stick blender mayo

stick blender mayo @ thatothercookingblog.com

Making mayo at home is one of those practices that have fallen out of fashion. The whole raw egg/salmonella thing can be intimidating but it’s pretty easy to find pasteurized eggs in groceries stores. If you can’t find them you could still pasteurize them at home but it will require sous vide gear. If you’re interested you should check out my article on sous vide egg pasteurization which also deals with mayo pasteurization which in a nutshell talks about listeria and salmonella safe log reduction levels by application of heat bellow egg setting temperature. But if you wanna skip all that hassle, try getting pasteurized eggs.

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sous vide salmon with steamed rice and broccoli. 50C 40 mins.

sous vide salmon with steamed rice and broccoli

I don’t cook at lot of fish sous vide. There’s really no good excuse other than maybe with proper technique similar results can be achieved and less gear is involved. But if you really want to experience the true potential of fish, cooking it sous vide renders an absolutely perfect and delicate finish. I’ve probably mentioned it already but for years I hated salmon. Every single time I had it, no matter where, the story was simply the same. Dry stuff.

Some fish can withstand heat better than others but most fish will easily overcook and if you aren’t obsessed with temperature control over the stove then chances are you’re over going to overcook the poor thing. Poaching and steaming are safer bets in most cases. Of course searing one side to get those beautiful and delicious golden notes or getting that crispy skin will require applying a ton of heat butI won’t go into details about this today because it isn’t trivial and depending on the fish the approach might differ a bit. But if you’re itching to know perhaps follow the same approach you would as searing a steak in general. I’d also suggest working with a non stick pan here. Fish meat is too delicate to risk cooking on a regular pan but it works if you’re careful and polymerize the bottom properly

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Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home : Sous Vide : 134.6 °F for 2hr

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

 And more on eggs… this is turning into an obsession now! can’t let it go!!!… I don’t think there’s any other ingredient I find as fascinating as the mighty egg. In my previous post on homemade mayo/aioli, I talked about an incredibly easy way to get the emulsion going with the help of a hand blender. I wonder how many people were concerned with eating raw eggs. Although, I’ve never gotten sick (knock on wood!) it does happen, and salmonella will probably land even the fittest individual right in the hospital. There are options, specially here in the US. Buying pasteurized eggs is a possibility. They can be pricey too. The good news is, pasteurizing eggs at home is doable.

 

With the help of an immersion circulator is dead simple, but it can too be done with an inexpensive probe thermometer and a big pot filled with water. The idea behind pasteurization is simple. Heat something to a specific temperature by an specific length of time and eventually pathogens die. The lower the temperature, the less the targeted product will change state (phase) or flavor. In the case of an egg, we want to kill the bacteria but we don’t want to cook the egg. It is a well documented fact what different temperatures do to an egg. Take a look at this chart on www.cookingissues.com. It is also a well documented fact what temperature is required to kill the salmonella bacteria. Here’s is a little excerpt from the wikipedia entry on salmonella:

“Salmonella bacteria can survive for weeks outside a living body, and they are not destroyed by freezing. Ultraviolet radiation and heat accelerate their demise; they perish after being heated to 55 °C (131 °F) for 90 min, or to 60 °C (140 °F) for 12 min. To protect against Salmonella infection, heating food for at least ten minutes at 75 °C (167 °F) is recommended, so the centre of the food reaches this temperature.”

The chart suggests 57 °C  (134.6 °F) for 2 hours which is well within the safety range stated above. Not only salmonella will be destroyed but all other pathogens present as well. Another source I used was this exciting iphone app which suggested 1 hr 31 minutes for complete pasteurization at the same temperature.

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

Notice how the white has gone slightly cloudy. My immersion circulator has been operating with a 0.1 degree over the target temperature, maybe that contributed to the cloudiness and the fact that extended periods of time will continue to slowly denature proteins even at such slow temperatures.

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

Improvising a sous vide water bath at home isn’t difficult. You do need a thermometer, preferably one with a probe so you can throw it in the pot and forget about it (I wouldn’t let it reach or be to close to the bottom, try suspending it in the middle of the water volume) Start with hot tap water (to save some time) and heat up the pot on medium heat. Checking the temperature and stirring the water. When the temperature reaches 134.6 °F set the stove to the lowest setting. It will be impossible to maintain the water at an exact temperature but some over or undershooting is ok, as long as you don’t go near the temperatures at which the egg will cook. Some practice will be required, just to get familiar with the stove and how fast water heats up and cools off.

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

 

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

Since I’ve made mayo, I figured I could use the same idea and pasteurize my mayo as well. The same principle applies and makes making mayo at home extremely convenient as safe. With the addition of yogurt, the shelf life of homemade mayo can be extended from a few days to a couple of months. Vinegar also helps keep pathogens under control.

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

I added my aioli to a sealable baggie and and sucked the air out of it using my vacuum chamber sealer. Not all that necessary though. Since we’re pasteurizing a liquid, we could place the mayo in jars, make sure to tighten the lid well and submerge the jars in the water placing an object over them to keep them submerged. If using the improvised sous vide bath, don’t place the jars directly onto the bottom of the pot which is the hottest, the mayo could be cold and the jars could crack. To prevent air pockets in the jars, you could cover the mayo with vegetable oil, which you could drain afterwards.

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

Place the baggies in the water bath for the required time and done. The Mayo didn’t separate. Once done, you can store your pasteurized eggs or mayo back in the fridge!

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

 

Pasteurizing Eggs or Mayo at Home

Hope you find this useful!!! Thank you for stopping by!  Safe egg eating! I hope you feel more encouraged to try making mayo at home even without having pasteurized eggs at hand. Take care!

 

 

Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise : Aïoli : In 2 minutes or less? YES

Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise

A few nights ago when preparing the tilapia croquettes, I had to improvise a tartar sauce to go with it. I had all the ingredients. I even had everything I needed to make the base mayonnaise and I was excited. It had been a long time since I had made mayo at home, and I still remember how much better than store bought stuff it can be. It really is to die for, for those who like mayo of course. I love this emulsion. If you are one of those cooks who likes to make everything from scratch, then mayo is probably in your repertoire. It isn’t easy. Beating this emulsion into submission by hand is a workout to say the least, and in my case, I fail more times than I succeed. Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise isn’t easy. 

Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise

Maybe you’re a mayo-making devil in which case your secrets are extremely welcome if you care to share them, but if you aren’t, I’m surely not, maybe this post can be helpful. Using the food processor is a popular way of making, but you have to make a large quantity. The blades sit too high (at least on the model I own) and making mayo out of 1 yolk is pretty much impossible. I went online with the typical google search “mayo making science tricks”and a few links popped up.  Some told me about stuff I had already read before, but then I came across a link by one of the food sites I follow religiously: www.seriouseats.com In their weekly column, The Food Lab, Kenji Lopez-Alt (what a crazy cool name, right?!) talks about food science and he is great at it too. He has debunked so many kitchen myths he is one of my culinary heroes along with the modernist cuisine team and Harold McGee. Anyways, back to mayo in 2 minutes!!! click here! I hope you find this as cool as I did. Making mayo at home will never be the same. Requires a hand blender, but those aren’t expensive and can also be the perfect birthday present ! Enjoy!

Ingredients (makes about a cup):

1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from 1/2 a lemon)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
Kosher salt
1 garlic clove minced (leave this out and you have mayo)

Method:

Really simple. Get all your ingredients in a tall container that fits nicely the head of your immersion bender (hand blender). This is important. You want the liquid ingredients to cover the moving parts as shown in the pics. Blend throughly. I added the garlic and salt after I had a nice emulsion going, but I think it could be added at the beginning as well. It is hard to control the flavoring that way though. I added a little bit, tasted, adjusted the salt, added more garlic. Until I was happy with it.

Homemade Garlic Mayonnaise

Microwave Brioche : Gas Expansion and Starch Gelatinization : The basic idea behind bread

Microwave Brioche | First of all, if you haven't, please follow me on Instagram! :) Brioche in the microwave... well... the soft tender interior that is. I came across this clever idea while browsing the book VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers at a Barnes and Nobles on 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica. Pretty awesome book full of interesting ideas and new and modernists approaches to cooking. I haven't bought it but it is definitely on my list. Although I got the idea from the Voltaggio Bros'. I've also seen similar recipes by Ferran Adrià @thatothercookingblog.com

First of all, if you haven’t, please follow me on Instagram! 🙂 Brioche in the microwave… well… the soft tender interior that is. I came across this clever idea while browsing the book VOLT ink.: Recipes, Stories, Brothers at a Barnes and Nobles on 3rd street promenade in Santa Monica. Pretty awesome book full of interesting ideas and new and modernists approaches to cooking. I haven’t bought it but it is definitely on my list. Although I got the idea from the Voltaggio Bros’. I’ve also seen similar recipes by Ferran Adrià, who used to run one of the most innovative kitchens in the world at El Bulli restaurant. He might have been the first one to try this, but I can’t find much information about it. Do you know? Share it in the comments please!

Microwave Brioche

El Bulli has been recently turned into sort of a food idea development center… Ferran now owns and runs the recently founded restaurant  Tickets Bar in spain. Back to the microwave brioche… the “gimmick” in itself is simple but only after understanding how it works. A light batter is placed inside a cream whipper which is then charged with nitroux oxide cartridges and leavened this way. The cream whipper will scatter thousands of tiny little bubbles of NO into the batter.

There are 2 important principles at work behind microwave brioche:

 1. gasses expand when heat is applied

2. flour starches gel at little under 212F (water boiling point at sea level)

Microwave Brioche

These are the principles behind traditional bread too.

In traditional bread, yeast does the work of creating the tiny bubbles that will eventually cause the bread to rise.

Yeast does other wonderful things as well, it ferments and imparts a very special flavor must of us love. Our modernist bread recipe isn’t yeasted, so the flavor isn’t as complex but it still works and with some creativity, this bread can be flavored in so many interesting ways.

I believe that this bread could be made with yeast too in which case the cream whipper wouldn’t be necessary. I want to try this soon (and in a way I had when I made the Baozi buns).  Anyways, when the whipped batter is heated, the water in it heats up, causing the tiny bubbles to expand and on top of that, some water evaporates and the steam helps the expansion even further. In the end it looks like a very yummy sponge. There won’t be any browning or crust of course. Caramelization and Maillard reactions* can only occur well above the water boiling point temperature which is what is reached inside the microwave (fats in a microwave will heat up to much higher temperatures than 212F, please do not try to heat up a cup of oil in the microwave, it is dangerous. It will get extremely hot.)

* The Maillard reaction actually happens at room temperature but it is greatly sped up by applying heat.

Ok, so lets get ready to make this.

One important thing to keep in mind, the sponge will deflate a bit while still in the microwave oven. This is something that wouldn’t happen to bread in a real oven (it does happen but at such small scale is not really that noticeable) because the starches have been given enough time to set. Once our bread deflates a bit it’s a good sign that microwaving time is enough and the brioche is ready.  Gasses and water vapor have left the bread. Further microwaving would dry out the bread and turn it into a solid dry stale piece of brioche. 

Microwave Brioche

Gear:

Blender
Isi Cream whipper
2 NO cartridges
a few paper cups
small spatula or butter knife microwave

Ingredients:

200g AP flour
2 eggs
50g unsalted butter
4g kosher salt
50g sugar
150g milk

 

Microwave Brioche

Here is what you do.

Prep a paper cup (I had multiple ones ready just in case, and there is enough batter for a few tries). You can butter the inside of it or oil it so the bread doesn’t stick. It has been suggested that you puncture holes on the dixie cup, but after some testing, I don’t see much of a difference in the textures. Perhaps the sponginess of the brioche cooked in the punctured cup was better, but I have to run more tests.

Blend all the ingredients together and strain (if it isn’t too thick otherwise just don’t)  into the cream whipper canister.  Then load it with 2 cartridges of nitrous oxide. shake really well. We want 2 cartridges because the batter is thick and it isn’t easy to whip gas into it. One cartridge wouldn’t have enough pressure to achieve that.

Fill cup half way with mixture, I recommend working one cup at a time because like crepes, the first one is always thrown away. But in this case you want to test different times until your brioche is just right. Every microwave is different so you will have to test and fine tune! how fun!

The microwaving.

I microwaved the cup for about 1 minute and a few extra seconds but yours could take more or less time. Immediately take out of the microwave and flip upside down, if you oiled or buttered the cup, the bread will slide right off. Be gentle when handling it and also be careful, it is a hot hot hot delicate sponge. If you didn’t oil the cup, you will need a spatula to help you extract the bread from the cup, it will be slightly stuck in it. And that is it

Microwave Brioche

Have you tried microwaved brioche?! Share your experience with us! Until the next one!  

tangerine + tarragon infused pork belly : sous vide 36h 140ºF

Leaving even a crockpot alone in my apartment freaks me out. The idea of something generating heat and being unattended at the same time is a bit unsettling and has never happened under my watch. I don’t even own a crockpot, but I have an immersion circulator which I’ve used quite a bit but never left running overnight not to mention, running while I was away at work during the day.

After some reading, and checking with some of my blogger friends about the safety of doing this, specially after getting some advice from Stefan from stefangourmet.com, (wonderful chef and sous vide expert), I decided to prepare something different this time. It was very exciting to learn more about slow cooking using the sous vide technique, the flavor development is as you can imagine, crazy good, and the tenderness of this meat was out of this world. Ready for some extreme slow but delicious cooking action?  I am! 

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Oranges and tarragon, great pairing, never tried it with pork, but it worked deliciously! Pork goes really well with sweet and sour ingredients. I used tangerines because they seemed riper and sweeter than their orange friends that day. This is one of the bests things I’ve eaten.

Gear:

cutting board + Knife
immersion circulator
vacuum sealer
plastic bag
strainer
garlic press
butchers twine
sauce pan
long tongs
medium size ramekin

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Ingredients:

500g pork belly

for marinade:
1 shallot coarsely chopped
2 tangerines: reserve juice and skin
2 garlic cloves pressed
tarragon leaves (30g)
pinch of maldon salt
pinch black pepper
vegetable oil to fill a 1.5 quart sauce pan 3/4 of the way for deep frying.

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Method: 
Marinade:
01: blanche tannerie skin for about 2 minutes to tame bitterness
02: simmer juice, salt, garlic, tarragon and skins together for about 2 minutes
03: let cool down in the fridge for about an hour

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Pork Belly:

01: cut a slab of pork belly about 500g, tie it with twine
02: blanch in boiling water for a minute to sterilize  no need!
03: place into a plastic bag for vacuum sealing
04: pour tangerine/tarragon marinade inside bag
05: vacuum seal
06: cook sous vide for 36 hours at 140f
07: remove from water bath and refrigerate overnight
08: cut bag open, place pork belly and its gelatinized marinade on a deep plate
09: microwave for about 2 minutes to liquify marinade
10: remove tangerine skins, reserve marinade
11: reduce marinade in a microwave, about 2 minutes or napper consistency
12: cut pork belly into cubes
13: flash fry each cube at 450 until golden, 30 secs to a min.
14: dry on paper towels
15: plate glazing with tangerine reduction
16: add maldon salt to taste

pork belly goodness getting its deep frying bath!

hope you enjoy this dish and comments, ideas, suggestions are always welcome!

On cooking steak and fast caramelization: NY Steak : Caramelized Onions : Baby Spinach

The luxury of having time to cook something nice in the kitchen, not that common nowadays, is it?, but quick dinners can still be made presentable and delicious. I will use this as an excuse to write about getting a steak dinner done in about 20 minutes and also talk about my experiences searing steak on a pan. I bought a new york steak on the way home (wish it had been a bit thicker, it also included the bone), I had some baby spinach in the fridge, and an onion that was ready to be cooked , literally, another day and it would have been too late for the poor little guy.  Cooking a steak can be easy, once you understand a few things and follow a few steps. If your steak is frozen, thaw it overnight and come back to this post when ready! Defrosting a steak will take a lot of time and please don’t use the microwave for this, unless you don’t care about partially boiling the meat and ruining an expensive cut, at least that’s happened to me every time I did this in the past, maybe microwaves got smarter at defrosting but I doubt it. Ok, let’s assume our steak is cold from a fridge, here are the things to keep in mind when searing a steak properly:

1. Room temperature meat cooks great. A steak cold out of the fridge will present way too many challenges to get it cooked correctly but it isn’t the end of the world. You have at least 3 good options: Let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, but that’s already longer than what I’m proposing a quick dinner should take. Submerge the steak in warm water (about 114 °F but not hotter), this will speed up warming it dramatically, say 5-7 minutes (you can prep everything else while you wait), remember to pat the steak dry with a kitchen towel. The last option could be doing what I did, stick it in the microwave and nuke it for about 30 secs, if still cold, nuke it another 30 secs, that should be enough. 1 minute, plus time resting while you prep will get it there. This approach will not cook the meat in the MW, just warm it up a enough. Allow for a minute between nuke sessions.

2. HOT pan is CRUCIAL, boiled steak might seem yummy to some, I’m sure not so for most. If the steak hits the pan (don’t throw it, layer it away from you into the pan, so the oil spatters away from your delicate skin) and the sound of loud sizzling is missing, don’t waste your steak or your time, remove it, and let the pan get hotter. To test if your pan is hot enough, 3 ways to do it, place the palm of your hand over the pan about an inch away from it, you shouldn’t be able to stand the heat for more than a few seconds. Oil just began to smoke, which isn’t the best way to determine temperature, smoking points of different oils will also be  different, but if you don’t have a choice… I guess. Or buy an infrared thermometer and measure the temperature, should well above 400 °F to guarantee a good sear.

3. Dry steak is overcooked steak… who likes eating a dry steak? actually, this isn’t all that rare (no pun intended) lots of people prefer the safety of a steak well done, some people don’t like blood in their food, understandable, but cooks would prefer you’d prefer a rare or medium rare steak if tender cuts like top sirloin, tenderloin, etc are the case. The tenderness of those cuts can really be enjoyed by cooking them just long enough. Usually a few minutes (2-3) on a hot searing pan per side. If the cut is thick (about an inch or thicker), then finish in the oven at 350°F for so for 2-5 minutes. If you don’t trust your instincts, there’s always the all mighty probe thermometer, and plenty of resources about cooking temperatures and degrees of doneness. Another good indicator that your steak is ready to be flipped is blood pooling at the surface. NY steak medium rare should be about 130°F at the core.

4. Get to know carry over heat,  that’s basically one way of saying, food keeps on cooking for a little longer after it has left the pan. So, say you are a few degrees under your desired doneness level, remove from the pan, carry over heat will finish the job for you. I’m sure there are some fancy techniques and equations to model the heat distribution/diffusion over any steak of any size and fat content, but nothing more reliable than common sense and repetition until flipping a steak on a hot pan becomes second nature.

5. Allow cooked meat to rest… resting cooked protein is a KEY step. Muscle fibers subjected to heat contract but relax after some time. The meat will not be tender until the it gets a little colder. Also, these contracted muscle fibers will make the meat release juices, water, blood, all of which are delicious, but probably not so visually appealing. Resting the meat on a plate before serving is a great way of preserving those tasty juices without ruining your plating skills. The normal resting time for a cooked portion of meat? it all depends on the fat content of the meat, fattier cuts will remain hotter longer. Fat traps heat more efficiently, that’s why we use oil to sear steak and not water. A good guess for resting time would be to let the meat rest for at least 30%-40% of the time it took cook. But I like using a thermometer and not letting meat go to room temperature before serving, that’s a bit too cold for my taste. In the case of our steak, if it took 6 minutes total in the pan, allow to rest for about 3 minutes before carving or serving. Imagine the case of a roasted chicken, about an hour, allow to cool for about 18 minutes, sounds about right. I would still trust instincts and a thermometer better.

6. Seasoning of the meat… I’ve read about this plenty of times, and I don’t think there is a final resolution on the matter. Adding salt to anything drives water out, do we want our meat to be wet on the outside before searing? nope, but do we want our meat to be seasoned while it cooks? well yes! Salt and meat under heat will undergo some amazing chemical transformations while the maillard reaction takes place. I stand in the middle regarding seasoning and when, I season my steaks right before they go in the hot pan so there is not enough water to be drawn to the outside of the meat. And I season them well… probably more than it might seem necessary. Most of the seasoning will leave the meat and go in the pan when the meat starts to release it own juices due the heat firming up the muscle fibers.

6. Smoke point of oils… extremely useful information when searing stuff on a really hot pan. Burnt oil will taste of burnt oil and there’s no undoing this, if you burn the oil and then cook with it, your food will taste bad. Simple as that. Rancid. There are so many cooking oils on the market these days, each with its own healthy properties or whatever, which matters as a cook, but 2 variables that we want to get pretty familiar with are, flavor of the oil and smoke point of the oil. From very flavorful to very neutral, from virgin oils to super refined, tons of stuff to read and test. At home I use grapeseed oil because of its high smoke point and its flavor is very neutral.  Check smoke point on wikipedia.

8. Sear the fat strip on the steak if there’s one, grab your tongs and make sure that that strip of fat is nicely seared, if the steak is too thick, this strip of fat won’t get enough heat from the pan to get cooked, eating raw fat isn’t really that pleasant, and cooked fat will impart a better flavor to your steak. If the steak is thin enough, less than an inch, you’re ok just letting the pan cook it without having to do what I just mentioned above. You can trim the fat after it’s cooked, it’s served its purpose already, and its flavor now forms part of the steak and the juices in the pan.

9. What pan to use…. very important bit of information I almost left out. I have seared steaks in whatever pan I’ve had available at the time, and although the results varied in quality, I ended up one way or another with a seared steak. The easiest time I have had searing a steak is when I used cast iron pans, those heavy black pans are by far the best thing ever invented for searing and they will outlive the owner. Perfect for fond to form and they deglace easily. Using stainless steel pans is another good alternative, but more pricey, and you don’t want to go to cheap on one of these, you might end up with some inefficient bottoms, weird alloys that burn food, hot spots, even rust, so get something that isn’t too good a price to be true. Non-stick … if you wanna get serious about searing meat, stay away from these. They will sear your meat, but their surface doesn’t get that hot, and no brown bits get stuck at the bottom from which a quick pan sauce could be made, so I long ago moved on and as much as I like how easy to clean they are, the finish on the meat isn’t great, plus they can’t go in the oven.

So there it is, when cooking steaks the traditional way, by applying heat to a searing pan, these are probably good points to keep in mind. When cooking steak sous vide things are a bit different but the core concepts like doneness temperatures, and searing techniques remain very similar. Let’s talk about the rest of the meal! Caramelized onions and a simple baby spinach salad with a champagne vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette.

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a simple baby spinach salad compliments this tasty steak!

Ingredients:

Steak (method covered above)  6-7 mins:

NY steak, about 200g
some vegetable oil for searing
some lemmon juice for finishing
Salt and Pepper to taste
finely chopped parsley for garnishing
garlic clove hole, let it roast in pan and remove when golden

Caramelized onions (read below) 7-8 mins:

Half an onion, julienned
Steak juices after resting
Salt and Pepper to taste
2-3 tbs granulated sugar
splash of vermouth

Baby Spinach Salad (mix everything before eating) 3 mins:

About 150g of baby spinach
splash of champagne vinager
splash of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste (maldon or fleur de sel if you have it)

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these onions are beautiful and delicious!

On caramelizing onions fast:

1. Up the ph level (I didn’t do this on this occasion but have in the past) by adding a tiny quantity of baking soda to your onions, a tsp is fine.By raising the ph level, the chemicals reactions involved in browning are sped up, resulting in quicker cooking times. Ever wonder how they get that nice deep brown crust on pretzels? same concept. Lye or Baking soda are used (at a very low concentration) for the same purpose, both alkaline agents.

2. Adding sugar helps brown the onions or  anything you want to brown a lot quicker, sugar  caramelizes at very high temperatures, and releasing energy/heat at a slower pace than even vegetable oils, helping browning. At least that’s what some preliminary and very rudimentary experiments I’ve done suggested. Please let me know if you have more specifics on this, I would really want to know more.

3. It’s hard to burn onions, they have so much water in them. Just cook on high heat with a good amount of oil, and keep stirring for a few minutes until they break down, the baking soda and sugar will help turn them to a caramel color rather fast, adding the steak juices and deglacing any brown bits stuck at the bottom will add depth and more color. Deglace before anything burns at the bottom, and add the steak juices towards the end of cooking, this way you aren’t adding moisture to the onions, that would slow down their caramelization.

4. One last thing, if you julienne the onions very thin, that will help them brown as well, surface area comes into play, they will lose water faster, which helps tremendously with browning. The quicker water can be released, the quicker they can brown.

That’s how you can speed up onions caramelization and not spend 1 hour doing so. The addition of the juices the steak releases after resting back to the pan with the onions is also contributing to the nice deep color of the onions. A splash of vermouth to deglace the brown bits stuck at the bottom, reduce and done. Adjust seasoning, salt pepper to taste.

On flavor balancing:

Sugar + fats = I need a splash of something sour, lemon juice or vinegar or both! That plus the vermouth reduction helps cut through the otherwise greasy feel and makes for a nicer lighter mouthfeel,  specially once I add back the sweet onions to the plate. Always keep in mind flavor balancing when cooking. Taste and adjust, eventually this becomes easier.

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Ah! the medium rare steak is so yummy, the nice splash of lemon juice makes everything bright and summery!

If you prep ahead and get organized, and overlap cooking steps when there are idle times,  you can get this recipe done in about 20 minutes, including warming up the steak(s). All it takes is a bit of coordination, and getting your mise en place ready which should be extremely quick given the amount of ingredients and simple preparation required. Let me know how your next NY steak searing experience goes!!!!

Coconut : Hershey’s Chocolate Ice Cream : Dry-Ice Churning

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Making ice cream using dry ice and a stand mixer is a extremely fun and easy process, and a great option for those who own a stand mixer but don’t own an ice cream maker… and just so you know, the stand mixer is also OPTIONAL too really, because all you really need is a bowl, a strong mixing paddle and a strong arm, you can go to town this way and make ice cream at home with no special gear, but the results you’ll obtain using a stand mixer will most likely be smoother and silkier. Dry ice is nothing more than carbon dioxide that has been frozen, reaching the extremely cold temperature of -109F or -78C.

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Dry ice doesn’t melt, it evaporates (sublimation) which makes it very appropriate for making ice cream at home. It leaves no traces behind, all it really does is help bring the ice cream mixture to a very low temperature rather quickly, allowing for faster churning times and reducing water crystals which would form if the cooking of the mixture would happen at a slower pace. If you want a faster way of making ice cream, you’ll have to look into liquid nitrogen, we won’t cover that technique here today. Always handle dry ice with care, use heavy gloves, allow for good ventilation  and always allow for total evaporation before a delightful spoon of home made ice cream! Here’s what you do: 

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Gear:

stand mixer
1 sauce pan
1 bowl for whisking eggs
1-2 lb dry ice (pulverized )
whisk
measuring cups
hammer, rolling pin, or any other blunt object to crush the ice
plastic bowl, container and spoon
thermometer (if you care to precisely measure things)

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Ingredients:

2 cup heavy cream
2 cup coconut milk
1/2 hershey’s chocolate syrup
1/2 cup sugar (more if you like sweeter)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
6-9 egg yolks

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Method: 

01: mix heavy cream, coconut milk, salt, vanilla, hershey’s syrup in sauce pan
02: temper, bring to a simmer, whisk constantly, for about 2-3 mins
03: remove from heat, let rest until temperature drops under 60C
04: cream egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl
05: pour sauce pan content into creamed egg yolk bowl
06: stir constantly, yolks shouldn’t scramble
07: pour this mix back into the sauce pan, add heat in the stove
08: yolks will thicken when temperature reach 70C-80C, remove from heat
09: the mixture should have a nice creamy consistency
10: place mixture in the fridge and allow to become cold but not freeze
11: place cold mixture in the bowl of the stand mixer
12: use the paddle attachment
13: set to slowest speed, stir for a bit and then

At this point you want to place the dry ice in a bag, wrap it in a towel, and beat the crap out of it with a heavy object, it should pulverize relatively easy. Collect the ice into a plastic bowl and have a spoon ready to scoop it and add it into the stand mixer bowl.

14: start adding the pulverized dry ice into the bowl slowly
15: constantly check that your mixture is hardening up
16: dry ice should completely evaporate before adding more
17: for about a quart of ice cream I used about ~2/3 of a pound of dry ice
18: eventually the mixture will have the right consistency
19: allow ice cream to rest in the freezer for an hour
20: all traces of carbon dioxide should be gone by now
21: the ice cream is ready to serve, keep in freezer otherwise

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Final Notes:

If you buy dry ice, make sure you use it that same day, it evaporates fast, even if you have it in the freezer. A pound of dry ice placed in the freezer overnight will be gone by the next day, all you’ll find is an empty plastic bag 🙂  Ice cream made this way will stay in the freezer for about a week, there are no preservatives, so its lifespan is a bit shorter.  One last thing, if you find a bit of a tangy aftertaste in your ice cream that wan’t intentional that means that a little carbon dioxide still in the ice cream, nothing to worry about, just allow the ice cream to rest another hour and that should do it, Enjoy!!!!!

my vacuum chamber sealer and 3 chicken breasts…

three chicken breasts

three chicken breasts

I’ve been meaning to write more on sous vide for a long while, fish and poultry  mostly, but have yet to test tougher protein and longer cooking times. When it comes to cooking sous vide, owning a vacuum sealer is pretty convenient and standard practice but not an absolute requirement.

I own a VacMaster vp112 and I love it, although there’s nothing portable about it like the amazon title suggests it is in fact the smallest lightest chamber sealer out there. It is heavy though, and you’ll probably set it on the counter and never move it again, like me, but that’s besides the point. For the price it is a pretty awesome option and you can vacuum seal liquids which you couldn’t using the foodsaver types. There are plenty of cool things you can do with one of this things, quick pickles, quick marinates, bubble extractions, quick dough hydration, etc…but let’s not get off track, vacuum sealing food for sous vide cooking is what this post is about

three chicken breasts

In this post I want to document how different vacuum settings affect moisture loss if so. Some vacuum sealers can adjust the quality of the vacuum they create, since the purpose of bagging food is to have the food come into indirect contact with the heated water without air getting in the middle, but I’m not sure how important a good vacuum is required. A strong vacuum will drive water out of the chicken breast in this case and help dry it out, at least this is my theory. The experiment consists in cooking 3 chicken breasts differently packed and no salt. If any food scientists out there, please chime in!.

three chicken breasts

  • Tight Vacuum
  • Loose Vacuum
  • No Vacuum, fat is used instead (butter)

three chicken breasts

My money is on the baggie containing the delicious butter. The validity of this experiment is questionable though, the chicken breasts although similar in size, aren’t exactly the same and definitely dont belong to the same bird 😉  so there will be a significant margin of error and only repetitive testing will yield a more accurate result. I don’t have 300 chicken breasts sitting around, and my little immersion circulator has already plenty to work on with the 3 chicken breasts, so repetitive testing might have to be put on hold…. I’m lazy too. Can you imagine cooking 300 chicken breasts just to prove a point?? Heston, it’s all you.

three chicken breasts

I’ve been cooking sous vides  for a while and really love it, it’s a bit technical, there are really cool things to keep in mind if you wanna get serious about this cooking method which aren’t really only related to cooking sous vide but because of the low temperature at which food cooks it becomes important, stuff like  pasteurization of food, danger zone, botulism, listeria elimination, food safety, par-cooking, core temperature, carry-over heat, thermocouples, PID temperature controlling, etc… but if you just want to cook a chicken breast, you don’t need to know about most of that. It’s quite simple and fun.

Things you need to know though… for this experiment:

1. Raw chicken is a dangerous thing to eat, so please, don’t
2. Chicken meat cooks at rather low temperatures, breast protein denatures at about  64°C
3. Muscle fibers in lean meats like chicken or turkey breast will firm up over time.
4. This firming up will lead to water loss, so don’t over cook.
5. About 1 hour (2 if bone+skin) in the water bath should be plenty in most cases.
6. You could get all scientific and get all your settings from a phone app like sousVideDash

This little app is fantastic, very informative and uber geeky which is pretty awesome. There are also plenty of recipes online, whole blogs dedicated to this, as well as temperature charts, pdfs, you name it… no matter what the source of the cooking times and temperatures is, it’s all an approximation, so only use as reference, and have fun experimenting.

three chicken breasts

After 2 hours at 64°C the moment of truth is here, ok.. almost here.

three chicken breasts

After slicing, here’s what I found:

Tight Vac:

Only slightly dryer than the other 2, barely perceptible and perfectly yummy. You can see the difference in the photo at the bottom of this post.

Loose Vac:

Perfect, delicious as well, actually lost sealing during cooking, so it was simply air pushed out of the bag by the pressure of the outside water in the bath container, it cooked really wonderfully.

Butter no vac:

Perfect texture, succulent and delicious. Possibly better than the loose-vacuum. The butter flavor permeated the chicken making it even yummier. So maybe that clouded my judgement!

three chicken breasts

One thing I learned is this. Food submerged in fat and cooked sous vide is simply amazing, the texture is delicate, tender and moist. If using the proper temperature and time the moisture is retained to a maximum level. No need to vacuum seal, confit cooking comes to mind. Achieving this finish using any other cooking method is practically impossible. Cooking sous vide is extremely easy to control and the results can be easily replicated over and over again.

Cooking this way (sous vide + fat)  can become expensive though, fat alone, whether using butter, duck fat or olive oil for example, adds up and I will be using this approach for special occasions only 🙂

Ather important lesson I learned, a tight vacuum isn’t a all necessary. A looser one seemed to have yielded a better dish actually. The good news about this is a looser vacuum seal takes a lot less time in the chamber, cutting down prepping time significantly.

Here is a vertical photo to maximize resolution, top to bottom: tight vac, loose vac, butter vac, you can see the muscle fibers are less and less apparent the further down you go which translates into a more delicate texture, moist:

three chicken breasts

hope this was enjoyable and somewhat helpful guys, cheers!

1hr 63°C egg. The “perfect” soft “boiled” egg.

Not sure if perfect is the right word here, since perfection when it comes to food is extremely relative and subjective, but I do like my eggs soft and tender and I am a fan of soft boiled eggs. Cooking anything sous vide can be a bit strange in the beginning but there’s nothing strange about this cooking method, it’s been used in the food industry and some high end restaurants for many decades and it’s becoming more common in home kitchens due to less expensive technology readily available.

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An egg is a perfect starting point for anyone interested in trying the Sous Vide technique. Usually, this technique requires vacuum sealing food in plastic bags. The egg can be cooked in its own shell directly though. But vacuum sealing a raw egg isn’t out of the question either.

An immersion circulator is a very convenient piece of equipment to do this, but a good thermometer, a pot, some water and some careful attention can do too.

Egg whites set at a different temperature than yolks do:

Whites set at 80°C
Yolks set at 70°C

Just 10 degrees appart. Awesome, this means that yolks can be set while keeping the whites a bit softer. This can only be done by controlling the cooking water temperature carefully. If we hold the water at 70°C long enough, the yolk will be set (not over cooked which turns a bit greenish, has an off flavor, and its texture is dry) while the whites will still be slightly softer than hard boiled.

The poached egg consistency can be a tricky thing to achieve using the sous vide technique. Whites usually need to set while the yolks are still runny. This means that in order to cook eggs this way, we must rely on carry-over heat which isn’t really what sous vide cooking is about. If you want poached eggs, poach them, Heston Blumenthal has a really good tutorial on youtube.

Soft boiled eggs in the other hand are a great example of sous vide cooking. Because we want both the white and the yolk cooked only enough to have a great soft consistency. So here is what I did:

01: Add water to container and set immersion circulator to 63°C
02: Wait until temperature is stable and add eggs.
03: cook eggs for an hour.
04: drop eggs in ice bath for 30 seconds.
05: serve. The eggs should slip off their shells.

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There are tons of great references on sous vide cooking on the web if you are interested:

http://www.edinformatics.com/math_science/science_of_cooking/eggs_sous_vide.htm

http://freshmealssolutions.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=65:search-perfect-e

http://blog.khymos.org/2009/04/09/towards-the-perfect-soft-boiled-egg/

http://chestofbooks.com/food/science/Experimental-Cookery/Properties-Of-Egg-Proteins-Part-2.html#.UQnBKNUormF

My all time favorite:

http://www.cookingissues.com/primers/sous-vide/

done!