Piglet Community Pick: Modernist Cuisine at Home

February 19, 2013

Read up on some of 2012's most-loved cookbooks, tested and reviewed by the one and only Food52 community.   

Today: JenBohn takes on new techniques in Modernist Cuisine at Home.

modernist cuisine at home

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From the moment I received my copy of "Modernist Cuisine at Home," I knew I had received something very special. It's weighty, it's beautiful, and it's intense.

The book is actually two books -- one describes the science behind the recipes, the techniques, and has museum-quality photographs, and the other volume, called the "kitchen manual," contains the recipes in wire-bound, waterproof pages. I came to appreciate the duality; one volume is for your learning pleasure, and the other is for your cooking pleasure.

The recipes are organized well, and the main volume is easy to read. However, this is not a cookbook for the beginner. Rather, it's for the home cooking enthusiast who is comfortable with new techniques, with experimentation; this cookbook's mission is to bring the adventurous techniques of molecular gastronomy to the home cook. Many are new to those of us who haven't trained under Ferran Adrià, but are fascinating nonetheless and not overly difficult. Some specialized equipment is necessary to take full advantage of the range of the book, but each recipe clearly lists what you might need (and not normally have on hand) before you start.

My attempt at the Fat-Free Macaroni and Cheese was a journey. The result was outstanding -- and earned me the coveted "Honey, that was the best dinner you've ever made!" award -- but it wasn't without bumps in the road. In short, this cookbook introduces home cooks to new techniques and approaches previously isolated to high-end restaurants, and will bestow great rewards on those who take the time to follow the scientific recipes carefully and spend the money on some specialized equipment. I plan to spend a lot of time exploring this cookbook further.


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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • savorthis
  • hardlikearmour
  • Greenstuff
  • JenBohn

Written by: JenBohn


savorthis February 19, 2013
I just gave this book to a good friend thinking, I think, that somehow I'd get to share it....but I haven't even seen it without the cellophane. I am dying to dig into it though!
hardlikearmour February 19, 2013
Whoa! Fat-free Macaroni & Cheese actually exists? That alone could be worth the price of the book.
JenBohn February 19, 2013
In fairness, it's not truly "fat free" but surely it is much lower in fat. In essence, you create "cheese water" by submerging a grated cheese and water mixture (sealed in a plastic bag) in hot water for 30 minutes. Once you've discarded the cheese solids that have separated out, you boil the pasta in the cheese water, which imparts a much cheesier flavor than I ever would have guessed. A secret ingredient creates the "mouth feel" of cheese.
Greenstuff February 19, 2013
I keep picking this book up and putting it back. I'm intrigued, but I don't even have a pressure cooker. What specialized equipment do you think are must-haves?
JenBohn February 19, 2013
I have to admit, I bought a Sous Vide Supreme - which is great fun, but I am not convinced I will use it all that often. I also bought a pressure cooker so I could try a few of the recipes that required it, and - I am in love! I will use the pressure cooker regularly.