My husband, Eric, and his brother, Kevin, have conspired to get me into increasingly technical cookery. It more or less started with my husband getting me the Sous Vide Supreme a coupe of Christmases ago. I blogged about that back then, and continue to experiment with it, trying fish, poultry, pork, beef and more to see how a low temperature water bath effects tenderness, moisture and creaminess. Fun, for sure, but it does take planning since sous vide is the epitome of low and slow cooking.
But this last September started a land slide of kitchen gadgets. You see, my brother-in-law lives in Amsterdam where places are small and kitchens usually smaller. He started teaching himself to cook and has been really enjoying it. He, like my husband, is a software engineer…so they both take a rather technical view of cooking. No surprise then when Kevin sent over as a gift the new Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook.
If you haven’t heard of Modernist Cusiine: The Art and Science of Cooking, it is a 6 volume, 2400 page guide to “science-inspired techniques to preparing food from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifugres, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking.”
Reinvent indeed! The “at home” version of this gastronomic wonder has all sorts of crazy techniquest, chemicals, etc. So naturally it requires lots of fun new kitchen tools to go with it!
The first one I bought was a pressure cooker – who knew this out-of-style appliance was a miracle worker? Cooks meat in a fraction of the time of the usual braising or slow-roasting, and locks in all the moisture so that the most amazing, succulent results appear. I can now make 5-hour carnitas in an hour, pork adobo in even less, and moist soups in no time. I highly recommend it!
But then the landslide began. For Christmas, Kevin got me a kitchen torch so I could brown meat after sous vide, burn sugar on creme brulee, etc. Fire in the kitchen! And then came the whipping syphon, used to create not only perfect whipped cream, but to make foams, nages and other such loveliness. The perfect way to augment a dish with a flavored accent of lovely foam. Awesome! And of course that came with a carton of cream charges (nitrous oxide) and CO2 cartridges for carbonation. The whipper also came with injectio needles that use the pressure from the syphon to quickly inject brines and marinades into meat. And the last surprise from Kevin was aJaccard meat tenderizer, which is a scary little gadget that has 45 small blades used to tenderize maet in such a better way than a mallet. Rather than breaking apart the meat, it invisibly makes meat tender without changing its appearance. But be careful with this one – those little blades are sharp!!
And not to be left out of the whole kitchen fun, my team at work got me an immersion blender, so that I could easily blend soups and sauces in the pot rather than empty into a blender or food processor. Awesome tool – soups have become much more of a mainstay this winter in my house!
So needless to say, I had quite a fun Christmas and the days since have been a blast using all this fun technology. Have a little fun, add a little technology to your kitchen, and up your game in cookery. Even if you have no desire to get into molecular gastronomy, adding some fire with a torch or making blending easy with a stick blender is pretty awesome. Try it out!