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 an account.

ShaneH

"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 3)

Recommended Posts

ShaneH   

[Moderator note: The original "Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet topic became too large for our servers to handle efficiently, so we've divided it up; the preceding part of this discussion is here: "Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 2)]

Since I've received mine I've had little time until this weekend to actually read through it in depth. I've been starting with the history in volume 1, which I find fascinating as I love history. I even looked up some of the original recipe books it references and downloaded them to my kindle through gutenberg as it is a wonderful addition to the whole and its history. Second to that I started sifting tbrough the equipment. Then yesterday I drove three hours north to share the volumes with my family. I don't think their mouths ever closed after seeing them for the first time. We each grabbed a volume, from my 16 year olde nephew to my 70 year olde father and for five straight hours we were consumed and shared with eachother ideas and "finds". In my family cooking and meals are a big part of us "coming together"...this truly added to a family moment for us.

Now I've got to find a weekend to bring my 16 year olde nephew down to Massachusetts to cook with me. He wants to get into spherification and I want to experiment with the fish paper. I have a crazy idea to use the paper for and can't wait to start experimenting.

...after that I think the mac and cheese, since everyone has been talking about that on here I can't wait to try it as it brings back fond childhood memories for me.


Edited by Mjx Moderator note added. (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bmdaniel   

I can confirm that the polycarbonate case does a good job protecting the books. My set did a gainer off the dining room table and none of the volumes were harmed. Unfortunately I have several pieces of case now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now Kerry, if you're going to be making food worth eating, you are absolutely going to have to get rid of that Lakeport and replace it with something resembling beer. OMG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can confirm that the polycarbonate case does a good job protecting the books. My set did a gainer off the dining room table and none of the volumes were harmed. Unfortunately I have several pieces of case now.

Yeah, but how is the floor?!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anna N   

Now Kerry, if you're going to be making food worth eating, you are absolutely going to have to get rid of that Lakeport and replace it with something resembling beer. OMG.

Please, please don't blame Kerry for the Lakeport. The photos are taken at my house. AND PLEASE, PLEASE DON'T BLAME ME. That's my "adult" kids (in their 40s) who buy that. Both Kerry and I have better taste.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Anna N   

I have moved to Volume 3, Animals and Plants, and I want to rush out and buy a lamb so I can follow along and butcher it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not just the equipment list, did you see the photo of their kitchen?! Holy hell. I want.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone else that ordered back in October from Amazon.ca not had theirs sent yet?

I got mine, I ordered it Oct 16th. It came April 6th.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
johnder   

Somewhat odd article about the book, again from someone who hasn't seen the book except for other press clippings.

What is odd is she claims she prefers "good old fashioned kitchen wisdom" and "Bringing science and systematic thinking to bear can ruin the fun."

While it by no means is a negative article about the book, it is interesting because to me it seems all over the place, especially in this passage:

I have good old-fashioned kitchen wisdom to thank for knowing to rest gnocchi dough before rolling it, never to crowd a sauté pan, and always to use ice-cold butter for pie crusts. I'm sure some of my techniques and beliefs could be disproven with an appeal to the scientific method, but you know what? I'm okay with that. I'm willing to be a slightly less good cook in return for not having my brain hurt during this particular part of my day

She mentions 3 actions she knows that have a better result that if she did it another way, but doesn't seem to care why or how it is, or even it there is a better way. All for the purpose of it being romantic.

Anyway, I will give her props for she did manage to get Rocky and Snooki mentioned in the same article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nathan and team are far more gracious individuals than I: this sort of thinking makes me want to tear my hair out. I'd be off getting myself into flame wars with every one of them...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now Kerry, if you're going to be making food worth eating, you are absolutely going to have to get rid of that Lakeport and replace it with something resembling beer. OMG.

Not my beer!!! Anna's kid's beer. Not much of a beer drinker myself - my taste runs to Guinness.

Oops - see that Anna's already beat me to it.


Edited by Kerry Beal (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IndyRob   

Nathan and team are far more gracious individuals than I: this sort of thinking makes me want to tear my hair out. I'd be off getting myself into flame wars with every one of them...

I think it's a reasonable and fair expression of a point of view and goes back to something I posted earlier. To put that in a different way, if you are simply following admirably detailed and eminently reproducible directions, are you showing your own talents?

When I want some traditional brownies, I'll buy a box of Betty Crocker mix. The Betty Crocker boffins have already worked out all of the science. The result is very good and, perhaps more importantly, have pretty much defined for me what a brownie is.

On the other hand, I once saw Jacques Pepin make a flourless chocolate cake with brownie-like qualities. He didn't give any measurements, but I worked it out, added my own touches, and was successful. I'm much more proud of that. Although I stole it from JP (well, OK, he gave it to us), there was a lot of me in there. It wasn't a brownie though.

That's not to say that one can't adapt what's taught by MC, or grow themselves into being better cooks through it. But perhaps too much book learnin' has the effect of making you like every other MC customer.

We all have recipes passed down by our mothers. Perhaps a 'one correct mother' approach isn't appropriate for all.

This is not meant as anything against MC. The time is not right for me, but I will own this set of books. But, given the price alone, I think some level of dissent is to be expected.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a reasonable and fair expression of a point of view and goes back to something I posted earlier. To put that in a different way, if you are simply following admirably detailed and eminently reproducible directions, are you showing your own talents?

Except that, to me anyway, following a set of instructions is precisely what Modernist Cuisine is not about. This is nowhere more evident than in their naming of the recipes: the recipes scattered throughout the books are all explicitly called "Example recipes." Each of them is designed to highlight a particular aspect of the chapter, but these books are emphatically not a collection of recipes, they are a collection of techniques. They are designed to enable cooks to imagine a dish and then figure out how to create it. Just because I have to look up the ratios for gelling a particular fruit puree doesn't mean that I've drained the dish I create using that component of its creativity. Modernist Cuisine has enabled creativity, not stomped on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IndyRob   

I think it's a reasonable and fair expression of a point of view and goes back to something I posted earlier. To put that in a different way, if you are simply following admirably detailed and eminently reproducible directions, are you showing your own talents?

Except that, to me anyway, following a set of instructions is precisely what Modernist Cuisine is not about. This is nowhere more evident than in their naming of the recipes: the recipes scattered throughout the books are all explicitly called "Example recipes." Each of them is designed to highlight a particular aspect of the chapter, but these books are emphatically not a collection of recipes, they are a collection of techniques. They are designed to enable cooks to imagine a dish and then figure out how to create it. Just because I have to look up the ratios for gelling a particular fruit puree doesn't mean that I've drained the dish I create using that component of its creativity. Modernist Cuisine has enabled creativity, not stomped on it.

I'll accept that. I'm at a disadvantage, not having seen the collection. Or, at an advantage in judging the perception of the book. And I think a big perception is "Forget everything you've ever known. This is how to cook."

I think that raises some hackles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And I think a big perception is "Forget everything you've ever known. This is how to cook."

I think that raises some hackles.

Understood. And you are indeed at an advantage there, because every time I hear someone across the internet spouting off about how these books are soulless, or destroy cooking, or whatever other opinions they have without ever laying eyes on them I can't rationally evaluate their impressions: my hackles are already raised by the seeming-idiocy of judging a book they've never seen. It's that, more than their opinion itself, that really grates on me. They are judging a book by someone else's description of a sketch of its cover!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IndyRob   

YeahBut (<--I think that should be a word), the thing is that the review was quite conflicted. The whole romantic idea was that Rocky could overcome the Ruskie science project by force of good ol' American will.

Silly? Yes, perhaps. But do we want to make our victories our own? I think so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AaronM   

I have no formal training as a chef, and I have no problem putting myself and my family in danger in the name of culinary exploration. Every time I uncover something, I think of how it could change other things I do. For example, there's a recipe for a milkshake in the dry ice section of MC that comes from Arzak. I literally made that same thing 2 weeks ago without knowing anything about the Arzak dish - or anything similar. Just seemed like a good idea. Will I serve something similar knowing Arzak does it? Hell yes I will! So, no, I don't think having something shown to you necessarily takes the creativity out of cooking. You just have to take the ball and make it your own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
lesliec   
Modernist Cuisine has enabled creativity, not stomped on it.

Nicely put, Mr Hennes.

I was party to a conversation a few weeks ago in which the image of the Italian grandmother was invoked as knowing all she needs to know about how to make good pasta. And the only response is 'Yeahbut (yes, it should be a word) if she'd had the benefit of the time to experiment and the luxury of being able to throw away the failures, maybe she'd have hit on the MC recipe and be making better pasta. As it is, she's making the best she can given the time/money/handed-down recipe she has'.

This of course is based on a belief that Modernist pasta is better. From my experience of making both it and 'traditional' pasta, it is (by 'better' I refer to its laudable properties of not sticking to itself while it's being rolled, and its mouthfeel/taste).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a random thought.....

Hmmm..From when I first heard about the set, and finally decided to put in my pre-order in July (I figured I could save up the money in 6 months and honestly thought it might be delayed even further - as it actually ended up being), I didn't really think of this as a cookbook. That's just a matter of semantics I suppose and my opinion on what a cookbook usually is. I saw this (based on my reading of these forums, zine articles, etc) really as more of a treatise on cooking, the "how and why" of cooking as viewed scientifically, with a focus on Modernist ingredients, techniques, and equipment. Recipes to be provided as illustrative examples of those items. So I never in my mind categorized it as a cookbook.

Cheers...

Todd in Chicago

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, Todd, insofar as we think of a "cookbook" as a listing of recipes, with maybe some side info about them if we are lucky. This certainly isn't like that!

I went right to the Plated Dishes volume and wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be. A lot of the dishes (most?) I just didn't find interesting.

I think this is an interesting observation. I wouldn't characterize my reaction quite like that: I looked at those recipes and said (with respect to most of them) "oh, that's got some cool components/techniques"... I guess it didn't bother me that I wasn't that interested in wholly reproducing their exact dishes. That's sort of a central theme of Modernism, isn't it? You take inspiration from another chef's work, but going your own way is a critical component. This isn't Escoffier anymore, where the goal is exact reproduction of another chef's dish. Now the goal is, learn from that chef, and make your own dish. So to me, the fact that Volume Five is inspirational, and still not really a "cookbook" per se, is just fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AaronM   

That's how I tend to use cookbooks anyway. It's just a jumping off point till you create something of your own. I don't know if I've ever followed a recipe exactly. Especially being self-taught. Chef'ing is theft. It's why I don't believe in 'secret' ingredients. If someone wants to know, I'll tell them exactly how to make one of my dishes. I think back to watching East Meets West, Yan Can Cook, etc after I dropped out of high school (medical thing) and how I wouldn't know how to cook anything if people hadn't shared with me.

Really, it's the least I can do.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
AaronM   

I'm in the same boat as you though, "well, that's a neat idea - that's a cool technique" rather than "That's an awesome Dish."

I guess the cookbook/reference I really want just doesn't exist. I'm interested in things people have never seen before, and most of MC is things I'm at least peripherally aware of. This isn't meant as a dig on MC. It's a very nice set - and will prove valuable to me, but I guess I expected something more radical out of it.

Which is my fault, not theirs.

Edit: Let me be clear on this. There is some of that in there. Just not as much as I'd have hoped. Some of this is down to the really interesting techniques being buried in with a huge amount of info I'm very aware of. I was just hoping the ratio would have been skewed the other way. But the book wasn't written for me personally.


Edited by AaronM (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I think it's important to remember that (contrary to virtually every other cookbook out there) the MC team did in fact develop many new techniques; still, the majority of what they were doing in the more Modernist sections was to document techniques that were already out there. So naturally you are going to recognize them, if you are familiar with the Modernist canon. It would be pretty astonishing for someone to pop out of nowhere with a book of techniques no one has ever seen before.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • 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).


    • By eG Forums Host
      Introduction

      Welcome to the index for the Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques, & Equipment topic, one of the largest and most influential topics on eG Forums. (The topic has been closed to keep the index stable and reliable; you can find another general SV discussion topic here.) This index is intended to help you navigate the thousands of posts and discussions to make this rich resource more useful and accessible.

      In order to understand sous vide cooking, it's best to clear up some misconceptions and explain some basics. Sous vide cooking involves vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and cooking it in a water bath at precise temperatures. Though it translates literally as "under vacuum," "Sous vide" is often taken to mean "under pressure," which is a misnomer; not all SV cooking involves food cooked in conditions that exceed atmospheric pressure. (See below.) In addition, calculations for SV cooking involve not only time and temperature but also thickness. Finally, due to the anaerobic conditions inside the bag and the low temperatures used, food safety issues are paramount.

      You can read the basics of SV cooking and equipment here. In the summer of 2005, Nathan Myhrvold (Society member nathanm) posted this informative, "I'm now going to answer my own initial questions" post, which addresses just about everything up to that point. For what came next, read on -- and be sure to order Nathan Myhrvold's highly anticipated Modernist Cuisine book, due in spring 2011.

      As with all indexes of on-going discussions, this one has limitations. We've done our best to create a user-friendly taxonomy emphasizing the categories that have come up repeatedly. In addition, the science, technology, and recipes changed over time, and opinions varied greatly, so be sure to read updated information whenever possible.

      Therefore, we strongly encourage you to keep these issues in mind when reading the topic, and particularly when considering controversial topics related to food safety, doneness, delta T cooking, and so on. Don't read a first post's definitive claim without reading down the topic, where you'll likely find discussion, if not heated debate or refutation, of that claim. Links go to the first post in a series that may be discontinuous, so be sure to scan a bit more to get the full discussion.

      Recipes were chosen based solely on having a clear set of information, not on merit. Indeed, we've included several stated failures for reference. Where possible, recipes include temperature and time in the link label -- but remember that thickness is also a crucial variable in many SV preparations. (See below for more information on thickness.)

      History, Philosophy & Value of SV/LTLT Cooking

      Over the years, we've talked quite a bit about SV as a concept, starting with this discussion about how SV cooking got started. There have also been several people who asked, Why bother with SV in the first place? (See also this discussion.) What with all the electronics and plastic bags, we asked: Does SV food lack passion? Finally, there have been several discussions about the value of SV cooking in other eG Forums topics, such as the future of SV cooking, No More Sous Vide -- PLEASE!, is SV "real cooking," and what's the appeal of SV?

      Those who embrace SV initially seek ideas about the best applications for their new equipment. Discussions have focused on what a first SV meal should be -- see also this discussion -- and on the items for which SV/LTLT cooking is best suited. There's much more along those lines here, here, and here.

      Vacuums and Pressure in Sous Vide Cooking

      As mentioned above, there has been great confusion about vacuums, pressure, and their role SV cooking. Here is a selection of discussion points on the subject, arranged chronologically; please note that later posts in a given discussion may refute earlier ones:

      Do you need a vacuum for SV cooking, and, if so, why? What exactly is a "vacuum"? Click here, here, and ff. Are items in vacuum-sealed bags "under pressure"? Does a vacuum sealer create a vacuum inside the bag? Do you really need a vacuum, or can you use ZipLoc bags? Also see here, here, and here. If "sous vide" means "under pressure," aren't the items in the bag under pressure? There is more along these lines to be found in this discussion.  

      The Charts

      We've collected the most important of many charts in the SV topic here. Standing above the rest are Nathan Myhrvold's charts for cooking time versus thickness and desired core temperature. We worked with him to create these three reformatted protein tables, for beef, fish, and chicken & pork.

      Nathan provides additional information on his charts here. Information on how to read these charts can be found in this post. For an explanation of "rest time" in Nathan's tables, click here.

      Other Society members helped out as well. Douglas Baldwin references his heating time table for different geometric factors (slab/cylinder/sphere) here; the pdf itself can be found here. pounce created a post with all three tables as neatly formatted images. derekslager created two monospace font charts of Nathan's meat table and his fish table.

      Camano Chef created a cumulative chart with information gathered from other sources including Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc. Douglas Baldwin shared this chart devoted to pasteurizing poultry. PedroG detailed heat loss and steady state energy consumption of sous vide cookers in these charts.

      Finally, there is also an eG Forums topic on cooling rates that may be of interest.

      Acknowledgment & Comments

      This index was built by Chris Amirault, Director, eG Forums. It was reviewed by the eGullet Society volunteer team as well as many Society members. Please send questions or comments to Chris via messenger or email.
       
       
    • By Paul Bacino
      Wonder if someone could get me in the ballpark..the amount of Transglutamase...to make scallop noodles..    %  I mean
       
      ill use a food processor..to purée the scallop..  then inject into a water or broth..to cook?
    • By TomRahav
      Hi,
      I've tried to make the spherical mussels recipe from the Modernist Cuisine books and it didn't work as I expected, so I would appreciate any advice that may help here.
      The recipe calls for calcium gluconate which I couldn't get hold of, so I replaced it with calcium lactate gluconate that I had at home. I used the same ration (2.5%)
      When I tried to create the spheres in the sodium alginate bath I encountered two main problems;
      1. instead of spheres the mixture just stayed as uneven shape on the surface. The bath was 1Kg. water with 5gr. sodium alginate and I let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using it so I think the problem is not here. However, the mussels jus mixture (100gr. mussels jus, 0.5gr. xanthin gum and and 2.5gr. calcium lactate gluconate) had a lot of air bubbles in it. Can that be the issue?
      2. In the book the spheres seem to be completely transparent whereas my mussels jus mixture was pretty white and opaque. Is it because I replaced calcium gluconate with calcium lactate gluconate? Or maybe it's because the jus itself should be clarified before it is used?
      Thanks in advance for your support,
      Tom.
    • By chriswrightcycles
      Good afternoon everyone!
       
      I currently own a MiniPack MVS31x chamber style vacuum sealer and am wondering if a Polycience vacuum canister will work in my machine? The intended use is for making a larger batch of aerated mousse. 
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×