Finished Corned Beef cut in half

Tough Cuts of Meat

Amazing Transformation of Meat

So over this last week I have tried cooking a couple of tough cuts of meet for longer periods of time. The first thing I did was a corned beef. This was a crazy eye opening experience. I was not expecting such a huge change in texture from cooking this. Now I won’t take credit for the flavor or anything because I did take the short cut of buying one pre-brined from my local Costco.

So I set my circulator to 140 F and started it warming up. While it was warming up I took the corned beef and opened it up and resealed it using my Polyscience Chamber Sealer. I did not add any other seasonings or flavors. I wanted to just compare this to one that had been cooked a couple of weeks earlier that had been done in the crock-pot.

Sealed up Corned Beef in Water Bath

Corned Beef in Water

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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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Beef Tongue: My favorite meat for tacos

I decided since I now have a sealer that I can make all kinds of fun things that would have been to tough to do with my FoodSaver. So I picked up one of my favorite meats for tacos, beef tongue! This is something that I have been wanting to do ever since I got my immersion circulator. I reached out to the awesome community at Chefsteps to see if anybody had any good recipes or tips. One person suggested the recipe that I am using for this preparation. It can be found here as well as at the bottom of this post.

First thing was going to my favorite butcher and pick up a beef tongue. And they never let me down when I go to Greenfield’s. I picked up a couple of beautiful tongues. Next up was to gather the rest of the ingredients that I needed.

Beef Tongue

Beef Tongue

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Pork Belly

This week I was fortunate to get my hands on a healthy supply of pork belly. Now the question is what to do with all of it. Now this might be kind of a daunting task for a lot of people, but as for me, I just get excited about the endless possibilities of what I can make from it.

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

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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

A Look Back

As this year comes to a close I wanted to take a step back and take a look back at the year that was and the journey to get to this point. As I look back I realize how much I need to be thankful for. Overall I have had a good year, even among all of the rough spots. This is more of a overall thing not just over the last year. I am extremely lucky to have a great support system around me. I need to first off thank my parents, I would not be where I am today with out them. They have been a huge help and an inspiration to me over the years and always supportive of me. There is no way I can truly thank them for all they have done for me.

Also my Grandpa. I know it has been a hard year for him with the loss of my Grandma. I don’t know if my Grandpa realizes how much of an influence that he has been not only in my life but also in my love of cooking. He created one of the best spaghetti sauce’s that I have ever  had! He has a real knack in the kitchen with the amazing desserts and bread that he loves making. I just wish I was able to spend more time with him!

My Grandparents

My Grandparents

In this year I went out of my comfort zone and attempted to move to Maui as many of you probably know. Sadly due to some circumstance, that adventure did not work out. I am proud of the fact that I gave it a whirl and wish that it had worked out and I was sitting on a nice beach writing this.

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I also want to give a big thank you to one of my closest friend and one of the only people I would ever want to open a restaurant with. My beloved Jodi. I don’t know that I ever would have ever made it through school without having met her.  She is the one person that during school I felt I could talk to and to this day I wish I lived closer to her so that I could spend more time with her! One day I know we will be running a restaurant together.

Jodi and Me at Graduation

Jodi and Me at Graduation

I have been lucky enough to strike up a relationship with David from Polyscience, and I don’t think it is a mystery how much I love everything they make! I am seriously in love would cooking things sous vide and the Discovery Immersion Circulator that I recently purchased through him has been a real game changer. And I put it through a great work out at Christmas and was amazed at how it preformed. Now it is time to start saving up for my “Unicorn” and get myself the Polyscience Chamber Sealer.

Discovery Display

Discovery Display

I am also so thankful for the opportunity that I have been given by Sur La Table to teach cooking classes. I have always thought that teaching cooking classes would be a really fun thing to do, but I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I do. There is nothing more satisfying than teaching someone how to make delicious food and the look on their face when they taste something they made that is delicious is priceless. Not only that but I seriously have the greatest boss, my Resident Chef Daisy! She has been so much fun to work for and with over the last half of this year. I could not be happier in my job there and cannot wait to see what the future holds!

There are so many people that I need to thank but I don’t want to ramble on and on. I am really looking forward to this next year and seeing what new adventures are in store for me. This blog has been a blast and I will continue to write and share. I hope that you all have a safe and happy new year. Please be responsible. Having fun doesn’t mean you need to risk your own life or others!

 

RIP 2014!

Christmas Eve Feast

It is amazing how fast time seems to move these days. I can’t believe that I am sitting here and it is already Christmas Eve. I thought in the spirit of giving, I would share the dinner I made for my family tonight! So you have been warned that there is about to be a lot delicious food and pictures to be shared of my Christmas Eve Feast!

So to start with I will let you in on my menu. So to start with we decided that we would have a couple of lightly smoked oysters on the half shell to start things off with. We picked up some oysters at our local seafood supplier. Nice simple prep on them with some panko and a little butter and then toss them on the smoker for a few minutes to get them lightly cooked and a little of the smokey flavor.

Oysters Ready to Smoke

Oysters Ready to Smoke

I got this sweet oyster pan at Sur La Table, it is cast iron with spots to hold the oysters. Worked perfectly, and made it so much easier than foil in a pie pan.

Oysters Lightly Smoked

Oysters Lightly Smoked

Next up was the main dish and the side. I had picked up about 20 lbs of short ribs from a local butcher, and they were beautiful!

20 Lbs Of Short Ribs

20 Lbs Of Short Ribs

I made up my Momofuku inspired marinade and sealed them up with my Foodsaver. Now if you have ever tried to seal any kind of a liquid that won’t freeze you can understand the frustration that went through trying to use a foodsaver for 20 lbs of ribs with a liquid marinade. I cooked them for 72 hrs and pulled them out this morning.

My Ribs 72 Hours Later

My Ribs 72 Hours Later

I cooked them at 56 C. for the first 60 hours and then bumped it up to 62.5 C for the last 12 hours. They were all sealed with a marinade that I will include at the bottom of this post.

Along with the ribs I decided to do some sous vide potatoes with duck fat. So for those I just cut up a bunch of Yukon Gold’s and put them in a bag with duck fat, garlic, salt and pepper. I cooked them at about 82 C for around 45 mins. I then pulled them out and tossed them in a warm pan to add some color and a little texture.

Sealed Duck Fat Potatoes

Sealed Duck Fat Potatoes

I had done a preperation of these in a class I taught at Sur La Table and they were a huge hit. I thought it would be a great fit with my ribs.

Potatoes in my Discovery Immersion Circulator

Potatoes in my Discovery Immersion Circulator

At this point I have to just take a quick break and say how impressed I have been with my Polyscience Discovery Immersion Circulator. It is so quiet and so consistent. After running for close to 85 hours straight and going up and down for each of the different dishes it preformed like a champ. Now back to dinner.

My next coarse after all of the above was going to be Creme Brulee. One of my all time favorite desserts and always a great thing to finish a nice meal with. Now since you can probably see my theme with the meal so far you can probably guess where I am going to go with this next……. Yes you guessed it, with my immersion circulator. I had never seen or heard of this but I saw it on one of my favorite sites, Chef Steps.

Creme Brulee Ready to Go in the Immersion Circulator

Creme Brulee Ready to Go in the Immersion Circulator

Mixed up my custard and put it into some small Mason Jars and dropped these in for about a hour then pulled them out to chill. Fingers crossed at this point that it was actually going to work.

Now for the fun part of finishing it all up and getting it on plates. So first thing I did was put my ribs and sauce in a pan and got them on the heat to start warming up. Next I got pans on for the potatoes, and when the pans were hot I put them in the pan.

Pans On Stove Finishing Up

Pans On Stove Finishing Up

Once the potatoes were crispy I pulled them out of the pan and used the reserved duck fat to sear the ribs and just get a little bit of a crust on the out side. Meanwhile I reduced the sauce down and adjusted the seasoning, then finished it with a knob of butter. Adds a beautiful sheen as well as a nice rich flavor. Once that was done it was time to eat!

Plated up Dinner

Plated up Dinner

All of that cooking done, we sat down and enjoyed an amazingly delicious dinner. The potatoes were silky inside and nice and crispy on the outside. The ribs were cooked to the point where the fat literally melts in your mouth and the meat was so flavorful and delicious. My sauce was a little sweeter than I had hoped it would be but still with the beef it balanced it out nicely. After we ate that we took a break for a Christmas movie it was time for dessert!

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Oh the joy that flooded over me when my Creme Brulee was set up like I was hoping. And is there anything better than tapping your spoon on that layer of sugar and then cracking through it. It tasted epic, the richness of it with the amazing vanilla taste. Along with the incredible silky smooth texture and the crunch of the caramelized sugar. It was a perfect finish to the day and the meal.

This was one of my all time favorite meals. I can’t wait to do this again and see what else I can come up with!

 

Short Rib Marinade

Sugar

Water

Apple Juice

Mirin

Soy Sauce

Sesame Oil

Onion

Carrots

Garlic

Add all to a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for at least 15 minutes. Strain and cool and then add to bags of ribs. Seal and cook. Save Sauce at the end to reduce for sauce. You can reduce the sugar to make it a little less sweet.

 

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!!!

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!