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"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 1)

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I have pre-ordered "Modernist Cuisine" from amazon.com as its not on the amazon.co.uk site? I really hope that they deliver to Ireland. Would be a great Christmas present to myself!! What is the expected release date, or have details been finalized yet?

I am sure that it can be shipped to Ireland. We will also have it available from Amazon.co.uk.

The current estimate of shipping date is toward the end of this year - November-December.


Nathan

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Douglas, have you received any update on when your book will be available through Amazon? I've been checking frequently, and while your name/title is a "suggested search," there's no listing yet! I'm looking forward to reading it...

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I got a peek at a small part of Modernist Cuisine the other day. Like others, I gasped when I heard the price (although it's available at Amazon on a pre-order basis for $422 (click here for a Society-friendly link). Having seen approximately 2% of it (24 pages out of 2200), I can say that if you have the money, it's likely to be worth it.

There are five separate volumes:

  • History and Fundamentals: culinary movements, microbiology, safety, health, heat and energy, physics
  • Techniques and Equipment: traditional cooking, modern ovens, sousvide, the "modernist" kitchen
  • Ingredients and Preparations: meat and seafood, plants, thickeners, gels, emulsions, foams, wine, coffee
  • Plated-dish Recipes: tender cuts, tough cuts, poultry and birds, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy, starches, fruits and vegetables
  • Kitchen journal: a spiral-bound volume for the owner's own notes; includes condensed versions of many of the book's recipes

Imagine On Food and Cooking, expanded to include what this book calls modernist techniques and ingredients, with photography that at least equals what you see in something like Keller's Under Pressure. Many of the photographs have been usefully doctored (they've got a real Photoshop whiz, and I say that as someone who's been called a Photoshop whiz himself) to illustrate principles; many are directly annotated. A friend looked at some one photo in particular and remarked, "I don't cook in a wok, but that picture sure makes me want one."

Something that's flown under the radar is authorship. Nathan is listed first, but he's got two co-writers: Chris Young and Maxime Billet. Both are Fat Duck alums, among several other impressive things.

That's what I remember for now, but maybe questions will jog my memory.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I'd love to view a preview snippet of a few pages or get it as an e-book (husband has an iPad).


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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Indeed, we are working night and day to meet our deadlines. We have a LOT of pages to proofread! We will have a website up soon, but for now our priority is the book.


Nathan

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Good luck and let us know when you're ready! :)


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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I've been really excited about this book for a long time. I was prepared to shell out the money when the anticipated price point was in the $300 range. But with where it is now - and keeping in mind that Amazon.ca isn't listing it, so I'm not sure I can get the "Amazon discount" - I'm wondering: if it's already divided into 5 volumes, why are they not being released separately? I'd happily buy all five at $125 each, and it would allow me to spread out the expense in a way that works with my cash flow situation. But, with all due respect, given the choice between this book at $625 and a brand-new Polyscience Sous Vide Professional at $800, I'd rather be able to *do* sous vide cooking than just read about it.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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It will be on Amazon.ca. I have no control over the discount, but my understanding is that Amazon Canada discounts more or less like the US site does.

We are not selling it as separate volumes - the book is written with extensive cross referencing between the volumes, so each volume would not stand alone very well.


Nathan

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Decided last night that this is my likely 2010 Xmas present. A few questions:

Are the illustrations both of finished dishes and of methods? Are we talking Cook's Book or something less/more detailed?

I'm assuming that this is aimed at home, restaurant, and industry cooks. How are those various audiences handled? For example, for how many servings are most recipes scaled?

The Amazon page suggests that the techniques are not merely molecular but encompass traditional techniques as well. Does that mean that there are recipes on those traditional techniques or just research, insights, tips, and that sort of thing?

What's on the cover?

I'm really dying to see a table of contents....


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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If you order through Amazon now you are guaranteed the lowest price between now and when your order ships. They may raise the price later - but this is not something I am involved with.

Table of contents will be up soon - on both the Amazon page and a new web site. But we're busy with the book at the moment.

The photos are of step-by-step methods and final dishes and everything else in between.


Nathan

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Does anyone know if the book depository is going to stock these volumes?

I'm in Australia and I find the way amazon pack their books is not great for a long trip, especially if they books are heavy so they always arrive with a little bit of damage to the corners which drives me nuts.

Cheers

quasar

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Amazon will stock it world wide. It will also be distributed to various book stores, and we have talked to people about distributing for us in Australia. I am not sure what you mean by "book depository" - if that is a specific distribtor.

The book is being packed into a shipping box at the printing plant. So it should arrive in its own shipping box the way that a TV or computer would be packed.


Nathan

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Any chance you might sell any signed copies? That would be fun.


--

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We are trying to figure out the logistics of how we could sell signed copies. So there is no offical plan to do so yet, but we may come up with one. Right now our focus is on finishing. I have about 400 pages to proofread and correct this weekend.


Nathan

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I am not sure what you mean by "book depository" - if that is a specific distribtor.

Hi Nathan,

Thanks for the quick response, I have pre-ordered from Amazon.

The book depository is a huge online book seller in the UK www.bookdepository.co.uk and they also have a US company www.bookdepository.com

They ship all over the world for free so quite a lot of aussies use their services.

Thanks again for the help and best wishes for getting the book together.

Quasar

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At long last our web site for my book Modernist Cuisine is up and running! We announce it officially on Monday, but I thought that you might like to check it out a bit early. The site is a work in progress and we will improve it over time, but the basic version still gives a lot more information than has been available up until now.

The Table of Contents gives a good overview of what is in the book. The web site also shows some of the photos.

The sous vide chapter is 86 pages, but sous vide information occurs throughout the entire book.

The book itself is still being finished - we are reviewing galley proofs of some volumes, and doing final proofreading of other volumes this weekend. We have a few more weeks of work ahead of us to get evething done. There are a lot of details to check in 2400 pages!

Publication date is still December 2010. I hope you like the book, but in the meantime, I hope you like the web site.

This thread, and the feedback I got from posts here was the main inspiration for the book. Thanks to everybody here for the help and encouragement over the years!!


Nathan

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Oh wow the website is awesome! Congrats on the book, I'll need one once you're done! I'm starting to incorporate more of these new techniques after getting a solid French/Italian base for the last 9 years. Looking forward to what I get to learn from your book! Is that a pre-order special on Amazon?


Edited by ScottyBoy (log)

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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Very exciting! I can't wait for my copy to arrive... When not in use, I think I'll keep it on my bookshelf next to the printed sheets of your original temp/time tables from early on in this thread (around page 7, I think)... They have been invaluable and I think you're one of the main reasons this thread has become so important to so many people! Just wanted to say thanks....

At long last our web site for my book Modernist Cuisine is up and running! We announce it officially on Monday, but I thought that you might like to check it out a bit early. The site is a work in progress and we will improve it over time, but the basic version still gives a lot more information than has been available up until now.

The Table of Contents gives a good overview of what is in the book. The web site also shows some of the photos.

The sous vide chapter is 86 pages, but sous vide information occurs throughout the entire book.

The book itself is still being finished - we are reviewing galley proofs of some volumes, and doing final proofreading of other volumes this weekend. We have a few more weeks of work ahead of us to get evething done. There are a lot of details to check in 2400 pages!

Publication date is still December 2010. I hope you like the book, but in the meantime, I hope you like the web site.

This thread, and the feedback I got from posts here was the main inspiration for the book. Thanks to everybody here for the help and encouragement over the years!!

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Nathan

Congratulations on a monumental and truly pioneering task. You have done an enormous service to so many people who appreciate bringing out the best in their cooking.

What a journey you have taken since your first post on this thread many years ago.

Thank you

Evan


Dough can sense fear.

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This is incredibly impressive. Until now, I couldn't imagine a 2400 pp cookbook--but reading through your Table of Contents, every chapter looks to be essential. And the photography is gorgeous. Bravo!



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Ditto to what Linda said. Looking forward to this book!


This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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      I initially thought I could handicap such a race simply by using the temperature setting and comparing the times required to achieve a “preheat” in a pans of cold water. Alas, no—the Panasonic’s IR function signified the copper pan was preheated to 350F before the water even reached 70F! Obviously, the entire thermal system of cold food in a cold pan needs to come to equilibrium before the Panasonic’s temperature readout becomes meaningful.

      A. Temperature Settings
       
      Unfortunately, with every pan I tried, the temperature settings were wildly inaccurate for measuring the temperature of the food. I heated 2 liters of peanut oil in a variety of pots, disk-base, enameled cast iron enameled steel, and copper. I thought it might be useful to see how close to 350F and 375F the settings were for deep frying. The oil in a Le Creuset 5.5Q Dutch oven set to 350F never made it past 285F, and it took 40:00 to get there. I kept bumping up the setting until I found that the setting for 420F will hold the oil at 346F. A disk-based pot didn’t hit 365F until the temperature setting was boosted to 400F. The only pan which came remotely close to being true to the settings was a 2mm silvered copper oven, which heated its oil to 327F when the Panasonic was set for 350F, and 380F when set for 410F.
       
      The temperature function was a lot closer to true when simply preheating an empty pan. With a setting of 350F, all the shiny stainless pans heated to just a few degrees higher (about 353-357F) and held there. This is useful for judging the Leidenfrost Point (which is the heat at which you can oil your SS and have it cook relatively nonstick) and potentially for “seasoning” carbon steel, SS and aluminum, but not much else, since it doesn’t translate to actual food temperature. There’s also the issue of the temperature settings *starting* at 285F, so holding a lower temperature for, e.g., tempering chocolate or a sous vide bath, or even a simmer would be by-guess-by-golly just like any other hob—your only resort is lots of experience with lower *power* settings.
       
      With heat-tarnished copper, a 350F setting resulted in a wide swinging between 353F and 365F, which I attribute to the copper shedding heat far faster than the other constructions, once the circuit stops the power at temperature. Then, when the circuit cycles the power back on, the copper is so responsive that it quickly overshoots the setting. Aluminum, on the other hand, *undershot*, the 350F setting, registering a cycle of 332-340F.

      I conclude that the IR sensor is set for some particular emissivity, probably for that of stainless steel. If true, the Panasonic, even though it automatically switches frequencies, does not compensate for the different emissivities of copper and aluminum. And even if Panasonic added dedicated aluminum and copper IR sensors, there is enough difference between dirty and polished that the added cost would be wasted. Bottom line here: the temperature setting mode is of extremely low utility, and should not be trusted.
       
      B. Power Mode – Pan Material Comparisons
       
      Given the differences in power setting granularity and maximum power between the two frequencies, it is difficult to assess what X watts into the pot means in, say, a copper-versus-clad or –disk showdown. What is clear, however, is that Setting X under disk and clad seems “hotter” than the same setting under copper and aluminum.

      I will need to precisely calibrate the Panasonic for wattage anyway for the hyperconductivity project, so I will obtain a higher-powered watt meter to determine the wattage of every power setting for both frequencies. Until then, however, the only way I can fairly handicap a race is to apply a reduction figure to the ferromagnetic setting (2400W being 69% of 3500W). Given that we know the wattage at the maximum settings, we can infer that Setting 14 (actually 13.8) on the 20-step ferromagnetic range iis approximately the same heat output as the maximum setting (18) for copper/aluminum.

      The boil times for 4 liters of 50F water in 10” diameter pots shocked me. The 10” x 3mm tinned copper pot’s water reached 211F in 36:41. Not an especially fast time at 2400 watts. The 10” disk-based pressure cooker bottom? Well, it didn’t make it—it took an hour to get to 208F and then hung there. So that left me wondering if the Panasonic engineers simply decided that 2400 watts was enough for copper and aluminum. I have a theory why the copper pot boiled and the SS one didn’t under the same power, but getting into that’s for another time.

      C. Evenness Comparisons
       
      The wires which generate the induction field are wound in a circular pattern; when energized, they create a torus-shaped magnetic field. The wound coil is constructed with an empty hole at its center. As matters of physics, the magnetic field’s intensity drops off extremely fast as a function of the distance from the coil; a few millimeters above the Ceran, the field is so weak no meaningful heat will be generated. This means that most induction cooktops heat *only* the very bottom of pans, and in a distinct 2-dimensional “doughnut” shape.

      All of the above can result in a pan having a cooler central spot, a hotter ring directly over the coil, and a cooler periphery outside the coil. It is left to the cookware to try to even out these thermal discontinuities when cooking. Some materials and pan constructions are better at this than others: the successful constructions utilize more highly-conductive metals such as aluminum and copper, but unless the material is very thick, there can be a ring-shaped hotspot that can scorch food.
      Until the Panasonic arrived to market, hotspot comparisons between ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper pans depended largely on comparing induction’s flat, more discrete heat ring with gas’s more diffuse, 3-dimensional one. Dodgeball-style debate ensued, with few clear conclusions. But now, for the first time, equally-powered flat heat rings in two different frequencies allow us to directly compare evenness in ferromagnetic and aluminum/copper cookware.

      The simplest and easiest way to assess cookware evenness is the “scorchprint”, which does not require infrared or other advanced thermal imaging equipment. I’ve posted on how to conduct scorchprinting elsewhere, but basically a pan is evenly dusted with flour; heat is applied to the pan bottom. As the flour is toasted, any hotspots visually emerge, giving the viewer a useful general idea of evenness.
       
      I will later post the photos of scorchprints I made of 4 different pans run using the Panasonic KY-MK3500: (1) a Demeyere 28cm Proline 5* clad frypan; (2) a Fissler Original Profi disk-base 28cm frypan; a 6mm aluminum omelet pan; and (4) a 32cm x 3.2mm Dehillerin sauté. To make it a fair race, I heated all the pans at 2400W until they reached 450F, and then backed off the power setting to maintain 450F. I did this in order not to compromise my saute’s tin lining. As you will see, both the clad Demeyere and the disk-based Fissler did print the typical brown doughnut, with a cooler center and periphery. By far the most even was the thick, all-aluminum pan, which actually was even over its entirety—even including the walls. The copper sauté was also quite even, although its larger size and mass really dissipated heat; once 450F was dialed in, no more browning happened, even after 30 minutes.
       
      I conclude that the straightgauge pans were far more effective at shunting heat to their peripheries and walls (and also to some extent into the air) than the clad and disk-based pans. The latter accumulated their heat with most of it staying in the center of the pans. Eventually, even the “doughnut hole” blended into the scorch ring because the walls were not bleeding sufficient heat away from the floor. This was especially pronounced in the Fissler, the high wall and rim areas of which never exceeded 125F. The aluminum pan, in contrast varied less than 30F everywhere on the pan.

      D. Other Considerations

      The Panasonic’s fan noise at the cook’s position was noticeable at 63 dBA, higher than with the VMP’s 57 dBA. These levels are characterized as “normal conversation” and “quiet street”, respectively. Interestingly, I found two other, potentially more important differences. First, the Panasonic’s fan stays on, even after the unit is powered off, whereas the VMP’s fan shuts off immediately when the hob is turned off. Second, the Panasonic’s fan steps down from the louder speed to a much quieter (47 dBA, characterized as “quiet home”) level until the Ceran is cool to sustained touch, at which point it shuts off completely. I think the Panasonic’s ability to continue to vent and cool itself is a great feature, especially since a cook could leave a large, full, hot pan on the glass.

      The glowing circle is useless for gauging heat setting or intensity. And while it works to indicate a hot surface, it remains lit long after you can hold your hand in place dead center.
       
      VI. Summary and Lessons
       
      The Panasonic KY-MK3500 is a solid unit, well-conceived and rugged. It is extremely easy to use. It works well with both the common 24kHz frequency used with ferromagnetic cookware, and the 90kHz frequency chosen here for copper and aluminum. It effectively and automatically switches between the two.

      In my opinion, it points the way to expanding the worldwide induction appliance market to include dual frequencies. It also obviates the need to: (a) junk otherwise excellent cookware merely to have induction; and (b) retrofit designs to bond on ferromagnetic outer layers. In fact, in my opinion, my tests indicate that, in a dual-frequency world, adding ferromagnetic bottoms may well be a drag on pans’ performance.
       
      I also consider the Panasonic Met-All to be ground-breaking in what it can tell us about *pans*, because all metallic pans are now commensurable on induction. Clearly (to me anyway), watt-for-watt, the copper and aluminum pans performed better than did the clad and disk-based pans on this unit. Boil times were faster, there was less propensity to scorch, and the conductive-sidewall pans definitely added more heat to the pans’ contents. We may ultimately find that 90kHz fields save energy compared to 24kHz fields, much as copper and aluminum require less heat on gas and electric coil.
      In terms of heat transfer, the copper and aluminum pans came close to emulating the same pans on gas. And at 2400W/3500W it has the power of a full size appliance in a relatively small tabletop package.
       
      The Panasonic is far from perfect, however. It can’t really be considered portable. There are far too few temperature settings, and what few it has are not accurate or consistent in terms of judging pan contents and attaining the same temperature in different pans (and even the same pan unless clean). The luminous ring could easily have been made a useful indicator of intensity, but wasn’t. And it lacks things that should be obvious, including a through-the-glass “button” contact thermocouple, more power granularity, an analog-style control knob, and capacity to accept an external thermocouple probe for PID control.
       
      Most importantly for me, the Panasonic KY-MK3500 portends more good things to come. Retail price remains $1,700-$2,400, but I jumped on it at $611, and I’ve seen it elsewhere for as low as $1,200.
       
      The manual can be found here: ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/commercialfoo...
       
      Photo Credit:  Panasonic Corporation

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