Review of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

What could possibly be said about Modernist Cuisine that hasn’t already been said by the hundreds of Amazon Reviewers?  This 5 volume (plus kitchen manual) set of cookbooks is by far the most comprehensive modernist cooking compendium ever produced.

Nathan Mhyrvold - Modernist Cuisine

I received this set of books as a wedding present from my dear husband.  While many women would scoff at the idea of receiving cookbooks as a wedding gift, I couldn’t have been happier.  I read the books cover to cover within the first week of receiving them and after my very first recipe attempt (Caramelized Carrot Soup) I was hooked and this blog was born.

The set is stunning first and foremost because of the thorough explanatory material it provides on all ranges of subjects from food safety to the maillard reaction to modernist techniques like reverse and basic spherification.    I learned more from modernist cuisine than I have from all other cookbook and food related publications combined.

The recipes are laid out in a breakthrough new manner which is simple, concise, and foolproof.  While the techniques themselves may take some practice and a fair amount of equipment, there’s little possibility of missing steps or forgetting ingredients.  I’ve made several recipes including: Parmesan Creme Brulee, Sous Vide Pork Loin with Chestnut Cream Filled Chestnut Puffs, Pressurized Egg Yolks, Melon Terrine, Ham Broth & Melon Caviar, and Carbonated Cranberries.

Finally the photography is breathtaking.  Never in a million years would I have thought I’d consider hanging a picture of a floating cheeseburger in my house…yet there it is.  Right there in the dining room.  The photography in Modernist Cuisine puts all food bloggers and writers to shame.

The one big complaint from people is the time and equipment necessary to make the recipes.  Yes good food does take time.  And yes having the latest equipment makes things easier.  But for most of the recipes a bit of improvisation will work.  I never centrifuged the carrot juice for my caramelized carrot soup and I used a displacement method before I had a chamber vacuum sealer and I did just fine.  I have a section of reviews of many of the items you may want to have on hand such as Immersion Circulators, Vacuum Sealers, and Blenders.

The other complaint I’ll offer up is that this book is a gateway book for modernist cooking at home.  Once you’ve tried and mastered a few of the recipes you’ll gain a newfound confidence that will leave you (wrongly) thinking you can move on to other masterpieces of cookbook literature like Quay: Inspired by Nature.

If this set seems to be a bit too much, check out the beginners version Modernist Cuisine At Home.

Nathan Myhrvold - Modernist Cuisine at Home

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *