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

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Wow. Congrats to you and your crew Nathan.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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The photography looks even better than Under Pressure. Many of the photos feature pots, pans, and other equipment cut in half -- was that done in reality or just Photoshop?

I'm excited to read about the rotary evaporator, centrifuges, and other equipment I could not possibly ever afford.

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We really cut things in half! Lots of things...

Photoshop was also needed in some cases. For example to show a pot cut in half we usually had to glue pyrex glass over the half, then use photoshop to take out the evidence of the glass at the edges. This is like in Hollywood movies where people fly through the air supported by wires, then they digitally remove the wires.


Nathan

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The index to your book fully justifies the faith we placed in you by pre-ordering when it appeared on Amazon.

Well done! Can't wait to read and use it.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I was interested when I first heard about it, now? Must have!

It's a shame it's releasing when it is though, I'll be staging in Australia for a month and won't have money for a while.

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Wow. This looks spectacular Nathan and will be the highest item on my Xmas list. Your team seems to have done an outstanding job. Unfortunately I might have to wait a bit before I can convince my SO of how much I NEED this as opposed want this at this price tag.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Wow, very nice. It looks like the book may actually live up to the hype! ;-) I'm very excited to receive my copy - it looks incredibly educational, but also a lot of fun to read.

I'm wondering if the recipes listed in ToC are just examples - are there more? I'm certainly happy with what is listed, but I'm guessing that a 66 page section like "Tough Cuts", even with the gorgeous photography, includes more than eight recipes. Of course, they could be "lessons" as much as "recipes," and be much lengthier than I'm assuming. Nathan, if you have a moment, could you resolve my confusion? Thanks!

EDIT - Ah, I think I understand a bit better. Looks like the recipe section in Vol. 5 is for special plated items, while there are recipes spread throughout a couple of the other volumes as well. So there are many (hundreds?) of recipes, just not all in Vol. 5.


Edited by RDaneel (log)

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Total recipe count depends a bit on how you count it because we have some unique types of recipes that have many possibilites. I would estimate about 1000 recipes total in the book, distributed through most of the volumes.

The plated dish recipes include side dishes and garnishes. Each one is multiple side recipes.

However, the book is not just a recipe book. We could fit a lot more than 1000 recipes in that page count if that is all we wanted to do - we have a lot of technique and "how to" photos.


Nathan

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Awesome, sounds great. My only concern, before I read the preview site in more depth, was that recipes would be limited to a few dozen. They would certainly be welcome, but I'm glad to have many more considering the length of the compendium! Can't wait for that Amazon delivery to arrive...

The book appears to be a bit of On Food and Cooking, some Complete Techniques, a dash of Under Pressure, and then a whole lot more. I don't see how it could be summed up in a sentence or with a good metaphor, so thank you for putting together the preview site.

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Hi Nathan, looks great but still no sign on Amazon UK.

Am sure I was the first to ask for a signed copy on the Sous Vide thread, any resolution there?


“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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It will be available for pre-order on Amazon UK soon, but I am not sure exactly how soon.

I am happy to sign copies if they are physically accessible to me, but the logistics of signing and then shipping are difficult.

The books are packaged in a shipping box at the printing plant - much like you would get a DVD player, flat panel TV or some other consumer electronics. It goes from there by ship to warehouses for Amazon, or other book distributors.

The book weighs so much that paying for shipping to ship it to me to sign is pretty expensive.

We are looking into a way for me to sign a bunch of books and then give them to Amazon or others as a special signed edition. This only makes sense if there is a lot of demand for a signed book.

Another approach is to sign bookplates which get stuck in the book.

We will look into various solutions...


Nathan

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Another approach is to sign bookplates which get stuck in the book.

I've never understood why someone would want a signed bookplate. Unless that bookplate had a personal message.

I've pre-ordered the book from Amazon and can't wait to get my hands on it. And I know it's going to cost me way more than $421.87...

Years ago a friend gave me a bottle of Campari along with a recipe for a negroni. That gift cost me $250 because I had to buy martini glasses, a cocktail shaker, gin, vermouth.

I know that as a result of buying Modernist Cuisine, I'll be adding to my collection of kitchen toys.


If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Kim, just repeat after me: I don't need a Pacojet. I don't need a Rotovap. I don't need an Anti-Griddle...

haha

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Kim, just repeat after me: I don't need a Pacojet. I don't need a Rotovap. I don't need an Anti-Griddle...

haha

Why would I want to resist temptation?


If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Awesome, sounds great. My only concern, before I read the preview site in more depth, was that recipes would be limited to a few dozen. They would certainly be welcome, but I'm glad to have many more considering the length of the compendium! Can't wait for that Amazon delivery to arrive...

The full table of contents lists 48 recipes in the "Plated Dishes" volume. But as Nathan has alluded, that number is a little deceptive. The Mushroom Swiss Burger, for example, incorporates 16 subrecipes:

Methylcellulose A15C Stock Solution

Tomato Confit

Rendered Beef Suet

Short-Rib Patty

Hamburger Buns

Mushroom Broth

Freeze-Dried Shiitake

Mushroom Ketchup

Restructured Emmental Slices

Onion Stock

Onion Cracker Breading

Shallot Rings

Hamburger Glaze

Sautéed Maitake Mushrooms

Smoked Lettuce

Compressed Tomatoes

So it's easy to see how a recipe count not only multiplies, but how difficult it is to count them -- some are barely recipes in the classical sense, and some seem to be quite complicated.

Speaking of the burger, here's a larger version of what you can see on the site (this is at 100 dpi; obviously the printed version will be nice and sharp):

MC_burger.jpg


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

Eat more chicken skin.

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Damn, I really want to try one of those burgers. And at 16 subrecipes, I'm really hoping I can find someone else to make it for me! (just kidding about that last part)

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I am so glad I pre-ordered this book!

Tomato confit. Mushroom ketchup. Rendered beef suet.

I am in heaven.

The more I can make from scratch, the happier I am.

I may just explode.

In a good way.


If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe. - Carl Sagan

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Nathan, can you say a bit about how you and your team developed the recipe flavor profiles, for lack of a better term? For example, in the burger above, there are some standard (cheese, tomato, smoke) and not-so-standard (crimini ketchup with fish sauce and allspice) flavors going on.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Our goal with this recipe was to make the ultimate hamburger. That isn't a very well defined thing of course because everybody has their own definition, in part shaped by their experiences. Comfort food is often heavily influenced by nostalgia.

Part of the recipe is about using state of the art techniques to execute a more or less standard hamburger. We use short rib as the meat for the burger. The meat is ground via a special technique to align the grain, which makes it seem jucier. The cheese is made using an emuslifier so that it melts perfectly, the way so-called American cheese does, but it is made of real Swiss cheeses so it has high quality cheese flavor. The bun is made using l-cystene, an amino acid that helps make buns soft. The tomato is vacuum compressed to make it denser.

At the same time we wanted to put some twists in the dish.

I ate at a restaurant in Seal Beach, California that had smoked lettuce. So we decided to add that, but we wanted the lettuce crispier than theirs so we did it by vacuum infusion of liquid smoke.

For the ketchup and mayo we wanted to do something a bit more unusual flavor wise. So we developed our own ketchup recipe. We used mushrooms as the base, and then worked some other flavors in. Now, you might think that mushroom ketchup is something new, but no it isn't, see this Wikipedia article , which includes this photo of a bottle of mushroom ketchup hailing originally from 1850. Mushroom ketchup is also discussed here

You may think that Thai fish sauce is unusual, but in fact anchovies are present in Worchestershire sauce, so it is not as odd as you may think. The same is true for allspice, which is found in many ketchup recipes.

The overall goal is to have a recipe that is both familar and different at the same time. I think we achieved that, but of course there are a lot of other things that one could do.


Edited by nathanm (log)

Nathan

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      V. Evaluation in Use

      I can say that not only does the Panasonic KY-MK3500 “work” with copper and aluminum pans, but that it works very well with them. Thermally, thick gauge conductive material pans perform in close emulation of the same pans on gas, even though there are no combustion gasses flowing up and around the pan. I found this startling.
       
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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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