First aired on In Town and Out (1/10/11)
Buying a new cookbook can be tricky. After all, a store is much less inclined to take a book back after you've spilled olive oil all over it. So how on earth are you supposed to know if what you've got in your hands is a gem or a dud?
That's where host Michael Bhardwaj and the In Town and Out Cookbook Club come in. Each month, they bring a new cookery tome into the CBC test kitchen and let you know whether or not it's worth slaving over the stove for. This month, Bhardwaj was joined by Rakhi McAuliffe and Maria DeRosa to review Ideas in Food by Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot.
The panel thought that the cover and copy made Ideas in Food look like a must-have for every kitchen. "I was very, very excited to get my hands on this book," Maria said. The book promises to decode our favorite meals and explain the science of why they work so well on our palate. For example, the authors break down a classic mac and cheese and tell us why the combination of noodle, cheese, salt and cream work so well together, from a chemical point of view.
Yet the book failed to impress. Both Maria and Rakhi found its presentation was boring, its recipes long and laborious and — even worse — some of the science was entirely wrong. "I know it can be difficult to convey complex scientific ideas to the public," said Maria, a chemistry professor at Carleton University. Something as simple as their explanation for how salt is made "didn't make any sense."
Even with their simplified (albeit wrong) explanations, the book was difficult to follow."I found it a bit frustrating," Rakhi admitted. Rakhi found that the book deterred her from doing the very thing it is designed to help with — cooking. She spent so much time trying to understand what they were saying that she didn't have time to put it into action.
This month's cookbook conclusion? Ideas in Food belongs in the compost bin. Do not try this at home.
But if you can't resist giving it a go, here's the recipe for Slow Cooked Venison Heart with Charred Pecan Topping below.
Slow Cooked Venison Heart
- 1 venison heart/ 575 grams
- 5.75 grams salt
- 60 grams walnut oil
- 30 grams rice bran oil
- 2 cloves of garlic smashed
- 15 grams butter
- Charred Pecan Topping (recipe below)
- 10 grams red wine vinegar
- 1 gram salt
Pre-heat a circulating water bath to 57°C.
Season the venison heart with the salt and put it into a vacuum bag. Put the walnut oil into the bag and then seal the bag. Put the venison heart into the water bath and cook for 9 hours. Remove the bag from the water bath and cool it in an ice bath for one hour, replenishing the ice as needed. Once the heart is fully chilled, remove the bag from the water bath and open the bag. Strain the cooking juices and reserve. Put the heart on a cutting board. Use a knife to butterfly the heart and remove the fibers and silver skin inside the chambers. Once the heart is cleaned it may be portioned into medallions. Use a sharp knife to score the exterior of the heart in a crisscross pattern. Set a medium sauté pan over a medium high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with rice bran oil and when it begins to shimmer, put the venison heart medallions into the pan. Sear the heart on the one side until it is evenly browned, then turn down the heat to medium and turn the heart medallions over. Put the garlic and the butter in the pan and as the butter foams, use a large spoon to continuously baste the medallions. Transfer the medallions to a warm plate and let them rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle each medallion with the charred pecan topping. Put the red wine vinegar and salt into the reserved venison heart cooking juices and stir to combine. Slice each medallion into 4 slices and arrange on a plate. Spoon the cooking juice vinaigrette over the top of the hearts.
Charred Pecan Topping
- 50 grams pecans charred on one side
- 5 grams Rishi Tangerine-Ginger tea, ground and sifted
- 7.5 grams dark brown sugar
- 1 gram salt
- 5 grams zested salt cured venison heart
- 5 grams finely sliced chives
Put the pecans on a cutting board and chop finely. Put the chopped pecans in a bowl and add the tea, brown sugar and salt. Sift the mixture through a course strainer. Reserve the mixture until ready to serve. Right before serving mix in the venison heart and chives.
Ideas In Food: Great Recipes And Why They Work
by Aki Kamozawa & Alexander H. Talbot
Buy this book at:
From the publisher:
"This guide, which includes 100 recipes, explores questions both simple and complex to find the best way to make food as delicious as possible. For home cooks, Aki and Alex look at everyday ingredients and techniques in new ways-from toasting dried pasta tolend a deeper, richer taste to a simple weeknight dinner to making quick "micro stocks" or even using water to intensify the flavor of soups instead of turning to long-simmered stocks. In the book's second part, Aki and Alex explore topics, such as working with liquid nitrogen and carbon dioxide-techniques that are geared towards professional cooks but interesting and instructive forpassionate foodies as well. With primers and detailed usage guides for the pantry staples of molecular gastronomy, suchas transglutaminase and hydrocolloids (from xanthan gum togellan), Ideas in Food informs readers how theseingredients can transform food in miraculous ways when usedproperly."
Read more at Random House Canada.