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Solid intermediate cook, here. Not especially intimidated by elaborate preps. But I'm new to SV, and would like a recommendation for a cookbook for guidance and exploration.
I was thinking of Tom Keller's Under Pressure, but I'm wondering if the preps he includes may not be the most generally useful. What do you all like, and why?
By Chris Hennes
On Nov. 7, 2017, Modernist Bread will finally arrive on my doorstep. Having preordered it literally the first day it was available, to say I'm excited about this book is a bit of an understatement. The team at The Cooking Lab have been gracious enough to give @Dave the Cook and me early electronic access to the book and so I've spent the last week pouring over it. I'm just going to start with a few initial comments here (it's 2600 pages long, so a full review is going to take some time, and require a bunch of baking!). Dave and I would also be happy to answer any questions you've got.
One of the main things I've noticed about this book is a change in tone from the original Modernist Cuisine. It comes across as less "everything you know is wrong" and more "eighty bazillion other bakers have contributed to this knowledge and here's our synthesis of it." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Myhrvold and company are now the most experienced bread-bakers in the world. Not necessarily in terms of the number of identical loaves they've produced, but in the shear number of different recipes and techniques they've tried and the care with which they've analyzed the results. These volumes are a distillation of 100,000 years of human breadmaking experience, topped off with a dose of the Modernist ethos of taking what we know to the next level.
The recipes include weight, volume, and baker's percentages, and almost all of them can be made by both a home baker and someone baking in a commercial facility. The home baker might need to compromise on shape (e.g. you can't fit a full-length baguette in most home ovens) but the book provides clear instructions for both the amateur and professional. The recipes are almost entirely concentrated in volumes 4 and 5, with very few in the other volumes (in contrast to Modernist Cuisine, where there were many recipes scattered throughout). I can't wait for the physical volumes to arrive so that I can have multiple volumes open at once, the recipes cross-reference techniques taught earlier quite frequently.
By Chris Hennes
I just got a copy of Grace Young's "Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge"—I enjoyed cooking from "Breath of a Wok" and wanted to continue on that path. Does anyone else have this book? Have you cooked anything from it?
Here was dinner tonight:
Spicy Dry-Fried Beef (p. 70)
I undercooked the beef just a bit due to a waning propane supply (I use an outdoor propane-powered wok burner), but there's nothing to complain about here. It's a relatively mild dish that lets the flavors of the ingredients (and the wok) speak. Overall I liked it, at will probably make it again (hopefully with a full tank of gas).
I make this a lot. Traditionally served with dosa, but great with all kinds of Indian food, even just scooped up with bread or pappads for a snack. Although it's slightly different every time, depending on the tomatoes and chillies used, plus the strength of the tamarind, it's easy, quick to make and always delicious.
In a blender - half a medium red onion chopped, 7 dried red chillies broken up a bit, 2 ripe tomatoes chopped, 1 tsp of sea salt, 3 tsp tamarind paste.
Whizz until purée like about 2 minutes.
In a sauté pan over medium heat add 60 ml sesame oil (gingelly), when it's hot but not smoking add 1 tsp black mustard seeds.
Quickly cover the pan to prevent escape and sizzle for a minute.
Add 1 tsp of urad dal (black lentils, skinned and split they are light grey).
Fry until golden, another minute or so.
Throw in about 20 curry leaves. These splatter so cover the pan again.
Lower the heat and add the blender contents.
Simmer, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, until you get a runny jam consistency.
Ta da !
Every now and again I come across a recipe that is awesome.
It started with a discovery in my local South Indian take away near work. This is a true South Indian place, not your usual run of the mill Indian restaurant which we get around here.
In the bain marie was a red, slightly oily, dry spiced chicken dish scattered with onions and green coriander. A dish with no name. I asked what it was, and they replied it was "spicy chicken". I bought some and I was hooked.
It was obviously a favorite of patrons as there was never a day when this dish was not in the bain marie and it sold out quickly.
Here is my take on that recipe, which I believe is called Double Chilli Chicken.
Apologies in advance, but I dont work to quantities when cooking. Hopefully you can make your own judgement but just ask if you want more clarification.
The ingredients you will need are:
- oil or ghee (mustard oil if my wife is giving me grief over health, ghee for best flavor)
- Chicken mini drumsticks (about 1kg)
- About 3 brown onions, cut in half and then sliced (red onions would be better, but I only had one for garnish)
- About 20 curry leaves
- Sliced ginger
- Sliced garlic
- 10 to 15 whole dried chillies (I remove most of the seeds)
- Ground dried chilli powder (medium hot)
- Ground coriander
- Ground black pepper
- Jaggery or Palm Sugar
- Lime juice
- Chopped fresh coriander for garnish
- Chopped red onion for garnish
I start with a heavy base fry-pan that has a fitted lid and add the ghee.
Choose a dried whole chilli of your liking and remove most of the seeds, as they can burn and become bitter.
Saute your dried chillies in the ghee for a few minutes
You will notice they start to darken quickly
Don't let them burn, but take them a bit darker than shown in the photo above and then remove into a spare bowl to cool with a slotted spoon. You can leave the ghee and seeds. Quickly add the onions to stop the remaining seeds from burning. Add salt to help the onions cook.
I should have also added the curry leaves to the oil first, but I forgot so I added them later.
As the onions soften on the heat, finely julienne some fresh ginger and slice some garlic. Exact quantities dont matter so adjust to your preference.
Add the garlic, ginger and chillies to the pan once the onions soften and take on some colour
After a few minutes of cooking out the garlic and ginger, add the ground coriander and chilli powder. Again, exact quantities don't really matter but I used about 1 Tablespoon of each. What matters more is the quality of the ground powders. The coriander is ground in my coffee grinder just before use, and I make my own chilli powder from dried Spanish Padron chillies I grow each summer. If you can, always make your own ground spices. For the ground chilli powder, remove the seeds before grinding as you will get a redder product.
A quick word on chillies : There are hundreds of varieties, but I choose the Spanish Padron due to the balance between heat and flavour. I want an intense chilli flavour without searing blow your head off heat, and this chilli has that right balance.
Stir the powders into the onions and cook for a few minutes.
Add the chicken and arrange such that the chicken has good contact with the bottom of the pan. We need this to get the meat to release its own moisture, which is what makes the sauce and prevent the dish from burning
Cover with a lid and lower the heat. After 5 minutes you should notice some liquid from the chicken. This increases to a maximum around 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes but don't remove the lid until 15 minutes have elapsed.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare some jaggery or palm sugar and squeeze the juice out of one lime.
After 15 minutes of cooking with the lid on, remove the lid, add the jaggery and lime juice, and now increase the heat. What we are going to do is evaporate the remaining liquid and turn it into an awesome sauce that sticks to the chicken.
For another 10 minutes, you will need to pay careful attention to ensure the dish does not stick and burn. You need high heat to help caramelize the sauce and constant movement. Taste for seasoning. Add extra salt, lime juice and heaps of black pepper.
Prepare some slived red onions for garnish.
And some roughly chopped green coriander. This stuff grows like a weed in my garden as I let the kids loose with the seeds and they scatter them far and wide!
Serve the chicken on a bed of steamed basmati rice
And garnish with onion and coriander. Serve and enjoy with a glass of cold beer. Awesome stuff!
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