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  1. Think of it as a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge. You get two ingredients of your choosing, water, a heat source, and whatever kitchen equipment you want. Nothing else. What's possible?
  2. (I thought of reviving James MacGuire's thread (which I was delighted to see) but 2004? Seems a bit far back.) While I'm not enough of a baker (barely a baker at all) to judge the technical aspects of Calvel's monumental book, I have every reason to believe that from a technical point of view it is invaluable (this is, after all, the person who taught Julia Child to make French bread). I was also delighted to see that it was one of the rare works to show photographs of the basic French breads (which, verbally, are almost undefinable, so that pictures are all the more necessary). I keep hoping someone in Paris will shoot a baguette next to a flute, a ficelle and a batard and put the result on Wikipedia, but for now Calvel is one of the few to offer these images. My own interest however is in food (largely baking) history. I probably have to trust Calvel's accounts from when he was a working baker (the 30's?) and after (even then I'd love to be able to ask him a few pointed questions). Anything earlier and he makes some really shocking errors. Which probably won't matter to most hands-on bakers, but if the actual history of some of this matters to you, read on. As near as I can make out, Calvel simply accepted the legends of his trade. A natural enough thing to do, but once he became a professor it would be nice if he'd applied the principle of returning to prime sources, which he clearly did not. He says for instance that until the Viennese (that is, August Zang) arrived (around 1839), the French had only used yeast as an aid to sourdough (p 45). But eighteenth century sources (notably the monumental Dr. Malouin) state quite clearly that some breads were to be made only with yeast. On the same page, he repeats (and may have originated) the common assertion that "poolish" is a "Polish" sponge. This goes along with an idea frequently cited by others elsewhere that the poolish was a Polish technique which came to France via Austria. Which would be very strange, given that "poolish" does not mean Polish in any of those countries (it is an old ENGLISH word for "polish" - the English didn't use the method themselves, since they long had a sponge of their own.) In fact, references before 1900 to the technique (including two by an Austrian, Emil Braun) spell the word "pouliche", that is, the French word for "foal" (and a homonym for "poolish".) One can more readily imagine French bakers referring to a "young" mix of yeast allowed to grow strong before being used as a young horse than imagine that Polish, Austrian or French bakers used an archaic English word for a Polish technique. But speculation applies in either case. Later (116) he says that "Baron Zang" (Zang was a commoner) made Vienna bread without milk (numerous contemporary sources say it was made WITH milk) and using a poolish (no contemporary source mentions Zang using a poolish, which at any rate is not mentioned until the late 19th century, years after Zang left in 1848.) The Austrians certainly used yeast, but a German language text from 1841 describing Austrian techniques says nothing of any technique resembling a poolish (that is, no pre-fermentation). And the one big Austrian contribution to yeast - the invention of the more purified "pressed yeast" - came after Zang had left France. He treats the appearance of the baguette as contemporaneous with other "pains de fantaisie" (fancy breads) (103) and focuses on the fact that these had to be eaten soon after they were made. Which tended to be true. But it was not a defining characteristic of the classification, which existed since at least the 18th century (well before the baguette). A pain de fantaisie was originally so-called for the simple reason that it was out of the ordinary (made to the baker or client's "fantasy" or whim) and with time was sometimes defined as a bread not subject to a regulated price. When made with yeast (which was not always the case), it did indeed need to be eaten within the day, but that was incidental to the meaning of the term. The baguette, at any rate, was a very late entrant to the category. All this might seem to be nit-picking in the extreme, but beyond the fact that, hey, some people care about this stuff, several of Calvel's assertions seem to have made their way into the general literature (Calvel was after all a bone fide expert) and so one finds, for instance, frequent mentions of "Baron Zang". I don't know if Calvel is responsible for the myths around the poolish (which is referred to as a "Polisch" in one early 20th century text), but those are pretty widespread too. None of this is meant to question the book's fundamental importance. I've recommended it more than once. But if it has an Achilles' heel, it is on the history side.
  3. Over in this topic we're discussing this book in general terms. But now that the book has arrived, it's time to start cooking. I had a hard time deciding which recipes to start with, but since the book arrived mid-week I was a little limited in terms of what ingredients I had on hand. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts? Check. Potatoes? Check. OK then... Chicken Breasts Diable (p. 217) Broth-Braised Potatoes (p. 358) As is typical with Greenspan's books, the text of the recipe is well-written, very clear, and generally feels like you've got Dorie there looking over your shoulder giving you pointers the whole time. The recipe fits well into a book that bills itself as "more than 300 recipes from my home to yours"—I don't think that a dish such as this would be out of place on anyone's weeknight dinner table. We're not breaking new culinary ground here: it's boneless, skinless chicken breasts, served with a white wine pan sauce. The ingredients list is delightfully vague: three tablespoons mustard ("or a bit more"), "about one tablespoon olive oil," etc. This is a dish to make and tweak to your tastes: don't bother getting out the scale. Hell, I didn't bother with measuring spoons. So, it's hard to comment on the end result: my wife and I really liked both the chicken and potatoes. Earth-shattering new flavor combinations? No. But a very good rendition of a classic, tweaked to be just the way I like it. Bon appetit, indeed!
  4. Over in a discussion about weight-based cookbooks, I wrote: One member agreed; one expressed doubt. So I propose this throwdown: 1. Walk over to your cookbook pile/shelf/collection. Right now. No fair choosing today as "clean out the unused cookbooks" day. (Don't dig around the attic either.) And if you are a pro, count the ones at home, not the ones in the basement that you steal from for your "original" dishes. Count the total number of books there all handy and ready to go. 2. If you have fewer than ten cookbooks and are out of high school, you're done. We're looking for people who buy cookbooks, after all, not people who got "Joy of Cooking" from their mom, got "Enchanted Broccoli Forest" from some one-week relationship with a vegan, and then called it quits. Sorry. 3. If you're still playing, count the number of books in your collection that you've used to cook more than one dish. (In this throwdown's arbitrary rules, cooking a single dish is an aberration; cooking two or more is defined as "use.") 4. Divide the tally in #3 by the tally in #1. That is your use percentage. Post it here, along with whatever lame excuses you have for the use percentage being so low ("I study Robuchon & Adria; I don't try to imitate them"; "I get reviewer's copies that I keep around to impress dates!"). My guess is that few of us here in the eGullet Society will post numbers higher than 80% -- and if we're honest, we'll get many posting halvsies or less. (I've done my calculation -- my tally 1 is 92 -- and will post the use percentage after a few others have taken the dive.) I'll also stipulate that this crowd is atypically user-friendly, and that we'll skew high on this calculation. But we'll just have to see about that, won't we? Grab your abacus, get to the cookbook shelf, and start adding.
  5. Moderator's note: This topic is devoted to cooking with David Chang's Momofuku cookbook -- CA] Mine's in the mail... Has anyone had a chance to look at it yet? Thoughts?
  6. I was at Kinokuniya just today and there's currently a 20% sale on ALL cookbooks until the end of month (make the most of it Sydneysiders). The first thing that captured my attention upon entering was Jamie Oliver's new (?) cookbook on...American cuisine! That really took me by surprise (a pleasant one) since he always seems to focus on English and Italian cuisine. Or is at least heavily inspired by those cuisines (particularly the latter). I've been on the look out for a good cookbook on American cuisine for awhile now so the obvious question here is: has anyone bought/looked through this book and would you recommend it? I suppose the most common sense thing to do is buy a book from a 'real' American, although while I'm all for authenticity (and am certainly seeking it), I find many of those books tend to use ingredients that are incredibly difficult to purchase here in Oz. What I love about many of Jamie's recipes is that he shows respect for a cuisine's traditions but still manages to make it adaptable for the everyday (or clueless) cook. I've had a good flick through and the recipes looks scrumptious...I just need a second opinion! P.S. It'd be interesting to see Jamie's take on Chinese/other Asian cooking one day. Asian cuisine is one area he seems to be lack focus on.
  7. I checked this out of the library today, and I'm reeling. This is one all-inclusive baking book, heavy on both the how-to and the food porn pictures. I love baking, but don't indulge as often as I'd like because of girlish figure issues. I leafed through the 380 pages and decided that the Mama Cass body type was a fair exchange for the detailed instructions , great photography and my reintroduction to the desserts I made from "Mastering" as a newlywed. Pithiviers, babas, cream puff swans.... But the bread section is serious, the cookies look like something I wanna make in multiple batches, the recipe for candied citrus peel I'll make this week. This book reinforces Peterson's rep with me as the greatest single-subject cookbook writer, whether it be sauces, soups or baking. I own many fine baking books from Maida to Martha, but Peterson's done it again. It's on my Christmas list. has anyone else had a peek?
  8. In what order should a reader new to CI/ATK get their books? I'm reasonably sure The New Best Recipe is a great one to start with, but what next? The Best 30-Minute Recipe? More Best Recipes? EDIT: Sorry, I put this in the wrong forum. Can somebody move this please?
  9. I was sent a copy of this book to read. I get sent alot of books to have a look at, but this one is actually good. I'm really enjoying it. Written by a guy called Ned Halley, a wine writer of some repute. And a seemingly very amusing chap.'Absolute Corkers' is full of just that. Funny and informative stories about wine and the world of wine. This looks to be the Christmas bestseller for Dad's and anyone who likes wine and food et al. Amazon are selling it Takes a nice, unstuffy approach to wine, and actually leaves me feeling better informed about the subject. I've got my copy in the loo already. And it'll be in my Dad's stocking too!!!! And then no doubt in his loo aswell. I hope that link's worked, i'm rubbish at this. If you get one, let me know what your favourite anecdote is. So far I think my favourite one is about Champagne. That bastion of French cultural pride. So why do they so many sound German? Bollinger, Heidsieck, Krug, Roederer etc etc. Because in the 18th Century the wine started to become popular and few of the French winemakers had the necessary skills to make the wine. SO what did they do? They got pros in from Germany to do it. And the wines were named after their makers because it wasn't fashionable for the owners to use their names. How great is that?! Proudest product of France. And made by the Germans. I love it.
  10. [Moderator note: The original "Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet topic became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up; the preceding part of this discussion is here: "Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 2)] Since I've received mine I've had little time until this weekend to actually read through it in depth. I've been starting with the history in volume 1, which I find fascinating as I love history. I even looked up some of the original recipe books it references and downloaded them to my kindle through gutenberg as it is a wonderful addition to the whole and its history. Second to that I started sifting tbrough the equipment. Then yesterday I drove three hours north to share the volumes with my family. I don't think their mouths ever closed after seeing them for the first time. We each grabbed a volume, from my 16 year olde nephew to my 70 year olde father and for five straight hours we were consumed and shared with eachother ideas and "finds". In my family cooking and meals are a big part of us "coming together"...this truly added to a family moment for us. Now I've got to find a weekend to bring my 16 year olde nephew down to Massachusetts to cook with me. He wants to get into spherification and I want to experiment with the fish paper. I have a crazy idea to use the paper for and can't wait to start experimenting. ...after that I think the mac and cheese, since everyone has been talking about that on here I can't wait to try it as it brings back fond childhood memories for me.
  11. Now that the first printing of Modernist Cuisine is done, shipped and for the most part delivered into the purchaser's hands, I am curious where all the copies actually ended up going? While I am fairly certain Fat Guy would like to think MC and eGullet readers are one in the same, it likely would not be a stretch to believe the majority actually do read or participate in these threads. My curiousity about the first 6,000 copies of MC is as follows: How many of the 50 United States have readers with copies? In the 10 Canadian provinces and three territories how widely distributed are they? Do most buyers live in a metro area or a non-urban area? How many are working professionals, advanced amateurs or simply interested in food? What well-known chefs or restaurant owners bought a copy for themselves? How many copies of MC are ending up in Great Britain/Ireland? How many were bought by people on the European continent, even without the announced translated versions? How many will end up in Australia and Asia? What about Africa and the Middle East? Are there buyers in Mexico, Central America and South America?
  12. I recently discovered two books by Chef Yotam Ottolenghi though an Amazon suggestion. A brief look at the books show some promise. I was wondering if anyone else on eGullet is familiar with his books or have dined at his restaurants. Plenty Ottolenghi
  13. I just borrowed a copy of James Peterson's "Glorious French Food" from my local library, and I'm pretty excited about the range of recipes and the bits of kitchen science sprinkled throughout the pages of the book. I believe it was first published back in 2002, and I am wondering if fellow eGullet'ers have tried any of the recipes in the book? If you've read it, what do you think of it? There's an old thread about the book here TDG: Is Glorious French Food Glorious? that's quite interesting to read. I would very much like to read the book review by Suzanne Fass, but I haven't located it online yet. Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction? Thanks all!
  14. Just got given some amazing Asparagus Root. Ive never cooked with it before. I was thinking of simmering it in some stock and doing a soup, or extracting the flavour into cream, but that seems super boring. Is there anything I can do with it thats a bit more avane garde? I was considering a gelee, but not sure how I would do that without having to extract the flavour out of it. I love how they look, and I want the actual root to be a part of the final presentation. Any help would be fantastic! Alex
  15. I have to come up with a savory recipe using champagne (or other sparkling wines). Any ideas? Is it generally considered a bad idea to cook with champagne? Doesn't the characteristic quality of champagne (the festive fizz) disappear when you cook with it? For the recipe, I would prefer it wasn't one of those ultra fancy ones (lobster with champagne/caviar sauce, or something like that): I think it would be much more interesting to use the champagne in a simpler and less expensive dish. All thoughts much appreciated.
  16. Full story here. Much ado about nothing? A piffle-y bit of fluff? Or has Slate got something there?
  17. I'm an engineer by training and get spammed by lots of technical publishers. Normally I ignore this kind of junk email, but the one below from Food Engineering Reviews caught my eye. I imagine this journal is obscenely expensive (as most technical pubs are), but the publisher is providing free article downloads through December 31, 2010. These articles may be interesting reading for curious foodies and budding food engineers, and may provide some insight into the next advances in modernist cuisine. For example, their December 2010 issue has the following articles: Mathematical Modeling Procedures for Airflow, Heat and Mass Transfer During Forced Convection Cooling of Produce: A Review The Use of Electric Fields for Edible Coatings and Films Development and Production: A Review High Pressure Processing of Meat, Meat Products and Seafood Polymeric-Based Food Packaging for High-Pressure Processing Some interesting articles from earlier issues: Nanoencapsulation: A New Trend in Food Engineering Processing Enhanced Extraction from Solid Foods and Biosuspensions by Pulsed Electrical Energy Shelf-Life Testing of Coffee and Related Products: Uncertainties, Pitfalls, and Perspectives Selected Applications of Ultrasonics in Food Processing You can find all of the issues/articles at this link: http://www.springerlink.com/content/1866-7910/2/4/ Enjoy!
  18. so i was waiting to make my first post something thought provoking or highly useful, but i realized it would be LONG time if i kept waiting for that.....so instead ill go with a random, simple question i have so the other day i made the chinese dish "ants climbing a tree" - really simple dish of bean (glass) noodles, ground pork, green onions, and various seasonings (came out great, btw)....my particular recipe called for rice wine (NOT rice wine vinegar, which i know and love)....my local asian market only had the large (750ml?) bottle, but since it was only $2, i went for it i only used a tablespoon of the stuff, so now i have this entire large bottle left....i gave it a taste, and it tastes like salty sake (which, i guess, it is)....its so lightly flavored that i almost dont see the point in using it...i cant see it adding the complexity or depth of flavor that you get when cooking with grape wines my question is how else can i use this stuff? did i make a mistake by getting the cheap, "cooking" rice wine with salt added, instead of a moderately priced bottle of sake? does it add something to the dish other than flavor that i may be misunderstanding? do i need to resort to salty sake bombs? EDIT - Just laughed when i looked at my username and realized that my first post was about a noodle dish....total coincidence
  19. Over in the Cooking with Modernist Cuisine topic, Anna N raised a great point about cooking with a book assuming a professional audience: Seemed like a great topic to me. I can think of a few other aspects that might challenge: weight-based measurements instead of volume; production-sized pans, sheets, containers, ovens, and so on; a team of dishwashers and line cooks to do all the grunt prep and clean-up. What other adjustments do you make when you pick up one of the professional cookbooks?
  20. Reports are that Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn have a second charcuterie book on the way. Their first book was a transforming one for many Society members, including yours truly. We have two massive topics devoted to discussions about the book, the first one here (with the index Chris Hennes built for it here) and the second one here. Amazon doesn't list the book on its Ruhlman page yet. What have people heard? ETA: "Salumi" product page.
  21. There has been a wide variety of cookbook and food references published during the first decade of this century. Excluding Food Literature, what are your top 10 cookbooks and references during the first decade?
  22. I've been looking through a lot of old cookbooks and culinary magazines on Google books and noticed this. Apparently, if you want to avoid getting sick in the winter, you should eat lots of fat. I guess it was most shocking to me because in todays overly cautious world, virtually nobody would suggest to increase you fat intake for nearly any reason. http://books.google.com/books?id=E1kBAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA327&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U01NhL6dSdPr4csM9bYjhWd8FDBOw&ci=29%2C156%2C914%2C1248&edge=0 Has anybody else noticed similar items in their old books?
  23. Q&A with the Modernist Cuisine Team The Society for Culinary Arts and Letters is thrilled to be able to offer this Q&A with the team behind Modernist Cuisine: The Art & Science of Cooking. This ground-breaking multivolume work has spawned two discussion topics, one focusing on the book and one devoted to cooking with the book. In this topic, we will have the unprecedented opportunity to explore the book's development, design, and production with the team that made it happen. The book authors -- Nathan Myhrvold (Society member nathanm), Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet -- worked with editor-in-chief Wayt Gibbs to answer several questions we posed. The team also shares for the first time a multipage arc of content that traverses several volumes across a crucial content area: how understanding the weirdness of water can benefit your understanding of cooking. (Please click on the thumbnails of each page below to see a larger image.) What follows provides an opportunity to get to know Modernist Cuisine that much better, a book that many are hailing as one of the most important publications in the history of cooking. In addition to the excerpts and initial Q&As, Wayt Gibbs will respond on behalf of the MC team to your questions. We hope that you enjoy this opportunity to take a glimpse at this remarkable book.
  24. Has anyone found any old public domain cookbooks or books on food in Google books? I've done a little searching but mostly end up with books using food as a metaphor.
  25. A few years ago, for the most part, I stopped buying tomatoes "out of season." In other words, I quit buying tomatoes if they weren't grown locally during Mother Nature's natural growth cycle. While I am sure that the Producer's and Marketing Teams will tell us that tomatoes harvested in January are at the "peak of their flavor," is a tomato picked weeks in advance in preparation for a 3,000 mile journey really compare to the flavor of a local tomato in season? Sure, I tried the "tomatoes on the vine," the "salad" tomatoes, the "hydroponic" tomatoes and the "organic" tomatoes and while some of them had passable flavor, they never compared to the local tomatoes I buy in August. (I may buy a Roma tomato or two in December to slice and add to salad, but that's it). Right now we still have the remnants of last week's snow and a new dusting is expected tonight. Fresh, local tomatoes won't show up in our markets for at least 4 months around the end of June and the crop will last through mid-September. I gladly cook with quality canned tomatoes during the dormant months. (Just last week I made a delicious braised veal dish with canned San Marzano tomatoes). It begs the question; have you ever found a tomato "out of season" that compares to a fresh, local tomato "in season?"
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