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Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine at Home" (Part 2)


Erik Shear
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Moving on from polenta, I tried Modenist risotto:

I finely minced a shallot and cooked it in clarified butter in the base of a pressure cooker without browning. I added 150 gm of Arborio rice and continued to cook for about four minutes on low heat. I added a bit of saffron, 210 gm of stock, 90 gm white wine, and a teaspoon of Kosher salt.

I put the lid on the pressure cooker and cooked at high pressure for 6 minutes. I cooled the pan in the sink under a stream of cold water. When I opened the lid I had perfectly al dente rice...swimming in a chicken/saffron broth. Not good.

I reduced the soup for ten minutes or so to a consistency sort of like risotto -- if one has a good imagination. The rice was now overdone, and at no point was it ever close to creamy.

The sad part is this travesty took as much time as whipping up a batch of classical risotto in my Falk copper sauciere.

Where did I go wrong?

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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It's me again.

I always cook my risotto in the PC, so I have a lot of practice with it. My risotto in the PC always comes much better than when I do in the traditional fashion.

What brand of PC do you have? I have a small Lagostina and a Kuhn Rikon. With the Lagostina my risotto doesn't come as good as the Kuhn Rikon.

Did you add your wine straight to the stock? Because this means increasing the liquid ratio. I generally pour the warm wine over the toasted rice and let it completely evaporate (when I use wine...not always I do). Generally I do weight my food, but for risotto in the PC I go by volume and double the liquid. Also, the more rice I cook the less liquid I need. But 150 g of rice is not even a cup and you have 300 g of liquid, it's about right...

When I open the lid I want a bit of stock there, and I like the fact that the Kuhn Rikon is tall, so, I can beat up the rice vigorously without splashing it. If happens for any reason that I used too much liquid, I increase the heat to reduce the stock and start beating it and then I start adding very cold butter in cubes, only when it's not soupy anymore. When I see that it's emulsifying, I take out of the stove and add some parmigiano. Cover with a towel an let it rest some minutes. So, since it's resting , I still want it too be a little loose, so after the resting it just feels creamy and still slightly al dente.

It seems a lot of time 10 minutes to reduce the liquid. Did you beat the rice vigorously while incorporating the butter? This is really key to me.

Also, did you bring the stock to the boil in the PC before closing the lid?

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It's me again.

I always cook my risotto in the PC, so I have a lot of practice with it. My risotto in the PC always comes much better than when I do in the traditional fashion.

What brand of PC do you have? I have a small Lagostina and a Kuhn Rikon. With the Lagostina my risotto doesn't come as good as the Kuhn Rikon.

Did you add your wine straight to the stock? Because this means increasing the liquid ratio. I generally pour the warm wine over the toasted rice and let it completely evaporate (when I use wine...not always I do). Generally I do weight my food, but for risotto in the PC I go by volume and double the liquid. Also, the more rice I cook the less liquid I need. But 150 g of rice is not even a cup and you have 300 g of liquid, it's about right...

When I open the lid I want a bit of stock there, and I like the fact that the Kuhn Rikon is tall, so, I can beat up the rice vigorously without splashing it. If happens for any reason that I used too much liquid, I increase the heat to reduce the stock and start beating it and then I start adding very cold butter in cubes, only when it's not soupy anymore. When I see that it's emulsifying, I take out of the stove and add some parmigiano. Cover with a towel an let it rest some minutes. So, since it's resting , I still want it too be a little loose, so after the resting it just feels creamy and still slightly al dente.

It seems a lot of time 10 minutes to reduce the liquid. Did you beat the rice vigorously while incorporating the butter? This is really key to me.

Also, did you bring the stock to the boil in the PC before closing the lid?

The cooker I have is the US version of the Fissler Vitaquick Quatro Set Large. I made the risotto in the 4 liter pan. I know MC recommends Kuhn Rikon, but after a lot of discussion in the pressure cooker thread I decided on Fissler.

I added the refrigerator temperature stock and wine to the hot rice and shallot. I did not bring to the boil before covering the pan.

Since this was a new method for me I used MC@H's exact weights of rice and liquid. When I make risotto by the tradditional method I don't weigh anything. I stop adding liquid when it's right.

I stirred continuously while reducing the liquid but I did not add additional butter and beat because by that time the rice was over done and the texture of the rice did not seem right to me even before reducing. I can only describe it as the texture of rice in a rice soup. My understanding is that risotto is thickened primarily by the rice starch and not so much by the emulsion at the end. I don't think beating in more butter would have magically fixed everything but I could be wrong.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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For carotene butter (p 121) how important is it to core the carrots? I ask because it is a pain and on the last of about twenty carrots I just sliced through my left thumb, removing a nice chunk and part of the nail. Coring the carrots also seems to make them juice less well, at least in my Waring juicer.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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Amazing, I may have been one of the first people to receive the book, and I never knew this site was here. First post, so please be gentle.

I'm having an issue with the potato puree that is probably more of a general cooking question than Modernist Cuisine, but here it goes:

I cant seem to get the potatoes tender enough to pass through a ricer. I tried bringing to a boil and simmering for the allotted time, and I actually destroyed a ricer squeezing too hard. Ok, obviously not enough time, so then I tried increasing the time to the point I could easily pass a skewer through the potato. Instead of 25 mins, it was about 45 mins. A bit better with the ricer, but still bending the handle (had to buy a new one). Next attempt, full boil for 45 mins. Still a hard time with the ricer, and the result was not smooth at all. delicious, but not smooth.

On the last attempt I even tried cutting all the potatoes to exactly 1 inch cubes to get the most even cooking. I know crummy stoves (and mine is definitely not one to brag about) can affect cooking times, but boiling water is, for the most part, boiling water, and I'm at sea level.

What am I missing here? I also tried the recipe with sweet potatoes, but in the amount of time I had too cook them to pass through a ricer, they had absorbed so much water it was more of a soup. Help!

Seth

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What potatoes are you using? Also, are you boiling the potatoes whole, or did you cut them into discs?

I moved to england, where there are no readily available Yukon Golds, so I've tried "new" and "baking" potatoes. Ive been cutting them into one inch blocks, which if I recall is what the recipe says to do (I dont have the book with me right now).

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I am not familiar with the varieties you describe. I can tell you that the type of potato you use is critical to how easily it can be mashed. Here in Australia I have had the most success with a variety called Dutch Cream, which is the closest we get to Yukon Gold. It is a type of waxy potato, but it is alone among waxy potato varieties in that it makes a great mash. You are normally better off using a floury potato.

There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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I am not familiar with the varieties you describe. I can tell you that the type of potato you use is critical to how easily it can be mashed. Here in Australia I have had the most success with a variety called Dutch Cream, which is the closest we get to Yukon Gold. It is a type of waxy potato, but it is alone among waxy potato varieties in that it makes a great mash. You are normally better off using a floury potato.

Thanks for the info. I'll have to try finding other types of potatoes. For a country that has french fries on nearly every dish you can order, there aren't many types to choose from, at least in the region I live in.

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LR you should watch this episode of "How to cook like Heston" where he teaches you how to make the perfect mash. There is a brief discussion of potato varieties in the earlier part of the video. He is English, so those potatoes are definitely available in the UK! Maybe just not in your area :(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zsmHZOw8E

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There is no love more sincere than the love of food - George Bernard Shaw
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  • 3 weeks later...

Following a few weeks interlude I again took up carrot soup. After what seemed all evening I had 500 g cored carrots. What a pain. I pressure cooked and prepared as specified, being careful to use fresh baking soda. I put the puree through a tamis, which seemed hardly necessary. I followed the variation to use chicken stock rather than fresh carrot juice, as, for one reason, I had chicken stock. And I was running out of carrots.

I blended in the beautiful carotene butter that had been worth my thumb. Seasoning for salt was just right, fortunately. I first tried the soup straight, with just a grind of black pepper. For some reason I didn't think the pepper worked. I then took the suggestion to use tarragon and cream of coconut. That was a lovely combination, but I still wanted something peppery. I pounded up some grains of paradise. That, with the tarragon and cream of coconut was wonderful.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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I've made that soup a couple times and after the first time I didn't bother to core the carrots. I couldn't tell the difference (although I didn't do a side-by-side comparison). I guess technically it should be sweeter, but I am more than happy to suffer through a soup made with un-cored carrots.

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I've made that soup a couple times and after the first time I didn't bother to core the carrots. I couldn't tell the difference (although I didn't do a side-by-side comparison). I guess technically it should be sweeter, but I am more than happy to suffer through a soup made with un-cored carrots.

Agreed. I've made it three or four times, both with and without coring the carrots. I've also done it with and without carotene butter. I found the difference to be noticeable, but only because I was looking for it. I thought it was quite minimal.

One thing I've been playing with lately is adding of various spice mixes to the pressure cooking step. I find a good garam masala comes through nicely and is incredibly aromatic. Also, topping it with a dash of coconut milk and tarragon is very refreshing, without taking away from the intense carrot flavor. This recipe is very forgiving when it comes to adding your own spin on it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This thread has inspired me to start cooking from the book - previously I've just read and drooled.

So far, the eggs have been a great success, both steamed in omelette and scrambled sous vide, though I admit I omitted the whipper stage on the latter - I'm still a bit frightened of my whipper from early experiments gone awry (and all over the kitchen!).

On Friday night I set out to make the caramelised carrot soup but an error on my part led to my not having enough carrots to make both the juice for the carotene butter and the soup itself, so I just made the carotene butter for future use and then proceeded to make the soup with a butternut squash and coconut milk I had laying around. Two questions arose:

  • I have a conventional (Tefal) pressure cooker which does vent at pressure, which I tried to minimise due to the low amount of water in the cooker. I tried to balance the pressure as best I could, but I'm not sure it attained enough pressure to colour the butternut squash to a stage I would call 'caramelised' - cooked, pleasant tasting, but not much maillard taste going on. Anyone have any tips on the recipe when using a venting pressure cooker with this recipe?
  • The recipe suggests substituting the carrot juice with the 'flavourful liquid' - in this case Coconut milk. In the same quantities? I used 400ml of coconut milk and was loathe to add another 290ml as the soup seemed plenty rich enough already. Any comments?

The resulting soup was nicely textured, quite rich but not flavorful enough for me - I suspect my pressure cooking is at fault per the above. I will try the carrot version soon.

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Hey hattermad. I've done the carrot soup in a venting pressure cooker (a Presto). I found I had to add water to avoid scorching. As I recall, a few folks on the MC forum reported the same thing. Don't recall how much I added, as this was a year ago and I've since decided the soup is better and more easily made by simply roasting carrots, then adding back the water lost to evaporation (using a scale to determine exactly how much to add back). My suspicion would be that you only didn't have this problem because butternut squash has more water than carrots. Can't comment on the browning, as I've not tried the recipe with other veggies.

Another way to do carrots per the MC recipe, by the way, might be to use the canning jar bain marie method (cf. onion confit). This way, evaporation from the pressure cooker ceases to be a concern, as the carrots are contained in their own little non-venting vessels. (Well, slightly vented, but not enough I'm pretty sure to affect the recipe.) I intend to try this some day, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

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Hey hattermad. I've done the carrot soup in a venting pressure cooker (a Presto). I found I had to add water to avoid scorching. As I recall, a few folks on the MC forum reported the same thing. Don't recall how much I added, as this was a year ago and I've since decided the soup is better and more easily made by simply roasting carrots, then adding back the water lost to evaporation (using a scale to determine exactly how much to add back). My suspicion would be that you only didn't have this problem because butternut squash has more water than carrots. Can't comment on the browning, as I've not tried the recipe with other veggies.

Another way to do carrots per the MC recipe, by the way, might be to use the canning jar bain marie method (cf. onion confit). This way, evaporation from the pressure cooker ceases to be a concern, as the carrots are contained in their own little non-venting vessels. (Well, slightly vented, but not enough I'm pretty sure to affect the recipe.) I intend to try this some day, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I will try with the additional water - I was concerned that too much water might also prevent the caramelisation so tried it without at first but I think I was trying to prevent venting so much that I botched the caramelisation of the squash. Always happy to make a mistake once, but prefer not to repeat it if I can.

I also like the idea of the canning jar method and will definitely give that a go if a bit of extra water doesn't work.

Thanks for the suggestions.

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Bear in mind that the MC recipe as written assumes all water from the carrots stays in the vessel. In other words, steam doesn't prevent caramelization. If it did, the recipe would never work. Rather, it's based on high temp in a slightly alkaline environment (from the baking soda). The purpose of adding water for a venting cooker is to end up with the same amount of liquid as would be the case with a nonventing one. And while I can't recall the amount used, that's how I calculated it, i.e., by measuring over a series of runs how much water was expressed as steam for various cooking times. Like you, I'm used to operating a venting pressure cooker at the minimum heat necessary to maintain pressure, so this wasn't a hard calculation to nail. Rather, I ended up going a different direction with this recipe for other reasons.

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I think I win the award for most imprecise MC@H cook ever!

I decided to cook the Pork Belly Adobo last night. Was convinced I had all the ingredients, but didn't actually check. My Rice vinegar turned out to be gone...substitute white wine vinegar. Soy Sauce....also gone. Sub Dark soy sauce and a bit of dilution. Bay Leaves....ah, no. And of course I checked all this after the kids were in bed, so no nipping to the supermarket for additional supplies.

So, a bit of a hotch potch, but a nicely flavoured dish in any case...probably just not as it is was originally intended.

Thanks pbear for the additional explanation - I suspect my vented pressure cooker is not reaching the level of pressure (and so temperature) required for the ideal caramelisation in any case, but I am going to try with some additional water and being a little less careful about minimal venting just to make sure the pressure and temperature are as high as I can get. I've had my eye on one of the Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers, but it's not made it to the top of my list yet.

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Two tries with the mac and cheese (actually cauliflower cheese, but the 'cooking macaroni' section was not the difficult bit). In scaling down the recipe, I obviously miscalculated the sodium citrate the first time (which I was making with bicarbonate of soda and citric acid), as the result was very runny and didn't emulsify completely. Second try (fortunately the real run, with other people eating), I used the scaling feature in the inkling version which I bought on Sunday, which prevented my math fail.

Best cauliflower cheese I've ever made. I will by some sodium citrate to make it even easier in future - my OH was not keen on the chemistry experiment in the kitchen.

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I've since decided the soup is better and more easily made by simply roasting carrots, then adding back the water lost to evaporation (using a scale to determine exactly how much to add back).

Thank you! I've been thinking about trying this, in the absence of a pressure cooker. Do you use the baking soda? Do you roast the carrots uncovered and dry from the start? I am looking forward to doing this.

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Two tries with the mac and cheese (actually cauliflower cheese, but the 'cooking macaroni' section was not the difficult bit). In scaling down the recipe, I obviously miscalculated the sodium citrate the first time (which I was making with bicarbonate of soda and citric acid), as the result was very runny and didn't emulsify completely. Second try (fortunately the real run, with other people eating), I used the scaling feature in the inkling version which I bought on Sunday, which prevented my math fail.

Best cauliflower cheese I've ever made. I will by some sodium citrate to make it even easier in future - my OH was not keen on the chemistry experiment in the kitchen.

FWW my experience is that the proportions are pretty finicky in this. I had a batch that was too thin and I added more cheese in batches, blending between. It went suddenly from runny to gluey.

BTW, you can use citric acid instead of sodium citrate if you don't mind a bit of lemon taste (which can be a feature, not a bug).

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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Made the chocolate custard yesterday for a chocolate pie. I didn't read the recipe real closely before I put the egg yolks in the sous vide, so was a little surprised when I pulled them out and they were fully set. But I went ahead and blended them up with the chocolate sauce and cream. I didn't really care for the flavor at first -- it was very eggy. So I stuck in the the fridge and tasted it a couple hours later. It's really really good. So good that I ate too much of it and don't have enough filling for the pie now.

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I've since decided the soup is better and more easily made by simply roasting carrots, then adding back the water lost to evaporation (using a scale to determine exactly how much to add back).

Thank you! I've been thinking about trying this, in the absence of a pressure cooker. Do you use the baking soda? Do you roast the carrots uncovered and dry from the start? I am looking forward to doing this.

No, I didn't use baking soda, as I've been roasting veggies for a long time without it. An oven is a good deal hotter and drier than a pressure cooker, so it's not surprising this worked. Baked in an open pan (ceramic, nearly nonstick) (not sure that's important, but it's how I do roasted veggies these days), dry except for the butter (which I reduced by half as a matter of personal preference), stirring every ten minutes. Pulled when the caramelization seemed right, about 30 minutes at 350ºF in a countertop convection oven (based on prior experience, about 40 minutes at 375ºF in a conventional oven also would work). Deglazed the baking dish with the water used to correct for evaporation.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

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I've since decided the soup is better and more easily made by simply roasting carrots, then adding back the water lost to evaporation (using a scale to determine exactly how much to add back).

Thank you! I've been thinking about trying this, in the absence of a pressure cooker. Do you use the baking soda? Do you roast the carrots uncovered and dry from the start? I am looking forward to doing this.

No, I didn't use baking soda, as I've been roasting veggies for a long time without it. An oven is a good deal hotter and drier than a pressure cooker, so it's not surprising this worked. Baked in an open pan (ceramic, nearly nonstick) (not sure that's important, but it's how I do roasted veggies these days), dry except for the butter (which I reduced by half as a matter of personal preference), stirring every ten minutes. Pulled when the caramelization seemed right, about 30 minutes at 350ºF in a countertop convection oven (based on prior experience, about 40 minutes at 375ºF in a conventional oven also would work). Deglazed the baking dish with the water used to correct for evaporation.

Hope that helps. Good luck.

Thank you. I figured I would get something edible but it's nice to have a precedent.

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