ChefSteps Forum | Almost Like Grandma Used to Make

We asked Johan Edstrom, one of our most prolific forum members, to issue last week’s Culinary Challenge 6 on the ChefSteps forum. The objective was to cook something that your grandmother would have cooked and give it an update. Use new tools and techniques, juxtapose something old with something new, or simply plate your grandmother’s cooking in a contemporary way.

Johan, Chris and Grant each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Johan Edstrom: My favorite entry this week was Chris Koller’s Succotash. I liked the plate, the colors, and I wanted to eat it right away.

 

Chris Young: I chose Joshua Sharp’s modernist take on Salisbury Steak. It was a great nostalgic food idea, and it looks well executed.

Grant Crilly: My fave was Brian Douglas’ Better than Nintendo Cake. I cracked up at the story of the “Better than Nintendo Cake” name and it’s something that I haven’t seen before.

If you’re new to the forum and you haven’t participated in one of the culinary challenges, please join in this week. We’re eager to see your creations and so are your fellow forum members!

Grant has posted Culinary Challenge 7 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge is Something Coffee. Prepare a dish — savory or sweet — utilizing sous vide techniques and coffee. For example, consider using coffee for an infusion, broth, rub, smoking media, or a textural component. Your idea can be coffee anything!

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 picks (sometimes we have a tie) will have the photos of their dishes posted on the ChefSteps Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. We’re looking forward to being heavily caffeinated (as usual) while we enjoy your entries.

Cheers,
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps Forum | Around the World in 8 Days

Chris Young issued last week’s Culinary Challenge 5 on the ChefSteps forum. The objective was to embrace the spirit of being a novice by trying to cook another culture’s cuisine using both traditional and modernist techniques.

Our forum members took up the challenge to push their skills and posted some compelling dishes. Chris, Grant and Ryan each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Chris Young: My favorite entry this week is Chris Koller’s Spanakopita with Homemade Sous Vide Tzatziki. I wouldn’t have thought of doing a Greek entry and now that I’ve seen it, I think it’s brilliant. Looks absolutely delicious; contemporary and nostalgic at the same time. Well done, Chris!

Grant Crilly: I also chose Chris Koller’s Spanakopita. That sh*t looks bomb! Super beautiful filo, as a chef I like the way he pulled from existing tried and true recipes so he could focus on his newer technique alone. Smart. It rarely works out to try ten new things at once. it’s very difficult to learn that way. One focused step at a time is the way to go!

 

Ryan Matthew Smith: I chose Brian Douglas’ Groudnut Porridge with Plum and Kashata this week. I like his composition and clean presentation, plus it looks delicious.

We were all really impressed with the dishes that were submitted. Honorable mentions go out to Nor’Eastern for taking on the challenge of spherification with Soy Caviar and to Jim for making us drool with his Sous Vide Octopus Salad.

Chris Young has posted Culinary Challenge 6 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge was offered up by Johan Edstrom, one of our most active forum members. The objective is to cook something that your grandmother would have cooked, but give it an update. Take advantage of new tools and techniques, juxtapose something old with something new, or simply plate your grandmother’s cooking in a contemporary way. Johan will be choosing one of the top three posts this week along with the usual suspects at ChefSteps.

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 picks (sometimes we have a tie) will get their photos posted on ChefSteps’ Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. We’re looking forward to seeing some updated blasts from the past!

Cheers,
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

Holidays Got You Down? Cheer Up With A Little Red Wine!

It’s that time of year again…you’re desperate to find the perfect way to express your appreciation to those influential people in your life. What gesture will really pay tribute to the courageous, caring individuals whose ideals keep you going day after day?

We are talking about Presidents’ Day, right?

Well, whether it’s Presidents’ Day or that other holiday with all the hearts and chocolates floating around, you can impress your loved ones and pay tribute (use some gorgeous Washington state pears) by making this recipe for Red Wine Poached Pear.

Happy Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day from
Chris, Grant, Ryan and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

 

Michael Natkin Codes and Cooks | Gigandes Beans with Romesco in Saffron Broth

While many of our chefs were traveling last week, Michael Natkin, our lead developer stepped in. Many know him from his Herbivoracious blog and we’ve had a voracious appetite to get him in the kitchen to produce a step-by-step recipe for you. We thought this would be a perfect time to show off this multi-talented guy, so here is Michael’s recipe for Gigandes Beans with Romesco in Saffron Broth.

Gigande Beans with Romesco in Saffron BrothThe recipe has several steps, so we broke it down. You can prepare each part separately and then reheat and assemble with excellent results.

1. Prepare the gigandes beans. Alternatively, you can use jarred pre-cooked gigandes. You can also substitute a different large bean if you so desire.

  • Pick through the dried beans for any extraneous material. Rinse well.
  • Soak overnight, optionally in a vacuum bag with 450 grams water.
  • Repack with 1000 grams fresh water. Do not seal bag.
  • Cook sous vide at 90 °C, securely hanging the bag over the rim of the cooking vessel. After 90 minutes, start testing a bean every fifteen minutes until tender.
  • Drain and chill beans.

2. Michael prepares the potatoes and leeks:

 

2. Next up, Michael concocts the wonderful Catalan sauce, romesco, made from roasted (by blowtorch) red peppers, tomatoes, roasted garlic and toasted nuts:

 

3. Now to make the delicious saffron broth:

 

4. The last step before serving, here’s Michael assembling the final dish:

 

Cheers to Michael
and many thanks from
Chris Young, Grant Crilly, Ryan Matthew Smith and the rest of the ChefSteps team!

ChefSteps Forum | We Do Like Greens, Eggs and Ham

Ben Johnson, development chef extraordinaire, issued the Culinary Challenge 4 on our forum last week. The objective was to use sous vide and other modernist techniques to recreate and update a dish from your childhood that you despised.

There were some really creative dishes posted and some great stories regarding childhood food preferences. Ben, Chris, and Ryan each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Ben Johnson: My favorite entry is Brian Douglas’ Prunesco Sauce with Cod and Vegetables. I like the cleanliness of the plate and his think outside the box approach. I also like that he used a different technique, i.e. blowtorching.

 

Chris Young: My pick of the week is Nor’Eastern’s Microwaved Rind of Brie. Ingenious and something I haven’t seen before.

 

Ryan Matthew Smith: I chose Chris Koller’s Edible Dirt Salad this week. Nice use of depth of field in the photo and beautiful presentation overall!

 

Chris Young has posted Culinary Challenge 5 on the ChefSteps forum. This week’s challenge is to try to cook another culture’s cuisine, but do it as a mash-up of the traditional with the modernist.

Take the challenge in your own kitchen, then share your results via the ChefSteps forum. Describe the dish you have chosen and techniques used to make it. Describe where your idea or inspiration came from and what your plan of attack was, and finally, post your pictures.

The top 3 posts will get their photos posted on ChefSteps’ Pinterest board. Please have your entry posted by Sunday. We look forward to seeing what you all come up with!

Cheers,
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps Forum | Eat Dessert First!

Nick Gavin, super-duper development chef, issued the first ChefSteps sous vide dessert challenge last week on our forum. The objective was to use sous vide to make a new dessert or your favorite dessert in a new way. Some things to try included new takes on custards, confit fruits, converting starches to sugars and modern techniques such as encapsulations, foams, and hot set creams. There were some sweet, inventive dishes posted and we loved the creative camaraderie between forum members. Nick, Chris, and Ryan each picked their favorite dish to feature on our Pinterest board.

Nick Gavin: My favorite this week has to be Brian Douglas’ Chocolate Panna Cotta with Banana and Many Textures of Peanut. I enjoyed the flavors he used on his plate – felt they all worked well together and I liked the fact that he used different culinary techniques.

 

Ryan Matthew Smith: I’m choosing Chris Koller’s Raspberry Chocolate Gateau this week. Beautiful plating and composition. I particularly like how close we are to the dish, showing off the texture on the Gateau. Nicely done!

 

Chris Young: My pick of the week is Carston Eriksen’s Sous Vide Poached Pear with White Chocolate, Marzipan and Vanilla Ice Cream. I love that she made her own marzipan and that she used an old Fat Duck trick for making ice cream at home with dry ice. Great job layering textures and embracing the diy spirit!

Kudos to our dear friend and mentor, Heston Blumenthal!

 

Be sure to check out this week’s: Culinary Challenge 4 (to recreate a dish that you disliked from your childhood) and stay tuned to find out if we end up with any phenomenal dishes of liver with beets and brussel sprouts.

Thank you to everyone on the ChefSteps forum for your great participation.
Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps Forum | It’s Meatless Monday!

Michael Natkin issued the first ChefSteps sous vide vegetarian challenge last week on our forum. The objective was to use the sous vide method to make a great meatless main course to wow us. There were some really spectacular dishes and once again, we were knocked out by your efforts and results. Grant, Chris, and Kristina Krug (filling in for Ryan) each picked a favorite dish and since Grant and Chris picked the same dish and it was Michael’s challenge, he also chose a favorite to feature on our Pinterest board.

Grant Crilly: My favorite this week has to be Chris Koller’s sous vide ricotta gnocchi. It is a huge surprise to me that this technique was even an option. After many years of making cheese myself, and using a C-Vap and water bath for the curds, I always went to the pot on the stove for ricotta. What was I thinking? This is a real eye opener for me, I love it! Keep it up, Mr. Koller.

Chris Young: I’m with Grant on this one, Chris Koller did an awesome job!

 

Kristina Krug: I’m choosing Allen Johnson’s Bangan Bartha this week. He did a wonderful job at visually displaying the dish, in addition to his prep. The colors were vibrant and I really liked the angles of the shots. Looking forward to seeing more photos from Allen in the future!

 

Michael Natkin: My pick of the week is Brian Douglas’ BarBiBimBapQue . I love the cross-pollination of Southern flavors with the Korean presentation and twists. I’m a sucker for the contrast of savory flavors with the sweet punch from the peaches. Nice work!

Thank you to everyone on the ChefSteps forum and followers of Herbivoracious for your participation. We hope you are enjoying these challenges as much as we are!

Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

ChefSteps Forum | Breakfast for Dinner Culinary Challenge

Last week, Grant Crilly issued the first ChefSteps culinary challenge on our forum. The objective was to use the sous vide method to make a meal or dish that featured breakfast fare for dinner. We could not be more pleased with all of the effort that everybody put into the challenge and we are thrilled by all the resulting dishes that were prepared. As promised, Grant, Ryan and Chris each picked a dish to highlight, so I’ll let them weigh in on their choices and get busy pinning the chosen dishes to our Pinterest board.

Grant Crilly: It has been amazing to see so many individuals come to our site, get engaged and learn new skills. More amazing, to me, is how quickly our students have picked up new skills and adapted to foods they already know and love. This week’s challenge was the first for ChefSteps and it could not have gone better. Chris, Ryan, and I have each chosen a dish that stood out to us. This week, my favorite would have to be Jim’s sous vide chorizo infused French toast with 64 °C poached egg. I loved the presentation and that he really focused on doing one thing really well, and letting the rest support his main idea. Very beautiful presentation. Congrats, Jim!

 


Ryan Matthew Smith: As our photographer, I’ve picked Mason Perry’s sous vide breakfast gyro and egg. I really liked his presentation of the dish and the perspective he shot from for the photo. Great job, Mason.


Chris Young: So, I’m truly impressed and humbled by all of the effort people put into our first culinary challenge. I look forward to seeing what our students will do this week. I’m going to single out Lachlan Hunt this week for his modernist take on the “full Aussie” with a twist. I happen to know that his adaptation of Heston Blumenthal’s historic “meat fruit” recipe is difficult to execute and his convincing job of making a breakfast banger look like roast tomato is clever, and I suspect, delicious. Good job, Lachlan.

We can’t wait to see what you all come up with for Michael Natkin’s sous vide vegetarian challenge this week!

Thank you to everyone on the forum for your ongoing invaluable participation, whether in the challenge, Q&A, or most important, encouraging each other along the way.

Grant, Chris, Ryan, and the rest of the ChefSteps team.

Why Sous Vide Makes Life Easier

We’d like to introduce you to Nima Mojgani. A longtime friend of two of the ChefSteps’ founders, Nima is best described as a typical 20-something city-dweller. Eating out most nights on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and cooking only sporadically for his girlfriend, Nima never showed any interest in trying any of the ChefSteps techniques for himself – thinking it would be out his rudimentary culinary reach.

So last week, we gave him instructions to make his favorite meal – steak – but rather than cooking the dish his normal way, we gave him a five minute starter course on how to do it sous vide style and this is what he had to say:

“I’m not a bad cook, per se – but not a good one, either. What surprised me most about sous vide was really how simple it was. I didn’t need to watch the steak as it cooked – which is huge because normally I stress about when to flip it over or cover the pan or when take it off the stove so that it’s medium rare. I could have literally sat back and hammered out two games of Call of Duty on the Xbox while it was cooking. Worst case scenario, the steak might have changed a shade of reddish pink while I was cooking.

I thought I’d need expensive equipment and was expecting I’d need vacuum seal bags like the ones on those infomercials – but a regular zip-lock did the job. My small apartment normally didn’t smell like steak afterwards and I didn’t have to marinate anything before. Normally I’m a bit fearful of spending any more than $10-15 on a good cut of meat when I’m cooking it myself out of fear that I’ll mess something up – but with sous vide I could go for something a little better the next time I’m out. Oh, and clean up – that was a cinch.”

ChefSteps is Chris Young, Grant Crilly and Ryan Matthew Smith.
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