Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sous Vide Historical Note: Count Rumford

If you read the Sous Vide article at wikipedia, you will notice an uncited reference to Count Rumford discovering sous vide. Now, there are two banes to my existence, wikipedia and uncited references. Since wikipedia content is religiously stolen, aggregated and republished, Google becomes useless when trying to hunt down the minutia that keeps me going.

Fortunately, I managed to hunt down the essay written by Count Rumford. I should I say eſſay. Or ſhould I ſay eſſay? Because, apparently, as late as 1802 we were still using the long s. Which makes reading Count Rumford's ſeminal eſſay, "Of the imperfections of the Kitchen Fire-places now in common uſe" a real delight.

You people owe me.

This essay, which could be found in 1802's timeless classic Essays, political, economical, and philosophical, Volume 3 not only gives us valuable insight into the culinary happenings of the 1800's, but also gives us one of the earliest documented efforts of low temperature cooking.

The opening salvo reads much like an essay you would have read at the beginning of the modernist cuisine movement:
The advantage that would result from an application of the late brilliant discoveries in Philosophical Chemistry, and other branches of Natural Philosophy and Mechanics, to the improvement of the Art of Cookery, are so evident, and so very important, that I cannot help flattering myself that we shall soon see some enlightened and liberalminded person of the profession take up the matter in earnest, and give it a thoroughly scientific investigation.
Doesn't that sound a lot like the beginnings of modernism?

Monday, August 16, 2010

KitchenAid's Chef Touch: Whirlpool's Foray Into Sous Vide Appliances

Jean-François, over at sousvidecooking.org, posted about KitchenAid's first foray into a sous vide solution: Chef's Touch.  As a casual observer of the consumer sous vide market, I am excited to see the one of the largest home appliance manufacturers dip a toe into the space.  So excited, that I scoured their website trying to absorb as much as possible.


Image of the KitchenAid Chef Touch

Their website indicates that the Chef's Touch Solution is comprised of three parts:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

DIY PolyScience Form-Factor Smoke Guns Part II

In Part I of my guide to replicating the PolyScience Smoking Gun, we discussed the basics of the gun as well as previous DIY attempts.  In this segment, I will walk you through my process for making your own smoke gun with some very simple parts.

Even though this guide will produce a working smoke gun, in the end, you will not have a PolyScience Smoking Gun.  You will have something that looks similar to one, but most likely will not be as durable.  Even with some of the improvements I plan to make in the future, it is unlikely that this is as good as a PSG.

PolyScience specifically mentions details that makes me believe this device is different under the hood.  I am willing to bet that theirs will survive longer and get better results.  For example, they mention a "Heavy-duty metal blower fan".  Cursory examination did not reveal anything resembling sturdy construction.  That being said, you can't beat the price, and if you find yourself burning out the DIY ones, spend the money and get the real thing.  Finally, I have to assume they know more about food safety than I do.

Before we begin, I need to give the disclaimer.  You know, the one where I make no warranty that any of this is safe.  That applies to both the construction and use of said device.  If it explodes in your hand, not my problem.  If the plastics or the smoke gives you tumors, don't call me.  If it explodes and gives you tumors, don't call me... just email me some pics.  Please read the safety section at the bottom of this post.

Ok, let's get started.  First off, you are going to need:

Sunday, August 8, 2010

DIY PolyScience Form-Factor Smoke Guns Part I

Smoke guns are culinary gadgets used to apply smoke to food.  Under the hood, these devices are basically handheld electric vacuums with a pipe attached to the input nozzle.  You turn on the vacuum, apply fire to the pipe, the vacuum pulls the fire into the pipe, setting the woodchips or herbs in the pipe on fire.  The smoke travels through the vacuum and out through the exhaust, and onto your dish.  They are far less cumbersome than stovetop smokers and are great if you just want to give smokiness to any dish.  While PolyScience sells one of these units for approximately $80, a lot of people made their own version.  Oh lookie, here comes one now:
Chadzilla's MINI-VAC Smoker.  Cite: www.chadzilla.com
These DIY models were based on the Mini-Vac vacuum, which you can buy off of Amazon for about $17.   This approach is pretty functional, and all said and done probably costs $25-30 to construct, not including your labor.

Alternatively, you can buy one of these pre-constructed at any full service smoke shop.  You know, where they sell "tobacco" equipment.  The mini-vac approach is great, but there are some shortcomings:

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