Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Modernist Cuisine presented at The Flemish Primitives

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Flown in directly from Seattle, Chris Young presented Modernist Cuisine at The Flemish Primitives today. In the picture: presumably the first copy in Europe 🙂 It’s backordered now (see Nathan’s long posts on this) due to high sales. It actually reached as high as #38 on Amazon’s overall sales rank.  I had 5 minutes to take a look at the books today and I can only say wow! These books mark a new era for everyone interested in a scientific and technological approach to cooking! Immediately the feeling struck me: there is nothing more to blog about now. But Chris reassured me (as he also did in my recent interview with him) that there is plenty more to dig into. Phew. Expect more about The Flemish Primitives 2011 in the coming days.

Interview with Chris Young

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

The authors of Modernist Cuisine: Maxime Bilet, Chris Young and Nathan Myhrvold

In 2003 Chris Young had an epiphany of a meal at The Fat Duck outside London, and by the end of the meal he knew he had to work with Heston Blumenthal. Things worked out well and after a stage he was hired to build and lead the experimental kitchen at The Fat Duck. In 2007 he returned to Seattle to work with Nathan Myhrvold who at that time was very active on the eGullet forum sharing his research on the sous vide cooking technique. The project that started off as a book on sous vide eventually grew into Modernist Cuisine with 6 volumes spanning more than 2400 pages. After many delays (one being due to Amazon’s drop test which showed that the casing wasn’t sturdy enough for the books totaling 20 kg) Modernist Cuisine is ready for release in March, and will be presented at The Flemish Primitives event in Oostende, Belgium on March 14. That’s one more reason to visit the event!

Martin Lersch: Congratulations with Modernist Cuisine – it is a truly amazing accomlishment! Will you be present in Oostende?
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Modernist cuisine website up

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The website to accompany Modernist cuisine is up now. It showcases stunning pictures and example pages, the complete table of contents available in pdf format, details on the exceptional printing quality (stochastic screening and wide gamut inks in case you wondered…) as well as introductions to each volume: History and fundamentals, Techniques and equipment, Animals and plants, Ingredients and preparations, Plated dish recipes – and each page of these pages has additional pictures. It turns out that in addition to the five main volumes there is a 350 page spiral-bound kitchen manual printed on waterproof, tear-resistant synthetic paper (!) with condensed versions of the recipes. And their FAQ page let me know that the complete word count is 650,000. I’ve been looking forward to these books for quite some time, but seeing the pictures just got me to start counting down the days left until December 1st.
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Interesting books to appear in 2010

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

In addition to Modernist Cuisine and Keys to Good Cooking there are so many new books appearing this fall, so to save you from too many blog posts I’ve collected them here in a single posting. These are all books that I find interesting from my popular food science perspective combined with a strong interest for the actual cooking! The books are, in order of appearance: (more…)

New book from McGee: Keys to Good Cooking

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Harold McGee, author of the seminal On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (which is one of my favorite non-recipe books for the kitchen) has done it again! The book Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes is to appear in October, but is already available for pre-order as I write. The book is one step closer to the kitchen and the actual cooking than On food and cooking. In a mini Q&A with NY Times in 2008 Harold McGee said the following:

“I’ve heard from many cooks that while they value the scope and depth of “On Food & Cooking,” when they need practical help with a specific technique or ingredient it’s often hard for them to locate the information. So my next book will be nothing but practical information and directions, concise and brief.”

I think it’s fair to say that Harold McGee, more than any other person I know of, has been very successful at distilling scientific work into a very readable and accessible form. He did this back in 1984 with the first edition of On food and cooking, and then again in 2004 with a more or less rewritten edition in 2004. A complete book with practical information rooted in science can easily become the single most useful book in your kitchen!

Modernist Cuisine available for pre-order

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

When I wrote about Nathan Myhrvold’s book project in November he estimated the book to reach 1500 pages. But what originally started out as a 300-page book on sous vide has now, with the help of a 20-person team, grown to a total of 2200 pages spanning five volumes! Need I say more? Finally the long wait is over: The Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking is now available for pre-order at Amazon, and the expected release date is December 1st. One could almost be afraid that there will not be anything more to blog about here at Khymos as everything will be covered in Modernist Cuisine 🙂 (but I know better – every previous talk about “end of science” has turned out to be more a starting point than a final destination)

Ferran Adrià says that “This book will change the way we understand the kitchen”, and according to Heston Blumenthal it’s “A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastronomy”. And if that’s not enough – take a look at this 26 minute video which guides you through the almost endless amount of high-tech equipment Nathan Myhrvold and his team have available. Oh boy, oh boy!

Other links:
The lecture “Cooking in Silico: Understanding heat transfer in the modern kitchen” by Nathan Myhrvold and Chris Young is available for streaming/download from University of Washington.

Nathan Myhrvold in NYT – news on upcoming book

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Nathan Myhrvold giving a TED talk about some of his many interest (click image to see video). Photo by Neil Hunt from flickr.com (CC BY-NC 2.0).

Nathan Myhrvold giving a TED talk about some of his many interest (click image to see video). Photo by Neil Hunt from flickr.com (CC BY-NC 2.0).

I usually don’t post about newspaper articles, but Jack Lang sent out an email on the molegular gastronomy maillinglist today about an article in New York Times: “After Microsoft, Bringing a High-Tech Eye to Professional Kitchens” featuring Nathan Myhrvold. I thought this might be of interest to my readers as well.

If you’ve played around with sous vide cooking there’s a good chance that you’ve visited the massive eGullet thread on sous vide (currently spanning more than 100 pages and 3000 posts), and in that case you’ll be familiar with Nathan’s many well informed posts on sous vide. There have been rumours about an upcoming book for quite some time, and things are getting more and more exciting. The last I heard was that he had a team of 5 people working on a book about sous-vide. This has now increased to a team of 15 people, including 5 professional chefs, a photographer, an art director, writers and editors. And there’s more:

“The project has grown in size and scope. Originally planned as a 300-page discussion of sous vide, an increasingly popular restaurant technique of cooking food in vacuum-sealed bags in warm water baths, the book has swelled to 1,500 pages that will also cover microbiology, food safety, the physics of heat transfer on the stove and in the oven, formulas for turning fruit and vegetable juices into gels, and more.”

Wow! Let’s hope that Nathan’s “one year left” statement is actually true this time. I’m really looking forward to see this book!

Sourdough work in progress (part II)

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

sd-bread-1
A sourd dough bread made from a spontaneous starter

After 7 days of feeding my sour dough starter “took off” and was ready for baking. Even with a water bath set to 28 °C it took longer than expected. yeast_kinetics I started off with 100% hydration as this is convenient when you have to feed your starter frequently. Using only whole grain rye flour and water, I fed my starter every 12 hours (I’ve included details of the “feeding schedule” at the end of this post). This time interval is based on the growth cycle of yeast, where the yeast after an exponential growth phase reaches a plateau after 8-12 hours. This is the best time for feeding the starter.

There seems to be a consensus that a wet starter (more…)

(Too many?) New books

Friday, September 11th, 2009

books-2008

Last year’s book bonanza (Remember The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, Alinea and Under pressure right? Not to mention BakeWise, The Flavor Bible (not science, but I love their systematic approach), Cooking – The Quintessential Art, A day at el Bulli, the bilingual Sous-Vide, the German Verwegen Kochen and the Danish Molekylær gastronomi – did I miss any?) will be difficult to beat, but several interesting books will appear this fall as well. It’s as if this field is exploding with books now. When I first set up the webpages which later evolved into Khymos only a handful of books were available (you can travel back in time and view the single page from 2003 – only in Norwegian, sorry), but even I have a hard time now keeping track with all the books which cover the interesting intersection between cooking and science, aka molecular gastronomy. Sometimes I think – is this book really necessary? Do we need it? What does it add? But addicted as I am, I can’t help it – so I’ll probably get hold of most of these books as they become available 🙂

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Cooking by ratios – new book by Ruhlman

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

ratio-cover

kochen-backen-grundrezeptenOne of the more curious cookbooks I own is a German one entitled “Kochen und Backen nach Grundrezepten” (Cooking and Baking with Base recipes). It was first written in 1932 and has been updated regularily ever since. Each section typically has a standard recipe which indicates the ratios to use followed by suggested variations (just like The improvisational cook). It also has nice summaries of dos and don’ts (just like BakeWise and CookWise), and what really makes the book stand out is that is so compact yet still comprehensive. It’s one of those books I actually use when cooking. Many other books have a little too much text – you have to read a lot to pick up the key points. Anyway – the reason I mention this is that as I read about the new “Ratio” book by Michael Ruhlman (MR books, MR blog), the German cookbook was the first book that came to my mind.
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