Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Well, I’m back from my trip home. I didn’t really mean to, but I ended up cooking almost as much as I did last year. Here’s the rundown:

Something easy to start: No knead bread, starting from with a few of my usual tweaks. I mostly followed the recipe, but added some extra gluten to the dough and some water to compensate, also I used regular yeast instead of instant, but it seemed to work out fine.

Ingredients immediately after mixing.

Left to sit overnight.

After sitting.



Baked. It's really easy to make and is seriously some of the most delicious bread I've ever had. It's unusually light on the inside and is the first bread that I've been able to get that super crackly crust. I just need to find something in which to bake it, back here in Toronto.

Taking a break from cooking with an evening of Civ V.

Topped off the week with a little dinner party. Sous vide flatirons are delicious, well strip loin even more so, and it’s perfect for keeping food warm when everyone shows up an hour late. (cough… cough) Glazed carrots as a veggie dish, Jeff and Sarah brought scalloped potatoes, and to top the evening off, an encore of my Turtles Cheesecake. My instructable:

Stay tuned for experiments in home deep frying. (assuming I don’t immolate myself)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Weekend Kitchen Adventures

Hey everyone, I know it’s been a while since my last post so I figured it was time for another. I’m heading home for Thanksgiving at the end of the week, so no cooking a turkey for myself this year. This weekend has seen a lot of cooking, however, so I thought I would post some pictures of my kitchen escapades.

Sous Vide Steaks

As some of you may know, I’ve been experimenting with makeshift sous vide cooking with a styrofoam shipping box. I’m impressed enough with it that I’m considering building a proper setup with a heater, at some point, but for now, here’s what I did with some awesome flatiron steaks (10 $/lb from Royal Beef – Danforth near Woodbine). Flatirons are ideal for cooking this way as they are very flavourful due to high fat content, but are ordinarily difficult to cook properly and get tough if over or undercooked.

First, marinaded overnight in the refrigerator with sugar, tamari, shaved ginger, prepared Dijon mustard, and sesame oil. Plastic zipper bags are nice for this: no mess and they can be used for the sous vide.

Into the cooler at 57 °C.

Let sit for 45 minutes - now 54 °C, the perfect temperature.

Potatoes for mashed potatoes still cooking but it doesn’t matter because I can leave the meat in the cooler for a while longer with no ill effect.

The ugly, unbrowned steaks fresh out of the the bag.

Steaks, after a quick browning in a frying pan — totally even throughout and some of the best I’ve tasted.

Cinnamon Rolls

We have a little muffin club going at work right now — three of us each get a week and make muffins for everyone. This week is mine and I figured I would make something different and do cinnamon rolls.
I started with this recipe, but made a few tweaks here and there:

Melting butter into cream. I had a lot of 10% MF cream in the fridge so I used that instead of the milk specified in the recipe.

Dough after kneading. I managed to do all the kneading in the bowl, which was nice.

Rolling the dough out. It should be noted that a 1L rigid Nalgene bottle works quite well as a rolling pin in a pinch.

Added a thin layer of margarine to the dough for the filling.

Filling added.

Dough rolled up. If I do this recipe again, I’ll roll it out thinner. It seems to expand a lot when it rises.

Cut and ready to rise. I decided to see what would happen if I put them into a muffin pan.

Post-rising. As you can see, the dough really expands a lot and does weird things in the muffin pan.

Post-baking. The recipe is waaaaaaay off as far as baking time goes. The ones in the muffin pan are overdone at 10 minutes and the ones on the cookie sheet took about 12 minutes. The bottoms brown rather heavily; I suspect that an air bake sheet might be good for this.

Iced and ready to go into the freezer for transport to work. All in all, it’s a good recipe and they’re very tasty. The muffin pan did some strange things. I weighed some of them and found that the mass of the rolls in the muffin pan were only about 10% less than the normal ones, but are much smaller and seem to be rather dense. The pan also made the bottom and sides of them brown too much for my liking.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wonderland Day

Whelp, went to Canada’s Wonderland with a friend on Saturday, what a bloody adventure… -.- First off, getting to Wonderland via TTC is pretty damn annoying. It took around 2 hours to get there by two subway lines and a bus; standing room only. We got the first hint of what was to come as people pushed and shoved their way onto the bus. Wonderland itself was awesome: There’s nothing quite like riding a roller coaster in pitch black, or taking a huge drop from a great view of the lights of the GTA. The place was busy as hell, we got on 4 rides before we decided to leave at around 23:30.

From there, everything went downhill. The TTC service ended at 22:45, so the only real option was the GO Transit bus to Yorkville station. Things started out okay, the line for the bus was relatively orderly and the two GO Transit officers present were able to keep things calm, but the loading of buses was slow and the line continued to grow. It was then that we learned how stupid a crowd of tired, cold people can get. Caught in a herd of cattle, even the arrival of several York Region police officers didn’t help much. There was no real problem; buses arrived steadily and they promised to continue doing so until everyone was away, but that didn’t prevent the stampede at the arrival of a new bus, morons jumping into the street banging on the side of a bus, or one of the aforementioned police officers being shoved into the side of a bus. For some reason, someone even complained that the police officer swore after being shoved, as though it weren’t justified and complaining more would accomplish something. The security, GO, and police officers have nothing but respect from me for doing their best in a difficult and idiotic situation.

Anyways, a couple hours later, we were finally on our way back to the subway station but on arrival found that subway service southbound had halted. We rode it North to Downsview station and waited to catch the last bus East to the Shepperd-Yonge station where 24 hour bus service would be able to get us home. The bus never came. TTC personnel were locking up the station and the bus had yet to arrive, but they were nice enough to be able to arrange another bus for us and the handful of others in the same situation.

Two blue line buses later, we were finally home at around 3:40 and I hope everyone else was able to do the same. 3.5 hours at Wonderland, ~6 hours in transit, 1 painful adventure I won’t soon forget.