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Solid intermediate cook, here. Not especially intimidated by elaborate preps. But I'm new to SV, and would like a recommendation for a cookbook for guidance and exploration.
I was thinking of Tom Keller's Under Pressure, but I'm wondering if the preps he includes may not be the most generally useful. What do you all like, and why?
By Chris Hennes
On Nov. 7, 2017, Modernist Bread will finally arrive on my doorstep. Having preordered it literally the first day it was available, to say I'm excited about this book is a bit of an understatement. The team at The Cooking Lab have been gracious enough to give @Dave the Cook and me early electronic access to the book and so I've spent the last week pouring over it. I'm just going to start with a few initial comments here (it's 2600 pages long, so a full review is going to take some time, and require a bunch of baking!). Dave and I would also be happy to answer any questions you've got.
One of the main things I've noticed about this book is a change in tone from the original Modernist Cuisine. It comes across as less "everything you know is wrong" and more "eighty bazillion other bakers have contributed to this knowledge and here's our synthesis of it." I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that Myhrvold and company are now the most experienced bread-bakers in the world. Not necessarily in terms of the number of identical loaves they've produced, but in the shear number of different recipes and techniques they've tried and the care with which they've analyzed the results. These volumes are a distillation of 100,000 years of human breadmaking experience, topped off with a dose of the Modernist ethos of taking what we know to the next level.
The recipes include weight, volume, and baker's percentages, and almost all of them can be made by both a home baker and someone baking in a commercial facility. The home baker might need to compromise on shape (e.g. you can't fit a full-length baguette in most home ovens) but the book provides clear instructions for both the amateur and professional. The recipes are almost entirely concentrated in volumes 4 and 5, with very few in the other volumes (in contrast to Modernist Cuisine, where there were many recipes scattered throughout). I can't wait for the physical volumes to arrive so that I can have multiple volumes open at once, the recipes cross-reference techniques taught earlier quite frequently.
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).
I was making onion confit the other day. After slow-cooking the onions in duck fat and duck stock for 14 hr., I wanted to reduce the liquid before finishing the onions off in the oven. So I got out a bowl and a sieve and took the inner container out of the IP to make it easier to pour. Then I got distracted talking to my wife, not that I'm blaming her. The next thing I noticed was liquid all over the counter: I had put the sieve on the IP and strained the onions into it. (Fortunately, it was cool and unplugged). Now, the IP documentation warns against immersing the IP in liquid. "The housing has electronic components and should never be immerse [sic] in water.Doing so will damage Instant Pot permanently. The housing can only be wiped clean." (http://instantpot.com/portfolio-item/after-purchase/#toggle-id-20). I was therefore wary about just plugging the IP in again, but didn't want to just throw it away. So I had to investigate.
Removing the bottom plate was easy (one screw to undo), and inside it actually looked pretty good. The control board was clean and there were just a few splashes of grease here and there. The inner pot has two drainage holes; one is just visible at about 1:30 in this pic and the other is below the control board and not really visible in this pic. The back of the control board is protected by a plastic base.
But I wanted to check the back of the board, and to do that I had to remove a few screws and connectors:
Most of the connectors have little flanges that hold them in their sockets. Getting them to release required a lot of probing with a very small screw-driver, accompanied by a fair amount of swearing. Below is the multi-pin connector, which was the hardest to remove.
Once that was off, the control board could be removed without disconnecting any more wires (which had proved recalcitrant, in any case).
The back of the control board was clean, as was the inside of its plastic base, which I removed next. The back of it was coated in duck fat.
Finally, I removed the plastic ring around the base of the IP. It housed the socket for one end of the power cord, but this snapped out easily.
All the plastic pieces I had removed got a good wash in hot soapy water. I cleaned up the rest of the hardware as best I could with paper towels and cotton swabs.
Then I put it all back together (thanking myself for having taken that initial pic). I replaced the inner pot, added some water and ran the "sauté" function for a couple of minutes until the water started to steam. Then I turned it off, put on the lid and ran a "soup" function with pressure for 5 min. There was a bit of smoke that I attributed to residual duck fat (It smelled culinary.), and which only lasted 15 sec. or so.
Huge sigh of relief. Having gone through all this, I think it was probably not absolutely necessary, but there might have been a bit more smoke and smell. It was worth doing for the peace of mind, though.
And the onion confit turned out fine.
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,
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