Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

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Modernist Cuisine at Home

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
Modernist Cuisine at Home is the subsidiary of, what may be, the greatest cooking tome of all time, Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet--scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right--have created a six-volume, 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking. MC digs deep into the historical, scientific, molecular and pretty much every facet of cooking. 

While Modernist Cuisine is a beautiful and inspiring book, it is not for the faint of heart. Most likely the average home cook wouldn't even know where to start with some of the recipes, not to mention not having the equipment needed to pull off the recipes. That's where Modernist Cuisine at Home comes in. Granted you do still need some speciality equipment like an Immersion Circulator and Pressure cooker to really dive deep into this book, but those items are within grasps of most consumers. 

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
After spending a few days perusing the book and trying out some of the recipes. I have to admit, this might be one of my most favorite cookbooks to date. It's just as beautiful and inspiring as the original MC, it introduces modern techniques to traditional recipes, it's fun to cook out of, it's challenging to cook out of and honestly I feel like I'm becoming a better cook from simply reading it. Again, this isn't for the faint of heart and I would recommend that you have a decent understanding of cooking techniques. But, if you are looking for something new and exciting to spice up your cooking world, than this is it!

"Modernist Cuisine at Home offers useful techniques and solutions that expand our abilities  and it provides us with a practiced and thorough understanding of why things happen the way they do. Most importantly, it ignites a curiosity within and compels us to ask ourselves not 'What should we make for dinner?' but rather, 'What can we make for dinner?' Modernist Cuisine at HOme will provide another quantum leap in our understanding and in our relationship with the food we like to cook" ~Thomas Keller

"Modernist Cuisine at Home is destined to change the way we cook-and the way we use recipes. For all of us who cook regularly, this book opens up a whole new world of possibilites. It is full of insights that encourage us to try something new, and that teach us something on every single page." ~Martha Stewart

I went ahead and started on the easier side with this book. Instead of jumping in for the hardest recipes, I figured I'd test the water with the Chicken Wings and Macaroni and Cheese. 

The chicken wings were definitely some of the best I have ever had. I never really thought to brine chicken wings just cause there isn't that much meat, but it is definitely worth taking the time to brine them. Then after cooking them sous vide at 149℉, you have one heck of a juicy and tender chicken wing (Cooking chicken sous vide at 140℉ for at least 30 min. pasteurizes the meat making it completely safe and extremely moist, unlike the traditional 165℉). 

The macaroni and cheese was also very good. But, I think next time I will use cheeses other than Cheddar and Swiss because they really don't need the Sodium Citrate to emulsify them together. The cheese sauce is quite thick, velvety and delicious...it has the consistency of store bought mac n' cheese, but just a lot better flavor because of the better quality cheese. 

A big thank you to the Modernist Cuisine at Home crew for allowing me access to their book and share with all of you their Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. Enjoy!

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
I think the recipe layout is pretty self explanatory, but it is a laid out a little different than your traditional recipe. Each part of the recipe is broken up by the red lines. You have your ingredients, the amount you need of each ingredient and then what to do with each ingredient. Just follow the procedures, add in all the ingredients in each step, then move onto the next line. In my case I substituted 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar and 1 cup of shredded swiss for the white cheddar. I also folded in a whole roasted red pepper. 

In addition to having the opportunity to use this book, I also have been given the opportunity to use a GoPro camera to start making cooking videos! I figured since I just got the camera, I might as well kill two birds with one stone and use it for this review. I am using the GoPro Hero3 White edition, with the Chest Mount Harness. There will be many more videos in the future!

Buffalo Nuggets

With the changing leaves and the summer breeze turning quickly into winter chill. This time of year brings on one of the greatest American traditions...football. With Football, most Americans have associated 3 food groups with the grid iron, Pizza, Beer & of course the chicken wing. Whether grilled, baked or deep fried we Americans love our chicken wing. Which brings me to my next recipe being featured  on Happy Valley Chow; Buffalo Nuggets (AKA boneless buffalo wings, but I wanted a special name for mine).

  • 1.5 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 Tsp Paprika
  • 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Kosher Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1 Lbs. Cubed Chicken Breasts
  • Canola Oil for frying
  • Chicken Brine (optional; recipe follows)

First, combine all the dry ingredients (Flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper & kosher salt) mix with a fork until well incorporated. Separate the flour mixture in half and distribute to two separate bowls. Add the buttermilk to a third bowl and season (to taste) with salt and pepper. 

All of our dry ingredients 

Drudging Station (Flour, Buttermilk, Flour)

To cube the chicken breasts, first remove the tips. Then slice the breasts into 1" thick strips length wise. After you make the strips then you'll want to cut the them into 1" chunks. 

Remove Tips
Cut Into Strips
Cut Into Chunks

Now we are ready to begin frying! Heat enough canola in a large stock pot so that the chicken chunks are covered when we begin frying (for me I put in about 1-2" of oil). Heat the oil to 350-365° F. While the oil is heating begin preparing your first batch of chicken (I started out with 6 pieces) you want to dredge them in flour, then in buttermilk (drain off excess) and then dredge again in flour. After oil is heated add in your first batch and fry until cooked through, about 5-6 min (If you're worried they aren't done, either cut a piece open to make sure it's cooked all the way through or test with thermometer, should read 160°F) transfer to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all chunks are fried. 

After all pieces are fried, transfer to a bowl and coat with your favorite sauce or simply don't use any sauce and sprinkle on some fine sea salt, fresh rosemary and thyme. Bon Appétit! 

Looking to kick up your chicken for any meal?? Try this delicious brine!

  • 1 Quart Water
  • 1/4 Cup of Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt (International Section of most grocery stores)
  • 1.5 Tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1/4 Bunch of Parsley 

Makes 1 Quart

In a medium sauce pan bring water to a bowl. Add in remain ingredients, stir and continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and let cool down completely and transfer(lemon, garlic, everything in the pot)  to a container or 1 quart mason jar and refrigerate. 

Whenever you are ready to brine, just put your chicken in a large zip lock and pour the brine in so that the chicken is completely covered and let sit for about 2 hours or up to 12 hours (note: Brining can make your food taste great, but over brining can lead it to be very salty so experiment with your brining times). 

Kitchen Word of the Day

Mis en Place  (pronounced [miz ɑ̃ plas], literally "putting in place")  is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as "everything in place", as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift

Prepping everything you need is crucial for any cook, whether they are professional or your average home cook. Having everything in order cuts down on time & stress and will usually increase the quality of your food. 

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