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Modernist Cuisine at Home Hardcover – Large Print, October 8, 2012
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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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?" --Thomas Keller
...Nathan Myhrvold and his team, responsible last year for the food-publishing triumph of the decade, the six-volume Modernist Cuisine, have now scaled down and domesticated many of the advanced techniques... Of these, sous vide cooking is the most likely to find a place in the home kitchen, as it has in mine, and Modernist Cuisine at Home treats the subject in glorious detail. --Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue
About the Author
Nathan Myhrvold, founder of The Cooking Lab, coauthor of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking and Modernist Cuisine at Home, and author of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, has had a passion for science, cooking, and photography since he was a boy. By the age of 13, Nathan had already cooked the family Thanksgiving feast and transformed the household bathroom into a darkroom.
Myhrvold holds a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics as well as a master's degree in economics from Princeton University. He holds additional master's degrees in geophysics and space physics and a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles. At Cambridge University, Myhrvold did postdoctoral work with Stephen Hawking in cosmology, quantum field theory in curved space-time, and quantum theories of gravitation, all before starting a software company that would be acquired by Microsoft.
As his career developed, he still found time to explore the culinary world and photography. While working directly for Bill Gates as the chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan was part of the team that won the Memphis World Championship Barbecue contest; he worked as a stagier at Chef Thierry Rautureau's restaurant Rover's, in Seattle; he then took a leave of absence to earn his culinary diploma from École de Cuisine La Varenne, in France.
Nathan retired from Microsoft in 1999 to found Intellectual Ventures and pursue several lifelong interests in photography, cooking, and food science. During this time, some of his photographs were published in America 24/7 (DK Publishing, Inc., 2003) and Washington 24/7 (DK Publishing, Inc., 2004). Unable to find practical information about sous vide cooking, he decided to write the book he felt was missing; one that provided a scientific explanation of the cooking process, the history of cooking, and the techniques, equipment, and recipes involved in Modernist cooking. Inspired by this void in cooking literature, he decided to share the science of cooking and wonders of Modernist cuisine with others, hoping to pass on his own curiosity and passion for the movement.
In the process of creating his first book, Nathan founded The Cooking Lab, hired an interdisciplinary team that included scientists, research chefs, and writers, and published the much-acclaimed six-volume, 2,438-page Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, in 2011. That set was followed by Modernist Cuisine at Home, in 2012, which applies the insights of the original book in a format designed for home cooks. In 2013, he wrote The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, and The Cooking Lab partnered with Inkling to publish the Modernist Cuisine at Home app.
Maxime Bilet received a BA in creative writing, literature, and visual arts from Skidmore College. Bilet then graduated with highest honors from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. He completed a stage at Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar and was quickly hired to the head chef position there by Jack Lamb. Moving to London, he accepted a stage with Heston Blumenthal's development team at The Fat Duck. Just prior to joining the culinary team as head chef for recipe research and development at The Cooking Lab, Bilet trained as sous chef to open the London branch of Auberge de L'Ile. In 2011, Bilet was named to Forbes Magazine's 30 Under 30 list in the category of Food and Wine.
Check out the "Modernist Cuisine at Home" brochure (PDF) - showcasing highlights from the book.
Top Customer Reviews
I'll start with a disclaimer: Do not buy this book until you are familiar with the original "Modernist Cuisine." By that I do not mean you need to own that set first (quite the opposite, this is the stepping stone to the full set), but you should understand that it encompasses a style of cooking that can be crudely summarized as "cooking for scientists" or "how to make dinner in a laboratory." Once you know what you're getting into, decide if it's worth around $140 of your hard-earned cash.
Now, on to the good stuff. For those of you who salivated for a year, wishing you could justify buying "Modernist Cuisine" but knowing you wouldn't be able to use it to it's full potential (like me), your prayers have been answered! "Modernist Cuisine" made headlines (in the Food and Travel section) for:
1. Deconstructing the science of cooking rather than just listing recipes
2. Focusing on modern methods of preparing foods using tools such as combi ovens, sous vide setups, emulsifiers, etc
3. Including some rather stunning photography of the equipment and ingredients within
I am happy to say that all three are present in the "at Home" version. First, "Modernist Cuisine at Home" (MCAH hereafter) introduces a consolidated set of kitchen tools and gadgets that the home chef can reasonably afford. Don't have the funds for the laboratory-grade centrifuge featured in "Modernist Cuisine?" No problem. Not only does MCAH omit the prohibitively expensive tools from its recipes, but many of them are the same recipes found in the original, redone for the home cook.Read more ›
Now for the review: The problem with most cookbooks is they do not provide the cook with a reasonable starting point from which to make excellent cuisine. I remember the days when I used to struggle to try to make recipes from Larousse Gastronomique and Joy of Cooking that were spectacular, but that end always seemed to elude me. I never felt as though I prepared a meal- ANY meal which rivaled or surpassed that of my favorite restaurants. Those cooks in the high end restaurants knew things that I didn't know, and used equipment I had never seen, let alone used. Well, that is no longer the case. I picked up the original tome (Modernist Cuisine) and extracted from it the recipes I could do in my kitchen at home, and at once realized that there was a whole world of phenomenal food out there, waiting to be tasted.
I cooked chicken breast sous vide (using a Rube Goldberg contraption I have since replaced with the SousVide Supreme) and the breasts were done perfectly, with all the delicate tastes intact. Wild duck breasts that had been lying in the back of my freezer because I knew they would taste like cardboard? They were the best poultry I had ever tasted. With those two successes under my belt, it was on to fish! I live in Florida, and so am fussy about my fish. My first foray was into cobia, and that dish, on that day, was the best fish I have ever tried, let alone made. And so on. Best green beans. Best carrots. Best risotto. Best salmon. You get the idea...Read more ›
The focus of the book is on techniques and use of equipment which are new or recently had a renaissance. Favorite equipment includes pressure cooker, water bath / CVAP oven and vacuum sealer. As many do not have a water bath and vacuum sealer, makeshift alternative solutions are given. Common to the equipment is that their best use can often be explained by science, thus taking the guesswork out of the equation.
The sections focus on common dishes, such as pizza, burgers, steaks, roast chicken, salmon, vegetables and pies. Many of the recipes offer alternative variations, encouraging the cook to use the fundamental technique while creating their own dishes. By using the on common dishes, it becomes more clear how the techniques can then be applied to many other tried, tested and true recipes.
The book is not meant as an entry level cook book for someone who needs to learn some tricks to keep themselves fed. It is geared towards those who want to learn how to make the most out of available tools and characteristics of various foods, and raise the flavor to a new level. Although in no way necessary, it is my belief this book will inspire more to buy the first set, so as to gain a deeper understanding.
The book keeps the extremely high standard for food photography, a pure delight to look at, also making it a great book for the coffee table!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
short on function, long on appearances. the information contained in the book i have no problem with. Read morePublished 1 month ago by ric
Purchased this book for a foodie friend and home cook. He loves it... says the photos are amazing, and the information presented is interesting and well written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kathryn M
I first read a free digital copy of the book via NetGalley, but then went ahead and bought my own dead tree copy, because I liked the book so much. Read morePublished 2 months ago by genoa golf
This is a wedding present and I cant wait for them to open it. Seriously, I haven't opened it. I can wait.....Published 2 months ago by ALE
Great read, great ideas. Defiantly worth the money if you are a foodiePublished 5 months ago by R Michelle P
Contained in this book is a wealth of information presented in a beautiful way. This book is excellent for established home cooks who want to venture out into more unusual for at... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Emilia G.