Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Chris Hennes

"Modernist Cuisine at Home" by Myhrvold and Bilet

Recommended Posts

" it's cooking for people who make cooking a hobby "

yes!

" simply meet my day to day needs "

No. a SV freezer full off stuff actually meats your week day food.

this is not just for home folks. its what the 18 star restaurant have been doing for some time.

I havent been to one ( full disclosure )

but a lot of people ehjoy cooking for themselves, their family and their friends.

thats what this is about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first impressions

My copy arrived yesterday and I've spent quite a bit of time reading it already and straight off the bat you WILL be disappointed if you compare MCAH to the original MC. However if you are comparing this book to the likes of Heston Blumenthal At Home, Ad Hock at Home By Thomas Keller, The Family Meal By Ferran Adria and other 'cookbooks' (i.e. not scientific compendiums) then this book definitely sits in the ranks among the best!

The pages are packed with well written recipes most of which have useful variations appended at the end and tips on troubleshooting tricky recipes. The recipes are both exciting and very approachable with clear guidelines on how long it will take to make, how much it will yield, how easy it is to make and in some cases how long it will last in the fridge (pickles, confit etc.). They make Sous Vide in general very approachable and in a large portion of the Sous Vide recipes they use zip lock bags (which is great because Modernist Cuisine left me feeling like I needed a chamber vacuum). There are quite a few recipes that use a pressure cooker which I am very much looking forward to. Each recipe has step by step photos on how they are made and photos usually have some thought behind them i.e. some of the sauce recipes have a photo where an upturned spoon has been dipped into the sauce, pulled out and had a finger wiped across the back of it giving a good indication of consistency (I couldn't think of a better way to convey this in a photograph).

Despite what the NYTimes review says I found the ingredient lists to be very tame! The modernist ingredients they use are usually gelatin, agar agar, sodium citrate, xanthan gum, wandra etc. and with the advent of modernist pantry the only ingredients you might have trouble finding are those that are regional (i.e. we don't get a variety of fresh mushrooms down here in NZ).

I am also really impressed and pleased that they use MSG in a few recipes (and only a very few recipes for those who are concerned). I think it is about time someone stepped up and started pushing MSG as a safe ingredient and what better way to do that than publish some recipes that use it. I mean it's all well and good that the likes of Heston and David Chang can go around preaching that it is a perfectly safe ingredient (and I'm glad that they do!) but it is a whole different story to publish some recipes that use it. I really applaud them for this. If you're interested in what and how they use it check out the Korean Chicken Wings on Chow:

http://www.chow.com/...n-chicken-wings

I have a little graphic design and photography experience from my past so I am usually hyper aware of these things and I think MCAH is a step backward from MC in this area. The pages are much more crowded (in their defense the pages are PACKED with much more information than MC) and the photos (although good) aren't quite to the standard of those in MC with digital noise apparent if a few. These minor gripes however will go unnoticed by 99% of those who open this book and 100% of those who have never thumbed through MC. MCAH is still leaps and bounds ahead of most cookbooks in this area (I'm looking your way Christina Tosi with all your pictures of kitchen staff throughout your book!) and all their photos go some way to either illustrate how your equipment works, describe the best process for preparing a dish or show what your results should/could look like.

MCAH is an excellent standalone cookbook in my opinion weather you own MC or not


Edited by Merkinz (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review Merkinz - thanks for that. My copy hasn't arrived yet (I ordered it from Book Depository) - how are you all getting your copies before the shipping date?


Funny, Cool, Scary, Weird Top 10 Lists

http://listverse.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review Merkinz - thanks for that. My copy hasn't arrived yet (I ordered it from Book Depository) - how are you all getting your copies before the shipping date?

Cheers. I pre-ordered from amazon and for some reason they started sending them out last week :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

excellent review. but I missed the NYTimes review: do you have a ref?

If one was in the medical field, the MSG Buzz was I recall a letter to the editor about the Head Ache and completely made up.

I look forward to my copy and its well worth it go get some sort of vaccum ( not chamber ) sealer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same as Merkinz, amazon simply shipped it early. Their page still claims it hasn't been released yet, of course! Merkinz, I think it's interesting that you find the graphic design of this volume a step backwards from MC: I personally thought it was slightly better, not slightly worse. In particular, I thought the space utilization on the page was actually improved, with more information in less space, but never feeling crowded (in my opinion). In particular I liked that so many of the recipes had multiple in-process photographs, so you could see what things should look like at each stage.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

excellent review. but I missed the NYTimes review: do you have a ref?

If one was in the medical field, the MSG Buzz was I recall a letter to the editor about the Head Ache and completely made up.

I look forward to my copy and its well worth it go get some sort of vaccum ( not chamber ) sealer.

I'm sorry I was referring to the LA Times Review mentioned above... and now egullet is not letting me edit my post to reflect that. :wacko: My Bad.

Same as Merkinz, amazon simply shipped it early. Their page still claims it hasn't been released yet, of course! Merkinz, I think it's interesting that you find the graphic design of this volume a step backwards from MC: I personally thought it was slightly better, not slightly worse. In particular, I thought the space utilization on the page was actually improved, with more information in less space, but never feeling crowded (in my opinion). In particular I liked that so many of the recipes had multiple in-process photographs, so you could see what things should look like at each stage.

Chris, I guess I should further clarify (and I guess when you get to this level of quality it really just boils down to opinion):

Firstly the design of both books is FANTASTIC! And rivals every cookbook I have in my collection. But as you have also noticed there are differences between the two. MC is pure art, I feel like I could open any volume to almost any page and I could hang it up on my wall! There is alot of space for pictures, graphs and concepts to breathe on the page. MCAH is also graphic design bliss but from more of a utilitarian point of view. I agree that they have squeezed as much space out of each page as possible without crowding it. The recipes, the step by step photographs, the fact tidbits, the variations etc. all work in unison on the page but I just don't get the feel that I could hang it on my wall as art. To get the same effect as MC it would have been alot bigger, more expensive and the average home cook (at which the book is aimed) may well have said: "Whats with all the wasted space?"

Of course the idea of hanging a cookbook on the wall is silly! But I'm just trying to illustrate my opinion. To say that the design of MCAH was a 'step backward' from MC was a mistake... The design is simply different, more utilitarian with excellent use of space! I prefer the design of MC but that same design may well have not worked for MCAH. I do stand by my comment about the photos though... Although excellent in concept, composition etc. they don't quite reach the near perfect 'technical' quality of those in MC - and I'm only referring to a hand full of photos in the book, not every single one... Did they change the photographer? I didn't check that and I'm at work at the moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... (which is great because Modernist Cuisine left me feeling like I needed a chamber vacuum) ...

You mean you don't? :raz:

Nice review, Merkinz.


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

eGullet Ethics Code signatory

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

" it's cooking for people who make cooking a hobby "

yes!

" simply meet my day to day needs "

No. a SV freezer full off stuff actually meats your week day food.

this is not just for home folks. its what the 18 star restaurant have been doing for some time.

I havent been to one ( full disclosure )

but a lot of people ehjoy cooking for themselves, their family and their friends.

thats what this is about.

Amen brother Rotuts!

I belong to the church of "cook a bunch of stuff and fill your freezer up"!

Speaking of which, a run to the local grocery store was made today to start to stock up my depleted freezer. Chicken thighs and breasts, hamburgers (yes, I sousvide them!), a pork roast, parsnips, celery root, potatos, carrots, leeks....and I may have forgotten a few things. Need to go back and get some lamb and beef, but was not happy what I saw in that dept. The next week will be fun cooking all these!

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Received the book yesterday and skimmed through it a bit; ordered a pressure cooker today (and looked through the book some more.) I'm now considering sous vide options.

I found MC to be fascinating but a bit intimidating; MCaH is much more approachable, but as has been mentioned, many (most?) recipes require a pressure cooker and/or sous vide. That's not a criticism, just a fact. It IS modernist cooking after all.

I like that the beginning of each chapter has references to more detailed discussions of some of the topics at hand in the MC books -- a nice feature, but it's not at all essential to have MC; MCaH seems to stand as it's own book admirably.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TinC: im interersted in your SV Veg adventure (frezzer ver.) as I really havent done much Veg yet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What size pressure cooker is everyone using? I have an 11-quart I use for stocks and such, but that is way too big for most of these recipes. I'm assuming 6-quart is ideal?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like the Amazon US price finally dropped. Now it's down to $127.48, a 9% savings. I wonder if the production costs wound up being more expensive than initially projected? Whatever the reason, I'm still glad I learned about the amazon.ca discount. Egullet to the rescue!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What size pressure cooker is everyone using? I have an 11-quart I use for stocks and such, but that is way too big for most of these recipes. I'm assuming 6-quart is ideal?

Unless I've missed something, they don't really say in the book. Their master recipes for stocks tend to yield 2 - 5 cups, with scaling percentages provided.

I ordered a 7.4 quart pressure cooker because it was readily available, could provide some amount of stock, yet still cook other food for one or two people. I hope that was a good choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What size pressure cooker is everyone using? I have an 11-quart I use for stocks and such, but that is way too big for most of these recipes. I'm assuming 6-quart is ideal?

Scanpan sell a set of two, that share the same lid. Consdiering the price, it works well - you get a big one for stocks, and a small one for smaller meals - eg perfect for the carrot soup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if 'early adopters' would get a refund with a call:

1-866-216-1072

I cant sand price manipulation! its been a week?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yesterday the LA times published a mixed review of Modernist Cuisine at Home written by Russ Parsons (here).

[...] I was dogged by the wish that Myhrvold had turned his vast knowledge to helping real home cooks rather than teaching hobbyists how to mimic avant-garde restaurant chefs [...] The first bump I ran into is probably one that will be shared by a lot of home cooks: Almost all of the recipes required either equipment or ingredients that I don't have [...] The bigger issue, though, was finding something in the book that I wanted to cook. There were several recipes that looked good, but on closer examination, most of them seemed to revolve around some modernist complication that would improve the dish only incrementally, if at all.

It's a little frustrating to see professional critics so dismissive of the techniques and ingredients used, especially when they compare it to how much easier/accessible traditional cooking is. As far as I'm concerned, the whole reason people buy the MC books is to learn about these non-traditional techniques.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Especially since that stuff is the raison d'être of the whole book! It's like buying a book on using a bread machine and then complaining that it requires a bread machine.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What size pressure cooker is everyone using? I have an 11-quart I use for stocks and such, but that is way too big for most of these recipes. I'm assuming 6-quart is ideal?

Scanpan sell a set of two, that share the same lid. Consdiering the price, it works well - you get a big one for stocks, and a small one for smaller meals - eg perfect for the carrot soup.

I meant I already have an 11-quart pressure cooker I use for stocks. That's too big to make carrot soup or risotto for two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

therippa, one trick I use is to put a smaller bowl inside my pressure cooker, almost like a double boiler (except I have the water in the main PC touching the bowl). Then I can use whatever the best bowl size is for the quantity. You still have to heat enough water to pressurize the larger cooker, but that's not actually that much water (1cm should do fine). Just be careful about how high you crank the heat, and how fast you cool it down, as the inner bowl can boil over.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if 'early adopters' would get a refund with a call:

1-866-216-1072

I cant sand price manipulation! its been a week?

I tried an online chat. First, they told me that $140 was the lowest price at the time my book shipped. Then they switched to saying there was no price guarantee in place when I placed my order back in June. What a scam! Ship the book early then lower the price and now they don't have to honor their pre-order guarantee!


Anne Napolitano

Chef On Call

"Great cooking doesn't come from breaking with tradition but taking it in new directions-evolution rather that revolution." Heston Blumenthal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well you could say you would return it

but I think you need to call that number

as the WSJ said their margins are extreemy thin no need to contibute to that

BTW returns are free!


Edited by rotuts (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just got shipment confirmation for my order through Amazon UK. Should have it next Friday!

I asked my local cookbook shop about it, but they hadn't even heard of it yet (apparently MCaH is self published like the first two printings of MC). They tried to inquire through Taschen, but as of yet, no international edition and no international distribution (besides Amazon) is planned, apparently.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yesterday the LA times published a mixed review of Modernist Cuisine at Home written by Russ Parsons (here).

I saw this review a couple of days ago and part of one paragraph struck me as odd....

My kitchen is pretty fully stocked (just ask my wife). In fact, I even have an immersion circulator. But to really get into this book, I probably also should have bought a vacuum sealer,...

Um, isn't an immersion circulator without a vacuum sealer (be it a chamber vac or a Foodsaver) kind of like having a 2 ton floor jack and no lug wrench?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Porthos
      I picked up enough boneless short ribs to make 3 meals for my Sweetie and me. One meal will be pan-braised tonight. One has been vacuum-sealed and is in the freezer. My question is about seasoning, sealing, freezing, then defrosting and cooking at a later date. I'd like to season and seal the 3rd meal's worth. Can I use a dry rub on the meat, then seal, freeze, and cook at a later date? Does anyone else do this?
    • By newchef
      So I've now found myself at the water's edge of Modernist Cuisine.  Specifically, using sodium citrate for emulsifying all kinds of cheeses.  What I'm after is making an emulsified Parmesan sauce as well as another emulsified cheese sauce (most likely using Cheddar or Colby) that I can freeze and use later.  I'm a single guy and am no stranger of tweaking recipes for freezing but I haven't done it for modernist stuff yet.  I'd love to make a big batch of cheese sauce, freeze it into ice cubes for up to 3 months or so, and then take a few cubes out to thaw on a weeknight and toss with pasta, drizzle over veggies, etc.
       
      I looked at the modernist cuisine FAQ and saw this specific post about the cheese sauce that is "probably" freeze-able because it uses something called carageenan.  Has anyone been able to freeze sauce and keep it frozen for, say, a few months?  And not have to use carageenan?
       
      Thanks!
    • By Burmese Days
      Hello everyone,
       
      This is my first post, so please tell me if I've made any mistakes. I'd like to learn the ropes as soon as possible. 
       
      I first learned of this cookbook from The Mala Market, easily the best online source of high-quality Chinese ingredients in the west. In the About Us page, Taylor Holiday (the founder of Mala Market) talks about the cookbooks that inspired her.
      This piqued my interest and sent me down a long rabbit hole. I'm attempting to categorically share everything I've found about this book so far.
       
      Reading it online
      Early in my search, I found an online preview (Adobe Flash required). It shows you the first 29 pages. I've found people reference an online version you can pay for on the Chinese side of the internet. But to my skills, it's been unattainable.
       
      The Title
      Because this book was never sold in the west, the cover, and thus title, were never translated to English. Because of this, when you search for this book, it'll have several different names. These are just some versions I've found online - typos included.
      Sichuan (China) Cuisine in Both Chinese and English Si Chuan(China) Cuisinein (In English & Chinese) China Sichuan Cuisine (in Chinese and English) Chengdu China: Si Chuan Ke Xue Ji Shu Chu Ban She Si Chuan(China) Cuisinein (Chinese and English bilingual) 中国川菜:中英文标准对照版 For the sake of convenience, I'll be referring to the cookbook as Sichuan Cuisine from now on.

       
      Versions
      There are two versions of Sichuan Cuisine. The first came out in 2010 and the second in 2014. In an interview from Flavor & Fortune, a (now defunct) Chinese cooking
      magazine, the author clarifies the differences.
      That is all of the information I could find on the differences. Nothing besides that offhanded remark. The 2014 edition seems to be harder to source and, when available, more expensive.
       
      Author(s)

      In the last section, I mentioned an interview with the author. That was somewhat incorrect. There are two authors!
      Lu Yi (卢一) President of Sichuan Tourism College, Vice Chairman of Sichuan Nutrition Society, Chairman of Sichuan Food Fermentation Society, Chairman of Sichuan Leisure Sports Management Society Du Li (杜莉) Master of Arts, Professor of Sichuan Institute of Tourism, Director of Sichuan Cultural Development Research Center, Sichuan Humanities and Social Sciences Key Research Base, Sichuan Provincial Department of Education, and member of the International Food Culture Research Association of the World Chinese Culinary Federation Along with the principal authors, two famous chefs checked the English translations.
      Fuchsia Dunlop - of Land of Plenty fame Professor Shirley Cheng - of Hyde Park New York's Culinary Institute of America Fuchsia Dunlop was actually the first (and to my knowledge, only) Western graduate from the school that produced the book.
       

      Recipes
      Here are screenshots of the table of contents.  It has some recipes I'm a big fan of.
       
      ISBN
      ISBN 10: 7536469640   ISBN 13: 9787536469648 As far as I can tell, the first and second edition have the same ISBN #'s. I'm no librarian, so if anyone knows more about how ISBN #'s relate to re-releases and editions, feel free to chime in.
       
      Publisher
      Sichuan Science and Technology Press 四川科学技术出版社  
      Cover
      Okay... so this book has a lot of covers.
      The common cover A red cover A white cover A white version of the common cover An ornate and shiny cover  There may or may not be a "Box set." At first, I thought this was a difference in book editions, but that doesn't seem to be the case. As far as covers go, I'm at a loss. If anybody has more info, I'm all ears.
       
      Buying the book
      Alright, so I've hunted down many sites that used to sell it and a few who still have it in stock. Most of them are priced exorbitantly.
       
      AbeBooks.com ($160 + $15 shipping) Ebay.com - used ($140 + $4 shipping) PurpleCulture.net ($50 + $22 shipping) Amazon.com ($300 + $5 shipping + $19 tax) A few other sites in Chinese  
      I bought a copy off of PurpleCuture.net on April 14th. When I purchased Sichuan Cuisine, it said there was only one copy left. That seems to be a lie to create false urgency for the buyer. My order never updated past processing, but after emailing them, I was given a tracking code. It has since landed in America and is in customs. I'll try to update this thread when (if) it is delivered.
       
      Closing thoughts
      This book is probably not worth all the effort that I've put into finding it. But what is worth effort, is preserving knowledge. It turns my gut to think that this book will never be accessible to chefs that have a passion for learning real Sichuan food. As we get inundated with awful recipes from Simple and quick blogs, it becomes vital to keep these authentic sources available. As the internet chugs along, more and more recipes like these will be lost. 
       
      You'd expect the internet to keep information alive, but in many ways, it does the opposite. In societies search for quick and easy recipes, a type of evolutionary pressure is forming. It's a pressure that mutates recipes to simpler and simpler versions of themselves. They warp and change under consumer pressure till they're a bastardized copy of the original that anyone can cook in 15 minutes. The worse part is that these new, worse recipes wear the same name as the original recipe. Before long, it becomes harder to find the original recipe than the new one. 
       
      In this sense, the internet hides information. 
       
    • By WackGet
      Recently I picked up a few different types of emulsifiers in bulk powder form when I saw them in passing at a catering wholesaler.
       
      Having never used powdered emulsifiers before in cooking or baking, I figured I'd find pretty comprehensive instructions for their use on the web - but I can't.
       
      I'm not a stranger to food science but nor am I a chemist. I understand that emulsifiers are at least sometimes prepared by pre-mixing them into a (heated?) liquid or fat and then using the resulting solution in the actual recipe, which may explain why a lot of commercial emulsifier mixtures are packages as tubes of gel or paste. I've also checked several industry-level textbooks about emulsifiers and while they are fantastic for in-depth explanations of the chemistry behind each emulsifier, they do not (as you might imagine) provide guidance on how a lowly baker or cook would actually use a powdered form.
       
      So does anyone know how to prepare and use a dry powdered form of any of the following in a real recipe?
       
      Specifically I am most interested in enhancing baked goods and adding stability to sauces, but would also like to know how to use them for other processes such as sausage-making too.
      E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids E481 Sodium stearoyl lactylate E482 Calcium stearoyl lactylate E472e DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides)
        Thanks.
    • By mjbarnard
      I cooked two turkey breasts sous vide. This year had access to the Meater+ thermometer probe which I managed to vacuum seal in the bag without difficulty (it is small). Since it works wirelessly I was able to monitor and it records the internal temperatures at the thickest part of the breast.
      I thought the results were interesting. I cooked at 60C for 8 hours. I have always used https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/a-better-way-to-turkey-cook-that-bird-sous-vide-for-the-best-feast-ever which gives long cooking times at lower temperature. I have found that as according to this page https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/11/sous-vide-turkey-breast-crispy-skin-recipe-thanksgiving.html that 55C gives turkey which is just a little too pink for most tastes. Over the last few years have increased the temperature up to 59/60 and I find it perfect - very moist and tender, but pale not pink.
      See attached images. I changed my mind a couple of times and started at 58 then 60 then 59 again, so ignore the slight variations. The thing I found interesting was that the thickest part (of a large breast) reached 55C in around 1 hour 40 mins and target of 59 in 2 hours 30 mins. Now I appreciate that sous vide is a combination of temperature and time or duration, but the data make me think that around 4 hours would be sufficient, as per the seriouseats table. I have previously used the chefsteps 55-58 for their much longer advised times, up to 12 hours and the meat is still quite pink at the end, so I dont believe 55 for 12 hours would effectively be the same.
      From now on I will watching the internal temperatures with interest. This has always been the (relative) unkown for sous vide amateurs. 


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...