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  1. Interested to see what you think of the spices. I do a a lamb shanks with Moroccan spices and found the spices didn't combine well in the SV so I precooked them on the stove top, let them cool and then did the SV. Will be also interested if the spices penetrated into the potatoes and other veges. Love those spuds you cook in a stew for hours, firm but slightly mushy on the outside and full of stew flavor..... We need more experimentation like this!
  2. Bernie

    The "steak" cut of fish

    One thing you could do with the slab of salmon. Cut it in quarters. One cut longways, one cut crosswise. Every piece then has skin on. Then cook it skin side down. I think that is what a lot of restaurants do, probably because they cannot get a suitable size steak and the full width fillet is too big.
  3. Bernie

    The "steak" cut of fish

    A fish is long. (well da...). My take on it all is: If you take a piece from the side or bottom or top its a fillet. The piece usually does not include the back bone. Generally a fillet is the whole side of the fish, but you can divide it further longitudinally or cut it into pieces. Generally a fish steak is a portion of fish cut crosswise right through and includes part of the backbone. You can cut a fillet crosswise and produce a steak but it is not going to very big unless the fish was pretty big to start with. You could cut the fillet at an angle but that is generally still a fillet. If you look at a fillet then you will notice a "grain" This is because the flesh is muscle and like meat is laid down in bundles longitudinally. When you cook fish the bundle covering generally disappears (same as in most meats). When you cook a fish steak, the bundle coverings are heated from the ends and then not uniformly. They may not cook to the point that they disappear, leaving the texture a little like meat steak. Cook a fillet and the bundle covering uniformly disappears and the flesh texture becomes flaky. In very soft fish it may become mushy. The angle you cut the fillet will has an effect on the size of the flakes Well does it mean anything? Probably not. There is probably a difference in texture but a lot of fish is over cooked so the texture all merges regardless of the way it was cut. A lot depends on the fish itself and whether its fresh and firm. You probably get a difference in flavor if cooking with the backbone in. It is so easy to overcook fish. Think what you are trying to achieve. For me I would cut the "steak" a little thicker and sear both sides to get the lovely caramelized surface. However if the skin is still on and you want it crisp then the fish may end up overcooked as you would be cooking on 3 sides. Perhaps peel the skin off and fry it separately? Just as an aside, I believe the surgeon general originally recommended a cholesterol level of 6 but some of the drug companies lobbied politicians to make the recommendation 4.5. This produced roughly double the profits from the anti cholesterol drugs. The jury is still out as to whether cholesterol is a cause of heart disease or is result of heart disease. Do what your doctor recommends NOT what some bozo (me) on the internet says.
  4. What does steak taste like Well...steak... Well actually what most people think a steak tastes like is DIRECTLY the result of the way its cooked. If you boil steak it will probably taste horrible, just like boiled meat. When we sear steak we are converting the amino acids and sugars on the surface to lovely tasty "steak" flavors (maillard reaction). Add burnt butter (or olive oil or any other fat) and you add even more "steak" flavor. Add salt before searing and the reaction changes a bit and we get more salty "steak" flavor. Add pepper and we get burned pepper tastes as well which my or may not add to the overall flavor. Also what happens in the searing process is we burn some of the fats to form charcoal which has its own salty flavor. The lovely aromas of the maillard reaction, the burned butter, the burned fat all add to the aroma which is a major contributor to taste. So what about the SV steak. Well SV is actually doing DIFFERENT things chemically to the steak. Depending on temperature and time it may be converting connective tissue to gelatin like substances and making some chemical changes to some of the fat. It may also change the surface proteins and amino acids so the searing isn't as effective at getting the maillard reaction. Even the sear itself changes depending on the searing temperature and the time the steak is in contact with the very hot surface. Remember the steak out of the SV will already be hot and as such the searing needs to be shorter to avoid overcooking the internals of the steak, so less "depth" to the maillard reaction. So yes steak cooked SV should definitely taste different from a well cooked steak on a grill. Its tenderness, color, consistency of color through the steak will all be different. Consider the flavor of fried chicken and roast chicken. They are both chicken but their flavors are distinctly different primarily because of the flavorings added prior to the cook and the time & temperature used to cook it. So if you want that lovely "steak" flavor we are all used to cook it in the conventional way, but you are unlikely to get that particular flavor with SV. It WILL be a different taste. Its a personal decision on which way you prefer.
  5. Consider how you cook. If you cook for yourself or 1 or 2 friends then you can plan a kitchen accordingly (bench top oven microwave, smaller cook top etc). But if you are likely to cook for 6 or more think Christmas, Easter, other holidays then think bigger oven and bigger cook top. Go gas for cook top depending on availability of gas, either bottled or reticulated. Electric for the oven. If your house has an outdoor entertaining area then a covered BBQ /grill can double as for a bigger oven. Take the weather into account though! You don't have to eat outside but its hard work getting to a BBQ / Grill through the snow. If you are NOT buying new, then kitchen layout may have to wait till your first remodel. Ideally, have drawers rather than cup boards. Have cutlery draw above plate drawer above pot drawer and all three next to the dishwasher which is next to the sink. DO NOT HAVE ANY SINGLE power points! All should be double or quads. Think where you will keep electric kettle, toaster, coffee machine and plan power points accordingly. Not sure what the normal is where you are but if you are buying a oven go 900mm wide (or 1200 if you have room). If you prefer stove (inbuilt oven) again go bigger rather than smaller. Go 6 burner for stove / cook top (you can always cover part with wooden cover for appliances. Ideal kitchens usually come with 2 ovens, one a steam oven and 2 matching microwaves. (2 microwaves seem an overkill to me though) Whichever way you go get a decent range hood with ducts to the outside with a powerful fan. Mine has a 3 position switch with light, fan low fan high. I have modified it with an extra remote fan in the duct which comes on with the light. Its quite with just the light on and increases the flow when the fan is on. Get a decent size fridge with freezer. You are a member of this forum so you are at least into food. Nothing worse than trying to make that classic 3 course meal to impress guests and you have to compromise because you don't have enough burners on the cook top. Now for the extras. Wine fridge (impresses the hell out of people ), chest type freezer, smoker (part of your BBQ /grill), beer fridge. Window sill for planter box to grow fresh herbs. Walk in pantry, can house things like the coffee machine, toaster Sous Vide stuff. A note about dishwasher. Most people who have not had one think its a waste. BUT consider this. A dishwasher acts as a sterilizer for your crockery, cutlery, cook pots etc. You need to have double the number of plates, cups, glasses and cutlery, that way you only need to wash every second or third day. Entertaining guests with a cold or the onset of the influenza? Helps if you are certain anything they used will be sterilized. Being a teacher you probably have an immune system like a mule. You have probably been exposed to every disease known to man (school children are such nasty, unhygienic little people and most parents would rather send their obnoxious offspring to school sick than have to but up with them at home.
  6. Bernie

    Query about frozen food

    Lay down freezers generally have their cooling coils around the sides, usually in the top half (heat rises so there is no need to have them in the bottom). The defrosting usually occurs the same way an air conditioner is able to heat. Basically refrigeration works by compressing a gas to a liquid (the resulting liquid is hot), cooling the liquid and then releasing it into the low pressure cooling coils where it turns back into a gas. Instead of cooling the liquid, if you reroute it to the "cooling coils" you effectively heat them up. You only have to do this for a few minutes to melt any ice/frost on the walls which usually drains away. any product in the freezer is not exposed to the heat long enough to heat it.
  7. Bernie

    Query about frozen food

    To me "Freezer taste" is a sort of stale water, plastic flavor. I think its just a combination of all the gases produced by food slowly degrading. If ALL the food in the freezer is just wrapped (in cling film or anything else), or stored in plastic containers it will take on this taste. A freezer bag isn't generally sufficient because there will be air the bag. The air in the bag will allow ice crystals to form and the only place the water for the ice comes from is the food you are trying to preserve. The volatile taste chemicals will slowly leech out and in through the plastic and flavor everything else stored the same way. If the items are vacuum sealed with a food saver type device they will not generally take up these tastes and ice crystals will not form. As far as longevity goes I have kept roasts for 3 years (I have a chesty freezer at -20C) BUT I only freeze produce that is at the START of its used by date. If its within 1~2 days of its use by or best by date then I consider its not for freezing for more than a month. If you buy cut price meat it may not be suitable for long term freezing. As a general rule supermarkets will drop the price to sell it quickly as its best by or use by date approaches. As a matter of interest the best by & use by dates are a statistical analysis of the bacteria count, and its not about taste its about safety. They are generally worst case conditions, that is if people with immune compromise health were to eat the food. These people are the very young, the elderly and the sick. As bacteria multiply at a fairly predictable rate based on temperature and storage condition, it makes sense to freeze foods with the lowest starting bacteria counts. As far as cooked foods apply, the same thing applies. Vacuum seal them when cold. You must cool the cooked food quickly though. The leftovers from a meal are not really suitable for long term storage, their bacteria counts will already be high from spending a good amount of time at the danger temperature ranges (room temperature to blood temperature as a rough guide)
  8. Bernie

    Dinner 2018

    I think its a frittata...and I have exactly the same problem with left over ham...... Ham steaks, ham & eggs, toasted ham & cheese & tomato, ham& egg sandwiches (both hot & cold), ham sandwiches with pickles...still to come ham & mushroom quiche and ham & jalapeno Frittata.
  9. Bernie

    Commercial Sausage Cooking

    They could Sous Vide (say at 60C) in single serves and hold them at that temp till needed then sear them. At the end of the day just rapidly cool and refrigerate for next time. The refrigerated ones then just need a quick microwave to get them internally to temperature then a quick sear to serve.
  10. Bernie

    Stir Frying in Stainless Steel

    Just a comment on adapter idea. If you consider how conventional cooking works, the "normal" electric hob works using both conduction (the element is hot and in contact with the pot/pan) and radiation (those parts of the hot element not in contact with the pot/pan). Gas works by a combination of convection/conduction (the hot air & gases contacting the pot/pan) and radiation (the hot parts of the gas element that are heated by the burning gases radiate to the pot pan). The induction heating works a lot like a microwave in that the molecules of the pot/pan are directly heated by the radiation (magnetic waves). Now the food in the pot/pan is heated mostly by conduction of the heat from the pan to the food (in theory also a little radiation but not much once the food starts to heat). Radiation relies on the DIFFERENCE in temperature between 2 bodies. The final temperature of the pot/pan/wok will depend on how much heat it radiates into its surrounds. It is receiving radiation from the heat source but it is also losing heat through radiation into its surrounds. What ever material you use for the wok itself, the method of transmission of the heat will be by conduction and radiation. What makes a wok efficient in the way its used is that the gas around heating it is VERY hot. Similarly if used over say a conventional fire (wood or charcoal) the hot gases are very hot and the radiation component is very high. Back to the adapter. For it to be efficient in heating the wok is it must make very good contact with the adapter to allow for very good conduction OR it must be VERY hot to allow good radiation. Because radiation relies entirely on the difference in temperature, once the wok is close to the same temperature as the adapter, it will stop being heated by radiation and so will always remain at a lower temperature than the adapter. So will it work? Of course it will BUT (there is always a but) the adapters temperature will need to be much hotter than the what the final temperature of the wok is supposed to be. My guess wold be that the adapter would need to be heated to several hundred degrees above what the wok temperature needs to be, probably close to the temperature of wood coals (from 1250F to 1800F) which will probably damage your stove. You would then control the heat of the wok by how far above the adapter you placed the wok. (that's effectively what you do with a wok over a conventional fire). That is for a conventional wok, a stainless wok transfers heat much slower so the temperature is probably needed to be even higher. Instead of an adapter you could make the adapter into the shape of a wok and use it directly BUT (that dreaded but) the properties of a wok are twofold; they gain high heat rapidly but they also lose heat rapidly (the food sears but doesn't burn through, the contact point on the wok is cooled by the food/oil and the food is moved on to another hot point), but the adapter wok would not lose this heat rapidly. Any food not moved on immediately would just char. You could make a flat adapter, put a layer of charcoal on it and use the induction to start & maintain the charcoal burning, but you have to deal with the hot gases & ash. Be also be great for searing steak... Probably cheaper and easier to use a wok gas ring and bottled gas but that's a whole new set of problems.
  11. Bernie

    Cheese Fondue

    I waited & waited.......still nobody asked..... Frying bacon naked....????????
  12. Beef short ribs. 1.5 cup of store bought beef stock, dash of fish sauce, dash of apera (sherry-but we can't call it sherry anymore..sigh) 10 whole black peppercorns. Heated in top of stove, reduced slightly to about 1 cup. Let cool (would have used red wine but I couldn't justify opening a bottle just for a dash, prefer to open closer to consuming) (and no, whilst appealing, I am already struggling with weight so sitting and drinking a good red wouldn't help because I would not get anything else done.) placed in bag with 2 boneless beef short ribs. 62C for ~52 hrs (was going to do 48 but more convenient to just let it go longer. Wrapped the ribs in foil, reduced the the liquid on stove by (now over a cup to about 0.25 cups, added a little cornflower (wheat starch) to thicken to make a rich beef sauce. Put beef ribs in foil in 200C oven for a couple of minutes just to bring up to temperature. Served with the sauce over ribs, along with dry mash potatoes (cook potatoes drain return to very low heat to evaporate any water, mash, add a little butter but no milk cream or anything else), steamed frozen green beans. Made a bechamel sauce added, half a teaspoons ground mustard & shredded tasty cheese, heated till cheese melted. Goes nicely over the mashed potatoes (& beans-mmm love bechamel sauce) Texture & flavor and tenderness of the ribs was excellent, the sauce rich. The "dry" mash gives a really nice mouth feel with the slightly tart bechamel/mustard/cheese sauce. Very good counterpoint to the richness of the beef sauce. Beans just finish off the balance nicely. Now was the correct time to open the red wine. (a 4 year old straight Malbec) As usual never think to take photos till afterwards, then its too late.
  13. Bernie

    Making Your Own Condiments

    With all the food the larger companies make, they have to listen and cater to the majority of their customers, old and young alike. They also have to produce continuously and to a price. Quite often that results in condiments/food that is tending towards bland. Unfortunately a lot of people remember their childhood foods when their taste buds tended towards sweet and non threatening tastes (like chilli, pepper, and subtle flavors). As adults, if you never try new tastes you never actually realize that the sauce or food is actually bland, all you ever remember is how good it all was in childhood (the sugar hit). Its funny also how we use generic terms when we refer to condiments. Mayo, Aoli, ketchup, lots of different types with different ingredients and tastes are all grouped together. An example "home made ketchup", "heinz ketchup" are both tomato flavored sauce (well sort of) but they are two completely different products with completely different (I would hope) tastes.
  14. Bernie

    eG Cook-Off 76: Consider the Schnitzel

    Here in Australia (with the kangaroos not the alps) "schnitzel" is one of the pretty standard menu items in most hotels (bars). Generally, when referring to a schnitzel, it is chicken. Here is a list from a menu of a typical club or hotel. Under the general heading of chicken parmigiana: CHICKEN PARMIGIANA (all our parmas are homemade & served with chips) schnitzel crumbed chicken breast served with gravy and lemon wedge traditional homemade napoli sauce, ham and cheese pepperoni salami, roast capsicum, red onion, jalapeños, chilli, tabasco and cheese nacho mexican salsa, cheese, corn chips, sour cream and guacamole aussie ham, bacon, cheese, fried egg and bbq sauce They cook the parma itself and then add the toppings and place under a grill (broiler?) The "parma" is huge, taking up half a plate and usually placed on top of the chips (fries) The toppings on each type are about the same volume as the parma. Altogether it makes a fairly substantial meal,but when you add chips & salad its a huge meal. They are a relatively cheap meal often 1/2 ~3/4 the price of a steak type dish. Most establishments would buy in their parmas (schnitzel) already breaded. I guess the reason to treat chicken this way is that the underlying meat does not have to be perfect, because the appearance is covered by the crumbs. Perhaps its a good use for factory layer hens at the end of their laying career. That may also explain why it is relatively cheap.
  15. Bernie

    Beef Wellington Novice

    We used to make it fairly regularly. This is what we did. Basically its a fillet of beef (we used a whole fillet) coated in mushroom/onion/pate/butter paste wrapped in puff pastry. Heat your oven to 250C (hot) The beef is first tied with butchers twine to keep its shape. Brown on all sides in a hot pan. don't forget to do the ends. Set the fillet aside to rest. In the same pan in the juices, lightly fry off a finally chopped onion till translucent (add some butter if needed). Add double the quantity of onion, chopped mushrooms (you can used canned chopped champignons but they are not as good flavor wise) Set aside to cool. When cool (but not cold) mix equal amounts of soft butter and pate (originally we would use pate de foi gras but its hard to get and most produced by unacceptable method ) with the onions/mushrooms. Remove the string from the fillet, coat it all over with the mushrooms/pate/onion/butter. It can be a messy job. If the mixture is too thin, refrigerate and try again. You need enough puff pastry to completely enclose the beef. We used store bought pastry. You need to have it ready before you start coating the beef. brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash to help seal the edges before you start to wrap the pastry round the beef. Yo can do it 2 different ways. You can fully wrap the beef and overlap the pastry under the beef or make the join at the top but its harder to manage and I don't think it looks as good. Brush the pastry generously with egg wash and into the oven for ten minutes then reduce the heat to 180C and cook for about 30 minutes. It should be golden brown. Rest it like any other meat before slicing at least 1~1.5 inches thick. The meat will be rare to medium rare. Some people have an aversion to red looking meat (ooh..blood...), you can commit sacrilege by cooking for longer so the meat is medium. Just don't tell me.... If your kitchen is hot, you can put the whole thing in the fridge before baking to firm up the pastry. Some people leave out the onions. I have seen recipes where they use short crust pastry. You can do individual single serve beef wellingtons, but I reckon there is a little too much pastry to beef. It is also much harder to get the beef cooked rare, because by the time the pastry is cooked through, the meat is medium to well done. Quantities are a bit hard to quantify. Basically you will be coating the beef to a depth of perhaps 3/16~1/4 inch (4-~mm). The coating should mainly be mushrooms/onions/pate with enough butter to bind it all together. If you omit the butter you usually find the mixture wont bind very well and when it cooks the mushroom/onion/pate will not be combined into a paste like coating. One thing I will say, you need to know the meat is tender. The cooking time for the meat itself is relatively short so the actual cooking is not going to tenderise it. I guess you could add a step in between the browning of the meat and the wrap by using a sous vide on say 50C for a few hours, cooling it in ice water and then just proceed as normal. I haven't tried that yet though so its only a guess. Do a search for Mary Berry. On one of her TV shows she went step by step through the process. It should be on U tube. I seem to remember she used poppy seeds/pate/mushrooms. There are heaps of variations out there these days. Lots of chefs use different recipes just to differentiate their cooking from everyone else.