Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Notable new books from 2013

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

books-2013-collage
Browsing through books published in the last year (+ some from 2012), these are the ones I found particularly interesting in the field of food and science:
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Maximizing Food Flavor by Speeding Up the Maillard Reaction

Monday, June 4th, 2012


Is there a way to speed up the browning of onions? (Photo: Frying onion from Bigstock)

An idea that struck me once was to add baking soda to browning onions. I chopped an onion, melted butter in a frying pan, and added the onions together with a pinch of baking soda. And voilà (as Louis-Camille Maillard himself would have said): the color of the onions changed faster than without the baking soda. The taste of the browned onions was remarkably sweet and caramel-like, and compared with conventionally browned onions, they were softer—almost a little mushy. By the addition of baking soda, I had changed the outcome of an otherwise trivial and everyday chemical reaction, and the result seemed interesting from a gastronomic perspective!

The idea of the baking soda addition was not taken out of the blue but based on (more…)

Modernist cuisine at home available for pre-order

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

What a surprise to see tweets about the new Modernist cuisine at home which will be available for sale in October and is available for pre-order already! Interestingly this book is not an extract for food enthusiasts of the 2400-page Modernist cuisine. Rather, it’s a new book focusing on equipment available to enthusiasts (sous vide is included, but no rotary evaporators or centrifuges), techniques and recipes. There are more than 400 recipes, all of which are new. The printing quality is the same as in Modernist cuisine, so while you’ll think twice before turning the pages with greasy fingers it’s a good thing that the single volume is accompanied by a spiral bound kitchen manual on washable paper!
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Books for your Christmas wish list

Friday, December 16th, 2011

A couple of books have caught my eye during the year and have naturally made their way into my Christmas wish list (and some I’ve already ordered myself). Please let me know if there are books you belive should be on this list that I have missed.
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Wonders of extraction: Brewing beer

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Talking to a friend last year who is an avid home brewer made me realize how little I knew about beer and brewing. Inspired by what I learnt from the conversation I started reading Palmer’s How to brew which is essential for starters, but soon I also turned to Brigg’s Brewing – Science and practice and Priest’s Handbook of Brewing which are more rewarding if you’re a scientist. The first two steps in brewing beer – mashing and wort boiling – are really quite sophisticated extractions. And there is a lot of chemistry involved, so brewing beer seemed to me like an obvious extension of all my other interests. This is also the reason why I wanted to include a post about brewing in the Wonders of extraction series. The pictures for this blog post were taken as I brewed and bottled my latest batch, an American India Pale Ale.

Having read quite a lot about beer I soon found myself in the kitchen brewing my very first German wheat beer in August last year. I had decided that to familiarize myself with brewing (more…)

Available for pre-order: The Kitchen as Laboratory

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

A book I’ve been looking forward to for a long time is The Kitchen as Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking. It is now available for pre-order with expected delivery on January 31st, 2012. Work on the book began back in 2008, and that year coincidentally marked the 20th anniversary of But the crackling is superb, a refreshing anthology on the science of cooking and eating edited by Nicholas and Giana Kurti. The editors of The Kitchen as Laboratory, Cesar Vega Morales, Job Ubbink and Erik van van der Linden, wanted to continue in the spirit of this book. Through 35 essays the invited chefs, scientists and cooks explore topics of their choice, often based on experiments in their own kitchen. This includes a contribution by me on the Maillard reaction and how we – often without thinking about it – increase it’s rate in different ways when cooking. As for the other contributions, based on the preliminary lists all I can say is that I look forward to read the book!

Cooking science – condensed matter

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

The book Cooking science – Condensed matter by Adria Vicenc came out last year, but only recently did it appear on my radar. This 75 page preview suggests that it is part coffee table book and part documentation of modern Catalan cuisine combined with short essays on various topics such as food preservation and synaesthetic cooking. Add to that a dash of technology and large photos and descriptions of a sous vide water bath, a rotary evaporator, a freeze drier etc. It’s kind of like a light version of Modernist Cuisine. In his introduction Ferran Adria states that: (more…)

Book review: Ideas in food – Great recipes and why they work

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Readers well aquianted with the food blogosphere will likely be familiar with Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot’s blog Ideas in food. Since December 2004 they have generously shared pictures, ideas, insights and inspirations online. As chefs they have eagerly integrated modernist techniques and elements in their cooking, allowing technology to improve their cooking whenever possible. No wonder I’ve been a long time follower of their blog! And needless to say I was also exicted to receive a review copy of their recent book Ideas in food: Great recipes and why they work.

First and foremost the book is a great collection of ideas explored by the authors. The ideas are exemplified through recipes (about 100 in total) which showcase the creativity of the authors, from the simple (more…)

O happy day

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011


Can you guess what’s inside?
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Book review: Cooking for geeks

Monday, June 13th, 2011


Jeff working on a recipe in his kitchen. (Photo by Shimon Rura. © 2009 Atof Inc.)

For a book about food this is a rather unusual book. The author states in the preface that the goal of the book is to “point out new ways of thinking about the tools” that are found in the kitchen. It’s not a book you’ll pick up for its recipes, even though the 100+ recipes included are fine. And it’s not a book you would pick up because of mouthwatering photographs of food. It is however a book that could trigger a lifelong interest in cooking among those who are scientifically minded. Where an experienced chef can read between the lines of a recipe, the rest of us can turn to books like Cooking for geeks to get hints on how to turn a recipe into a tasty dish.
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