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Msk

Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine" (Part 2)

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It's very common with recipes from high-end restaurant books with many components to make way more of a specific component that you actually need. Case in point is the Alinea and the Fat Duck books. When I cook from them, I usually have to divide certain subrecipes by 4 and I still end up with more than I need to sauce or garnish a dish.

Yes, but these books (I have both) don't include scaling. My gripe with MC (at least with the pastrami recipe) is in the consistency of the scaling across components of a recipe. In the pastrami recipe 100% equates to 1kg of beef; move down to the brine component and that percentage holds -- 225%/2.25kg water, 0.35%/3.5g coriander seeds, etc. correspond to that same 1kg of beef -- no brine left over. However the rub has 7.5%/75g juniper berries -- which is enough for about 6kg of beef. How did they choose this 6x ratio for the rub? Why not 10x? or 3x? Why not just make it 1x? I could see making the rub a standalone recipe where the 75g of juniper berries equates to 100%, but here it is a component with scaling based on the main ingredient (beef).

Anyway, I'll just leave it at that...too much of the engineer in me coming out...I can't wait for the pastrami to come out on Friday!

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Just finished a round of MC cooking, with the tenderloin brine -- lots of substitutions thanks to a lack of juniper berries -- pork ribs, and pastrami getting attention. Ribs for Friday night, pastrami for Saturday night (though I may save it and serve spaghetti & meatballs instead!), and the tenderloins for Sunday night.

The pastrami brine is so aromatic that I passed the opened brining bag around, holding it below the noses of various family members. We all agree that it's what heaven will smell like.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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lots of substitutions thanks to a lack of juniper berries

Sorry...I think I bought them all... :smile:

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Made the beer can roasted chicken in convection oven from page 2-109. I was surprised to find the the can should be empty (only use it as a stand), unlike the standard recipe (which I first saw on the roasting a chicken topic). The result was certainly better that most roasted chickens I've made, though next time I'll try at 60º instead of 65º (measured 1 cm from the surface).

The separation of skin from meat step is taken from the roasted chicken in combi oven recipe from pages 2-178/179. I guess the other steps there (injecting a brine & dry in the fridge for 48 hours) could also be applied equally well, so I'll give it a try next time.


Edited by EnriqueB (log)

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to go back to the labels for the vaccum bags:

I also put a number on the bags with the Sharpie and keep a note-book with more details on each "Experimental Bag" and add notes as I eat them

so far Im still on Meats

extraordinary what Ive gotten for $1.99 a lbs!

Now that cross referencing is an idea I am going to adopt. Thank you.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I would also recommend the Harvard Science and Cooking video of Wylie Dufresne, to anyone looking for answers on "Meat Glue" Its free on iTunes and an hour of Wylie showing how and why wthey use it.

Mike

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I made the wheat pasta from the "Best Bets for Pasta" table for dinner last night: my wife and I agreed that the texture was considerably better than my standard egg pasta. I had to add a bit more water than the recipe called for to get the dough workable, but overall the recipe worked well. Served it with a quick sauce made to highlight the few fresh peas my garden yielded yesterday:

Peas and pasta.jpg


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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A couple of quick questions for anyone:

The recipe for Dosa on MC 3 - 355 calls for Lactic Acid. Does anyone know where I can source this? I have made dosa before and was wondering if this step will make a big difference.

Also:

In the American BBQ section - 5-68 the side note states "Dry rubs are usually put on 12 hours before cooking. However, we also use them a a spice mix added at the end." Does this imply you are to put a dry rub on for the BBQ recipes before smoking even though it is not called for in the recipe themselves. It is a little confusing.

Jim

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I've been able to get most of the acids the book calls for at a local homebrew supply store, though I haven't bought lactic yet.

Regarding the BBQ: yes, that's my interpretation: the whole thing is like one big parametric recipe. You pick a rub, you pick a meat, you pick a sauce. Mix and match.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Thanks Chris - so you are putting the rub on before smoking and after sous vide?

I'll let you know when I source the lactic acid - good tip.

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I made the corn bread this weekend(pages 5.76 and 6.256) to go with some bbqd chicken and pork chops as well as the much hyped and awesome mac and cheese. forgot to download the pictures for the corn bread, so I will have to post them later but figure this might be helpful if anyone is going to try making it soon.

I think the recipe has 2 issues:

- Steps 2 and 3 are reversed. The picture shows that the corn should be pureed

with the cream, milk and eggs not added afterwards. Adding the corn afterwards

(whole kernels) makes an awesome but very crumbly and very difficult to slice

end product. Now, I was working from the KM so I did not notice the pictures till later when I refered to volume 5 to check for accuracy.

- The baking temperature at 265F for 20 minutes is very low. At 20 minutes the

bread was raw. I upped the temp to 365 and the loaf needed another 45 minutes

approximately to reach 190F internally.

I already forwarded this info to the MC team and, unless I screwed something up, they will need to add it to the errata list.

That being said, the corn bread is really delicious and I have to make it again. Even if the recipe has you blend all the lard/butter fried corn, I will most likely reserve 20% of it or so to add as a mix in. The texture and mild sweet taste were very unique and loved by everyone, kids and adults.

I agree that these instructions seem wrong. When I cooked the cornbread, I pureed the sauteed corn mixture with the eggs, milk and cream. I then filtered the mixture, and followed the rest of the instructions. Baking at 130˚C was way too cold to get the internal temp up to 88˚C in 20 min. I bumped the temp up to 177˚C (350˚F) and it took well more than 30 min to get the internal temp up to 88˚C (190˚F).


Edited by mcdiarmid (log)

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Pastrami is done and I'm slicing it now. I think it's time to go get more meat and start another batch, this stuff is for sure as great as everyone has been saying.

Anyone try the strawberry milkshake yet? I'm planning on doing it tomorrow night. The strawberries are getting frozen tonight and I just need to pick up the whey powder and dry ice.

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I forgot to mention that the corn bread is awesome and the addition of the thyme is brilliant. Even my wife, who dislikes corn bread, had seconds and repeatedly told me that she would eat it again.

We also made the kalbi flank steak, a very easy meal to make in bulk and freeze several portions for the future. The only difference we did was sous vide at 55˚C for 22 hours to make it nice and tender. It is definitely another repeater right up there with the momofuku sous vide short ribs.

Unfortunately, the bacon chips were not as good as expected. After 14 hours of dehydration at 140˚F, they did not end up crispy, instead they were more leathery. This may be because I substituted corn syrup as per suggestions upthread since I couldn't find glucose syrup de 40. Since we love bacon I had such high hopes for this. I think I will be spending some time analyzing and experimenting to try to produce bacon chips we love.

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Anyone try the strawberry milkshake yet? I'm planning on doing it tomorrow night. The strawberries are getting frozen tonight and I just need to pick up the whey powder and dry ice.

I wrote it down to try in the summer for a party with a whimsical summer theme. I thought of doing the milkshakes along with the mojito spheres and dry ice carbonated fruit. Please post results of your experience.

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Unfortunately, the bacon chips were not as good as expected. After 14 hours of dehydration at 140˚F, they did not end up crispy, instead they were more leathery. This may be because I substituted corn syrup as per suggestions upthread since I couldn't find glucose syrup de 40. Since we love bacon I had such high hopes for this. I think I will be spending some time analyzing and experimenting to try to produce bacon chips we love.

How thick was your bacon? I believe MC calls for 1/16th of an inch, which is really thin. The only bacon my local store had that was that thin was the cheapest/crappiest stuff they had.

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How thick was your bacon? I believe MC calls for 1/16th of an inch, which is really thin. The only bacon my local store had that was that thin was the cheapest/crappiest stuff they had.

Yes, I saw how thin it was supposed to be so I actually bought the thin crappy bacon. I realize the quality of the bacon was laughable, but I wanted to try it out to see what happened and sacrificed my desire for good thick bacon. Even as I am typing this out, it's making me hungry for some good bacon. I was wondering if there would be a difference in wet vs dry cure, or even if decreasing the water amount in the recipe would make a difference. The only other thought was to go for longer times, but I couldn't use our oven (which has a dehydration system I discovered) for a full 24 hours. It has definitely been fun though.

And for a really entertaining youtube video regarding bacon, take a look at Jim Gaffigan as he talks about bacon

.

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Lactic acid is on its way. Will let you know if the Dosa are a significant step up from my traditional method.

Would be interested to know your normal method...and also interested what the MC guys have to say about dosa!

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Finished the Beef Cheek Pastrami (3-213), using boneless short ribs tonight. The only variation to the recipe was reducing smoking time to 2.5H from 4H due to some operator on my part with the ProQ smoke generator....

In any event the result was very, very good. Like other multi-day short ribs I've done, the meat was exceptionally tender. With the brine, smoking and rub I expected the flavor to be overpowering, but instead is was very well balanced. Very nice; will definitely make it again. The good news is I don't need to worry about making the rub component for a while :laugh:

IMG_1984.jpg

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Did you use the three day brine? I have some boneless short ribs nearly ready for today and was surprised that the brining is cut in half for the boneless meat (down from six days).


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Yes-I brined for three days as suggested in the book. Not sure about the reason for different brining times, but then again I have not read the brining section of the book yet...

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Brining is a diffusion process, just as heat conduction is. So the brining time scales like the square of the thickness. Half as thick means brining time drops by a factor of 4. Injection effectively reduces the brining time in this manner. Using boneless shortribs does too.


Nathan

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My stock cupboard is nearly bare, and it's time to can more vegetable stock. The discussion about stocks in the Modernist Cuisine Q&A was something I was really looking forward to, and I'm definitely going to be trying some new things with this batch, but I also still have a lot of questions.

(1) Is there any reason, apart from the appearance of the final dish, why clarity matters for a vegetable stock, or, for that matter, any stock?

Does it signify some muddying of flavors to have some little bits of stuff flaking off the stock ingredients? If so, the traditional clarification steps at the end with eggs or gelatin or skimming make sense. If the issue to that cloudy bits mean the stuff was poorly handled in ways that degrade the flavor--e.g., potatoes or celery cooked to the point of dissolving are also releasing some unpleasant element into the stock--then clarifying at the end makes no sense and working to prevent it from the start is the only way to go. But if the key point is simply appearance, then it's not important for me cooking for my own enjoyment.

(2) Why is the vegetable stock cooked sous vide and not pressure cooked?

(3) The rationale given for why vegetables should not be grated or ground for stock--taking the fick's law argument one step beyond small dice--is that it changes the rate of flavor extraction 'and the traditional 2:1:1 ratio of vegetables no longer applies'. Keeping consistent with a traditional formula hardly seems sufficient reason to not take the next step; I'm wondering if some other elements are released that are less favorable, and how the specific vegetables in question affect the results (my favorite recipe, the Summer Vegetable Stock, includes not only carrots, celery, onion, but also eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, greens, green beans, mushrooms and herbs).

I may have to do some experimenting now, unless someone else has already done this for me.

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Anyone know why in the recipe for the Mughal Curry Sauce on p. 5•92, the poppy seeds and nuts are soaked and ground separately, instead of together all at once?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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      Vanilla Bean
      The steps required to comprise each dish are, as one might imagine, intricate and numerous. For the Poached Broccoli Stem, Chef Grant begins by separating the broccoli stems from the florets. The stems are stripped of their fibrous exteriors and pared down until they are uniform in size. Grant comments on the use of the second hand part of the vegetable: “This dish started with the roe. Every year we receive the most amazing Brook Trout Roe from Steve Stallard, my friend and owner of Blis. Typically, we serve the eggs with an element of sweetness. I find it goes very well with the ultra fresh salinity of the week-old roe. This time around we wanted to take a savory approach so I began looking into complimenting flavors in the vegetal category. About the same time, our group had a discussion about secondary parts of vegetables and the stem of broccoli came up. I had a past experience with the stem and found it to be very reminiscent of cabbage. Knowing that cabbage and caviar are essentially a classic pairing, I felt confident that we could work the dish out. Now I'm struggling to decide if this is a broccoli dish or in fact a roe dish, I think they really battle for the top position and that helps makes the dish very complex."

      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

      The stems are placed in a polyethylene bag, along with butter, salt and granulated cane juice. The bag is sealed with a cryovac machine

      The sealed stems are placed in a 170 degree F water to cook, sous vide, until extremely tender; about three hours

      Broccoli stems after cooking
      The crisp bread element is fabricated via the use of an industrial deli slicer. Chef Grant then brushes the sectioned pieces of poached broccoli stem with eggwash, affixes them to the thin planks of brioche and places them in a fry pan with butter.

      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

      A bright green broccoli puree is made with a vita-prep blender. Here, Chef Grant "mohawks" it onto china given to him by Thomas Keller

      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
      Grant is still displeased at the dish's appearance. "The dish tastes as I envisioned it....texturally complex, with the crispness of the bread, the soft elements of the floret puree and stem, and the pop of the eggs. The buttery richness from the bread gives the stem the flavor of the melted cabbage I loved at the [French] Laundry. And the hot and cold contrasts from the roe and broccoli …I like it…..I just don’t like the way it looks.” Another attempt and the group agrees, it is better but not “the one.” The use of the thinly sliced cross sections of peeled grapefruit energizes the group. In the next rendition, they make small packets with the ultra thinly-sliced grapefruit containing the roe...

      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
      At this point the team decides to move on and come back to it next week. After some conversation they decide that in the final dish, broccoli will appear in at least 5 forms: poached stems, floret puree, some raw form of the stem, the tiny individual sprouts of broccoli florets, and the blooms. Grant feels that Poached Broccoli Stem could be ready for service, although he still envisions some changes for the dish that will make it even more emblematic of his personal style. “Our dishes continue to evolve after they hit the menu. It is important for us to get to know them better before we can clearly see their weaknesses.”
      The thought for the dried crème brulee originated over a year ago when a regular customer jokingly asked for a crème brulee for dessert. “He said it as joke, I took it as a challenge,” says Grant. "Of course, we never intended to give him a regular crème brulee.” The team tried various techniques to create the powder-filled caramel bubble while at Trio to no avail. An acceptable filling for the Dried Crème Brulee has been developed by the Chef and his team but several different methods, attempted today, to create the orb from caramelized sugar have been less than 100% successful.

      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
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