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Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide [ UNDER PRESSURE: COOKING SOUS VIDE ] by Keller, Thomas (Author) Nov-17-2008 [ Hardcover ]

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412 internautes sur 420 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 An instant classic, but not for everyone 12 novembre 2008
Par Charleston Dave - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This cookbook is a mirror into the reader's own attitude toward cooking.

If you are a professional with all the expensive equipment, a demanding clientele and a pioneering spirit, this book will quickly become an essential reference. If you are a casual home cook curious about sous vide wizardry and perhaps interested in toying with the techniques, you will find this book intimidating and useless. For foodies who have been intrigued by "molecular gastronomy" restaurant offerings, this book may answer a few "How did they do that?" questions. Given the level of creative energy between this book's covers, it is an outstanding value for the listed Amazon price. Understand, however, that as Keller states on p. 38, this book is

"written for the professional kitchen, from one chef to another. No modifications have been made
to accommodate cooks preparing [these recipes] at home, even though some of them certainly can
be done at home with the right equipment"

Recipe mise-en-place is organized by component in a division-of-labor professional kitchen style (not chronologically). All recipes use metric weights, so a digital scale is essential. These stylistic choices are sensible for Keller's audience, but may be offputting to a home cook more familiar with traditional American home cookbook presentations.

Sous vide is, in important ways, both easier and safer than other cooking methods. Some of the advantages include ultra-precise control (and corresponding prevention of cooking errors and waste), extended hold times, intensified flavor, more efficient usage of labor, space and ingredients, and the ability to accomplish certain end results that are impossible with any other approach. Romantics who complain that sous vide reduces the artistry of cooking are ignoring the subjective, analog, soulful decisions that the chef must make concerning ingredients and method before and after bag cooking. In an introductory essay, Keller considers the sense of loss at the diminution of artisanal craft as technology supplants it. This was great writing, truly an artist at his best.

One minor complaint I have with the book is its layout. Too many pictures of serious chefs at work are uncaptioned. Who am I looking at? What am I supposed to learn from this picture? Photos of finished recipes are often a page or two away from the recipe or even from their own caption. There are also artsy "backstage" pictures mixed in, producing a momentary confusion as to what one is contemplating. This is perhaps illustrative of the tone of the book. It's assumed that the reader is going to have the culinary chops to recognize these people (or ones like them) and fit right in next to them cooking obscure ingredients comfortably in a professional setting. Perhaps the effect sought is a coffee table book for professional chefs. I was also a bit disappointed with the layout's trendy approach of having more empty space (big white margins) bordering smaller, lighter type. Bring your reading glasses and good light when you sit down with this text.

Following introductions on philosophy, science and history by Bruno Goussault, Harold McGee, Keller, Jonathan Benno, Corey Lee and Sebastien Rouxel, there in an extended section on Fundamentals, including what sous vide can achieve, basic principles and techniques, safety, use in the professional kitchen, and use in the home kitchen. I found the section on food safety to be particularly valuable and accessible to the home cook.

Over sixty recipes are roughly equally divided into five major categories: Vegetables and Fruits, Fish and Shellfish, Poultry and Meat, Variety Meats, and Cheese and Desserts. Perplexingly, the table of contents lists only these categories and does not itemize the individual recipes. Each recipe generally takes two to three pages, plus a full-page photograph, and involves two or three dozen ingredients, divided into dish components (remember these are complex, composed dishes offered in Keller's restaurants, The French Laundry and per se). An example? "Grilled Octopus Tentacles, Chorizo, Fingerling Potatoes, Green Almonds and Salsa Verde," has 30 ingredients, two pages of instructions including a procedure for peeling green almonds, recipe p. 78-79, photo p. 76, two citations for sources, and one procedural reference to the Basics section. Similarly, "Dégustation de Porcelet, Rutabage Mostarda, Wilted Mustard Greens, and Potato 'Mille-Feuille'" is a tasting of five cuts from a baby pig; this recipe stretches four pages and lists 45 ingredients. The "Basics" section follows the recipes and includes everything from how to make clarified butter to recipes for eight different kinds of stock. Few home cooks are likely to make the composed dishes in their entirety, but experienced or adventuresome readers will certainly come away with ideas for home entertaining or approaches that might prepare only one simplified element from a Keller composed plate. Perhaps you would offer home guests five cuts from a baby pig; weeknight visitors to my home would more likely get pork chops sous-vided à la Keller, with one sauce.

Other than the chapter on safety, perhaps the most useful parts for home sous vide users will be the two closing reference sections. First, there is a marvelous table that lists ingredients alphabetically, specifies how to sous vide the ingredient, and cites a recipe within the text that features the ingredient. Next comes an extended list of sources for equipment and ingredients. This is followed by a more traditional index, then acknowledgements and restaurant staff group photos, for a text of almost 300 pages.

The only comparable text to address the topic of sous vide is Joan Roca's "Sous Vide Cuisine." Roca's text is stylistically quite different and more than a third shorter than Keller's book. The English translation of Roca's book also runs about two hundred dollars, which is quadruple the price of Keller's book. If you can choose only one, Keller's is stronger and a better value.

It's not all things to all people, but "Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide" is invaluable in what it offers and an instant classic in its field.
160 internautes sur 172 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 this might be a long review... 31 octobre 2008
Par Robert M. Katz - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
the french laundry cookbook is one of my favorite books, but i thought id never be able to do most of the recipes in it when i first looked at it. after time, as my experience grew, and constantly referring back to the book, i find myself now able to do most of those dishes in it (though i havent tackled head-to-toe yet) and looked at the book more as a place to get ideas from. "under pressure" seems like the same type of book.
when i opened this book i felt the same experience i felt opening the french laundry. the books pretty much even look the same. neither are designed with the home cook in mind.
that said, most of the recipes can be replicated at home, given the right equipment. i seriously doubt anyone is going to buy a chamber vacuum sealer (costing up to or exceeding 5 grand) or an immersion circulator (costing over a grand) but there is hope for people on a budget, like myself.
i, myself, have been doing some sous-vide cooking at home and at work for about a year now. i tested the way the technique can change the texture and taste of food. the results i got ranged from disasterious to sublime. i never had a real guide to sous vide cooking (not being able to spend over 200 bucks for the only book printed on the subject). but now i do. but i dont have the expensive hardware that this book calls for, but im pretty sure i can get the same results they get on MOST of these dishes.
its true, food savers and chamber sealers are alot different. you cant get the results of a "compressed" watermelon (as in the steak tartare)using something you got at target, but you can get the same type of pork belly. with the old foodsavers, you werent able to seal food with a liquid (unless you froze it and then placed it with the food in the bag). the new ones, allow you to seal with liquids and marinades, so most of the recipes are do-able.
and it is true, a sous vide magic wont give the same results as a immersion circulator will give you as far as the poached egg is concerned. but it will allow you to get pretty much the same reults you would get from the braised veal cheeks.
i use a foodsaver V2860 and a Ranco temperature controller, with a plug-in electric burner at home (at work we got the Rational combi) and found it relatively easy to do the "glazed breast of pork with swiss chard, white wine poached granny smith apples and green mustard vinaigrette" at home.
and as far as the "molecular chemicals" used in this book, you can easily get them online from the places they refer to on the sources page in reasonable quantities. you wont need to buy a 50 lb bucket of transglutaminase in order to do them.
this book isnt for someone wanting to make a 30-minute meal. nor should it be. its for someone who takes food and cooking SERIOUSLY. as with the french laundry, this book is strictly dedicated with a serious hobbyist and the professional chef in mind.
220 internautes sur 239 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Fine for what it is 23 octobre 2008
Par R. Cantor - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
If what you're looking for is a compendium of recipes from French Laundry and per se that make use of sous vide techniques, this is the book for you. The recipes are all there, along with beautiful photographs. For that market, the book deserves five stars.

Be warned, however, the recipes are quite complicated, often require exotic ingredients and molecular gastronomy chemicals, and generally necessitate use of a chamber vacuum sealing machine (usually $2000 and up) instead of the more common consumer-level vacuum sealers. (An immersion heater is also required for sous vide, or a gadget that accomplishes the same result, but you already knew that.)

For the home cook who's interested in sous vide, has invested in an immersion heater and FoodSaver, and wants some good recipes that can be accomplished with supermarket ingredients, this is not the book. For those readers, it deserves only one or two stars. Sadly, no cookbook on the market today addresses sous vide in a true home cooking context, and that's a pity, because it's a technique that can be used to great advantage without necessarily having to replicate the offerings in a world-class restaurant.
53 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Not for everyone but you can do this 7 juillet 2009
Par MICHAEL G LUSTIG - Publié sur
Format: Relié
First of all I'm going to address the topic of whether or not you need this cookbook. If you are looking to cook meals in 30 minutes, buy Rachel Ray's cookbook and be done with it.

If, on the other hand, you are an experienced chef and are looking for a completely new cooking technique then you are looking in the right place. There is an investment required to get the bare minimum equipment needed but you can buy everything you need for under $250.

In order to cook Sous Vide, you need the following:
1) A PID temperature controler like the SousVideMagic 3rd Gen 1500C which costs $139 plus shipping
2) A rice cooker like the Black & Decker 20-Cup Rice Cooker - Stainless Steel (RC866) for $40
3) A vacuum food sealer like the Reynolds Consumer Produ Handi Vac Starter Kit 00590 for $14
4) A propane torch like the Bernzomatic - Turner Brass Propane Torch Kit (TU100K) for $19
5) A fish tank air bubbler for under $20

That's everything you need except for the food ingedients. Yes, there are some ingedients that you'll need to get by mail order but that's no problem. I'm sure if you're reading this you've ordered stuff from the web before.

There is one thing I'm trying to rationalize and haven't fully come to terms with yet: Is cooking with plastic safe? With the exception of Sous Vide, I NEVER cook my food in contact with plastic. I always think of that high school girl who put some plastic wrap in olive oil, microwaved it and sent it to a lab for testing resulting in some really nasty results.

So why would I cook Sous Vide knowing this... The answer is two-fold: first, I'm not subjecting the plastic to high enough temperatures to cause it to leach too many chemicals into my food and second there's simply no other way to do this.

The other concern is bacterial growth during the cooking process. They get around this by saying to use foods you could eat raw. Hmm... Where do I get beef, chicken or pork that I would consider safe to be eaten raw? Botulism thrives between 90 and 100 degrees Farenheight so stay away from that but other food-born bacterias can survive temperatures up to 155 degrees. Generally, most bacteria can't survive temperatures over 130 degree so I feel safe enough.

Under Pressure was not written for a beginner cook; rather, it's just the opposite. The only cookbook I have that is more complicated is Alinea.

I've made many of the recipes in this book and I've adjusted some of the cooking times to my liking. I like the technique but be prepared to wait a long time (up to 2 days) for your food to cook.

If you were wondering about my equipment list, the PID temperature controller regulates the rice cookier to within 1 degree. The air bubbler helps to circulate the water. The blow torch is used to brown up meat to make it look more like conventionally prepared meals.

Update 1/4/10: I replaced the Handi Vac with a FoodSaver V2840 Advanced Design Vacuum Food Sealer because the bags melted sometimes with the Handi Vac at temperatures over 135 degrees. If you're using liquids than you have to freeze them a little before pulling a vacuum and sealing. FoodSaver does not endorse using their product for Sous Vide.
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Inspiring 3 avril 2009
Par New England Yankee - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Under Pressure offers something that comes along in cooking perhaps once in a lifetime. That is, a comprehensive book on an emerging major technique from a major chef.

The characterization of Thomas Keller as a major chef is no exaggeration and should surprise no-one, as he is the owner of several highly-celebrated restaurants, notably the French Laundry. Describing sous vide as a major emerging technique requires some perspective, however. The technique itself has roots in experimentation decades ago, and can also be superficially compared to other in-bag cooking and re-heating techniques. What distinguishes sous vide from these is precision - precise control of both vacuum and temperature to produce both predictable results and, in some cases, results obtainable with no other technique. The latter alone elevates the status of sous vide to that of a major technique. Combined with its commercial applicability and ability to predictably produce top-quality results and the status is assured.

Under Pressure provides a very full picture of where sous vide sits in the technique spectrum. This is accomplished in the first section of the book in several ways, including descriptive and instructional material, and in comments throughout the volume. Similarly, the techniques are described in several ways: descriptively in the opening chapters, in application detail in recipes, and by way of reference information in the back. Anyone reading this book will come away with a good feel for sous vide's best applications (i.e., types of recipes), the ingredients for which it is best suited, the effects which it produces, its limitations, safety considerations, and process implications.

The last item segues into the target audience for this book. It is not only clearly aimed at the professional - stated in both the book and in interviews with Keller - it is organized for the restaurant chef. As a practical matter, that means the recipes are typically large, the recipe instructions are not sequentially ordered but are by component along restaurant kitchen station lines, component recipes themselves aren't necessarily tailored in size to the recipe, and the recipes presume a knowledge of, and use a variety of sophisticated techniques in addition to sous vide (part of which, of course, provides the technique perspective mentioned above). Assembly and plating instructions are not provided, as the assumption is that these will materially differ restaurant-to-restaurant, and chef-to-chef.

Sous vide can be broached at home, but full control of the technique across its various applications absolutely requires a chamber-type vacuum sealer with controllable vacuum level settings. Cooking temperature control for sous vide at home can be accurately accomplished in a variety of ways without an immersion circulator. You can also use a Food Saver sealer to do sous vide for a number of things. What you cannot do with a non chamber-type sealer like the Food Saver is high compression, gas extraction from liquids, and other, more sophisticated techniques associated with sous vide. That said, Under Pressure will give you sufficient knowledge to know where you can and can't apply the equipment you have. Let me be clear on that - it will not give you instructions concerning home equipment, but it will give you a very full picture of how different sous vide techniques are applied. It's up to you to then take your knowledge of your equipment's limitations and apply sous vide as you are able.

Chamber sealers are expensive. The sources given in the book, such as PolyScience and Koch, have sealers starting at approximately $2,000. A quick search, however, reveals that there are somewhat less expensive units on the market. Cabela's for example, sells one for about $1,500. Most people at home, however, are more likely to use a Food Saver or similar within its limitations for sous vide. And that will still get you quite a lot.

If you are wondering about the difference between chamber vacuum sealers and non chamber-types like the Food Saver, consider this: A Food Saver merely has to evacuate ambient air from a bag. The size of the pump required is small, it's slow, and it can be quite tricky to evacuate all the air. Actually, it's impossible, even with a chamber sealer, but with the Food Saver type, it's even difficult to eliminate visible bubbles. Bags with liquids are difficult to handle with a Food Saver type. You can do it (I do), but be aware that there's a certain risk to the machine if you don't do it properly, and also that the seal is easily compromised by the liquid starting to flow across the seal bar as you start the sealing process. The chamber sealer, by contrast, is physically larger to contain the bag, has a very large, powerful pump to evacuate the entire chamber and to a very high vacuum (more accurately, to user-controlled vacuum levels), is capable of holding the vacuum long enough to extract gasses from the contents of the bag (not just ambient air, i.e., bubbles aren't even an issue), and can seal bags with liquid without issue. Pumps range upwards from a full horsepower, the chamber seals are high-quality, a variety of seal arrangements are available, including double seals and both upper and lower heating elements, and so on. Chamber sealers, which are invariably commercial units, are also more adapable to a variety of bag types and thicknesses. No-one should confuse simple air-evacuation bagging with high-vacuum sealing. The good news is that quite a few sous vide techniques only require simple bag evacuation.

Under Pressure emphasizes sanitation and safety again and again. It is critical to understand why and critical to apply in home use as well. In short, most sous vide cooking involves cooking food in temperature ranges and under anaerobic conditions that, if not sensibly done with precautions, are ideal for growth of particularly dangerous bacteria. You MUST work in a sanitary fashion, MUST chill foods properly and at the right temps, monitor storage and hot holding times, and so on. Properly done, sous vide is completely safe and accepted by health authorities for restaurant use (where procedures have to be documented). Improper application can result in - using a term from the book itself - a "bacterial bomb." Process details related to safety are embedded in recipe instructions as well as address in the safety chapter.

I found the book inspiring, encouraging experimentation in particular at home with meats and seafood, where home equipment is readily adaptable to sous vide. Moreover, some of sous vide's best effects are with these - perfect edge-to-edge doneness for meats, control over tenderizing, texture control for fish, and so on.

While I cannot recommend this book for the casual cookbook buyer interested in follow-the-numbers recipe application, I heartily recommend Under Pressure for any serious home chef interested in extending his or her repetoire. I expect Under Pressure to become a classic.
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