Things can change quickly in the modernist cooking world. This can be a bad thing for the cooks but it's great for the people who give them gifts!
Sometimes it can be hard to find good gifts for the chef in your life. Luckily, with modernist cooking there are several options for great gifts you can give. Here are some of my favorite tools and books.
Here are links to some of my favorite gift items. If you'd like more information you can find more detailed descriptions below.
I've put together some great collections of items to help cooks get started out in modernist cooking or in a specific technique.
Know someone interesting in trying out modernist cooking? Whether they have just started dabbling or just starting to explore, my Getting Started collection contains the equipment, ingredients, and instructions to jump right in!
The whipping siphon is an amazingly versatile tool. It allows you to create foams, carbonate liquids (and fruit!), and infuse alcohols and vinegars with flavor. My collection highlights the best gear to get started whipping in style!
Sous vide is one of the most popular modernist techniques and one that is pushing modernist cooking into the mainstream. Sous vide has two huge advantages for both the novice and experienced cook. Most importantly it will allow you to significantly increase the quality and consistency of the dishes you create on a daily basis. And for those whose lives are harried, the sous vide technique also allows them to create remarkable meals while working around their hectic schedule.
You may be thinking,"My grandmother used a pressure cooker!"; what does it have to do with modernist cooking? It's certainly true that modernist cooking sometimes takes advantage of the latest in cooking equipment. However, more often than not modernist cooking simply uses existing equipment and ingredients in new and different ways.
Today pressure cookers are being viewed by home cooks as the new healthy, time-saving, and energy-saving way to prepare food. Moreover, today's pressure cookers have numerous devices built in to guarantee their safe use.
This Modernist Cooking Kit is the perfect introduction to the basic techniques and ingredients that you will need to enter the world of Molecular Gastronomy. Includes 8 ingredients and tools to get you on your way to becoming a modernist cook including my 250 page Getting Started book.
This Premium Modernist Cooking Kit has what you need to master the primary techniques and ingredients that will have them talking about your next dinner party for months. Includes 18 ingredients and tools to get you on your way to becoming a modernist cook including my 250 page Getting Started book.
This Ultimate Modernist Cooking Kit has everything you need to begin mastering modernist cooking including all the main techniques. Includes 34 ingredients and tools to get you on your way to becoming a modernist cook including my 250 page Getting Started book.
More than anything else, the recent availability of low cost, high quality, immersion circulators has brought sous vide into the mainstream. Running around $200, these new circulators give the sous vide enthusiast a high quality water bath without needing to make a large financial commitment.
There are several options for choosing a circulator, which we cover in more detail in our Sous Vide Benchmark Tests and Immersion Circulator Review. Frankly, you will not go wrong by selecting any of these inexpensive immersion circulators including the Nomiku and Sansaire. All of them will perform admirably for sous vide cooking in the home kitchen. My personal favorite is the Anova Precision Cooker since it has a rugged "industrial-type" design including the generous use of stainless steel and rubberized components. The unit is also designed, manufactured and supported by a company with an excellent reputation for high-end laboratory equipment.
The final step in most sous vide recipes is to "finish" off the surface of the protein. This might include making chicken or fish skin crispy or creating the Maillard reaction on a piece of meat to get that dark, crunchy, flavorful crust. This usually entails searing, and there are numerous ways to perform this function. Perhaps the most "exciting" way to do this is by using a torch.
The best torches for searing sous vide are ones designed for "industrial" uses such as soldering copper pipes, brazing and hardening steel, as well as light welding. For a variety of reasons I strongly recommend the BernzOmatic TS8000 torch.
I also recommend that you use the larger 16.4 ounce single propane cylinder with this torch. This provides a much more stable base than the smaller cylinder. I have found it's easiest to just pick up these cylinders at the local Home Depot for about $4.
If you are interested in a sous vide torch on steroids you might want to look into the Sansaire Searing Kit. This product was a joint venture between Sansaire and BernzOmatic and includes a torch similar to the TS8000 but with a different nozzle which provides a wider, longer and hotter flame. The kit also includes the larger propane fuel cylinder as well as a searing rack and drip tray. Although it is pricey, it's all you need to finish off your protein like a pro.
As a result of my research and experience I recommend the Fagor 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker. It is plenty large enough for all of your pressure cooking needs. It is constructed from 18/10 stainless steel and comes with a basket insert, with legs and a loop handle, making it ideal for draining pasta or steaming vegetables. The Fagor has received kudos and awards on numerous established cooking websites.
Every cook needs a good fast-reading digital cooking thermometer. This one reads in 4-7 seconds, is highly accurate and splashproof.
Who doesn't love the flavor of slow-cooked smoked barbecue? Unfortunately, most of us don't have the time or patience to babysit the smoker all day long to get great results.
The Masterbuilt electric smoker leverages today's high technology to create great food without requiring much attention on the part of the cook. It closely monitors temperature and automatically loads wood chips to control the amount of smoke that you would like.
Can't afford a fancy smoker but still love the flavor of smoked meats? I was quite leery of this product until I got one and tried it. It actually works surprisingly well considering the cost. I also like it because I can use it indoors in the winter.
A moderately priced juicer is the Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain. This juicer is the entry-level model of the Breville juicer product line and is available at many stores for around $100. Breville is a well-known juicer manufacturer with one fifth of the world's juicer sales. I've had this juicer for more than a 2 years and I really like the way it performs. I enjoy making juice from fruits and vegetables and then using modernist techniques to create foams and gels.
You can use a standing mixer to create dense foams, marshmallows, and other great modernist dishes. For modernist cooking it's imperative the stand mixer has an effective whisk attachment. You can also use a stand mixer for many traditional applications.
From my experience I highly recommend the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, it's the best and will last for ever. They have half a dozen models including both tilt-head and bowl-lift types. They come in more than 20 colors. All support the large number of attachments that are available. It's no wonder that KitchenAid owns about half of the stand mixer market. I'm sure you can find one perfectly suited to your needs.
Beautifully hand crafted these wooden barrels hold approximately 1 liter of your favorite wine, liquor or homemade cocktail. Perfect for aging Tequila, Brandy, Whiskey, Scotch, Bourbon, Cognac, or Wine Vinegar.
Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Sous Vide is the authoritative guide to low temperature precision cooking and it will help make sous vide a part of your everyday cooking arsenal. Sous vide is a simple and extremely effective way to cook. This book covers every step of the sous vide process, from seasoning, sealing, and temperature control to how to determine the times and temperatures needed to turn out great food. There are also extensive write ups for the main types of food including steak and red meat, pork, fish and shellfish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and much more.
The bulk of this book is the more than 85 recipes it contains. Designed so you can skim the recipes, looking for something that inspires you, or turn to a specific recipe to learn all about how to cook the cut of meat it features.
This book provides all the information you need to get started amazing your party guests with modernist cooking. It is all presented in an easy to understand format along with more than 100 recipes that can be applied immediately to your next party. Learn to amaze and delight your friends!
Modernist cooking is quickly gaining popularity in high end restaurants and working its way into home kitchens. However, clear, concise information for getting started isn't readily available. That's where Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Getting Started comes in!
This book provides all the information you need to get started with modernist cooking and molecular gastronomy. It is all presented in an easy to understand format, along with more than 80 recipes, that can be applied immediately in your kitchen.
This book focuses on presenting the three main uses of the whipping siphon: Foaming, Infusing and Carbonating. It delivers the information you need to understand how the techniques work and provides you with over 50 recipes to illustrate these techniques while allowing you to create great dishes using them.
Do you take pride in cooking great food for yourself, your family, and friends? Are you an extremely busy individual that is on the go all day long? Sous vide has many benefits for people who are busy during the day. Once you understand how to take advantage of these benefits you can get great meals on the table while working around your schedule.
Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail is by Dave Arnold, a food science writer, educator, innovator, and founder of the Museum of Food and Drink. Besides inspiration aplenty, he provides clearly written explanations of why things work the way they do. This book is perfect for cocktail enthusiasts who are always looking for exciting new techniques to bring into their kitchens.
Heritage by Sean Brock, a restaurateur and now a cookbook author, shares his drive to explore and preserve the heritage foods of the South. The recipes include both home cooked comfort food and when time allows, the fancier upscale food for which he is renowned. Even though some of the upscale dishes are complex, the instructions for the recipes are quite clear. This is a great book to explore the cultures and foods of a quintessential American region.
In The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, J. Kenji López-Alt focuses on the science behind treasured American dishes, but his recipes are still firmly rooted in practical home cooking. J. Kenji López-Alt is the managing culinary director of SeriousEats.com, author of the James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab, and a columnist for Cooking Light. This full-color illustrated collection of explanations, techniques, and recipes is a must have reference and cookbook for serious cooking enthusiasts.
North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy is not just a cookbook, but a beautifully illustrated introduction to Iceland, its people, its history and its culinary world. Many of the recipes and techniques make upscale dishes comprised of a multitude of ingredients and steps. This is a perfect gift for a serious, experienced cook or anyone who loves travel and culture!
Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach took some theoretically difficult Asian concepts and made them accessible and easy without sacrificing flavor. Peter Meehan is a food writer who authored several cookbooks, a well-known restaurant critic and editor and cofounder of Lucky Peach, a New York Times bestselling quarterly journal of food and writing that has won multiple James Beard Awards. This cookbook is a compilation of bold flavored dishes that is a perfect gift for both new and experienced cooks!
Modernist Cuisine at Home is by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet. If you want to learn how modern cooking styles can produce amazing taste and presentation in your kitchen, this is the modernist book for you. The focus of the Modernist Cuisine at Home book is on techniques and the use of equipment which are new or recently resurfaced.
Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes by Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla is a guide to building a pantry of made-in-house staples that will punch extraordinary flavor into your food. It draws on long-standing processes used with cuisines of Central Europe, Japan, and Scandinavia to deliver a range of dishes. However, it is definitely not a beginner's book or a "what's for dinner tonight" recipe collection. But if you want to learn how to maximize healthy, fresh ingredients, then Bar Tartine is the book for you!
Food52 Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes that Will Change the Way You Cook written by Kristen Miglore is destined to become many cooks go-to resource for clever, memorable cooking. So what makes a "genius recipe" for Miglore? One that surprises us into rethinking an approach, uses an unexpectedly simple technique, debunks a kitchen myth, or applies a familiar ingredient in a new way.