Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eat Food - a rule to live by?

Had to share this clip from Jon Stewart's "Daily Show":

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

King Cake update

Photograph © Lori Korleski Richardson

Even a bad King Cake is pretty good. I used a recipe from, after ascertaining that the Epicurious one was way beyond my meager baking skills. It came out (to my taste) too dry and flat, and the pecan filling leaked out all over the cookie sheet, but the simple icing was a hit (1 cup powdered sugar to 1 tablespoon bourbon plus coloring). Yet even that I had trouble with; I got food coloring all over my fingers, and the blue seemed intent on overpowering any red I added to get a good shade of purple.

They say no one in New Orleans makes a King Cake; they all buy them from bakeries there. I now know why.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Pasta update

Tried some more sous vide pasta today (while cooking my first King Cake - more on that, later), using 2 ounces of pasta and 3 ounces of water. It was a lot firmer, even after an hour and a half cooking. (I checked it at 45 minutes; not quite to al dente. The starchiness was still a little too overwhelming, even after a rinse in fresh water. And those who have said that the salt intensifies too much in sous vide cooking - I don't think they've cooked pasta. Still pretty bland.

More experiments to come!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sous vide pasta

Crockpots are good for things that need to be cooked for a long time, slowly, but often, the meals that are best with a slow-cooked sauce have elements to them that do not need to be cooked as long.

Case in point today: spaghetti.

The sauce went in around noon, and by 3 p.m., it was smelling pretty good. Next up, pasta. But heating up a big pot of water that will later just be drained seemed like a waste. Could there be a better way? I knew if I just threw in the dry pasta into the sauce, it would cook, but it would absorb all the liquid and the starch would leach into the sauce, making it gummy and not so appetizing.

But with the vacuum bags from the store, there was another option: Put the dry pasta, broken in half, in the bag with water; seal; then put the washed bag into the sauce to cook along with it until dinner time.

It worked - well, it sort of worked.

When I checked on it two hours later, it had more than doubled in size. And when I opened it, it was in separate strands, but it was overdone and very starchy. I rinsed it and got most of the starch off of it, then added it to the sauce. Topped with Parmesan, it was good, but not great.

From what I've read on sous vide cooking, the length of time shouldn't have been the problem, so perhaps I used too much water. Next time, instead of doubling the water to pasta, I'll just use a bit more than what's needed to cover it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Getting on my King Cake

It's not likely anyone will send me a King Cake this year, so I'm thinking I may have to make one (or more). I'm about to scour my cookbook collection and the Internet for recipes, but if anyone has a favorite, please post a comment or send me a message with it. Gold, purple and green icing, here I come!