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Chris Amirault

Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 1)

597 posts in this topic

The promised photos. First, a shot of the potatoes in the FoodSaver bags. They were all trimmed square; if I had been thinking, I would have grated the trim for hash browns at lunch. As I mentioned above, no water in the bags:

DSC00006.JPG

A note to the SVS owners: those bags were just barely too big for the SVS, so I had to get two long skewers, poke holes in the top of the bags, and let them sit slightly diagonally from the top. I learned the hard way that big bags lying flat are a nightmare for the temperature controls on the SVS for all obvious reasons.

Meanewhile, here are the steaks getting ready for the smoker along with some other items:

DSC00003.JPG

Post-cold smoke (~2h of apple smoke; never got about 50F in the smoker) and trimmed. I am seriously looking forward to using that smoked fat somehow:

DSC00007.JPG

I was working quickly -- the steaks were a bit warmer than I'd like -- and I got them into their bags with some black pepper, Aleppo pepper, kosher salt, and a knob of rendered beef fat:

DSC00012.JPG

Into my high-tech, super-expensive ice bath:

DSC00015.JPG

As I mentioned above, I SVed them at 56C, which was a bit warmer than I'd have liked for the steaks, but I was thinking about our guests. Here they are getting their last marks on a screaming hot grill that I'd sprayed with high-heat Pam:

DSC00018.JPG


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We love our centerfuge, but it is not really required for any recipe. You can use other methods to separate solids - the book has many alternatives that are much less expensive. The point of a centerfuge is to separate food by density - usually taking solid particles out of a liquid to clarify it. While this is a wonderful thing to do for presentation, it usually can be bypassed.

One can also do without a colloid mill. It is perfect for grinding things into a super smooth paste - such as nut butters. As the post above says, very high quality commercial nut pastes will work as an alternative.

The same thing is true for most of the cool equipment we use.

Our rotor stator homogenizer is our second favorite tool after the centerfuge. They are expensive but I predict people will offer kitchen models in the future that are MUCH cheaper. It shouldn't cost any more than a good blender.

A good commercial blender, like Vitamix or Blendtec, and/or for some recipes a hand blender like Baumix, will subsitute most of the time.


Nathan

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Our rotor stator homogenizer is our second favorite tool after the centerfuge. They are expensive but I predict people will offer kitchen models in the future that are MUCH cheaper. It shouldn't cost any more than a good blender.

What do you use it for? Not prime rib PCR, I hope.

You can buy a rotor-stator homogenizer probe that affixes to a Dremel tool. Too bad they cost $500+. Maybe Harbor Freight can make a $10 knock-off.


Edited by emannths (log)

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As promised, my second foray into cooking from the book is a repeat of the first. Having worked out all the procedural variables and substituted where appropriate, I decided to do a "cheffy" version of the dish.

Here is the result:

Modernist cuisine tagine.jpg

This time I used poussin rather than chicken and made the plate less crowded [although on eating, more of the food was added ;) ].

Also, I was building a computer today and forgot to do the flatbread (bows head in shame); the bread is store-bought "Turkish bread."

The recipes are achievable with a bit of substitution. As for last time, the flavour and texture combinations were delicious. When you get the book, please try the plated recipes out rather than making this one of the best recipe books that you have not cooked from. The dishes really are special.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
My eG Foodblog

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There are several new articles about the cookbook and the dinners we have been doing for chefs and others in the food business.

Here are comments by Michael Laiskonis, Kenji Alt-Lopez, and two articles by Katy McLaughlin, one about the dinner, and one about the book.

These articles have pictures of dishes from the book, but the other interesting thing is that they have comments on what people thought of how the dishes taste.


Nathan

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Nathan

What a lovely experience you gave your guests. I had read Katy McLaughlin's WSJ articles yesterday and found them most enjoyable to read...almost like being there. I especially enjoyed her run down of each of the 30 courses. When my copy of Modernist Cuisine arrives, I hope to be able to attempt some of the dishes you presented and others like such as those Chris and Nickrey offered in this topic.

A quick question, if I may? I am intrigued by the 'pea butter' and would like to attempt it at some time. I know one of your pieces of equipment is the refrigerated centrifuge. While I am never one to shy from my tendency to overbuy equipment for my kitchen, I do not need to make production scale quantities. In researching other centrifuges besides the Sorvall you have in your kitchen, I find they have what seem to be small vessels, probably not not a good size for preparing something for four to six people. Do you recommend certain specs for such machines or do I need to scale up? Further, I want a machine that is safe and won't disintegrate when spun up. One last question, what is your opinion of hand-held rotor-stator homogenizers? What stator size is most useful?


Edited by JBailey (log)

"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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I'm doing a few different things today that are influenced in part by the MC book. One is smoking a few things, and bc of the book's discussion of wet-bulb temperatures I've got the hygrometer in there, trying to maintain a humidity around 65%.

The main thing that I'm doing is using a new fresh pasta recipe. For years I have used the recipe in the eGCI course:

400g ‘00’ flour

4 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

pinch of salt

The fresh pasta recipe in MC (3-381) is designed "to replicate the appealing al dente texture that comes from classic dried Italian pasta." The one I'm using -- at 3x 100% -- is:

100 g '00' flour (100%)

1 g xanthan gum

2.5 g salt

9 g water

56.7 g egg yolk

10.7 g oil

Yes, that's xanthan gum in there, listed in the "best bets" parametric recipe table as a "texturing agent." 170g of egg yolks is about 9 yolks; I used olive oil and an unsalted shrimp & artichoke stock for the water.

I've just taken a break from kneading, as this is a much stiffer dough than I'm used to. More, later, with results.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Intriguing, Chris - looking forward to seeing the results.

Noting your comment on the stiffness; would it work satisfactorily in a mixer with a dough hook, would you think?


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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I'm on strict orders not to use the KitchenAid for pasta dough -- the second KitchenAid, that is. The one that makes a screeching noise? That one I can use. :wink:

Seriously, though, I enjoy kneading dough and rarely use the old KA for that task, saving it for the rolling and cutting into fettuccine. I don't know how it'd work.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, is there any discussion of using different types of flour when making pasta? When I want a firmer pasta, I use durum/semolina flour rather than the '00' flour. The dough is definitely stiffer and is harder to knead. If you've ever used it before, I'd be curious as to whether the use of the xantham gum gives you the same effect--or how it differs.



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Flour, salt, and xanthan gum whisked and holding the yolk mixture:

DSC00003.JPG

Though the dough was, as I noted above, quite stiff, it was very workable once I started rolling and cutting it -- remarkably easy, in fact. I had planned to make farfalle but decided to cut it into fettuccine instead. The nests didn't clot up at all while sitting in the kitchen for an hour while I finished prep:

DSC00004.JPG

One thing I wanted to try was a little trick I saw somewhere for the 65C eggs:

DSC00008.JPG

Those went into the Sous Vide Supreme while I got the water boiling and the rest of the ingredients prepared. The finished dish was fettuccine with leftovers, but pretty tasty ones: artichoke hearts, Maine shrimp, asparagus tips, shallot rings, bacon chips, and a simple butter sauce:

DSC00011.JPG

Egg was great -- though my daughter thought the white too runny and turned her nose up at it. Not mom and dad, who loved it.

The verdict on the pasta? A qualified hit. When I drained the pasta into the collander, it was truly an excellent texture, as promised much more al dente than my usual fresh pasta recipe, both more toothy and tender and less rubbery. (I will add that a slight rubberiness in egg pasta is appealing to me.) However, by the time we sat down to eat it, it had been sauced in a sauté pan, and that seemed to take away some of the toothiness. I think that next time I'd cut back on the cooking time, which was, I dunno, maybe 3 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, after a long day of cold-smoking, I have a brisket in the SVS starting an MC-suggested 72h bath at 63C. Eager to see what that's like on Wednesday night.


Edited by Chris Amirault (log)

Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Chris, is there any discussion of using different types of flour when making pasta? When I want a firmer pasta, I use durum/semolina flour rather than the '00' flour. The dough is definitely stiffer and is harder to knead. If you've ever used it before, I'd be curious as to whether the use of the xantham gum gives you the same effect--or how it differs.

First, yes, the parametric tables for pasta feature other flours, including '00', semolina, buckwheat, rice flour, alkaline ramen, and cocoa tajarin.

Second, I've made semolina before and this dough is similarly tough at first. But when I was folding and rolling and cutting, it became both smoother and firmer than the usual '00' dough, meaning that it was remarkably easy to cut and pile into nests. No need to hang, that is -- a real plus in my book. For that reason, I think it may become my go-to long pasta recipe.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Yeah, it's a small percentage, but that stuff is some crazy gum powder. I've been using gum arabic for a while (a crucial cocktail syrup ingredient) but just cracked into the Bob's Red Mill xanthan package recently. Little goes a very long way....


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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This is so true about xanthan. I misplaced a decimal once, and ended up thickening a sauce with 1% xanthan rather than 0.1%. The resulting texture is not one I would care to experience again.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'm on strict orders not to use the KitchenAid for pasta dough -- the second KitchenAid, that is. The one that makes a screeching noise? That one I can use. :wink:

I popped a KA with Pasta dough with semolina (about 25%). Killed it dead. Had it repaired. A few flour only pastas later, I damaged a gear .. it mostly works now, but does tend to screech as you say. Now I make pasta down in the FP, which works much better.

For the money, the KA could be much better made. Or maybe it is for a little more money; I dunno, but I do know I am disappointed in the robustness of it.

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Have you tried the Hobart N50? It is a geared transmission with three speeds. To change speeds you shut off the motor and then switch into the next desired gear. Very, very heavy duty. The KA was a spin-off from Hobart.

Also, you may want to research MagicMill. They are very good for large quantities of bread dough, but I have not used it for pasta. Again, a durable machine.


"A cloud o' dust! Could be most anything. Even a whirling dervish.

That, gentlemen, is the whirlingest dervish of them all." - The Professionals by Richard Brooks

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One item from Modernist Cuisine that really stuck with me was the famous finding that duck confit doesn't need to be cooked fully submerged in fat. I've been dying to see the recipe for confit that ended up being published, and when I got access to the online review copy, it was one of the first things I looked up.

Essentially, it's a basic sous vide confit, but since I've never done duck confit sous vide before, I thought it would be a good place to start. (Until recently, I couldn't get duck legs unless I bought the rest of the duck, too. I still have four frozen duck carcasses to turn into stock from the last time I made confit. I'm thinking they'll end up in the pressure cooker, once it arrives.)

Anyway, I started off by mixing up the cure:

Cure for Poultry.jpg

I made only a small batch - enough for the four duck legs I had. Some of the spices are in such small quantities, though, that I had to use my precision scale to measure them out. I'm not sure all the flavours came through in the end, but they were competing with a lot, as you'll see.

Next, the duck legs get vacuum sealed with the cure for 10 hours.

Duck in Cure.jpg

Then they're unsealed, rinsed and patted dry. Because I misread the recipe, this happened at night. I thought the next step was to cook them for 12 hours, but it turned out to be only 8, so instead of staying up late or getting up early, I just let them hang out in the fridge overnight, then sealed them with duck fat and put them in the water bath the next morning.

After 8 hours at 82 degrees, followed by a quick dip in an ice bath, they looked more or less like this:

Sous vide duck confit.jpg

That jelly you can see in the bag? That stuff has the texture of a superball.

The recipe calls for the legs to be reheated in a water bath, then crisped in a frying pan and served with potatoes that are also cooked in a water bath with duck fat, but I had bigger and better plans. I'm not sure how "authentic" my cassoulet was, but it was darn tasty!

Cassoulet.jpg

Anyway, this is now officially my go-to recipe for duck confit. It was far and away the best I've ever made or eaten. The texture was perfect, and the flavour (despite having to compete with all the other flavours in the dish) was great. And honestly, aside from mixing the cure, which can be done in bulk, I found this process considerably easier and less messy than a traditional confit.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Uh... I hacked it together? Basically, I made the confit, made some garlic sausage patties, cooked the beans with some unsmoked bacon (the savory cure from Charcuterie) and aromatics, then layered it all in a pot, along with some onions and some roasted, previously frozen Roma tomatoes, and topped with bread crumbs. That's pretty much all cassoulet is, right? The cooking liquid at the final stage was the drained cooking liquid from the beans along with that wonderful jelly from the confit, plus a little bit of white wine that I reduced first.

Actually, about that wine. For some reason, I decided to go out on a limb and buy a locally produced Aligoté. I've had Aligoté maybe once before in my life, but it was among the better wine matches I've ever served. It just made all the flavours pop. Home run.


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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One of many delicious things I expect in this thread especially when the book arrives.


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

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

My eGullet Foodblog

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Out of curiosity, I googled "DIY centrifuge" to see what came up. I had visions of sticking a cordless drill into the middle of a lazy susan...

A number of links came up, but most interesting was the "Dremelfuge", which can apparently go up to 33,000 RPM for about $50. I already have a dremel, and I've been fascinated by the concept of "pea butter" which was on one of the videos on the Modernist Cuisine website, and $50 doesn't sound like that much...

Other DIY centrifuges that Google found included one that used to be a hand-cranked cream-seperator, one made from a salad spinner (total cost - $30!), and one that used to be a washing machine... the salad-spinner one looks very simple and relatively safe, not to mention cheap.

Anyway, food for thought...

Tempting, but be careful. It would take a machinist to make a centrifuge that wouldn't self-destruct at 30K rpm. Balance is everything.

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I cribbed the pasta recipe from Chris's post for my Valentines day feast and it was awesome. I took the advice on cooking time and only boiled for two minutes. The noodles are amazing. They don't stick together at all and have a wonderful bite. And thats making them with bread flour instead of 00 semolina, too. I did have a little trouble with the first roll out, though. I used the instructions from Marcella and rolled, folded into thirds and rolled again, but when I tried to roll after the second folding, the dough wouldn't go through. In fact, it tore as I pushed it into the rollers. I learned my lesson after this happened on two of the six balls of dough, and I was able to salvage the two folded ones, but it was a curious incident. Do the instructions for rolling pasta in MC differ from typical recipes much?

Also, are there any tips on making pesto? I find that pesto made in the mortar has a much more satisfying flavor (delicious herb paste) than the food processor (chopped up bits of leaf), but I don't always want the arm workout that pounding basil provides. Is there a new, whiz-bang way of making pesto in the book?

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Tried the pasta myself last night, in rather a hurry and based only on the list of ingredients Chris published above. I didn't do anything special; just mixed everything, gave it a good kneading then into the fridge for half an hour or so, until I needed it. Because I was rushed I didn't even roll it out before feeding it into the pasta machine - just squashed it between my hands. By about the third thickness setting it was starting to look very nice and smooth, and reached perfection on the last two. I rolled it in three batches and was delighted to find the sheets I'd already done didn't stick to each other while I did the others.

When cooked, it was delicate in the mouth but pretty robust when being manhandled out of the pot. Very good mouth feel, as others have commented. This one goes onto the 'worth doing again' list.


Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

My eG Foodblog

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