Posts Tagged ‘gadgets’

TFP2010: Gadgets (part 5)

Saturday, March 13th, 2010


Crycotuv – a combined vacuum chamber and super fast freezer with internal spray nozzle.

If I were to name a topic for this year’s Flemish Primitives event I guess gadgets would be it. I’ve already covered the high pressure processing in a previous post. Regrettably we were only shown pictures and movies of this machine (it is to large/complex to be brought on stage) but there was much more that would qualify for a post focusing on some of the gadgets presented.

Crycotuv
The most obscure machine in my opinion was the Crycotuv – a vacuum chamber which could be cooled to any desired temperature between -150 and 0 °C in seconds/minutes. (more…)

The Flemish Primitives 2010 (part 1)

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Again I was lucky that all the practical details worked out so I could attend this year’s Flemish Primitives in Brugge. For some one who’s not attended, it’s not so easy to grasp the concept and ideas behind The Flemish Primitives (TFP). And I admit, even though I’ve been there twice it’s not so easy to convey it in a short way. First of all the name is rather cryptic (unless you’re into art) as it refers to early Netherlandish painting. The link to food is described as follows by the organizers of the event (my highlights):

In the 15th and 16th century, ’The Flemish Primitives’ were masters in combining their talent with new techniques. Techniques they developed by interacting with other disciplines like manuscripting, sculpting, etc. This way of working changed the painting techniques in all of Western Europe forever. The event ‘The Flemish Primitives’ wants to continue in the same spirit. Respect for food products and beverages, the knowledge of the classic cooking techniques combined with a stimulation of new techniques and creativity. By promoting interaction between scientists, the world’s most famous chefs and artists, the event wants to deliver a creative boost for the food industry and gastronomy in Belgium and the world.

Considering last year’s sucess it was no big surprise that this year’s event was sold out (and the foyer of the Concertgebouw was equally full in the coffee breaks). And with the memories from last year I arrived in Brugge with great expectations. One main difference from previous years was that the scientific parts were much better integrated throughout the day. Scientists were on stage alongside the chefs, explaining their work. Also, contrary to last year’s back stage kitchen, they had now moved the kitchen onto the stage, flanked by a bar, some sofas and laboratory mezzanine. A good decision!
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The Big Fat Duck Cookbook

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

I recently blogged about the Alinea cookbook, and then in a Q&A with both Grant Achatz and Heston Blumenthal I discovered that there is another great cook book coming up this fall: The Big Fat Duck Cookbook! It’s quite amazing that these two books will be released within weeks of each other this fall.

This is what the publisher promises us:

In the first section of The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, we learn the history of the restaurant, from its humble beginnings to its third Michelin star (the day Heston received the news of this he had been wondering how exactly he would be able to pay his staff that month). Next we meet 50 of his signature recipes – sardine on toast sorbet, salmon poached with liquorice, hot and iced tea, chocolate wine – which, while challenging for anyone not equipped with ice baths, dehydrators, vacuum pumps and nitrogen on tap, will inspire home cooks and chefs alike. Finally, we hear from the experts whose scientific know-how has contributed to Heston’s topsy-turvy world, on subjects as diverse as synaesthesia, creaminess and flavour expectation.

With an introduction by Harold McGee, incredible colour photographs throughout, illustrations by Dave McKean, multiple ribbons, real cloth binding and a gorgeous slip case, The Big Fat Duck Cookbook is not only the nearest thing to an autobiography from the world’s most fascinating chef, but also a stunning, colourful and joyous work of art.

Compared to the Alinea cookbook this one is one is more expensive and has fewer recipes. But hey – who buys cookbooks based on the price/recipe anyway?
😉

Kitchen gadgets

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Popular science magazine has an amusing article on “The future of food” which portrays Dave Arnold, apparently the “man behind the curtain of today’s hottest movement in cooking”. I don’t buy all of this, but he’s no doubt had a central role in bringing lab equipment into the kitchens of North American chefs and teaching them a little science. You might also want to check out their gallery of kitchen gadgets. Some of my favorites include (click the pictures to lanuch the picture gallery at PopSci magazine):

kitchengadget_whipper.jpg
For the Pros: The Whipper. Adds a touch of air to every bite.

Within reach of the dedicated amateur chef, indispensible for the professional chef: a whipper which you can charge with either carbon dioxide (for instance to make carbonated fruit) or dinitrogen oxide (too make foams/espumas or simply whipped cream).

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For the Pros: The Sealer and Circulator. Cooks in a bag to lock in juiciness.

Sous vide cooking is perhaps one of the most fascinating examples of science inspired cooking. The picture shows a vacuum sealer and a thermostated water bath circulator. If this is too expensive, check out my post on a simple and easy DIY sous vide.

kitchengadget_chemicals.jpg
For the Pros: The New Spice Rack. Chemicals the experimental home chef shouldn’t be without.

Last but not least: the different chemicals which become more and more available. I’ve put together a collection of hydrocolloid recipes which will help you get started using these fascinating chemicals. If you have troubles getting hold of these, my list of suppliers might help you.

Of course I’d like to put my hands on a Pacojet, an Antigriddle or a Gastrovac as well, but for a home kitchen, this gets too exotic and far too expensive. But – the most surprising gadget was the vacuum meat tumbler from Reveo. Just like the extremely expensive Gastrovac, this little machine can be used for vacuum impregnation of meat and other foods (or at least this is something I assume from the description). IMHO vacuum impregnation is the most important feature of the Gastrovac – far more important than the heating capabilities. Perhaps someone owning a Reveo could report back?

kitchengadget_vacuummeattumbler.jpg
For the Home: Meat, Your Maker. This vacuum tumbler cuts marinating time by hours, first extracting air to expand the meat’s fibers and then spinning it so that every area is exposed to your sauce of choice. Probably doesn’t beat a good long soak, but perfect for when barbecue inspiration suddenly strikes.—Abby Seiff

But I was very dissapointed that my all-time favorite kitchen gadget didn’t make it into the gallery: a simple thermometer. As I have stated in one of my tips for practical molecular gastronomy, this is probably the single tool that can improve your cooking the most.

Perfect eggs?

Sunday, October 22nd, 2006

I just came across this fancy egg boiler. It’s designed by Simon Rhymes and bears the name BEM. The egg is cooked in about 6 minutes by the heat from 4 halogen light bulbs with a total output of 500 W.

bem.jpg

It sure looks fancy, but I doubt that these eggs can rival the texture of those prepared by the low temperature methods I have described. The reason for this is that the halogen lamps heat up the eggs above the temperature required for the white and the yolk to set. This gives the white a rubbery texture. And even though the BEM has a timer, you still have to figure out (by experimenting?) for how long to cook your eggs…

I think the best part is the cutting ring with a 125 g mass which is raised and dropped to create a crack around the top of the egg. But there is no need to buy the BEM, because a similar egg cracker can be bought separately here for instance! You place the cup on top of the egg, raise the steel ball and drop it. The energy is transferred to the egg, creating a perfectly circular crack. This is actually very neat!

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