Five Additional Uses for Your Baking Steel

In our quest to create the perfect baking steel for mimicking the results obtained by a traditional wood-fired oven, ultimately achieving pizza bliss, we also tested other uses for such a device. We examined several possibilities, including hot and cold preparations. Because the baking steel is 22 lb of highly conductive thermal mass, it can stably hold both high and low temperatures. Below, you will find a few of our favorite options. If you have a new idea for its use, let us know in the comments section.

1. Antigriddle: Steel has high heat capacity and great conductivity, which is why it works so well for pizza. But it also works in opposite extremes, efficiently freezing foods through conduction. We experimented with a PolyScience antigriddle while writing Modernist Cuisine and found that by freezing the baking steel, we could achieve similar results. After watching street vendors in Thailand make “ice-cream pad” (rolled-up ice cream) on YouTube, we were hooked and didn’t stop until we were able to replicate this charming treat by chilling our steel to ?15 to ?9.5 °C / 5 to 15 °F. Check back next week when we share how to make “ice-cream pad” using the baking steel.

2. Griddle: Naturally, the baking steel also makes a great griddle. Place your baking steel on your stove or induction cooktop to fashion a griddle. Because it is larger than your typical skillet (the baking steel is 41 cm by 36 cm by 1 cm / 16 in by 14 in by ? in), you have more room for your eggs and pancakes.

on induction burner with fried eggs

3. Flat Tandoor Oven: A pizza without sauce or toppings looks an awful lot like naan, which inspired us to use the steel as a makeshift, open tandoor oven. Heat the baking steel on a stovetop or induction burner on high and slap on your naan dough. In moments, your naan will have a blistered surface not normally obtainable in a home oven.

4. Cold Plate: Your baking steel will also keep food cool without freezing it—a perfect solution for a platter of sushi. Chill the baking steel in the freezer for a few hours. Depending on how cold you want your food to be, the time will vary. This is a great way to keep sensitive food cold without dealing with piles of ice and the inevitable clean up. Keeping your food cool will also extend the amount of time it can sit outside of the refrigerator before entering the danger zone.

5. Teppan: Teppanyaki, the Japanese style of cuisine popularized by restaurants in the U.S., uses an iron plate called a teppan. This metal griddle quickly cooks food to the delight of onlookers. We can’t guarantee that you’ll nail down the flaming onion on your first try, but it’s a good place to start, as well as a fun idea for dinner parties.

Nathan Myhrvold Will Appear on The Martha Stewart Show, November 17

Martha in The Cooking Lab

Last time Nathan appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, she came to visit us in Bellevue, Washington, at The Cooking Lab. This time, since Nathan is spending a few days on the East Coast, he’s stopping by her studio to talk about Modernist cooking and its adaptability for home use. Nathan will demonstrate sous vide salmon and pistachio gelato, some of our favorite recipes!

Tune in to The Martha Stewart Show tomorrow, November 17, for more!

Stephen Colbert Bites Our Pastrami

Modernist Cuisine and Nathan Myhrvold were featured guests on last night’s episode of The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert, a noted ice cream critic, sampled our dairy-free pistachio gelato and pronounced it yummy. “You’ve achieved ice cream that tastes like ice cream, that’s a true breakthrough!” he said.

Our dairy-free, egg-free pistachio gelato

Colbert also enjoyed the transformative experience that is MC pastrami, which is made from short rib and cooked sous vide at low temperature for 72 hours. “Oh my God…oh my God,” Colbert said with his mouth still full of melting meat. “I don’t need teeth. This is fantastic!”

Our melt-in-your mouth pastrami below Colbert’s mind

In a funny bit that didn’t make it into the segment that aired, Nathan poured liquid nitrogen into a bowl on the table at which he and Colbert sat. “You should absolutely never do this,” Nathan said as he repeatedly dipped his fingers into the ?321 °F liquid (and this is the important part: quickly removed them!) “Actually I haven’t had any feeling in these hands for years,” Nathan quipped.

At the end of the interview, Nathan immersed a rose in the furiously boiling nitrogen, then lifted it out and whacked it on the table. It smashed into hundreds of confetti-size bits. “You’d make a lousy valentine,” Colbert said.

We Don’t Scream Over Ice Cream

Nathan and the Modernist Cuisine team are in the middle of a whirlwind tour of New York showcasing the book and the recipes therein. From small samples prepared on live television to large multi-course meals served to 350 renowned chefs and food critics, the Modernist meals on wheels tour has been a massive logistical undertaking with no margin for error.

Of all the people and perishables that had to arrive at each venue on time and in top form, it was one of the least delicate dishes that almost fell victim to the inevitable complication.

Pistachio ice cream isn’t really ice cream at all. Rather, it is a constructed cream made from pistachios and emulsifiers. It contains no egg or dairy products and thus can be made well in advance, stored, and shipped at room temperature. It does, however, need to be churned and chilled before serving, which turned out to be a big, last minute problem.

Back in Seattle, the team made 12 liters of pistachio ice cream well ahead of the New York events. After a series of plane, train, and automobile rides, the pistachio ice cream mixture arrived at the venue a few hours before it was to be served to 350 people.

As planned, the team loaded the mixture into the ice cream machines where it was to be churned and chilled into what can only be described as an intense yet pure tasting pistachio gelato. After a few hours of slow churning in the machine, it develops a texture that is indistinguishable from the soft serve ice cream that usually comes out of an ice cream machine. In this case, however, one of the machines refused to cooperate, breaking down before the first batch could be made.

Fortunately, the facility had two ice cream machines and the team calculated that they could still serve all 350 guests cold pistachio ice cream on time using a single machine. They set out to do just that until the second machine failed.

Panic ensued.

Guests would be arriving in a few hours expecting their meals to conclude with the pistachio ice cream, which has become one of the most iconic recipes in the book. The team quickly hatched a new plan: One of them would rent a car to take the warm mixture and a cooler of dry ice to the nearest ice cream machine.

Rental car? Check. Cooler of dry ice? Check. A working but currently idle ice cream machine owned by someone willing to let us use it? Not so fast! In a city where you can supposedly get anything you want in a hurry, an ice cream machine turned out to be remarkably hard to find.

Ultimately though, New York and the culinary community came through. Across town, legendary chef Johny Iuzzini was just finishing his desert service at Jean Georges. He graciously agreed to let the Modernist Cuisine team use his ice cream machine.

After being whisked across Manhattan and chilled, one liter at a time, in the kitchen at Jean Georges, the pistachio ice cream hit the tables at just the right time and temperature. It was such a big hit that some of the guests formed a mob and cornered Nathan, demanding the recipe.

The day’s crisis averted, the team packed up and got ready for another challenging day of blowing their culinary colleagues’ minds with Modernist masterpieces. For the Modernist Cuisine team, it was just another day at the Cooking Lab.

Core Club Gets a Taste of Modernist Cuisine

Esteemed guests from the culinary world were treated to an evening Q&A with Vogue food critic Jeffrey Steingarten followed by a Modernist dinner at New York’s legendary Core Club last night.

Hosted and prepared by the Modernist Cuisine team, the dinner featured a variety of Modernist dishes from the book:

Goat Milk Ricotta and Peas

fresh ricotta, centrifuged pea puree layers, essential oil

Geoduck Vongole
centrifuged broth

Caramelized Carrot Soup
pressure-cooked with baking soda

Mushroom Omelet
constructed egg stripes, steamed in a combi oven

Pastrami, Sauerkraut, Cognac Mustard
cooked sous vide for 72 h, precisely cured, brined, and fermented

Pistachio Ice Cream, Cherry, Arlettes
frozen constructed cream

Gruyere Cheese Caramels
sweet and savory caramel, edible film