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Everything posted by IndyRob

  1. IndyRob

    Culinary no-brainers

    I'm having a hard time imagining any combination of chicken and eggs that would be appealing to me. Okay, maybe some diced chicken in an egg salad (but with a bunch of other stuff). Maybe some spiced chicken sausage masquerading as pork? No, wait. Chopped chicken gizzard/heart/offal - properly cooked, could I think, work well in scrambled eggs.
  2. IndyRob

    Culinary no-brainers

    For me it's pot roast. Sear the meat on each side, come up with a braising liquid and simmer for a long time until it looks like you want to eat it. For my braising liquid I usually use some sort of beef base, but canned tomatoes are among a ton of other things that will work. Once I just wanted to get on with the simmering stage so I opened the cabinet, looked around, and came out with a couple of cans of alphabet soup. It all works. And a bit of heavy cream at the end never hurts.
  3. I'm not familiar with this book, but a similar thing happened with Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Originally it was developed by Les Trois Gourmandes (sp?) - Julia, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle. But somewhere in the process Louisette drifted away from the project and in later editions, the decision was taken to remove her name. I actually have two editions on my bookshelf. One with Louisette listed and one without. But speaking of Mastering the Art..., if she doesn't already have it, she should. It's one of the 'bibles', IMHO. And it does include some pastry. My pate a choux came out perfectly the first time. A warning though - there were originally two volumes, as well as an anniversary edition that combined them. If you'd like to get it, make sure you know which one you're buying.
  4. Heh. As I was posting that fine temperature control was not important in sauces (was thinking bechamel, mornay, etc.), you brought up hollandaise. Okay, yes, fine temperature control. But it's the emulsification that's the star here. You just can't just mix it and leave it at a specific temp.
  5. With sous vide, precise temperature control in essential because of the low temperatures - and the fact you're trying to get the meat to a specific temperature. A steak done to 135 degrees will have a very different character than one done to 140 degrees. The beauty of sous vide is that no matter the size of the steak, you just need to leave it in a bath of the proper temperature long enough. How long is that? Well, if you can come up with a reasonable estimate, just leave it in there for that long, plus 1-2 hours just to be sure. That's not practical advise, but just something that sous vide allows you to do. As soon as you get above those temperatures - into frying temps, the prospects of overdoneness loom ever nearer. Now it becomes less about the specific temperature and more about understanding the characteristics of what you're cooking. Different cuts/shapes/thicknesses will take different amounts of time. You have to be be the arbiter by judging how the meat is reacting. The tools that will help you best with this are an independent oven thermometer, an IR thermometer, a Thermapen, and a practiced finger. If you lack any of these, put off any other further purchases until you have collected the set. For sauces, fine temperature control will be of no use whatsoever unless you're doing some sort of exotic molecular gastronomy sort of thing.
  6. Molecular Gastronomy. Although I'm just the sort of person who's interested in this sort of stuff, that phrase was bad from the start. It is at once unappealing and inaccurate. For me, 'Gastronomy' itself is off putting. Let's leave the 'gastro' words to gastroenterologists. I wonder if there are any Molecular Gastroenterologists.
  7. For the past couple of years I've been using what I consider to be the ultimate in skinflint sous-videry - a Presto Kitchen Kettle. It only costs about $40 and is a multi-tasker. It can slow cook and deep fry (up to 400F). But unlike most crock pots, the temperature control goes way below 160F. I think I've only gone as low as 130, but there's plenty of adjustment available below that. The temperature markings only go down to 200, so I used a Sharpie to mark the dial around my usual temps. But I use a Thermapen to validate the bath temperature. It takes some fiddling until the temperature stabilizes, but after that, I'm impressed with its ability to maintain the temperature at plus or minus 1 degree F. The only problem I've had is that I'm getting stubborn mineral deposits building up on the non-stick surface. My wife bought me a FoodSaver as a Christmas present and I've been pretty happy with that. Well, except for the cost of the bags. But the SealAMeal folks have made their bags compatible with the FoodSaver so I can buy those at half the price. But meanwhile the zip lock bag manufacturers have come out with cheap vacuum devices meant to be used with special zip lock bags. One is battery powered, and one is like a miniature bicycle pump and it's only around $3. Since I have the FoodSaver, I haven't tried them, but I love the idea of being able to try sous vide for an investment of under $50.
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