Bachelor’s Sous Vide Steak

20 Jun

A friend of mine forwarded me some articles on how to make the perfect steak out of a less expensive cut of meat…using an even less expensive version of a nouveau cuisine favorite technique. The meat is steak, and the art is cooking it sous vide. From Serious Eats is the recipe i followed for Beer cooler sous vide steak which something every bachelor should feel excited about. The advantage to cooking it sous vide, or in a hot water bath, is that the temperature supposedly never goes above what you’ve set, so the steak will be thoroughly rare, medium rare, or however you like it, and it will stay that temperature until ready for a quick sear in the pan. And fortunately for most of us, we all have a cooler which is just as good at keeping heat in as keeping it out. So using a beer cooler, hot water, and a cheap cut of meat inside a ziplock bag, we can enjoy steak as tender as they make in the restaurants.

I am still experimenting with cuts of meat. Supposedly the more expensive cuts are costly because they are easier to cook whereas the middle priced meats taste just as good, provided you don’t overcook them. In the end, I decided that bottom round is still not good enough for steak. Time to venture into the $7 to $10 range, though it’s still way more affordable than your $30 restaurant steak. (An actual grilled steak I had recently was a slab of dry aged ribeye or ny strip, which was genuinely good, and will be a meterstick for future steaks.)

Steak Sous Vide with Corn off the cob and Mediterranean Mix

Ingredients
8 or 10 oz cut of beef
Rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, or other aromatic herbs
Ziplock bag
Water cooler
Teapot or water heater
Meat thermometer

Heat about half a gallon of water on the stove until it reaches 140 degrees F. I estimated the heat by taking the water off the stove before it boiled but after the water started bubbling. Pour the water into the cooler, and if needed, add cold water until it is around 140. Medium rare is 135 degrees, and with slight cooling effects the steak should be about medium rare to medium. I ended up with a starting temperature of 150 degrees.

Season steak with herbs inside the ziplock bag. Do not add other ingredients such as salt or butter. Remove all the air from the bag and seal the ziplock bag, submerge the whole steak underwater, and set a timer for three 15 minute intervals. After each 15 minute interval, check the temperature of the water, and add more hot water if needed to maintain about 135 degrees.

After 45 minutes, heat a skillet with oil. Remove the steak from the bag and sear quickly on both sides, getting a little char on each side but do not overcook. Also sprinkle sea salt and black pepper if desired.

For the corn off the cob, steamed a cob of corn over water for 10 minutes, then cut the kernels off with vertical slices of a knife.

The Mediterranean mix was a pack that came with various grains and seeds. Heat 1.5 cups of water with a tablespoon of butter. When the liquid boils, pour in the mix and stir on medium heat. Then let simmer until most of the water cooks away.

My steak ended up being a little overcooked still. That’s because I aimed for a temperature of 150 instead of 135, and every 15 minutes I added some hot water until it was between 145 and 150. The cooler I had seemed to leak heat a lot more than the Serious Eats article said. In the future I think it would be ok to start at 150 and just let the water sit for 45 minutes instead of raising the temperature back up twice.

Total time procrastinated: 60 minutes
Ways to prolong procrastination: Create a sauce with the juices left in the ziplock bag

Advertisements

Rosemary Sweet Potato Fries

6 Jun

I have several bottles of olive oil infusing with various herbs. They are all sitting on my kitchen counter, mostly unused. One contains a bunch of garlic that was starting to go bad (so the best way to store it of course, is to keep it in olive oil.) Another one is a container of oil with rosemary leaves, stored neatly in an old sake bottle. And for the past year or two it has been becoming more and more aromatic.

So naturally the best use of it was to use it all to fry up some sweet potato fries! Along with coarse sea salt, this was a snack worthy of a sunday afternoon, with a beer, sitting outside in my cushioned garden chair. Not sure if that’s what I did but it sure sounds appealing now.

Sweet Potato Fries with Rosemary and Sea Salt

Ingredients
One large sweet potato
1 cup olive oil infused with rosemary
Sea salt

Peel and cut the sweet potato into fries. Heat rosemary oil in a small sauce pan or pot, small enough so that you don’t need a ton of oil to create a layer for frying. Toss the sweet potato fries in the hot oil until they are tender and slightly brown. Remove the fries from the oil and drail oil back into the pan. Sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt.

Total time of procrastination: 15 minutes

Birthday baking…for 42 people!

5 Jun

With only a few days left of classes, the two other class secretaries and I decided to bake for all the summer birthdays and some early fall birthdays in one fell swoop. Between June 1 and September 19, there were forty-two birthdays. Damn.

I made a chocolate cake with raspberry frosting and some chocolate chip cookies. I found the raspberry frosting here, and was intrigued because it used Cool Whip. Sadly, it didn’t spread well and I ended up with a pretty ugly cake. Or it might’ve been because I somehow lost my spatula and was frosting the cake with a butter knife. On a piece of aluminum foil. Well…you gotta use what you’ve got, right? At least it tasted pretty good.

In addition, I also baked chocolate chip cookies. These came out decidedly prettier, but they weren’t “chewy” like the recipe title promised. Don’t get me wrong…they were definitely tasty, but also definitely crunchy. It’s okay Alton Brown. I still love you.

I’d also like to say that I’m insanely jealous of all you food bloggers out there with tons of natural lighting in your kitchens. Mine has a big tree in front of the only tiny window, and my colors are always funky. Grr.

Oh, and here’s the spread of birthday goodness:

Alton Brown’s “The Chewy” Chocolate Chip Cookies
Converted into volume measurements from The Food Network 

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Melt butter in a saucepan (I used a microwave…) and let cool. While you’re waiting, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

In a stand mixer, combine the butter with both sugars using the paddle attachment. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the egg mixture. Mix until well-combined.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet in several batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl and the paddle each time. Add in the chocolate chips and mix. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 12 minutes, until cookies are brown. Makes about 35 normal cookies and one mini one with no chocolate chips in it.

Length of procrastination: 1 hour 30 minutes

Crack Cookies

30 May

Bobby’s birthday was last week and although I’m still stuck in Davis cramming immunology, renal physiology, hematology, parasitology, and all sorts of other -ologies into my brain, I needed to send him something tasty. Enter crack cookies.

These things have another name (flourless deep dark chocolate cookies), but they’re so good that they taste like there’s crack in them (assuming crack tastes good…). They also crackle on top. Instead of rolling them in powdered sugar, I used raw sugar for an extra crunch. Plus, the melted sugar gives it a molasses-like flavor. Next time, though, I’ll probably use bittersweet chocolate chips instead of semisweet, as these cookies were a bit too sweet for me.

Of course, I also forgot to take pictures of them before I mailed them off, so these pictures are courtesy of Bobby. They’re individually wrapped for portion control purposes. :D

Crack Cookies
Adapted from Epicurious

Nonstick vegetable oil spray (or that awesome non-stick aluminum foil)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raw sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees and prepare two baking sheets.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring occasionally. Let cool while you make the meringue.

Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add in 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until the mixture resembles melted marshmallows, about 30 seconds. Whisk the remaining powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn starch, and salt and gradually add into the meringue. Mix until combined. Add in the melted chocolate and remaining chocolate chips. The “dough” should be stiff, almost the texture of truffle chocolates. If it’s still too soft, try waiting a bit for the melted chocolate to cool a little more.

Roll dough into spheres and roll in raw sugar. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart–these cookies will spread! Bake for about 11 minutes, until the tops are cracked. Makes about 20 three-inch cookies.

Length of procrastination: 45 minutes

Herb and Cheese Beer Bread (Muffins)

25 May

Oooh, I love beer bread so much. Not only is it delicious, but it’s so easy to make. It takes less than 5 minutes to mix up all the ingredients and only about 12 minutes to bake. My roommates keep convenient 12oz bottles of beer in the house, so I’ll whip up a batch whenever I get a cheese craving.

Most beer bread recipes make loaves, but I’m more a fan of the muffin or scone-sized variety. I really like the crunch around the edges, especially the slightly burnt cheese topping. Plus, the it cuts the baking time waaay down. I get between 15-20 “muffins” out of this recipe, depending how full I fill each cup.

I’ve tried this recipe with a variety of beers, including stouts, light beers, and ciders. The more bitter beers make more bitter breads, obviously, but in some cases the flavor is a bit too much. On the other hand, the beer-y flavor is pretty much lost with ciders and Corona Light. I personally prefer a lighter flavor, but it’s definitely a personal choice.

Herb and Cheese Beer Bread

3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1.5 tbsp garlic salt
1 cup shredded cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
12oz beer

Note: For the “herbs,” I tend to use whatever’s on hand. Basil, oregano, and garlic salt taste pretty good together, which is awesome ’cause it’s all I currently have in my cabinet. I tend to have a heavier hand in terms of seasoning, so adjust it to your taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease either a muffin tin or baking pan with baking spray and set aside.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Pour in beer and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Fill muffin tins about 80% full with batter or drop 3-inch dollops of batter onto the baking sheet. Top with some sprinkled cheese and bake for 12-15 minutes, until bread is golden brown.

Length of procrastination: ~20 minutes

Meatless Mondays

16 May

A few weeks back I decided to start doing Meatless Mondays, encouraged by several factors including the global warming crisis, a desire to explore more interesting vegetarian dishes, and a friend who was also doing it. However, the most compelling reason I started was that the Sunday before we had done some sort of barbeque and I had eaten so much meat that my stomach was upset at me for days. Hence, Meatless Mondays was started to counteract Shitless Sundays.

To be honest, eating is a much more interesting act now than before I started. It’s not like I’m doing salad and health food on Mondays. No, the food is actually quite filling, and in many cases involves a healthy dose of oil, cheese, and glutenous things. It’s just that I am able to break the monotony of the standard weekly fare – rice plus some sort of grilled meat, or rice plus stir fried onions and peppers. Mondays I look forward to experimenting with whatever strange, exotic, and green leafy things I bought on a whim on a previous Haymarket run. Some examples include eggplant and tofu stir fry, grilled muenster sandwich and tomato bisque soup, and daikon and baby bok choy stew. Maybe if I start doing reruns I will make posts of those on a future Monday.

This week I mixed my Asian and southern roots, and made a collard greens and daikon gumbo. Can you even call it a gumbo, even though i’m from the coastal south, not the gulf south? I don’t know, but it turned into a ricey, beany, spicy mix that has the consistency of gumbo. So here’s the recipe to a super creamy and rich asian/southern cuisine.

Collard greens and daikon gumbo with brown rice and black beans

Ingredients
1 bunch collard greens
1 onion
3/4 can black beans
1/2 large daikon
2 cups brown rice, cooked
red chili pepper flakes
1 can vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic

Heat oil in a wok, and add in chopped garlic. Wash collard greens and chop into small pieces (1-2 inch squares). Peel and roughly dice an onion. Add onion to the hot oil and cook until almost translucent, and then add all the collard greens. Stir fry collard greens and onions for about 5 minutes, adding in salt and a generous amount of red pepper flakes.Add in black beans, then add in the can of vegetable stock, plus a second can’s worth of water.

Peel and slice daikon, then cut slices into quarters. Slices can be thick and chunky. Add the daikon and the precooked brown rice into the wok, and make sure there is enough water to partially submerge the daikon. Put a lid on the wok and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. Occasionally stir the daikon and rice into the liquid so that it will cook thoroughly. I used brown rice that was still slightly crunchy, so by the time the vegetables were ready the rice was essentially recooked.

The dish is ready when the daikon is thoroughly soft, and the stalks of the collard greens are tender.

time to procrastinate: 45 minutes
ways to put off studying for finals more: make corn bread and sweet tea

Creme Brulee French Toast for Mother’s Day

9 May

My sister and I have made my mom breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day every year since we were old enough to reach the microwave. Unfortunately the past few years, I’d been on the other side of the country, so I had to make up for it this year.

I halved a recipe from Smitten Kitchen and got surprisingly good results! I couldn’t find an unsliced loaf anywhere, so I substituted thick Taiwanese toast from Sogo Bakery. As you can see, they weren’t nearly as thick as the original recipe, so I had a lot of unabsorbed custard left over after soaking the bread overnight.

This was also my first time caramelizing sugar, which was terrifying and awesome at the same time. The sugar first started “sweating” a little…then turned brown really quickly! Mine burnt a little in the extra 30 seconds I took to snap a picture. When the recipe says “color of honey,” it really means color of honey. Any browner and you’ll get burnt sugar, which doesn’t actually taste that bad.

Length of procrastination: About 1 hour, not counting soaking time.

%d bloggers like this: