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Southern Kitchen – Modernist Cuisine at Home

MCAH with kitchen manual in slipcase

[Photo Credit:Chris Hoover/ Modernist Cuisine, LLC]

After a long vacation for the Hungry Southerner I felt the time was right to dip a toe back into writing and challenge myself to cook my way through an entire cookbook.  The Little Southerner often reminds me of the growing collection of cookbooks that continue to flow into our house and I figured it was time to put them to good use.  I often spend my evenings at home reading through several of my favorites Thomas Keller’s  The French Laundry & Ad Hoc, Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck, Grant Achatz’s Alinea and My New Orleans by John Besh. The collection I’ve had the greatest fascination with has been the epic 5 book tome The Modernest Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold.  Unfortunately The Modernist Cuisine collection, on a good day, weighs in at a whopping $450.00 so it has been financially out of reach. Until now….

Chicken wing variations

[Photo Credit:Chris Hoover/ Modernist Cuisine, LLC]

Realizing the general population had a desire to get into the Modernist Cuisine material without the need for combi ovens and centrifuges, Myhrvold and his team recently introduced The Modernist Cuisine at Home. It’s an epic book containing over 456 pages of technique, commentary and recipes utilizing modern approaches to common dishes.  It takes a sort of  procedural scientific approach to breaking down recipes and the techniques used to produce dishes in a whole new way.  It makes home cooks, like myself, reconsider all those gadgets  laying around and calls them all into action.  It also helps to change your whole perspective on how to approach the household kitchen.

Gelato Variations

[Photo Credit:Chris Hoover/ Modernist Cuisine, LLC]

Modernist Cuisine at Home is the perfect companion book to Alinea, Fat Duck and Eleven Madison Park.  It elegantly breaks down most, if not all, of the concepts used in those other books giving the reader a much clearer picture of the individual techniques required to work through procedures such as gellation, emulsions and sous vide cooking.  It also presents the material in a beautiful way; this book has the largest pages, beautiful images and layout of any book I own.  It is truly a great book to behold. Which brings me to the price.

Modernist Cuisine at Home is not a cheap book.  It is easily a $100.00 investment, which means for the price, you could own all 3 of  Fat Duck, Alinea and Eleven Madison Park. It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination but you get a lot for  your money.  The authors graciously include a separate manual just of the recipes and techniques, which is really great considering no one wants to spill spaghetti sauce on their $100.00 investment.  It’s also the heaviest cookbook I own, weighing in at 11 pounds if you include the secondary recipe book and special boxing sleeve. At about $9.00 a pound or about $4.30 a chapter (23 chapters in total) you get what you pay for.  It’s truly my favorite cookbook this year, and I can’t recommend it more to anyone who is looking to challenge themselves to expand the way they approach food.

Countertop tools opener

[Photo Credit:Chris Hoover/ Modernist Cuisine, LLC]

All this said I figured it was time to kick start the Hungry Southerner with a new challenge going into 2013.  I’ve never cooked my way through an entire cookbook and I feel The Modernist Cuisine at Home is the book I’d like to attempt.  I won’t be cooking through the book sequentially, and each chapter often has several derivatives on the same concept so I probably won’t recreate 20 different versions of their BBQ sauces but I do plan to tackle each and every chapter’s concepts and initial recipes.  I’ve decided this isn’t a race to see how quick I can survive the entire book but rather an experience in mastering the material presented.  I’ll also be looking to see how these newer ideas can enhance the Southern cooking concepts that have been used for generations. Buckle up it’s going to be a fun ride.  Stay Hungry Y’all!

– The Hungry Southerner

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Hungry Southerner Podcast: Episode 3 – The Glass Onion

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In this podcast, we’re talking with Sarah O’Kelley, one of the chef/owner’s of The Glass Onion in Charleston, South Carolina.  She graciously hosted us at the restaurant to discuss their local/sustainable (and very Southern) restaurant and the bonds they’ve formed with the fine folks that provide and consume their food.  Even before we met, we knew that The Glass Onion was our kind of place.  If you’re ever in the Charleston area, be sure and stop by for a bite.  Also be sure to check our Sarah’s blog and keep an eye out this spring for the Glass Onion’s self-published cookbook celebrating their families’ recipes and traditions.

– The Hungry Southerner

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Ben

Download – The Hungry Southerner Podcast – Episode 003
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Southern Question: Southern Wedding Food?

cake

It’s a big wedding year around these parts. 3 of my best friends ( 2 of my co-best men of my wedding) are getting married or have gotten married this past summer. I just returned from the second wedding on the coast of Mississippi and it got me wondering, is there Southern specific wedding food? I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and seen a lot of different dishes but never thought to look for regional cuisine amongst those served. I’m sure there are but what are some of the best Southern wedding dishes one would find here in the South? Finger foods? Full on sit down dinner plates? This is going to be a new series we’re going to start called Southern Questions, to get the dialog started between us and our readers and to meet more of you out there! For other Southern Wedding tips try Southern Weddings, a beautiful magazine with great online content (no we’re not paid they are just doing great things and deserve a plug). Stay Hungry Y’all?

-The Hungry Southerner

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Southern Kitchen – Pimento Cheese

Pimento

Pimento cheese is the southern snack.  As best as I can tell from my limited research, it does not exist above the Mason-Dixon, except in the homes of southern expatriates.  To those of us who were raised on it from an early age, it evokes thoughts of home, family, and everything that is right about being from the South.  To those who were deprived of this treat in their childhood, it’s just weird.  In other words, it’s an acquired taste.

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Review: Las Paletas – Nashville,TN

las paletas

With summer just around the corner, my thoughts (stomach) turn to summer food treats.  Some foods just scream summertime.  Burgers, milkshakes, fresh-squeezed lemonade … you get the idea.  Summer treats are fun.

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Tuesday Wine: Summer Whites

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If you’re like me, you get excited after a long, cold winter when the temperature begins to climb and the days start to lengthen in anticipation of summer.   Along with blooming flowers and bountiful vegetable gardens, summertime provides the perfect backdrop for backyard barbeques and impromptu dinners with friends over a bottle (or two) or good wine.

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Yankee Challenge: Southern Vegetable Plate

The weather is finally getting warm, the sun is out, and everything is starting to bloom just in time for the latest Yankee Challenge.  Because of the warm, wet, Springs in the south we get some tasty vegetables early.  It’s always exciting to see what fresh produce is available at the first farmer’s market.  In honor of the spring market, this month’s challenge is to cook a classic southern “Vegetable Plate” with a side of cast iron corn bread.

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Filed under Cooking, Cooking Tutorial, Food, Southern Culture, Southern Recipes, Uncategorized, Yankee Challenge