Author Topic: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt  (Read 1739 times)

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Offline Bill/SFNM

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The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« on: September 26, 2015, 07:20:50 AM »
I regularly select a book to cook through most of the recipes as a way of improving my skills. Recent examples are Vetri's Mastering Pasta and Ruhlman's Salumi book, both highly recommended. I post some of my results here:

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=37804.0
http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=20735.0

I just got the massive, new book by Kenji:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393081087/?tag=pmak-20

Very impressive. Only tried one recipe so far, Foolproof Hollandaise Sauce, which I used on my sourdough English muffins and pecan-smoked pork-butt ham for eggs benedict. This is going to be fun and keep me busy! Next up I think will be the corn chowder since I have some super-fresh corn.
   

Offline HBolte

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2015, 08:35:02 AM »
Thanks for the heads up, I just ordered it.
Hans

Offline sub

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2015, 04:20:48 PM »
If you've read his articles on serious eats, you've nearly read the book, but it's a good buy.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2015, 04:22:51 PM »
Kenji's Ultimate Bolognese Sauce - it has 30 ingredients, including Marmite  :o :o :o. And fish sauce, which I get, but Marmite? It was either going to be a big waste of time and ingredients or a masterpiece. I just made a batch for lasagna for this weekend. Masterpiece - no doubt about it. I've been eating spoonfuls out of the pot. There may not be any left for the lasagna.     

Offline Mmmph

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2015, 08:27:55 PM »
I made his version late last year based on the food lab recipe online. Truly amazing...Fish sauce, yes, but no Marmite in that recipe.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/12/the-best-slow-cooked-bolognese-sauce-recipe.html
Sono venuto, ho visto, ho mangiato

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2015, 07:57:38 AM »
The deeper I get into this book, the more trouble I am getting into - in a good way, I think. The section on dry-aging beef has inspired me to finally modify the wine-cooler I normally use for dry-curing charcuterie. I ran tests overnight and was able to keep the conditions in the cooler within the range McGee suggests (34F-38F, 70%-80% RH). I've ordered a cheapo UV light fixture (to reduce airborne microbes) and some activated aquarium charcoal just in case odors become an issue. A nice beef rib is now on by shopping list.

Aiming for an age of about 45 days. I'll take it beyond that just to find my upper funkiness limit.

Like I said, this is going to be fun. 

One criticism of the book: although the index at the back of the book is extensive, it is incomplete. Several times I have had trouble finding what I was looking for. For example: there is no entry for "aging" or "dry-aging". It is not listed under "beef". It is only listed under subheading "beef steaks". This is more of a quibble, but in a book this massive (960 pages), a better index would have been valuable.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2015, 12:27:34 AM »
I think the food lab has a lot of great ideas. The fried chicken, for example, is very well thought out. I did, however make the 6 hour slow cooked tomato sauce a three times now and while it's very good I'm not sure the payoff is worth the time.

I may purchase the book but the online series has been hit or miss for me.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2015, 02:19:20 AM »
the online series has been hit or miss for me.

So far no misses for me, but I haven't been blindly following the recipes either.The other day I made his classic lasagna Bolognese. It called for sheets of no-boil pasta. I have not had any success with those in the past - they just kind of disappear into the sauce. I want them to be a major component of the lasagna, so I made yolk-rich pasta sheets (from Vetri) and was very pleased with the results.

Offline hotsawce

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2015, 12:06:03 PM »
Any other recipes you've tried with success?

I've tried his buttermilk brined and fried chicken (from the website,) but his breading process didn't work out so well. He has you go straight from the brine into the flour, but the end result was the crispy coating coming off the chicken rather easily (it didn't adhere so well.)

I'm thinking about purchasing, but am on the fence. Would you recommend it?

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2015, 01:54:56 PM »
Any other recipes you've tried with success?

I'm thinking about purchasing, but am on the fence. Would you recommend it?

Yes, I've tried a bunch and have been very happy with most. Most recently: mayo, egg salad, potato salad, hollandaise, Benedict, soups, etc. Big project is dry-aging beef. I've calibrated the temp and RH of my curing chamber for the appropriate ranges for dry-aging. I was waiting till after TDay to buy a whole rib. I guess it is time to step up to the plate.

I recommend the book highly for what I wanted it for, but my needs might not apply to you. I wasn't looking for a recipe book. Sounds weird, but this book is more of a meditation for me. Having cooked enthusiastically for 40+ years, I have strong biases for how food should be prepared. So does Kenji and many of his preferences conflict with mine. This book has forced me to see many of my favorite foods in a new light, without the filter of a bunch of incorrect assumptions and the blind acceptance of conventional wisdom that have accreted over time.  I think everyone should go back to square one every once in a while, regardless of the endeavor.

 

Offline Jon in Albany

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2015, 07:20:04 PM »
I've only read some of the book but I am enjoying it. Although not in the book, I recently combined his apple pie technique to my pie recipe with excellent results. You dump boiling water over the apples and let it sit for 10 minutes. The heat sets the apples and they don't settle during baking. I tried the sous vide method with the apples but liked the boiling water better. Used to have an air void under the top crust, but this took care of it. Science to the rescue...

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-labs-apple-pie-part-2-how-to-make-perfect-apple-pie-filling.html

Online waynesize

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2016, 11:02:35 PM »
I just ordered this book. Going to have to make room on my shelf. I am sure it will be worth the $27.47 it cost me. I am eager to dig into its contents.


Offline amccabe

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Re: The Food Lab - J. Kenji López-Alt
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2016, 10:37:38 AM »
I have the book as well.  I have read his blog for years and I like to refer to it (especially for Sichuanese food).  We made the Ultimate Chili with short ribs the other night and it was really good.  I suggest you go for the bone-in ribs if possible.  I tried it with boneless but the meat came out tough which I think may be due to oversearing.