Greetings! The research chefs and I admit to being very curious as you have all shared your successes and failures, excitedly watching you try out the recipes from Modernist Cuisine yourselves. We can’t help but mention right off the bat how pleased we are to finally share these recipes with you and to witness everyone’s thorough and constructive responses, complete with photos and personal interpretations! We have always been great supporter’s of the eGullet community and the great vehicle it has been for culinary insights on every level. While NathanM has been able to answer some of your questions, we felt that with the book now in print, it was time to take on some of that burden and share our input with you. About once a week we will answer a handful of questions on this thread. Eventually we will have our own forum on Modernistcuisine.com, but we thought that this was the perfect place to start. In the next few weeks, you will see answers to questions both old and new as we try to catch up. 1. Several people asked about freezing leftover components, especially those leftover from making the macaroni and cheese and the burger. Particularly, you wanted to know if they could be frozen. Though we haven’t tried freezing the block of cheese from the macaroni or the emulsified cheese from the burger, we expect that they can be frozen. Since they are made with carageenan, they are freeze-thaw stable. Not all gels have this aspect, however. It is really the use of carageenan that makes the difference. As for the mushroom ketchup, it should keep for a while in the refrigerator or freezer. We can’t give you an exact time as we have not tested it ourselves. We do expect though that you will experience some syneresis, or “weeping,” just as you do with any condiment kept in your fridge. Adding 0.1% to 0.2% xanthan gum when you are ready to use the ketchup again will help this. Most condiments with a high salt and acid content refrigerated well. The chapter on hydrocolloids in volume four will give you more information and help you to decide what will keep in the refrigerator and freezer. 2. During a lengthy, somewhat side-tracked discussion early on in the thread, Nathan was able to answer many of your questions about the sheet of steel or aluminum we recommend for mimicking brick pizza ovens. What a few of you still wanted to know, however, was what other things can be baked this way? What about bread? Certainly flatbread would benefit from a sheet of aluminum or steel in the oven, as would smaller loaves like baguettes or other non-dense bread. You don’t want to risk drying the bread out too much though, so it might be best to turn the oven down partway through baking. Play around with your oven and find out what works best for your favorite breads! 3. Chris Hennes was the first one to try out the mojito spheres. Since then, he, and everyone who makes them, or contemplates making them, has been wondering how best to serve them. Just what is in that glass in the picture in the book? The truth is, the picture of the sphere in a fizzing glass was meant to illustrate a point in an aesthetically pleasing way. Since we couldn’t show a solid fizzing, we used that photo to capture its bubbliness. Some of you have already considered serving them on spoons. This is our preferred method. Since the cocktail is self contained in the sphere, there is no need for any other liquid, or even a glass. Oh, and we must say, that we love Guy MovingOn’s idea to create a sphere within a sphere for a tequila shot! Let us know if you ever achieve this! 4. More recently, roygon has asked what kind of oil is best for making French fries: Several of you piped up with peanut oil, which is our recommendation, too. We like that it is affordable enough to use in large batches and also still neutral. Sure, you could use grapeseed oil, but it is expensive. roygon noted that peanut oil is a no-go if you want to avoid peanut allergies. In that case, we recommend using good old canola oil. Remember, the more used the oil, the better. Oil that has been used two or three times already will give your fries that nice brown coloring. 5. Borgstromasked what the best wood chips are for smoking pastrami. Gernally, we like using and stone fruit chips, like cherry or nectarine. Anything dry and hardy will do. The really important thing, more so than type of chips, is how hot they are. This will affect your pastrami more. 6. Guy MovingOn must have gotten his hands on a Thermomix, because he asked what recipes specifically call for, can be made with, or improved by using one. It’s always fun to try out new toys in the kitchen and we can think of a variety of things that work well with a Thermomix. Have you ever tried scrambled eggs? Anything with eggs, like a custard base, would work well in a Thermomix. Other bases, like ice cream bases, can be made in one, too. Top it off by making some caramel on top. If you are in the mood for something savory, try making fondue or cheese foam. A Thermomix is great for both dispersing and hydrating hydrocolloids. We discuss this in 4•24-27. 7. KennethT has been wondering about parcooking risotto. He asked: Though you do bring the pot of water and risotto to a boil, you don’t want a vigorous boil by any means. In general, about two or three parts water to one part risotto will work well. If you use more than that, that is all right, as you do indeed drain the water. On the other hand, you will want to watch out not to use too much water as you do want to keep the risotto starchy. Remember, if you start out with less water, you can always add more. 8. Chris Amirault asked for tips regarding dehydrating in an oven. The most important thing is to calculate just how low your oven really goes (and not just how low it says it goes). You don’t want your oven to get above 80 °C / 176 °F to 90 °C / 194 °F. In fact, if you have a gas oven, you can just put on the pilot light. In an electric oven, setting the temperature to “warm” usually works. You can read more about calibrating your oven on 1•269-271. 9. Sigma asked about braising under a broiler. Should you leave the lid on the pot the whole time? You should leave the lid on the whole time when braising. You can take the lid off at the end in order to create a nice glaze on top. 10. We have heard many success stories and many failures when you tried making the caramelized carrot soup, so much so that we actually retested it ourselves. When we conducted our most recent tests, we noted that if you are following our recipe exactly, it is crucial to melt the butter before adding the carrots. This will lubricate the bottom of the pot enough to prevent burning. Twenty minutes of cooking time is sufficient for small batches of soup. Be sure to turn the heat down once the cooker has reached 15 psi of pressure. Another recommendation is to use a stainless steel pressure cooker if possible. Aluminum pressure cookers, while more economical, have a greater tendency to burn. Since we only used induction cooking surfaces when writing the book, we have come up with a few adjustments to the recipe that might be useful for home cooks who have an electric or gas range. You can try adding 20% of water to step three, stir together, and cook for the same amount of time. Or, you can add the butter that is folded into the blended soup during step nine during step two instead. You might also like to try mixing the ingredients together and dividing them into mason jars. Set the jars in the pressure cooker on the canning rack, pour water halfway up the sides, and pressure cook at 15 psi for 90 minutes.
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