Modernist Cuisine: Techniques & Equipment

VOLUME 2 COV­ERS THE METH­ODS AND MACHINES OF COOK­ING, from ancient to avant-garde. The Traditional Cooking chap­ter of nearly 150 pages pro­vides a new view inside the old approaches—from grilling to smok­ing, stir-fry to saute—to reveal what is really going on. This view through the sci­en­tists’ eyes debunks many long-held mis­con­cep­tions about tra­di­tional ways of cook­ing. The authors show, for exam­ple, why:

1. boil­ing often cooks faster than steaming;
2. adjustable grills cook just as hot as fixed grills;
3. expen­sive pots and pans are not worth it;
4. bak­ing is really all about dry­ing the food;
5. deep-fried food tastes best when the oil is older;
6. tra­di­tional meth­ods require both tremen­dous skill and good luck to achieve per­fect doneness.

The chap­ter on cook­ing in mod­ern ovens offers the first com­plete guide to cook­ing in combi ovens and water­va­por ovens for both pro­fes­sion­als and home cooks. (It also includes sev­eral fun and only slightly dan­ger­ous tricks you can per­form with a microwave.)

Next come two com­pre­hen­sive chap­ters on new approaches that give cooks far greater con­trol over two cru­cial variables—heat and humidity—that sep­a­rate suc­cess from fail­ure in cook­ing. In Cooking Sous Vide, the authors present the first ency­clo­pe­dic guide to this increas­ingly pop­u­lar tech­nique in which food is vac­u­umpacked in bags then cooked in a water bath or a water­va­por oven. More than 80 pages are devoted to dis­cussing the ben­e­fits of this highly flex­i­ble way to cook as well as its spe­cial safety con­sid­er­a­tions. Everything the advanced cook needs to know to get started cook­ing with water baths is included.
Chapter 10, The Modernist Kitchen, presents nearly 200 pages of highly illus­trated expla­na­tions of spe­cial­ized equip­ment that has moved from sci­en­tific lab­o­ra­to­ries to pro­fes­sional kitchens. Centrifuges, freeze dry­ers, rotary evap­o­ra­tors, homog­e­niz­ers, vac­uum fil­ters, and many oth­ers are cov­ered, all based on the first-hand expe­ri­ence of the authors and their team of research cooks in using such equip­ment to develop inno­v­a­tive dishes at the The Cooking Lab. Through exam­ple recipes and illus­trated step-by-step tech­niques, the chap­ter opens the door to a whole new world of culi­nary pos­si­bil­i­ties, a world until now inhab­ited by just a hand­ful of top chefs around the world.