Posts Tagged ‘video’
Ever wondered to yourself, “WTF is Modernist cuisine?” Here’s our answer. If you’re curious to learn more about the history of the movement, the reason that Modernist chefs don’t like the term “molecular gastronomy” or the difference between Modernist cuisine and Nouvelle cuisine, there’s no better resource than volume 1 of Modernist Cuisine.
Modernist Cuisine introduced the idea of a “constructed cream” – a cream-like sauce that has never passed through a teat [if you’re into vivid imagery]. Dairy creams, including milk, are actually emulsions. Milk, for example, is composed of tiny droplets of fat suspended in water and stabilized by a protein called casein. So, if milk and cream are emulsions of fat and water, why not emulsify together any arbitrary fat and water to produce a sauce with the thickness and mouthfeel of cream? Boom: constructed creams are born.
That one insight has incredible repercussions, and the Modernist Cuisine at Home recipe for Home Jus Gras is a great example. In a traditional gravy, you start with very flavorful roasting juices or pan drippings. The problem is that pan drippings are quite thin, so we typically thicken them by adding flour or cornstarch. This approach has “compromise” written all over it: starches are flavor inhibitors. The Modernist Cuisine approach is to combine those roasting juices with flavorful liquid fat instead, and to swap flour and cornstarch for xanthan gum, which can be used in extremely small quantities and doesn’t dull the flavor of the finished sauce.
The full recipe – which is amazing! – is in Modernist Cuisine at Home. However, if you’re short on time, we’ve developed an even simpler version using store-bough fat and stock. This Simplified Jus Gras recipe is in the Modernist Cuisine recipe library. I hope that this recipe is also a jumping-off point for you to experiment with your own flavors. Last year, I used this technique with rendered fat from a pre-Christmas goose and some spiced apple cider to produce a grain-free gravy that jived with my wife’s dietary restrictions. But, there’s no reason you couldn’t use bacon grease and whiskey, if you were so-inclined.
For the rest of the MDRN KTCHN series, check out CHOW.com.
I’ve always been fascinated by puffed foods. Maybe it’s because our brains are hardwired to enjoy crunchy snacks… maybe it’s because Snap, Crackle and Pop were sending subliminal messages when I was a kid. In this video, I explain the science of puffing and show you a simple one you can make at home: puffed rice crisps.
Before Modernist Cuisine, and certainly before Modernist Cuisine at Home, I thought pressure cookers were antiquated, holdover kitchen appliances, like manual egg beaters or the electric hot dog cooker. But, after my first taste of caramelized carrot soup, I was an instant believer. In this video for MDRN KTCHN, I explain how pressure cookers do their magic, and why you no longer need to be afraid of one exploding in your face.
Just need the basics of sous vide? This video, the second in the MDRN KTCHN series, breaks down the basics. My go-to sous vide machine these days is the PolyScience Sous Vide Professional CREATIVE series, but if you’d prefer to save a little money and don’t mind the elbow grease, join the 1,000+ folks who have built their own sous vide machines from my $75 DIY instructions.
I know things have been a little quiet on SeattleFoodGeek.com for a while, but that’s only because I’ve been working so hard to prepare some great tips for the launch of Modernist Cuisine at Home. Here’s a video tip from the book that I did for CHOW.com: how to carbonate fruit with a whipping siphon.
If you’ve never had carbonated fruit, it’s a very cool experience. If you have kids, this is a great recipe that they can make with you, and it’s a very clever way to get them to devour a siphon full of fruit.
Update: Andris Lagsdin, fan of Modernist Cuisine and steel expert has just launched a Kickstarter for Baking Steel, a low-cost slab of pre-cut steel for baking pizzas and breads in just the way I describe below! I’ve tested one of his prototype units and it performs like a champ – even with a single Baking Steel (no double-decker) I was able to produce fantastic, wood-fired-oven-like results on my grill! I highly recommend this Kickstarter for anyone looking to make pizza or breads at home.
The guys from Tested.com came to Seattle, so I shared with them one of the projects that’s been on my mind lately: making perfect pizzas at home. In a previous post, I discussed my approach to making great pizza dough. But, dough is only one half of the equation. Without a good oven, the best dough in the world still won’t produce quality pizza.
Now, let me first say that there are people who devote their entire lives to pizza ovens – to building them, to studying them, and to understanding how they work. I am not one of those people, and, although I still have a blank space in my yard that I one day hope to fill with an actual pizza oven, my goal here was to produce the best pizzas possible using my CharBroil infrared grill as a starting point. But if you want to send me a pizza oven, I’ll test the shit out of it.
There are two keys to hacking a grill into an effective pizza oven: getting it really goddamned hot, and holding the heat. Getting a grill hot is not so much of a challenge – add enough charcoal and let it burn for long enough, and you’ll have quite an inferno. Add more airflow or additional oxygen, and your fire will burn hotter and faster. But, retaining that high heat when you open the lid or add cold food… well, that requires mass.
Mass, like a pizza stone, or the thick floor of a pizza oven, or in this case, 25-lb steel plates, act like a heat battery, storing up heat energy. I was first turned on to the idea of using steel instead of ceramic brick by Modernist Cuisine, who recommend the technique not only for grills but for household ovens as well. So, why are steel plates better than a pizza stone? A few reasons:
- Steel is much denser than ceramic materials. A typical pizza stone has a a density of 0.0625 lbs. per cubic inch. The steel plates I’m using have a density of 0.329 lbs. per cubic inch – about 5 times as dense. That means that for the same volume of material, I can store much more energy in steel than brick.
- Steel has a much lower specific heat than brick. This means that it takes less energy to heat a steel block than a brick of equal mass. So, the steel will heat up faster in the oven.
- Steel has a much higher thermal conductivity than brick. Thermal conductivity measures how quickly heat moves through a material, or between materials via conduction. This means that the heat can move from the steel plate to the pizza crust faster than it could if I were using a ceramic material.
All of these factors are summed up in one convenient measure, known as thermal diffusivity. And, it turns out that the thermal diffusivity of 304 steel (the grade I’m using) is about ten times greater than the thermal diffusivity of brick. [I don’t have precise numbers for the ceramic composition of pizza stones specifically, but it will be similar in magnitude. Some types of steel, like high-carbon steel, have more than 20 times the thermal diffusivity of brick.]
Do ceramic pizza stones produce good-looking, great tasting pizzas? Yes, absolutely. But according to physics, they necessarily do so more slowly than steel. One of my pizza criteria is a crunchy crust that will support its own weight when held from one end. I’ve found great success in achieving this texture with a steel cooking surface. The other advantage to steel, of course, is that it will last nearly forever. I don’t have to worry about dropping and shattering it, I can use it as a griddle and scrape it clean, and if I need to build an impromptu blast shield, I’m all set.
To hack your grill into a worthy pizza oven, here’s what you’ll need:
- A grill, preferably one that runs on natural gas, or propane, but has a place to load in charcoal
- Two 1/4” 304 stainless steel plates [either purchased in pre-cut size, or custom cut to fit 2/3 of your grill area]
- 4 5-inch stainless steel pipe nipples, or any other 5” length of stainless to act as a stand for the top plate
- BBQ grill fan, or an electric bellows, or a hair dryer and about 18” of metal tubing to fit
- An aluminum pizza peel
To assemble your pizza oven:
- Place one of the stainless plates in a corner of your grill.
- Place two of the stainless steel pipe segments on the two far corners of the plate. Place the other two pipe segments on opposite edges of the plate, about 1/3 of the way back. These pipe segments will hold up the top plate. By pushing them back from the front corners, you allow yourself a little more room to negotiate the pizza with the peel.
- Place the top plate on top of the pipe segments. It should sit firmly – you sure don’t want it crashing down on you during cooking.
- Install your BBQ grill fan or bellows on the opposite side of the grill, above the open grilling area not covered by the steel.
- If your grill has a charcoal tray or basin on the open side, fill it with charcoal. If not, place the charcoal in a roasting pan or metal dish on that side of the grill. Ignite the charcoal, turn on all of the burners and close the lid. Allow the grill 45-60 minutes to preheat thoroughly.
- A few minutes before cooking, start your grill fan or bellows. This will boost the internal temperature of the grill and even out hot and cold spots. A cooking temperature between 800°F and 900°F is ideal.
- Just before cooking, turn the burners below your steel plate down to 75% power. This will help prevent the bottom crust from burning before the top crust is fully cooked. However, I’ve found that the first pizza of the day is usually somewhat sacrificial
- Slide your pizza onto the bottom steel plate and cook, turning once, for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the top crust is golden brown. Keep the grill lid closed as much as possible during cooking to maintain the high temperature.
- Enjoy extraordinary pizza made at home!
I hope you enjoy the pleasure of homemade pizza as much as I have. I’ve probably made 50 or so pizzas this summer, and there is nothing quite as satisfying than pulling a perfect pizza out of the grill and serving it to friends. If you don’t (or can’t) have a grill, this technique works pretty well in a home oven, too. Place one steel plate on the bottom floor of your oven to act as a heat battery. Set the other on the top rack. Preheat your oven for an hour on its highest temperature setting. You’ll need to add a minute or two to the baking time, but the results will be worth it!
The video above is not camera magic – I actually poured a bottle of water into a room-temperature glass and watched it instantly turn into ice. I stumbled upon this phenomenon when I was experimenting with the optimal temperature at which to serve Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Long ago, I modified the freezer in my basement to maintain precise temperature control using a PID controller. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been sampling cans of PBR at different temperatures. Incidentally, I have concluded that PBR is best served right around –8.5C. At that temperature, the beer is still liquid, but has a small amount of ice crystal formation (which is just delightful). I just happened to have some small bottles of Arrowhead water in the freezer and I noticed that a few of the bottles remained liquid while others were already frozen solid. I wondered if these bottles might be supercooled: chilled beyond their freezing point but not yet frozen because the ice didn’t have a nucleation point from which to form. Turns out, they were.
And I have video proof.
From now on, this is what I want when I order “ice water” at a bar.
This turned out to be one of the more dangerous machines I’ve ever built. The goal was to make a cotton candy machine out of parts I had lying around. The finished product was an aggressive, 1/2 horsepower, 4000°F beast of a machine that lasted long enough to prove itself before dying of awesomeness.
If you want to build a cotton candy machine at home, all you need is:
- A tin can, like a tuna or dog food can
- A drill with a very small drill bit
- A motor (ex, your drill, an old CD player, a blender)
- A heat source, such as a propane torch, a lighter, or the coils from an old toaster
- A bucket to catch the cotton candy, or alternately a sheet of paper to wrap around the assembly
Follow the steps in the video to see just how easy this machine is to build. Oh, and don’t forget… safety first. My favorite part of this project was setting up a blast shield in front of the camera before we turned on the machine.
Special thanks to Victor (@sphing) for filming!
Making your own butter is simple and rewarding – nothing tastes quite as good as homemade. Just put heavy cream in your blender or food processor for about 10 minutes, or until the butterfat separates from the buttermilk (mine took a little less than 10 minutes). Once you’re there, you’ve got fresh unsalted butter. But why on earth would you stop now? Jazz it up with thyme, sage, honey, cayenne pepper, or, as the video shows, add some chopped porcini mushrooms and black truffle salt.
Oh, and whenever you’re working with small appliances, be sure to wear your geek glasses for protection