Grilled Octopus on Marinara Sauce

Experiments with Sous Vide Octopus

I decided this week I needed to get my cooking and experimenting groove back. So on my days off I decided to pick up an octopus. My goal, techniques and experiments with sous vide octopus. Now getting an octopus isn’t as easy as running down to the local grocery store and picking one up at the seafood counter. So I got to take a trip to one of my favorite stores, Uwajimaya. Oh how I can get lost in that store. I really need to go in there some time with someone that can tell me what everything is. However I really love shopping there. They have such an amazing seafood department as well as the deli.

Left to Right: Buddah's Hand, Finger Limes, Octopus

Left to Right: Buddah’s Hand, Finger Limes, Octopus

So I grabbed my octopus right off and then decided that I wanted to walk through the produce section. I found two things that I have always wanted to try, finger limes and Buddha’s hand. Finger limes have been something that have always intrigued me. When you cut them open they expose a bunch of little spheres of  flavor delight. Buddha’s hand is another citrus which is known for its amazing scent and the zest is often used in desserts and drinks. 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!

Seared Pork Loin Ready to Slice

Pork Loin Experiment

I decided this week that I was going to play around with a pork loin. My original Idea with this was to finally bust out my mooglue and butterfly and stuff the loin then “glue” it before I rolled it up. However I realized that I needed a little consulting with someone that had used it before I just went crazy. So instead I just butterflied my loin and stuffed it with some andouille sausage.

Now since I am trying to expand my knowledge with ingredients I decided that I also wanted to put some mushrooms in it as well. And if you know me at all you know how big of a deal this is. I have never been a big fan of mushrooms. But when I went to school I decided that I would taste and try everything that I could. So I went to my local grocery and picked up some mushrooms. The only ones they had were plain white mushrooms and oyster mushrooms. I have never used or tried oyster mushrooms so I went with them. When I got home with them I cleaned them up and then rough chopped them. I left one whole and fried it up with a little butter and salt and pepper. Just so I could taste it and see what it was like. I was pleasantly surprised by the really great flavor it had. I decided to then fry them up the same way.

Pork Loin Sealed Up and Ready to Cook

Sealed Pork Loin

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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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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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Chamber Sealer|The Un-Boxing

To day is a super exciting day for me. I received by far my most coveted piece of kitchen equipment. I just got home to find a huge box on my front porch, and inside of it a beautiful new Polyscience Chamber sealer. I never thought this day would come! So after opening the box there is a huge layer of form fitted foam and after pulling that off the next thing you see is the beauty of the machine itself.

Once you get it out of the box I was amazed at how slick it looked on its own. It is going to be one of those things that if you have on your kitchen counter everybody is going to be asking about it.

 

Sealer and Box Contents

Sealer and Box Contents

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Mojo Marinated Pork

So I have been really excited about Cuban flavors recently. Partly due to the fact that I love the movie Chef, but mainly because they are just great flavors. I have decided to mix this with my love of sous vide cooking. I have decided to do a mojo marinaded pork shoulder and cook it with my immersion circulator, instead of the traditional oven roasting and then shred it and make some Cuban inspired street tacos!

My plan is to take the shoulder and mix up a mojo marinade.

 

Pork in Mojo Marinade

Pork in Mojo Marinade

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My Goals for 2015

So with the new year brings a whole host of new challenges and new goals. I know everybody loves setting goals for themselves for the start of the year. For me 2015 is no different, time to set my goals for 2015! So here we go, I think this is going to be a great new year.

Sauced up finished ribs.

Sauced up finished ribs.

One of my goals for this year is to do more cooking and writing about it. I bet you could have guessed this would be at the top of my list! Well it is true, and one of the things I love most about cooking is there is always new things to learn. Not only are there different methods to learn but there are also so many different types of cuisines to learn. I have been on a big kick to learn more about Cuban food, and thanks to my Grandpa for giving me a Cuban cookbook I am already on my way to learning more about it. Along with that I have a great assortment of new chemicals to learn how to use. And thanks to chefsteps.com and “Modernist Cuisine at Home” have some great resources to learn some fun new cooking methods.

Another thing is to expand my range of cooking equipment. I am off to a great start, already have my immersion circulator and induction burner, so what is next you ask? Well I would love to get a nice pressure cooker and explore the world of cooking in one. As you all know I am a huge fan of cooking sous vide and to make my life a lot easier I am hoping to save up and buy a chamber sealer. Not only would this make cooking sous vide a ton easier but also storing and marinating foods. The downside to them is the price tag attached to them. But like all things hopefully patience will pay off and I will have one sooner rather than later.

I would also love to do some traveling over this next year. I would love to visit some amazing restaurants across the country. I am thinking that a great place to start would be heading to Chicago and hopefully have the chance to visit Alinea and maybe visit Graham Elliot’s restaurant as well. I also want to make a trip back to Portland and visit some friendly faces, talk about food and eat at some great places.

One other thing that I really hope happens this year is to get to move into more of a full time cooking job. I enjoy what I do now with Page One Power but it is a lot more fun to go to a job where your passion is what you live day in and day out. I seriously love teaching classes at Sur La Table and I would love nothing more to do that on a full time basis.

Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee

Just 3 days into the new year and I am already excited about some cooking that I am already doing today. I am making another batch Creme Brulee in my immersion circulator. It is one of my favorite desserts and cooking it in the immersion circulator I was shocked at how beautiful it came out. One of the best creme brulee’s I have ever had.

First Run in Water

First Run in Water

I think that it has been my best purchase of 2014 and I could not be happier with how it has preformed. Not only does it look cool and make you feel like a mad scientist but it is a super efficient way to cook delicious food. I will be giving it a serious work out over this next year. After that I am hoping to get some mojo marinated pork shoulder working to make some delicious Cubano’s or some Cuban inspired street tacos!

I hope all of you have some great goals for this new and exciting year that revolve around great food and fun cooking as well. Let’s all work on making this a tasty and fun new year! I have a feeling that this is going to be great year with a lot of fun things in store! Happy 2015 everyone!

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.

wpid-20140529_134539.jpg

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.