March 9, 2011

Delicious food for rich nerds


"A slow-cooked duck egg soaked in red wine and beet juice, with deep-fried cinnamon cap mushrooms, bacon chips and glazed pearl onions."

The New York Times has some gorgeous images from Nathan Myhrvold‘s 40+ pound, $625, 1,500-recipe cookbook “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking.” Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft, has written a book that the Times describes as

a manifesto declaring that the new form of laboratory-inspired cooking — led by Grant Achatz in the United States; Heston Blumenthal in England; and Ferran Adrià, the father of this cuisine, in Spain — is a cultural and artistic movement every bit as definitive as Impressionism in 19th-century France or Bauhaus in early 20th-century Germany.

Gastronomic revolution it may be, but the artistry of this food can’t be experienced unless you happen to have “a team of dozens of chefs and assistants…in an 18,000-square-foot warehouse” filled with state of the art and uniquely created equipment.

Still, the description of the Myhrvold’s “perfect french fry,” as described in Wired does sound pretty tasty: “The outside nearly shatters when you bite into it, yielding to a creamy center that’s perfectly smooth. The key is the cavitation caused by the ultrasonic bath—it creates thousands of tiny fissures on the potato’s surface, all of which become crunchy when it’s fried.”

And here’s the recipe to make one:

Myhrvold cuts his potatoes into batons and rinses them to get rid of surface starch. Then he vacuum-seals them in a plastic bag, in one even layer, with water. He heats the bag to 212 degrees for 15 minutes, steaming the batons. Then he hits the bag with ultrasound to cavitate the water—45 minutes on each side. He reheats the bag in an oven to 212 degrees for five minutes, puts the hot fries on a rack in a vacuum chamber, and then blanches them in 338-degree oil for three minutes. When they’re cool, Myhrvold deep-fries the potatoes in oil at 375 degrees until they’re crisp, about three more minutes, and then drains them on paper towels. Total preparation time: two hours.