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Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter

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Chapter 7. Fun with Hardware

IF YOU’RE ANYTHING LIKE ME, THIS IS THE FIRST CHAPTER YOU’LL FLIP TO WHILE PERUSING THIS BOOK IN THE BOOKSTORE. And, might I add, you have excellent taste.

While this chapter is designed such that a foodie-geek can jump right in, really, it does assume that you’re up to speed with pairing flavors, that you understand various cooking and baking techniques, and that you’re familiar with some of the chemistry concepts covered in earlier chapters. So, don’t judge this book solely by this chapter.

Modern commercial kitchens, probably including the high-end ones in your town, use many tools that consumers rarely encounter but that can help create some absolutely stellar meals. We’ll cover a few of the commercial and industrial tools used in preparing foods, and throw in a few, uh, “crazy” (and fun!) things that you can do as well.

Time and temperature really are the two key variables in cooking (see Chapter 4). Under normal circumstances, cooking is performed with these variables at moderate values: roasting potatoes for half an hour at around 350°F / 177°C, baking pizza at 450°F / 230°C for 10 minutes, or churning ice cream at –20°F / –29°C for an hour or so. But what happens when you move one of these variables to an extreme?

Cooking at extreme temperatures isn’t as uncommon as it might sound at first. Potatoes, for example, wrapped in foil and roasted in the coals of a campfire are in an environment that reaches well above 800°F / 425°C. With this in mind, ...

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