Saturday, January 23, 2016

Carbon Steel Skillet

It's been a while since I treated myself to a new kitchen gadget.  So when Cook's Illustrated raved about carbon steel skillets as more user friendly than cast iron but with many of the same benefits, I decided to spring for one.

(Yes, I know...if CI said the secret to great ratatouille was to jump off a bridge with the eggplant I'd probably do that too.)

Anyway, it took a while before I decided to spring for one, and it gave me a firsthand view of CI's influence:  it was actually pretty hard to find one, particularly their recommended Matfer Bourgeat 062005 - 11-7/8" dia. - Black Round Frying Pan.

Finally found it at  And here it is, newly arrived, heavy and shiny.


Very pretty, no?  Hope I get a lot of happy skilleting out of it.

The other thing that I thought was a little remarkable about this was the packaging it came in.  Here's a look--very, um, makeshift.  There was nothing in there but the padding, no nothing.  I suppose, being carbon steel, it's theoretically indestructable but still.

While I applaud their ingenuity and creativity in packing supplies,  you'd think, being a restaurant supply place that ships stuff regularly, they'd have a suitable box. 

Anyway, it's here, it's beautiful, and I'm looking forward to seasoning it and getting cooking.

Monday, January 18, 2016


While on my annual pilgrimage back to the land of my birth (the island of Hawai'i) over Christmas I had the great good fortune to stumble upon the latest in local hybrid Eastern-Western baking concepts, the maffle.  Maffle mix seems is basically just sweetened mochi flour with maybe some leavening in it--add milk, egg, and oil and you get a very thick batter, really more of a dough.

The recipe calls for piecing out the dough and rolling each chunk in sugar before throwing it in a waffle iron, which results in something that's crunchy and caramelized on the outside, and chewy and glutinous on the inside.  And delicious all the way around.

Dominic Ansel gets all the credit for the cronut, and I have to confess a few years ago I made a savory waffle with chickpea flour and called it the fawafel and felt very proud of myself.  But maffles are truly a yummy stroke of genius.  I bought a package back from Hawai'i with me (and one to give to my neighbors) but I will definitely be asking mom to send more.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sous Vide Chicken Again

I'm not totally sure why I'm posting this; I've done sous vide chicken here before, and there's nothing terribly different about this one.  It was delicious, and I do feel like I'm getting even more mileage out of my Sansaire when I get to share (or overshare?) what I've made with it.

How about this:  I did two breasts this time, and made the most amazing salad out of a the leftover one tonight:
I think chicken done sous vide-style is even better chunked in a salad that it is eaten as a solid block of protein.  Arugula, cucumber, and some avocado, and a balsamic/ lemon juice/ olive oil/ sumac dressing. Simple components but the sum was just delicious and the mix of textures was very satisfying.  Something I will remember for the next time!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

New Fangled Dinner Rolls

This year for my contribution to Christmas dinner I took Cooks Illustrated's latest dinner roll recipe for a spin. The CI guys were all excited about something called a tangzhong, which was apparently invented in Japan and has been around for some time, but is only now getting the Cooks Illustrated treatment.  
A tangzhong involves making a paste out of flour and hot liquid, and actually cooking it together for a bit until it hits a pudding-like consistency.  This mixture is then combined back with the rest of the ingredients for a yeasty roll.
The theory goes that hot flour absorbs more liquid, and so adding that step results in rolls (or bread) that's got a super-pillowy crumb, and the layers within the roll end up almost flaky.
"That's not the only thing that's flaky here," I thought, but hey, it's not like I had anything else to do once the presents were opened.
The other thing CI does in the recipe that's a little unusual is their technique for forming the rolls--instead of just rolling little rounds of dough, you actually flatten and tightly roll sheets, before putting them in the pan for a rise and a bake.  Here's the raw material:
 And here's what they looked like post-cooking.  Very pretty.
And finally here's a roll in mid-dine.  I really liked them, though I'm not sure they were THAT much superior to just a plain old ordinary parker house roll.  Still, it was fun to try a new technique, they didn't come out of a can, and they got rave reviews at dinner, always nice validation for my baking skills.