Happy Valley Chow

gour-mand (noun): one who is excessively fond of eating and drinking

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Modernist Cuisine at Home

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
Modernist Cuisine at Home is the subsidiary of, what may be, the greatest cooking tome of all time, Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet--scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right--have created a six-volume, 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking. MC digs deep into the historical, scientific, molecular and pretty much every facet of cooking. 

While Modernist Cuisine is a beautiful and inspiring book, it is not for the faint of heart. Most likely the average home cook wouldn't even know where to start with some of the recipes, not to mention not having the equipment needed to pull off the recipes. That's where Modernist Cuisine at Home comes in. Granted you do still need some speciality equipment like an Immersion Circulator and Pressure cooker to really dive deep into this book, but those items are within grasps of most consumers. 

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
After spending a few days perusing the book and trying out some of the recipes. I have to admit, this might be one of my most favorite cookbooks to date. It's just as beautiful and inspiring as the original MC, it introduces modern techniques to traditional recipes, it's fun to cook out of, it's challenging to cook out of and honestly I feel like I'm becoming a better cook from simply reading it. Again, this isn't for the faint of heart and I would recommend that you have a decent understanding of cooking techniques. But, if you are looking for something new and exciting to spice up your cooking world, than this is it!

"Modernist Cuisine at Home offers useful techniques and solutions that expand our abilities  and it provides us with a practiced and thorough understanding of why things happen the way they do. Most importantly, it ignites a curiosity within and compels us to ask ourselves not 'What should we make for dinner?' but rather, 'What can we make for dinner?' Modernist Cuisine at HOme will provide another quantum leap in our understanding and in our relationship with the food we like to cook" ~Thomas Keller

"Modernist Cuisine at Home is destined to change the way we cook-and the way we use recipes. For all of us who cook regularly, this book opens up a whole new world of possibilites. It is full of insights that encourage us to try something new, and that teach us something on every single page." ~Martha Stewart

I went ahead and started on the easier side with this book. Instead of jumping in for the hardest recipes, I figured I'd test the water with the Chicken Wings and Macaroni and Cheese. 

The chicken wings were definitely some of the best I have ever had. I never really thought to brine chicken wings just cause there isn't that much meat, but it is definitely worth taking the time to brine them. Then after cooking them sous vide at 149℉, you have one heck of a juicy and tender chicken wing (Cooking chicken sous vide at 140℉ for at least 30 min. pasteurizes the meat making it completely safe and extremely moist, unlike the traditional 165℉). 

The macaroni and cheese was also very good. But, I think next time I will use cheeses other than Cheddar and Swiss because they really don't need the Sodium Citrate to emulsify them together. The cheese sauce is quite thick, velvety and delicious...it has the consistency of store bought mac n' cheese, but just a lot better flavor because of the better quality cheese. 

A big thank you to the Modernist Cuisine at Home crew for allowing me access to their book and share with all of you their Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. Enjoy!

Modernist Cuisine at Home (The Cooking Lab, 2012)
I think the recipe layout is pretty self explanatory, but it is a laid out a little different than your traditional recipe. Each part of the recipe is broken up by the red lines. You have your ingredients, the amount you need of each ingredient and then what to do with each ingredient. Just follow the procedures, add in all the ingredients in each step, then move onto the next line. In my case I substituted 3 cups of shredded sharp cheddar and 1 cup of shredded swiss for the white cheddar. I also folded in a whole roasted red pepper. 

In addition to having the opportunity to use this book, I also have been given the opportunity to use a GoPro camera to start making cooking videos! I figured since I just got the camera, I might as well kill two birds with one stone and use it for this review. I am using the GoPro Hero3 White edition, with the Chest Mount Harness. There will be many more videos in the future!

Happy Valley Cheesesteak

Well call up Pat and Geno down in Philly and let them know that there is a new cheesesteak in town. Then also let them know it was made by a diehard Pittsburgh Fan (LETS GO PENS!!). This is a pretty classic cheesesteak, but I did have to give it some of my own personal touches. I used some thinly sliced Delmonico Steak, sauteed onions, peppers, jalapeno (for good measure) and I made a Beer and Cheddar sauce. Of course, if I'm going to make a Pennsylvania sandwich, I better use some Pennsylvania Beer to make the sauce...probably my favorite cooking beer, Yuengling. I was really pleased with how this turned out...of course if I wanted to make it out of this world, I would have to give it the Pittsburgh touch by adding french fries and coleslaw...but I figured I'd just keep it simple. Enjoy!

  • 1 cup beer, preferably a lager
  • 2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 rounded tablespoon of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • Few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • Few drops of hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Vidalia Onion, halved & sliced
  • 1 Red Pepper, halved & sliced
  • 1 Green Pepper, halved & sliced
  • 1 Jalapeno, seeded, halved & sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 lbs Delmonico Steak, thinly sliced
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 hoagie rolls

Heat beer in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. In a separate bowl mix the cheddar cheese with the flour. Then whisk in shredded cheddar & flour mixture, spicy brown mustard, worcestershire sauce and hot sauce into warmed beer. Whisk until cheese is melted and smooth. Keep warm on low.

Melt butter in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add in onions, peppers and jalapeno and sautee until caramelized, stirring occasionally for about 12-15 min.
For the beef, I asked the butcher at the grocery store to slice the delmonico steak as thin as possible (If they don't sell delmonico's, get a ribeye). Don't be afraid to tell them what you're using it for, that will give them an idea for how thin to make it. While the butcher did a good job, I actually ended up slicing the sliced steak into strips. 

Heat the olive oil in a large sautee pan, or use a griddle if you have one, over medium high heat. Add in the beef and sautee until cooked through about 7 min. Season the beef with salt and pepper.

Slice open the rolls and evenly distribute the beef into them. Add the caramelized onions, peppers and jalapeno and then top with a generous amount of the cheddar beer sauce. Have plenty of napkins on hand!

Since it's that time of year, I figured I'd post my favorite hockey goal of the season so far. GENO!! GENO!! GENO!!

Cajun Sweet Potato Soup

I have been in a soup kind of mood lately, as you can tell with my back to back soup posts. Since I didn't have time to celebrate Mardi Gras last weekend, I decided to honor it this past weekend with this delicious Cajun Sweet Potato soup. It's creamy, sweet and has a nice kick of heat at the end with the hot sauce and sausage (in my case chorizo). Then for the side I made a Charred Cajun Bruschetta. Bon Appétit!

  • 1 Lbs Andouille or Chorizo sausage
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 
  • 1 large onion; diced
  • 1/2 red pepper; diced
  • 4-5 ribs celery; diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic; minced
  • 1.5 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 large sweet potatoes; diced
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup spinach; chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley; chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives; chopped
  • Hot Sauce; to taste
  • Salt & Pepper; to taste

In a large stock pot, brown sausage links until cooked through. Remove, wrap in tin foil and reserve.

Add butter to the pot and melt, add flour in with butter and whisk to make a roux. Add in onions, celery, red pepper and garlic, saute until soft. Once vegetables are soft, add in warm stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add in sweet potatoes, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.

Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Return soup to the stock pot and mix in cream, chives, parsley, spinach and hot sauce (to taste). Dice sausage links into large chunks and mix into the soup. season with salt and pepper (to taste) and serve warm. 


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