Crème Brûlée


Crème Brûlée

What is a custard, anyway? It’s a delicious dessert, yes, but technically speaking it’s a liquid that has been thickened or set via the coagulation of egg protein. The key to perfect custards is to keep the internal temperature of the mixture below 185 °F / 85 °C—above that point, they have a tendency to curdle. And curdling, dear friends, is the bane of any custard baker.

Enter sous vide. By cooking custards in a sous vide bath, we can precisely dictate the temperature to which they are heated, thus eliminating the risk of a curdled dessert. We prepare our Crème Brûlée—along with other delightful eggy treats that you’ll find if you scroll down—in small mason jars so the desserts emerge individually portioned, each in its own adorable vessel. Before serving, we add a golden-brown layer of caramelized sugar using a blowtorch. (Don’t worry if you’ve never tried it; we’ll walk you through the technique.) The result: a sunshine-hued dessert with a deliciously crackly top and a whisper of elegant sweetness, easy to whip up (even if you’re serving a large group) and eminently satisfying.

Ingredients

  • 160g Egg yolk, about 11 yolks
  • 90 g Granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 3g Salt
  • 600g Heavy cream

Procedure

  1. Heat water bath to 176 °F / 80 °C.
  2. Combine yolks, sugar, and salt
  3. In a pot on the stove, heat cream to 158 °F / 70 °C.
  4. Begin slowly pouring cream into the egg mixture—introducing the cream slowly (“tempering”) allows us to combine ingredients without causing the eggs to curdle. You can increase the pour rate gradually as you go.
  5. Strain the mixture, then allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes so that bubbles have time to rise to the top and dissipate.
  6. Skim away any remaining bubbles.
  7. Cast 150g of mixture into each jar, pouring in a slow, low, steady stream. Pouring too quickly or from too high above the jar will cause bubbles to form on the surface of the custard. If bubbles form on the surface of the custard as you pour, lightly flash the top with a blowtorch to remove them. Remember to do this quickly, using a pulsing action. You can easily cook the eggs on the surface if you torch too long.
  8. Place the lid on the jar. Twist the lid until “fingertip tight,” meaning just barely closed and still possible to open with your fingertips.To close the jars fingertip tight, place the lid on top of the jar, then twist the band to tighten using just your fingertips. When you begin to feel resistance, twist once in the opposite direction, then once more in the original direction to tighten.Closing the jars until fingertip tight means that air will be able to escape from the jars when you submerge them in water. If you close them too tightly, the trapped air will press against the glass and could crack or break your jars.
  9. Place jars carefully into the sous vide water bath and cook for one hour.
  10. Remove jars from the bath and rest at room temperature.
  11. Prepare an ice bath. Once jars are cool to the touch, transfer to ice bath to chill.
  12. When the jars are good and cold, go ahead and tighten the lids. They will last up to a week, sealed, in the refrigerator.

Brûlée That Crème Brûlée

There isn’t just one correct way to create a crackly top layer of caramelized sugar on your crème brûlée—different chefs use different sugars, torches, and techniques. Use the steps below to get started, and then customize your approach depending on your tools and preferences.

  1. Remove the lid from the jar. If condensation has pooled on the surface of the custard, gently dab with the corner of a paper towel to remove.
  2. Using a small sieve or your fingers, dust a layer of sugar over the surface of the custard. The more sugar you use, the more crunchy and caramelized your top layer will be.
  3. Set blowtorch to a low-gas-release setting. Holding the torch in your dominant hand and the jar in the other, focus the flame on the custard while rotating the jar. Control the heat by moving the torch closer and farther from the custard—the distance should range from 10 to 24 inches.
  4. Once you have achieved the color you want, allow the sugar to set for five minutes. This will give it time to fully harden and reach its crunchy potential.

Cook’s Notes

When you’re tempering liquids together in a bowl, it helps to make a sturdy foundation for the bowl so it doesn’t wiggle around while you’re holding a pot of hot liquids above it.

Here’s the technique: Dampen a kitchen towel. Twist the ends of the towel and make a circle on the table that’s big enough to hold your bowl. Place the bowl inside the circle.

Shrimp Avocado Salad


Shrimp Avocado Salad
Shrimp Avocado Salad is perfect for a quick lunch or supper during the summer. Add to a sandwich, pasta, or atop greens, too! Especially when it is hot and humid in south, I always start craving things that are cool and filling without being heavy and draining.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boiled or steamed shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 avocados, cut into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons diced red onion

For the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon Xanthium Gum
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Add shrimp, avocado, and onion to a large bowl.
  2. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together ingredients for the dressing. Whisk until well-combined.
  3. Add dressing to shrimp avocado salad until it has the amount you desire. Serve additional dressing on the side.

Rigatoni Pasta Pie


Rigatoni Pasta Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups Steve’s Tomato Sauce 
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high. Add the turkey and cook until it’s browned all over, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Sauté another minute. Then add the crushed tomatoes and simmer on medium until thickened, 20 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, cook the rigatoni until it’s slightly underdone. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  6. Toss with parmesan cheese.
  7. Lightly oil a 9-inch spring form pan.
  8. Tightly pack the rigatoni in the pan, standing on their ends.
  9. Pour the meat sauce over the pasta. Push the meat down into the holes as best you can.
  10. Slide into the oven for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove, top with mozzarella cheese, and bake another 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly.
  12. Let sit 15 minutes before slicing and serving!
  13. Top with fresh basil if desired.

Garlic Cheese Bread


INGREDIENTS 1 cup shredded garlic herb cheese 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (from the block, not the can) 1/4 cup butter, melted 1 tablespoon sugar 1 egg 1 cup buttermilk 2 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray. Mix cheese in a small bowl and set 1/4 cup aside for the top. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg, and buttermilk. Mix well. Add the flour, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until just combined. Fold in the cheese (except the 1/4 cup) and spoon into the loaf pan. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake 50-55 minutes or until lightly brown on top and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shredded garlic herb cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (from the block, not the can)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Mix cheese in a small bowl and set 1/4 cup aside for the top.
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, egg, and buttermilk. Mix well.
  4. Add the flour, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the cheese (except the 1/4 cup) and spoon into the loaf pan.
  6. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
  7. Bake 50-55 minutes or until lightly brown on top and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Crispy Chicken Skin Cracklings


Crispy Chicken Skin Cracklings.
Crispy Chicken Skin Cracklings… great substitute for bacon. I know. Seriously? Chicken skin cracklings? I never thought I would one day post about such a recipe. Over the years, crispy chicken skin has become more and more popular. You know, sort of like the bacon and maple doughnuts. I mean, who would have thought that bacon would one day be used in in a variety of sweets. But you know, I tried the bacon and maple doughnut … and it was delicious! It seems that crispy chicken skin has made it as the next “bacon”…. maybe it’s just a fad. Or maybe it’s come and gone already, and I’m still behind times:).

However, I’ve certainly seen creative recipes using chicken skin cracklings. Aside from simply serving them as an appetizer with hot sauce, there’s the crispy chicken skin ice cream…. and ice cream served in crispy chicken skin “cups”. Yes, ice cream. No surprise there, because if bacon is used, why not crispy chicken skin? It almost tastes like crispy bacon… salty and crunchy. And it is delicious! I’m not even kidding…

Ingredients

  • chicken skin, rinsed and dried
  • sea salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Remove any large globules of fat from the skin, rinse and pat skin dry.
  3. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on both sides of chicken skin.
  4. Spread out onto parchment-lined baking sheet, top with parchment and another baking sheet, and place a cast iron skillet or other heavy, oven-proof pot or pan to weigh it down.
  5. Bake until cooked through and crisp, about 45 minutes total, but check after 20 minutes.

Cilantro Lime Cashew Cream


CILANTRO LIME CASHEW CREAM
This creaminess literally takes 5 minutes to whiz up and you’re going to want to put it on everything. It makes about 1 cup, so make extra you’ll want it.

Ingredients

  • 1 packed cup (40 g) of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews  (556 g) {feel free to soak for an hour or not soak}
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
  • juice from 1 lime
  • zest from 1 lime

Preparation

  1. Blend everything together on high until smooth.
  2. Store it in an air-tight container, refrigerated, for up to a week.

How to Sous Vide Shrimp


Sous Vide Shrimp

Shrimp is a delicate food to prepare and it is easy to overcook them. They can go from perfectly cooked to overcooked in no time, especially when they are cooked on high heat (ie: boiled, skillet or grill). Shrimp that has been cooked too long has a mushy texture that is very unappealing and I, regrettably, have been served overcooked shrimp many times – even at restaurants.

Cooked properly, shrimp is plump, succulent and packed with flavor. Sous vide water baths are a great way to cook shrimp, as the precise water temperature, can allow you to know how long to cook the shrimp so that they are perfect every single time.

One thing to decide, is whether or not the shrimp will be peeled prior to being cooked sous vide. Peeling is not necessary, but it does look better for plating presentation. I typically peel the shrimp, but leave the tail on.

While meat is delicious coming out of the sous vide, visually it does not always look the best. So, a quick sear adds a browning on the outside of the meat which helps the meat look better and also provides another layer of flavor. For shrimp, I find that using a kitchen blowtorch is the best way to finish off the shrimp. They actually look like they have come right off the grill. The flame causes the shrimp to both brown and tighten up a little bit.

Sous vide shrimp is great on its own, but they can be added to pasta, fajitas, salad, risotto and more. The possibilities are endless, but one thing is sure – once you have tasted sous vide shrimp, you might never cook them any other way!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound raw shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon rendered fat or butter
  • Marinade (optional)

Preparation

  1. Shrimp are delicious cooked in the sous vide all by themselves. But, if you add a smarinade, sauce or some seasoning along with the shrimp – WOW. The possibilities of flavor combinations are endless as shrimp is very versatile. Just toss them in a food safe bag with the marinade.
  2. Make sure that the shrimp is only one layer thick in the bag. The shrimp can be touching and side by side, but if they are stacked, and in layers of 2 or 3 shrimp, then they will not cook properly. I find it best to spread them out into one layer before I vacuum seal the bag.
  3. Set the sous vide to 140°F. Once the water reaches the set temperature, add the bagged shrimp to the water bath.
  4. After 15 minutes, remove the shrimp from the water bath. They are done! Shrimp does not take long to cook and the pink color is an indicator of doneness.
  5. The shrimp is ready to eat. They are fine to eat, right out of the bag and are great either warm or chilled. Either way, they are succulent and delicious!