Category Archives: products

Food Lab’s Hollandaise

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I have been reading this new book, The Food Lab, by J. Kenji Lopez Alt.

It’s more a science book than a cookbook… but the Engineer in me, loves that.  It explains how food works, why it works… and why it doesn’t.  If I can get through this 900 page tome, I’ll be smarter for it.

While I’m only in the first chapter, Breakfast, I am learning all sorts of things about Eggs.  Kenji’s style of writing is interesting, funny, and engaging.  He explains the science in simple terms that anyone can understand.  He uses experiments to debunk old wives tales and misinformation, and uses facts and data to support his conclusions.

For instance, while talking about Eggs he explains the different cooking times and temperatures of both the whites and yolks, pointing out that at their different ideal temperatures (180F for whites vs. 145F for yolks) yields challenges for getting both just right at the same time.  Mix in the variety of cooking techniques (boiled, poached, scrambled, and fried) you have a variety of perfect ways to cook the perfect egg – dependent on what is perfect to you.  Kenji offers tables and charts to summarize his data and allow the reader to formulate their own personal preference.

And while I am finding this all very interesting (I did say I was an Engineer), one particularly useful technique came out of his Egg section that I find fascinating and wanted to share.

Kenji’s ‘recipe’ for hollandaise.  I won’t explain the science behind this (get his book)… but his solution makes for the easiest hollandaise – and maybe the most consistent, delicious, and creamy version I have come across.

Melt 2 sticks of butter until melted completely.  Do not stir, allow the milk solids to rise to the top.

In an immersion blender add:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 T. hot water
  • 1 T. lemon juice

Blend up egg mixture and slowly add melted butter, leaving milk solids in the pan.  Continue to blend butter into egg mixture until butter is used up.

Season with salt and cayenne.

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I made up this hollandaise from start to finish in less than 5 minutes and topped over my Eggscellent Eggs (https://krittersmenu.com/2016/04/06/eggscellent-eggs/).

Great technique to add to anyone’s repertoire for your hollandaise needs.

Mushroom Feast

We have recently taken on a new hobby of mushroom foraging.  With the help of a club and mushroom experts (mycologists) we are building our confidence and pantries with mushroom goodness.  You can read about our new ‘hobby’ here.

We recently put our haul to good use with a Mushroom Fest Feast… a four course dinner centered around the different dried and fresh varieties we were collecting.  So we invited friends and shared our wealth of goodness.

Each of these course I labored over with great thought to try to best highlight the different mushroom types.  All the mushrooms we collected ourselves.

Course 1:  Porcini – Beef

When I think of porcini, I think of that amazing beefiness that is the trademark of this amazing mushroom.. so why not pair it with beef.

  • Pan seared fresh porcini
  • Quick fried thin sliced rib eye
  • Chili-garlic aioli
  • Fresh thyme
  • De-hydrated corn crunch
  • Espellete pepper

 

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Course 2:  Fresh Oyster & Chanterelle cream sauce, crispy skin chicken, and crispy noodle

Chanterelles love cream, so why not make a crispy fried chicken and al-dente noodle that is fried to give it a crisp edge and crunch with this mushroomy voluptuous sauce.

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Course 3:  Porcini & Morel risotto with Pork Tenderloin

Risotto can be labor intensive, but it yields a super creamy intense texture and flavor when paired with the richness of mushrooms.  I used dried porcini & morel + fresh porcini for this creamy rice side for our pork tenderloin.

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Course 4:  Oddball mushroom dessert

Mushrooms for dessert?  Why not!  This surprising dish WORKED!  I was so impressed.  It had texture, balance, and flavor in spades.  It was really good.  I used de-hydrated Cauliflower mushroom that I seared and sprinkled over the other components.  It was delicious… who’d a thunk it?!

  • Cauliflower mushroom
  • Peach dice
  • Avocado cubes
  • Fried crispy fresh oregano leaves
  • Parmesan snow
  • Golden syrup
  • Smoked olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • Chocolate covered toffee chips

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Smoking Gun

 

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For the person who has everything… I got something for Christmas that I’m fairly sure no one else on the mountain has… a smoking gun!

And by ‘smoking gun’, I don’t mean evidence of some insidious plot or nefarious misdoing.  It’s all about the food, or in this case, includes cocktails.  Think smoked margaritas, or smoked bourbon manhattans.  How about smoked scallops, duck breast, or tenderloin… without having to prime your coals for hours?

The device is simple.  Put fine wood chips in the small nozzle cavity.  Hook up the hose, and put it in your desired plate (or glass) of prepared food (or beverage), covered with a little plastic wrap.  Light the wood chips and turn on the smoker.  Instantly smoke wafts into and around the desired product.  Leave the plastic wrap (or foil) on for a couple minutes while the meat (or drink) rests… and no kidding… you can taste the smoke.

A little novelty?… perhaps.  Cool?.. Absolutely!

 

 

Ebelskiver Pan

Ever heard of an Ebelskiver?  They are a danish pancake.  They can be savory or sweet, served as a snack, dessert, or breakfast.  It’s like a cross between a donut and a muffin.  They are cooked in a special cast iron pan, with deep holes.  A small amount of batter is it put in the hot pan, then a filling (think banana and brown sugar; chocolate fudge; apple, sugar, cinnamon; green chili cheese; or apricot and ginger), then topped with more batter.  They cook on one side, then are flipped to the other side to finish cooking.

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The exterior is crisp, while the interior bread is light and soft, with a gooey filling.

All it takes is a special pan, some eggs, flour, butter, and baking powder.

Sprinkle in some imagination (or the cookbook that comes with) and you’ve got a special, unique breakfast.

Girolle

I have come to love great cheese.  Not the ordinary Monterey jack, colby longhorn, and mozzarella (not that I have anything against any of those), but I’m referring to the off the wall, funky, unique cheese found in specialty cheese shops in our far away travels.  It may be no surprise to those who know me, I always seem to find myself in food stores, kitchen shops, and gourmet venues of all kinds on my travels near and far, locally and abroad, this country and others.  It’s on these jaunts that  I often run across new product and foods.

On one such adventure I was introduced to Tete de Moine, and a special cutter called a girolle or cheese curler.  This lovely cheese has an intense flavor, and it’s experience and taste is heightened by the act of carving it into thin flowerettes.

girole_SsiDuring a cheese tasting dessert course one evening, my astute friend, Dave, (always one to ask the more obscure interesting questions), inquired of my favorite cheeses.  Tete de Moine was among my favorites I mentioned.  Dave, being Dave, somehow took note of that… found it… and brought it to our home.  Do I have great friends or what?!

When he mentioned he had acquired Tete de Moine, I was quick to order from Germany this Girole (cheese curler) so that a we could fully enjoy the experience.  And enjoy we did.  It was absolutely fabulous.  Every bit as good as I remembered.  Thank you, Dave. You’re awesome!tete de moine_Ssi

From ‘Cheese.com’:

Tete de Moine cheese is being made since eight centuries. It is believed that the monks staying at Moutier the mountainous zone of the Bernese Jura in Canton of Bern (Switzerland) manufactured this cheese. And hence the cheese takes the name ‘Tete de Moine’ meaning ‘Monk’s Head’.

The cheese is made from cow’s milk and half-cooked or half-hard pressed paste. The cheese develops its scented flavours effectively only when it is scrapped. So, to enjoy the best taste, a tool called ‘Girolle’ was invented in 1982. A scraper attached to the central axis of the apparatus makes scrapping the cheese easier!

Omnivore salt

I’m a salt freak.

I admit it.  I don’t know how many different salts I own… but it’s more than a few. I have Australian Murray River sea salt, alder smoked sea salt, Jurassic salt, French fleur de sel, gray salt, maldon salt from the UK, and the list goes on.

To non salt lovers it must sound weird.  Why on earth do you need so many salts?

The truth is I’m an addict!  But really, they do taste different.  I love doing salt tastings for novices… it’s a great eye opening experience for the uninitiated.  Our first salt tasting that turned us on to the whole salt thing, many years ago before salt was ‘a thing’,  was at none other than The French Laundry in Napa Valley.  Yes, that French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s famous world class restaurant.

The multi course meal was mind blowing.  We were most of the way through it, and as much as I love salt, I never felt a need for it throughout the meal.  But we came to this lovely lamb dish, and I wanted salt.  My husband thought I was insane, asking for salt in such a fine restaurant establishment.  But I wanted salt for the lamb, it needed it.  When we asked for it we were convinced that the poor waiter would be shot on the spot when he went back into the kitchen and told of our need for salt.  Instead, the same waiter appeared, unscathed, with a platter full of different salts.  Each salt was in a different sort of container with a different spoon.  One in a miniature silver terrene, one in a carved wooden bowl, etc.  There was smoked salt, and red salt, and Jurassic salt.  Oh my!  He proceeded to put a little pile of each salt on a little plate for us, explaining what each was.  Being my first exposure to such ludicrousy we were in love.  We sampled each salt and lingered over that lamb course.  To this day, I forget how the lamb was… but oh, that salt!  It changed our lives!

We actually pair salts to different foods. Smoked salt is great with grilled meats, but French fleur de del is great with grilled vegetables, etc.

So when we saw this Omnivore Salt in Bon Appetit, we had to try it.  I am pretty particular about my salt these days.  I loathe the stuff in shakers, sold in cardboard containers.  We bring our own salt grinder to restaurants… and I give away salt cellars to people whose homes we frequent for dinner.

The Omnivore Salt is a ‘seasoned salt’.  In other words, it’s not a salt from far reaching corners of the world, it’s a salt mixture.  It’s mostly salt with seasoning… black pepper, chili pepper flakes, etc. as additives to the salt.  The list of ingredients is vague, calling for salt and spices.  But it’s a good mix.  We like it.  And for now, it’s the salt we are using.

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Sansaire Sous Vide

Sous vide is that boil-in-a-bag cooking method favored by professional chefs.  Chefs like it because it allows them to make ahead food preparations that are consistently done to their exact specifications.  The concept is that you put your food, (let’s say a nice steak), with your seasonings and aromatics (sprig of thyme, garlic, salt, pepper) in a food saver vacuum seal bag.  You fill your sous vide container with water and install your sous vide water circulator, and set to the desired doneness temperature (let’s say 130F).  When the sous vide water circulator has reached the set temperature, you insert the package of meat and aromatics and allow to cook.  Cook until the food product (meat in this case) reaches your desired temp throughout (for steak, 45 minutes is good).  The great part is it will never overcook, as it never exceeds the pre-set 130F temp.  You could leave the meat in the sous vide for 3 hours with no difference in doneness.

Once it’s done, you remove the meat from the water bath and the vacuum seal bag and sear the meat to get a good crust.  Remember that it is already cooked, so don’t over do the sear step.

This is an increasing popular method of cooking with home cooks, but still a relatively expensive kitchen tool.  Not to mention the ‘floor space’ the new appliance occupies in your kitchen pantry or cabinets.  Enter Sansaire.

sansaire_Ssi The Sansaire unit is easy to use and not huge in size (or required floor space).  It’s not much bigger than a bottle of wine, and can be used in an ordinary large pot of water.  It holds the temperature consistently and does a great job in a smallish package.