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"Maximum Flavor: Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook"


Bojana
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I must start by saying that I have huge respect for what Alex and Aki are doing. I adore their previous book and one of the first things I read in the morning is their website's mailing. In anticipation of Maximum Flavor (MF), I went back to the very beginning of their blog and read or skimmed through years of writing, witnessing how Ideas in Food have contributed to some of the big developments that characterize modern cuisine today.

I live in Europe, where MF is not sold yet. I bought it through pre-order on Amazon, had it shipped to a US address and had a friend bring from there.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, perhaps I have developed into a more sophisticated and knowledgeable cook over the last few years but this book was a major disappointment. The words that come to mind are: simple (selection of recipes), US focused (ingredients hard to find in Europe, brands, recipes) and unappetizing (photography, colors).

This is not so say that this book is bad, but it is not a book for me any more. It is a book for a relatively average American home cook, how has somehow heard of Aki and Alex, and is willing to improve their pancake, burger and cake making.

I have cooked successfully enough of complex dishes in full from Alinea, Eleven Madisson Park, Momofuku, Modernist Cuisine etc and I was craving something that would help me come up with complex and unusual flavors, that Alex and Aki can do so well (very noticeable in the first years of their blog), or even the big brother for their previous book, with more flavor enhancing techniques and brilliant recipes.

In the entire book, there are perhaps two or max three things new to me, such as sugar syrup roasting nuts, the konbu beans combination and I cannot think of the third one. Also, I find a lot of ideas lacking originality - microwave sponge cakes or rough puff pastry are not exactly what I hoped to find there.

I would sent the book it back but shipping costs from EU to US may outweigh the refund I can get - will look into it though.

I understand this book may have a significant (US) mass appeal and be commercially attractive for the authors, I somehow feel that their brand has been diluted for me. I will never again buy a piece of their writing without having it seen first and making sure that it is what I expect it to be.

[Host Note: Amazon Society-friendly link to Maximum Flavor by Aki Komozawa and Alexander Talbot]

Edited by Chris Hennes
Added amazon.com link (log)
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It was pretty much what I expected as this book was marketed as being geared towards the average home cook. I also found it to not be as good as their first effort, but it was aimed at a broader audience.

This is the first sentence of their marketing materials, and is the first sentence on the amazon link as well

Whether you’re interested in molecular gastronomy or just want a perfect chicken recipe for dinner tonight, the authors of Ideas in Food deliver reliable techniques and dishes—no hard-to-find ingredients or break-the-bank equipment required—for real home cooks.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0770433219/ref=nosim/?tag=egulletsociety-20

Edited by Twyst (log)
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  • 1 year later...

gfweb -- I really, really like Ideas in Food, so I would assume that this is also pretty amazing.  I am on hiatus from buying cookbooks at the moment, but I can tell you that I have thumbed through it and am definitely impressed as usual by these guys.  It is next on deck for my collection...

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Just requested it from my local library system. Stay tuned...

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I was disappointed by the book, expected it more to be like the first one, but it isn't

I am with you, Nina. Don't know if it was overhyped or what but it was hugely disappointing. A book that promises to "change the way I cook" needs to come through with some pretty revolutionary ideas if it's going to live up to its promise.

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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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What sort of stuff do they cover?

Head over to Amazon.com where you can have a glimpse inside the book.

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 have the book.

I agree that it's not as good as their first book.

I do plan to give the blue cheese cured chateaubriand a try sometime soon.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess one's opinion depends on what one was expecting or needing to learn from the book. As I mentioned upthread, I just got my copy from the library. I'm a reasonably skilled home cook, but I don't do sous vide (but I've been know to do low-temp oven cooking), "molecular" cooking (e.g. transglutimase), or other cutting edge stuff. However, I'm always up for learning a new technique or seeing an interesting suggestion for making a familiar dish. Which is to say, at first glance, but before having made anything from it, I like it.

 

I'm not sure what I'll try first, but it'll probably be something simple, like Kale Slaw with Russian Dressing. I'll keep you posted.

 

I do agree with Bojana, the reviewer in the linked thread, that the pictures are uninspiring. There's just something a bit off about the focus and color saturation. I noticed that the book was printed in China. I don't know enough to say whether that might have been a factor, but perhaps someone more knowledgable about such things can speak to that.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I think I spotted an error. Before I contact the publisher, could you chime in and let me know if I'm on track?

 

Here's their Nut Butter Scones recipe.

 

It specifies, "Form the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) round and cut it into 12 equal wedges. Or you can shape it into two 4-inch (10 cm) rounds and cut each into 6 pieces."

 

I'm guessing they equated linear measurement with area measurment, which varies as the square of the diameter (or radius). Therefore, a 10 cm round is one-quarter the area of a 20 cm round. To use the same amount of dough, the 10 cm rounds would have to be twice as thick as the 20 cm one; I don't think that was their intent. The equivalent of one 20 cm round would be two 14 cm rounds.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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For the purpose of dividing the dough evenly I can't see any issue. You could form three circles of one inch diameter and cut into quarters... If accuracy of portions is what matters and the dough is reformed before baking then the thickness is irrelevant and I would use scales to weigh them.

Without the rest of the recipe I can't add more but if the wedges are baked as is then the recipe is probably incorrect.

** edit **

Saw the link. Could be an error or the recipe is not too critical on thickness. I am leaning towards an error.

Simon

Edited by Simon Lewinson (log)
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