I had quite a bit of BBQ sauce from the barbeque I went to last week. I even brought it to another barbeque, but still had leftovers. What to do? A quick look in the book and I found a recipe that uses the sauces: pulled mushrooms. It’s like spaghetti marinara except they’re mushroom noodles in BBQ sauce. Why of course it’s like that. Plus the recipe was inspired by Ideas In Food. Since I had recently met Alex over at Scott’s a few weeks back, it seemed fortuitous. Time to head to the Asian grocery store.
I was going to a summer BBQ and thought it would be nice to bring a variety of sauces for people to pick and choose. Nathan Myhrvold has a special passion for BBQ, having won first place in the barbeque world championships in Memphis, Tennessee. There are eight recipes in the book (not to mention a two page regional map of the different varieties throughout the American south). I chose to do half of them: Kansas City, Memphis, North Carolina (Eastern Region), and North Carolina (Lexington Style).
I had half of a flank steak left from my foray into microwaved beef jerky, so I needed to use it up. Luckily, just 15 pages later in the The Work, there was a recipe for Kalbi Flank Steak. This is interesting because in Korean, Kalbi means “rib”, and the marinade is applied mostly to beef and pork ribs. But hey, we’re Modernists, right? Let’s see what a different technique applied to the same product can create.
I threw a big dinner party last weekend. Well, six people total (including our culinary teammate Scott), but seven courses. I totally brought it. But then I was brought down: three of the courses totally sucked. The pea consommé? At the last moment I overdid it with the cinnamon oil – it tasted like a bad scented candle. The Thai beef curry broth was watery and the beef over-tender. The sous vide vegetables were mushy and lifeless. Man, was I embarrassed. But one of the courses did come through: my deep fried chicken feet. Good thing, too – they took the longest to prepare. I don’t know if I was redeemed, but at least I wasn’t damned. In the end, fowl became friend.
Spring is taking its time arriving this year, and there seem to be more cloudy days than sunshine. But that’s not a problem – while I wait for the outside to warm up, I can just warm up my insides. With a Vietnamese pho, to be exact. Cooking Asian food can seem so different than what I’m used to making in the kitchen. Can my soup match the dish at my favorite local spot? I turned to Modernist Cuisine to help me in my quest.
Note: It’s way too easy to play on words with the pronunciation of the word “pho”, which is “fuh”. For instance, we have a chain of restaurants here in Seattle called “What The Pho?“. I will try to abstain.
It’s been a long time since I’ve tried my hand at spherification, and I thought it was time to revisit the technique. I’ve done it three times before: the first meeting of Jet City Gastrophysics, my cooking session with Chef Ian Kleinman, and another time when I made some coffee caviar. One of the iconic photos from Modernist Cuisine is their Tomato Basil Spheres, so that seemed like a perfect place to give it another go around. It’s basically an Insalata Caprese that’s been liquified. Welcome to the future.
I was invited to an Easter brunch yesterday and thought I should bring something along, as is custom. Although a bottle of champagne for mimosas would have been good enough, I wanted to bring a dish as well. Of course, there is Easter ham, but I wanted to do something different. As luck would have it, the crew at Modernist Cuisine put up a riff on traditional Chinese tea eggs to create a special Easter dish. Perfect! I went to the store and went at it in the kitchen.
I’m reading (and cooking) through that massive tome that is Modernist Cuisine, and am currently at Book Two: Techniques And Equipment, Chapter Eight: Cooking In Modern Ovens, Section One: Cooking With Moist Air. It is here they put their first sentence that is entirely in italics: “Humidity governs the temperature at which food actually cooks“. This is an important point, and helps understand why things are cooking the way they are, down to your particular oven and location. This is covered in Book One on the physics of heat and water. The basic takeaway is that transferring heat from air into food is more even and efficient when water vapor is condensing onto cooler food. For example, onto a roast chicken. Let’s observe.
This one is always touted as an easy introduction to Modernist Cuisine. It has two main ingredients: carrots and butter. It has two steps as well: pressure cook carrots in butter for 2o minutes. Then add carrot juice, puree, and season. Voila.
Strange thing is, well, my version, it took me most of the day.