Since we’re in the topic of hot sauces lately, I couldn’t wait to try a homemade sweet hot sauce. For the first time I bought habanero chiles and I’m so glad I did. These little guys pack a TON of heat scoring about 100K units in the scoville scale. Sweet bell peppers score zero and say arbol peppers score about 30K to give you some idea of how spicy they are(Check out this wonderful arbol chile hot sauce from last week btw!!!)
Proceed with caution.
Since habaneros pack a ton of heat please proceed with caution if you haven’t used them before or if you aren’t used to super spicy stuff but keep in mind, this recipe yields a moderate/medium hot sauce. Most recipes I found online instructed removing the seeds but that’s removing the fun in a way. Most of the heat comes with the seeds… I get it though… habaneros can be scary hot.
Ok, this is more of a question than an informative post. I can’t remember where but recently I came across a simple cooking tip that somehow I had missed all these years. No, it’s not the one about vinegar and poaching eggs… although that one is cool too… this one could have come in handy a million times. I’m talking about using a little bit of vinegar in the boiling water when hard boiling or soft boiling eggs. The shells are supposed to come of pretty easily. Some of my friends went like “oh yeah, first thing they teach you in cooking school” Well… not all that well documented elsewhere, or is it just me?? Anyways, I’ve tried it a few times and seems to work but maybe I got lucky and got friendly egg shells. Have you tried it? I would love to know if this is pretty standard. It puzzles me that not a single cookbook I own mentions this. If this continues to work… best cooking tip ever.
I don’t know about this title but I had to start somewhere and it is in fact related to how I feel about what I’m about to cover here. I have basically redefined the way I eat over the years of cooking which pretty much landed me in the sous vide cooking world. That taught me many things about food and what heat does to it. It also changed the way I see cooking in that now I do my best to applying the least amount of heat possible still placing all of my attention in flavor and texture. Each ingredient and preparation has therefor a very specific cooking time and temperature, etc, etc. You know all about that sous vide stuff, let’s move on.
My previous swordfish taco test.
If you have been tuning in lately you probably noticed my post about sous vide swordfish tacos from a few weeks ago. Well, I couldn’t let it go. I did more research and found that on average the cooking temperature suggested for cooking it was a couple of degrees lower. Now, if you’re not familiar with sous vide cooking, a few degrees can mean the world. Yes, that applies to traditional cooking as well but it’s a lot more difficult to quantify or even reproduce. But sous vide cooking is all about precision and it is fairly easy to experiment with different cooking temperatures, take notes (the whole purpose of this blog 4 years ago, not recipes, not food photography, cooking notes) and compare.
Ok, so you think you can cook? I don’t mean to deter you from that cooking obsession thing we’re all too familiar with (quite the opposite actually) but omelette-making is a true test for any cook. Tortilla española is not exactly an omelette but similar enough and the skill set is the same basically. I admit I have messed up my fair share of omelettes and tortillas españolas. It’s not easy and if I’m not focused on a given day I will very likely screw it up no matter how many times I practice.
If there was ever an ingredient that required gentle and precise cooking that is the beloved egg. Sous vide could come to the rescue here and take away all the fun but I like a challenge and when it comes to cooking challenges, tortilla española is a real fun one. This spanish omelette is originally and traditionally cooked with only potatoes. It’s also known as tortilla de patatas or potato omelette. The are a few variants out there and my favorite one has yellow onions. Don’t use red ones, trust me.
Not the first time this has been featured on this blog but why not blog about it again. This has to be one of the most underrated preparations of all time. I’m almost inclined to suggest it might be better than leaner tenderer cuts like loin meat. The process is long. It takes about a week to make but so does bacon. And you know how meat lovers feel about bacon… correct! So this 5-7 day curing/cooking adventure will definitely yield something that might far exceed your expectations. I mean… it’s chuck meat. Cheap, tough, you have to boil this thing for hours to make it edible. The magic of sous vide never shined this bright before. Chuck roast. So simple and a powerful statement about getting misunderstood ingredients to steal the show.. I mean this thing even dropped the mike.
I love eggs and I love cooking them. They have been a constant in my cooking even before I took on cooking more seriously later on. Since I was little I loved cooking eggs. I remember hard boiling eggs with my mom, making omelettes, etc. Today… on a skillet, eggs have to be cooked as gently as possible… I love walks on the beach and sunsets and all that and I also love egg whites with no browning at all and egg yolks runny but not cold. It’s a fine balance and a fun challenge when making eggs for breakfast. My house could easily be an all-day breakfast joint. I love breakfast and I mostly it at non-breakfast times because either I’m too late for work or I feel way too lazy until about noon on weekends. Although… that’s not true… but some would disagree.
Do you need boiling water to cook eggs?
The terms hard-boiled or soft-boiled are a bit misleading. Specially at sea level 🙂 Eggs don’t need to reach 212F (100C) to get cooked. They cook way below boiling temperature but for the purpose of this post, let’s assume we’re using boiling water to cook them eggs which is what we’re all most familiar with. We can get into sub-boiling temp egg cooking at another time. Sous vide time can wait. You sous vide enthusiasts out there are familiar with the concept of waiting, so let’s wait.
The 10 minute egg.
Cooking soft boiled eggs can be tricky. There are way too many variables. Specially temperature-related variables which are difficult to control if not impossible, but let’s just say that within a reasonable margin of error they can be controlled. The more we know about the variables we wanna control the better. Let’s for now only focus on 2:
- Temperature of the egg.
- Temperature of the water.
What’s the internal temperature of an egg?
Cold eggs? room temperature eggs? somewhere in between? yeah.. I’m overwhelmed my self thinking about it and it’s not like we can stick a probe thermometer into an egg. Some people are ok with surprises and would “wing” it being ok with whatever outcome… sometimes, soft boiled eggs will be there, sometimes, overcooked rubbery HARDboiled instead…yay. Some people like you and me… we prefer to predict the result. Just like roasting or baking… it’s all the same. Controlling the outcome.
One of the beautiful things about using stainless steel cookware is the fact that food can stick to it.
I know, it sounds weird but this is not a bad thing. Before I got into cooking a bit more seriously, all I ever used were nonstick pans. It felt safe! A pan to which food would stick to was the equivalent of game over. Impossible to clean pans. Destroyed food. Burnt bits etc, etc, etc… horrid.
Today, I don’t think I have a single nonstick pan at home and I actually look forward to using pans to which food can stick to… sticky pans.
The little bits of food that stick to the bottom of a pan (fond) as they brown are the key to some really cool flavour development techniques. All that beautiful browned stuff can be deglazed by using any liquid and the result is pure delicious edible gold, but I will dedicate a post to talk about that. in the future Today’s post is about the opposite. How to make your stainless steel pans nonstick.
So how should we cook something that shouldn’t stick to my “non-nonstick” pan, something simple like an egg?
Things can go south pretty quickly. Trying to retrieve that egg can very easily end in disaster with half the egg glued to the pan and the other laying shredded all over your counter and some of it on your spatula.
The pasta in the picture isn’t fresh pasta nor is it cooked. It’s basically dry pasta that has been reconstituted. These dry noodles have been soaked in water before cooking. But why would anyone do something like this? well, I personally find it very useful. Here are my top 5 reasons! check ’em out:
- I don’t need boil a lot of water in a big pot which takes, as you know… forever. Once the pasta is hydrated it will be soft and fit smaller pots. Water and time saver right there.
- Another advantage is to have even hydration of the noodles which helps even cooking. Not that critical but still cool.
- Less salt is needed to season the water since you’re using less water. Salt saver. Yes. You can even hydrate/reconstitute pasta in salty water saving even more salt. Brining dry noodles, pretty much.
- The residual pasta water after cooking the noodles will have a higher starch concentration. Which makes it a better thickener for your pasta sauces.
- And probably my favorite one. It cuts the cooking time considerably.
So here is how:
Fish can scare some cooks away. They scare me too for sure, specially underwater but cooking fish is actually pretty easy and this post is about getting it all done in one skillet in one go. There are many other ways of cooking fish but let’s focus on skillet cooking today.
Cold fish. I like handling and cutting/slicing fish when it’s cold out of the fridge/cooler/ice bath. And I do not enjoy working with fish that has been frozen in a regular freezer. The poor fish is literally destroyed. The flesh is mush and the skin can’t even stay on it, the poor fish just falls apart. So if you can help it try avoiding freezing fish or buying frozen fish. Flash freezing is different but controversial so maybe a topic for later but there’s that option for buying frozen fish that’s not mush.
Dehydration or drying is one of those cool things one does in the kitchen without thinking about it too much. Like reducing a sauce for example. The whole point is not so much about thickening the liquid but to concentrate the flavor. You can thicken up a liquid by adding thickeners anyways.
By means of dehydration, the concentration of flavour is possible (there’s less water diluting it) and since you’re also applying heat over a long period of time, even though it’s low heat, the maillard reaction can take place and in many cases if not all, it enhances and deepens the flavours of the ingredients. Searing a steak is a form of dehydration for example. The surface of the steak is getting dehydrated by the searing hot pan/oil. Once the water is gone, browning can take place.
Today I will focus on tomatoes because they make a great example. Tomatoes are pretty much all water which makes dehydrating them a lot of fun.
There are many ways to go about doing this, but I’m lazy and the warmer months of the year are already here. I will write about each practical way of dehydrating foods in upcoming posts but I will list them here now for now:
- Using a food dehydrator (obviously).
- Using the microwave.
- Using the oven.
- Using the stovetop.
- Using the sun.
- Using salt.
- Some combination of the ones listed above.