Saturday, June 11, 2016

How to Sous Vide In The Oven


My first attempt to sous vide without any fancy kitchen gadgets....I used a digital ovenproof thermometer, deep ovenproof casserole, large freezer bag with a zip (try the bargain shops), round cooling rack, bulldog clips and a straw.

I took inspiration from online searches and asked hubby to help me. Temperatures and timings can be found at ChefSteps (a link is at the end of this posting).  I cooked my joint for 6 hours which produced meat which was medium but I think 4 hours would have been sufficient.

I did find it all a bit of a faff but the end result made it all so worthwhile. The meat was a silverside joint I bought from Asda when it was on offer, for our time we were rewarded with a really tender joint without shrinkage and it didn't dry out. The downside is that you have to sear the meat in a pan after it's cooked and this process fills the kitchen with smoke, or alternatively browned using a blow torch otherwise the outside looks anaemic, unappetising and the meat will lack in flavour.

Beef being prepared for sous vide
Experimenting before buying expensive gadgetry is a great way to try before you buy.  Sous vide machines have a huge footprint and some are the size of a microwave or there are alternative sous vide cooking aids that you can buy.

I used a fan setting at 110 deg C and let the oven heat up and stabilise for a good half an hour prior to cooking. The rolled 1kg silverside joint is seasoned and placed into a strong ziplock freezer bag.  It's good practise to turn down a third of the bag to the outside when placing the meat inside the bag to help eliminate bacteria.

This is where the faff begins.....Place hot water from the tap to half fill the large deep casserole. Now boil the kettle and add some of this to the casserole, using your digital thermometer you are looking for 60 deg C.

Taking the air out of the bag using the water displacement method is to simply place the open bag into the water and the air is automatically released from the bag, close to a straw width and then making sure you don't suck up any meat juices suck out the remaining air and close the bag.

Beef joint being placed in casserole for sous vide

Place the rack on top of the casserole, using bulldog clips attach the bag to the top of the cooling rack, ensure that the bag does not touch the casserole.

The rack and bulldogs for sous vide oven cooking

Being extremely careful place the casserole into the oven.  Top up with hot water checking it is 60 deg C.

Testing the water temperature in the casserole

Place the probe of the digital thermometer into the water and attach using a bulldog clip, ensuring that it is reading the temperature of the water and not in contact with the casserole, close the oven door.

Digital temperature thermometer probe attached to the rack of a casserole for sous vide cooking

Adjust the oven temperature to keep the water to 60 deg C. My oven temperature setting initially needed to be 110 deg C but then tracked down to range between 65 deg C and 75 deg C I used fan for efficiency, but once it settled down I didn't have to keep an eye it was quite happy at 85 deg C.....but all this for me was a faff but hubby seemed happy enough checking the temperature.

The oven set up for sous vide

The meat doesn't look very pretty when you remove it from it's water bath but you get all those lovely meat juices to make your gravy, just be sure to pour these through a sieve and you are left with tasty meat juice.  Here is a blog post How to use juices from the bag after sous vide braising explaining why it is necessary to sieve the meat juices before making a sauce.

Cooked beef after being cooked sous vide in the oven

I used ChefSteps Time and Temperature Guide
For the water displacement method ChefSteps Simple Sous Vide Packaging
A must read: How to Cook Food Perfectly and Cheaply with a DIY Sous Vide Machine
An interesting read: How to sous vide in the oven with or without water

Disclaimer: Other oven brands are available but #boughtformebyme. Please be sure to do your own research if you are using this method regarding temperatures and timings because I take absolutely no responsibility for anyone reading this post and falling ill!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Chocolate Finger Birthday Cake

Childrens Birthday Cake

We had to transport the cake to Kent from the West Midlands and the safest way was to Blu Tack the cake board to the base of the cake box. It arrived safely but when we came to lift the cake out of the box it was stuck down so well we couldn't budge 'board from box'.  Eventually we managed to lift the cake out but the chocolate fingers started falling off the cake with shock.  Not to be beaten we melted the chocolate fingers with a match and stuck them back onto the buttercream.  What a faff!

The chocolate cake with Nutella buttercream pleased my grandchild and he said it exceeded all expectations and didn't care that the chocolate fingers were falling off because we were going to eat them anyway....

200g butter softened
200g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
150g self-raising flour
50g cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

For the Nutella Buttercream
225g sifted icing sugar
100g softened unsalted butter
2 heaped tablespoons Nutella
2 tsp milk

To decorate:
2/3 Packs of Chocolate Fingers
Box Maltezers
Bag of Mini Chocolate Orange Slices

Conventional Method - Thermomix instructions in italics

Preheat oven 180C. Grease and line 2 x 20cm cake tins with greaseproof paper.

Add all of the ingredients into the bowl of a mixer and combine for a couple of minutes until smooth.
Add all of the ingredients into the jug of the TM and mix 1 minute/3.5 speed.

Pour the cake batter into the cake tins making sure you they’re as even as possible. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until cooked. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Leave in the tins for 10 minutes, turn the cakes out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

For the butter cream
Place the softened butter in the bowl of a food mixer, gradually add the icing sugar. Mix for 5 minutes. Add the Nutella and milk, mix again to incorporate.
Add the icing sugar and softened butter to the TM and mix 15 Secs/Reverse/Speed 2. Add the milk and mix for 4 Minutes/Reverse/Speed 2. Now add the Nutella and mix for a further 15 Secs/Reverse/Speed 2.

Put the base cake onto a serving plate. Spread Nutella buttercream over one of the cakes then sandwich the two cakes together. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Press the chocolate fingers around the sides. Decorate with maltezers, smarties and mini chocolate orange slices.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Thermomix Steamed Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce

Asparagus and Hollandaise Sauce

I couldn't believe how easy it is to achieve a perfectly smooth (not curdled) hollandaise. I'm sounding annoyingly smug now but one of the reasons I invested was to make sauces that I found to be too much of a faff.  There's still the jug to wash after it's done it's magic but the dishwasher can take care of that.

The salmon and asparagus were cooked in the Varoma (a fancy name for the steamer) and the new potatoes in the steamer basket which sits inside the jug.  After these were cooked I then got to work making the sauce using the whisk attachment but don't forget to wash the jug and cool down with cold water otherwise the hollandaise will turn to scrambled eggs when you put the egg yolks into the jug.

My sauce isn't the recommended Thermomix recipe, but I did use the method given in The Basic Cook Book which is supplied with the Thermie. I spent a few minutes Googling and came up with a recipe using less butter, the result was a thinner sauce but I found it perfect for this meal. Brilliantly this sauce cooks in 4 minutes!

Hollandaise Sauce being made in the Thermomix
Sauce being whisked
Potatoes being cooked in the steamer basket
Potatoes in the steamer basket take about 30/40 minutes to cook
Salmon Fillets are cooked in the Varoma Tray
Salmon takes approximately 20 minutes 
Depending how thick the asparagus stalks are this should take between 10 and 20 minutes to cook in the Varoma.

Asparagus being steamed in the Varoma
Asparagus being steamed
For a Thin Hollandaise Sauce
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cold water
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
50g butter melted

1. Add the egg yolks, cold water, lemon juice and seasoning to the jug.  Place the whisk on the blade. Whisk on speed 3 until doubled in size.
2. Making sure the Measuring Cup is placed on the lid. 4 mins/70C/Speed 3, steadily pour the melted butter onto the lid and it will slowly go trickle down into the jug and the sauce will thicken. Check to see if any more lemon juice and seasoning is required. Pour into a jug and serve.

I'm still getting to know my Thermie but to date I'm really pleased with the results. I know part of the sales talk is that it will replace all my kitchen gadgets but I've bought a shed load of gadgets over the years and reviewed lots too and I wouldn't part with any of them even though I may use them less often.

It's a shame you can't buy the Thermomix from stores but that's how they sell. My local demonstrator Marta is a Team Leader and really knows her product.  Recently I was invited to a fun morning watching Marta and a team of demonstrators putting the machine through it's paces.  It was a class aimed at people who had recently bought a machine or were keen to see a demonstration - it's a great way to meet new people too!

Thermomix #boughtbymeforme