Finished Plate of Belly

Playing with Pork Belly

In the past I had played around with pork belly. Specifically testing different times and temperatures. Well I had another chunk of belly in the freezer so I decided to cook up a little something for the fella’s at work.

Well since I had already determined that my preference for belly was cooking it at 160 f for 16 hours, it was just a matter of what to do with it. Deciding that I wanted to put a little bit of an Asian spin on my flavors here is what I did.

I tossed the pork belly in a bag with some soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, real wasabi powder and a little nori furakake. The reason for adding the furakake was because I was hoping to get a big umami punch from it. Having sealed this up in the bag I dropped it in the water and let it go.

Finished Up side of Pork Belly

Finished Pork Belly

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Sous Vide Bacon in Pan Cooking

Sous Vide Bacon

A few weeks ago one of my favorite blogs, Serious Eats, did an article about overnight sous vide bacon. How could I not try this. Two of my favorite things, sous vide and bacon! This was the perfect opportunity to try out a new device that I got. I was fortunate enough to get some awesome sous vide magnets from SV Homewares. These are a great concept for pinning bags in your water bath down and to the sides of your water bath. As you can see in the pictures these are the little red things on the bath.

As I am sure all of you who have done anything sous vide have run into the problem with a bag trying to float or wanting to be able to organize your bags better. This is the perfect solution. You put the magnet on the bag and outside the container and then you can slide them around! These get an A in my book of creative things that are a great addition to your kitchen.

Sous Vide Magnets by SV Homewares

SV Homewares Sous Vide Magnets

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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

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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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

Sous Vide Lamb Shank

Sorry for the long delay in a post. We have been seriously understaffed at work which has resulted in me having to work 6 days a week. As you know this is not the first time this has happened, it has been several times since I have moved back to Portland. While this is not a bad thing paycheck wise, it does have some serious downsides. One is the fact that I don’t have a lot of extra time to play around with food and write up posts about it. But here we go. Time to let you in on my amazing sous vide lamb shank! 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!

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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Cooking Sous Vide- My Quest of Continued Learning

Nothing excites me more then learning new ways to cook, and I have always been really excited and fascinated with the cooking movement of sous vide and the modernist cuisine, but I have not done a lot of it. I have done a few experiments with making spheres out of  liquids but not much beyond that. The modernist cuisine movement is a lot of fun with really cool techniques and some that are becoming very popular such as cooking sous vide.

 

Polyscience Sous Vide

Polyscience Sous Vide

I am in the process of trying to decide what immersion circulator to get. There are some really cool options these days. Of coarse I have still kicked around the idea of building my own. I would really like to get one of the Polyscience models. The problem with them is the price. I am thinking about getting a slightly cheaper one to start out with. Right now I am leaning towards getting the Sansaire model. It can’t handle the volume of the Polyscience models but really for home cooking like I will be doing with it I probably really don’t need much more than that. There are so many things that you can cook sous vide and it opens a whole new realm of recipes and flavors.

Sansaire Immersion Circulator

I think that one of the first things that I would want to try is doing some soft boiled eggs. There is a great cookbook that I would need to go along with this which is “The Modernist Cuisine at Home“. It has some seriously delicious looking meals in it that I would love to try. I have also found a great site that has a lot of stuff to try and learn from as well called “Chef Steps“. They offer classes and have a lot of recipes on there as well to learn some new techniques.

Beyond cooking sous vide there are a lot of different techniques and methods of cooking that I would like to learn still and have in my wheelhouse. You can never go wrong with continuing to learn different skills in your field of work. The more you know the better you will be at your job. I am lucky enough to have a job where I can get so many cool toys, like the Sansaire, at a great price and I look forward to sharing more of my ideas and recipes as I start to make more of them.

So needless to say if you’re reading this and you have a Pollyscience immersion circulator that you don’t need anymore or want to buy me one I am completely to that idea!