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Everything posted by emannths

  1. Can talk about the rationale for using the baking soda? In this article, Myhrvold says "we have a technique for doing fat rendering, for example. It's a little thing, but you render it in a pressure cooker with a little bit of baking soda. And that create this amazing roasted fat level because the alkali nature of the baking soda helps promote the Maillard reaction." But all over the internet, there are instructions for adding baking soda when rendering fat, usually to make it whiter or cleaner tasting/smelling. Heck, this book from 1919 talks about using it. But Myhrvold clearly thinks he's onto something here. So is it that he explains why it works, or that it does something different than conventional wisdom says, or just that he reinvented this particular wheel?
  2. Brisket and corned beef. Fresh brisket is usually about $3.50/lb at any non-Costco-type store. When it goes one sale around St Patrick's day, pre-brined corned beef goes for as little as $1.60/lb for the point end, $2.30/lb for the flat. Both use Choice-grade beef, so that's not the cause of the difference. I also find it amazing that beef chuck is less than $3/lb, but things like tongue, tripe, oxtails, and (veal) liver are all $3.50-5.50/lb. Heck, I can usually find skirt steak for less than tongue, tripe and oxtail! As much as I love offal-type stuff, I find it really hard to pay a premium to eat it...
  3. I have a slight preference for Maria's over Modern in the North End, but I don't go to either frequently enough to tell you for certain that this preference isn't imagined. You can buy chocolates (as well as one of the richest cups of hot chocolate you'll ever find) from LA Burdick in Harvard Square. Somerville MA is home to Taza Chocolate, who makes stone-ground, Mexican-style chocolate bars. You can find them in many stores in the area. There's lots more on pastries in this chowhound topic.
  4. What method did you use for the conversion? I think we should just collect data on the densities of common dry ingredients, sugar solutions, and ingredients specified by the "each." Things like... Sugar (in all its forms) Baking soda and powder Honey Flour Other flours and starches (cornmeal, cornstarch, tapioca starch, etc) Salt Molasses One "large egg" Anyway, you get the idea. If we can come up with a list of ingredients, I'd be happy to make a Google Form/Spreadsheet to collect the data. You'd just go to your kitchen, measure what one of your cups says one cup of your sugar weights, and you put that into the form. The spreadsheet will average the data, and could even give stats like standard deviation so you know how reliable the conversion is. Maybe this can address Fat Guy's problems with using the estimation method for conversion.
  5. Well, if you don't mind cooking everything sous vide, and you don't mind boiling water in a separate vessel, the beer cooler sous vide cooker is basically the same idea. Even if you didn't want to cook sous vide, you could always used heated rocks or decoction(to steal a brewing term) to periodically add additional heat to the food. More to your point though, I have never seen anything similar marketed. I suspect that part of the reason is that large, covered pots don't actually lose heat very rapidly, so unless energy is extremely scarce (as in your example), it won't make much of a difference. And if energy is scarce, money usually is too, which would preclude the purchase of an insulated SS cooker. When we had a boil water order here last summer, I boiled about 2 gallons of water and left the pot covered. I think it was still over 150F the next day (I took its temperature).
  6. I think Mark Prince's comment may actually say more about the chapter than the article itself. Interesting perspective.
  7. I've got the 450W Pro5 Plus (at least I think that's what it's called--450W 5qt lift bowl, whatever they call it). I've kneaded pizza dough (total about about 28oz flour) in the thing for much longer than 5 minutes without overheating. But I think I usually do it on the slower of the two kneading speeds. Maybe try the slower speed to see if you can get the kneading to finish without overheating, even if it takes a little longer?
  8. Another obstacle to humidity control: plumbing. I guess people probably rip up cabinets and countertops to put appliances in, but still, plumbing can be a PITA. Oh, and another reason: MC may be the first book publication with any consumer audience outside of bread baking that even mentions humidity control. With no books saying "use it for this," it's really hard for anyone to have any idea why they'd care. This leaves it up to the sales literature and salespeople, and "more control" is a lot harder to sell that "faster" (i.e., as in microwave or convection ovens). It's certainly the first time I've considered humidity outside of steaming or the "huh--that's a lot of steam!" when I peek on a tray of potatoes or squash roasting in the oven. People are used to doing everything the CVAP claims to do: "thaw, poach, braise, steam, roast..." They just don't do it all in their ovens. Or they rig up a contraption to create the desired level of humidity within their conventional oven. We need to be told not what these oven can do, but how they can do it better than what we're doing now.
  9. I think part of the reason we're not getting a lot closer is because the differences that you're looking for are ones that have already been done by plant breeders. We've MADE sticky rice, short grain rice, long grain rice, etc--we just did it with selective breeding instead of with ingredients. By contrast, we haven't bred cows to make milk with the right emulsifiers to make processed cheese without additives. I think if you want to think more about "modernist" whatever, you have to think about getting new or better results, not just the same thing a different way.
  10. I too have never made it, but the internet suggests that if you soak the rice beforehand, steaming only takes 20-30 minutes.
  11. The risotto table in MC hints at this idea. For grains that don't elute enough sauce-thickening amylopectin, they simply instruct you to add a thickener to compensate. In general, it's not too hard to make rice stickier or creamier. But the starch content not only affects the sauce, but also the texture of the rice grains themselves. So unless you can get you added starches into the grains of rice, I doubt you'll get an acceptable engineered substitute.
  12. FG's menu says they cooked it in mason jars. I'm sure nathanm would never mislead us, so I bet it works. Does MC comment on other containers to use as the inner vessel in what is basically a pressure cooker double boiler?
  13. So I was thinking about Chris' disappointment in not reaching "leather" density. I think this will be impossible using just a vacuum sealer. Here are a couple pieces of data to consider: Watermelon has a density of about 0.96 g/cm3. Watermelon juice is about 9 Brix, or 1.03 g/cm3. So assuming you're just getting rid of air, you can only compress watermelon about 10% by volume, which is only about 3% in any linear dimension if we assume isotropic compression. I think the only way to get "leather" is going to be by using a dehydrator to remove water. ETA: Assumptions: watermelon is air + watermelon juice (ignore solid content). Watermelon juice is incompressible.
  14. How about eggplant? For those looking to add a little more oomph to the compression, could you try putting the thing in a pressure chamber after vacuum sealing it? This would get a greater pressure differential between inside and outside the bag, presumably leading to better crushing. I would think a corny keg filled with water and attached to either a tank of compressed air or even just to a bike pump would get you another 100psi of pressure. And used ones are super-cheap, at least compared to chamber sealers (most other inexpensive pressurized container are bottles that have mouths too narrow to be useful for most things).
  15. OP: the ideas in food people had success blanching asparagus SV. 5 spears, 1g salt, 4min, 100C, cool in ice water.
  16. I believe McGee calls for "a pinch [of baking soda] per gallon," which is comically arbitrary and precise simultaneously. He's aiming for a pH of about 7, fwiw.
  17. Nice link. I'd interpret the conclusion slightly differently than Chris does. They were basically testing whether cooking them in the bag alters anything--they kept the cooking time and temperature the same for both the boiled and sous vide celery (4 minutes, 100C, cooled in 0C water). Their conclusion was that the flavor of the SV version was better because nothing was lost to the cooking water. Appearance-wise though, the two methods were very close ("both versions of celery retained a bright vibrant green color, although the sous vide celery seemed a shade brighter"). The link and McGee both say the trick to keeping green from turning to brown is to keep the cooking time short, which they do by cooking for 4min/100C. The bag is just helping the flavor. Can I rephrase the question? Can you use SV to cook green veggies for longer times and lower temperatures (e.g., 185F) than traditional blanching and still keep them green?
  18. I don't do it any differently than when I heat a stainless clad pan, meaning I heat it empty until it reaches the temperature I want, then I add fat then food. But since I generally use the nonstick pan for things with high initial pan temp is not needed, I don't think this is much of a problem (not enough for me to care about anyway). I like nonstick pans for anything I don't need to sear well because they're easy to clean and the drawbacks are minimal. I especially like them for pan-frying starchy foods that would otherwise tend to coat a stainless pan with a layer of starch (potatoes, gnocchi, pasta, long cooking vegetables like eggplant and zucchini, etc).
  19. I'd like to bump this, with particular emphasis on nathanm's original question regarding whether anyone has had any success making "smoked" meat using liquid smoke. It looks like so far there have been success with salmon and brisket. Anyone else care to chime in? I'm particularly interested in any successes with pork (butts, bellies/bacon, ribs). Also, any opinions on brands?
  20. If you assume that the meat reaches equilibrium* with the brine, then you would base your prague powder (and salt, for that matter) quantity based on the total sum of water plus meat. The easy way to do this is to scale everything by the weight of the meat. Ruhlman's recipe is for 5lbs of brisket. So if you have 2.5lbs of boneless shortribs, make half the amount of brine (maintaining the right ratios of water to salt, prague powder, etc) and you should be good. By cutting the amount of meat to less than 1 lb, you're going to slightly increase the amount of salt and nitrate in the meat, but not by much. A half a gallon of water is 4 lbs. The expected 2.5lbs of meat contributes about 75% of its weight in water, so there's a total of about 5.9lbs of water in the recipe as Ruhlman writes it. By cutting the meat to 1lb, you're only contributing 0.75lb of water to the system, for a total of 4.75lbs. The result is that you're increasing the effective concentration of salt and nitrate in the final product by almost 25%. Since you're cooking the meat sous vide, there won't be a big pot of boiling water to remove some of the salt during cooking, so you might wind up with something that's saltier than expected. This is all theoretical though. Someone's probably tried it and can report on their results. *Of course, assuming equilibrium is a big assumption. But without more data to go on, it's hard to figure out how close to equilibrium we get.
  21. Regarding localization: I was thinking equally about grammar (where one form is exclusive of another--Janet's taken care of this) and also meaning of food terms like Porterhouse. It's easy to write a blurb on each variation, but I was thinking more about how to deal with it when writing a summary/intro sentence or paragraph. For example, would a Porterhouse article open with "a Porterhouse is a steak from the short loin that contains both strip and tenderloin" or with "a Porterhouse is a steak cut from the short loin. In the US it contains both strip and tenderloin, and in the UK it refers only to the strip loin side." Both are doable, but one takes the US as the default while the other aims for the most widely applicable definition. (I came across this when editing the ale article--the US considers porters and stouts to be ales, while they would not fall under the ale umbrella in the UK's usage) IMO, both are fine and equally clear, so I think this is something to be left to the wiki editors. So I suppose I agree with Chris--if someone thinks that the article's focus is overly presumptuous, they can easily generalize it, and indeed, may be more capable of doing so.
  22. Next may not be particularly modernist, but the cocktail bar Aviary sure is. At least if their youtube teasers are any indication:
  23. nathanm--you've got your blurb for the second edition!
  24. Hey, quick question: any guidance for handling localization? Food in particular tends to develop regional vernacular, not to mention the usual differences in spelling and grammar between British and American English. IMO, I'd say the guidance should be to add clarifying detail (ie, describe the use of the word 'shrimp' and 'prawn' in England and the US), but to otherwise not dictate a particular style, either grammatically or cuisine-wise. Any thoughts?
  25. Judging by nathanm's posts here on egullet, I think it's an empirical thing. Basically, if you want to reach 130C, and you set your water bath for 130C, the food will never actually reach that temperature in finite time. So you set it for some small increment above your target temp so that your food can reach the target in finite time. I suspect 1C is chosen simply because MC didn't want to assume any greater precision, and because the errors are specified in 1C increments. You can look at the sous vide tables here on egullet, or look at this validation, which used the 0.5C delta that Baldwin specifies. At a delta of 1C, you guarantee that you reach your target core temp and that the rest of the meat is not hotter than 1C over the core temp.
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