Modernist Cuisine


Last year for my birthday, Jason gave me the Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking after we saw it on The Colbert Report. It is a six volume set of books that starts with the history of food and moves through techniques and skills that have landed us in the current era where food, science and art combine, which is something I find absolutely fascinating. I love all of the restaurants and chefs that are embracing this idea in their food and drinks and creating things that are incredibly flavorful and beautiful and visually interesting. One such molecular gastronomy restaurant I have yet to make it to, but am dying to try on my next trip home is wd-50.

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Since the move, I have been reading Modernist Cuisine and experimenting with some of the new techniques including sous vide, which is a method of cooking food in a sealed airtight bag for a longer period of time at the temperature at which the food should be served. The first time that I had something cooked sous vide was at Aguaviva in Old San Juan. While at dinner, the chef came by our table and offered recommendations including the sous vide salmon, which was a special for the night, and he only had two left, so I of course immediately ordered it. It was so moist and flavorful, which prompted Jason and me to buy asous vide, so we could start experimenting.

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(Aguaviva in Old San Juan)

I am now taking the time to read the Modernist Cuisine books, which are each the size of a casebook, but are a lot more fun and interesting. I am trying to go through each of them in order, but because of my impatience and their length, I have started the first “History and Fundamentals”, and then have jumped forward to using some of the recipes. The first recipe I tried was lamb chop sous vide with a side of garlic rosemary potato puree and arugula salad (recipe below). It only took me cooking sous vide once to determine it is the easiest way to cook, because for meats it only requires seasoning the meat, vacuum sealing, and setting it to cook at the appropriate temperature; then the sous vide does all the work. Here is a summary and recipe of my first sous vide experiment.

Sous Vide Lamb Chops with Rosemary Garlic Potato Puree and Arugula Salad

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Rosemary Lamb Chops

  1. Cut the lamb into chops. Place into vacuum seal-able bag and season with olive oil, rosemary, fresh cracked pepper, garlic powder, and applewood salt; then seal.
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  1. Cook the vacuum sealed lamb chops for 1 hour at 62°C. Once they’re done cooking, set them to the side until all other items are done.

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Step 3: Once all side items are complete and the mushroom broth (below) is done, sear the lamb chops on the grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. They can also be seared in a skillet if you do not have a grill.

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Rosemary Garlic Potato Puree

While the lamb is cooking in the sous vide, I peeled, diced, and boiled about 7 Yukon Gold potatoes. After boiling them until they’re soft enough to cut with a fork, drain the water out of them and add in a small can of fat free evaporated milk, a teaspoon of minced garlic, a teaspoon of dried rosemary, salt and pepper to taste, and blend with an immersion hand blender until completely smooth. (Side Note: The handheld blender is an extremely useful kitchen instrument. It allows for more control and comes with many nifty attachments and is easy to use and clean up-dishwasher safe!)
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Mushroom Broth

  1. Thinly slice two shallots and add to 2.5 tablespoons of olive oil in a small sauce pan. Saute until golden about 10-15 minutes.

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  1. Add about 1 cup of thinly sliced crimini mushrooms and saute for 3-5 minutes then add in about 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. (I also added in 2 teaspoons of bacon grease because I had cooked bacon to top the potatoes. This is not a necessary step, but who doesn’t love bacon flavor added to basically everything!?!) Let it boil until the liquid is reduced by a bit more than half then let it simmer until ready to serve.

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Final Touches and Presentation: I served the lamb chops topped with the mushroom broth; the potato puree topped with bacon crumbles; and finally made a very simple arugula salad with halved cherry tomatoes and topped with an Italian Vinaigrette. (I used Walden Farms Zesty Italian-it is delicious and calorie-free = mind blown!) And voila! Add iced tea, prosecco and candles, and this is a dinner that is sure to please!

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Happy experimenting!

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