Top positive review
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This book is useful for all skill levels, An Inspirational Purchase..
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.