10 Days of Sous Vide: Picking Sides & Sous Vide Chicken Breast (Day 9)

26 August 2016
Sous Vide Chicken Breast

We’re just one day away the end of the series: it’s day 9 of 10 Days of Sous Vide!  In our last post we shared a sous vide hollandaise recipe and explained why you’d want to do sauces via sous vide. As I promised in that post, today we’re sharing sous vide chicken breast.  Chicken breast sous vide is a dish that you either love or you hate.  Keep reading if you want to know where I stand.

I should start with a disclaimer: I don’t like chicken breast unless it’s fried and in either nugget or strip form.  I especially don’t care for skinless, boneless chicken breast.  However, in my household I am in the minority on this issue.  The fiancé likes chicken breast.  The black cat likes chicken breast.  They both need it be sans skin and bones.  In fact, we usually count down the seconds after I serve a hot dish with this star ingredient until we hear her running down the hallway, mewing like we haven’t fed her in weeks.  Spoiler alert: she’s already ate two full meals by dinner time.  It stands without saying that sous vide chicken breast didn’t stand a chance with me.Sous Vide Chicken Breast

Sous Vide Chicken Breast (or…poached chicken)

So, do I need to tell you that I didn’t like it?  I certainly don’t hate it, but I do wonder what its appeal is when chicken thighs are so much juicier and more flavorful.  According to a couple of friends, one appeal is that chicken breasts are lower in calories and fat than their darker counterparts.    Furthermore, the fiancé thinks I’m nuts for not liking it–he loves it!  The sous vide chicken breast recipe I will share here is similar in texture to poached chicken. In fact, the seasoning I use comes from a recipe by The Kitchn for poached chicken. Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: Using Sous Vide for Sauces and Condiments & Sous Vide Hollandaise (Day 8)

24 August 2016
Hollandaise-7

We’re near the end of the series: it’s day 8 of 10 Days of Sous Vide!  We left off on sous vide carrots, featuring some seriously gorgeous heirloom carrots.  I still swoon over them.  Our topic today is about using sous vide for sauces (think marinades and mother sauces, not pan sauces) and condiments. We also share a recipe for sous vide hollandaise, served with a salmon-stuffed portobello mushroom.

Among some of the most surprising uses for the sous vide technique, are some recipes for sauces and condiments.  When I first stumbled across recipes for using sous vide this way, I ignored them.  What could be gained from preparing a sauce/condiment via sous vide?

Take our attempt at hollandaise as an example.  The main benefit to cooking hollandaise sous vide is that you heat the eggs to a precise temperature which avoids curdling the sauce. Also, the sauce can be held at serving temperature for 2 hours without worry of your butter congealing or separating.  For a busy hostess, that means you can begin to prepare the sauce at the start of the meal and serve everything fresh and hot together.

Most sauces can be contained in a mason jar and placed directly in the water bath

Most sauces can be contained in a small mason jar and placed directly in the water bath

Sous vide can be used for many sauces and condiments, including infused oils and vinegar.  Sous vide tzatziki for your homemade gyros?  What about a truly fresh crème fraîche?  There are recipes for chutney and compotes out there, all of which I’m sure have room for experimentation.  Personally, I’ve used sous vide for infused oils and the hollandaise sauce in this post, but not for any of the others.  Perhaps, a future post is in order!

Hollandaise-2

Sous Vide Hollandaise

Today’s recipe turned out to be a tough one to photograph nicely and nearly as difficult to execute correctly.  The key is to prepare the sauce in two steps, using the sous vide to heat the egg yolk mixture separately and emulsify later.  This avoids the disappointment of a broken sauce.  Serve it with your perfect sous vide egg for a delightful eggs benedict, over asparagus, or as a topping with salmon.   Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: Cooking Vegetables Sous Vide & Sous Vide Carrots (Day 7)

21 August 2016
Rainbow Carrots-4

It’s now day 7 of the 10 Days of Sous Vide series!  In our last post, the topic was how to get a perfect “pan” sauce from sous vide “drippings”.  Today the topic is all about cooking vegetables sous vide, including a recipe for beautiful sous vide carrots.

There are three items that come to mind when one thinks about sous vide.  Steak, salmon, and eggs.  And, indeed, those three are the best dishes to start with to see the power of precision cooking.  However, if I told you that you should add vegetables to that list, what would you think?

The benefit of precision for vegetables

While vegetables don’t necessarily excite omnivores as much as proteins, they shouldn’t be neglected.  One of the reasons they’re not as exciting is that they’re not usually executed with as much care.  In fact, most of the time we’re trying to cover them up with sauces, dressings, or by mixing them with something we consider more appetizing.  Take for example the traditional glazed carrot recipe; mixed with sugar and fats, this dish usually tastes less like carrot and more like a dessert.  The sous vide glazed carrot, however, needs no additional sugars.

Blanched vegetables–while crisp–usually lose their flavor.  Boiled vegetables suffer both from loss of flavor and they’re disgustingly mushy.  Loss of flavor also means loss of nutrients.  With sous vide, you keep the flavor, the texture, and the nutrients, not to mention a beautiful color.

Rainbow Carrots-2

Chopped carrots, before glaze

Sous Vide Carrots

We were in the market the other day when we came across a new section for locally grown produce.  There I fell in love with a bag of heirloom carrots.  They were so colorful and seemed to beg for the sous vide treatment.

This recipe is simple, beautiful, and incredibly healthy.

Rainbow Carrots-1

Locally grown heirloom carrots

sous vide carrots

I’m crazy for the way these plate. The purple sous vide carrots are almost too pretty to eat. (Pre-Glaze)

Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: How to Get a Sous Vide Pan Sauce & Chicken Burrito Filling (Day 6)

18 August 2016
Burrito Chicken-2

It’s now day 6 of the 10 Days of Sous Vide series!  In yesterday’s post, we shared my perfect sous vide egg.  Today we’re going to talk briefly about how to make a sauce from the sous vide liquid.

Last Sunday marked the end of a packed summer semester for me which means I’m feeling a bit burnt out on writing.  However, I’m not going to let that get in the way of my sous vide series!  Today’s post will be short, but sweet.  No, not sweet; it’ll be savory.  I’m going to tell you about how to make a sous vide sauce using those lovely juices that accumulate in the sous vide bag.

Burrito Chicken-1

The very first dish I ever made sous vide was steak.  I got the thickest, most marbled, dry-aged NY strip I could find at the store.  As I set the temperature on my (then) water oven and watched it climb to temp, my taste buds salivated thinking about the masterpiece I would soon be making.  I dropped my steak into the machine and set to preparing my sides.  When it was done, I excitedly retrieved my steak from the water and opened up the bag.  There was so much liquid! What would I do with it all?

An Ode to Pan Sauce is in Order

If you thought I was going to write poetry, then you’re wrong.  The sad thing about the liquid I found in that bag is that it had all kinds of gloopy steak protein floating around in it and was not at all suitable for a pan sauce.  It got thrown down the disposal drain.  I was left with no pan sauce and a wasted bag of what I could only imagine intense steak-y flavor.  While the steak was certainly perfect and didn’t need a pan sauce to shine, I still wanted it.  What to do?

Strain it!

The best way to utilize those delicious juices is to strain out all the solids so that you’re dealing with a fabulous mostly clear liquid.  To do that, get a sieve and line it with either cheesecloth or a paper towel.  Pour the juices into the sieve.  Quickly pan sear whatever meat you’re dealing with over very high heat and transfer out of the pan to get a little more flavor bits.  Deglaze the pan, add aromatics then your liquid, and reduce to a sauce.  It’s simple and easy.

This method isn’t just limited to steak.  You can use it for any protein you cook in the sous vide.  I used it for today’s burrito filling to keep the chicken juicy and immensely flavorful.

Burrito Chicken Filling with Sauce-3

Chicken Burrito Filling

This filling is one of those recipes where I half-improvised it (“I’ll just add a little this, and…hey I wonder how that would do?”) and half-used my trusty Flavor Bible to see what seasonings would work together.  You can use this filling in burritos, tacos, tostadas, rice bowls, or salads.

Burrito Chicken-4

I added some seasoned rice, guacamole, and lettuce wrapped up in a tortilla and BAM! we had a bomb-A burrito in our hands (literally).  If you have them available near you, grab some TortillaLand uncooked tortillas.  You cook them fresh on your stove-top minutes before eating and it’s the next best thing from homemade.  Actually, it may be better, because you didn’t have to roll tortilla flour! Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: The Perfect Sous Vide Egg (Day 5)

17 August 2016
Sous Vide Egg-2

Welcome to day 5 of the 10 Days of Sous Vide series.  In our last post, we discussed the purpose of brine and if it’s necessary for sous vide.  Today, we’ll talk about the perfect sous vide egg.

One of the best uses of the sous vide is for the sous vide egg. Arguably, this should have been my first post on the 10 Days of Sous Vide series because of how simple and successful this application can be.

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The “sous vide egg”

When cooks refer to the sous vide egg, they are usually talking about an egg that has been poached within its shell in a sous vide water bath. However, that certainly isn’t the only application of sous vide for eggs. You can get a perfect hard or soft boiled egg; you can even “scramble” your eggs in sous vide. However, neither of these alternate applications seem worth it whereas the poached egg is certainly worth it.

Poaching eggs is an art which eludes many home cooks. How to get a perfectly runny egg without having a stringy egg-white mess or–even worse–a soggy, waterlogged or tough egg requires that one observes a long list of rules. I’m not just rebellious about rules because I believe they are made to be broken, but merely because I have a hard time remembering them all! With the sous vide method, all you need to remember is temperature and time.

Vacuum sealers need not apply

The egg poaches quickly in its shell which serves as a natural vacuum-sealed barrier. The shell also means that you don’t have to babysit the egg whites swirling about in a pan.

Sous Vide Egg-1

I thought this photo was cute, even with my reflection.

Additionally, thanks to the nature of the sous vide, you don’t need to worry about whether you have the pot at the right slow simmer. The sous vide egg seems foolproof, right? Well, that’s mostly right.

You make up the rules

My fiancé is the type of person who gags at the sight of eggs over easy and likes his eggs scrambled hard.  I, like most normal people (love you, honey), love an oozy yolk but require a firm white.  I have messed with egg temperatures and timing to try to figure out my perfect egg.  If you cook these low and slow, you will have a runny yolk (check!), but you’ll also have a slightly runny white (NOT check!).  It turns out, the best way to get my perfect egg is to cook it at 167 °F / 75 °C for just 13 minutes.  For the fudgy-like yolk, as I got in my matzah egg toast, you’ll do the same temp but for 20 minutes.  You also need to consider the size of your egg.  Smaller eggs need less time than their larger counterparts.

Sous Vide Egg-4

A wonderful resource for helping you achieve the sous vide egg of your dreams is found at the Food Lab.  The guide is not all-inclusive, as you will see my perfect egg isn’t included as an option, so it’s a method that begs for your experimentation.  The nice thing about my egg is that 1. it’s faster and 2. it allows you to avoid the finishing step of simmering your egg on the stove pot.

**Update: thanks to A Jew’s Bouche (an incredibly clever name, I must say) who introduced us to The Egg Calculator by Chef’s Steps for figuring out the perfect cooking temperature and timing for whatever egg texture you prefer! 

This photo makes my fiancé gag.

This photo makes my fiancé gag. No joke.

Sous vide egg and simple pasta

Because the sous vide egg is so personal, I will leave the temperature and timing up to you to decide.  Once you find your perfect egg, use it anywhere you would use a poached or soft boiled egg.  You can even use the egg to add richness to sauces. Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: To Brine or Not to Brine & Herbed Brined Chicken (Day 4)

15 August 2016
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Welcome to day 4 of the 10 Days of Sous Vide series.  Last week we left off on pervasive myths about sous vide & a short rib recipe.  This week we pick up again to discuss the purpose of brine and if it’s necessary for sous vide.  Bon Appetit!

Whether or not to brine your protein is an easy question.  Are you cooking meat that is prone to drying out easily?  If we’re talking turkey, chicken breast, or brisket, the answer is a resounding yes!  Then you should brine.  But of course, the answer is never that simple.

Brine Science

Brining–the act of submerging a protein into a salt concentrate solution–will help your protein retain moisture, but how?  Ask any chef and you’re likely to hear it chalked up to osmosis, that is, the tendency for a solvent to move across a semi-permeable membrane to a region of higher solute concentration in an attempt to equalize both sides.  However, that explanation isn’t entirely accurate, and would likely lead to a drier protein.  Instead, the primary reason your Thanksgiving turkey is retaining moisture after a brine is because the salt is denaturing the proteins.  The salt is causing some of the proteins in the muscle to unwind and swell, and water is binding to these proteins.

Why you may not need to brine for sous vide

The biggest reason to ever want to stick your meat into a brine is if there is a risk of overcooking it.  Overcooking is the entire reason your meat gets dry in the first place.  If it were able to be cooked precisely to the correct temperature, then the moisture content wouldn’t be an issue at all.  What is the one cooking method that can consistently ensure precise cooking?  Sous vide, you say? Yeah!  You’re catching on just fine.  So, that settles it right?  No brine necessary for sous vide.

No, no.  Hold up right there.  You’re mostly right, but there are exceptions to every rule (though our rabbi would probably like to hear a good explanation for my exceptions).  You still need to brine to pickle or corn meats.  We needed a brine for our deconstructed bagel and lox.  And, while in theory, it isn’t necessary for other purposes, it does change the meat quite a bit.  So we tried it on our chicken.

The Results

Brine Chicken

We did a lot of chicken recipes in our trial of sous vide testing, so we had a lot to compare to in order to judge effectiveness.  There was a big difference in our brined chicken.  In fact, the texture and flavor were so different that we couldn’t stop talking about it.  We were blessed with leftovers, which we reported to one another as being almost inedible due to saltiness.  However, if we were to pair it with a dairy-free avocado cream dressing, it would have balanced that saltiness out very nicely.  This makes incredible chicken for salads.

The texture

Aside from the saltiness, which isn’t too surprising, the texture was markedly different.  It was closer to the texture of a Costco rotisserie chicken.  I wouldn’t call it juicy, but it’s not dry.  The fibers separate easier.  The flesh takes on an almost pink color.  We agreed we liked it but also decided we thought it better for a filler than as a stand-alone meat.  Accordingly, it ended up being repurposed into chicken salad sandwiches.

This chicken did well in my tamarind chicken salad the next day.

This chicken did well in my tamarind chicken salad the next day.

Herbed Brined Chicken

Is “herbed” a verb, I hear you asking.  It is now.  I am the lexicographer of this blog, and I say it is so.  Moreover, after soaking our chicken in a brine with herbs, the chicken was certainly herbed.  Infused through and through of delicious herby goodness.  Cool tip: you can start the chicken in a brine and seal it for freezer storage, and it won’t be any different than had you kept the chicken fresh.  That worked perfectly for me, as I had been seasoning two weeks worth of meat to freeze in advance of the last of the summer semester. Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: Dispelling Myths & 72 Hour Short Ribs (Day 3)

12 August 2016
Hawaiin BBQ Short Ribs-3

It’s now day 3 of the 10 Days of Sous Vide series. Per our earlier post, today the topic is all about dispelling myths about sous vide.  The recipe is 72 hour short ribs with Hawaiian BBQ Sauce, both sous vide and slow cooker.

It’s day three now, and I’m posting a recipe that ended up being mine and my fiance’s favorite.  I remember talking to him once about short ribs, and he scrunched up his nose and said he didn’t like them. He proclaimed them tough and cheap.  He wasn’t wrong, either–beef short ribs are an economy cut.  They come from a part of a cow that gets a lot of muscle action and, as a result, they can be incredibly tough so they must be braised for at least 3 hours to break down the fibers contributing to that toughness.  After which, they are insanely tender.  Anything that does well in a braise, will similarly do excellent in the sous vide, however.

Fork tender short ribs

Fork tender short ribs

Sous Vide Myths

We’ll return to the recipe after we talk about some pervasive sous vide myths.  Like most inaccurate beliefs, myths that surround sous vide come from misunderstandings about the science behind it, and plain ignorance.  Here are the top 5 myths about sous vide:

Myth #1: It’s not safe to cook food in plastic

The first myth comes from an admirable place: the concern for health safety.  There is no doubt a mixture of reports about the safety of cooking with plastic.  Consumers, now cynical ever since we realized that asbestos wasn’t just keeping our insulation fireproof, but was also slowly giving us cancer, are quick to doubt the safety of any new “trend.”  The problem is that we’re often presented with research that either conflict other research or the reporting of a finding is grossly oversimplified and, frankly, those of us who don’t have a science background don’t know what to do with this data.

We, however, take the position that Chef Steps takes: the risks of cooking in plastic are so small IF you are taking care to use food-safe plastic bags made to withstand the temperature differences of sous vide.  That means using freezer-safe Ziplock brand bags (DON’T use generic!) or bags specially made for vacuum sealing or sous vide cooking.

Myth #2: Okay, fine.  The plastic risks are negligible.  But what about botulism?

Hey, smarty–that is a fantastic question and a very legitimate concern.  Indeed, botulism is a risk that arises from the mishandling of sous vide foods.  However, when done correctly (i.e., correct temperature held for the correct amount of time), sous vide leads to a full pasteurization of foods.  This means that it eliminates all vegetative forms of pathogenic bacteria and, thus, cannot give you botulism.  Here is a great article in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science. I realize that article is not an easy read, but it is quite informative.

Myth #3: Cooking sous vide is difficult, and is only done by chefs with specific training

Hopefully you’re picking up that sous vide is not difficult, so long you’re careful about temperature and timing.  The result the technique yields is worth the minor effort you put into it.  I like to think of it as a very precise slow cooker, one which allows for you to have the same convenience of a set-it-and-forget-it meal without being limited to stews, soups, and other braises (although, slow cookers certainly are capable of more than that, too, like roasting a chicken for example).

Myth #4: Sous vide is exclusively for meats & seafood

No way!  You can cook a whole manner of different foods.  In fact, sous vide is an excellent way to get a very crisp pickle, to cook mashed potatoes, and for even making desserts (especially custards).  Linked here is a recipe for perfect sous vide mashed potatoes, which will make an excellent accompaniment with your short ribs.  Cooking vegetables sous vide maintains their nutrients and, usually, gives them a richer, stronger flavor because they aren’t exposed to air or water during cooking.

Myth #5: It’s not affordable.  It’s a hobby.  It’s only for enthusiasts/chefs.

Hey, you got me.  This is a technique that can become pricey if you let it.  And true, no one has to cook sous vide.   Just like no one has to cook with a microwave, a toaster, a slow cooker, or any other similar gadget.  You don’t have to, but you WANT to because it’s either convenient and/or yields a better result.  And you have to feel like you’re receiving value.  The truth is sous vide devices are becoming affordable (Anova’s new model release is on sale as of this writing for $149), especially for the use it gets.  Experts are predicting that sous vide may become commonplace in residential kitchens in the next few years, too.

72-hour Sous Vide Hawaiian BBQ Short Ribs

Hawaiin BBQ Short Ribs-4

These were incredible and a fantastic example of how sous vide can transform a cheap cut.  At 72-hours cook time, these are unreal. We used the timing and temperature from Chef Step’s guide, Beef Short Ribs Your Way. You must do this.  Do this now.  However, if you don’t have a sous vide all is not lost!  You can get a conventional braised texture from your slow cooker.  No, it does not compare to the sous vide.  Sorry.  But it will still be delicious! Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: Cookbooks & Portuguese Peri Peri (Day 2)

10 August 2016
Peri Peri-3

It’s day 2 of my 10 Days of Sous Vide series and, as promised yesterday, today I will be sharing my favorite cookbooks on sous vide and a recipe for Portuguese Peri Peri.  I have instructions for sous vide, slow cooker, and for the grill.

I am a book addict.

My fiancé can attest to this.  I have books on every topic I’ve ever been even the least bit curious about.  Because he has the same affliction, our library is an interesting mishmash of subjects.  Of course, it is natural that my collection is dominated by cookbooks and books about food.

Knowing this, one of the first questions my friends ask about sous vide when they first start, is if they should buy a cookbook.  To this, I gleefully list off my collection and suggest my “biggies” on the topic.  So, here is that list:

The heavy-hitters

These are the books that, once you have committed yourself to learning sous vide, you must have:

A Biggie: Affordable yet comprehensive

The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt doesn’t just tackle sous-vide.  It addresses a range of all types of cooking: roasting, grilling, slow cooker…you name it.  It’s currently on sale (as of today’s writing it’s $27.97, down from $49) which makes it a very worthy buy for all readers.  The reason why I recommend it for sous vide is López-Alt’s thorough treatment of all topics he tackles.  He tests timing and heat settings and documents them, almost like a scientist would in a lab.

A Biggie: Expensive but worth it

Modernist Cuisine At Home is Modernist Cuisine: The Art of Science and Cooking Lite.  While the predecessor to this book costs a hefty $530+ (and weighs 50 pounds!), Modernist Cuisine At Home costs a relatively cheap $105.  Amazon just recently released both editions for renting with the giant edition costing you around $200 to rent for something like 90 days, the lite version costing around $41 to rent.  I strongly recommend this book, however, for so many reasons.

  1. The photography alone is just stunning.  It is hard to put it down after you open it. As a bonus, the book comes with four 8×10 prints of various photos of the book.  Yes, I hung them on the wall.
  2. The recipes are truly scientifically accurate, measuring carefully in grams with a highly tuned kitchen scales.
  3. It comes with a workbook containing all of the recipes from the book that is stain-proof and water-proof.

Not to mention, the qualifications of the authors involved:

Modernist Cuisine is an interdisciplinary team in Bellevue, Washington, founded and led by Nathan Myhrvold. The group includes scientists, research and development chefs, and a full editorial team all dedicated to advancing the state of culinary art through the creative application of scientific knowledge and experimental techniques.

I love this book and relied on it heavily in the early days.  It, like The Food Lab above, doesn’t just cover sous vide, either.  It includes all manners of modernist cooking and is a must for any budding scientist-chef.

The Little Guys

But maybe you’re just dabbling in the sous vide world.  You don’t want to buy either of the above books (despite their range of topics) just yet.  Here are a few recommendations:
 Sous Vide: The Art of Precision Cooking: this book is now only available for a decent price through Amazon on Kindle, but it really is a great resource.  The recipes are simple but inventive, such as Confit Chicken Wings or Salmon with Whisky and Orange.
Sous Vide: The Cookbook: this book is very short and simple, covering the basics and providings from elegant recipes.
 Mugaritz: Learn how to prepare sous vide from one of Spain’s most influential restaurants, sharing the same name as the book.  This book is just stunning with incredibly fine molecular gastronomy.  Certainly not intended to be a guide to learn sous vide on your own, some the recipes will blow you away.  If you’ve enjoyed the excellent series Chef’s Table on Netflix, then you’ll love this book.

Portuguese Peri Peri Chicken

Peri Peri Chicken (also spelled “Piri Piri”) is a wonderful dish hailing both from Africa and Portugal.  When the Portuguese came to Angola and Mozambique they brought with them a pepper: Peri Peri.  Peri Peri is also known as African Bird’s Eye Chili.  Wonderfully spicy and smoky, this dish turned out perfect after a couple of trial-and-error.  For one, the eight-hour cook time isn’t just convenient because it coincides with the work day.  After testing the chicken at one-hour, two-hour, even four-hour intervals, it just wasn’t as tender as I had hoped.  Eight hours is the perfect amount of time to break down all the muscle fibers and such to render a flaky, tender protein.

Peri Peri-2
Continue Reading…

10 Days of Sous Vide: An Introduction & Chicken Char Sui

9 August 2016
Char Sui-3
The long-awaited (at least, by me) “10 Days of Sous Vide” series is now beginning.  To those who do not follow the Almost Kosher Facebook page or instagram, we will be sharing ten days worth of sous vide recipes.  I will also offer an alternative cooking method for those readers who don’t sous vide.  Today’s recipe is Chinese Chicken Char Sui, both sous vide and grilled.  I will also introduce you to the equipment I use, including the Anova Precision Cooker.

Char Sui-2

Chinese Chicken Char Sui

How I got into sous vide

As I confessed earlier, my courtship with sous vide was short: it was essentially love at first bite, and I committed from day one to figure it out and make it work for me.  That dedication and commitment came with a lot of trial and error, and there were months where I couldn’t look my sous vide in the…er…eye after a failed recipe.  However, when I first got into the method, there were limited resources for learning sous vide, so the likelihood of a recipe going wrong was much higher.  Now, we have tools like ChefSteps.com, The Food Lab, many food blogs dedicated to the technique, as well as cooking apps with tried-and-true recipes (some, like the Anova’s app I will discuss briefly in this post, are nearly “set it and forget it”).

Choosing a device

My current sous vide device

My current sous vide device

I’ve used a few different methods to cook sous vide.  Those include a water oven (which is the priciest and most intrusive of counter space option), my current, super affordable wand-like device, and even the most low-tech of all: the kitchen sink.  My first device was a water oven: the now-discontinued Caso SousVide Center SV1000 with a built-in vacuum sealer.  Man, was that thing a beast.  It took up a huge amount of counter real estate.  Additionally,  it was a pain in the butt to clean, and–frankly–the controls sucked.  In the end, the control area stopped working and I had to recycle the stupid machine.  I have to admit how relieved I felt, even though I had lost $500 the day that thing got laid to rest.  It was time for me to move on to one of the smaller wand-like devices.

Besides being a LOT cheaper than the water ovens, most wand-like sous vide devices boast easy controls, effortless cleaning, and compact size.  There is a lot of variety to choose from, and it seems that they’re all pretty fabulous.  After a lot of research, including articles like this one by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (one of the best sources for sous vide), I felt that the Anova Precision Cooker was my perfect match.  It’s extremely reliable, and the controls are easy.  You could technically attach the wand to any container you wish, which is another plus to these wand-like devices.  I have never been so happy with a kitchen gadget. Continue Reading…

Dairy-Free Coconut Ice Cream (VEGAN)

4 August 2016
Ice Cream-3
The recipe I am sharing today is a dairy-free (and vegan!) ice cream using only three ingredients.  To add to that awesome-ness, it also doesn’t require an ice cream maker to make!  I have never made homemade ice cream before because I always thought you must have an ice cream maker.  This turned out great, though.  The flavor was spot on and the texture, while it was a bit different, was close to a good soft-serve.  Coconut milk is very rich and creamy so it makes a perfect substitution for heavy cream.

Ice Cream-1

The texture makes for an easily scooped ice cream

Ice Cream-2

We had a little too much fun with my arctic animal plates. Here is Mr. Penguin dribbling two ice cream balls

The best part of this ice cream was that it only required three ingredients: coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.  You can substitute the sugar for agave or any other sweetener you like.  Honey? Maple syrup?  You can even add a 1/2 cup of liquor to it to booze it up and have the added bonus of giving it an even softer texture.  Maple bourbon ice cream?!  Sign me up!

Just three ingredients. It's too good to be true. Except, it is true.

Just three ingredients. It’s too good to be true. Except, it is true.

I will say this: because this recipe uses just three ingredients, I think it is more important that you make sure you use really good ingredients.  Because of this, it might make sense to either use an actual vanilla bean or a really good pure vanilla extract.

I recommend a good pure vanilla extract, like this Watkins brand.

I recommend a good pure vanilla extract, like this Watkins brand. (Linked below).

Also, you’ll note that the recipe is written as though you’re using a stand mixer.  You certainly don’t need a stand mixer, but I do recommend you use some kind of gadgetry to mix the ingredients as the incorporation of air is essential to getting the texture as close as possible to an ice cream churned in an ice cream maker.  Ice cream makers make such great ice cream precisely because they incorporate a ton of air while they churn, so a mixer, hand/immersion blender, or good blender is definitely going to go a long way to compensate for the lack of the ice cream maker.

Mixing the ice cream.

Mixing the ice cream.

Blog news: Almost Kosher has a new logo!  I have worked on giving Almost Kosher a more professional look and decided the old logo didn’t fit the new theme.  I designed this myself and I really think it fits the website.  What do you think?

Also, we are still working on our 10 days of sous vide posts.  I am suffering a bit from writer’s block thanks to a crazy semester and work schedule (all work and no play makes Chava a dull…girl), but I will get those posted as soon as possible.  It was a really fun project so I’m excited to share it with you! Continue Reading…