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nathanm

"Modernist Cuisine" by Myhrvold, Young & Bilet (Part 2)

588 posts in this topic

+1. I guess I'd rather relax with practical, correct information about the food and techniques I'm using, knowing that, in the end, I'm going to come out with a superior product. I mean, heck, if fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, cole slaw, and cornbread aren't relaxing, I don't know what is!


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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The trouble with Modernist Cuisine from a review standpoint is that it's so categorically amazing and superior to any other cooking work ever written, it's very difficult to come up with any criticism of the type one needs to make a review seem balanced.

I completely agree with this, up to a certain point.. I think that those of us reading this thread are "slightly" biased towards the book and Nathan's passion in this area (I was starting to find repetitive the comments regarding Nathan’s economic status until I read the remark about spending more than one and less than ten million on the project). I also look at it from the perspective of my former culinary instructors and wonder what they would say about this or any other book being compared to Le Guide (flaming pitchforks and angry culinary mob anyone?). To me, Ruhlman's review is positive but somewhat cautious which is apt from a book review written by a critic and not a perky MC cheerleader (“gimme an M, gimme a C!!”)

I do appreciate the fact that Ruhlman mentions the jacket price ALONG with the online price since a lot of other reviews I've seen just throw the $625 price tag and the $200 difference is something to consider.

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Since reading about this book on Wired I've been torn. Yes, I think there is a place for food research. I think researching how food reacts to certain forces and chemical changes is a noble pursuit.

Calling this a cook book, or really anything to do with cuisine is where it destroys credibility. To believe that chefs or cooks will be able to preform extremely complicated, multi-stage applications, using expensive and in some cases experimental machinery, raises the ire of anyone with common sense.

No, I haven't read the book. It's defenders say there's more to it than that. Maybe there is, but every review I've read says it advocates an obsessive sensibility, unreproducible in almost any real kitchen.

Where does art begin and craft leave off? That's a hard question. I've always had a problem with people taking something we all must do, like eating, and making it something where all but the very elite can participate in it. I question the morality of charging over $250 for dinner. Yet, if we follow the Modernist Cuisine, we should have more of it. Chefs should be creating food that no one but the super-rich can afford.

So yes to food science, no to taking a craft and turning it into the unreachable. No to the obsessive perfectionists who move what we should all be doing into the realm of the gods. Yes to knowing the principles, and cooking from the heart.

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I think that those of us reading this thread are "slightly" biased towards the book and Nathan's passion in this area[.]

I'd go one step further and say that many of us are the ideal readers for this project, and as such it feels like a dream come true. It is certainly appropriate to imagine other readers who, for perfectly legitimate reasons, don't feel the same way.


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Calling this a cook book, or really anything to do with cuisine is where it destroys credibility. To believe that chefs or cooks will be able to preform extremely complicated, multi-stage applications, using expensive and in some cases experimental machinery, raises the ire of anyone with common sense.

I'd suggest heading over to the Cooking with "Modernist Cuisine", where many of us are, in fact, cooking from the book. Some of the recipes are complicated, and some are not. I will agree that all are "obsessive," however, in the sense that they are really focused on ways to get the "best" product X, Y or Z, cost or equipment limitations be damned.


Chris Hennes
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I read Ruhlman's review last night, and while I see the populist angle he was going for I think he could have gone another way and been much more effective. I haven't gotten my hands on a copy yet, but to me this seems like the kind of book best reviewed after a year or so, not after two weeks. That's when you a reviewer can seriously talk about how and why it has changed their life in the kitchen. But, of course, the NYT doesn't want to wait a year to publish a review. That's why Ruhlman was, or could have been, a brilliant choice. He actually has quite a bit of experience with a number of the techniques covered, and so although he had to pick them up without the benefit of the book, he could have written a good chunk of the one-year review by weaving together his own longer-term experiences with the comprehensive treatment the book offers. That's a review I would have much rather read, and I think if done right it could have played well to a mass audience as well.


Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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So yes to food science, no to taking a craft and turning it into the unreachable. No to the obsessive perfectionists who move what we should all be doing into the realm of the gods. Yes to knowing the principles, and cooking from the heart.

Burnin', I suggest checking out the book, or at least the Cooking with MC thread, before passing judgment. MC may be obsessive in the sense that certain processes and ingredients are measured carefully, but (having had the books for almost a week now) I don't see them as at all moving cooking "into the realm of the gods."

Of the 1500 recipes, I can cook most of them without spending more than $100-200 in "modernist" ingredients and tools. I am well-equipped (I have an immersion circulator, hand blender, digital scale, Thermapen, etc.), but certainly don't have any kitchen gear that costs $2k, $5k, etc. While it is perhaps disappointing that I can't cook 100% of the 1500 recipes included in the book, I can certainly do most of them. Personally, I don't see this as a reason to complain.

This book isn't written for the 30-minute-meals or "one pot" crowd (please know I'm not saying you're in that group!), and I am glad that it wasn't simplified to that level. I think if you have a chance to play with the book, you'll be surprised about how much it offers "regular" people with an interest in this hobby/profession/avocation, and how little it requires godlike capabilities. I'm trying to view the book the way I would a very nice set of golf clubs (though I don't golf). Could they help my game? Sure. Will I ever live up to their capabilities? I'm not sure, but I'll try...

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The book is simply too big for generalizations. Sure, there are a lot of multi-step dishes. But some are pretty simple and fast. Once you've made that cheese -- which takes about ten minutes of attention -- that mac & cheese is a 15 minute, one-pot meal.


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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cost or equipment limitations be damned.

That would be my point exactly.

Which is that cookbooks shouldn't include a range of preparations, some of which exceed some people's ability to obtain the needed ingredients or tools? That would toss out some of the most important cookbooks of the last decade or two, including everything by Thomas Keller, the Alinea & Fat Duck books, all of the Chez Panisse cookbooks, and Ruhlman & Polcyn's Charcuterie.


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Speaking as someone who is very unlikely to buy the book(s), I thought the NYT review was pretty well balanced. The Times Dining section must appeal to a huge variety of cooks and readers; I venture to say there must be plenty of readers who never even heard of the eminent doctor until this morning, and many of us who have read snippets about it or see the chatter on places like eG and who (by that I mean me) greatly appreciate an actual review of the book so they don't have to admit their general ignorance about the new food science here. I'm interested in the subject, but not about to plunge in.

Ruhlman's review seemed careful and thoughtful and aimed at a broad audience. I'm glad to know that if I had a pressure cooker I could make really great stock in small batches, so when my library gets a copy (probably never) I can just get that volume, if someone tells me which one it is. Not having a pressure cooker is a minor stumbling block, to say nothing of all the other equipment. Of course the review also brought out the part of me that wants to run screaming back under the covers with a copy of Laurie Colwin. All good.

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Having just read an interview with Myhrvold in the New Scientist I don't think the man knows what he is talking about. One observation he makes is that a steak that is twice the thickness needs four times longer to cook than one half the thickness - that is rubbish - you give a 1 inch steak four times longer than a half inch thick steak all you get is cremated steak.

He also says there is no point in chilling vegetables after blanching, left to cool off on the side gives the same result. Come on, the sooner you stop the cooking process by chilling the crisper the result.

If I find erroneous statements like that in any academic work I am afraid I dismiss it out of hand.

He should stick to computers and let those with years of experiance in the culinary arts do the cooking. Am I being stupid??


Pam Brunning Editor Food & Wine, the Journal of the European & African Region of the International Wine & Food Society

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I think Ruhlman is on to something. Anything that required as much research and dedication as Modernist Cuisine is going to take quite a bit of time to infiltrate our psyche fully. An early member of the legendary eGullet Sous Vide thread who knew nathanm as one of a handful of go to arbitors who could work through a problem with clarity and precision, I understand that this book has been a work in progress, one of increasing scope and incredible dedication. Once Nathan became Dr.Nathan Myhrvold, scientist, Microsoft executive and billionaire, he admited to us that he was writing the definitive Sous Vide book and that the focus was constantly changing and expanding. The New York Times waits for no review, but I think the measure of this book will be borne out over time.


Even Samantha Brown would have hard time summoning a "wow" for this. Anthony Bourdain

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Of the 1500 recipes, I can cook most of them without spending more than $100-200 in "modernist" ingredients and tools. I am well-equipped (I have an immersion circulator, hand blender, digital scale, Thermapen, etc.), but certainly don't have any kitchen gear that costs $2k, $5k, etc. While it is perhaps disappointing that I can't cook 100% of the 1500 recipes included in the book, I can certainly do most of them. Personally, I don't see this as a reason to complain.

I think some folks may be a little out of the spectrum when they think about what the norm is. Without spending more than $100-$200? I've never spent that much on cooking a meal, unless it was a holiday and I needed to feed a tribe. Spending $100-$200 on a weekend hobby would be way out of reach for the vast majority.

Yes, there is a place for experimental cuisine. But where's the edge? When do we say, have we stopped feeding people and are more concerned with what we can do, not why we are doing it?

Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, are talented people. But isn't it time to move away from the over complicated and costly and back to reality? This book takes it further.

There's so much work to do, giving people access to basic cooking skills and ingredients.

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Maybe there is, but every review I've read says it advocates an obsessive sensibility, unreproducible in almost any real kitchen.

You've been reading different reviews then I have been. In the reviews I've read, "advocate" doesn't enter into it. I'm not just splitting hairs here, there is a big difference. From what I've read in excepts and reviews, it gives you the extreme, just how far you can go. It isn't telling you that you should do that, or that it is necessary, it is telling you what the outcome would be if you did it no holds barred. Anyone with "common sense" would know that you don't slavishly follow a book, you use it for inspiration and information, picking and choosing your techniques and recipes. It isn't a Bible, and isn't prescriptive. It is just information for your consideration. If the book held back and only gave you "practical" methods, it would deny the reader the choice. This way you have your choice, and it doesn't have to be all or nothing; all the excepts I've seen give plenty of information to allow you apply the general technique without the same level of obsession if you should so wish.

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Am I being stupid??

Not stupid: you are just going by your gut feelings, whereas Myhrvold and Co. have actually tested these things. The book goes into considerable detail on those assertions, actually showing the temperature plots and the like. With respect to steak cooking time: if you cook the steak four times as long at the same temperature you will incinerate the outside of the steak by the time the inside is done. It's the final core temperature that takes four times as long to reach. SO the solution, as anyone cooking a thick steak already intuitively knows, is to lower the temperature you're cooking it at. With respect to "shocking" vegetables: the point is that shocking doesn't stop the cooking process! While that was always assumed to be the case, careful measurements show that it's simply false: an old wives' tale, if you will. The core temperature reached is almost identical regardless of how fast you chill.


Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Spending $100-$200 on a weekend hobby would be way out of reach for the vast majority.

What does the majority have to do with it?

Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, are talented people. But isn't it time to move away from the over complicated and costly and back to reality?

Why? I don't understand this statement at all. This isn't public policy here. Again, it isn't prescriptive. Nobody is making you eat, make, buy or otherwise have anything to do with it. If you want to go "back to reality" I totally understand that, but why I should follow you I don't understand at all.

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Having just read an interview with Myhrvold in the New Scientist I don't think the man knows what he is talking about. One observation he makes is that a steak that is twice the thickness needs four times longer to cook than one half the thickness - that is rubbish - you give a 1 inch steak four times longer than a half inch thick steak all you get is cremated steak.

He also says there is no point in chilling vegetables after blanching, left to cool off on the side gives the same result. Come on, the sooner you stop the cooking process by chilling the crisper the result.

If I find erroneous statements like that in any academic work I am afraid I dismiss it out of hand.

He should stick to computers and let those with years of experiance in the culinary arts do the cooking. Am I being stupid??

Someone's misquoting the book. It doesn't say that ice baths have no point. It says, correctly, that ice baths don't immediately halt the cooking process. The book is filled with references to ice baths, btw, so they clearly think they do something.

Just to be clear about the rest of what you're claiming: you believe that he and his team of researchers don't know what they're talking about and that their experimental measurements of temps and times are thus fraudulent? They're consistent with my experience and half-assed experiments, I should add; what did your experiments tell you?


Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I fail to see the "either/or" aspect. Basic cooking education can surely coexist with MC in this world, to everyone's benefit.

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I think another thing that's being discounted by those who would dismiss this book out of hand is that - as Ruhlman points out - we have no idea yet what the spin-offs will be that can be used in every kitchen! It reminds me of the shuttle program: putting a man on the moon was a highly expensive project that was completely useless... unless you care to consider the ways it's pushed technology forward. (Not that I'm saying Modernist Cuisine is generally comparable to the shuttle program, but in this respect, I think it is.)


Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

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I think another thing that's being discounted by those who would dismiss this book out of hand is that - as Ruhlman points out - we have no idea yet what the spin-offs will be that can be used in every kitchen! It reminds me of the shuttle program: putting a man on the moon was a highly expensive project that was completely useless... unless you care to consider the ways it's pushed technology forward. (Not that I'm saying Modernist Cuisine is generally comparable to the shuttle program, but in this respect, I think it is.)

This I totally agree with. I just don't want to see everyone trying to build their own space shuttle ;)

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I think that those of us reading this thread are "slightly" biased towards the book and Nathan's passion in this area[.]

I'd go one step further and say that many of us are the ideal readers for this project, and as such it feels like a dream come true. It is certainly appropriate to imagine other readers who, for perfectly legitimate reasons, don't feel the same way.

I’ve been following the modernist cuisine threads on-and-off and do find it all pretty fascinating. And such a thrill to have the author on line and engaged in discussion with us. But at the risk of coming off as a little old lady shaking her cane in the air at newfangled methods, I’ll admit to having some reservations about the whole concept of manipulating food so extensively.

I realize that many of the ingredients and techniques we think of as part of traditional gourmet cooking are ingredients that have been already highly manipulated and processed to produce something revelatory. Like bread, wine and cheese, among other things. So I get the argument that modernist cuisine is just taking that same philosophy and applying it in new and unique ways. And yeah, it looks really cool, the techniques are astoundingly interesting and I know some of it is downright delicious, delighting the eye as well as the palate.

However, I work as a product developer for a major food company, and something about it all just rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I know mass-produced, cost-reduced factory-made food for the masses is in an entirely different league than genius chefs turning out brilliant creations for high end restaurants. But they’re using the same tools.

For instance, I have, at my disposal, hundreds of flavors from flavor scientists who are world-renown experts in their field; some of these would knock your socks off in intensity and quality. Although I’m tempted to sneak a few of the more outstanding examples home to add to my own cooking (Trust me, I’d be a rock star in the eyes of my family if served a Thanksgiving gravy that had a cleverly concocted blend of a great caramelized onion flavor, the most perfectly intense roasted top note, a savory enhancer perhaps.), I couldn’t do it. To me, that’s not cooking. And then I realize that these flavors are tools that, with the right equipment, the highly skilled modernist cook could possibly create in their own home (or restaurant). In fact, the picture of the modernist’s kitchen looks horrifyingly similar to our pilot plant here at work!

So it feels right to use these tools as long as I invest in the equipment, learn the science and techniques and produce them myself. But not right if I take what’s already out there in the food industry, add a splash or two, and use them to elevate my own cooking to a higher level? In other words, where is the line drawn? Maybe it shouldn’t be? And what’s next? The virtual meal that has the ability to far surpass the real life experience?

I don’t want foie gras that looks like a cherry. Or olive oil gummy worms. Yeah, they’re really interesting and I can appreciate the skill it took in their creation, but it all just seems too gimmicky for me. Not to mention that many of the ingredients referenced in the book are things we’ve been using for years here at work that consumers balk at on our labels. The world is being turned upside down!

These are just some nagging thoughts regarding the intersection of technology and art and not necessarily a criticism.

A good analogy might be hand painted art vs photo shopped pictures. Both use the creative process and both might be equally pleasing to the eye. And even traditional oil painting utilizes some chemistry in the manufacture of the oil-based pigments. But I tend to have a greater appreciation for the cruder, more soulful, old-fashioned methods and the product they create. Which is ironic given my food science background. Or maybe it’s my background that has me stubbornly insist on drawing that arbitrary line that separates the culinary arts from food technology.


Edited by angevin (log)

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Having just read an interview with Myhrvold in the New Scientist I don't think the man knows what he is talking about. One observation he makes is that a steak that is twice the thickness needs four times longer to cook than one half the thickness - that is rubbish - you give a 1 inch steak four times longer than a half inch thick steak all you get is cremated steak.

He also says there is no point in chilling vegetables after blanching, left to cool off on the side gives the same result. Come on, the sooner you stop the cooking process by chilling the crisper the result.

If I find erroneous statements like that in any academic work I am afraid I dismiss it out of hand.

He should stick to computers and let those with years of experiance in the culinary arts do the cooking. Am I being stupid??

hmm...don't know about that last question of yours, but you are definitly being limited in your thinking to what you "know". The point of books like MC or McGee is to examine those long held traditions or assumptions and see if they satnd to scientific scrutiny. If you are grilling the steak, then of course you will cremate the outside, but he is probably talking about even low temperature (like SV) in order to get the core of the steak up to the proper degree of donness. It's not rubbish, it's proven science. I can prove that using my own SV setup.

Really, like DalJ said, it is not either extreme Roto-vap cuisine or cooking in a hearth in this day and age. Both can coexist quiet well.

Spending $100-$200 on a weekend hobby would be way out of reach for the vast majority.

The 100 or 200 that was mentioned was intended to mean like an initial investment, not necessarily breaking that out every time you open MC! Common sense tells me I can maker that Macaroni and Cheese that was mentioned with less than $10.

Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, are talented people. But isn't it time to move away from the over complicated and costly and back to reality?

I am not even sure what that means. The more we can learn from the masters in any subject, the better we are!

Honestly, some comments are very illogical and defy common sense.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I find the NYT review to be very disappointing.

On one hand, one could excerpt sentences from it would surely rank among the most postiive things every printed in an NYT book review. On the other hand one could also excerpt sentences which are among the most mean spirited and damning ever put in an NYT book review. As a result, you can come away from the review with nearly any point of view you want ranging from dismissive and condemning to praiseworthy adulation.

If you point at the positive parts, then I have nothing to complain about. Indeed, given those comments it may seem petty that I even bring it up.

Of course if you point at the negative parts then it's quite a different story.

Part of the issue is what a book review is about. There are at least three goals that most book reviews have. The first and most direct is that it describe the book to people so it can be a guide to their purchase decision. But book reviews are themselves a kind of literature and many are written at least in part to be an entertaining piece of writing. The third goal of many book reviews are a paen to the ego of the reviewer, and the glory of the publication (The New York Times!), establishing how superior they are.

Ruhlman's review can't seem to make up its mind about the first two. It says lots of positive things, but also many negative. That may be in part an effort to make it fun to read: that's how I interpret the comment about how many thousands of milligrams of asprin are required to read the book straight through. (safety note: don't take that much asprin at once, it would be an overdose!)

Mostly the schizophrenic nature of his comments make it seem like he wants to have it both ways. To people who love the book (for example, the professional chefs that have seen it) he can point to the positive comments and talk about how miraculous our stock recipe is, or other very positive comments. To people who have a different take he can moan about how bad the text is, how expensive the equipment is, and how much asprin he had to take.

The false modesty of how Ruhlman is not qualified to review the book is quite telling. He's "just" a trained chef, food journalist, author of multiple books referenced by MC, and has written about the world's best modernist chef. That's all. But even he isn't qualified to review the book.

Oh please! If he really thinks he couldn't do the job then he shouldn't have accepted the assignment. But nobody would say he isn't qualified. Of course he is. And if he does accept the assignment why spend the text to remind us of his resume. It's often true that a book review tells us more about the reviewer, than about the book, but that is said in a figurative manner ; in this case it is literally true.

Another telling point is that in his own blog post he doesn't throw the barbs. So maybe it is some rule at the NYT that you have to do that to pass muster. Several people have told me "what do you expect from the New York Times, they always have bitchy, holier-than-thou book reviews". So maybe his editor made him do it.

Given other posts in this thread, let me be clear that Ruhlman is certainly entitled to his opinion, and the most damning things he says about the book are mostly that - opinion. It's up to him whether found the book "mindcrushingly boring", as evidently he did. Naturally, I'm disappointed because we went to a lot of effort to make the text clear and easy to read. We've gotten high marks from others on explaining difficult concepts in a simple clear manner. But hey it's his opinion. Maybe the text did crush his mind with boredom, but I take some solace that many others don't feel that way. Plus, you can always skip those parts. In fact, based on some of the rest of the review, that may be exactly what he did.

Some of his other comments are more subject to question. He says that we are "Sometimes overly proud of itself, at other times it is recklessly (and admirably) opinionated.". He then proceeds to quote sentences about food saftey, and about epidemiology studies linking saturated fat to heart disease as examples of our "reckless" opinion.

Really? In the revelant sections of the book we go WAY out of our way to support every single thing we say with both explanations, and academic references. It isn't my "reckless opinion" that there is no large study linking saturated fat - we document it. In fact, us going overboard on explaining this (because it is sure to be controversal) might be the part he found mindcrushingly boring. So, which way do you want it? Documented and through (but possibily boring if you don't find food saftey or nutritional epidemiology interesting).

I also have a problem with the "recklessly (and admirably)". It's another example of trying to have it both ways. Depending on the audience he can point at either word. The same "have it both ways" thing crops up in the faux-populism. He complains (incorrectly) that we have nothing but sous vide for meat. But he is the author of Under Pressure, a book solely about sous vide! What is up with that?

Another comment panders to the natural food movement "Much of this revolutionary cooking is based on ingredients and techniques long fundamental to the processed food industry. Are we to embrace the ingredients and techniques of modernist cuisine at the very moment industrially processed food is being blamed for many of our national health problems?".

Well Michael, you tell me. You're the author of a book on sous vide which is precisely one of those techniques.

Of course, he knows that. He also knows we address this issue in the book. We go to great lengths to explain that this is a false dichotomy. Using unfamiliar techinques and ingredients is not the cause of our health problems. We are no friends of the processed food industry, we condemn it for falsely advertising dubious health benefits, among other things. We explain that the techinques and ingredients are safe.

Raising this as a question lets him pander to people with those fears, and keep his credibility with them. It seems so thoughtful to pose this question, but it seems to me another way to try to have it both ways.

A post above questions Ruhlman's statement that there are no recipes for meat that don't use sous vide. Of course that is totally wrong. We have a chapter on combi-ovens, CVAP ovens and microwaves and have meat recipes for each of them. We have a big section on smoking meats that uses a smoker. We have a big section on raw meat that doesn't use heat at all. We have a big section on sausage and cured meats. Our section on cooking tough meats has pressure cooking times for all manner of tough meats - including a pressure cooked carnitas. We even have microwaved meats - including a very cook and super fast beef jerky, and a tilapia recipe from the mother of one our chefs.

I have not counted them up, but I suspect that we have more non-sous vide meat recipes in the book than a typical cookbook has recipes of any kind. We certainly have more non-sous recipes than Under Pressure does.

An odd thing about this assertion is that Ruhlman emailed me with questions EVERY DAY for the last week or so, so even if he couldn't find any of the recipes, he sure could have asked.

So anyway, those are my thoughts on the review. I hope that Ruhlman liked the book - if I average the postiive and negative comments it seems so but it is hard to be sure.

It seems that he found it useful in the ways that I most want it to be used - as a reference work that opens up new culinary vistas.


Nathan

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      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 TdeV
      Wikipedia defines pork wings as: a pork product made from the fibula of a pig's shank - a single bone surrounded by lean, tender meat.
      Images from the internet look like a finger-size bit of meat around a bone.
      Mine, however, look more like the meat (lots) which surrounds a bone. My butcher called this cut pork wings.
      You can see on the right that there's a small amount of bone.
         
       
      My butcher said he regularly ate SEVERAL of these. But this one measures 15 oz (425g).
      He also said it had to be cooked slowly.
       
      So, if I cook these sous vide, what temp and for how long?
    • By boilsover
      The 2017 iteration of the International Home & Housewares Show is being held March 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago.  This is the world's 2nd-largest tradeshow for the cookware and housewares industry, close behind Ambiente in Frankfurt.  It is a cornucopia of what's new and what's coming down the pike in the world of cookware, and if you've ever wondered about why makers do the things they do, this is your opportunity to talk with execs and their product development people (e.g., you can discuss ceramics with the 6th-gen owner of Emile Henry).  It takes an able cookware geek a full two days to cover all the booths.
       
      Are any eGulls or eGuys besides me attending? 
    • By jedovaty
      Good morning!
       
      Long story short: I am doing a spin off the coconut/chocolate/almond candy (almond joy), and trying to create a specific shape out of the almond.  My hands are cramped after a couple dozen failed attempts whittling roasted almonds, so now I'd like to try a different approach, and instead, create some kind of sub-candy or cookie with roasted almonds that I can put into a mold or use a mini cookie cutter.  I'm fairly new to sweets, my knowledge in this area is pretty slim.  Some ideas so far, I don't like any, but it might help turn some gears:
      1. dusting almond over a stencil, but that's not enough almond nor crunchy enough
      2. almond brittle, but that's too hard and sweet, I'd like it more of a soft crunch, and bringing the almond flavor forward
      3. meringue with almonds (sort of macaron-ish), however, weather has been humid and raining here, and I'm ending up with a gooey mess instead of that soft crunch
       
      In addition to having almond-forward taste and soft crunch texture, it'd be fun to explore something modernish - I have a accumulated a few tools and ingredients not customarily found in homes.
       
      There are dietary considerations I will have to account for, however, no need to worry about that now, I am just looking for ideas and a place to take it from there
       
      Thank you for your time in reading!
    • By Franzisaurus_Rex
      FOOD BRETHREN!
      I need some advice. I have one last piece of pork belly confit in the fridge. I brined these bitches for about 5 days (brine included pink curing salt), vacuum sealed the squares of pork belly with lard and sous vide them at 158 F for 16 hours. I cooked this on 11/10/16 and its been in my refrigerator since. 
      Here is the general recipe I followed, with some modifications based on my taste: https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/...
      The last piece is still vacuum sealed and submerged (mostly) in lard. Any visible pork only has contact with the bag. 
      It's staring at me. And calling my name.
      I want to deep fry this sucker and have a little date night with the handsome devil I see in the mirror every morning, but the last thing I want is spoiled food. I can't find any conclusive information about how long pork confit lasts for. I've only seen references that duck confit or in general that the confit technique will last for months in the fridge. I have found no sources which directly addresses pork confit.
      Questions/Factors I'm Considering:
      - Does pork confit keep for as long as duck confit?
      - Does vacuum sealing have any effect on the length of preservation?
      - Does sous-vide cooking method affect the length of preservation?
      I know I am probably being a bit paranoid, but I thought I would do my due diligence before taking the plunge, so to speak. Any advice on these questions would be extremely helpful and appreciated!
      The Franzisaurus-Rex
      PS - you should totally make this if you are into sous vide, confit, food, or have any respect for the enjoyment of life. Flash-searing these things after cooking was OUT OF THIS WORLD.
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