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Renn

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

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It is back at 420 on amazon. These fluctuations really happen to me all the time.

Thanks for the tip, I pulled the trigger. Now just the waiting begins.

One thing I hope: I'ved noted in the past that books which publish an errata online get a lot of flack for have some many recipes "wrong". This is idiotic, on the whole, because the huge majority of cooks books have errors, it is only the ones which actually *help* you by telling you the errors that get the grief. I hope that the publishers here publish the revisions and get good compliments for it, instead of grief. Rant over for today :)

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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.

You did achieve it.

Familiar: aligning the strands of meat for burgers, mushroom ketchup and the cheese slice concept all made appearances in Heston Blumenthal's "In Search of Perfection" books.

Different: the compressed tomato, infused lettuce and the mayo/glaze.

I'm not implying anything negative. I'm sure the way the "familiar" ideas were executed was unique, they're just ideas that are more familiar to me than the stuff in the "different" category. It's looking like this is going to be one of those "must have" books regardless of price.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The Chinese printers use very advanced technology like stochastic screening to give us printing superior to virtually all other books - even to art books.

Slightly off topic, but I am curious--is the Artron color process you mention on the web site a six-color process or four-color? I seem to dimly recall from my days as a print buyer in the 90s when stochastic, hexachrome, and waterless printing were going to take over the world, the actual uptake of the technology was slowed by patent complications. And of course, cost and inertia. Nobody wanted to actually pay for it. I had some book covers printed waterless, and they looked real nice, but no one really noticed the difference.


"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Slightly off topic, but I am curious--is the Artron color process you mention on the web site a six-color process or four-color? I seem to dimly recall from my days as a print buyer in the 90s when stochastic, hexachrome, and waterless printing were going to take over the world, the actual uptake of the technology was slowed by patent complications. And of course, cost and inertia. Nobody wanted to actually pay for it. I had some book covers printed waterless, and they looked real nice, but no one really noticed the difference.

I am embarassed to say that I don't recall at the moment - I will check and post. We discussed both but I don't recall where we came out...


Nathan

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I'm in. I preordered it. Nathan's right, even though it's $500 now, you get the lowest price at Amazon between now and the day it ships.

I was happy to see that when I typed "modernist" into Amazon's search window, the top of the "search suggestion" list was "Modernist Cuisine". I think that bodes well for an early success.

I am so damn excited I could sphericate the cat.

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We'll see how life changing any one book can be, especially a $500 one. I find a "definitive reference book" to be unrealistic because if you ask something like "how do I make stock" to 10 different chefs, you'll get 10 different answers. Even with Sous Vide, a method where you can attain cooking "perfection", you'll get different times and temperatures from many chefs for a single protein.

But I do think this is a good time to put out such a cookbook given that cutting edge gastronomy has plateaued and people are starting to reach their culinary limits in terms of "WTF can you possibly do to your food".


austinlinecook.com

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... people are starting to reach their culinary limits in terms of "WTF can you possibly do to your food".

Unfortunately we can now genetically modify it, so think of this as an area potentially resembling a dangerous blank slate.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

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

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Will ther be a launch event/party/conference?

Maybe an opportunity to re-establish the equivalent of the Erice conferences, with chefs and scientists.

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We are still planning what we do about the launch. We don't have plans for a conference at this point.


Nathan

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A brilliant decision to place modernist techniques within the context of the familiar....And on that note, mind sharing more of the burger recipe? Sure, I can guess a good amount of it, but since precision seems to be central to the book, I'd love to give it a go verbatim.

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I heard you guys were all going to get into a food truck and cross the country cooking BBQ and burgers, is this just a rumor/dream?


h. alexander talbot

chef and author

Levittown, PA

ideasinfood

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I heard you guys were all going to get into a food truck and cross the country cooking BBQ and burgers, is this just a rumor/dream?

Sounds like fun, but my day job may get in the way!

An even better idea would be to take the team and go across the country EATING great BBQ than cooking it. I bet we'd learn something, and it would be a change of pace from writing the book. However, all of that is indefinite future, right now our focus is on proofreading the galleys and telling the world about the book. This weekend I speak at a conference of food bloggers, and it will be interesting to see what they think.


Nathan

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Well I'm excited and I'm looking forward to the release.

An article about the book along with a demonstration of how to cook the perfect duck breast with dry ice, re-ignited my interest in food last year. Following on from that article/video I discovered Herve This, McGee and Blumenthal - my bookshelves and pantry have been filling up ever since and I've done more cooking in the last year than I have over the previous 5 or 6 years combined.

Awesome work!

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The enthusiastic Mr. Hennes just indicated that, for a mere $4/volume additional fee, you can get the book shipped overnight. (If you have Prime, which I don't, it's $4 flat.) At $421-500, this seems a pittance, so I'm going for the luxury of getting it PDQ.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Some news about the cookbook. We have had to delay publication by a couple months due to a number of factors. The new date is in March but we expect that the book may be available a bit before then.

Also, the current issue of Food Arts magazine (subscribers should be getting it now) has a big article on the book.


Nathan

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No...! :( I hope some edits and additions are added, with the extra four months. Missing a Thanksgiving launch will definitely put a dent in sales.

More recipes -- say, modernist versions of mac 'n cheese, pot roast, Thanksgiving dinner, ice cream cake -- or more details on specific ingredients would be stellar. Wish list: the deep skinny on glutamates and how they affect foods, dishes, and eaters as a whole; differences on every type of commercial cooking oil and type of fatty acid from culinary and nutritional perspectives; cooking differences between all common cuts and offal of beef, pig, chicken, duck, lamb, assorted fish. That's a start. :)

I guess the delay will give me more time to play around with my new Nikon D7000.

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I just noticed that the Amazon page now says six volumes, where it used to say five... not sure if this means there is more content, or if the volumes have simply been re-formatted to simplify publishing?

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There are 5 hardcover volumes, plus the spiral bound kitchen manual (about 350 pages) which is printed on waterproof paper. So there are six volumes.

That hasn't changed for the last 3 months, but about 3 months ago we had to split one of the hardcover volumes - it got too big. When you get too many pages in one volume, you get potential binding issues (the binding doesn't last as long, spine can crack. Also given the large format of the book it gets too heavy to be convienent for people. So yes, we went from 5 to 6 volumes, although not recently.

Nevetheless, the Amazon page had originally been written for the earlier 5 volume set.

Also, there is some lingering confusion between the fact that the 5 hardcover volumes are in one set, and then there is kitchen manual which we consider to be volume 6.


Nathan

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The NYTimes cites longer-than-usual time required for proofreading (understandable), and troubles with the shipping package (for the books) for the delay.

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Think positive!

The delay leaves us more time for lively discussions before the book arrives and everything has been said and the answer to any question will be RNMB (to avoid the vulgar RTFM).


Peter F. Gruber aka Pedro

eG Ethics Signatory

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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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