Days 50, 51 and 52 – More Sous Vide, BLTs (at home) and creme puffs!

13 Sep

Days 50 and 51 were last Thursday and Friday. It was pretty much more of the same as we’d been doing in Level III – 2 dishes a day under time pressure, plus a second day of Sous Vide thrown in on Friday. On the Day 2 of Sous Vide, we tasted our short ribs that had been in the immersion cooker for 48 hours, as well as a pork loin. Can you tell which pork loin was seared and which was sous vide?

You can tell that the one on the right is sous vide because it is evenly cooked on all sides. When you sear meat (the one on the left), it’s much harder to make sure that it’s evenly seared on all sides. The texture of the sous vide pork was lovely. Again, I thought it was more “moist”, although this could be an illusion. But, it tasted “meatier” or “porkier” which I didn’t love, as it was a little medium rare for my palette. I do love pork these days (which is natural, as my nickname implies).

Staying with the pork theme, on Thursday night I made pork belly BLTs with marinated onions, spicy cucumbers, miso-mayo, and heirloom tomatoes. Here are a few of the ingredients and the main attraction:

The pork belly that was sugar-salt brined for 24 hours was grilled on both sides and it was delicious. But, my favorite part of any sandwich is usually marinated onions. I love this very quick and easy recipe for marinated onions: 1) thinly slice a med-large onion of your choice (red, yellow, or “sweet” – I used sweet in this recipe as I had them on hand), 2) Pour about 2/3 cup of white vinegar + 1/3 cup of water in a small saucepan, 3) Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt and a little less sugar than the salt you added, 3) throw in your sliced onions, a teaspoon of Tellicherry peppercorns and a star anise – the star anise is key here, 4) Bring to a boil, turn the heat off and let sit 10 minutes. 5) Strain onions out of liquid, cool and they are ready to use! You’ll have to play around with the salt/sugar content, depending upon the number of onions and the amount of vinegar you use, but these rough proportions should do as a starting point. As Ian said, some good crusty bread, a hard cheese, some grain mustard and marinated onions (red, in his case) make a great snack.

Today, Anne and I were on pastries. So, we made apple tarts and profiteroles (pictured at top). I think the creme puffs with chocolate sauce are always a good dessert to serve at a dinner party because everything can be made ahead. The hard part if knowing when your pate a choux (dough for puffs) is dry enough inside so that it won’t be soggy when you fill it with chantilly or ice cream. It will be a bit soggy, of course, but it should hold the filling well enough so that the puff doesn’t collapse or sog out right away.

Here’s the recipe for the creme puff dough: Yield: 36, quarter size puffs

Ingredients: 1) 250 grams (8 oz) water, 2) 110 grams (3.25 oz) butter, cut in small cubes, 3) pinch of salt and pinch of sugar, 4) 140 g all purpose flour, 5) 4-5 eggs, 6) egg wash for top of puffs.

Directions: 1) Put the water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, 2) As soon as it boils, take it off the heat and dump in all the flour all at once. 3) Place the pan back over medium heat and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds-1 minute until the mixture forms a mass and does not stick to the pan. Keep stirring until this happens and the dough starts to “dry” out a bit. 4) Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture to clean bowl, 5) Crack eggs, 1 at a time, and fully incorporate into the dough before adding the next egg. You may not need all eggs. You want to stop adding eggs when the mixture forms ribbons when you lift it out with a spatula. The other way to check is to draw a line in the mixture in the bottom of the bowl and you want the canal you drew with your finger to fill in slowly. If it fills in too fast, you’ve added too many eggs. If the channel stays put and does not fill in at all or if the batter sticks solidly on the spatula without ribboning back into the bowl, you need to add the 5th egg. 6) Pipe out quarter size dollops onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash, 7) Bake in a 400 degrees F oven. 8) Check after 10-15 minutes; the puffs are done when they puff up, are golden brown and when you don’t hear crackling when you put the puffs next to your ear to listen. If you hear crackling, then it’s still trying to dry out the water. You want the puffs to be very dry in the middle. An even better way to check if they’re done is to slice one open and touch the inside with your finger. It needs to be really dry inside. If they’re almost done, turn the oven down to 200 or 250 and let them sit in there for another 5-10 minutes. You don’t want them to be too brown, so make sure your oven it not too hot, but you want them to be dried out.

Then, cool the puffs, slice off the top third of each to make a “hat”, fill with your favorite cream (ice or whipped), and serve with chocolate sauce.

Here’s the recipe for the chocolate sauce we made (it was delicious): 1) Bring the following ingredients to a boil: 125 g (4 oz) of milk, 60 grams (2 oz) heavy cream, 15 grams (1/2 oz) butter, and 65 grams sugar. As soon as all that boils and the sugar dissolves, take it off the heat and pour it over 150 grams (5 oz) of bittersweet chocolate and stir until all the chocolate is dissolved and it’s now a shiny, sauce. You can reheat on the stove prior to service. If it gets too thick, add a touch more cream while it’s on the heat to thin it out.

Happy Eating!

2 Responses to “Days 50, 51 and 52 – More Sous Vide, BLTs (at home) and creme puffs!”

  1. Shannon September 13, 2011 at 2:57 am #

    The profiteroles look awesome!
    And I wish I could do manage to make a pork loin sous vide style in my kitchen… it looks so moist…
    As usual, I’m reading this while enjoying a nice glass of wine (Hahn Pinot Noir… very good….) and wishing what you have demo’d in this post would all just magically appear on the dinner table in the next hour :o)

  2. Bev September 14, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    OMG! Cream puffs – one of the few deserts that Ian loves. . . .thank you – and I cannot wait to try the onion recipe.

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