Superbowl Meal

So I have been super excited for this day to come. Not so much for the game, although I hope it is a good one, but more for the cooking. What is on the menu for the big game? I’m glad you asked! I am making some nacho cheese and putting together some pulled pork nacho’s. As I have talked about in the past I am a big fan of a web site called Chef Steps. I found this page a while back and it is one of the coolest communities for cooks. They have a recipe I have been wanting to try for a long time and as of Christmas I now have everything needed to make some, nacho cheese, that is.

Polyscience Discovery

Polyscience Discovery

 

First step is to get my Polyscience immersion circulator fired up the water up to the right temperature. For this cheese sauce we want our water at 167 F/ 75 C. Now lets get our cheese and stuff ready while we wait for the water to get warm. Continue reading

My Experiment!

I had a great week of classes. I taught a class where we made ravioli, which is a ton of fun. One of my kitchen assistants and I decided to have some fun after the class and get creative. Hence my experiment! Now I can’t take all of the credit for my creativity in this recipe. The day Wai-man and I decided to make something special I had just read a post from Ideas In Food. In this post they were talking about making a pasta dough and incorporating some miso paste into the dough. We took this idea and ran with it.

We started out with the basic pasta dough recipe we use in the ravioli class at Sur La Table.

2 1/2 C Flour

4 Large Eggs

1 Tblsp salt

To this I added about 2 Tblsp of white miso paste to add a mild flavor of miso to the pasta dough.

Sheets of Pasta Dough

Sheets of Pasta Dough

While that was resting we started our filling.

Since we were kind on an Asian flavor path with our pasta flavor we decided to keep with that for our filing. I brought some of my short ribs and Wai-man brought some kimchi and a little bulgogi. We chopped up the kimchi and mixed that with the beef, sesame seed and sesame oil. I put all of that in a bowl and mixed it all up and added a little sriracha to give it just a little bit of an extra kick. I heated up a pan nice and hot and then added the mix to the pan and started cooking it up. I cannot even describe how amazing this combination of ingredients smelled. It was the most heavenly things I have ever smelt. It was meaty and the sesame oil gave off the most amazing aroma ever. I thought with the kimchi in it that we might get a little bit of a funky aroma but surprisingly it was quite mild.

Cooked Ravioli Filling

Cooked Ravioli Filling

While Wai-man was filling and cutting our ravioli’s I started working on a sauce for our pasta. I decided to keep it nice and simple and just make up a quick cream sauce.

Filling the Ravioli

Filling the Ravioli

I started reducing some heavy cream in a pot. When the cream got nice and hot I added some more miso paste to the cream along with a little sesame oil and thinly sliced green onion for flavor. After it reduced down I started checking it for seasoning. It ended up turning out really good and complimented the pasta really nicely but looking back I should have grated a little ginger into the sauce. It probably could have used a touch of soy sauce in filling or in the sauce.

Cream Sauce Reducing

Cream Sauce Reducing

Either way I was really happy with our final product. The filling turned out super tasty and the pasta and sauce complimented it. All in all it was one of the best ravioli’s I have had. It was the perfect food for the cold night that we had last night. It was one of those things that as you’re eating it you feel like you are wrapped up in a nice warm blanket. I think that our mix we made for the filling would be really good in  a nice bowl of ramen or a multitude of other dishes. This is just another example of why experimenting and playing around with food and ingredients is so much fun. Never forget that there is no such thing as failure as long as you learn from what you create.

I will be making this again for sure! I think that one of the best parts of this and some of the other things I have cooked is letting other people eat it and getting such great feedback. I don’t know that there is a better feeling as a chef then someone enjoying the things you cook!

My Next Project

I realized this morning that it has been a little while since I posted anything on here. I have simply been running around so much I honestly have not had any time to write. I have been trying to think about what my next project will be. I know one of my upcoming big projects is going to be to cook up a bunch more of my highly requested short ribs again. I am ordering my short ribs ASAP in hopes of getting enough to not only make them for my family but also for some of my friends.

The Final Product.

72 Hour Short Ribs.

Short term though I am thinking about getting myself a bunch of eggs and trying to prefect cooking eggs with my immersion circulator. I need to find that balance of getting the whites cooked with still keeping the yolk runny. I have a couple of different things that I would like to try for that. I also just ordered, and am waiting to receive my copy of “Modernist Cuisine at Home” and am super excited to get that and browse through for some crazy ideas to try.

Something that I have been doing has been researching how to make the perfect french fry using an immersion circulator. It looks like there are some really cool methods for doing this that I will be testing out as well.

One thing that I know will be happening this week though is cooking some potatoes in some duck fat. I taught a class a week or so ago where we did this. It is super simple, just cutting the potatoes up and putting them in a bag with some duck fat and seasoning. Cooking them for about a hour and then simply saute them to a nice golden brown. So easy, and please can you really go wrong with cooking something in duck fat?! Only way that might be even better than that would be to cook them up in some bacon fat instead!!

So if there was anybody that out there was worried that I had stopped posting you have nothing to worry about, I am still here just trying to get set up for the next amazing thing to cook. And as always if you have an idea of something that you would like to see me try please leave a comment or send me a email.

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

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.

Sansaire Immersion Circulator Test

I have worked at some really amazing places and for some really great people but I think working at Sur La Table as a kitchen assistant and soon hopefully a chef instructor has been the best place so far. I have really enjoyed this job and last night proved to me why this may be one of the best companies that I have ever worked for. I got to work a little early yesterday and was browsing through the store and drooling over the Sansaire Immersion Circulator. My store manager asked me if I would like to borrow one and of coarse my answer was a resounding YES! Not 5 minutes later he had marked one out as a demo and let me borrow it. I don’t know of many companies that go out of their way to do cool stuff like this. I could not have been more excited to get home last night and un-box it. While I was opening the box up I felt like a kid at Christmas.

http://sansaire.com/

Sansaire Immersion Circulator

Well This morning I decided first thing I wanted to do was to try some eggs. One of the most basic things you can do but with the results that I had I also have to say one of my most delicious experiments. I experimented with a few different temperatures to see what the differences were like. I started with what seems to be one of the most popular ones 65 C.

So let me back track a little bit here. I was curious about how fast it would heat a pot of water to the 65 c that I wanted to cook the eggs to. I decided that I would turn the tap water to cold and start from there. I was really impressed with how fast it came up to temp. I only had to let it run for about 10 minutes for it to get to my target temperature. I have no complaints about the user interface for the Sansaire. It was really easy to use and super easy to read the display.

So once the water came up to temperature I put some eggs in the water and set a timer for 45 minutes. While the eggs were in I decided that I wanted to do some potatoes to go with it. After the timer went off I pulled one out to see how the consistency of it was. Here is a picture of the results. The whites were cooked through but still runny and the yolk was cooked but still super moist and amazingly rich. I decided to do 2 more and increasing the temperatures. I did one at 67 c and one at 70 c. The first was very close to the 65 c egg but the biggest difference was the one cooked at 70 c. That one the whites were more solid and held shape when pulled out of the shell but still a really silky consistency and the yolk was really soft and moist.

65 C Eggs

65 C Eggs

This has really made me excited about all of the other possibilities of what can be made using this amazing tool. I can see myself using and making some a lot of really great dishes. If you want to get one of these amazing machines for yourself you can do so here.

My next thing to try I believe will have to be something meat based. I think I am going to try some steaks and then a nice long cook with some 72 hr ribs or brisket. I would love some feedback on what you would like to see me experiment with!

Cheese Making

This weekend I decided to try to make some cheese. I Thought it would be a lot of fun to try something that I had never done before and it would be a good experience. I decided to keep it easy for my first time so I planned on making Ricotta and some Mozzarella. I also made sure that I had some store bought of the same type on hand so that I could compare the difference between them in flavor as well as texture.

expertise-cheese-table
So I started out with making the Ricotta. After making it I was amazed at the amazing texture and flavor of it. I could have eaten it by the spoonful.
Next I attempted to make some fresh Mozzarella. I was really nervous about this one even though it sounded simple. Well it turns out that it was super simple and the results were amazing. It was the most flavorful and textually satisfying cheese I have ever eaten. I think the thing that I kept thinking was the endless possibilities of how you could add and incorporate different flavors to it.Mozarella
I cant wait to expanding my knowledge of cheese making and trying to make some different types. I am also really looking forward to experimenting with making some tofu which is next on my list!