The Chef Series Unit

Polyscience wins again!

So as you all know I am a huge fan of my immersion circulators. Well folks I have just upgraded to the big daddy of the Polyscience units. I picked up the “Chef” series. Let me just tell you, Polyscience wins again!!!! This unit is amazing. Not only is the look amazing but the extra power it brings with the heater and the motor is amazing. When I first hooked this bad boy up I used the same 5 gallon cambro container I normally use. The motor on this unit was so strong that it was creating a vortex and sucking in air.

One of the really cool features is that it has controls on both the back and front that allows you to control the rate the water flows. After adjusting the flow rate I was amazed at how fast it heated up the water bath. This was mind blowing!

So lets start with what I experienced as I opened up the box it was shipped to me in. It came in a pretty plain brown box. Once I opened that box up I was greeted by a beautiful black shiny box with some amazing pictures on it as you can see in this picture.

Box of the Polyscience Chef Series

Polyscience “Chef” Series Box

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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


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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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

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

Un-boxing the Anova Precision Cooker

This has been a really exciting week of deliveries to my doorstep. First I get the new Gluten-Free Flour Power from Ideas in Food. Then a few minutes later I get a package delivered from Anova. Let the Un-boxing of the Anova Precision Cooker begin! So my first impressions of the packaging is that it is super impressive. It comes in a very large brown, square box. When you open the box you are greeted by a gigantic tube. It almost looks like a huge Duracell battery. The top part which is the lid, is yellow and the bottom half is black. I was shocked at the heavy duty materials used for the packaging as well as the weight behind the entire thing. This just added to anticipation of opening the tube up and seeing what was waiting for me inside!

Anova Box

Anova Box

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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!

Addicted to Sous Vide

After using an immersion circulator and having some amazing success I have to admit that I am finding myself constantly thinking about other things that I can do with it, some might even say that I have become addicted to sous vide cooking. Of coarse I am also finding myself somewhat limited due to my food-saver not working well to seal any kind of liquid. You can try freezing the liquid you are wanting to use and that works well as long as it has no ingredients that don’t freeze. But that is the fun part, trying to work around that fact. One of these days I will be able to get a better sealer and I won’t find myself in this predicament. I have found a great website which has some stuff to do with the immersion circulator called ChefSteps. Not only do they offer some really cool classes that you can take online but they also have some really cool recipes. I know one of the things on my list of things to make from that site is some nacho cheese sauce. I mean who doesn’t love some liquid cheese to dip some chips in. The best part of it is the fact that it is real cheese so you don’t have to feel as guilty eating it.

I am also thinking about picking up some beautiful salmon and maybe some rib eye steaks. I have some really great ideas for cooking both of those and from what I have seen from doing some reading the results will be nothing short of amazing.
I think the coolest thing that I have seen from learning more and experimenting with cooking sous vide has not only been the amazing results but the reaction to the finished product. I have had so many positive and shocking comments about how good things my tests have come out. I could not have been happier with the outcome of my short ribs. I won’t lie, that one had me extremely nervous. I had never tried anything like it and I took my first batch into my coworkers.There is nothing more nerve wracking then taking an unproven, untested recipe to a group of people that you are trying to impress. But this is why I love cooking so much, the look on people’s faces when they eat something you made and its a home-run! I have had an onslaught of requests to make those again. I am thinking I will have to do a much bigger batch of those next time. First I will have to figure out a better way to seal in my marinade.

Sealed up Rib Eye

Sealed up Rib Eye

It is so much fun thinking of new things to try cooking with this method and I cannot wait to do more of it. It is now just a matter of putting all of these thoughts and together and making something delicious out of them. I need to get a notebook to start putting all of these ideas down on paper to create room for more. I love the R&D process of cooking and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. The best way to prefect something is to try it and see if it works, and failure is part of that. In trying new things you can’t be afraid to fail, the key is to learn from those and figure out what you can do the next time to make it that much better.

Salmon Sealed and ready to go!

Salmon Sealed and ready to go!

Time to go pick up some ingredients and get to cooking!

My Kitchen Wishlist

I get asked a lot what is something that I really want to add to my collection of kitchen gadgets is. I think right now the one thing at the top of my wish list is a Polyscience Chamber Sealer. I currently have a sealer but it doesn’t have a good way to seal any kind of a liquid. Now this wouldn’t be a huge deal but the only way to seal in a marinade is to freeze it first, that being said if you have any ingredient that doesn’t like to freeze aka mirin then you are in for a world of hurt. So if anybody would like to help me on my quest for a chamber sealer please let me know. I will gladly accept any help.

The next thing on my list would be a nice personal fryer. There are so many uses for one on a regular basis. The problem with some of the ones out there is the fact that there is not a easy way to clean them. And as we all know if it isn’t easy to clean it usually does not get cleaned. Beyond that I think the other thing I would really like to add to my kitchen is a induction burner as well as a really beautiful set of Demeyere pans. I have recently had my eye’s open to them working classes at Sur La Table. I had no idea just how amazing of a difference they would make. I can honestly say that I cannot imagine cooking with any other type of pan.They are so beautiful and easy to clean. I don’t know where they have been all my life but after discovering them I fell I need to own a set of them.

Of coarse this is a ever expanding list and working at Sur La Table I get to see and try out a lot of really cool new stuff constantly. You can always find new things and new ingredients that you want to work with. And this does not even scrape the surface if you want to add cookbooks to the list. With my fascination with getting a chamber sealer and immersion circulator I think I need to look into getting the Modernist cuisine at home set ASAP as well.