Category Archives: Veggies and Sides

Best Ever Sous Vide Butternut Squash

IMG_7509When it’s chilly outside I keep plenty of this butternut squash lightly flavored with sage stocked in my fridge.  It takes minutes to prepare and the bags will keep a good month or even more in your fridge.  You can serve it as a side all by itself, put it on a fall salad, toss with some barley or farrow, add it to risotto or heat it up with some chicken stock and toss in the blender for a fast weeknight soup.

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For those of you who “follow me” I realize there hasn’t been much to follow recently.
Sorry I’ve been MIA lately but our kitchen currently looks like this.  We are in the exciting (terrifying) process of rebuilding our home!  Oh the joy of the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the fights between our contractor and our architect, the money draining from our bank account at a startling rate.  I could go on for days, but of course you’re here for the food.

Butternut squash is pretty much at the end of the season but you can still find it in the market in some areas and for some reason Trader Joe’s never seems to run out of the stuff! Most conveniently they’ve got it already peeled and chopped into perfect cubes for you so by all means take the shortcut.  I like to make things more difficult than they need to be so I instead shlep to the farmer’s market for the squash and then peel and cut myself.  I also walk uphill in the snow the entire way.

I do these in large batches and so that I have a good stock on hand.  It’s my daughter’s absolute favorite side and I find it incredibly versatile.

Here’s the super complicated (and by complicated I mean my 7 year old could do it) directions:

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  1.  Preheat the Sous Vide to 180.  If you are serving right out of the bag and want them less firm cook at 185.  I like them more firm so that they reheat well.
  2. Chop the peeled squash into cubes
  3. Put them into food saver bags
  4. Add 1 or 2 leaves of sage
  5. Add a pinch of salt
  6. Add a very small drizzle of olive oil
  7. Vacuum seal the bags
  8. Put in the preheated water bath.
  9. Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch some TV for 45 minutes to an hour
  10. Remove from the bath and refrigerate till ready to use

 

Freaking fantastic sous vide asparagus

IMG_4968I had never even considered cooking asparagus sous vide.  After all it doesn’t need to be cooked for a long time, it’s easy enough to steam and I didn’t really see the need to infuse it with other flavors.  That all changed the other day when I was doing a large batch of veggies, it was time to cook dinner and I realized it would be easier to just vacuum pack my stalks and toss them in the pot.  I simply can not believe the difference in flavor.  They are more intense and more mild at the same time.  They actually taste fresher for lack of a better term.  I will not be hauling out the water bath every time I want to make some nice asperagus but if I’m already cooking sous vide I will certainly toss in some of these wonderful stalks and enjoy.

Step One – heat up sous vide water bath to 185

Step Two – Add asparagus, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to a bag and vacuum seal.

Step Three – Put in the water for 15 minutes

Step Four – Plunge the bag into ice water for a few minutes.  Open bag and enjoy.  I grated some lemon zest over mine before serving.

Popping Grapes

20140110-085003.jpgMy wonderful husband got me an isi gourmet whip for Christmas and I decided it was time to play.  I had co2 cartridges and grapes so I made carbonated grapes as my second experiment (I made whipped cream the day after Christmas but I can’t post those pictures). The secret to carbonated is…owning an isi whipping syphon. That and cold.  Cold allows Co2 to get into food on a molecular level.  No cold, no fizz.  You need to chill both the whip and the grapes completely.   Then you need to put in 2 Co2 cartridges being sure to hold down the handle to expel gas after the 1st cartridge but not the second.  20140110-084914.jpgThis gets rid of the air at the top of the canister so that it is completely filled with Co2.  The  Co2 must now make it’s way into the fruit so you refrigerate the whole thing on it’s side.  Grapes take 8-10 hours to carbonate and last about 10 minutes so serve immediately.  Once we expelled the gas and pulled them from the canister they were sizzling and whistling with co2. They taste almost like fermented grapes. We paired them with some Pt. Reyes blue cheese, but we immediately thought…sangria!

 

 

 

 

 

Sous vide beet carpaccio

IMG_3430I love beets! I love them, but many people don’t. Here’s a beet recipe I came up with that satisfies even the beet haters amongst my friends. It introduces a savory element through thyme infused in a sous vide slow cook. The beets come out perfect every time and it’s a lot less messy than roasting in your oven. They are simply beautiful and will dazzle your dinner guests. I often take these to dinner parties as a starter and they never fail to amaze.

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20140104-131648.jpgWhen you serve them always introduce an acid element such as vinegar or lemon juice. I’ve served them simply on a white plate with lemon juice and lemon zest sprinkled on top or I’ve made a micro green salad with them. Here I paired them with humbolt fog goat cheese, micro arugula, baby kale and some walnuts. I lightly drizzled it with a champaign vinaigrette.

Recipe

Preheat the sous vide water bathe to 185.

Peel and thinly slice the beets.

Place in a vacuumed sealed bag with a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of olive oil and 2 sprigs of thyme.  Vacuum seal the bags and place in the preheated sous vide.

Cook for 2 hours and afterwards immediately submerge in a ice water bath for 10 minutes to stop the cooking process.  If you’re feeling lazy you don’t even need to do this since you’re cooking veggies, it just means they keep cooking so your texture could be slightly less firm than you want. You can serve immediately or keep your little gems in the fridge for a month. They are great right out of the bag but they benefit from added acid and a peppery element such as arugula or just a sprinkle of pepper.

Save Spots the goldfish and make balsamic pearls – check

Just the average day in the Stuart family, started with a melt down at 6:25 am, went on to broken bathroom lights, filling out kindergarten registration paperwork, making my first gellification and ending with another meltdown followed by the fish floating on his back.

Lets start with the gellification, I’m having some friends over for dinner on Friday and I decided to make a micro green salad with balsamic pearls. Because they can be made ahead I decided to spend the few free minutes I had before taking the kids to gymnastics making balsamic pearls. You start by taking the cheapest olive oil you can find and pouring it in a deep and somewhat narrow container. I used an old square vase I had gotten Mother’s Day flowers in. I got the cheapest utter crap olive oil I could find at Trader Joes. Now put that olive oil in the freezer for 30 minutes. Next heat balsamic with agar powder on the stove till it begins to boil. Now put it in an huge syringe and squirt it into the cold olive oil. Stir it around a bit, fish the stuff out with a strainer and put in water to rinse off the olive oil. Now you can put them in a container in the fridge and use whenever you want. They were fast and easy and made perfect shiny little black balsamic pearls that resemble caviar. Seriously the whole thing including prep took me less than 20 minutes and you can make a bunch and do tons of things with them. I look like such a rock star to my husband and it was so easy!

After my molecular success the day pretty much went downhill. It ended when I came back in the kitchen after putting Miley to bed to find her goldfish spots floating on his back. But much like in The Meaning of Life, spots wasn’t dead yet. Luckily he just had gas. Yes I have come to understand that fish fart and if they eat too much they can get blocked up and not be able to fart. So I gave spots a frozen pea for fiber and put out strick orders that nobody is to feed him for 3 days. Spots has been saved, the balsamic pearls are fantastic and all is well in the world.