Gift Ideas for a Foodie

This time of the year can be a lot of fun. I absolutely love giving people gifts. I find a lot of joy in trying to find the perfect gift for friends and family. But at the same time it can be so difficult. So I have decided to write up a quick little gift guide for the perfect gift idea’s for any foodies or up and coming chefs in your life. So here we go, these are a few of my favorites

RawSpiceBar

This is a monthly subscription that is a really awesome service. You sign up for their service and they send you out a pack of 3 spices along with recipes on how to use them. All of the spices they use are sourced for quality and ground, mixed and toasted by chefs. It is a great way to try lots of new and exciting flavors. On top of that you don’t have to worry if you’re giving this to someone on a specific diet. They have packages for gluten free, paleo and all sorts of others. You can subscribe in a 1 month, 6 month or 12 month plans. You can sign up for yourself or you can set this up as a gift through them to someone else!

RawSpiceBar: $5 off your first subscription or any 6 or 12 month gift order, code: RAKFLAVOR

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Logo on Grinder

Best Quality Pepper Grinder?

Well I know it has been a while since I have written anything. But I can honestly say that I have been in a bit of a cooking funk recently. However I am coming back around. I was recently contacted by a new company that is making a really high quality pepper grinder as well as salt grinders. Honestly I don’t know if I have ever used a pepper grinder that feels quite like this thing, and I mean that in the best possible way.

So the name of the company is Ellementt. And no that is not a misspelling! I was lucky enough that they sent me out one of the solid black pepper mills. They call this model that I received “The Station Chef”. It has a huge capacity for your pepper corns. There is so much consideration put into these that it will shock you.

Box of the Grinder

Box that the Pepper Grinder came in

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Cutting up broccoli on new Cotton and Dust cutting board

Best New Cutting Board

I have been super pumped about this company called Cotton and Dust that I have recently discovered. They make some of the most beautiful cutting boards I have seen. As we all know a cutting board is a very important part of home and professional kitchens. I have been fortunate enough to have several conversations with the owner, and let me tell you, this company is the real deal.

They have a couple of big things going for them. One of those things is the quality. They have the unique outlook of wanting to keep a tight control of quality over a mass produced inferior product. It seems to me these days companies think more about the almighty dollar over maintaining a quality product. The other truly unique thing about this company is the “Lifetime Reconditioning Guarantee“. They give you the option of sending your cutting board in once a year to get the cutting board looking like new again. The best part about this is the fact that they pay for shipping both ways. How about that for some amazing customer service! And on top of that, this doesn’t just apply to you, it is the lifetime of the actual cutting board.

So you can plan on passing this down through your family and whoever owns it can still send it back to them to get it reconditioned. A really special guarantee that shows you how much work and care they put into this product.

Cotton and Dust Logo

Cotton and Dust

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Kitchen Essentials: Cutting Board

So where do you start when you’re picking out a cutting board for your kitchen? This is a great question because a cutting board is really an essential piece of equipment for making delicious food. There are a few things to think about when making this decision.

The one style of cutting board that always makes me cringe when I see it being used is a glass one. These are for decorative purposes only!!!! There is nothing worse for your knife then cutting on a hard surface such as glass or metal. Please if you are using a glass board put it away and go buy a real board.

Now that I have that off of my chest lets talk about what you should be looking at. As you probably know there are so many options out there. But lets start narrowing down your choices and answering some questions.

Plastic Cutting Boards

Plastic Cutting Boards

Plastic: This is a decent option because of the ease of cleaning. Most of these say that they are dishwasher safe so that is one bonus of them. However they do have some downsides. One of those is they are usually really ugly. I don’t know if I have ever seen a plastic cutting board that I though “oh wow, that would look great in my kitchen”. This just doesn’t happen. I am surprised that we don’t see more decorative plastic cutting boards but most of them are just plain colors and the majority of them are just plain white. The other thing about them is the fact that the more you use them the more knife grooves and cuts you get in them. This is only a big deal because of the fact that this is when they start growing the nasty stuff. The last thing you want to do is contaminate the food you are cooking for your loved ones.

Worn Out Nasty Plastic Cutting Board

Worn Out Nasty Plastic Cutting Board

So what are the alternatives to a plastic cutting board? Well how about a beautiful wood board! They are so much nicer looking then a plastic cutting board. They come in all different sizes, shapes and made from different kinds of wood. Now I know that your probably thinking that wood is porous so doesn’t bacteria have a better chance of sticking to a wood board over a plastic cutting board? The answer to that is no! There was a study conducted by UC Davis that proves that and you can read all about it here! The other really cool thing about wood cutting boards is that unless you are using a huge cleaver and hacking at bones you will not notice knife marks on your cutting boards. The other really nice thing is that most of the wood cutting boards or chopping blocks are beautiful enough that you will want to keep them out on your counter! The once downside for most people is that the wood cutting boards usually run a little more on the expensive side. However they are a item that if treated right you will not have to replace them like you do with plastic boards. The only downside to them is the fact that they cannot be run through the dishwasher. However they are super easy to keep clean. Don’t let this keep you from looking at them as the better option.

Another question I get asked quite often is “Is a wood cutting board worse for my knives than a plastic one?” While this is a good question it has a very simple answer. Using your knives is going to dull them no matter if you using a plastic or a wood cutting board. So there is really no difference between the two. The main factor for that is the hardness of the steel of your blade but that is a article for a different time.

Cotton and Dust- The Hannah Grace

Cotton and Dust- The Hannah Grace

So when when you weigh out your options in my opinion it always goes to the wood cutting boards. Make sure you do your research and get a good one. If you are going to be spending the money make sure you’re getting a good one. There are some big name companies out there but they are not always the best option. One of the really popular ones is John Boos. I have had the opportunity to use them in the past and the only problem I have ever had is sometimes they tend to swell and split. There is nothing more disappointing then spending the money on a nice chopping block and having that happen.  I have recently had the pleasure of talking to the owner of Cotton and Dust, and I am thoroughly impressed with him. He has a great outlook on what he is making and wanting to keep the quality at the forefront. One of the really special things they offer is “Lifetime Reconditioning”. And upon talking to him he told me that this is the lifetime of the cutting board. He is making a cutting board that can be purchased and handed down to your family and still get it reconditioned. Not only does he have this great guarantee but he also makes some of the most beautiful cutting boards I have seen. I really encourage everyone to check his cutting boards out! Let’s make this the new standard of what every home kitchen should have. No more plastic cutting boards. Invest in a product that is made here in the US and a better quality then the mass produced counterparts.

Cotton and Dust - The Ella

Cotton and Dust – The Ella

A Long Overdue Post

This post is long overdue and for that I apologize. Quite a while back one of my old classmates from Le Cordon Bleu and I were chatting. Turns out she works for a coffee company and offered to send me out some samples. I told her I would love to try some and would write about it on here.
Well as you know things happen and I totally spaced it. So here we go. The coffee is from a company in Portland called Kittridge & Fredrickson. They have a great selection of coffee and I have not tasted all of the ones that I received but so far the ones I have tasted are really spectacular. I received 4 bags, Kenya AA Gatugi Peaberry, Cafe Jondo, New Guinea Peaberry and Cafe Trato.

Coffee Samples

Coffee Samples

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Kuhn Rikon Knife Review

I know it has been a long time since I have had an opportunity to post anything. We have been really short handed at work so I have been working 6 days a week and trying to get everything I normally do on my weekend done in one day.

I was given a really cool opportunity to try out a set of knives from Kuhn Rikon. I have been a big fan of the products they make for quite a while now. In my opinion they make some of the better and useful kitchen products out there. The product they sent me to check out was the Colori + Classic Professional Set. This set of knives includes a chef knife, a utility knife, and a paring knife. A great combo to do any job in the kitchen!

Kuhn Rikon Knife Set

Kuhn Rikon Colori + Classic Professional Set

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Mellow Sous Vide Cooker

New and Exciting Sous Vide Products

Just as with any other industry, there is constantly changes in the technology put into the tools we use. There are some really exciting new things coming out soon that I wanted to make mention of and to make sure you check out.

One of the first things that is getting added into circulators is WiFi. This is a huge improvement over the current Bluetooth that is currently used. This will give the ability to adjust your unit without the need to do it on the unit itself. Right now it seems like it is a race between a couple of companies to get it out first. But the one I am really excited to see is one from Nomiku. Continue reading

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator.

My Cooking Wishlist

Today I have decided to write up a quick list of things I would like to add to my kitchen collection. My “cooking wishlist” so to speak. Most of these things are fairly straight forward but some are used for some more advanced techniques.

Now the real question is what to start with. Recently I started following a company on twitter that makes Pizza Steels. Well they now have a new really cool product that is a stove top griddle. So it is a steel plate that that sits on top of your burner basically giving you a flat top griddle like the ones used in a lot of restaurants. The reason I want one of these is because there are so many uses, especially when cooking meat sous vide.  Not only that but you can do bacon, eggs, hash browns and all kinds of other stuff.

Next on my list is the iSi Thermo Whipping Siphon. These are the canisters that you put some kind of a liquid or batter in and charge it with a little co2 tank. These are really great for things like making foams or microwave cakes. The downside to them is that because they are kind of a specialized product they happen to be really expensive.

iSi Whipping Siphon

iSi Whipping Siphon

One of the other things that I have found myself without that would really nice to have is a good Vita-Mix. Most of you know the reasons that this would be a really thing to have around the kitchen, anything from a nice sauce to a perfectly blended soup.

Vita-Mix 750

Vita-Mix

I never run out of my list of cookbooks that I would love to add. I always keep a running list of books going on my amazon account. One of the ones at the top of my list is the big brother to one I already have. It is the Modernist Cuisine. I have the “At Home” version but I really would like to get the more advance and complete set. This set of books is super intense and for the home cook the “At Home” version would probably be the better choice.

Modernist Cuisine Set

Modernist Cuisine Set

Now for the super fun toys that have a higher price tag but would be a blast to have. There are several of these on my list made by one of my favorite companies. That’s right you guessed it, Polyscience. They make a couple of different things that I would love to get my hands on and play around with. One is the Anti-Griddle. It is a cooking tool that has a plate similar to a griddle but instead of getting hot to cook things it does the opposite, it gets super cold. And by super cold I am talking -30 F. This allows you to do some cool stuff such as frozen vinaigrette’s that melt on your plate or desserts with a cold center. All kinds of crazy cool stuff.

Anti Griddle

Anti Griddle

The other tool that I would love to get from is a Rotary Evaporator. This is a tool that can evaporate, distill, separate and purify liquids which will allow you to easily concentrate, capture and infuse flavors. Lots of different things you can do with this such as flavors for foods and drinks.

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator.

Rotary Vacuum Evaporator.

Well these are just a few of the many things I would like to add to my collection but there are always new things I am adding to it and can always use like spoons and spatulas and other random things

I would love to know what things are on your wish list. Leave a quick list in the comment section!

Metal clamps for meat

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The Never Ending Quest for Knowledge

One of the best parts of teaching classes at Sur La Table, other than getting to teach people and use lot of fun tools, is the fact that I get asked some really great questions and this is why I must continue to learn my craft.

Yoda meme

Every time I teach a class I am always surprised and excited by the questions I get asked. People are so creative with the thoughts they have. They are not always good ideas but to me it is really exciting that people are thinking about different ways of doing things. Then comes the fun part of trying to put those ideas to the test to see if they can work. Not only do they come up with some great ideas but I always have fun showing them things they never knew. Such as during the class I teach on cooking sous vide, showing them that you can make the most amazing creme brulee. It shocks people when you show them how simple it is but at the same time how delicious and amazing it is. Continue reading

Our Finished Squash Seed Risotto.

Sur La Table Cooking Class

If you have read my bio you know that I teach classes as a chef instructor at my local Sur La Table. Last night I had the privilege of actually taking a cooking class. There was 2 main reasons for wanting to take the class I did. One is that it was featuring recipes by a chef that I have really grown to admire, Sean Brock. The recipes that we cooked were all featured in his new cookbook “Heritage”. The second reason I wanted to take this class is because for this class we were going to actually going to be working with grains from Anson Mills! I was so excited to actually get to work with some of the product from them. I have been wanting to place an order with them for the products they sell for a long time!

The Heritage Cookbook by Sean Brock

The Heritage Cookbook by Sean Brock

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