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Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 1)


Chris Amirault
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I'm going to make the mac & cheese tonight when I get home (to serve with some pulled pork sandwiches and a few other things), so I thought I'd share a tweaked version of the ratios in the book. We found that it was a bit too salty, and I wanted a stronger cheddar component. I also tweaked the techniques a bit.

Whisk & simmer

  • 100g water
  • 75g (wheat) beer
  • 10g sodium citrate
  • 4.5g salt
  • 1.25g iota carrageenan

Grate and combine over low heat:

  • 140g aged gouda (was 200g)
  • 145g aged cheddar (was 80g)

Stir until melted/emulsified. Pour into container; bring to room temp; freeze. Just before serving, pull it from the freezer and grate/shred 160g.

Boil over high heat:

  • 300g water
  • 100g macaroni
  • 1g salt [down from 24.g]

Don't drain it. When pasta is al dente, add cheese and heat through until smooth and combined.

I then put it in a Le Creuset au gratin pan, topped it with seasoned breadcrumbs, and let it sit until the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Oh, and, yes, that's dried macaroni, not fresh.

I would like to thank you personally for taking the time to post the recipe, with concise directions, and your own feedback and suggestions. I really appreciate it! Thank you!

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There were six of us at dinner and it was a side that everyone loved. A double batch provided about a cup of leftovers.

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Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Drawing on the notes from Chris Hennes and Chris Amirault above, I tried to make retrograde-starch mashed potatoes last night, but I wasn't thrilled with the results. They had a grainy texture that, I later realized, resembled polenta more than anything else. I know I fudged a few of the steps: I bagged the potatoes with water, but not as much water as Chris H. used above, I cooked them at 70 degrees for 45 minutes, I didn't cool them all the way down to fridge temperature... but I'm not sure what accounts for the grainy texture. Any thoughts from those who have done this before?

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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I'm thinking it was the cooling: I think that's the really critical step, to make the starch behave correctly. I don't recall what the magic temperature is that you have to get the potatoes down to, but both MC and McGee emphasize that you have to cool them "all the way."

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Thanks, Chris. Next time, I'll be sure to start them earlier in the day so that I can cool them more thoroughly. Certainly they're worth trying again; it was fun to be able to play with them as much as I wanted and still not have them get gluey. (Not that I play with my food, or anything. :wink: )

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Also, after the cooling step, did you cook in boiling water? If so, for how long?

I've also found that with the retrograde potatoes, there are some small granules that seem to never cook through, so I always run the puree through a tamis to weed out the grains....

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Yeah, after the cooling step, I de-bagged the potatoes, put them in fresh water, and cooked at a full boil for about 20 minutes, the passed them through a food mill. Putting them through a tamis seems like a whole lot more work, and I'm not sure it would be worthwhile, since my partner prefers a chunky mash to a smooth puree anyway...

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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Chris H - thanks so much for posting your experience with the mojito spheres. I'm planning on making these in a couple weeks, and REALLY appreciate being able to learn from your experience!

I was also curious about the cocktail into which the spehere was dropped (in the book's photo). I was thinking of using club soda, but might just do like Minibar and serve them on a spoon.

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I tried the macaroni and cheese a few nights ago, and do agree with Chris that it came out too salty. In retrospect, I think I used gouda that was too aged... I forget exactly which I used, but it was harder than even a prima donna, and very heavy on the caramel notes. I think next time I'll give it a go with something like a milder goat gouda and see what happens.

Also, for people who want to make precisely enough cheese sauce to go with the amount of pasta they want to cook, I made a spreadsheet to calculate how much of everything I'd need. To edit it/use it yourself, I think you need to either save it to your computer, or create a copy of it in google docs.

On the left side of the doc, it lists all the ingredients for the recipe, and changes the weights based on the value you enter for dried pasta at the top.

The column on the right is the sub-recipe for the cheese sauce using the ratios from Chris' post. If you want to tweak the cheese sauce, modify those, and then the values on the left will be updated to make the precise amount of sauce you need for your pasta using your new ratio.

Overkill? Yep, but I was just happy to be playing with a recipe that was all by weight, so I could do something like this easily!

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Stir until melted/emulsified. Pour into container; bring to room temp; freeze. Just before serving, pull it from the freezer and grate/shred 160g.

Chris, how solid did you let it get in the freezer... did you actually get it to the point where you'd call it frozen? I'm curious about what that would do to the texture, and if the emulsifiers would actually let it recover gracefully from a full on freezing.

I just kept it in the fridge, it never got hard enough to grate, so I just went to town on it with a pastry cutter and had to let it sit in the pan a little longer to melt.

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Hmm .... a package of spreadsheets, or an iPad/whatever app with all the recipes (ingredients only, keep the book valuable :) ) would be lovely so you could baseline any ingredient quickly. Mind you , with metric measures it sure isn't hard in general.

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The wait is killing me... a week or two ago we had lots of pictures and updates but now that more people have the book there is very little being posted about it. I'm being really hypocritical because I'm sure when I get my copy I'll lock myself in a room for a while but please, post some pictures of the magnificent dishes you've been able to put together either directly from recipes / tables in the book or by using things learned from the book. I hate to beg but come on, throw a dog a bone!!!

rg

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I don't think this is quite what you are looking for, but for lunch today I had some leftover pork loin with the Aromatic Alsatian Mustard from page 5•37. The mustard is interesting: I'm not sure what the target flavor is given that I have never had Alsatian mustard before, but in my case the vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves are pretty assertive, with the actual mustard less so. I'm not sure if this is intentional or if I blanched the seeds too long. I'd be interested to hear others' experiences with it.

Aromatic Alsatian Mustard.jpg

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Sous Vide Vegetable Stock (pp. 2•303 and 6•13)

I've never made stock sous vide before so I thought I'd give it a try with a vegetable stock first. I was amazed at how little water you add: only about 70% of the weight of the vegetables. I made the "white" version of this stock, which is to say, I didn't sauté the vegetables. The finished stock is excellent, practically drinkable: very well-balanced, though sweeter than I tend to make vegetable stock. I don't know if this is the result of the sous vide process or just the balance of ingredients. For me the big problem is that the amount of stock I can make at any one time is very small: the recipe as written makes on 600mL of finished stock, and my sous vide setup probably could at most make twice that. So something like a liter at a time, max.

Sous Vide vegetable stock - Ingredients.jpg

Sous Vide vegetable stock - Finished product.jpg

Edited by Chris Hennes
corrected math error... (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Thanks for posting. I've got a question about the stock, does MC indicate a preference between standard stock pot vs pressure cooker vs sous vide or a combination of them for the creation of stocks? That review by Ruhlman had an adapted chicken stock recipe from the book that was pressure cooked and he said it was amazing.

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Yes, in fact they have a fairly extensive table where they lay out their preferences for each type of stock (they list twelve types). Most of them the preference is pressure-cooking: only the fish, shellfish, vegetable, and Japanese stocks are listed as preferring sous vide.

Edited by Chris Hennes
missed fish in the first list (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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^^

Chris, could you talk about how concentrated the vegetable stock is? Is that 600ml of pretty concentrated stock?

I'd be interested to know if you try it again with the extra step of frying the vegetables first, and how you feel it compares strength and flavour wise. Incidentally, from the picture it appears reasonably carrot-y, which could account for a lot of the sweetness. Are there strict specifications on what vegetables to use, and in what proportions?

Final question: Is there a legume based stock, as in dried beans or lentils?

Sorry if this is too many questions!

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I'd say the stock is "normal" concentration, more or less what you would want to use as say, the basis for a broth that was not going to be much further reduced. It was very flavorful and rich, but not overwhelmingly so. I just used it to parcook a risotto for this evening's dinner, so I'll report on the flavor of that dish later tonight.

There aren't any stocks based on legumes, they are all either protein, general vegetable, or specific vegetable. I'm looking through the broths as well, and I don't see anything quite right: they have things like a mushroom broth, and a "baked potato broth," but I'm not seeing anything quite like what you are looking for. Of course some of the techniques may transfer, but without testing there's no way to know for sure, that I see.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Oops, didn't address your proportion question: The recipe lists precise proportions of the ingredients, and in their parametric tables for stocks the also give specific "best bets" ratios: of course, as with any stock recipe, you have to modify it to suit your particular use. So I don't know if I'd call that "strict"—at least no more so than any other recipe.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Sous Vide Vegetable Stock (pp. 2•303 and 6•13)

I've never made stock sous vide before so I thought I'd give it a try with a vegetable stock first. I was amazed at how little water you add: only about 70% of the weight of the vegetables. I made the "white" version of this stock, which is to say, I didn't sauté the vegetables. The finished stock is excellent, practically drinkable: very well-balanced, though sweeter than I tend to make vegetable stock. I don't know if this is the result of the sous vide process or just the balance of ingredients. For me the big problem is that the amount of stock I can make at any one time is very small: the recipe as written makes on 600mL of finished stock, and my sous vide setup probably could at most make twice that. So something like a liter at a time, max.

Sous Vide vegetable stock - Ingredients.jpg

Sous Vide vegetable stock - Finished product.jpg

Chris, I don't have my book yet. Is the stock cooked at a specific temp or is there a range of temps and times for it? I am asking because I am wondering if you could keep vacuum packs of it ready to throw in the SVS to cook while you cook something else?

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Guys, does MC recommend a minimum size or type of pressure cooker for the stocks? My copy of the book isn't in yet (I'm one of the supposed "April 18th" delivery customers), but I'd like to order a pressure cooker ahead of time so that it arrives before the books do. I have my eye on the Kuhn Rikon 7 3/8 quart model.

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