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Molecular Gastronomy at Home: Taking Culinary Physics Out of the Lab and Into Your Kitchen Hardcover – 12 Sep 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Firefly Books (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770852018
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770852013
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 176,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Addicted to cooking on 8 Sep 2014
Format: Hardcover
Very good book with detailed explanation of the science behind each technique and procedures. High quality photos. Only challenge is that it is written for readers in the USA, and prices are in USD and some ingredients / items are difficult to find in the UK
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 13 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Doesn't meet the promise of the title 13 Nov 2013
By Matt Hausig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book showcases lots of very cool culinary techniques. Spherification, sous-vide, centrifuges, etc. Starting with the techniques most easily accessible to a home chef, it provides a basic background and one or two recipes showcasing the technique. About halfway through, the book gets into the realm of techniques that are only accessible to professional chefs such as reverse griddles. At this point its just a showcase, there isn't any effort expended in importing any of these techniques into a home setting.

In fact, there is very little advice as to the more accessible techniques either. There are some nice pictures, but outside of the few recipes, little insight about how to actually go about implementing the techniques of the book. While all of the non-home friendly aspects of molecular gastronomy are interesting, devoting so much space to them instead of beefing up the useful sections makes the whole book feel slight.

In sum, this is a nice survey of molecular gastronomy but it is far from being a useful guide.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Mostly a brief overview of 15 techniques, several of which you can't do at home 27 Nov 2013
By nsv - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been reading a lot about molecular gastronomy, and most of the books have presented it as the science of cooking. They talk about techniques and ingredients and why certain results are produced, and how those results can be obtained at home. All of them discuss the unique equipment that is helpful or even required, and most of them give alternatives that are fairly inexpensive, or, better yet, available in many home kitchens.

This book almost reads more like a catalog of the cool hardware and ingredients that are available and that are required for every recipe included, plus several items and techniques that are discussed with no apparent expectation that the home cook should be able to try them. Even though I consider my kitchen fairly well equipped, there was only one recipe I could walk into my kitchen and make on the day this book arrived, and that one wasn't very appealing: Dried-Olive Soil. I've resisted the urge to try that one so far, somehow.

If you're planning on applying these techniques, here's a rough list of the less common ingredients and tools you'll need. Links are not my recommendations, since I don't own many of these items.

Technique 1: Spherification:
Sodium Alginate
Calcium lactate
Pipette or syringe
Slotted spherification spoon

Technique 2: Culinary Smoking:
Liquid smoke (Not the bottled stuff; the book instructs you to pass water through a chamber filled with smoke or to pass smoke through a tube into a condenser. That seems to be the function of the next item...)
The Smoking Gun by PolyScience
Wood chips
For cocktail recipes you'll also need a cocktail shaker.

Technique 3: Airs, Foams & Espumas
iSi Whipper
N2O and CO2 gas cartridges
Lecithin
Gelatin (plain)

Technique 4: Sous-vide Cooking (see comments for links to items)
Vacuum-packing machine (An alternative to allow use of home vacuum sealers is offered!)
Water-bath

Technique 5: Transglutaminase
Transglutaminase (meat glue)

Technique 6: Cold Gels & Fluid Gels
Gelatin
Carrageenan
Xanthan gum

Technique 7: Heat-tolerant Gels
Agar agar
Methylcellulose
Gellan gum
Syringe and plastic tubes

Technique 8: Dehydration
Dehydrator (One recipe can be dried in the oven for 24 hours instead)
Teflon mat or parchment paper
Piping bag

Technique 9: Rapid Infusion
iSi Whipper
N2O and CO2 gas cartridges
Very fine sieve, iSi brand recommended

Technique 10-15: Liquid Nitrogen, The Anti-Griddle by PolyScience, Centrifuge, Rotary evaporator (rotovap), Ultra-sonic homogenizer, Fermentation
(No recipes included)

You should also have a food processor, blender, and immersion blender on hand, as well as a scale that can measure in 1 gram units, and another that can measure in 0.1 gram units.

33 pages at the end discuss flavors, food pairing, and food presentation.

If you'd like to know how the chef at that amazing restaurant did that wonderful thing with a foam or a gel or spherification, this book is a great place to look. But I look for two things in molecular gastronomy books--techniques and recipes that make me want to be in my kitchen, and a solid understanding of the science behind the cool effect. Neither one leaped out at me here.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Great Entree to the World of Molecular Gastronomy 15 Nov 2013
By A. Silverstone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are few introductory molecular gastronomy cookbooks for the home chef.
Instead, there are a number of more daunting, complex and expensive tomes that are geared for the experienced amateur molecular gastronomist who has a few solid techniques under the belt, as well as a solid understanding of the theory.

Jozef Youssef seeks to fill that gap with this book. It is more an instruction manual with some illustrative recipes. Youssef gently introduces the home cook to the different equipment and techniques used in molecular gastronomy. Each recipe has icons for the equipment and tools needed, as well as both volume and more accurate weight measurements.
The first half of this book discusses techniques and includes recipes for dishes that do not require as much in the way of specialized equipment. The topics include spherification, smoking, foams, sous vide, transglutaminase (an intimidating enzyme name for culinary glue), and gels.

The second half is devoted to more esoteric (and often more expensive) equipment, and as such is divided into short discussions on each topic with fewer recipes. The subjects covered include centrifuging, rotary evaporation, use of the anti-griddle as well as flavor pairing and presentations.

This is a great guidebook, for the home chef who wants to dip a finger into spherification, foams, sous vide cooking, and wants to experiment and find out what this new field of molecuar gastronomy is all about. The recipes are usually simple and are meant to help you learn about the technique, which then allows you to develop your own recipes.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Just enough 27 Nov 2013
By Brian Connors - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
O'Reilly and Associates came out with their first cookbook a couple years ago in the form of Cooking for Geeks, and while it's quite an awesome book, it's a bit of a firehose. Hervé This' Molecular Gastronomy named the subject, but it's mostly theory and descriptions. And of course Modernist Cuisine is thunderously huge and beyond the means of all but the most dedicated of thrifty kitchen nerds (thrifty nerds? do they even exist?). This book seems to be the book for everyone else.

This is really just a sampling of molecular gastronomy techniques, but it covers a fairly wide knowledge base -- all kinds of tricks with gels and colloids, umami-based flavor tweaks, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, along with more traditional things like smoking, dehydration, and fermentation. And lab equipment. Lots of lab equipment, and one thing called an anti-griddle that's basically a version of the frozen marble mixing surface from Coldstone. There's a lot of very odd and interesting recipes in here as a result -- parmesan noodles (cheese, veggie stock, and agar), carbonated grapes, a number of different foams (including chorizo, probably a shout out to Ferran Adrià himself, the man who put culinary foam and molecular gastronomy on the map), and even "apple caviar", little balls of alginate-congealed apple.

Overall, molecular gastronomy is a fascinating subject, and this is just an introduction, but it's a great beginning if you want to get right into the parlor tricks.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Brief Intro with Lots of Big Photos (could use more content) 19 Nov 2013
By Book Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
PROS - good brief overview, clear explanations, one chapter per technique
CONS - no DIY info, only 27 recipes, repetitive text, and lacking details

This book is frustratingly minimal if you're curious about doing lots of DIY "molecular gastronomy". However, if you'd just like to read about what it is about, and try a few things, this is a great choice. There is enough here for getting started, but if you want more DIY information, I'd suggest the books Modernist Cuisine at Home, and/or parts of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food, especially chapters 6 (Chemicals) & 7 (Hardware). This is really more a gift book for someone who wants to "appreciate" molecular gastronomy, than for someone who wants to really learn how to do it. I had high hopes for this book from its title, but was disappointed in the content, mostly lacking in "culinary physics" (its subtitle).

There are gift-book-style big photos on basically every page, leaving room for only a few paragraphs of content. And the text that is there is clearly explained as far as it goes, but repetitive, and doesn't go into real operating detail. For example, with the smoke gun, they briefly describe it, multiple times, but it was never clear as to whether or not it uses Liquid Smoke or not (also covered in the same chapter). I finally figured out that it uses wood chips, but I don't know where in the gun they go or whether I light them manually, or whether they are heated by gas, or by electricity. I don't even know what size the smoke gun is, since the photo of it was very arty and out of context -- is it the size of a small toy squirt gun, or a big hammer-drill, or somewhere in-between? This is just an example of the incomplete and uneven coverage.

The book is organized around techniques. There are nine techniques with three recipes/suggestions each: Spherification, Smoking, Foams, Sous-Vide Cooking, Transglutaminase ("meat glue"), Gels, Heat-Tolerant Gel, Dehydration, and Rapid-Infusion. But these techniques are barely explained. For example, the Sous Vide chapter tells the reader to go to the internet to find optimal temperatures for various foods, instead of just including them in the book itself. (Also, the Sous Vide chapter could use a more serious discussion of food safety issues and practices.)

The remaining techniques are discussed, but have no recipes, because it is assumed that you're not going to be buying the more specialized equipment the chefs use (or that there are not a DIY home substitutes): Liquid Nitrogen, Anti-Griddle, Centrifuge, Rotary Evaporator, Ultra-Sonic Homogenizer, Fermentation (which can be easily done at home, for example, see any of the many books on Fermentation by Sandor Katz or others), and Hydrocolloids. And then it moves on to some flavor topics, for which there could have been some good home recipes: Umami, Multisensory Flavor Perception, "Flavor Tripping", Food Pairing, and then wrapping up with Food Presentation.

Finally, for the less common ingredients and tools, there are no lists of suppliers, and the few which are mentioned in the text are in the UK.
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