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 a free account.

Raamo

Baking with Myhrvold's "Modernist Bread: The Art and Science"

Recommended Posts

15 minutes ago, Anna N said:

 You’ll have to scroll a long way down here  but it does seem that gluten-free bagels were an afterthought. 

Guess the 'patent pending' was serious!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gluten free bagels

 

 

IMG_4380.thumb.jpg.e737e66738735c1ca01b2ae8b6bc05f4.jpg

 

The dough is solid! 

 

 

IMG_4382.thumb.jpg.7e0ccf8ecd764a77c475e5d22bd91d8b.jpg

 

But wonderfully easy to shape because it's solid!

 

 

IMG_4384.thumb.jpg.f4e5a03c62644a5542a66ee55c2f3ed1.jpg

 

Not very brown - but to be fair I forgot the sugar so that's probably why. 

 

 

 

IMG_4383.thumb.jpg.a5909fc2a6efe8e2e028a096a835dfd7.jpg

 

Didn't think they'd have a crumb because they seemed like solid little blocks - but they did and were described as having potential by the hubby for whom they were made. 

 

 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/10/2019 at 1:01 AM, Kmanim said:

When Myhrvold was talking about taking pictures of the cut-in-half wok for Modernist Cuisine and how it kept lighting on fire, he said "it only has to look good for 1/1000th of a second!"

 

The problem I had with my crumb was that it seemed tougher than the crumbs I got on other sourdoughs prior to working with Modernist Bread.

 

Your crumbs honestly look very good though, and I'm sure they taste excellent! I think Instagram has spoiled our appetite for open crumbs...

 

What size loaf are you working with? I generally bake 700-800g loaves for batards. I started to move towards it because that seems to be the right size for my banneton, but I have also found that if I go for 1kg, I tend to lose a bit of volume. 

 

 

I've been using 850 g. How do you manage to get your loaves to have that tight volume after baking? Mine tends to spread and become flat. I'd love them to look a bit taller.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/10/2019 at 1:27 AM, Kmanim said:

I just managed to get Vol. 2 & 3 from my public library (thank you!). Very helpful for informing some assumptions I had made from just Vol. 4. But it has also raised some questions I was hoping someone could help me with. 

 

I capriciously bought some (expensive) calcium ascorbate thinking it would work the same as ascorbic acid as it had vitamin C labelled all over it. Does anyone here know if it should work more-or-less as well as ascorbic acid? I'm not good enough at chemistry and I'm not sure how to conduct an experiment to check that it is doing it's job. I have made their ancient grain bread and daily bread which use it but I had no control, and I'm not sure how pronounced its effect is supposed to be on the dough either. 

 

Does anyone else find the batard preshaping and shaping instructions confusing? I can't even understand their preshaping instructions on 3.154, and the shaping instructions that follow on both pages are also relatively complicated to understand. I seem to end up with a much longer batard than in their pictures.

 

Has anyone managed to make a food processor work for the lean doughs from vol. 4 that are higher than the hydration from the Van Over formula? Every time I've tried mixing another dough formula (including ones that they have food processor instructions for), I've ended up with a batter that stops mixing properly and overheats my Magimix (and rides up the inside of the blade and makes it really annoying to clean). Does anyone have any experience with higher (than Van Over) hydration doughs in the fp?

 

 

 

I did find them confusing at first. But then I watched a few different shaping videos that correspond to the MB descriptions pretty well. For step 2, "Roll the dough away from you, and continue to gently roll it back and forth until it just comes together", I found confusing. But I *think* it's the same technique as seen in this video below, where the instructor tells you to "roll and push."

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Made another attempt at the MB sourdough and I made some progress. It was obvious from previous attempts that it was underproofed. I realized that I'd been bulk fermenting the dough at far too low of a temp (70 F). I use that temp for bulking baguettes, so I thought I was supposed to use the same temp for levain dough. But I re-read the bulk fermentation section, and saw that it recommends a bulk fermenting temp of 80 F. Doh! Would it be too much to ask the authors of MB to have listed the recommended bulk fermentation temperatures on the master recipe page? I bulk fermented the dough at 80 F for 3 hr 30 m with a total of 4 folds. The dough was quite elastic after that. I'm still hesitant with scoring and my shapes are still not symmetrical but i'm happy. I'm not going to try and make sourdough and baguettes again until I become a lot more organized. I was all over the place. My baguettes really suffered from it although I'm happy with the crumb.

 

2vCfs9t.jpg

 

sg09wRM.jpg

 

frpj2Jw.jpg


Edited by underproofed (log)
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Kerry Beal said:

Gluten free bagels

 

 

IMG_4380.thumb.jpg.e737e66738735c1ca01b2ae8b6bc05f4.jpg

 

The dough is solid! 

 

 

IMG_4382.thumb.jpg.7e0ccf8ecd764a77c475e5d22bd91d8b.jpg

 

But wonderfully easy to shape because it's solid!

 

 

IMG_4384.thumb.jpg.f4e5a03c62644a5542a66ee55c2f3ed1.jpg

 

Not very brown - but to be fair I forgot the sugar so that's probably why. 

 

 

 

IMG_4383.thumb.jpg.a5909fc2a6efe8e2e028a096a835dfd7.jpg

 

Didn't think they'd have a crumb because they seemed like solid little blocks - but they did and were described as having potential by the hubby for whom they were made. 

 

 

 

How'd they taste??? Was it reminiscent of regular bagels despite being gluten free?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ancient Grain Bread (KM p. 102)

 

The "ancient grain" section of the book contains, as usual, a "Master Recipe", a "Modernist Variation," and a dozen or so specific ingredient combination suggestions. It also contains a basic formula for developing your own. So for my first attempt I made the Master Recipe exactly as written. The basic idea is to blend 60% high-gluten wheat bread flour and add 40% of the "ancient grain" flour(s), plus standard wheat-based liquid levain. Their recipes mostly use blends of three different alternate grains: in this case, Kamut, Emmer and Spelt. As an inclusion the Master recipe has you add sprouted sorghum, and it uses pearl millet as a topping.

 

First things first: it's fantastic. Definitely one of the best breads I've ever had. I found the millet topping a bit too crunchy, and I added too much of it, I think (it goes everywhere when you slice!). But the basic flavor of the bread is superb. I have not been on the ancient grain bandwagon up to this point (I guess the marketing rubs me the wrong way), but at least this particular combination is absolutely worth making. Using high gluten flour I had no trouble getting to a windowpane stage, and the crumb of the bread is every bit as good as my standard sourdough. I'm definitely looking forward to the next few months of baking... I have a lot of different grains to experiment with, and I know I've got at least one winner on my hands.

 

DSC_8219.jpgDSC_8220.jpg

  • Like 14
  • Delicious 1

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/12/2019 at 9:17 PM, underproofed said:

 

 

I've been using 850 g. How do you manage to get your loaves to have that tight volume after baking? Mine tends to spread and become flat. I'd love them to look a bit taller.

Well the weight definitely isn't it. I've actually been having a spreading issue since I've started trying out their shaping methods last week... If I were smart, I'd go back to the way I was doing it before but I'm trying to give their instructions a chance.

 

@Chris Hennes how do you shape your batards? You always seem to have nice tall loaves (like that amazing-looking ancient grain loaf!). 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/12/2019 at 9:30 PM, underproofed said:

Made another attempt at the MB sourdough and I made some progress.

Wow both those loaves look amazing - better-looking baguettes than most of the ones I had in Paris over New Year!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Kmanim said:

@Chris Hennes how do you shape your batards? You always seem to have nice tall loaves (like that amazing-looking ancient grain loaf!). 

Depends on how sticky the dough is. The ancient grain bread is quite sticky so I just sort of pull the outside around with my thumbs to pull it taught, rolling it a bit to get the shape right. I am proofing in bannetons, which also helps.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ancient Grain Bread: Buckwheat, Corn and Sorghum (KM p. 105)

 

This follows the same basic recipe as the Master Ancient Grain bread. The grains are swapped out, vital wheat gluten is added, and the hydration is tweaked. The inclusions this time around are sprouted buckwheat and freeze-dried corn. Overall I'd say the bread is good but not great, and I don't care for the freeze-dried corn inclusion (it gets gummy). Their photo appears to show a much darker crumb than I ended up with, which is interesting.

 

DSC_8226.jpg

 

DSC_8228.jpg


Edited by Chris Hennes Grammar. (log)
  • Like 7
  • Delicious 1

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the right the gluten free brioche.  On the left Shokupan made with modernists gluten free flour mix with added vital wheat gluten. 

 

568DCC52-80DC-40DD-95E5-73DD6230DF87.thumb.jpeg.fbf289c17cb8d4739d8617d32af97e8f.jpeg

 

6DA1D2FA-14D2-4877-9E0C-085BA96E4F0D.thumb.jpeg.4ac00ec719c150ca3d9b9a527bae3554.jpeg

 

146DB459-DFDA-4BB1-939B-A70CFFE5DF57.thumb.jpeg.5910a4cb1956ad514761029d348cff29.jpeg

 

Waiting for them both to cool to get crumb shots.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Kerry Beal said:

On the right the gluten free brioche.  On the left Shokupan made with modernists gluten free flour mix with added vital wheat gluten. 

Well, they look like bread. How is the texture?

  • Like 1

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ancient Grain Bread: Teff, Einkorn and Millet (KM p. 103)

 

This week's "ancient grain" entry uses predominantly einkorn (25%) with a little teff (5%) and a little millet flour (10%). The inclusion is chia seeds, and the topping is millet (which I went lighter on this time). Overall I didn't get much oven spring, so while the flavor was fine, the texture was a bit on the chewy side. Not a bad bread, but I probably won't rush out to make it again.

 

DSC_8232.jpg

 

DSC_8234.jpg

  • Like 7

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

Ancient Grain Bread: Teff, Einkorn and Millet (KM p. 103)

 

This week's "ancient grain" entry uses predominantly einkorn (25%) with a little teff (5%) and a little millet flour (10%). The inclusion is chia seeds, and the topping is millet (which I went lighter on this time). Overall I didn't get much oven spring, so while the flavor was fine, the texture was a bit on the chewy side. Not a bad bread, but I probably won't rush out to make it again.

 

DSC_8232.jpg

 

DSC_8234.jpg

Look good


http://igodl.com/blog

Make it a great day, put a smile on your face

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

Well, they look like bread. How is the texture?

Pretty darn good I must say!

 

I'm thinking Bostock with a couple of pieces of the brioche. I sliced both loaves up and put them in the freezer with the pieces divided with deli wrap. That way hubby can make himself a sandwich. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Ancient Grain Bread: Teff, Einkorn and Millet (KM p. 103)

 

This week's "ancient grain" entry uses predominantly einkorn (25%) with a little teff (5%) and a little millet flour (10%). The inclusion is chia seeds, and the topping is millet (which I went lighter on this time). Overall I didn't get much oven spring, so while the flavor was fine, the texture was a bit on the chewy side. Not a bad bread, but I probably won't rush out to make it again.

 

DSC_8232.jpg

 

DSC_8234.jpg

Well, the LOOK pretty tasty to me!


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could someone confirm that the recipe at the bottom of this article is the same from volume 5 for their everything everywhere bagels?

 

https://m.mic.com/articles/amp/185648/food-scientist-nathan-myrhvold-figured-out-how-to-keep-everything-bagel-toppings-from-falling-off

 

For those who have worked with this, how much slurry do you find you need to make for a recipe of bagel dough (1kg/7 bagels)? I need an idea of how much ultra Tex I need to be ordering... 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Kmanim I didn't check the exact proportions, but that's the gist of it, anyway. You only need enough to get the bagels dipped, but it can be hard to deal with smaller quantities, so I typically make 1kg batches, as that recipe suggests. I'm sure you could get by with a half batch easily enough, though.

  • Thanks 1

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/19/2019 at 6:19 PM, bos said:

I love bread 😋

ME too.  In fact, it’s disturbing just how much I love bread.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steamed Buns (KM p. 388)

 

This is  pretty typical recipe for steamed buns, although they go to great pains to point out that you can really steam pretty much any bread recipe. Of course you don't end up with a crisp crust, but sometimes that's desirable (I guess. Maybe.). Filling these is optional, but I made a sort of Sichuan-esque filling with black beans, chili oil, Sichuan peppercorns, dark and light soy sauce, and shaoxing. Overall I was happy with them: I've never been to China so can't compare to the buns there, but they were certainly as good as any I've had in the US. Bonus points for being one of the few breads where eating them directly after baking doesn't brand you a barbarian.

 

DSC_8242.jpg'

 

DSC_8249.jpg

 

  • Like 9

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By WackGet
      Recently I picked up a few different types of emulsifiers in bulk powder form when I saw them in passing at a catering wholesaler.
       
      Having never used powdered emulsifiers before in cooking or baking, I figured I'd find pretty comprehensive instructions for their use on the web - but I can't.
       
      I'm not a stranger to food science but nor am I a chemist. I understand that emulsifiers are at least sometimes prepared by pre-mixing them into a (heated?) liquid or fat and then using the resulting solution in the actual recipe, which may explain why a lot of commercial emulsifier mixtures are packages as tubes of gel or paste. I've also checked several industry-level textbooks about emulsifiers and while they are fantastic for in-depth explanations of the chemistry behind each emulsifier, they do not (as you might imagine) provide guidance on how a lowly baker or cook would actually use a powdered form.
       
      So does anyone know how to prepare and use a dry powdered form of any of the following in a real recipe?
       
      Specifically I am most interested in enhancing baked goods and adding stability to sauces, but would also like to know how to use them for other processes such as sausage-making too.
      E471 Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids E481 Sodium stearoyl lactylate E482 Calcium stearoyl lactylate E472e DATEM (diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides)
        Thanks.
    • By mjbarnard
      I cooked two turkey breasts sous vide. This year had access to the Meater+ thermometer probe which I managed to vacuum seal in the bag without difficulty (it is small). Since it works wirelessly I was able to monitor and it records the internal temperatures at the thickest part of the breast.
      I thought the results were interesting. I cooked at 60C for 8 hours. I have always used https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/a-better-way-to-turkey-cook-that-bird-sous-vide-for-the-best-feast-ever which gives long cooking times at lower temperature. I have found that as according to this page https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/11/sous-vide-turkey-breast-crispy-skin-recipe-thanksgiving.html that 55C gives turkey which is just a little too pink for most tastes. Over the last few years have increased the temperature up to 59/60 and I find it perfect - very moist and tender, but pale not pink.
      See attached images. I changed my mind a couple of times and started at 58 then 60 then 59 again, so ignore the slight variations. The thing I found interesting was that the thickest part (of a large breast) reached 55C in around 1 hour 40 mins and target of 59 in 2 hours 30 mins. Now I appreciate that sous vide is a combination of temperature and time or duration, but the data make me think that around 4 hours would be sufficient, as per the seriouseats table. I have previously used the chefsteps 55-58 for their much longer advised times, up to 12 hours and the meat is still quite pink at the end, so I dont believe 55 for 12 hours would effectively be the same.
      From now on I will watching the internal temperatures with interest. This has always been the (relative) unkown for sous vide amateurs. 


    • By TexasMBA02
      After batting about .500 with my previous approach to macarons, I came across Pierre Herme's base recipe online.  After two flawless batches of macarons, I've been re-energized to continue to work at mastering them.  Specifically, I want to try more of his recipes.  My conundrum is that he has, as far as I can tell, two macaron cookbooks and I don't know which one I should get.  I can't tell if one is just an updated version of the other or a reissue or what the differences really are.  I was hoping somebody had some insight.  I have searched online and haven't seen both books referenced in the same context or contrasted at all.
       
      This one appears to be older.

       
      And this one appears to be the newer of the two.

       
      Any insight would be helpful.
       
      Thanks,
       
    • By chefg
      I have to say designing the Alinea kitchen has been one of the most exciting experiences thus far in the opening of this restaurant. I have been fortunate to have been “raised” in some of the best kitchens in the country. When I arrived at the French Laundry in August 1996 the “new kitchen” had just been completed. Often times you would hear the man talk about the good old days of cooking on a residential range with only one refrigerator and warped out sauté pans with wiggly handles. When I started about 50% of the custom stainless steel was in place. The walls smooth with tile and carpet on the floors. I recall the feeling of anxiety when working for fear that I would dirty up the kitchen, not a common concern for most cooks in commercial kitchens.
      The French Laundry kitchen didn’t stop, it continued to evolve over the four years I was there. I vividly remember the addition of the custom fish/canapé stainless unit. Allowing the poissonier to keep his mise en place in beautiful 1/9 pan rails instead of the ice cube filled fish lugs. Each advancement in technology and ergonomics made the kitchen a more efficient and exacting machine.
      When I returned to the Laundry this past July for the 10th anniversary I was shocked that it had metomorphisized once again. The butcher room was now a sea of custom stainless steel low boys, the pot sink area was expanded, the walk-in moved, and an office added to the corner of the kitchen. The kitchen as I left it in June of 2001 was beautiful and extremely functional, of course it is even more so now. It is the relentless pursuit of detail and concise thought that allows the French Laundry kitchen to be one of the best for cooks to execute their craft…..16 hours a day.
      This was good motivation.
      When it came time to design my kitchen I drew on experiences at Trio, TFL and other kitchens I was familiar with to define the positives and negatives of those designs. We were faced with a 21x 44' rectangle. This space would not allow for my original kitchen design idea of four islands postioned throughout the kitchen, but ultimately gave way for the current design which I think is actually better than the original. But most the important aspect in shaping the final design was the cuisine. Due to the nature of food that we produce a typical layout with common equipment standards and dimensions do not work. Here is where the team drew on our experiences from Trio. By looking at the techniques we utilized we came to several conclusions.
      1. A conventional range was not our main heat source. We do need the flat tops and some open burners for applications such as braising and limited stock work. But our overall use of this piece of equipment is somewhat low. Given that we wanted four open burners and two flat tops with two ovens I began to source out a reliable unit. We settled on the Molteni G230.

      2. Upon analyzing our other heat source needs we decided to place a large focus on induction. By utilizing portable induction burners we are allowed the flexibility to give as much power as needed to a specific station in the kitchen. Obviously induction’s radiant heat is very low, and this allows us to keep the temperature in the kitchen reasonable, yet the power is quite high. 31,000 BTU's of highly controlable heat. But the main reason for choosing this flexible source of heat is the fact that each chef typically employed at least four different cooking applications on a given night. This huge flux in technique and the realization that the menu would change entirely in 8 weeks time meant that we had to design a kitchen that could evolve on a nightly basis. And last, we are very specific with temperatures; induction makes it easier for us to hold a liquid at a predetermined temperature for long periods of time without fluctuation. They operate between 85 and 500 degrees farenheit. We did a great deal of research on the different producers of induction and favored Cooktek. The fact that they are the only U.S manufacturer of commercial induction cooking equipment and located in Chicago made the decision easier. Their innovative approach to induction may prove to be even more exciting as we are already talking about new product development in the future.

      3. a. The complexity of the presentations and a la minute plate-ups of the food require a great deal of surface area devoted to plating. This was one of the most critical factors in determining the basic shape of the kitchen. The size of some of today's popular plates, the amount detail in each composition, coupled with the fact that producing tasting menus vs. ala carte means sometimes large waves of same dish pick ups made it necessary for us to have over 44' of linear plating surface.
      b. Virtually nothing goes vertical above the 36” counter top in the space. All food, plates, equipment, and dry good storage are contained by under counter units. There are a few exceptions such as the infrared salamanders, the three-door refrigerator, and the hood. This allows all the cooks a clear line of communication between each other and the front staff. It allows me an easy sight line to survey the entire kitchen’s progress with a quick glance.
      Given these two points it seemed obvious that we needed to combine the two and create custom pieces that would fulfill both needs. Large spans of plating surfaces with all food and equipment storage below. As you can see we ended up with two 22’ long units. Each function as a pass and under counter storage.
      The building is 21’ wide wall to wall. This allowed us just enough space to create two lines on each exterior wall with their passes forming a 60” corridor for the pick up of plates and finishing of dishes.
      4. We decided to add a station to the kitchen. At Trio we had five including:
      a. pastry
      b. cold garde manger
      c. hot garde manger
      d. fish
      e. meat
      Now that we had more space, and the ability to give each station multiple heat
      sources regardless of their location in the kitchen, we could spread the workload even further. We also realized it doesn’t make much sense to identify each station by classic French Bragade terms. A saucier did not solely cook meat with classic techniques and prepare various traditional stocks and sauces…in fact quite the opposite. This holds true with most of the stations, with the exception of pastry, but even they will have very unconventional techniques, menu placement and involvement in the kitchen systems. We will add a station that will be responsible for a large majority of the one-bite courses both sweet and savory.
      5.Given the size constraints of the building we realized a walk-in would not be possible in the kitchen. If we were to have one it would be in the basement. Having experienced this at Trio we decided to design the kitchen without a walk-in, making up for the space in various lowboy locations and a three-door reach-in. I experienced the walk-in less environment when I worked at Charlie Trotter’s. It is certainly different, but as with most things if done properly it provides a very efficient environment. It works best in situations where fresh products are brought in daily for that days use. And prevents ordering in large quantities. It also provides us with very specific units to house different items. We will utilize the 3-door refrigerator to store the majority of the vegetables and herbs along with some staple mise en place, and items that cannot be made in very small quantities like stocks. Raw meat will have it’s own lowboys as well as fish, dairy, and all frozen products.
      6. At Trio we found ourselves using the salamander a great deal. It is very useful for melting sugar, bringing on transparent qualities in things like fat and cheese, cooking items intensely on only one side, and it is a highly controllable non-direct heat source. Due to the air gap between the foodstuff and the heat elements the cook can control the degree of heat applied to the dish based on the technique he is using. It becomes a very versatile tool in the modern kitchen, so much so that we will install three Sodir infrared salamanders.

      Again, this is to insure that all the cooks have access to all of the techniques in the kitchen. As I said before it is important for our cooks to be able to sauté, simmer, poach, fry, grill, salamander, and freeze at the same time and sometimes for the same dish.
      We have a few unusual pieces of equipment in the kitchen; the most is probably a centrifuge. A few months ago Nick and I were driving home from a design meeting and ended up talking about signature dishes and menu repetition. Of course the black truffle explosion came up and he asked if I would have it on the menu at Alinea. I replied a firm no, but shortly thereafter said I would enjoy updating it. We threw around some tongue and cheek ideas like White Truffle Implosion, and Truffle Explosion 2005….I said it was a goal of mine to make a frozen ball with a liquid center….but then dismissed it as nearly impossible. Within a few minutes he said …”I got it…we need a centrifuge” His explanation was simple, place the desired liquid in a spherical mold and place on the centrifuge…place the whole thing in the freezer. Within days he had one in the test kitchen. I guess this is better suited for the kitchen lab topic that we will be starting in a few weeks…
      We are working on a upload of the kitchen blueprints. When those post I plan on going into more detail about certian aspects of the design. Doing so now would be pointless as the viewer does not have a reference point.
    • By ronnie_suburban
      It’s the first day of cooking in Alinea's Food Lab and the mood is relaxed. We’re in a residential kitchen but there’s nothing ordinary about it. Chef Grant, along with sous chefs John Peters and Curtis Duffy are setting up. The sight of the 3 steady pros, each in their chef’s whites, working away, does not match this domestic space. Nor does the intimidating display of industrial tools lined up on the counters. While the traditional elements are here in this suburban kitchen: oven, cooktop, sink, so too are the tools of modern restaurant cookery: pacojet, cryovac machine, paint stripping heat gun…wait, a paint stripping heat gun?
      In the physical realm, the Food Lab is a tangible space where the conventional and the unconventional are melded together in the quest for new culinary territory. With Alinea’s construction under way, the team must be resourceful. This meant that renting a space large enough to house both the office and the kitchen aspects of the food lab was out of the question.
      The decision was made to take over a large office space for the research and administrative aspects of Alinea and transform a residential kitchen into the Lab. Achatz and the team would work three days per week at the office researching all aspects of gastronomy and brainstorming new dishes, while managing the project as a whole. The remaining time would be spent in the kitchen executing the ideas formulated at the office. “At first I thought separating the two would be problematic,” says Grant “but in the end we are finding it very productive. It allows us to really focus on the tasks at hand, and also immerse ourselves in the environment conducive to each discipline.” The menus for opening night—containing as many as 50 never-before-served dishes--must be conceived, designed, tested and perfected. The Alinea team does not want to fly without a net on opening night.
      On a more abstract level, the Food Lab is simply the series of processes that continually loop in the minds of Chef Grant and his team. While there is no single conduit by which prospective menus--and the dishes which comprise them--arrive at Alinea, virtually all of them start in Chef Grant's imagination and eventually take form after brainstorming sessions between the Chef and his team. Menus are charted, based on the seasonality of their respective components, and the details of each dish are then laid out on paper, computer or both and brought to the kitchen for development. In this regard, the Food Lab provides something very special to the Chef and his team. “We consider the food lab a luxury,” says Grant. Once Alinea is open and the restaurant’s daily operations are consuming up to 16 hours of each day, time for such creative planning (aka play) will be scarce. Building a library of concepts, ideas and plans for future menus now will be extraordinarily valuable in the future. Otherwise, such planning sessions will have to take place in the 17th and 18th hours of future workdays, as they did when the Chef and his team were at Trio.
      Today, several projects are planned and the Chefs dig into their preparations as soon as their equipment setup is complete…
      Poached Broccoli Stem with wild Coho roe, crispy bread, grapefruit
      Stem cooked sous vide (butter, salt, granulated cane juice)
      Machine-sliced thin bread
      Dairyless grapefruit “pudding”
      Dried Crème Brulee
      Caramel orb shell made with bubble maker and heat gun
      Powdered interior made with dried butterfat, egg yolks, powdered sugar & vanilla
      PB&J
      Peeled grapes on the stem
      Peanut butter coating
      Wrap in brioche
      Broil
      Micro-grated, roasted peanuts
      Instant Tropical Pudding
      Freeze Dried Powders of coconut, pineapple, banana
      Young coconut water spiked with rum
      Muscovado Sugar
      Cilantro
      Candied Chili
      Jamaican Peppercorn
      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
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...