It’s been a few months since my last post. It has been a very hot summer here in Vancouver and perhaps that had to do with my not keeping up with cooking or mainly the blogging aspect of that. The cooking hasn’t stopped and neither has taking photos or learning new things in the kitchen though, but finding the energy to gather photos and notes.. and do the write ups… and post has been a little difficult (not to mention that I’ve been absolutely obsessed with chess lately). I’m working on a few new recipes, which I will be posting soon. Last sunday, I visited a very interesting place. The International Summer Night Market in Richmond.
There were about 200 food stands (maybe I’m exaggerating but it felt like there were millions of them) and anything imaginably edible being cooked. The food was phenomenal and the place was packed. I particularly enjoyed the amount of seafood and fish being prepared. The most popular stand in the whole place though was the “rotato” stand. I wish I had taken a photo of it, but it was impossible to get near this thing without getting hurt by the hungry hordes. And if you haven’t seen a rotato (which I hadn’t until then) It’s basically… potato chips.I love it. Here are some of the photos I managed to take without dropping my phone in a vat of frying oil. It almost happened a couple times actually. Here’s a link in case anyone is interested in learning more about this market: http://www.summernightmarket.com
I like it when the ingredients drive the recipe. I found these beautiful short ribs at the store and immediately dropped whatever cooking plans I had previously. I picked a few more things for the wine reduction as well. 72 hours later, I picked the rest of the ingredients, like the garnishes and such. After such a long cooking time at low temperature, short ribs are literally transformed into something that’s hard to describe here. They more closely resembled rib eye with an intense meaty flavor. Tender and juicy, with an amazing texture. My previous experiences cooking short ribs had been by braising them in wine, vegetables and stock in the oven for a few hours. This approach yields fall of the bone, delicious results. The meat though, is overcooked in order to break down the connective tissue within a reasonable time. At 54 degrees celsius, the time required to achieve the same is about 3 days. Cooking the meat sous vide, allows for something otherwise impossible to achieve traditionally. The meat will be medium rare. You can also adjust the temperature and cooking time to achieve a number of different doneness levels and textures to suit your preference.
I finally work a bit on the lighting setup in my kitchen and went back to using my speedlite flash which I really really like. Back to handheld photography (yay) which is super fast and flexible (getting on a tripod is a good option when shooting with natural light, the only option if you want sharp pictures really). I had to use a little remote trigger for the speedlite so it wouldn’t have to be mounted on the camera which can be very restrictive and how I usually have taken the photos for most of my previous posts. I also chose my 105mm sigma macro lens for this post, mainly because I love close up photography and macrophotography, but I also wanted to plate a smaller portion for the final dish. Appetizer style. Continue reading
I’ve posted about beef bourguignon in the past, but for the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking of trying a different approach. Since this sous vide-meat kick doesn’t seem to end, I figured I’d try something fun. Making it sous vide. I was curious to see how this would turn out. I had to rearrange the order in which things are done (traditionally) in order to incorporate the technique, but I think I have a fairly easy procedure that allows making adjustments easily and control the final result without stress.
Also, the meat can be cooked to medium or medium rare, which is unusual for any traditional stew in which the cooking temperatures for the meat can reach the boiling point. Even the temperatures in slow cookers at the warm setting cook at over 70C which is technically well done. In this example, the meat is cooked to medium at a gentle 60C for 24 hours. Continue reading
It’s been a few weeks since my last post. I’ve been working on a few recipes that need some fine tuning and definitely some planning for when it comes to plating. Some food can be plated easily, like pasta for example. This dish I’m working on is a pasta dish, but it does not look pretty on the plate, I’ve tried a couple of ideas, nothing has worked… hopefully I can figure it out and post it soon. It is really delicious, and I’m not just saying that, oysters and pasta, in a Pernod and green peppercorn sauce… yeah, I rest my case! Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of meat using my immersion circulator and I figured I would show signs of activity by posting a tasty recipe before I go back in the lab and experiment some more with this Pernod sauce (there’s a real fairy in the bottle btw). Another problem I’ve been facing lately is related to photography.
I usually do all the photography using a flash unit, and bounce surfaces (the white walls of my kitchen mostly) but since I moved to this new apartment, I haven’t been able to recreate similar lighting conditions (walls aren’t white), and the photos turn harsh and contrasty, with unappetizing highlights and strange white balance issues. I’m still working on how to sort this out, I have bought some reflectors and diffusers, but still photos are coming out looking… bad. Luckily for me, in Vancouver, the sun sets around 9pm during the spring/summer, so I have plenty of natural light coming through the windows, and nothing better than sun light for photography. If I could take all my photos using sunlight I would, but I usually cook at night. Anyways, today, rib eye steak it is! Continue reading
Cold cuts. I love this stuff. Cold roast beef. Awesome. Top Sirloin makes a pretty damn good roast beef. Add sous vide into the equation. Super awesome. I’ve been meaning to do more sous vide cooking lately but I tend to get lazy.. the bag, the timing, this and that.. really all excuses. Cooking sous vide is extremely easy. This roast seemed like the perfect candidate for a nice, long and gentle cooking approach. I shouldn’t use the term roast, because really the meat was never roasted in the oven, but I will. Cast iron skillet did a pretty good job of searing the outside. The water bath did a pretty amazing job a cooking it medium rare evenly and even helping tenderize this cut a bit. It tends to be slightly chewier than the tenderloin. At least the one I got a the store. How do I know? I cut a small portion, pan seared it, tried it, it seemed a bit tough. Didn’t want the meat to turn to mush either, so I cooked it roughly for about 12-14 hours which did the trick.
In the photos, as I mentioned, the “roast” beef is cold out of the fridge, hence the peculiar dry appearance. But that’s because the collagen and the fats are in a solid estate. Apply a little heat from say, a panini press… unleash the juiciness One more thing I did was. I sliced the meat into about 3mm round, cut against the grain. Sprinkled it with salt and pepper, generously, and let it rest overnight in the fridge. The next day it was delicious, a bit on the saltier side, which is perfect in my opinion. Continue reading
This finally happened last week. First I got an email form the hotel I was staying that I had received some mail… yeah, really nice. I ran to the hotel which is a block away from my current address and picked up a letter with addresses and names written by hand…, like in the old days. The sender, some Dr Greg Ward. I don’t know any Doctors by that name.. there was a second name right under it but I didn’t bother reading on, I was leaving for work and I was already late. At first I thought spam but how many spam/junk mails are written by hand. I got to work. I remembered that about 2 months ago, my blogger friend Shanna (have you seen her blog? click here!) and Greg, her husband, had emailed me about sending me samples from their Co-Op which features a wonderful array of locally grown ingredients. Amongst those. Chile. But not any chile, oh no.
Chimayó chiles, of which I knew nothing about. Check out this link if you are interested in the history of this chile, it’s quite amazing actually. I had no clue that what was in that envelope was a bag of dried ground Chimayó chile, all the way from the originating geographic location. Thank you Shannah for the lovely gift. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend. Anyone who’s lived in Canada probably knows how meticulous their border customs office can be. They probably held the package for about a month… it either sat there totally unnoticed or they ran some serious lab tests on it to figure out why it smelled so freaking awesome. The baggie was slightly opened, so must have been the latter. When I opened the envelope, there was chile powder everywhere, but do not worry, Shanna, I was able to save all of it! Continue reading
Cooking risottos can be a bit of work, and I personally like to stick to the “traditional” slow stirring of the pot, rather than adding all the liquid at once and letting it cook. I believe the starches do release better with the constant mechanical action of the wooden spoon. I have never run a comparison test between the two, which would be interesting. Making one risotto dish is already plenty of work for a regular week night dinner. Perhaps not the most original risotto recipe either, but it is definitely one of my favorite ones. Porcini Risotto. I have used dried porcini mushrooms this time. They are readily available, although not the cheapest mushrooms out there, and definitely not the mushrooms I use more frequently either, spending a little extra on this one though, will never disappoint… if you like mushrooms that is.
Now the addition of scallops is interesting in itself. Mushrooms and seafood do work together, and there are many examples of this, although they are more commonly paired with meats. What’s a little more odd is the pairing of parmesan cheese and seafood, at least in my experience. When using delicate white fish for example, I can see how the strong cheese flavor would mask or hide that of the other. With nicely caramelized scallops, a shellfish, the story changes a bit. The scallop flavor is so intensified by the caramelization that it adds a component of character to the dish rather than getting lost in the mix. Umami and buttery caramelized sweetness. Try it if you haven’t. I thought it worked really well. Continue reading