Slip-on rubber pour spout

Just discovered a very useful kitchen tool that lends a helping hand in the kitchen: a thin slip-on rubber pour spout that fits on bowls, pans, etc. Used it today and successfully made pouring beet juice a non-mess issue when it could have been. ūüôā

Slip-On Silicone Pour Spout for Mixing Bowls, Pots, Pans & Jars

Slip-On Silicone Pour Spout for Mixing Bowls, Pots, Pans & Jars

Happy New Year!

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Sous Vide Cooking at Home

We recently purchased a Polyscience¬†Sous Vide Professional¬†immersion circulator and are super excited to bring our food to the next level! Sous-vide¬†so far has made our meat super succulent and tender without overcooking. It’s easy, hands-off cooking and the results are well worth it. So far we have only made two proteins but more experiments to come!

Pork ribs:

Sous Vide Professional heating up to temperature (140 degrees for pork ribs)

Pork ribs in airtight, vacuum sealed bags with marinade

Pork ribs consistently heating at 140 degrees for 48 hours

Finished results after added sauce and light torching

Lamb Chops:

Lamb chops from Pioneer Wholesale Meats in vacuum sealed bags with marinade

Immersion circulator at work — 140 degrees for 1 hour

Voila! Lamb chops after a slight sear in the caste iron pan

Cuban Ice Cream Sandwich with Smoked Ice Cream

Smoking Gun by Polyscience

I bought Nick a Polyscience smoking gun¬†from Williams Sonoma last year and it’s proven to be¬†an excellent tool for cold smoking. So far, we have only experimented with making smoked ice cream and smoked mussels — both were excellent.

Nick’s creative skills in the kitchen are similar to a curious mad scientist. One day after working on a Saturday, I came home to open the fridge and see what he calls “pickle jello” in the refrigerator. We had previously discussed somehow making smoked ice cream and from here, he took it to a whole different level by creating a bite size “cuban sandwich” — one of his best culinary moments yet.

To make the ice cream, you start with your basic ice cream mixture. I used this recipe for the base:

Ingredients:

2 cups full-fat milk
2 cups thickened / heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg

Method:
1. Heat the milk, cream, and half of the sugar in a saucepan until it’s just below the boiling point and starts to bubble.
2. Whisk together the other half of the sugar, vanilla and egg in a bowl to a ribbon stage.
3. Still whisking, pour the cream mixture into the egg mixture and pour this back into the cleaned-out pan and cook till a velvety custard
4. When it’s thickened, take it off the heat.
5. Pour into a bowl over another bowl of ice and let it cool or you can stir to help it cool faster.

Styrofoam contraption

We created a contraption using a styrofoam box that I received when a customer of mine brought me fish from his family’s wholesale fish market. We cut a hole in the lid big enough so the hose of the smoking gun fit and would not let any smoke seep out. We then poured the ice cream into a flat pan to create as much surface area as possible, placed it into the box, and closed the lid. We stuck the hose into the hole and recharged the smoker 4 times, letting the smoke sit for 5 minutes each time. Once we felt the smoke flavor had penetrated the ice cream base mixture sufficiently, we churned it in our ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (for about 30 minutes) and then froze it overnight.

Cuban sandwich

Cuban sandwich components listed from bottom to top for assembly:

Bread:¬† Briefly soak a small square of bread into a beaten egg mixture and lightly saute in a hot pan until crisp and browned. (It’s like making french toast.)

Pickle jello:  Take pickle juice from a jar of dill pickles and add gelatin (see instructions for ratios on gelatin box). We made a whole batch of pickle jello but only used a few squares for the Cuban sandwiches.

Smoked Ice cream (recipe above)

Cilantro-jalapeno syrup:  Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, add 2 chopped jalapenos, and a few cilantro sprigs. Let sit for 30 minutes and strain. Then refrigerate.

Cilantro leaf for garnish

FOODILY: “Food I love you”

Since we got our iPad, we have been finding new food related apps and websites that are useful. So far, my favorite recipe website has been FOODILY. After typing in an ingredient into the search bar, it pulls recipes from the bazillion food sites on the web and includes a picture and the source it came from. Then you can quickly scroll through the recipes and save them while you search. Another useful feature is customizing your search by including or excluding recipes with a specific ingredient. Sharing via Facebook and email is super easy as well. It’s smart, concise, colorful, and my new one and only recipe search tool!

Here’s a bonus tip: For a new way to quickly read a lot of information within a short amount of time, download the Pulse app to your phone or iPad. It changed the way I read my news every morning. Pulse takes your favorite websites and transforms them into a colorful mosaic. The app also makes it easy to share stories via email as well as Facebook, Twitter, etc.¬† Happy reading!

City Olive — Olive You

 

Andersonville is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots to frequent in Chicago. Many of the shops carry an array of uncommon items for the home but there is one boutique store in particular that never fails to wow me with their unique gourmet food selection: City Olive.

I’ve purchased everything here from a wooden salt cellar¬† to smoked salt to bacon lollipops. The staff is always welcoming and very generous with their tastings of the various vinegars, oils, mustards, salts and sauces they carry. Their knowledge of how to use a product impresses me, too. What does one do with the smoked salt you are about to purchase? — fish of course (one lady said it’s great on anything and she’s actually right). I recently saw pate in a jar and noticed powdered tomato to use in dishes when tomatoes are not in season.

Truffle salt? No problem. Preserved whole lemons? Check. Funky pasta shapes and flavors? Yep. Flavored salt galore? The most selection I’ve seen.

Go in with an open mind and walk out with some treasures…

Best of all — it’s right next to my favorite Italian bakery: Pasticceria¬†Natalina.

 

Cheers, Salud, Cin Cin, and all the rest…

I’m not one that usually loves high-proof alcohol. I don’t like scotch on the rocks, rum and coke, tequila shots. However, in my food travels, I have discovered a few that I find myself obsessing over and sharing with everyone who comes over. If anything, the bottles below will make a great house-warming gift!

St. Germain (~$30): An artisanal French liqueur¬†made from hand-picked elderflower blossoms. The flavors are delicate like the blossoms themselves — hints of peach and pear, notes of lychee and citrus. As they say on the product’s website, the flavor is “a little like asking a hummingbird to describe the flavor of its favorite nectar.”

My favorite combination is the St. Germain Signature:

  • 2 Shots Champagne or Dry White Wine
  • 1 ¬Ĺ Shots St-Germain
  • 2 Shots Sparkling Water or Club Soda

Stir in a tall ice-filled glass, garnish with a lemon twist.


Lillet (~$16): (pronounced “le-lay”) is a brand of French aperitif¬†wine that has notes of both citrus and honey. It is a blend of 85% wine and citrus liqueurs made from a variety of oranges and then matured in oak casks. Lillet¬†is available in red (Lillet¬†Rouge) and white (Lillet¬†Blanc) versions. Blackbird restaurant introduced me to this aperitif and I have been replenishing my stash ever since. My favorite is Lillet Blanc on ice!

Discovered this unique recipe combining Lillet Blanc, basil, and cinnamon:

  • 1 cup ice, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup Lillet Blanc
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) gin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
  • Splash of tonic water
  • 1 cucumber spear, for garnish
  • 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
Put ice, Lillet, gin, orange juice, and basil in a cocktail shaker; shake well. Fill a glass with ice; strain mixture into glass. Add tonic water. Garnish with cucumber spear, cinnamon stick, and basil sprigs.

Root liqueur¬†(~$40): In the 1700‚Äôs, it was called¬†Root Tea. Native Americans taught the recipe to colonial settlers — an herbal remedy made with sassafras, sarsaparilla, birch bark and other wild roots and herbs. At the close of the 19th century, a Philadelphia pharmacist removed the alcohol from Root Tea and renamed it ‘Root Beer’. He did this so that hard drinking Pennsylvania coal miners and steelworkers could enjoy it in place of true alcoholic refreshment.

ROOT is very aromatic in the glass, with a delightfully rich bouquet of birch, smoke, baking spices, and vanilla. It has strong notes of birch, peppery herbaceousness, spices, citrus and vanilla bean.

It’s fabulous on ice or ice cream!

A Whole New Meaning of “On the Rocks”

Whisky Lover's Set

I can’t keep this discovery to myself any longer. While shopping for unique Christmas gifts for Nick, I came across the above Whisk(e)y Lover’s set of Whisky Stones and glasses.

The bag of soapstone cubes are kept in the freezer. Add them to chill your drink (they won’t scratch the glass) AND they won’t water your drink down! Great invention.

I’ve seen them sold at Uncommon Goods but recently saw the set of cubes at Anthropologie. I bought mine from Teroforma — the company that actually created the set.

Nick loves the rocks and I think the glasses are modern and sexy!