Crispy Oven Rosted Potatoes : 24h Kosher Salt Brine

 

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It’s always the simple things.

In cooking, at least in my experience, a single ingredient cooked simply can steal the show even if it’s the “side” thing. If you like potatoes, this is usually the case. I never thought I’d be writing about baked potatoes on my blog… but I got over myself and did it! It’s all part of the same thing. Simple or complex preparations, the whole point of cooking is to nurture ourselves and the ones we love, to eat well,  and if you can have some fun while doing it and share some thoughts and pics about it even better. Potatoes are pretty much at the top of list of favourite ingredients anyways. I love them and have been cooking them for a long time so they do deserve a space of their own in here I think.

Long before I got into cooking more seriously a few years ago, I was already cooking potatoes. Specially, mashed potatoes. Love love love mashed potatoes. Nothing more comforting than a creamy potato puree with copious parmesan cheese grated on top and broiled to golden brown deliciousness. I seriously don’t need anything else to go with that.

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This post should be one of my quickest. I really wanted to get this written down for.. well, for my own sake. The original purpose of this blog was to document my own cooking learning curve so there.

Shrimp Linguine : Pernod, Garlic and Lime : Shrimp Velouté

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I failed miserably at finding my bottle of vermouth. The one I keep in the fridge. I can’t remember using all of it. Maybe not remembering what happened to it should be a hint… I had to go for the next thing I could find in there. A nice bottle of Pernod… I say nice because it is actually quite nice. Have you seen this stuff? Shake it up. Hold it up against the sun and all this awesome glitter stuff swirling inside it will have you hypnotized for “an ocean of time” … Bram Stoker Dracula and absinth reference all at once, huh!?. The taste isn’t my favorite though. Actually I hate drinking it. In cooking, the story is a bit different. A lot different. There’s nothing original about using pernod and seafood in cooking, but it’s definitely not all that common either. It works fantastically well in my opinion. Specially if paired with an acidic component and a bold flavor like that of shrimp… not to mention my good ole friend. Garlic.

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The recipe is quite simple. I love cooking shrimp. It’s the easiest thing in the world. Cooking shrimps that chews like rubber is also the easiest thing in the world. There is a fine line between the perfectly cooked shrimp and the disastrous rubbery one. I cook mine in a really hot skillet and I do it as quickly as possible. They really take no time. About 2-4 minutes tops. Any longer, and the shrimps will go… well, rubbery. They can also be cooked very gently. If you’re not looking for any browning on them, then say you’re making risotto, they could be added at the very end of the cooking, stirred in, and allowed to be cooked by the rice. Turn off the stove. The carry over heat in the rice should be able to take care of business. They really don’t require a lot of heat to cook. Around 135°F (57°C) for a few minutes that’s all it takes. We could have done that for this recipe. Pasta, rice.. etc. All that really matters is hitting the proper cooking temperature. But I wanted some browning on my shrimp. Hot skillet it is. 

A Simple Ham and Tomato Omelette : Homegrown Purple Basil

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Quite possibly the simplest recipe I’ve ever posted here. But if you have been cooking for some time, you know simplicity is usually a good thing. The ham I used on this recipe comes from an older post. I’m calling it ham, although ham usually involves a pink salt cure containing nitrites… so it’s a bit more technical and requires a long curing period. The nitrites do have an effect on flavour, colour and texture (in a positive way that is). My ham was simply brined in kosher salt  and other spices and cooked sous vide. I recently posted the recipe here.  It’s been a while since I’ve cured anything using nitrite salts but I love the results when I do. Anyways, any ham from the store will obviously work just as well.

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The tomatoes I got at the store. Haven’t been able to grow my own tomatoes yet and it will have to wait until next summer. I just missed the window and I think it will get too overcast and rainy by the time the tomatoes need good sunlight to develop well. I did use a few leafs from my homegrown purple basil plant which btw is flowering now and those flowers are so pretty. I need to feature those in a recipe soon before they go. I’ve been growing my own herbs this summer.

Beef Short Ribs Stew : Russet Potato Puree : Port

IMG_9553Yep… more stews… in the middle of summer too.. yep. I don’t care. I don’t need no winter to dictate no official stew season :)  Can’t help it. It’s one of my favourite things to make and of course eat. I kept the recipe as simple as possible. With a pressure cooker, this whole ordeal takes about an hour and a half from start to finish. That’s not bad considering we’re talking about short ribs. Short ribs are delicious and fatty. They take about 45 mins in a pressure cooker to get really tender and still hold their shape. Conventional cooking of short ribs can take up to 2 hours and a half, and going sous vide as long as 3 days.. check out my recipe for sous vide short ribs here.  I found these short ribs at some local store and they had been stripped off the bone.  Sacrilege?… whatever. I work with what I have,  plus they looked amazing anyways.  I also made a russet potato puree to go with this dish. Plenty of heavy cream and butter. The whole dish is extremely creamy and rich. Perfect for those hot summer nights… or not… probably not… I do have an AC tho.

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The basics of stews. Probably 3 important things to keep in mind… again…says me, so proceed at your own risk. Meat, veggies and a cooking liquid.  The meat can be seared or not. I like the bolder flavour of browned meat so I sear it when I make stews… or pretty much every chance I get. The veggies…well, sky is the limit, but a good safe base can be onions, celery and carrots. Mushrooms.. yes. Mushrooms and meat complement each other incredibly well. Tomatoes compliment meat just as well. It’s all that umami business. The cooking liquid can be as simple as water. I used water and a cup of port wine. Some people like to use stocks and that’s perfectly fine but I believe stews render their own stock just fine, and with proper seasoning you could forgo of any additional stock needs.  That’s all debatable of course so leave a comment if you wanna battle over it.  The port wine adds an awesomeness and sweetness kick to the dish but enough yada yada…  let’s go:

Boneless Pork Center Loin Cut Sous Vide 136F 6h : Mirin and Garlic Marinade 12h

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I didn’t even want to eat this thing it looked so damn pretty. I ate it of course, it’s pork. Awesome roast..well, a roast of sorts. Having to roast in the oven or in a grill is fun and I love it with all the inaccuracies involved, they still yield delicious results. In the 80F degree weather, this approach isn’t so lovely anymore. My tiny apartment heats up so easily. The radiation from the sun alone can heat the place up above 80F (I have an AC unit now, tiny portable one thanks to my land lady,  and that helps but still) Running the oven would be suicidal. Sous vide comes to the rescue.

Roasts don’t require a lot of temperature to cook, in fact, most animal protein can be cooked roughly around the 122F-140F degree range with some exceptions. That range is bellow what conventional ovens can deliver anyways.  The nice browning on the outside crust is the catch. Sous vide can’t give you that. That requires a great deal of heat, specially if you wanna achieve it quickly.  That can be easily done by searing, grilling, torching or in this case, deep frying.

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Anyways, quick post today. Super easy recipe actually. The title is the recipe basically. I marinated the pork overnight in some minced garlic, salt about a cup of mirin wine which is super sweet and delicious. If you ever had kakuni this will sound familiar. Mirin will help with the caramelization of the crust too because of the high sugar content. Ok, let me write this down in the form of a recipe:

Ramen Noodles : Sardines : Dried Anchovies : Sriracha : Quail Yolk

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Sometimes, you just throw whatever you find in the fridge in a pot and magical s%@# happens. THAT… happened to me last night. I didn’t bother checking seasoning or temperatures, pretty careless about the whole thing actually. I was just not in the OCD mood and literally threw this meal together last second almost angrily, well kinda, actually not angrily at all, I was in a pretty good mood.  But usually proceeding this way ends up in disaster. I got lucky this time I guess. Pinch of this and that,  boiled some water, 15 minutes later I was done.

L I B E R A T I N G.

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I guess that feeling went away right around the time I had to place that egg yolk on top of that noodle mound, whatever, it was fun too. Anyways, for this post I tried a few new things photography-wise. I just got a gopro camera and a Knog LED light bank for it. Gopros are these tiny basic looking cameras. They’re super powerful tho, serious high tech stuff. They’re literally a cubic inch in size. They can do a lot of things. Time lapse photography is one of them. Wish they could do dishes too. I posted one video here, compressing about one hour into 50 seconds :) Also, I used that Knog LED light bank instead of my speedlite flashgun for the main photography. It was super fun and I hope you enjoy the pics and vid. Ah right, the food… here is the recipe!

Pork Chop Sous Vide 134F 2h : Cucumber and Pineapple Salad : Inspired by The Things We Cook

 

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I couldn’t resist the urge to pair a fat juicy pork chop with that beautiful salad from: The Things We Cook. Last week I wrote an article about this cookbook. If you missed it, check it out here!

I love pork. I hated pork chops for the longest time. Dry meat, tough texture, like where the f!@# is the gravy… yeah, I was doing it all wrong for as long as I can remember.

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I’m trying to improve the way I cook things these days. Pork chops might have a mighty appearance but they are very delicate and lean meat, similar to a chicken breast to put it someway. Sous vide gives us the control we need to nail the proper doneness and a good quick sear finishes off the job nicely. I don’t mess much with the seasoning. Salt. Let the salad and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction do the rest.

The Things We Cook : Pineapple and Cucumber Salad

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The Things We Cook. This is the title of the book I’m writing about today on my blog. The things We Cook is a beautiful book about food, about life in the kitchen, family and friends, it’s about cooking with the freshest ingredients, it’s all about farm to table, sustainability and it’s also about the experience of being a farmer. Green Hope Farm. A family owned farm in the state of New Hampshire. In its kitchen, Molly Sheehan, the cook, the author and the farm owner, has concocted countless recipes and this book is a compilation of all that hard work and a recount of the wonderful memories . 

Steak and Eggs : Poached Egg : Sous Vide Sirloin Tip 53.3C 24h : Red Chimichurri

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Isn’t frosted flakes the best thing in the world? It has to be, followed closely by steak and eggs. I can’t think of a better breakfast treat. I love this stuff. I love rare meat and runny eggs… yep. This is basically what I did here today. My take on Steak and Eggs. Bloody sirloin tip, a poached egg, and a drizzle of homemade chimichurri sauce. What can I say, I felt like treating myself today, deal with it.

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Sirloin Tip Sous Vide 53.3C 24h

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Grilling season is here. Deep frying season is also here, at least in my house. I just got a deep fryer.  I can’t express how happy I am that I did. I should have done this years ago. I cook a lot of meat at home and I like a good sear on it. I usually rely on my cast iron pans and lots of oil to do the job. The smoke, smoke detectors going off all the time…  and the oil splatter drives me nuts… the cleaning, the nightmare… but that’s just a bad memory now. Deep frying is all I’ll be doing from now on when I need to sear any meat. Deep fryers have a bad reputation in the world of healthy eating I guess. I’m gonna disagree. I think some of the foods cooked in a deep fryer could definitely be on the unhealthy side but I couldn’t blame deep fryers for making them unhealthy any more than I would a pan and some oil. Deep frying meat is not that different from pan frying it or pan searing it, same basics, get oil hot enough to brown it quick. More or less the same amount of oil will end up on the meat anyways and you can always remove the excess with paper towels. Meat is mostly water (about 70%), and really bad at absorbing fat which is great.

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Sirloin tip, not to be confused with top sirloin. Sirloin tip tastes like top sirloin but it’s a lot tougher. Probably too tough to be cooked rare, the way you would a top sirloin steak for example.  The result would just be too tough.    Sous vide is the only way around this issue, otherwise you’d get tough meat or overcooked meat. I don’t like either. By allowing meat to cook slowly at a low temperature, the required breaking down of connective tissue takes place and the final ideal doneness is achieved,  rare for this recipe. I love this stuff.  I love how sous vide cooking can transform protein. Amazing texture, amazing colour. And then….  I deep fried the whole thing and it was awesome.