Saturday, July 30, 2011

Still Alive...kinda

I have not written in here in almost 2 months. I will confess 1. I am lazy 2. I have had a bunch of other things going on in my life 3. I am poor, so buying new things is out of the question. Here are explanations to each:

Lazy 
  • Nuff said, I go to work I come home I sleep sometimes I cook and eat. If you have been following the weather, the eastern USA is just awful and muggy right now. Not a good AC unit = lack of desire to turn on my stove.
Going on  
  • Moved to Southern Jersey
  • Changed jobs
  • Car sploded
  • Car sploded again 
Poor
  • Again, lack of funds is stopping me from buying new toys. Plus dedication to work equals lack of time to formulate new ideas. 
A friend of mine suggested changing the format of this blog, as buying new things will eventually put me on welfare. In the near future, I will probably be writing recipes using the products I have purchased on top of purchasing new stuff. Remember I am open to suggestions, they give me a jumping point. So please help.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

iSi Thermowhip

Again it has been a long time and I have had this week's tool for a long time now. A friend of mine sold it to me, unused on the cheap and I thank her for it. Now what was I doing, I will show you:
Top Chef...on the right, I'm just easy on the eyes, girls tell your friends
I was in the city last week working with Chef Richard Blais, the Winner of Top Chef All-Stars. Now, how do these two stories relate? I had this tool, I knew he was going to work with one that night, and I had him show me tricks and tips. He used it to make a warm brown whipped butter sauce. I am using it to make an interesting dessert. First off, here is the tool:
There it is, ooooo shiny and new and you guessed it! We are making HOT MEXICAN CHOCOLATE MOUSSE! Wait, how did you guess that? Are you in my house? Or do I have some sort of Matrix probe thingy in my eye is should know about? I am going to go take the red pill and use the Roomba to remove it. Give me a minute....*blood spatter. Ok, ready? Lets do this. Quickly because I am going to pass out.
Place 1 pint of Half n Half and spices in a sauce pot, I recommend 5 or 6 cinnamon sticks (I know there is 3, but I had not made this before so I am learning too) and 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. Place it on the stove at high heat and bring it just to a simmer, keep an eye on it because this will boil over fast. Remove it, immediately from the heat and slap a lid on it and count to 900 or just set your timer for 15 minutes that should be easier. At this time also start a pot of water, filled half way, simmering on the stove over medium heat.
I am not sure why Google rotates my images, why Google why?
While you are steeping combine 3 oz of sugar (I used turbanado because it has more flavor than white but you can use either, racist) and 6 egg yolks of the large variety. Whisk them quickly together to combine until they are light and fluffy and they look like this:
Its so light and fluffy! See the ribbon that is what you are looking for...did you start your water?
It is all fluffy and ready to go, and if you have timed it right your half and half is infused. Strain it into something you can pour from. Slowly temper it into the egg mixture, I am not going to explain that to you. Oh fine, whisking quickly slowly drizzle the milk in, you are slowly warming the eggs up. When it is hot you can add the liquid faster. If you added it all at once you would make scrambled eggs and you do not want that, or do you? That is just weird, get off my site.
You started that pot of water I told you about right?
Place the bowl over simmering water, I also told you to use a metal bowl right? Whisking constantly stir until the mixture froths up and starts to thicken, if you have a thermometer you are looking for 180F. If not the froth on top will look denser and slightly shiny, pull it immediately and continue stirring. Add 4 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips and and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Stir constantly to melt all the chocolate, it should look like this:
My whisk is broken...but I cannot find another one like this. I am stubborn
Let it sit for a little bit, go pre-treat the canister. First, make sure you have the hot O ring in the canister. That would be the red one they give you in the box. Then fill the container up with hot water and drain, not once, but twice. This will make the inside hot so the mix will not get cold when it touches the metal. Drain it, shake it to get all the water out pour the mixture in. If you look really closely inside you can see the fill line. You really need to stare to find it, so locate it before you add anything. Fill to that line, you will have extra, I am sorry, just eat it, pour it on your head, throw it at passers by, I honestly don't care. Put on the nozzle and then:
THIS IS MY BOOMSTICK!
Charge it with two CO2 canisters. Then screw on the safety cover cap and shake it for 1 minute. Now here is where it gets interesting because up to this point, I have no idea if this will work...if I fail I will die alone so no pressure. Lets do this:

video
I am not much of a videographer but I had to show you real time texture and temperature. I must admit I am impressed, it actually worked and it held its shape for a long time. I WIN, I feel kinda empty still. Maybe some garnish.
A cinnamon stick, all better
Now, you can use this to make whipped cream, parfait, soda, soda parfait, carbonated fruit, or even bubbled tempered milk chocolate. This system works well, if you put something in here and run out of gas, crack open another one. There are NO2 and CO2 tanks, NO2 makes smaller bubbles and works better for whipping fats and CO2 works better with water bases. This is not a cheap item, about $130, I paid less, way less. I can tell you, this is the whipping canister you want. The cheaper ones are not worth it, this is the standard. Also make sure you clean it well, this is an expensive piece of equipment do not break it.Think of this as a thermos with a spray nozzle on it. Have fun, do not splode yourself. I will say, isi, kudos again, first your Twist-n-Sparkle (just sounds like a fabulous dance move) and now this. I have to go stop the bleeding from the Matrix probe and I am not really sure what that red pill was.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nordic Ware Rolled Omelette Pan

I got a special request from a reader on what I should write about next. You seem confused. Yes, I have readers and yes I sometimes listen to them. The reader who suggested this one is a close friend so I will forgive the $40, I just spent on this pan because that is half a day's pay in my world.
Welcome to the first tool I tested that I still am riding the fence about. Let me show you the process I went through and then I will discuss why I cannot decide whether or not I like this thing.
Here is how I started this process, deciding what I want in my omelette. I decided I like salsa and cheese more than anything on my eggs. Here is where I seemingly become uncharacteristic, I make my own salsa, always.
Stuff for an omelette, if you do not know what these are or have them at home I cannot help you
I am not telling you how to make salsa, that is not what this is about. I made a roasted green salsa, my favorite. I bought some preshredded pepper jack cheese, as I do not like to feel my face after eating anything. Blend your eggs and season them with some salt and pepper, unless you have the speed of a rabid mongoose do this first. I use a fork which is a direct thumb in the eye to my culinary training. My whisk is just too big but it would provide more uniform results. I did not add any dairy to my eggs, this is what I prefer. As splash of milk or cream would help with the final results but we will get into that later. Finally, that is 2 eggs of the large variety.
1 tbsp Butter, of the unsalted variety.
I have the burner set on 4 of 10. 5 on my stove is hell and 3 is pretty much off. I used butter but I guess you could use olive oil (from my previous blog that you should go read), bacon fat (which I keep a ready supply in my fridge), or thanks to a chef I work with and if you have it chorizo drippings mmmmmm. Tilt the pan around to evenly coat it. Get all the nooks and crannies, which reminds me I should make English muffins soon. Tilting this pan is extremely awkward, and as you shall see can be messy.
Rotate your head to see the image, this I cannot help.
Add your eggs. Do your best to keep them moving by doing 2 things. Rock the pan backwards and forwards causing a wave motion and hopefully cause the center ridge to get coated. This is difficult, but it is key. This is where the dairy would come in handy, it will make the liquid more viscous and it would coat better. I used the spatula that came with the pan, which is nothing more than a bowl scraper. Using the spatula push the custard around quickly to break up the just setting eggs.
Not easy, see the very small amount of coating in the center, do your best to build that up
Here is where problem 1 comes in. I have an electric range and it does not heat that ridge efficiently, so the custard does not set the second it comes in contact with it. A flame could climb up inside there but the radiant heat does not work well. It will work, it will just kick you in the shins and call you names while you mess with it.
YES I KNOW MY RANGE IS DIRTY, I'M THE ONLY ONE EATING OFF IT RIGHT NOW. I'll clean it tomorrow
The custard is starting to set up, but it is still moist on top. When you see this, add your filling. You want this to be just barely set up as you roll. A slightly undercooked egg will be cooked by the time you serve and a cooked egg in the pan will be crap when you serve it. I also have no counter space around my stove so I have to rest everything on top of it. Roll away!
It lifts easily, and the bowl scraper is the perfect size to apply even pressure. Problem 2, spread the filling out evenly in the first bay and the filling cannot be too wet. If it is too wet it moves around and gets leaky, if it is not spread flat and evenly the clump just does not like to move as you will see in the final results. To roll, use gravity, tilt the pan away from you and scoop. You will get the hang of it, I have not yet.
UGLY, but tasty
Tilt the pan over your plate and slide the egg out. These are ugly little omelettes, but maybe I don't have the hang of the pan yet. How do we fix ugly, besides beer googles?
More salsa, the cure for ugly
This was just a timing and physical mess again maybe more training is needed. These are two tasty hybrid American French Omelettes, LESSON TIME! American omelette is usually a filled and folded in half in a round pan they are ok to brown on the outside and can have large set curd, see Denver Omelette for an image. A French omelette is usually not stuffed but has a creamy unset small curd center and is taken out of a round pan in a tri-fold and has no browning, not meant for being coated in salsa and hot sauce which I enjoy.
I chose to work over low heat and not to set the center to make this a true hybrid, I enjoy soft unset eggs, if you want brown and set up your heat a little bit.
Extremely happy they are still hot enough to melt the cheese

Ok here is the break down, let me get on my MC Hammer pants. Oh wait I always have them on. Ooo shiny. The pan requires you to practice, if you get it the first time you are better than I. I like the idea of this pan. I can see what the designer was getting at. For a novice or someone obsessed on uniformity, like me, this is a helpful tool. It seems to be a uni-tasker and that will anger Alton Brown (whom I love). However, I can see using this for stuffed crepes too. 2 grilled cheeses will work. Finally, fill it with custard and bake it for two subdivided frittatas.
You can buy this pan exclusively at Williams Sonoma. It is around 40 bucks, so it is not cheap. I can see its usefulness eventually, but right now it continues to kick my shins. For those of you scared of teflon, this is one of those new green non-stick coatings. So I guess the butter is not necessary, but it is delicious. The swirling of the custard can get messy, so be delicate when you start. I will still play with it because my original omelette pan is toast from years of use. Save your instructions!!!! I did not, and I cannot find them online, perhaps this is why my shins hurt. *limps away full of eggs till next time

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Howard's Onion Juice and Garlic Juice

I am back. I must currently admit, for the average consumer of food products the amount of "inspiring" items out there is very slim. Shame on  you inventors, quit making my iPod smaller and how bout making cryo-vac machines cheaper, or the size of an iPod nano that would be an interesting article. I came upon the onion and garlic juices earlier last week on the old Food Network. It was some show where the host was watching some guy make a marinade, he began by pouring in a gallon of what he called "onion juice". He never described it, he just said "if you aren't from this area you wouldn't know". I checked my map, I am not from his area, I didn't know, I moved on.
I spent days looking for something to write about. I was furious, I could not find a thing, oh look a waffle maker that makes cupcakes that taste like steaks. No wait, I am blinded by rage and I am hallucinating. I give up, I am going to the liquor store which happens to be across the street from a grocery store. Set out on a mission to buy pickle making supplies I walk down the aisles and see these two little guys. "A replacement for fresh and dried garlic" ok I will play.
These are not just juices, apparently they are more like brines; the respective aromatic, white vinegar, and salt. I had thought what the guy had used in the show was just juiced onions, which I had done before for tofu marinades (don't ask). This seemed more like a regional thing, an actual product that could be purchased. I will play ball...now how to use it? Dressings? I am angry I don't want lettuce. Sauce? Keep it simple, I need something to put sauce on too much work I am lazy. What should I use....hmmmmmm...BINGO
MEEEEEAAAAT!!!!!!!
I do not just buy the super lean stuff that most markets try to sell, I found this blend. This is "meatloaf blend": veal, pork, and beef. Good fat content, nice color, good bind, I will credit these butchers they did good work on this blend. I am going to keep this simple and just lightly flavor it, so here you go
1 1/2 lb meat, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp each garlic juice and onion juice
This is simple stuff, no mango chutneys with apricot foam and parsley gelee, I want seared meat. So I make patties.
I know you know how to make patties, hopefully. I just like to take pictures because they take up space
Great sear, I credit the butcher, hopefully they taste great
I am going to eat this plain, no buns or sauces. I want to taste what I put into these little guys, also yes I froze 3 of them. I have a gluttony problem, I should have been in SE7EN, WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
Ok, I over cooked them, not too badly, they're still juicy
Wait, that is a pork and veal blend, they will not stay pink unless raw especially ground. I may have cooked them right, I taste. BAM! Wow! This is tasty. Onion and garlic, are not strong flavors but there is a level of meatiness umami (see previous blogs) that make me giggle like a Japanese schoolgirl. Nom Nom Nom, OMG LOL MSG! PIKACHU!. That is a great burger, I can tell it is not just the straight meat I am tasting. I am definitely tasting the additives. This is nice.
These little vials do not just add in a flavor of onions and garlic, they add a savory aromatic flavor that is hard to replicate using raw ingredients in a pinch. I would highly recommend a line chef having this just laying around, if needed in a pinch, or make it a standard. The home cook use it as a flavor kick and impress your friends. I am not suggesting replacing the real thing, to get the strongest flavor and texture use those, for an additive use these. Order them online, they are quite pleasant. This is a good discovery, I am no longer mad, until I go looking for my next big find.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Filippo Berio: Spray Olive Oil

Hey, they can not all be crazy new inventions, I'm not made of money
I have been looking at these in the grocery store for sometime now. Thinking, "Hmmm this is 5 bucks and filled with potentially not very good oil and I could go to Sally's Beauty Supplies buy a spray bottle for 2 bucks and fill it with my own good oil." Well I finally caved and bought it. Not so much as because I like the product but I like the idea. Sorry this is not a blog about the new thing that turns cotton candy into a weight loss beverage with the abilities and well endowments of your choice, it is about a pump spray bottle with olive oil in it.
I do not dislike PAM spray or in the case of the professional kitchen Vegelene, I use it for spraying all sorts of things. Including and if you tell anyone I will deny it and you will meet Jimmy Hoffa, lightly spraying items to be toasted or grilled quickly rather than dirtying up a cup and some brushes to coat some bread. Again...Jimmy Hoffa. I bought this for the same reason, not for non-stick purposes but to lightly coat food items. Ready for the excitement, what fantastic amazing item is Robert going to grill up for his eights of readers???
HAHA...Belgian Endive...I'm poor...sigh

So, I sprayed some Belgian Endive and sprinkled it with my favorite multi-purpose seasoning SPIKE. I also did not pay for the endive it was given to me to emphasis the fact I have no money. Now what amazing way will I cook these, sous vide? inverter microwaves? green non-stick pans? Nope, are you ready!
I did not pay for this either, I think my sister gave it to me, or I stole it. Notice the SPIKE, mmmmm.
Yes, I grilled it on a George Foreman. Shut it, they work well for adding some grill marks in a pinch. George had it right by selling these to the public, they have been around forever, in Italy, they are called panini grills, or panino if you want to get technical. Here is the proof:
Sure looked grilled to me, and they are cooked, and if you count them, they are tasty
The spray was fine enough that it covered it quickly and evenly. As you can see there was good heat transference because of the grill marks. It worked. So it is a good idea. Now here is the low down. This is a one shot deal, they rigged it so when it is empty you need to buy another one. Go to a hardware store for a large one, or a beauty store for a small one. Then go to the grocery store, you have one of those right? and buy your favorite oil that will not smoke and ignite if you are going to cook it (pure olive oils, canola, sunflower, etc), or the best tasting one if you are going to just serve it (walnut, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, or if you are rolling in the dough white truffle, then call me), finally pick up eggs, Zebra Cakes, and Diet Mountain Dew for me. Do not mix and match bottles, dedicate them, because oil leaves flavors and smells behind. Do not stop at oil; vinegars, wines, syrups, and liquors will all benefit from being finely misted on to food. Now you can say "Oh I added a essence of XO cognac to my turkey sandwich on Wonder Bread" Spritz anything, your imagination is your key.
I also can tell you that it works fantastic as a non-stick spray as well. My eggs came out beautifully for breakfast the next day...so what if it was at noon it is still breakfast. Buy your own bottles and add a touch of professionalism to your own kitchen. You can also tell your "I am opposed to chemicals" hippie friends that you did not use propellants...but secretly add MSG from my Umami Paste blog to get even and have the last laugh. Maybe next week I will have more money to talk about something more intriguing to the masses. Until then work with some basics and quit crying about it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Robert Kristof Brand: Domestic Ghetto Sous Vide Cookery

I know it has been a while...again, but I made a promise to myself when I started this. I would not force it, oh look I found pink sea salt wow that is the neatest thing ever and I want to tell the world to use it. That sort of crap. This wonderful contraption makes baby food OH MY GOD...wait so does a brick, some soft food, and a microwave, and then a larger brick. This episode is about something neat...MEEEEEE! LOVE MEEEEE! This is my domestic sous vide cookery, this is my setup:
This looks like a pot, a range, a fish bubbler, a thermometer, a microwave, and some surfaces in need of scrubbing....DING DING DING You WIN!
Allow me to explain sous vide for some of you, culinary friends go surf the Facebook or search for the next "I'm on a boat" while I enlighten others who didn't pay $40,000 to learn about this. Sous vide means "under vacuum" which means it is in a air deprived environment, in this case a plastic bag. The traditional way of cooking it is submerged in water that is set to the precise temperature that you want the food cooked to, you want a medium steak set it 140F and drop your bag in. Now after a while you will pull it out and there a steak that never got about the temperature that makes beef medium, slight difference from cooking at 500F the outsides cook faster than the insides. Now chefs have been using industrial vacuum sealers and lab equipment water circulators. Total cost: more than my car is worth (about $62.50) and my yearly rent ($7200) combined. I did it for less than $200.
Vacuum Sealer, about $150 bucks, they make better ones, but I cannot resist the shiny blue light, and I had a Target Card
Seal the food, I did bone in pork chops:
You can sear them before or after if you desire color, since these are being par cooked and saved I did it before, because I will not be there for the final preparation
Place it in the water and let it ride. Now what of the fish bubbler, about $12, that is in the pot because the water is heated from the bottom. In order to make the temperature completely even I added the bubbler and place it at the bottom, now it it pushes the hotter water all around the pot and the temperature stays even. That is what the thermometer is for, thanks for asking, I would love to explain it. I keep it towards the top, just on top of the item being cooked, it is the coolest at that point. Set it and forget it, we miss you Billy Mayes, thanks for leaving us with Slap Chop Guy. Get yourself a good calibratable (is that a word?) thermometer, a quiet fish bubbler, deep pot, water (this is key, you need water), vacuum sealer, and a steady stove (induction or electric work best), and lots of patience (which I have none, hence my car being worth $61.00 (it depreciated since I last mentioned it)).
Chefs love to use this technique for fancy stuff, foie gras, compressed watermelon, baby seals, live owls, that sort of thing. I use it as a catering tool, I can cook 203035 steaks (slowly, I only have one stove) to rare with some seasoning, butter, rosemary, garlic, wine, etc, chill it and store. Then when the time comes I start opening bags, grill or sear, and they will all be medium rare, I do not care if you want it medium well, that cow died for you do not kill it again. It was a hypothetical so back off. 
So...LOVE MEEEEEE!!!! I just need to tag this with some sweet graffiti, spinners, and a boom box. Then call Pimp My Sous Vide then it will have an HD tv installed. Thank you Xhibit! and Billy Mayes!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

iSi Twist n Sparkle

What a crazy week but it ended on a high note, it was pay day and I got my tax return which was larger than I expected. So like any red blooded American with a little extra scratch I got in my car and headed to the mall. Now I live in Poughkeepsie, NY so our mall is basically a soup kitchen with a used car dealership and a Macy's attached to it oh and a Target but I am a chef so I wanted a Williams Sonoma to drop a large chunk of money at. Off to Danbury, CT, however apparently Sprint Navigation thinks that there is a store on a cul de sac in the middle of mountain range with no cellphone service and no street lights, so Sprint here is a middle finger to you. Thank you police officer of what ever unnamed town I ended up in that lead me to the mall. Cursing the whole way I get there and realize I have always wanted something like this. There are a bunch of new trends right now that have lead to this type of product being more readily available to the domestic population. Those trends are: the anti-plastic movement, the anti-high fructose corn syrup movement, the anti-soda corporation movement, the anti-letting people decide for themselves movement, and the pro-making me angry movement.
There are several varieties of these I have seen, the big one is the Soda Stream. Then there is the iSi Twist n Sparkle. I chose the iSi for several reasons even there are pros to the Soda Stream. The iSi corporation has been creating soda canisters for many years, in fact if you have ever used a soda gun it was probably iSi. It will be slightly more expensive in the long run, because the Soda Stream uses a canister that make multiple batches while the iSi only uses single shot canisters. But as with the coffee pod movement I worry that if the company goes out of business the canisters are no longer available, but the single shots are the standard generic type that I have seen. The iSi can be stored in a drawer, the Soda Stream takes up counter space. So $105.00 later, for the starter kit (1 gun, 3 cartridges, and 1 bottle), 2 additional bottles, and a 24 additional cartridges I leave Williams Sonoma, still angry with Sprint, like murderously angry. I see a Macy's, now I saw a soda machine there first, and the concentrates for them. I decide to buy the concentrates and figure out how to use them in this kit (2 1/2 Tbsp Soda Stream Concentrate to 3 cups water for the iSi). I did not tell you that you figured it out yourself and told me and I went back in time and posted that.
Here is how it works. Moved to NY and fell in love with a coffee soda. It is expensive and is just essentially carbonated sweetened coffee, I did not have any cold coffee around but will make it soon enough. I used iced tea instead.
Fill with 3 cups of liquid, use a funnel (sold separately, if you do not own a funnel hit yourself with a tack hammer)

Add 1 cartridge, this is my soda maker, there are many soda makers like it but this one is mine, without me it is nothing, without it I am nothing

Screw on cap, tightly, it will leak not great seals

Holy fizz Batman

After 1 minute, remove gun and add cap, store and drink

Look, fizzy lifting drinks! Yes, I read the instructions

Fizzy black tea, I actually like it, some lemon would be perfect
I like this, so fun, I have wanted one for a while, especially after my homemade root beer attempt which lead to brown stains on my ceiling. KABOOM! Sticky mess. Now I can make a diet one because I am a diabetic and to make carbonation the traditional way you need to use yeast and sugar, which lead to kaboom. Next on my list is to carbonate whole bottles of liquor. Mmmmm carbonated bourbon. Bring this to parties, mix up large batches of any non-pulpy drink, carbonate, and don't share. You bought it, let them buy their own, oh and tell them how good it is. I will also try to carbonate solid food in here too, specifically grapes and melon balls. Use the concentrates to make your own flavors of cola, chocolate, vanilla, lime, bacon, whatever, do it. The cost per 24 fl oz of any soda works out to be about $.90 that is not bad, and you can feel all pious as you will not be using plastic bottles and tell people how much better than them you are, then drive your hybrid, slowly, away. They also have energy drink concentrates, much lower in sugar than the ones you buy in a can but all the caffeine, use the same ratio as previously listed.
Good product, iSi, you get a cookie and a medal, they're in the back in a box go help yourself. Go spend your tax refund on this like I did, money does buy happiness, your grandmother was wrong. Fizzy drinks also make happiness. Finally, Sprint Navigation on the HTC Hero, you can take a long walk off a short pier, which is probably what your GPS system will tell you to do, I am sure there is a Home Depot at the bottom of whatever large violent body of water you walk into.