One of the great things Modernist cooking does for home cooks is allow them to make foods that they normally can only get in stores. Our recipe for fruit leather also lets home cooks play with flavors, like we have in our Mango Chili recipe below.
This recipe is a variation of our Tomato Leather recipe. We also have other variations of fruit leather, and even onion leather, in our book, Modernist Cuisine at Home. In the Tomato Leather recipe as well as in other variations, you need to add 0.2% xanthan gum, but due to the high levels of pectin found naturally in mangoes, you don’t need additional thickeners when making Mango Chili Leather.
Consider hollandaise, that unctuous mixture of warm egg yolks and butter. The sauce is so fragile because butter congeals and separates as soon as it cools. And it’s all too easy to overheat the eggs and curdle the sauce. But we show you how to avoid these problems by cooking the eggs sous vide by putting the sauce in a whipping siphon; you no longer have to make hollandaise at the last minute while pulling together the rest of your meal.
This is yet another example of the dozens of foundational recipes in our Basics chapter of Modernist Cuisine at Home that are not only approachable and versatile but very tasty, too.
I love pressure-cooking grains. Many of them, especially barley, don’t need to be soaked. That, combined with the short cooking time of a pressure cooker, means it’s a big time saver. The barley in this recipe takes only 20 minutes to cook. It works perfectly and has a wonderful texture.
On the stove top, the water will evaporate as you cook the grains, so you must continually add water, which can result in grains that are really mushy. In a pressure cooker, however, you use only a small amount of water (just enough water to cook with) and none of it escapes, so the grains don’t lump up too much. It’s so easy!
This is a great recipe, but my favorite use of pressure-cooked barley is in our Barley with Wild Mushrooms and Red Wine recipe from Modernist Cuisine at Home, which is a variation found in the Risotto and Paella chapter.
In our Korean Chicken Wing recipe, which calls for a blend of Wondra and potato starch, you could use just potato starch, but your wings might turn out cakey, and if you leave them out for your party guests to enjoy, they might get soggy over time. Wondra really increases their crispiness, so much so that on the rare occasion that there are some leftovers from the batch made the day before, we eat them cold. Wondra flour is readily available in the U.S., but if you live elsewhere, we recommend ordering it online.
I love my pressure cooker. I love it so much that I’ve started taking it with me to friends’ houses, and once even to a cabin during a ski trip. It’s gotten to the point where when I ask my friends, “what do you want me to make when you come over this Saturday?” they reply, “I don’t know, Judy, something in your pressure cooker?”
While my friends and family tease me, they have always been wowed by the results. Meats like these carnitas, vegetable soups, and risotto are just some of my new favorite dishes to make. Having learned these techniques, I can apply them to other recipes, or add my own flavors, which allows me to be more creative in the kitchen.
This salmon recipe is a fun and simple way to begin enjoying the virtues of low-temperature cooking without investing in sous vide equipment. A pot of water preserves a constant temperature for up to 1 hour, far more time than is necessary to cook fish, and even enough time to cook some steaks (a picnic cooler keeps the water temperature stable for up to 5 hours!). The more food you put in the water bath, or the colder the food is, the more the water temperature will drop. To help hold the heat, bring the food to room temperature before cooking it, and use your largest pot and an abundant amount of water. We love to serve our salmon with sautéed asparagus and peas in the spring, or with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, and thyme in the winter.
The reason we freeze the steaks in this recipe before cooking them is to make sure we don’t overcook them. It will work even if the steaks are frozen as solid as a brick, though it might take a little longer in the oven. That’s why this recipe works so well as both a weeknight dinner and as a main course at a dinner party.
Nathan Myhrvold, coauthor of Modernist Cuisine and Modernist Cuisine at Home
I decided to make our Microwaved Eggplant Parmesan the moment I tried it. I was at the lab, meeting with Maxime Bilet and our Managing Editor for Modernist Cuisine at Home, Tracy Cutchlow. Anjana Shanker, one of our Developmental Chefs, had prepared the eggplant Parmesan and brought it over for Max to taste test. She also offered a spoonful to Tracy and me. I was sold on the recipe with just that one spoonful. It’s a very easy dish to make on short notice. Your guests will be impressed with what you can do using a microwave.
Jennifer Sugden, Production Editor of Modernist Cuisine at Home
For more about microwaves, including how they work and why we think they’re so great, check out this week’s article in The New York Times.
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