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Showing posts from May, 2010

Low-Technique: Manual Sous Vide

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If you had told someone you were going to cook sous-vide, they would have probably looked at you like you had two faces.  And if they did, by some chance, know what sous vide cooking was, they would have thought you had over a thousand dollars worth of equipment.  Now-a-days, with home appliances like the Sous Vide Magic and the Sous Vide Supreme, people would think that you were cooking with several hundreds of dollars of equipment. The truth is, all you really need to cook utilizing the sous-vide method is the ability to put some plastic-wrapped product into a temperature controlled container of water.  While not the first to do it, Martin Lersch made a sous vide rib-eye just by using a big pot of water, a thermometer and a plastic bag. This is not your only option.  If you don't like the idea of having a constant heat source going (e.g. the burner or you can also take the pot and try and put it in the oven), you can also use J. Kenji Lopez-Alt's beer cooler sous vide te

Low-Technique: The Anti-Griddle

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As the name suggests, The PolyScience Anti-Griddle is a flat-top cooking apparatus that uses extreme cold instead of extreme heat to modify the texture and flavors of food.  The cooking surface is a metal sheet approximately 15" x 9" that is cooled to -30ยบF by specialized refrigeration gear.    This can be used to create some unique dishes or components.  Examples include: The Moto team used the Anti-Griddle to make crepes on a recent episode of Future Food   Grant Achatz's  Mango , Bonito, Soy, Sesame course at Alinea PolyScience's own Philip Preston makes a creme anglaise lollipop by griddling both sides but leaving the center creamy Most home cooks cannot afford the 1000$ price tag.  The good news is that you can simulate the AntiGriddle at home provided you can get your hands on some dry ice.  A number of people have talked about AntiGriddle hacks before, but the first mention I could find came from Nick Kokonas.  Nick is Grant Achatz's

The Foie Gras Fight

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I think there is a huge misconception about the goals of animal rights groups.  My reason is that every time an animal rights group attacks  the foie gras industry, you see people defend the treatment of the ducks used to make foie gras.  Statements like: Ducks aren't like people.  They don't feel pain during gavage . or: Why go after foie gras when we all know that the commercial chicken industry is a much bigger offender. There are two key points that I want to raise about the enemy of foie gras: They want to stop the slaughter of all animals , no matter how they are treated while they are alive.  While I think they are able to perceive the areas between downright animal cruelty and the more respectful means of raising and slaughtering animals, most of these groups really want all animal slaughter to go away.  That is the end goal.  I don't say this out of paranoia, or fear that they'll take away our meatz, I say this because they think that killing animals

Fat Tuesday: Swordfish Sous Vide

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I think that most fish cooked sous-vide is a little over rated.  There is something about the texture that just doesn't work for me.  There are a couple of notable exceptions:  Swordfish, Monkfish and Skate.  With both Swordfish and Monkfish, you can get thick cuts of dense fish that remain incredibly moist, and you can achieve some amazing textures. Alas, I didn't take any other pictures.  Swordfish (thicker the cut the better), lemon zest, salt and pepper.  This was tossed into a 127F bath.  Lemon zest is an amazing ingredient when used in sous vide cooking.  It results in a very powerful and clear lemony flavor.  After the bath, I seared it in a cast iron pan.  The only warning I have with fish in sous vide, besides the texture/consistency issues, is that it will turn to mush if you let it cook too long.    The great thing about this was I used a minimal amount of fat (just the oil in the pan for searing).  Pretty low in fat, not many calories, omega-3s, de

Fat Tuesday: Intro

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Welcome to Fat Tuesdays, where I talk about health and obesity.  You might find some healthy recipes, some rants against the establishment, and a lot of self deprecating humor.  There are a lot of reasons why I want to write about health, but the biggest reason I have started to take the issue of health personally is: For most of my adult life I have seen my weight increase steadily, with my BMI starting at nineteen (19) and ratcheting up to a whopp[er]ing thirty-four (34).  For those of you who do not have the scale memorized, a 19 is in the normal range.  Thirty-four is solidly in the obese range and getting close to morbidly obese .  While there is no confusing whether or not I am fat, I wear it reasonably well enough that most people are surprised to hear I am this unhealthy. It sucks to be obese, but to have morbidly obese on your horizon is fucking terrifying.  But it still wasn't enough to change my ways.  My ways were, by the way, that of any food loving, gainfully

FreshMealsMagic: Octopus Sous Vide Part II

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As we already know, I cannot get enough of octopus.  I feel bad, because they are very intelligent creatures.  But, if they were so intelligent, wouldn't they find a way to be less delicious?  Or evolve, industrialize and hunt us for food?  I had a whole octopus vacuum sealed in the freezer.  So I defrosted it, splashed in some olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt.  Cranked up the FMM to 176F and tossed it into my water bath. I've talked about cooking octopus sous-vide .  This is one of those sous vide applications that just. makes. sense.  Octopus can be a finicky beast.  Cook it right and it is fucking amazing.  Cook it wrong and you are chewing on cephalopod chewing gum.   The great thing about using the Fresh Meals Magic here is just the shear amount of space available compared to other water baths that I've used.  I also took the liberty to cook some sweet potato in the same bath.   It was going to be octo-taco night (or for the truly int

FreshMealsMagic: Octopus Sous Vide

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4# Octopus cooking at 176F in an FMM controlled water bath or alien life-form in hibernation chamber? Either way, it's what's for dinner.

On Time And Cooking

Michael Ruhlman tossed another stone in the stagnant pool of the American dietary habit last week.  He called bullshit on the trope that people don't have time to cook at home.  Taking aim at all of the television shows, food writing and companies that continuously remind us about how little time we have to cook meals, Ruhlman reminds us that faster meals can come at the price of our health. I know we need him standing on the wall that protects good, honest cooking, but I feel that his defense sprayed some friendly fire on some allies. It is complete bullshit that you can't make a healthy meal in 20 minutes.  If people started making healthy meals in 20 minutes, maybe they would learn to like cooking.  And then maybe they'll spend 30 minutes or an hour.  Even if they don't, they are still making healthy meals.   If I had the reach of a Michael Ruhlman, I would be encouraging people to cook.  Period.   Of course, I don't.  But if you read this blog, you

OT: How to Move From Wordpress.com To Blogger

This is completely not food related, and I apologize.  But the world needs to know how to do this, and I have no other soapbox. BACKGROUND You'd probably think I wouldn't care about where my blog is hosted, given how infrequently I post.  The truth is, I planned on moving off of Wordpress.com for awhile.  Wordpress.com was decent enough, but it does have a number of limitations and weaknesses, including: Cost.  Wordpress has yearly fees for domain handling and being able to edit CSS.  It isn't a lot of money, but Google is free, and therefore significantly cheaper. Template Editing/JavaScript.  Wordpress doesn't allow JavaScript at all.  They blame security, but Google has found a way to handle this.  Stats.  Wordpress doesn't make it easy to use external stats and the stats it does provide are a little lacking.  The external stats limitations have a lot to do with the lack of JavaScript support.    Feedburner.  Blogger integrates with feedburner easi

Fresh Meals Magic: Turkey Burgers Sous Vide

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As part of a newer, healthier Pablo, I am on the hunt for making a delicious turkey burger.  The biggest challenge with turkey burgers are flavor and lack of moisture.  Or, said another way: the lack of fat that makes a turkey burger healthy, also makes it suck.  As far as flavor goes, I mixed the ground turkey meat, soy sauce, salt, pepper, ramp and garlic powders.  I also figured this would be a good application for sous vide.  You are probably asking why there is a ring mold in the bag.  This was done to maintain the shape of the burger during the vacuum sealing process.  Even on a weak sealer, a burger will end up tapering on both sides. As we can see in the picture above, tapering makes your burger look like a flying saucer.  This is less visually appealing, but there is a very utilitarian concern here as well.  If it is not flat on each side, then less surface area touches a grill or griddle.  While a ring mold gives us something that looks a little more manufactured