Do you want to know how to make the best stock, or to make hard-boiled eggs with the yolk perfectly centered and cooked? Are you interested in how to make and use marinades or fondues? Which is the best time to season steak: before, during or after cooking? How do we perceive aromas? Would you like to know why small children have no problems eating any kind of roasted meats, and almost any vegetable -except those hard and fibrous or bitter- as long as they are served with a white sauce?
As you may remember from a post I wrote a long, long time ago, I´m a member of The Kitchen Reader / A Food-related book club, and I have been enjoying the books we read every month, all related to food and cooking. This month´s book –Molecular Gastronomy by Hervé This– was selected by me, and even though some might find it complicated, if you are curious about cooking, and have many unanswered questions like the ones above, this book will be a fascinating read.
I first heard about this book a few years ago, when I was in culinary school in Peru. The instructors of French cuisine loved Molecular Gastronomy, and some of them considered it the Bible for cooks, and recommended it to their students for all its scientific information about the whys and hows of cooking. Very interesting stuff if you are an experimental and curious cook like me. And even if you´re not, the information provided is great to expand your culinary horizons, which is always great.
I´ve learned, for example, that adding half a teaspoon of cornstarch at the beginning of the preparation gives a great texture to custard and prevents it from curdling if overcooked. Actually, the book recommends flour, not cornstarch, but flour needs a longer cooking time to avoid the “raw” taste in the finished custard, so I switched to cornstarch with best results.
I also had fun experimenting with soufflés. In most of the recipes I know there are clear instructions to avoid any kind of moisture in order to get beautiful, tall and airy soufflés, but Hervé This says that “a soufflé rises taller thanks to the vaporization of the water found in the milk and eggs”, among a few other things. Beginners don´t have to be intimidated by soufflés anymore because they are not that difficult to make if you follow the instructions carefully.
Molecular Gastronomy is a small book that can be read in a short time, and I´m sure you will learn a thing or two about how things work in the kitchen. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.