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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 5 December 2012
Most recipes require some novel equipment for your kitchen (e.g. sous-vide equipment, ice cream maker, smoker, NO2/CO2 siphon). If you are not interested in buying some of this equipment, this book (and style of cooking) just is not for you. Nothing wrong with that; just don't buy the book to become disappointed.

This should be your first book on modernist cooking (or molecular gastronomy or whatever you want to call it). I like the focus on every-day cooking as opposed to fancy cooking
- it makes it easier to take some of the techniques on board. (I do own the big Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, which is more encyclopaedic and directed towards professional chefs its an overwhelming book.) In contrast, the current book only makes use of equipment that easily can be bought in most large kitchen stores. If I had written this publication, I would have pushed the envelope a little bit further, but I understand the choice made my its authors. Naturally, there is quite a bit of overlap in content between the two books, but the authors have really written a new book. The recipes all seems to be new. They must have continued to experiment after the first publication and then decided to write it all up. So if you are an amateur chef like me that feels a bit overwhelmed by the big set, you will like this book.
If you are a professional chef, I think this book is for you as its easy to digest and let you then use your creativity.

The book provides a lot of recipes that are variations on a theme. In the regard the book resembles Ash's John Ash: Cooking One on One : Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher. Even though that book does not have any modernist cuisine at all only classic cuisine that is tried & tested.

One thing which I find great & is VERY helpful, which I wish would become the standard for cookbooks from now on: measurements are given in weight, volume and scaling percentages! that's right! Weighing is much easier and more efficient. The scaling method is very useful when wanting to make a recipe for 2 or for 12 or even 20. Digital scales are so cheap and useful that I believe that every kitchen should have one sitting on the work top. If you haven't used one when baking, borrow one from a friend and try it -- once you do, you'll be a convert, and you'll thank Myhrvold and Bilet and all the team at The Cooking Lab for this extra measure of help and usefulness. Now if only other cookbook writers and their publishers would take their cue and provide us this.

I have also bought Heston Blumenthal at Home, which is more a rather random collection of modernist cuisine dishes that can be done at home. I like the book, but this current book is a much better choice.
Stay away from The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria. Given the title it it hard to believe, but that book is not written by Adria and it is not about home cooking. (you can read my reviews on both)

My only real complaint is the book has a long chapter of what equipment to buy. I wish the authors would provide some additional comments and tests of equipment on their webpage. Currently, their website has such a section, but it sadly contains largely out of date weblinks.

So don't let the size and weight of the book put you off -- that is just for reading and reference even though it has the recipes in it. What you will use in the kitchen is the smaller spiral bound plasticized pages book with just the recipes. Splattered? The pages wipe clean. Open it up to a recipe and the pages lie flat. Easy to use in kitchen while cooking.
But wait, there's more: there are charts giving guidance on various cooking methods for various cuts of meat, etc., such as best cooking methods for tough cuts of meat and then listing the various ways -- pressure cooker, braising, sous vide, etc for different cuts of meat. And excellent overview. As I say, this book is useful for all skill levels.
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on 16 January 2013
If you're American you'd probably like this a lot more than a European because you'd at least be familiar with the items which they give recipes for. I had hoped that it would be a version of Modernist Cuisine without the need for complex (and expensive) equipment. It isn't. It is mainly a collection of techniques and recipes to produce Modernist versions of American comfort food dishes. At around £80 it's very poor value, unlike Modernist Cuisine at 5 times the price which is brilliant.
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on 8 October 2012
This book has just arrived and already I can't praise it enough. To get some idea of the sheer content and breadth of this book - check out the content list on their site: [...] - I can't even begin to review the detail of the topics covered but will give a couple of lines on who it may suit.

I'd describe myself as an enthusiastic home cook with a growing shelf of cooking books and countertop of kitchen gadgets (including a sous vide cooker). I'm happy to take time over recipes but don't possess the skills or resources of a professional kitchen.

I have read (or at least dipped into) a large number of cookbooks which have excellent content including the full version of modernist cuisine. The recipes that inspire you in the likes of the Fat Duck Cookbook, Under Pressure and titles of similar calibre are mainly beyond what one can reasonably hope to replicate in the home kitchen due to all the individual parts that go into each dish. This book manages to contain similar dishes but quickly gets to the crux of why something should be cooked in a certain way, explains it simply and gives an interesting recipe that incorporates it (without requiring 8 other parts to be prepared before plating). The stunning photography challenges any coffee table cookbook yet this is not a book that is likely to remain there. There are so many recipes that will inspire you and all are accessible to a (enthusiastic) home cook.

It's printed on the highest quality art paper and includes a cooking proof kitchen manual that includes all the recipes on washable, tear resistant paper. If you have a passion for cooking (or know someone that does) just buy the book - it's well worth the cost and there's no way you can be disappointed.
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on 22 October 2012
Modernist Cusine at home is a fantastic book demonstrating how to use the science in a home environment. It is a practical guide to "how to get it done"; whereas the original Modernist Cuisine goes in details on why and takes no short cuts and makes no compromises. In short, it is the volume which pulls the first set together for those without an extensive professional kitchen and unlimited access to ingredients and equipment.

The focus of the book is on techniques and use of equipment which are new or recently had a renaissance. Favorite equipment includes pressure cooker, water bath / CVAP oven and vacuum sealer. As many do not have a water bath and vacuum sealer, makeshift alternative solutions are given. Common to the equipment is that their best use can often be explained by science, thus taking the guesswork out of the equation.

The sections focus on common dishes, such as pizza, burgers, steaks, roast chicken, salmon, vegetables and pies. Many of the recipes offer alternative variations, encouraging the cook to use the fundamental technique while creating their own dishes. By using the on common dishes, it becomes more clear how the techniques can then be applied to many other tried, tested and true recipes.

The book is not meant as an entry level cook book for someone who needs to learn some tricks to keep themselves fed. It is geared towards those who want to learn how to make the most out of available tools and characteristics of various foods, and raise the flavor to a new level. Although in no way necessary, it is my belief this book will inspire more to buy the first set, so as to gain a deeper understanding.

The book keeps the extremely high standard for food photography, a pure delight to look at, also making it a great book for the coffee table!
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Art meet food. Food meet art. From the first page through to the last of Modernist Cuisine at Home (MCAH) you can be forgiven for losing focus at the underlying, interesting text due to the wonderful, vivid and often totally unexpected photographs.
How can an egg or a beaker of liquid be so interesting? With this book anything can and will surely be possible.
This book has its roots in the highly-acclaimed, multi-volume Modernist Cuisine (MC) reference work (2438 pages, 3200+ images) that fell with a thump to the tables of serious gastronomes and chefs last year with a price tag that placed it out of reach of many enthusiastic amateurs. Yet don't view this as a cut-down inferior version of the original. It is a new work in its own right and it can and will sit alongside its bigger brother without an inferiority complex. Both serve different needs and serve them well. MCAH is aimed at the home cook, with recipes covering all skill levels and a lot of good, basic explanatory text to go along with the magic sauce, but it is clear many professionals will also sneak a copy into their library. Sometimes a slightly simpler book is more accessible.
With both books all bases are covered!
The enthusiastic home cook will have enough on their metaphorical plate with MCAH for a long time. This book may be an investment but it is unlikely to be like some recipe books that sadly just sit on the shelf, unopened after an initial burst of interest. If you `get' the idea behind MCAH and share in its enthusiasm for cooking it will be a well-consulted companion. The additional 228-page MCAH Kitchen Manual reproduces each recipe from MCAH in a spiral-bound, waterproof volume so you don't need to risk dirtying up your reference book by taking it to the kitchen.
This is not a "how-to, cooking 101″ or a typical recipe book, but a more inspirational, mind-opening work for those who love being in the kitchen. Yet you do get a lot of good, concise primers on the really-essential, fundamental elements that cooking is based upon. Don't be confused, once you see the book and understand how it is put together any uncertainties are soon blown away.
Martha Stewart, for example, believes that MCAH is destined to change the way we cook and the way we use recipes. That, we humbly agree with. It is true that the enthusiastic amateur cook can get caught up with all the whizz-bang tools and bits and pieces they may see professional chefs use, with a price often to match, yet MCAH works to show that you can work miracles with relatively-inexpensive everyday tools. You don't need a USD5,000 or more oven for everyday cooking, one one-tenth of the price or less will still do the same job for your family meal. There are good differences to justify often the price tag (design notwithstanding) but do you really need them? At this stage? Many home gastronomes are acquiring things like vacuum sealers and sous vide cookers - and there is nothing wrong with that per se if they will be used a lot - but MCAH shows how to improvise with existing equipment. This way you may save a fair bit of money and determine if you really, really do need that extra bit of shiny kit or will it be something you later regret?
In due course the reader can get up off the school bench and start putting some of their new-found knowledge to the test. MCAH has over 400 recipes and variations and again the authors have been careful to make them achievable for the home cook, whilst utilising many techniques found within MCAH to great effect. Staples like cheeseburgers and soup, pizza and paella and a plethora of meats get the MCAH treatment. Building blocks for various sauces, oils and condiments are also provided to let you sprinkle some MCAH magic over virtually every meal you produce in the future.
This is a book that just keeps on giving. It is probably unlikely that you will read it from cover to cover in one sitting, but over time the same effect will surely have been reached. MCAH manages to make cooking look interesting, inviting, intriguing and, err, incredibly fun. It need not just be a chore to provide energy for you and your family. Many cook books seek to teach you some of the basics but they invariably fail somewhere, whether it is the assumption of knowledge, the hype and `character' of the author (or star if ghost-written) or the photography. MCAH seems to manage to cast a spell that draws you in.
This book can sound expensive compared to a regular cook book. Let's be honest, it is expensive. MCAH is not comparable to a leather handbag, one available from the market for USD25 and a very similar looking, similar-to-the-touch (and possibly made in the same factory) version with the `right' name or logo on it for 100x the price. You cannot compare MCAH to other books and be truly fair. Even comparing it to its larger sibling is not really the right thing to do. For many this will be a real investment but if you can spare the money - even at the expense of buying other books for a while - you should seriously give MCAH some consideration. If you still are in doubt go and check out a physical copy when launched and in bookstores. If you are then still in doubt leave your credit card at home so you have to make a second journey when you buy the book!
Many books, if they deign to teach the reader some technique that might be unfamiliar, tend to assume much or gloss over the real education. MCAH manages to be like a top-flight teacher, even explaining simple things like `sweating' vegetables. Yet in less than a couple dozen words you really understand what they mean and what you should do. Other books could learn from this clear, no-nonsense approach. The home cook who has had no `proper cooking' education need not feel inferior longer - just consult MCAH! Whether it is knowledge of a certain culinary term or cooking step, buyer's guide-type knowledge for a piece of kitchenware or just how something works (with great pictures) you are getting it in MCAH. The book is a marvel of design insofar as they have managed to CRAM (no excuse for capitals) a lot of information in relatively few pages, yet the content is not squashed up like old tomatoes in a bag. Brilliant content, excellent design. You just want to look at, hold and read this book.
One nice feature is that reference is frequently made, as a further more-detailed reading suggestion, to Modernist Cuisine. The average reader will probably never need to do this, but the more enthusiastic amateur or professional has this ability if they so desire. If you are fortunate to own MC you need not feel that your once-loved tomes are out of favour when you consider MCAH. Both serve different roles, perfectly. There are a couple of pages of further reading suggestions too (although for some reason one thought this would be larger!). At the end of the book there is a great glossary of cooking terms that succinctly explain many common things, a series of reference tables for conversion purposes, a (U.S.-dominated) buyer's guide for various equipment, lots of pictures of contributors and a Gold Standard index.
This reviewer had pre-ordered his copy of MCAH sight-unseen even before being given access to a pre-publication version. Needless to say the order remains firmly in place, but publication in October seems oh, so far away! Even after a relative cursory glance (ask this reviewer again after five years of MCAH use) one can already regret a few purchase decisions and a little reorganisation to the home kitchen is in the "dream" phase.
It is hoped that consideration is also given for an electronic version of MCAH so that it can also be viewed on portable devices such as iPads. With an iPad stand in the kitchen, you can also then refer to it as you go along. This is, however, a book where the electronic version cannot replace the printed form, if not due to the sheer visual look and feel... yet it can be a good complement. There is the extra printed manual, but then you can't consult MCAH when commuting, or in the smallest room!
One can assume (or hope?) that the MCAH team is not sitting on its laurels after this great work and its larger counterpart. Yet in all that is holy, what can they do next? As a final afterthought, many people purchase art and photography books just for the images and some of these have a fairly hefty price tag in their own right. Even if you never plan to cook a thing or read a single word (and that would be a shame) then the photography alone in MCAH could be a book in its own right...
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on 6 September 2013
This seemed intimidating when it arrived because of its sheer volume and the apparent complexity of the dishes, because I am pretty sure no home cook would cook like this ordinarily, so I was well and truly out of my comfort zone.. However if you can get past this initial doubt this along with Heston's at home has been the most rewarding cook book I have purchased. The techniques and recipes are clearly laid out and are really very simple to follow once you get your head around the different format of the layout. This isn't a book to go to if you are looking to knock up a really quick dish of an evening. You need to give yourself lots of time. Without fail everything I have cooked from this has been superb. The quality of the stocks and a couple of the jus' alone make it a really worthwhile investment. This book will technically challenge most home cooks but my word it is so worth it. As far as the price goes in this case I genuinely believe that you are getting what you pay for. Sheer unadulterated quality and hours of pleasure both cooking and enjoying the food.
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on 3 May 2015
This is probably the best cook book I've bought, which given the price, arguably it should be. I love that you get a plastic coated version of the recipes that you can have out in the kitchen, while the reference volume can remain in the case. Its very technical, so only worth buying if you are interested in the chemistry and so on of cookery; and I think it deals with that whole aspect better than any Heston Blumenthal book (of which I have a number). I really rate this book, and notwithstanding the substantial price, think its good value.
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on 3 January 2014
I've been looking to the normal collection since it was released however it was far to big and expensive (5 huge volumes).
With this new version, smaller, cheaper and home oriented I could not ignore it anymore. I bought it and have gone through it page by page and it is simply amazing. Very very detailed, with amazing photos and a spectacular presentation. The fact that it includes a "kitchen safe" version of the recipes is great and adds that final touch.

I'me very satisfied by it and I recommend it.
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on 21 July 2015
This gorgeous epic tome is A3 sized, comes with a spiral bound kitchen recipe companion, some food porn prints suitable for framing, and a scratch off serial#, all bound in nice storage box that weighs nearly 5.5kg! Overwhelmed by its unwieldiness and underwhelmed by recipe's for pedestrian cheeseburgers, wings, and mac n cheese. Best tip was from the included registration website link leading me to the cheaper interactive media iOS App. Much more practical and useful for the Modernist cook!
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on 6 January 2013
The content was even better than expected. Besides all the modern recipes, it is often shown 2-4 modern techniques on how to achive the result. Like Sousvide, pressure cooker, steam oven or oven.
In all recipes it is also stated on how far you can prepare the recipe and that is brilliant. Normally this is missing in all cook books, even though this is exactly what professional chefs does. 5 stars
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