Friday, September 12, 2008

What Am I Thinking?

I'm thinking that I have a tendency to bite off more then I can chew.

I'm thinking that I jumped into this too soon.

I'm thinking that I want to make some really delicious food.

I'm thinking that I love learning new things.

This is a "cook the book" blog. There are many like this, but this is my own. I love the process of learning something new and frankly my life was getting a little dull and I wasn't learning new things at the pace I would like. I recently got a very nice Canon DSLR and an immersion circulator to experiment with and I thought the best possible way for me to do this was to force myself to cook Thomas Keller's new book "Under Pressure" which, to my understanding, is all sous vide recipes.

I thought this because I have been reading Carol Cooks Keller: The French Laundry at Home and Cooking Zuni both of which are fantastic and I will do my best to imitate with out ripping them off. I am just amazed at the results "amateur" (in terms of day jobs only, natch) are able to achieve and I want to achieve those same results myself. I ate at per se for my birthday and it was truly amazing, the best food I have ever eaten and if I can get to the point where my cooking is even half as good I will be elated.

I am not an expert cook by any means. I enjoyed cooking when I was younger but that fell off as I got older and found other fun things to do. I started cooking again about a year ago and jumped into it whole heartedly and I haven't looked back. I enjoy every aspect of cooking from picking out the best ingredients at the Union Square greenmarket to taking the time to make things properly (as well as experimenting with recipes which more often turns out much worse but occasionally produces some real gems).

What I am, is an expert nerd, I love reading new things, getting all "science-y" and basically dorking out. This is why I spent way too much time figuring out exactly what sort of vacuum my Foodsaver V2840 can pull (23inHg, ~200mbar) and exactly how much my immersion circulator (Lauda Type B) drops if I load it up with food (no more then .5 C).

Speaking of which I hope to be adding an equipment page very soon that details exactly what my setup is, what I had to do to get it in usable shape, and how I use it. I truly believe you can do this with a home setup.

Having said that, I have not seen the cookbook yet but I have been told by a little bird (yeah I'm that awesome that I get confidential informants, I feel like I'm on the wire! o_O) that in the book Keller says you need a chamber vacuum. I truly hope I can figure out away around this but it will have to be something I worry about when I actually get a chance to see this book.

Having said that I have some ground rules that, while not set in stone, I intend to follow to the best of my abilities.

  • I will not "half-ass" any recipes in this book. If I can not make something as it is meant to be made (minor variations to account for equipment shortages will probably have to be used, so long as they do not significantly affect the dish) then I will wait to make it until I can do it the proper way.

  • This means I will do my very best to make all ingredients from scratch, even the stuff that isn't sous vide.
  • The one exception that I will grant myself is bread. I am truly awful at baking bread, its a secret shame of mine, none the less I will still attempt it and but if I fail I will gladly pick up a nice loaf from somewhere (anywhere) more competent than I.
  • I will make every attempt to get the correct ingredients, I will not sub out lemons for yuzu, etc.
  • I will do my best to plate the dishes as shown within reason, I will probably not buy dishes that are worth a ton just so the plating can look right, but I will do my best.
  • Where possible I will document this adventure with photos as completely as I can.
  • There is no time line, but depending on how many recipes there are in the book I intend to do this over no more then a year, we will see how realistic that is once I get my hands on it.

So that's it. I am very very excited for this project and I just can not wait to get started (Amazon tells me I will have the book October 16th so that's something at least. In the mean time I will put together my equipment page as well as some hints on how to get your own setup going and maybe post my amateur attempts.

Wish me luck.


Tom said...

science-y! that's a laugh!


Carol Blymire said...

Good luck! Can't wait to see how it all goes....

roopa said...

Glad you finally started the blog, even though you didn't give me proper credit for NAMING IT.

Diane said...

Glad to see that you at least mentioned your love for cooking in your younger years. To think I was looking forward to having you take over my kitchen then, I am sorry I missed out on your talents. In case anyone else cares, the 36 hour short ribs were fantastic. Looking forward to more trial dishes. CT Mom

Christopher said...

How neat! I'll look through what other things you've done, however this is the first I'd ever hear of Sous Vide.
When you cook meat, is there any problem with not having at the "optimal temp" to kill off the bacteria?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.