The Un-Boxing: Immersion Circulator

Well Well this is a very exciting day in the life of my blog! Today I will be posting the un-boxing of my new Polyscience Discovery Immersion Circulator. I have been so excited about getting this, and I cannot wait to cook up some more fun recipes. One of the things that I will be trying is a recipe from Chef Steps. It is a nacho cheese that looks amazing. Who doesn’t like a good creamy cheese sauce over some chips!

Well Here it is! I think only my friends truly understand how excited this makes me. First off all let me start by saying a big thank you to David at Polyscience. Not only has he been a really interesting guy to talk to but he has also helped me get this great machine. I will be comparing this to the Sansaire because that is the only other machine I have ever had a chance to test out when I was able to borrow one.

So here it is right out of the box it was shipped to me in.

The Box

The Box

I was really impressed with how much this box actually weighted. The only other immersion circulator I have ever used was the Sainsaire but this box was a lot heavier. Which I was hoping meant that it was built a little better.

Right out of the Box

Right out of the Box

This is what was in the box. Super simple and not much to it. The stunning yellow polyscience discovery immersion circulator. Now I was aware that it was yellow, but this picture doesn’t do it justice. It is really a bright almost mustard yellow! In the box there was the circulator as well as a user guide, a quick start guide poster and a precise temperature cooking tools pamphlet.

Now I didn’t have anything to cook right away but I really, really wanted to get it in some water and see how fast it cranked up the water and how loud it was.

First Run in Water

First Run in Water

My first impressions of this unit are quite good. I was really impressed with how well built it is. The plastic used for the body feels really heavy duty, unlike the Sansaire, which seems thin and fragile. There is no clip like on the Sansaire, instead it is a clamp style which I like a lot better. The clip on the Sansaire again seems fragile in comparison. There is a nice easy to read display on the top which you can see. it displays the water temperature, your target temperature, and best of off it has a timer that goes from as little as 5 minutes all the way up to 99 hours. I was excited about the timer because it is nice to have that just in case your phone battery dies or something like that happens and looses track of it. That was one of the questions I always got asked about the Sansaire, and the answer is no, it does not have one.

Discovery Display

Discovery Display

So the next big things for me is how quickly would it heat up water and the noise level. So I started it off with just luke warm water which it showed was about 80 F. I set the target temp at 125 F just to see how long it would take. I fired it up and it was amazing how quick it started climbing. I would say that compared to the Sansaire the heating of water was just about the same. The biggest difference of the machines running is the noise level. Now I was impressed with the Sansaire and how quiet it was when I first used it, but after firing up the Discovery is soooo quiet. It was amazing how you could hear almost nothing. But it seems to move the water at a really good pace and maintain the temperature very consistently.

So overall my first impression of this machine is that Polyscience is the top company in precise cooking machines for a reason. They have a good thing going on and I am glad to be able to say that I now own my first, hopefully of many, Polyscience machine.

Let the playing with food begin!!!

Great Thanksgiving Side Dish

If you are looking for a dish to take with you, or make for your family this Thanksgiving, then I have a great solution for you. I made this tasty dish last year and it ended up being a huge hit. I found this on the Thug Kitchen blog. If you go to the site I will warn you there is some language that might offend some.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Here is what you will need.

1 ½ pounds of brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup quinoa

1 ¾ cup water

pinch of salt

1/3 cup toasted almonds

1/3 cup dried cranberries (if you can’t find any, don’t fucking sweat it)

¼ cup chopped parsley

1/8 teaspoon of salt

pepper to taste

DRESSING:

2-3 cloves of garlic

2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon olive oil

To start with you will want to pre heat your oven to 400 F. While your oven is coming up to temp you want to clean and prepare your sprouts. Pull off any of the nasty looking leaves on the outside, and if they are big cut them into quarters or if they are smaller ones you can just half them. When done with that put them into a bowl and drizzle them with a little oil and put them onto a sheet pan. We want to roast these in the oven for about 20 mins or so. You should see them start to turn a little golden and there may even be a few spots that look a little burnt, but don’t worry that is all flavor we want. You will want to pull the sheet out and give them a little stir about 10 minutes in just to make sure they are all getting evenly cooked.

While the roasting is happening, you will want to get the quinoa working. To start with you will want to rinse it, so that it is not bitter. Run cold water over it until it runs clear, Put it in a pot of water with a healthy pinch of salt and bring that up to a boil. Then turn it down to a simmer and let that cook for 15-20 minutes or until the water is all absorbed.

Once you have that on and going we are going to want to make the dressing. Super simple but I promise it is delicious with everything else. Easiest way to do this it to cut up the garlic and put it all in a mason jar, close the lid, and shake it all up to get it all combined.

When the sprouts and quinoa are done, toss them in a bowl together and add the dressing and give it a nice stir. Add in your almonds, cranberries, parsley, salt and pepper. Make sure you taste it and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

This should serve about 4 people but is easy to adjust for more people. I think that you will seriously impress your friends or family if you show up to Thanksgiving dinner with a big bowl of this. The best part is it can be served warm or at room temperature and it is just as tasty either way. Hope you enjoy and have a great Thanksgiving.

What a Journey

I saw this video posted today, and all I can say is this is one of the coolest stories I have ever seen. I would love to do something like this and once I get my own immersion circulator I might give it a whirl. Please make sure you watch this and share it around. It amazes me that something as simple as eating a meal somewhere can start you on a journey like this.

I have always been a huge fan of Grant Achatz and his restaurant Alinea. I would love to go there and eat and spend some time learning from him. As I watched this video clip I found myself instantly jealous, in a good way, of what he did.

This is why food, to me, is so amazing. Just simply eating a meal somewhere can inspire someone to go on a 5 year journey of cooking his way through a cookbook. I cannot even imagine the sadness of getting to the last recipe. I just hope that he keeps going and works his way through another book.

I have always thought about doing something like this and after seeing this video it makes me want to do it even more! There are so many cook books I have that I think would be a blast to go through like this.

I have been thinking of getting the cookbook that this video is based on and now more then ever I want to get it. Not only does the food look amazing but it also pushes the limits of what you can do with food, which to me is really exciting!

“People like to think the creative process is romantic. The artist drifts to sleep at night, to be awakened by the subliminal echoes of his or her next brilliant idea. The truth, for me at least, is that creativity is primarily the result of hard work and study.”
Grant Achatz
Chef / Owner Alinea

The Endless Possibilities of Sous Vide

I have been finding myself thinking about what else can you sous vide. Things like, what vegetables would be like, or cooking some potatoes with cream and butter then mashing them. Or even getting really crazy and trying to do a burger. I have now done  steaks a few times and gotten rave reviews. The taste and texture of a steak cooked sous vide is really amazing.
I have thought about going crazy during the upcoming holidays and doing a lot of cooking with an immersion circulator. The more cooking I do with one the more I realize I need one of these and a good chamber sealer in my life.

Polyscience Discovery Immersion Circulator

Polyscience Discovery Immersion Circulator

Another thing that I would like to try is cooking some lobster with this method. It would be so easy to perfectly cook one that how could it miss the mark. Maybe seal it in with some butter and try to replicate a butter poached lobster and finish it with a nice white wine butter sauce.

I think that the hardest part of cooking sous vide is figuring out how to seal things. One big issue is how do you seal in a liquid with a standard vacuum sealer. The next thing is how do you seal something soft like ground meat without crushing it. I have see some methods of this using just a common Ziploc bag and submerging it in water to force the air out of the bag and then zipping it shut. And as far as sealing in a liquid in a standard vacuum sealer is to freeze it. Now the down side to that is if your liquid has any kind of alcohol in it you may have an issue with it not wanting to freeze up solid. And as I found out with my short ribs trying to seal in a slush is just as hard as sealing in a liquid.

Polyscience 300 Series Chamber Vacuum Sealer

Polyscience 300 Series Chamber Vacuum Sealer

When teaching classes at Sur La Table, I have loved showing off the capabilities of cooking sous vide and opening up peoples eyes the wonder and glorious results of cooking this way. I think that because the big movement with cooking sous vide kind of came along side with the molecular movement, that it really intimidates people. When talking to people about it they are always shocked at how easy it is and that it does not require any special chemicals.

Mr. Yuck

I know that since I have really started doing it that my eyes have been opened to the amazing results, as well as opened my eyes to the endless possibilities of what else could be done cooking this method. If you give it a try and the temperatures are scaring you, I have found a great resource here. I also know that Polyscience has a great app for iPhone and hopefully soon there will be a great resource for those that have an android device as well.

I am going to test the burger and I will post about how I made it and the results as soon as I do. As always keep an open mind and never be afraid to experiment and play with your food!

Where do you Find Inspiration

A great question that I find myself asking is, where and how do I get inspired by food? I think you can find inspiration from something as simple as just eating. I find myself asking questions about what I am eating and what and how I can re-make that, and in some cases, what would make it better, all the time. To me the best part of eating a meal is thinking about recreating the dish. Mentally breaking down a delicious meal gets the creative juices flowing and that leads to inspiration.

Inspiration

I think my love of cooking comes from my Mom and my Grandpa. Growing up eating great meals cooked by my Mom and her letting me help out in the kitchen when I was growing up. To this day one of my favorite things to do is cook up a big dinner with her. One of my favorite holiday’s is Thanksgiving just because of the fact that I know get to cook a nice meal with her. We always come up with some creative things to try and are always pushing recipes further to see what we can do with some of our favorites. My Grandpa is also a great inspiration for me, he is always tinkering with bread recipes and has one of the best spaghetti sauce recipes I have ever had. The best part is that it is a secret family recipe, but it is still fun to play around with it to see if there is anything you can do to make it a little better. Without these two people in my life I don’t think I would be the cook that I am today! And for that I am forever grateful.

There is something about eating a meal and enjoying it, but still thinking about how else you can use the ingredients and what else that ingredient would be good in.
I have found myself doing this a lot lately when teaching and helping in classes. I love how when working with food that you find yourself not just blindly following a recipe but actually breaking that recipe down and thinking about what the final dish  is going to  taste like in the end. And then when you start doing that the next step is to start thinking about how making some small changes to it make it even better. It could be something as simple as adding some roasted garlic or a splash of Worcestershire sauce. It is amazing when you start playing around with what you’re cooking how much your eye’s will be opened up to being more creative with you are cooking. Most of the chef’s and friends that I have that love to cook, look at a recipe as a starting point to a good dish and add to it to make it an extraordinary dish. But be prepared, it doesn’t always work out. In some cases the original one is already amazing or your first attempt at changing it will be a failure. This is part of the learning process and what makes it fun. Failure is part of the job.

Jordan-failure-meme

There are even some unlikely sources to find inspiration such as a movie. How many of you, like me, watched and loved the Disney movie “Ratatouille” and wanted to recreate the ratatouille from it. Then there are some of the amazing dishes that are created in the movie “Chef”. So many of the recipes in that movie look so amazing and flavorful. It is said that we eat with our eyes first and just seeing someone cooking in a movie or a documentary can give you a spark or an idea to try that you never thought of.

ratatouille7

This is why I love cooking! Almost anything or anybody can inspire you to try something a slightly different way that will make your life that much easier or make your dish that much better. It is fascinating to see a mind at work when hit with inspiration or an idea. Even when the results may not work or be what you were expecting. The most important part of this all is to learn from your mistakes and keep trying to reach the point of perfection.