Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chef Dance


I think we make a great quartet if I may say so myself. I have no clue where Ruhlman learned those moves!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sous Vide Supreme

My newest toy, a Sous Vide Supreme. Sleek and elegant, yet simply designed and easy to use, the sous vide supreme is my latest grubsession. Backed by Heston Blumenthal and coming in at $450, the Sous Vide Supreme is certainly a step above my previous sous vide contraption, and since I don't see myself neglecting to sous vide anytime soon, I think I'll be using this baby for a while.

But what is sous vide you say? What are its benefits? Why use it over traditional cooking methods? I've touched on this topic before, but I think it's a good time to go over it again, possibly with some additional information.
Sous vide involves cooking food in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag in a temperature-controlled water bath. In the bag with the food are often seasonings and fat. The food, often protein, is cooked for a certain period of time, sometimes even 72 hours, then served or chilled for later use. Invented in the 70's to minimize the fat loss of foie gras, sous vide has turned into a widely popular method throughout restaurant kitchen across the globe.

In my mind, the greatest benefit of sous vide is the precision it gives the cook. Cooking sous vide at a specific temperature, ensures that your food will come to that temperature and not go beyond. If you like your steak medium-rare, you cook it in a vaccuum sealed bag, maybe with some butter and thyme inside of it, in a water bath set at 135 degrees. When heated through, the steak will be a perfect medium rare throughout. The only problem is that the low temperatures necessary for sous vide cooking do not brown the meat, however once the steak is finished, simply browning it in an extremely hot pan for about a minute on each side can solve that.

Sous vide benefits meats like short ribs that are heavy in collagen as well. Typically, meats that are braised or stewed are served well-past well done, because the time and temperature used to dissolve the collagen and make the meat "falling apart tender" cause the meat's interior to rise well above 160 degrees. This drastic overcooking squeezes the moisture out of the meat. With sous vide, this problem can be averted. Fortunately, collagen begins to dissolve into gelatin around 131 degress (I believe) and therefore, tough, collagen-rich cuts can be cooked at 135 degrees for 72 hours (or however long it takes for the collagen to dissolve) and still be medium rare (meaning that there's still a lot of moisture in the meat).
Since the food is in a vaccuum-sealed plastic bag, sous vide also prevents flavor loss. Typically, a braised meat loses most of its flavor to the liquid around it. Not so with sous vide. Also, sous vide cuts down on the fat or liquid required to cook food, making it more economical than regular methods. Duck confit with normally requires tubs of duck fat, needs only a few table spoons when sous vide. More importantly, sous vide produces consistent results each time, and really takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking.

I can attest to its awesomeness. I work at Lacroix where sous vide is used in excess, and for a year now, I've been using a special little machine and a rice cooker to cook sous vide with phenomenal results. Experimentation will be documented here. Can't wait to put this baby to use.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sous Vide Supreme

Forget college, I just purchased a sous vide supreme for $450.

Posting will speed up next week when I'm on break.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dinner Party

My birthday was last week on the 9th so now I'm 17. It's kinda hard to believe. Now I can see R-rated movies without parent supervision ;) I changed the blog name once again to Foodie at Fifteen (now 17), though I'll definitely have to change it for good. I really screwed myself over by putting my age in the blog name when I created it, but Foodie at Fifteen does have a nice ring to it. Something I'm considering is making it foodie since fifteen, but I'm not completely set on that yet. My friends keep reminding me that I don't wanna be Foodie at Fifteen (now 75) so i'll think of something.

Anyhow, the couple that I cooked for a little while ago just sent me the pictures from the meal that I cooked.
This is a kabocha squash soup that I made but roasting the squash then pureeing it with homemade chicken stock, roasted garlic, caramelized onion, baked apples, and a touch of brown sugar. I finished it with a bit of butter to order and some nutmeg grated tableside on top. You cant see it, but in the bottom of the dish is pulled apart chicken confit and sauteed shitakes.
Here's some homemade focaccia with olive oil.Here are seared scallops, roasted broccoli and chorizo sauce. The sauce was my favorite component of the whole meal.

This is homemade fettuccine with a pork shoulder ragu. I couldn't stop eating this ragu, nor the pasta. For the pasta I used Thomas Keller's egg yolk-rich recipe which you need until you bleed, and for the ragu I cooked down tomatoes with red wine, chicken stock, thyme and some veggies and then braised pork shoulder in it for about 4 hours. I pulled apart the shoulder in the sauce then tossed in the pasta with some pecorino and a large amount of ricotta along with butter olive oil and pasta water to order. I think I'll do a separate post where I detail the creation of this dish (post the recipe).
Here's an apple tart made with some beautiful honeycrisp apples that I saw at whole foods from Lancaster. The crust is all butter.
And here's the wonderful couple that I cooked for!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Latest School Paper Article

I wrote a very similar blog post a few weeks ago, but here's the article.

Wow. It’s hard to believe the holidays are upon us already. It’s the season of giving, but I find that often our giving is more out of necessity than true generosity. Or even if your giving really is a result of your kind heart, it can be pretty hard to show that with an Itunes giftcard. On the contrary, cooking your ChristmaHanuKwanza presents displays that you are willing to put in time and effort for the person you are gifting. Whereas say, a gift card shows that you are willing to simply spend money on someone, cooking displays legitimate caring, and I urge you, Merionite readers, to cook at least some of your gifts this year.
The questions thus becomes, what to make? And I believe I have the ultimate item. This treat provides a perfect blend of simplicity and scrumptiousness, affordability and portability, to be the perfect gift for anyone with even the slightest bit of a sweet tooth.
That treat is blondies, whose ease of preparation is only exceeded by their deliciousness. They truly are exceptionally easy to make—no special skills or ingredients are required—and the recipe is easy to memorize since it’s based around quantities of one (you’ll see what I mean when you read the recipe). Perhaps the best thing about blondies however, is how easy they are to customize. Blondies are delicious with nothing in them, but they can also serve as a vehicle for other ingredients. I recently made a batch where I just chopped up all my sister’s extra Halloween candy and threw it in—those blondies were delicious.
Anyway, I urge you to make these both for yourself and for others this season. Here’s a delicious recipe that will produce tasty, tantalizing, treats each time.

Basic Blondies
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 cup flour

1) preheat oven to 350
2) grease an 8w8 pan
3) melt the butter in a saucepan
4) add the sugar, then beat in the egg, vanilla and salt.
5) Fold in the Flour
6) Fold in 1/2 cup to 1 cup of anything you like!
7) Transfer to the pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or to your desired doneness.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Today after school (yes I'm in school) I'm job shadowing Tory Keomanivong, the manager at the new restaurant Fond. I'll write about it later.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sweet Potato Salad

Roasted, in my mind, is the way that sweet potatoes should be eaten. Roasting just so transforms them; the outside caramelizes and crisps them and really brings out a sweet, complex flavor. The idea for the dressing for this salad came from a cauliflower salad they have at Lacroix that's dressed with a sage mayo.

The key to this salad is roasting the sweet potatoes long enough so that they are slightly crispy on the outside but they give way easily when pierced. They shouldn't be mushy, but there should be very little resistence when pricked. Otherwise, this salad is pretty easy to do right.

I don't really give exact measure of ingredients, because I really just eyeballed everything. Cook to your taste.

Three large sweet potatoes (cleaned)
Handful of golden raisins
Parmesan cheese
Handful of pine nuts
Sliced chive/Brunoise shallot (optional)
Roasting oil

For Roasted Garlic-rosemary aioli
1 head of garlic (top cut off then roasted at 350 for 40 minutes)
2 sprigs of rosemary
2 tsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 pinch salt
1 cup evoo

Preheat oven to 450
Cut sweet potatoes in 4ths lengthwise, then slice horizontally into bite size pieces.
Toss the sweet potatoes with oil and salt and pepper, then roast on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes.

As they roast, make the dressing.
Squeeze out the garlic cloves from the head and place them in the blender with the lemon juice, rosemary, egg yolk, and salt.
Blend until thoroughly combined.
Slowly, with the blender running, drizzle in a few drops of oil.
Then drizzle in a few more, making sure that the liquid is emulsifying.
Drizzle in the rest in a thin stream.

Back to the potatoes
When the potatoes come out of the oven and are still hot, toss with grated parmesan cheese.
Let them cool for 10 minutes, then mix them in a bowl with the raisins, pine nuts, and cut some slivers of parmesan cheese to mix in too (if you're using chives and shallots you can toss them in now too).
Add a few healthy spoonfuls of dressing then mix around and taste for seasoning.