My wins/fails with everyday household cooking - including experiments with Sous Vide and the occasional fling with Crockpot and stove.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Curried Coconut & Pumpkin Soup, and Fritatta

Fritattas are great!  They are easy to make and just about anything can be mixed in with the eggs.  The one I made today used  up some leftover veggies from last night.  Adding bacon helped with that "Ewww, leftovers" feeling.  Almost any combination of meat, vegetable, and cheese would be good as long as the flavors mix well.

Ingredients (approximate)
1-2 cups cooked chopped vegetables
4-5 strips of bacon - doesn't really matter how much
8 eggs

First chop and brown the bacon in a nonstick skillet.  Drain most of the grease out of the pan and spread out an even layer of vegetables.  Sprinkle the bacon evenly on top.  Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisk, and pour over the other ingredients.  Cook on the burner until the bottom is pretty well set, and then put into the oven at 425 to finish cooking.  This one took about 10-15 minutes.  When it's done just slice and serve.  Or if you feel fancy, invert onto a serving plate and slice.

Uncooked Fritatta

Curried Coconut Pumpkin Soup

The soup is really easy.  Pumpkin is good for you too!

1 can coconut milk, unsweetened NOT the 'light' kind, it just has extra water
1 can pumpkin, plain (no added sugar or spices)
1 TBSP chicken bouillon paste + a little extra water to thin (or chicken or veggie broth)
1 med finely diced onion
coconut oil or olive oil
The spices are really flexible, depending on your personal taste.  I used:
2 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp ginger (from a tube.  Fresh would be awesome, and powdered is okay)
2 tsp garlic (also from a tube, but use fresh if you have it.  I didn't.)
a couple of squirts Sriracha hot sauce - thats the red bottle with green cap in the picture above.
This stuff is so good and I add it into recipes all the time.  Any hot sauce or cayenne pepper would work to make it extra spicy.

Saute the onion in oil until soft.  Mix in pumpkin, coconut milk, and spices.  Heat through.
For a smooth soup just puree in the blender.  I didn't feel like it, and didn't mind the onion pieces.

Adding diced red and green pepper with the onion would've given it more color and extra vitamins.  A sprinkle of cilantro on top would be nice, too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Here we go, the true test - beef tenderloin steaks sous vide.  And the result? W!

I never did show what the inside of this thing looks like.  Here are the bacon-wrapped tenderloins, snug in their warm water oven:

They were cooked at 133 degrees for about an hour.

While they cooked I mostly:
1. Had a glass of wine
2. Read a book
And then
3. blanched and drained peapods
4. sauteed mushrooms in butter with thyme and truffle salt
5. seared the steak
6. then re-warmed the peapods in the juices from the meat

After the hour was up I seared the steak in a skillet with butter, to give it some color and crisp up the bacon.

Here is the finished tenderloin with peapods and mushrooms sauteed with thyme and truffle salt.  (I am becoming absolutely addicted to truffle salt.)

The middle, still pink.  In the cookbook "Sous Vide for the Home Cook" it set medium-rare at 130 degrees, so I bumped it up to 133.  Could've let it go longer than an hour and a few minutes, but we were hungry.

Verdict - very good!  It was nice not to worry about the steak being overcooked, and I could just relax for a bit and then cook the sides.  I've never really been that good at cooking meat, but I am good at cooking veggies.

A few squares of dark chocolate for dessert. :)  Pretty good for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grain-Free Tacos

Here was an easy dinner - taco filling in a lettuce cup.  The filling was made with pork sauteed with onions, peppers, and chili spices, plus cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.  
Messy, spicy, and healthy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Simple Sous Vide Chicken Dinner

It seems like this new appliance will help save a lot of hands-on kitchen time and cleanup.  We don't have a dishwasher, so a big pile of dishes on a Friday night is not something that we want to mess with.  And while I really like to cook, after working all day I don't want to always be stuck having to keep an eye on things while they cook. So far, so good.  Last night was very easy.

After getting home from work, I vacuumed some chicken breasts into pouches with a sprinkle of Penzey's Northwoods Fire seasoning.  The sous vide got set at 145 and then B-Hubz (smile) and I left for the climbing gym.  By the time we got back - tired and ravenous, we had some good climbs! - the chicken had cooked for a little over 2 hours.

I preheated one of those George Foreman-style indoor grills, and started water boiling to cook frozen peapods.  The chicken was grilled for a few minutes to color.  The veggies were drained, buttered, and salted.  Dinner done!

The lighting in the photo is a little weird, but the chicken was amazing.  The texture was great - very juicy, firm, and evenly cooked.

Verdict - Next time - extra spice.  I was worried about over doing it but a little more would have been just fine.  Also I don't think I'm going to bother finishing a dish on the indoor grill again.  It didn't get hot enough to really sear to get the grill marks that I was going for.   A smoking hot skillet is the best way to go.  At least until I get a blowtorch.  :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

First Meal Sous Vide

A photo-blog of the first sous vide dinner I've cooked so far.  Looking forward to many more!

The Sous Vide Supreme "water bath" cooker.  It's looks prettier sitting on the counter than I expected.
Unfortunately with today being Thursday, the kitchen isn't quite as well-stocked with groceries as I would like.  But on-hand AND valid for the sous vide are apples and carrots.  Here are the results.

Carrots were peeled, sliced, and vacuum sealed into a pouch with butter, salt and pepper.

Apples chopped and vacuumed with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

After a bit of experimenting, fiddling, and splashing water about, the packets were placed in the water at 183 degrees for about an hour.  While they cooked I started on some scrambled eggs with sausage and spinach, and whipped up some cream to go with dessert.

Cooked carrots, still bagged.  The thing about sous vide cooking is that after things are "done", they still need a bit of finishing off before serving.  That might be a sauce, or a quick sear in a pan to give them a nice brown finished look.  For the carrots I poured them into a very hot cast-iron skillet to caramelize.

Just barely saved from burning!  I actually liked the very dark spots of color they developed, and thought the smoky taste was nice with the concentrated sweetness of the cooked carrot.

The apples were treated in the same way...poured into a very hot skillet and browned while the liquid reduced. (Ha! The steam kept fogging up my lens :)

With the final results:

Verdict - I'm excited!  While the first try took longer than it should have, overall I'm happy with the way these two items turned out.  The carrots were intensely carroty, and the apples were (while a bit overcooked at 1 hour) pretty tasty too.


Testing 1..2..3.. :) *squee!!*

[EDIT] Okay, the first REAL post is up!