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"Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide"

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I was interested by the descriptions of and instructions for cook-chill, but given the scientific omissions in the book, I'm frankly not sure how much I trust them, especially in a home environment. Anyone?

Actually, his description of cook-chill is quite reasonable. He stresses rapidly chilling the bags of cooked food in ice water baths --- rapid chilling reduces sporulation of C. perfringens. He recommends storing food at below 38°F/3.3°C --- this will prevent spores of non-proteolytic C. botulinum spores from outgrowing and producing dangerous levels of neurotoxin (within four weeks). Since some of his recipes do not achieve a 6D reduction of Listeria, he recommends freezing the food if you do not plan on using it within 3 days --- Listeria can grow at temperatures down to 29.3°F (-1.6°C).

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MikeTMD   

"Under Pressure" has instantly become one of my favorite cookbooks.

This is an exact replica of FL beet salad, prepared and plated according to Chef Keller specs:

gallery_57905_5970_262.jpg

I still can't believe those colors are real!


Edited by MikeTMD (log)

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"Under Pressure" has instantly become one of my favorite cookbooks.

This is an exact replica of FL beet  salad, prepared and plated according to Chef Keller specs:

gallery_57905_5970_262.jpg

I still can't believe those colors are real!

That's gorgeous.

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slkinsey   

Nicely done. I've so far made two recipes from Under Pressure:

The "Puree of Sunchoke Soup with Arugula Pudding and Pickled Radishes" is amazing. I've done that twice. Really the only use of SV in this recipe is for pickling the radishes (they're bagged with some sugar, water and champagne vinegar and then cooked at 85C for around 20 minutes).

"Caramelized Fennel, Marcona Almonds, Navel Orange Confit, Caraway Seeds, and Fennel Puree" was also very nice, although it required an obscene amount of time with the chinois (this was before I had the Vita Prep 3) for the almond puree and the fennel puree. Everyone loved it, and I'd definitely make it again for a dinner party.

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I was also struck by the high temperatures in this book. Often the advice is to cook on higher heat for a shorter amount of time instead of lower temperature for a longer amount of time.

I must say I have not tested this extensively, but (for now) I disagree with the statement green vegetables can't be cooked under vacuum. It is true that cooking at 85C will make green vegetables dull, but what I have tried is blanch green vegetables in boiling water, cool them, vacumm pack them and instead of cooking them below boiling point I took the 'big-pot blanching'road, i.e. boil the bag in lots of boiling water. The vegetables came out nice and green. So you don't have the gentle heat, but you do have vegetables cooking in their own liquid. Any thoughts?

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slkinsey   

What do you see as the advantage of doing them that way over simple "big pot blanching"? Can you taste or see a difference?

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It is well known (see [schellekens, 1996]) that you can cook green vegetables sous vide if you first blanch them. I frequently cook fresh green beans sous vide by (i) blanching them for 10--15 seconds in vigorously boiling water, (ii) shocking them in ice water, (iii) vacuum sealing them with some chopped onions, butter and bacon, and (iv) cooking them in a 185F (85C) water bath for 45--60 minutes.

If you want to search the scientific literature on cooking vegetables --- and there is some amazing research out there --- it is frequently described as the beta-eliminative degradation (or depolymerization) of pectic polysaccharides. [Which just means the cementing material (the pectic polysaccharides) that hold the cells together are being weakened by heat.]

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It is well known (see [schellekens, 1996]) that you can cook green vegetables sous vide if you first blanch them. I frequently cook fresh green beans sous vide by (i) blanching them for 10--15 seconds in vigorously boiling water, (ii) shocking them in ice water, (iii) vacuum sealing them with some chopped onions, butter and bacon, and (iv) cooking them in a 185F (85C) water bath for 45--60 minutes.

Is this something the authors of Under Pressure don't know or don't care about? However you look at it they present it as an authoritative book on sous vide and if there is a backway to cooking green vegetables they should have mentioned it.

Slkinsey, I have not tested it extensively so my only answer is it's the same advantage as the other vegetables cooked sous vide instead of regular blanching.

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Jan,

Perhaps I should have said, well known in the academic literature and used extensively by industrial food producers. Even in the modern food (or molecular gastronomy) movement, there is still frequently a 10--20 year delay from academic journals to restaurant kitchens. For instance, it is well known in the academic literature (see [Waldron, et al. Trends Food Sci Tech 8 (1997) 213--222]) that you can reduce the extent of softening of some fruits and vegetables when cooking by either increasing the Ca2+ levels or pre-cooking the vegetable at 50--60C before cooking (for say 30--45 minutes); the former (the addition of calcium) I heard used by Dave Arnold and Nils Norén last year to improve the texture of cooked bananas, but I haven't heard the latter being used by anyone yet (despite its obvious applications to carrots in stew).

Edit: Fixed typo.


Edited by DouglasBaldwin (log)

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vice   

It is well known (see [schellekens, 1996]) that you can cook green vegetables sous vide if you first blanch them. I frequently cook fresh green beans sous vide by (i) blanching them for 10--15 seconds in vigorously boiling water, (ii) shocking them in ice water, (iii) vacuum sealing them with some chopped onions, butter and bacon, and (iv) cooking them in a 185F (85C) water bath for 45--60 minutes.

One of the criticisms of big-pot blanching is that some amount of the product's flavor is lost to the cooking liquid. What if one reordered these steps (iii, i, ii, iv) to preclude this issue? Indeed, this is partly what Jan suggests above. Has anyone tried it?

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IndyRob   

Just curious, but does everyone's copy have signatures on the title page (the page that lists the subtitle, authors, et. al.)? I got mine for Christmas and, while I do have a family connection to per se, I only ever wistfully thought I might get a signed copy. Now that things have died down after Christmas, I have myself alone with the book and noticed the signatures. But my copy was still shrink wrapped. I'm thinking they must be on every copy. But it sure does look like they were done with a Sharpie.

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OliverB   

no sig in my copy, they must have signed it before wrapping it (again). I just got my Ad Hoc signed by Keller, you can see that sig at my blog if you scroll down.

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IndyRob   

no sig in my copy, they must have signed it before wrapping it (again). I just got my Ad Hoc signed by Keller, you can see that sig at my blog if you scroll down.

Thanks much. The sig in mine matches your image. I'll have to find out more about where it came from.

But now that I've gotten through the book, the biggest revelation is that you can fairly easily overcook meat sous vide. I don't think I've seen that explicitly mentioned anywhere, but I think I just did exactly that. I did a ribeye for 4 hours at 135(F), then seared with a proper blowtorch for the first time. I thought I was going to have my best result yet, but was underwhelmed. I think I got just the sort of 'pink but overdone' that was mentioned. And the idea of a mere 10 minute window for lobster was eye opening.

Regarding the temps, I think I'll reserve judgment and keep reading various sources. I've always been amazed that Alton Brown has never addressed sous vide. From the little I've been able to read, this seems to be because of the lawyers and regulators that he normally likes to tweak. So I wouldn't be surprised if some temps had to be tweaked in order to get the book past the legal review.

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Not so long ago I was flipping through the book and started wondering about the pressure guidelines. Everything is described with the words 'low', 'medium' or 'high'. A lot of vacuum machines do not have these settings, having a simple meter, a digital barometer (mbar) or one where pressure is expressed in percentages, so how can you convert these guidelines.

For example:

Low = 250mbar or 75%.

Medium = xmbar or x%.

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Instead of creating a new topic, I figured I'd unearth this one. I have a good grasp on the science behind sous vide and the safety, etc. I'm not looking at this book as an intro. to sous vide or anything that I haven't already learned from Baldwin's stuff, Chefsteps.com, or this forum. I have used the sous vide method for a few months now and feel comfortable with it. I am a huge Thomas Keller fan and was interested in the recipes that are found in this book. I was curious as someone who is a dedicated home cook, comfortable with using scales, and uses an Anova immersion circulator.

I have two concerns:

1. I don't have a chamber vacuum sealer. I use the water displacement method. Besides not being able to compress fruit, am I going to be able to do the other steps of the recipes? I understand that a lot of them call for liquid in the bag, which isn't a problem with the water displacement method, but I wasn't sure if I'd be missing out on other benefits (if they exist) of using a chamber vacuum sealer with liquids.

2. Is this book worth it for a home cook who has experience with sous vide? I have read that TK's temperatures aren't recommended, but I know enough to go off of what I prefer/learned. It is the other recipe ideas, techniques, and nuances I'm hoping to pick up.

What do you think?


Edited by Robenco15 (log)

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Twyst   

2. Is this book worth it for a home cook who has experience with sous vide? I have read that TK's temperatures aren't recommended, but I know enough to go off of what I prefer/learned. It is the other recipe ideas, techniques, and nuances I'm hoping to pick up.

What do you think?

Honestly I would say no, it's not a must have book. I'm a huge Keller fan, but even though it's only 5 years old this book seems dated when it comes to sous vide cookery. Better information is now available on the internet on sites like this and chefsteps, and modernist cuisine is several orders of magnitude better for cook times/temps IMHO


Edited by Twyst (log)

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Anna N   

So the recipes aren't very good/there isn't much to take away from them?

I had (and still have) access to the book even though I don't own it. I think you will be very disappointed with it. Just my opinion.

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rotuts   

I think this book was a ( visual ) stunner when it was published. it had a lot of information not easy to come by back then.

now not so much. F.D.: I got the book 'used' very cheaply when I began to look into SV. it was brand new as 'used'

maybe your library has one? or if you really have the 'itch' look for used.

id does point out that the ingredients TK uses might make all the difference w experiencing what's on your plate with these Rx's


Edited by rotuts (log)

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